Monthly Archives: November 2014

Bisexuality

The concept that I decided to pick is bisexual.  An explanation of this concept would be when someone that is either a male or female is attracted to both genders. An example of this sexual orientation would be when I was in high school, I had someone in my grade that was a bisexual and it took me a while to realize what was going on. It seemed like one day she had a boyfriend and was holding his hand and stuff and then the next day she was with a girl acting the same way. I thought maybe the girl was her best friend or something but then I found out that they were more than friends when I saw them kiss.

In some cultures people would think of this in terms of heteronormativity, which means that it is considered a deviant behavior because they believe that everyone should be heterosexual. Being bisexual can be a problem because some people get offended by it and might judge them. Most people don’t like things that are out of the norm, and might react in vicious ways like bullying someone who is bisexual. This could happen anywhere but I could imagine that the making fun of would be worse in high school.

Bullying can cause major damage to a human emotionally, no matter what gender they are attracted too. Being brought down emotionally can cause major depression, suicide, and other harmful things. We can’t stop bullying entirely because people are going to do it no matter what. But we can try to prevent it by saying something when

–Mariah

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Racism

As we are raised, we are taught to either accept certain people for who they are or we are taught to judge by race. In some cultures, diversity is huge; you may have diversity in your schools, offices, and neighborhoods. This makes growing up with race differences not that big of a deal. If you grow up with something you usually get used to it, and it doesn’t bother you. You mostly never even notice it. If you are raised in a primary white community, racial difference might feel strange to you and even uncomfortable. Your parents and peers also have a huge part in racism. As you grow up if you are told that black or white people are bad people and you are also told this by your friends and their families you will believe it yourself.

I grew up in Detroit, Michigan which is a very diverse community. There were African America, Caucasian, Italian, Mexican, and other ethnic children that went to my elementary school. I had tons of friends of different ethnicities and never had any issues. I was raised to find the good in people and give everyone a chance, not to judge them by their skin color or the way they talk.

Racism has to deal with people discriminating against minority groups that have a different racial background. It can be people discriminating against a racial group or ethnic group. Not all people fully understand why they can be racist but just know that’s what they were taught. There are tons of movies and shows that represent racism at its finest. A movie called Remember The Titans, about a segregated football team is a perfect example of racism. It shows you the difficulty of changing your ways if you were raised to believe a certain thing. There are two young men in the movie, one Caucasian, one African American, and they both struggle to deal with even talking to each other. They don’t like talking to each other, playing football with each other or even looking at each other because they were raised to believe that because of this person’s race they are a bad person.

A lot of racism causes people to lose jobs, potential friends, and even their lives. People start fights all over just because of the judgment that comes along with racism. I believe if everyone looks more at whom someone is and not just what they look like, then the world would be in such better care and we could live amongst each so much more easily. Not a lot of people realize how much racism affects our world still today, but it happens way more than we think. People still see the color of one’s skin and automatically judge them for being the race that comes along with, without even knowing them. I think it’s sad that after so much time of fighting racism we still drown in it. It’s up to us, to not judge someone because of their race but because of who they are as a person.

— Anna

Global Divide

The world is smaller than we realize. To Americans, a country like China, may seem so far away, and if you measure it in distance, it really is. However, there are many things that connect us. Even though we have different languages, food habits and cultural expectations, there are also many things America has in common with other countries; like certain technologies, religions, and even educational foundations. However, despite these similarities, there are many more things that separate countries from each other. Some of these major differences include the gap between wealth, technology, distribution of resources, and overall economy. And, not only is the world as a whole broken up by these differences, but there is a whole other level of inequalities right in our own backyard. These differences in well-being around the world make up the concept known as the Global Divide.

As previously mentioned, one of the most prominent areas of global divide is financial. The world of wealth is an imperfect system. Countries hit a high of economic growth and wealth, only to suffer a collapse, resulting in bail-out plans for large banks. Governments have to act and rescue these financial institutions, often adding more financial problems to their own institutions in the process, causing even more problems for the taxpaying citizens living in the societies of these crisis. It begs the question: where is a safe place in the cycle?

When looking at these types of issues, one could use a theory called the World Systems Analysis to understand and graph anything from reading levels across countries, to economic growth and decay. It has been found that the richest 1% of people in the world own more than half of the wealth of the entire world. (www.theguardian.com) But why is this the case? Well, as MarketWatch.com describes it, “the rich are rich because what they do is so valuable.” One may argue that celebrity actors shouldn’t be rich because they really don’t do all that much for humanity. However, people still pay to see their work, and on a large scale as well. The majority of those in the top 1% are corporate executives for financial firms, and lawyers for those firms. Because of the fact that the rich thrive in only the top percent, that means after the most recent recession, they were able to fully bounce back, while those in the poor category remained the same, or only got worse. This isn’t only happening here in America. Millions of people all over the world are struggling just to survive through the next day, while others lead privileged and secure lives.

Here is a short video that shows a simplified look into the wealth divide around the world, and mostly in the United States. It really makes you think twice about the way our country works.

 

Our world is not only divided by wealth, but also by the lifestyles and attitudes of the people involved in these categories. In this class, we have learned about the Social Class System. The Social class system is the division of people into categories based on their income, and while this does have to do with wealth, there is a whole other cultural side to these classes. The way people are able to express themselves, the way they conduct their everyday lives, strongly depends on their social class. This is where we tend to experience and see Social Inequality and Social Stratification. Obviously someone who makes $5,000 a year is going to live quite a different life from someone who makes $100,000. And there are many reasons for this gap. Education, connections, family ties, all are involved in the fate of a person’s financial status. In class we’ve also discussed the stratification side: the fact that “social inequality is built into the structure of society”. (Witt, SOC pg. 238)

  • From here one is able to truly visualize how the Global Divide effects us. Allow me to break it down one last time:
  • The 1% rule more than half the wealth around the world.
  • Income, Resources, and Technology are unevenly dispersed around the world.
  • This causes another gap, not just amongst countries, but amongst the states
  • And then, there are even more divisions in our own state of Michigan
  • In our own towns even
  • There is always going to be a divide

Here is an image that charts the amount of internet access and usage around the world. The yellow being the highest rank, and the red and orange being the lowest. Just another example of the Global Divide.

Now that we’ve covered a more in-depth look at wealth and it’s relationship to the global divide, we will now turn our attention to a quick glimpse at what is probably the second most talked about areas affected by the global divide: digitalization. This divide is considered a social inequality, and is taken in reference to the access to, use of, and knowledge of the internet and modern digital technologies. This is a division that has really grown over the last couple decades. The inequality goes beyond just countries, but also to businesses and households. There are four arguments on why we should “bridge the gap”. They are: economic equality, social mobility, democracy, and economic growth. Connections have been made between the way a government is run, in correlation to a society’s internet usage and availability. ICT (information communications technology) centers are working to help developing countries in the adaptation and integration of technologies that we take for granted. There is also a lot of controversy surrounding this, especially from those who believe that our modern technologies are unneeded and polluting. What do you think? Do you think every country should have the same equal access to these technologies? What will be gained? What will be lost in the process?

Now that you know of just a few areas effected by the global divide, you will be able to easily analyze your own life, and where you stand on the scale. We see these divisions not only world wide, but on a small scale as well, within our own country, our own state, and our own neighborhood. We’re all affected by social inequality, whether we are in the top percent, or the bottom. Because of our easy access to the internet, we are exposed to hundreds of charts, graphs, and informational databases that can further explain these and many other world wide divisions. And while some may think that the coming technological world wide revolution is unneeded, I’m sure we’ve all appreciated our modern technologies at one point or another.

–Kellie

Multiple Identities

President_Barack_ObamaI believe that multiple identities were created around the same time of slavery. Slave masters often raped and had biracial children with some of their slaves. And those biracial children went on and had their own children, and the cycle just kept going. As the world started to become more modernized, people of different races began migrating, and in return new mixes of people were created. Hardly anyone now-a-days is one race; nearly 73 percent of the world’s population identifies as being two or more races.

I myself have had trouble figuring out what social identity I belong to. My mother is half Puerto Rican and half African American, she is six foot tall with light brown eyes and very pale skin. My father is half American Indian and half African American, he is also six foot tall with dark brown eyes and dark skin. Somehow I ended up being only five foot two inches, medium brown skin, big brown eyes, and black curly hair. Given my genetic makeup, it would seem as if I only come from African American decent. Often when people first meet me and see my mother I’m asked if I was adopted. Some people don’t realize the mysterious ways that genetics work.

BlackPeople-OneDrop

One problem that people with multiple identities might encounter is figuring out where they belong. President Obama is half white and half black, but he identifies with the black community rather than the white one, even though he is the same amount of both races. I believe it has something to do with the one-drop theory. No matter how much “white” blood runs through your veins, if you are even one percent of a minority, you identify with that race.

— Victoria

Global Stratification

PhotosynQ – Helping a Developing World via Agriculture

Christopher presenting and demonstrating how PhotosynQ works

Christopher presenting and demonstrating how PhotosynQ works

This month in Berkley California, the TechCon conference innovators blew the city away introducing new technology and ideas to spread the word about many global issues. One of those inventions is called the PhotosynQ – a handheld device that can read the health of plants, soil, and seeds. So how can this tool help solve social inequalities and strive to stop global stratification? That is what MSU student researcher, Christopher Zatzke tackled at this incredible conference.

Christopher spent the weekend conversing with brilliant minds about how this device could potentially change the face of agriculture all over the world – especially those in developing countries. In Christopher’s plan, the PhotosynQ device would be given to planters in poverty-stricken countries who would learn how to use the device and take readings from their crops. In return, the PhotosynQ team would reimburse the farmers for each reading they took. In a country where money is very limited, five cents for each reading could make an astonishing difference in their lives. Additionally, the PhotosynQ will be able to tell the agriculturalist how their plants are

The PhotosynQ Device

The PhotosynQ Device

doing, and also provide insight and research to the PhotosynQ team. From here, they could use PhotosynQ’s findings to pursue how they could grow the plants more effectively, if need be.

To put the PhotosynQ in simple terms it is basically a handheld device that can connect to your mobile device and provide fluorescence and absorbance measurements on photosynthetic plants. These measurements help with research such as, but not limited to, plant breeding and plant proficiency. However, currently the existing technologies for doing such research costs too much for developing countries. The PhotosynQ is the key to helping developing countries acquire such technology and education.

Explaining how PhotosynQ works

Explaining how PhotosynQ works

In the world, half of our population is living on less than $2 per day. For example in Liberia, the GNI, or Gross National Income, is only $790 (American dollars) with a population of 4.4 million people. Farmers in Liberia would be given the chance to earn money for providing the readings from their crops. If they could take ten readings a day, and were paid five cents per reading that would not only be an extra fifty cents per day, but also help them understand how their plants are doing and how they can improve their crops via PhotosynQ technology.

The PhotosynQ in action

The PhotosynQ in action

1The Modernization Theory persuaded by the Functionalist perspective, says that poor countries are poor because they have not yet adopted modern technologies or cultural values that Core Countries* have. Still, the Functionalist perspective states that everything in our society must work together as a unit to succeed. Therefore, you could argue that the wealthy countries should be pulling together to help developing countries live in the ways that we take for granted. In developing countries things such as electricity, medicine, matches, etc. could be the difference between life and death.

“The Conference was an eye opening experience, to see how many global issues there really are. The PhotosynQ is essentially a form of micro-tasking for agricultural data. Micro-tasking is the idea of trading a small amount of money for a small task in return. There are programs that exist such as the tagging of monarch butterflies and the compensation of Mexican citizens for finding and documenting those tagged butterflies. With PhotosynQ, scientists will be able to view data collected from all over the world, changing how we think about plants on a global level.” –Christopher Zatzke

The PhotosynQ holds so much potential including its ability to help set developing countries on their feet, as well as help scientists expand on their knowledge of agriculture around the world. While at the conference Christopher’s presentations won the audience choice award and was also chosen to take part in Venturewell’s development process which will help lead him to further funding opportunities for PhotosynQ. As their website says, at blog.PhotosynQ.org, “Chris rocked” the conference. The PhotosnyQ in an incredible device that could positively change the developing world as we know it. Please consider visiting their website for additional information and maybe even donating towards the science of PhotosynQ.

— Kari, author