Author Archives: yassminsimm

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Blog #7: Human Nature

I have just decided I would share some videos that I really enjoyed.
This video is titled “The myth of Human Nature”

Just bringing the video back to class discussion: If we consider popular movies like The Purge which are based on the notion that humans are animalistic, then we can easily accept the plot portrayed in the movie. But what if we challenge this notion that humans are inherently violent and selfish that has been perpetuated with the notion that humans do not want to be violent but want to seek out fulfilling relationships that are filled with love?

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Blog #6: Amazing video

Linked above is an amazing video that a close friend shared with me. This video sheds so much perspective on the larger picture that we deal with as students studying sociology. The purpose that sociology serves is not only to reconcile the present state of affairs with history, but to also work to help shift the current ethos, raising our awareness the power of our agency, as well as to inspire us to be critical of the energy that we create in the world.

I would highly recommend this video!

Hope you enjoy!

Blog #5: Gentrification, A new form of Colonization?

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http://petapixel.com/2014/04/04/pictures-ny-storefronts-document-decade-gentrification/

As stated before, I love Franz Fanon’s work, lol, So I decided to share an article that I read long before learning about him. Hearing about colonization, this article came to mind. Gentrification is running Rapid in our communities here in the city. Linked above you will find a great article that visually illustrates what happens when gentrification is on the come up. We see store fronts of mom and pop shops turned into sub-ways or upscale cafe’s. While these look really pretty and from an orthodox point of view they seem to be beneficial for the community: ITS NOT. 

Usually when people hear the word gentrification, they automatically think of Harlem. Linked here is another article that gives some insight into gentrification in Harlem: http://www.businessinsider.com/new-yorks-east-harlem-gentrification-photos-2013-9?op=1

Now, who wouldn’t be excited to see a nice Whole Foods in their neighborhood? Well a nice whole foods comes at a price. The arrival of this whole foods is the start of a battle for resources: families in the surrounding area, if not granted rent control or are fortunate to own a house, these families can be priced out of their communities, forced to move often at a short moments notice. We see traditional mom-and pop shops in the area going out of business because the new group of residents that are able to afford the new housing prices are not shopping at smaller shops but traveling to larger malls. Here we see that the money is not being circulated back into the community. We also observe a slow move away from the culture of the original community; while families are forced to move, they take their culture with them, or if they are able to stay new residents will not appreciate the cultural practices, such as a traditional drum circle, or the weekly block parties during the summer. While these elements of the neighborhood cease to exist we end up with a community that is void of originality, it becomes homogeneous in terms of the people that inhabit the area and the visual appeal of the neighborhood. 

Now to relate all of this to Fanon: how can colonization even be compared to gentrification? Well, if we think about colonization as simply as the take over of resources and land, this is exactly what we see happening in urban neighborhoods. With the neoliberal ideals that we seemingly accept, gentrification may not seem like a problem, but it leads to the people being removed from where they are for the greater economic gain. Once these people are priced out of their neighborhoods, where do these people go? What will happen to the culture? How is one to navigate the world when they have to be uprooted and adjust to a new reality that they have to face in which once has to realize that the space that they occupy is not their own? 

 

With all of these questions, how can we prevent gentrification, or perhaps prevent individuals from facing psychological hardships that result from displacement? Working in the south bronx and speaking with local organizations one of the ideas that an organization has implemented was to create an after school program for mothers in which they will watch children and provide free food as many of the mothers have to work long hours and do not have the opportunity to watch their children after school. This model creates a huge relief for working families in that they do not have to worry about their children.

 

What other initiatives would you implement to alleviate some of immediate hardships that families will have to face if they are priced out of their homes due to gentrification?  

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Blog #4 : Decolonization of the Mind

Franz Fanon has to be one of my favorite theorists covered this semester. As a psychology major I can certainly connect with Fanon and his deep need to use psychiatry to heal people of the hurt and disconnection from reality that they experience as a result of colonization. Colonization in the traditional sense can be defined as the taking over of resources and separating a group of people from their culture and removing them from their land. With this colonization there is a creation of two conflicting societies. This shows that colonized people create a double consciousness, much like the one that DuBois introduces us to. With the colonization, a war ensues within the colonized country in order to regain control of their resources.

Not only does colonization entail the taking over of land and resources and way of life, it also takes over ones mind. Here I am extending the idea of colonization to include that in addition to taking over resources, colonization creates an environment for native people in which they feel disconnected from society, invisible, they are not agents in their own culture. The loss of this control, much like double consciousness, creates an alternate reality in which one is not able to adjust and persist in as an autonomous being seemingly in charge of their life’s decisions and dreams. With colonization comes war. This war is internal as well as external. War creates a hostile environment. All in all psychological trauma is the end result.

Thinking back to the video that we watched in class about Fanon, in many of the clips we could observe Fanon working with the most psychologically traumatized patients, and he was able to create a routine for them that was familiar in order to induce a path to healing from the effects of healing. The healing of the individuals in society that experience the trauma of colonization is important in order to drive a history in which an entire nation can recover and move towards creating a social movement that will work to decolonize the minds and the lands resources.

If we think historically to different events of colonization: Christopher Colombus is a classic example. More recent example (and one of my favorites because it displays the will of the people): Zapatista movement (link to history: http://www.kersplebedeb.com/mystuff/books/reviews/communebromma.html). And another more obvious example can be considered if we think about the “Race for Africa”.

In the “Race” for African Resources (Colonization of Africa) we see a massive destruction not only to the land, but also to native cultures. Linked above is a video from part of a conversation by the Kenyan social activist Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o about the Decolonization of resources and Decolonization of the minds of people not only in Africa, but also around the world. By decolonizing the minds of the people– ridding them of neoliberal ideals, being culturally sensitive, heightening their awareness of the world around them, using language locally– can we work to begin a decolonization movement for the peoples of Africa, and ultimately for the world.

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Blog #3. Goffman: Mental Illness and Stigma

Following our discussion about Goffman and Stigma, I am led to search for contemporary examples in the media that may help to tie everything together. With Goffman’s micro levvel thoery of symbolic interactionism, we are led to understand that human actions are in accordance with shared meanings, orientation and assumptions. As defined by Goffman, Stigma is a process by which the reaction of others “spoils” normal identity. With Stigma comes a label. With Goffman’s labeling theory he relates the public label that is created with the stigma to the persons public identity. This label becomes the persons master status: a status that assumes priority and overrides any other status consideration. The stigma and label causes others to alter their estimation of them downward, reducing societies valuation of the individual (stigma symbol).

In the video linked above is the trailer to a new tv series on ABC called Black Box. This show gives us some perspective about Goffman’s Theory of Mental Illness. (Not to spoil anything for you, but I would definitely recommend the show… its a hybrid between Grey’s Anatomy and HawthoRNe). In the show, Dr. Black is a world renowned neuroscientist, she has also been diagnosed with Bipolar disorder. In an attempt to keep her credibility as an academic, research and clinician, the only person that knows about the true extent of her disorder is her Psychiatrist. As a practicing clinician, she also battles with frequent manic episodes which include heightened sexual appetites and reckless endangerment and refusing to take her medication. With frequent changes in her mood and trying to keep her image in tact as to not jeopardize her job and relationships, Dr. Black is forced to share information about her condition with a few people in order to cope with her symptoms. With the fear of her condition being revealed and being labeled “crazy”, “psycho” or anything of the sort, only 3 episodes in, we see just how important it is, when battling with a mental illness to share your story with loved ones and not suffer in silence.
What we often observe is that people who are fearful of being labeled and stigmatized battle with their illness in silence, however sharing stores about stigmatized illnesses such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or the like, is important in order to strike up discourse that can work to dismantle the hurtful labels that can interfere with the ability to cope and live a fulfilled life.

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Blog 2: Gillman. What if the roles were reversed?

In the video linked above, Oppressed Majority, is a great short film that helps to give us some perspective about the what it would be like if gender roles were to be reversed in our society. In the video we see that the division of labor in the family has been flipped on its head, and now instead of the traditional patriarchal roles that consist of women taking on the role as care taker, we now have the husband acting as care taker. In addition to the familial roles being reversed, we also notice that the social interactions have also been turned.
The father in this short story is silenced by the police officer as well as his own wife following his assault, he is also subjugated to being objectified by the women that he encounters.
The world illustrated in this video, parallels the one that we live in today. In our world that we experience is riddled with the subjugation of women/womenly bodies. Gillman also illustrates the subjugation of women in our world in her short story “The yellow Wallpaper”.
In a parallel world in which women have the upper hand in the interaction, women are free to express themselves and have the privileged of asserting space, while men are subject to silence, discrimination, violence and the plague of being invisible, of existing in the world but not being appreciated.

One of my critiques of this video: I must admit that while the video gives a great perspective about what it would look like if the roles of gender socialization were reversed, there is a gross misrepresentation about what feminism stands for. Feminism does not call for the roles to be reversed and to subject men to discrimination, but rather the goal of feminism, in my opinion is to vouch for the rights of all, to rid society of economic and political disparities that exist for women, and men of all nationalities.

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Blog #1: Land of the Free, Home of the Poor

Video 2: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/business-july-dec11-makingsense_08-16/

I watched the “Wealth Inequality in America” video first. I initially thought that I had a pretty good understanding of the wealth distribution in the US, however I was forced to challenge my understanding and finally had to realize just how disparate the wealth distribution is in America. Moving on to the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Poor” video, I was already given a taste of the real distribution from the previous video, and was not surprised that many people were not able to select the correct pie chart. One of the most shocking parts of the video for me was the last portion of the video when the woman participant said that she would opt to live in the society where the distribution was most disparate, her claim was that “she would have more chances of getting a piece of the larger portion if she lived in that society”. Well, we live in that society… And that is not the case! (There probably are other people that think the same way) In order to challenge their thinking, without being too passionate and going off track I would first have to help them realize that is a gross exploitation of the “poorer populations”, these people are not awarded the same quality opportunities as those who have a larger slice of the pie, but these populations, despite constant criminalization of their economic situation (These populations are in their economic situations due to policies that keep them at the lower end of the ladder), somehow still strive to want to make there way up and get a slice of the “nice part”(85%) of the pie.

With Obamas most recent State of the Union Address, he did a “great job” of selling the American Dream to the people who still have hope in “making it”. However, from these videos, it is apparent that hard work, a decent amount of formal school education, even working a 9-5 consistent job will not guarantee that you can still make a living in which you can be comfortable. It is apparent that climbing the ladder to wealth/comfortable living all comes down to networks, incentives for the wealthy and transferable wealth… Knowing this, the American dream that is being sold (what we see on television, hear in presidential speeches, etc) is a fantasy, and is maintained out of greed.

With a passion for food justice, it was easy for me to pinpoint one of the major consequences of gross capitalism: starvation and malnutrition in America. People can not make enough money to purchase decent food, people have to work so hard that they do not have the time to cook a decent meal for their families (leading to obesity), people have to work so hard at a job that does not pay them a decent wage that they are stressed and do not take care of their bodies (leading to preventable diseases, obesity, and many psychological disorders). The list goes on.

This sort of class struggle is what is driving our history: a history full of conflict, greed and politics. With Marx’s theories, he seems to be right: we have an over production of commodities (most which the workers cannot afford), Alienation of labor, globalization of capitalism, gross sense of greed and a distorted sense of ownership. It is undeniable that there needs to be a complete and open evaluation of the current condition of the United States economic distribution if we can ever conceive of a nation in which there is a sustained sense of well being of the entire population. It is hard for me to believe that the current condition of the wealth distribution is a grand design meant to keep people out, meant to kill people (literally)… What if it “just happened” due to negligence on the part of the government? If this is the case, there is needs to be a crucial overhaul of our current system of economics. No one should have to starve, suffer from preventable diseases, not be able to afford their own healthcare, not have a place to live, basically starve and die…all in the name of inequality… This are all injustices that are undeniable.