By Christopher Torrenueva

Music Video Review: Rhythm Nation (1989) by Janet Jackson

Janet Jackson’s black-and-white, military-inspired music video, titled “Rhythm Nation,” was released in 1989 as part of the Rhythm Nation 1814 Film. Fast-paced and bold, viewers become hooked to the catchy tunes and soulful sounds of the groundbreaking dance video. It is of the new jack swing musical genre, which incorporates the styles of hip-hop with the urban contemporary sound of rhythm and blues. Songs of this genre typically utilize keyboards, synthesizers, and drum machines. Jackson’s voice can be described as passionate and powerful, and is accompanied by harmonizing vocals in certain parts of the song, particularly the chorus. Producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis composed the music, which features a sample from Sly and the Family Stone’s 1969 song “Thank You.”
Famous for its dynamic choreography in an abandoned factory, “Rhythm Nation” sheds light on the problem of apathy, which is common among young people today. The dancers in the music video are representative of social activists and the empty surroundings stand for the indifferent attitudes in society. By featuring entertainers that appear to be making a change, viewers are encouraged to be more involved with their community. In addition, with lyrics like “People of the world unite / Strength in numbers we can get it right / One time / We are a part of the rhythm nation,” they become aware that by being ambitious, idealistic, and politically active, fighting the good fight will never be impossible.
Most of the men and women in the music video are dressed in black, cadet-style costumes that cover the entire body except the face. They can be seen wearing black leather gloves and military hats. Jackson and some of the other female dancers are wearing an earring on each ear with a key attached to each one. About the same number of men and women are featured as professional dancers, promoting gender equality in society. With the exception of the segment near the end of the music video that includes freestyle dancing, most of the video consists of Jackson with background dancers performing a synchronized dance routine. Judging by the serious facial expressions and vigorous body movements of Jackson and her dancers, the men and women in “Rhythm Nation” are confident, courageous, and display unmatched conviction.
Jackson composed the empowering lyrics for “Rhythm Nation” in an effort to promote racial unity and harmony among nations by stating, “We are a nation with no geographic boundaries, bound together through our beliefs. We are like-minded individuals, sharing a common vision, pushing toward a world rid of colour lines.” Evidently, Jackson was conscious of the issues that the world was facing, and wanted her music to not only entertain, but to educate others about social injustice.
Because the music video preaches justice and equality, having a fair representation of different races would make sense. Evidently, the video features dancers of African-American, Caucasian, and Asian ancestry. Occasionally, a fairly young black male would observe Jackson and her dancers after going through a time of mental anguish. Janet Jackson, the lead vocalist and dancer, is an African-American who is known for breaking existing racial stereotypes specifically toward African-American women. Due to the stereotyping of black women in the media, it is sometimes believed by several ignorant individuals that all women of African-American ancestry are submissive maids, sex kittens, or obnoxious complainers. Jackson, on the other hand, proves that she is a socially responsible citizen with dignity and grace.
Although there are no sexually explicit lyrics or messages in “Rhythm Nation” that would be obvious to audiences, there is a short scene two minutes and thirty eight seconds into the music video that is somewhat sexual. During that scene, Jackson and her male and female dancers, placed their hands behind their head, and then pushed the front part of their body forward twice. It is debatable whether the scene was meant to be sexual or not, but it definitely caught the attention of music critics and viewers alike. Other than that, the music video is very different compared to many mainstream videos today. Instead of using sexual elements to attract audiences, it portrays the strong bond between entertainers and social activists with a common goal.
Even if one of the main purposes of the media is to promote the goods and services of various companies, Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” does not seem to endorse any particular product or brand name in the lyrics and visual aspect of the music video. However, Jackson once said that she drew her inspiration for the video’s choreography and technology from brother Michael Jackson’s Captain EO with his permission. Contrary to popular belief, the video states that wealth is not defined by the amount of money one owns or what social class one belongs to. Instead, it is defined by our ideologies and instincts because as Jackson said, “In complete darkness, we are all the same. It is only our knowledge and wisdom that separates us.”
If the “Rhythm Nation” music video were given a different title, “The World Today” would be an appropriate title. Although world issues such as poverty, illiteracy, disease, violence, and global warming continue to exist in this generation, no other generation in the history of humankind has globalized culture, commerce, and technology. More than ever before, the increased familiarity with mainstream media, communications, and technologies has made it possible to change the face of the planet for the better. All it takes is one hopeful individual and the will of the people.
Personally, Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” is one of my most favourite music videos ever made. It speaks particularly to young people and encourages them to be the leaders of tomorrow. Jackson passes on the message of social activist Mahatma Gandhi who once said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Discussion Questions

1. What do you think is the meaning behind the title “Rhythm Nation?”
2. Do you think the music video does a good job in getting the message of the song across?
3. Has viewing Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” had a positive impact on you as a person, student, and citizen?
4. Jackson is not the only cultural figure who preaches racial equality. Many other musicians, movie stars, and humanitarians talk about the injustices in the world. Do you think their goal to end discrimination will come true?
5. Jackson once said, “In complete darkness, we are all the same. It is only our knowledge and wisdom that separates us.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?


February 13, 2010 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Race Against Racism: Fighting for Diversity, Justice, and Equality

The Race Against Racism

The Race Against Racism

Racism is based on the idea that the character and capabilities of an individual are determined by the race to which they are thought to be a part of. It is the belief that some races are inherently superior to others, whether physically, intellectually, or culturally. It causes certain people to be judged and discriminated against because of reasons such as skin colour, interests, or religion. This mentality of superior and inferior racial groups has led to some of the most tragic events in human history, including beatings, murders, and even attempts to obliterate an entire race. “Racism has been to human relationships what cancer has been to human existence. It is a disease that eats away at the very fabric of humanity itself” (Gifford, 6). Its effects on the mindsets of members of society can be irreversible, causing racial tensions to inevitably result from such narrow-minded attitudes. Proper knowledge is the key to escaping from the prejudice, ignorance, and bigotry in the world.

Prejudice can be described as the preconceived feelings, opinions, or attitudes, usually regarding a racial group in an unfavourable manner. A prejudiced person is likely to hold on to their views even when presented with evidence that disproves their judgements. Racially prejudiced people believe that they can revert to conclusions about the character and personality of an individual through reasons such as the common religious beliefs within the people of the racial group that the individual belongs to. In the 1925 novel, Mein Kampf (My Struggle), Adolf Hitler wrote that it was the Nazi Party’s mission “to promote the victory of the better and stronger [races] and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker” (Gifford, 15). It foreshadowed the massive genocides of millions of German citizens who did not fit his category of the “master race” (Ibid). The Nazi Party’s attempt to gain superiority over the “lesser races” shocked communities all over the world. Eyewitness accounts and real-life stories of victims of the tragic event spread from one country to the next, emphasizing the horrific consequences that can result from such negative stereotyping. Consequently, it is apparent that prejudice limits how a person sees others and themselves and reinforces the flawed belief that not every culture deserves equal respect. It weakens the public’s interest in multiculturalism where the perspectives and ideologies of various racial groups are embraced as fundamental elements of a unified society.

Another component of racism is ignorance; lack of knowledge, information, and exposure to a particular culture. People who are racially ignorant express very little awareness on the meanings, beliefs, and values of other races and ethnic groups. This lack of awareness can make some racial groups feel justified in treating other peoples as subordinates of the human race. From around the 1500s and on, European empires like Great Britain, France, and Spain colonized areas in Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Pacific (Gifford, 12). Arriving colonists made little to no attempt to understand the civilization of the native peoples, and mistreated hundreds of communities (Ibid). The age of European colonialism marked the beginning of the belief that European civilization was the greatest the world had ever known (Ibid). As a result, it is evident that ignorance blinds us from seeing the beacon of light that is engraved within every mind, body, and spirit of all races. It has the possibility of lessening the equity and moral rightness of society, as well as the maintenance of distributive justice around the globe.

Furthermore, bigotry can be characterized as the complete intolerance of a certain group that differs from one’s own. It has served as the foundation for segregation primarily between whites and nonwhites, as well as institutional racism. By 1896, the Supreme Court in the United States ruled that “separate but equal” facilities were allowable by law, where separate schools, businesses, and community functions would be established for the white majority and African-American minority (Gifford, 24). Although racial segregation has been abolished from most of the world, racial discrimination is still in existence. In a 1989 study of employment agencies in Canada, 94 percent of employers confessed that they had discriminated against job seekers on the basis of skin colour (Gifford, 19). Therefore, racial bigotry, whether in the form of segregation or discrimination, supports the ideology that “the more a civilization became mixed racially, the more it lost its creativity and value” (Gifford, 8). It essentially is a meaningless, political concept, negating the fact that there is no scientific evidence proving that the groups of mankind differ in their capacity for intellectual and emotional development (Ibid).

Racism can be considered a disease that destroys the path of human relationships from reaching their full potential. Inhumane and uncivil events have resulted from the notion of the “higher race” and “lesser races.” They have formed stereotypes and false misconceptions about certain people because of personal, physical, and cultural attributes. Such generalizations and statements surfaced the belief that some races are more talented and capable than others. Though it is natural that belonging to an ethnic group, culture, or race generates an idea of an individual’s character and capabilities, the richness and diversity of the multiracial world should be celebrated as entities of the spectrum of human dignity.

Works Cited

Gifford, Clive. Racism. North Vancouver: Whitecap Books, 2006.

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September 5, 2009 Posted by | Persuasive Essays | , , , | Leave a comment

We Will Remember

Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

We don’t have to say goodbye, to hold on to the memory. His legacy will forever live through his music and our hearts.

My most sincere condolences goes out to the Jackson Family during this difficult time.

Rest In Peace to the King of Pop, the incomparable, impeccable, one and only . . . Michael Jackson.

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July 16, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment | | 1 Comment

Higher Learning (1995) – Question the Knowledge

Higher Learning (1995)

Higher Learning (1995)

Higher Learning is a 1995 drama film, directed and composed by John Singleton. It starred an ensemble cast including Omar Epps, Kristy Swanson, Michael Rapaport, Jennifer Connelly, Ice Cube, and Laurence Fishburne. The movie also featured supermodel Tyra Banks, whose appearance became her first performance in a theatrical movie. The University of California, Los Angeles, otherwise known as UCLA, filled in for the fictional Columbus University, the setting in which the story took place. The soundtrack to the movie included performances by Ice Cube, Tori Amos, and OutKast.

This Columbia Pictures film examines the personal, political, and racial issues of freshman students as they begin their first semester at Columbus University. Malik Williams (Omar Epps) is an African-American student who starts his post-secondary studies believing that his athletic abilities would compensate for his lack of interest towards academics. He soon begins to lose his self-confidence when he experiences financial problems in regards to his track scholarship. Malik eventually forms a relationship with Deja (Tyra Banks), who would also become his school tutor. In addition to his worries about schoolwork, finances, and his new girlfriend, Fudge (Ice Cube), who has been attending Columbus for several years, befriends Malik and challenges his views on systematic racism in America. As tension rises within the multicultural atmosphere of the campus, Maurice Phipps (Laurence Fishburne), Malik’s political science professor, informs Malik that he will not be graded on a different standard simply because of his ability to run quickly or the fact that they are both African-American. When Malik realizes that his success at university does not lie solely on his individual talents and cultural background, he ventures on a journey of self-examination in which he battles the prejudice, bigotry, and racism in the world.

Meanwhile, Kristen Connor (Kristy Swanson), a somewhat naïve, young woman from an upper-middle class family in California, enters Columbus University with education as her top priority. However, as Kristen gets more engaged in the social happenings at campus, she becomes influenced to think and act in ways that differ from her personal ideals and values. She then meets a boy named Billy (Jay R. Ferguson) after drinking too much at a party and becomes a victim of sexual abuse. To help her overcome the distressing incident, Kristen joins an organization called “Students for a Non-Sexist Society” which Taryn (Jennifer Connelly), a junior, invited her to become a member of when she first met Kristen. As Kristen gets to know more about Taryn, she discovers that she is a lesbian and finds herself becoming attracted to her. Kristen then expresses the importance of embracing the genders, sexual orientations, social backgrounds, races, and cultures of all people by hosting a Columbus Peace Festival.

Furthermore, Remy (Michael Rapaport) is a quiet, young man from the Midwest who feels out of place in the highly populated campus of the university. He is approached by Scott Moss (Cole Hauser), a member of a movement that believes in white superiority, and persuades him to carry out his group’s violent plans to dehumanize ethnic minorities. Remy inevitably stirs up racial tensions among the staff and students at Columbus, causing a ripple effect throughout the community.

John Singleton’s Higher Learning is an insightful and thought-provoking story about university students who face intolerance, harassment, and peer pressure, among the many, common issues that individuals undergo throughout their lifetimes. It is a realistic portrayal of members in society who have experienced and are still experiencing discrimination and exploitation, including ethnic minorities, women, and homosexuals. This being said, the movie does have a few shortcomings, including the lack of portrayal of Native people, Latinos, Asian-Americans, and Pacific Islanders. Singleton should have incorporated more major characters of these racial backgrounds in order to produce a complex and captivating plot that is more universal. Because the movie has several elements of alcohol and drugs, sex and nudity, violence and gore, profanity, and frightening and intense scenes, some young viewers may not be emotionally stable enough to handle its mature themes. Thus, some audiences may not appreciate Higher Learning and describe it as inappropriate and unsuitable for viewers. Nonetheless, I strongly recommend this 1995 motion picture to those who are willing to see true to life examples of the destruction and confusion that can result from such ignorance and narrow-mindedness. With its captivating storyline and breathtaking performances, it proves to be not only a movie, but a glimpse of the real world beyond our doorsteps. Therefore, Higher Learning is an invitation to the deeper human emotions, influencing audience members to develop a forward-thinking perspective on themselves and society.

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July 16, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The History of Money

The History of Money

The History of Money

Today, money is any circulating medium of exchange, including coins, paper money, and demand deposits, that is used as a medium of exchange, measure of wealth or means of payment. About every country has a different official currency that was issued by the government, and is normally affected by the economy’s supply and demand, among many other reasons. However, money hasn’t always been the standard medium of exchange in the business sector and society as a whole.

Money has had a long history, and started at the crack of dawn in the very beginning of humankind. But unlike the people of this generation, the first people did not buy goods and services from other people with coins, bills, cheques or any of the forms of money that are used today. Instead, they exchanged their personal possessions of value for goods and services that they wanted in a process called barter. From 9000-6000 B.C., livestock was commonly used as a unit of exchange. As agriculture improved, crops began to be used as well. Though barter is never really used in today’s economics, it is still present among family, friends, acquaintances, and even loved ones.

At about 1200 B.C. in China, cowry shells became the first type of money. Several centuries later, metal tools such as knives and spades, were also used as a medium of exchange. Eventually, round coins were introduced, with the first ones being made out of base metals that had holes to allow people to make chains out of them.

At around 500 B.C., coins started to be made with silver, and began to look more and more like the coins of today. They were imprinted with a wide variety of gods and emperors to mark their value. These coins were first used in Turkey but were later enhanced by the Greek, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires, using rare metals including bronze, silver, and gold.

In 118 B.C., leather money made its debut in China, becoming the first kind of paper money. They were one-foot square pieces of white deerskin with vivid colours and were usually exchanged for goods.

In 1500 A.D., Native Indians in North America practised potlatch, which was the exchanging of gifts at various sacred rituals. It was more for distinguishing the statuses of community leaders than anything else. Several years later, strings of beads made from clam shells became used as money by the Natives.

By 1816, England established the “Gold Standard,” meaning that the value of currency was pegged to a certain number of gold. This would help to prevent the inflation of currency.

Because of the Great Depression during the 1930’s, the U.S. strived to end the linking of gold to currency, influencing other countries to do the same. Today, only a few nations follow the tying of currency to gold and many government and financial institutions try to control inflation.

As a result, money has undergone tremendous changes and improvements throughout history. It is believed to be the cornerstone of happiness, wealth, and status, and is making the world go round with its ability to almost direct and manage the lives of individuals. It is one of the main reasons why big-name companies and businesses continue to sell their goods and services. It is one of the main reasons why people pursue an education and enter the workforce. And it is ultimately the reason for the presence the media.

Money is a powerful thing, no doubt about it, with it almost shaping and moulding the entire future of mankind. Some say that the tomorrow of money is already here, as the invention of electronic money or digital cash is already being widely used by Internet shoppers around the globe. Some say that money should come in second place and that society should place more emphasis towards issues such as global warming, diseases, illiteracy, poverty, instability, and social justice. But who’s to say what the future would hold than you yourself and the choices you make that would ultimately affect the sociocultural evolution of civilization?

Works Cited: “The History OF Money.” Moneypalooza. 17 May 2009. 17 May 2009 <;.

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May 17, 2009 Posted by | Money and Finance | , , , | Leave a comment

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem

Things Arent Always What They Seem

Things Aren't Always What They Seem

People say that “Things aren’t always what they seem.” Today, the saying applies to dating and the building of friendships on the internet that solely depend on instant messaging, social networks, and systems of the sort, which can lead to very serious consequences. First of all, the information that people share about them can be misleading. This is because it can be quite difficult to confirm the accuracy of the impression that they give, due to the lack of physical and verbal communication. In addition, the time spent on the net interacting with people who you actually only partially interact with, can jeopardize current relationships and appropriate interaction skills when meeting another person face-to-face. Furthermore, the information that you share on the internet just might get into the hands of a potential bully, and even worse, a murderer. Therefore, the World Wide Web may be a fairly convenient outlet for entertainment, relaxation and communication, but danger always lurks with those that are one personality on the screen and another in reality.

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January 26, 2009 Posted by | Technology | , , | Leave a comment

Memories from 2008

What made 2008 stand out to you? To me, four inspirational, motivational, and historical individuals made 2008 a truly memorable year. Those individuals include Charice Pempengco, Mariah Carey, David Archuleta, and President Barack Obama.

Charice Pempengco

Oprah called her “the most talented girl in the world.” I agree wholeheartedly.

Mariah Carey

Pop, R&B, hip hop, and gospel sensation Mariah Carey scored her 18th Billboard Hot 100 Singles #1 hit with the track “Touch My Body,” becoming the solo artist to gain the most #1’s and the second musical act to have the most #1’s in music history (the title goes to the Beatles). Carey scored her first #1 with “Vision of Love” in 1990 and has been composing, producing, and singing numerous other works. Several of her other #1 hits include the deeply moving ballad “Hero” (1993) and the smash-hit “One Sweet Day” (1995), that in which Carey collaborated with the boy band Boyz II Men. The track spent a total of 18 weeks at #1, a career highlight for both Carey and Boyz II Men. The release of “We Belong Together” (2005) from her highly acclaimed album “The Emancipation of Mimi,” also marked as a special moment for Carey, as it had spanned a total of 16 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. Mariah Carey, now happily married to actor, rapper Nick Cannon, and rumoured to be pregnant with her first child, has definitely made some astonishing accomplishments throughout her career. Mariah Carey has showed the world that even with troubles from her past, such as the racism that she experienced as a child for being multiracial, her parent’s divorce along with other family problems, the financial struggles that she underwent during her path to success, the oppression she experienced from a past marriage, and her once frequent inability to stop working, which lead to a reported physical and mental breakdown several years ago, one’s talent, ambition, and stamina can eventually lead to a future of numerous achievements and undeniable success. From being well-known for her vocal range, power, melismatic style, use of the whistle register, and songwriting abilities, Mariah Carey will forever be recognized as a respectable and praiseworthy singer, composer, and musician, among many vocations under her belt, who created music, her true passion since infancy, that transcended barriers including gender, class, and race.

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David Archuleta

Recent Utah-born pop singer, composer, and musician David Archuleta has been making headlines since early in 2008 merely for the passion he displays through his music, as witnessed on his highly acclaimed live performance of the 1971 John Lennon classic “Imagine” on the semi-finals round of the hit television series American Idol. Unlike a high majority of other teen pop stars, Archuleta manages to maintain his devotion to his religious faith while in the music business, by keeping his God-given talent the main focus of the public eye, as opposed to other factors of his status as a celebrity. For Archuleta, 2008 has been a big year. Right after becoming the runner-up to David Cook of his season of American Idol, he and nine other of the contestants of the program’s season in the top 10 ventured on the American Idols Live Tour 2008, performing in big sized stadiums and arenas across the United States and in one concert in Canada. In addition, Archuleta occasionally visited the studio to work on his highly anticipated debut album, went on frequent promotional trips, and tried his best to keep in touch with family, friends, and fans. Shortly after the Idols tour ended, his self-titled album David Archuleta was released in stores in early November. Archuleta, now a solo artist, attends countless events, goes to multiple interviews, and performs in numerous concerts to promote his work and share with the world his passion for music, all at the young age of eighteen. However, Archuleta’s rise to success didn’t happen overnight, as many have thought. He had been performing since the young age of nine in various community functions and won the televised junior singing competition, “Star Search,” at twelve. Unfortunately, Archuleta soon caught a serious case of vocal paralysis, preventing him from singing for an abundant amount of time. He was offered the option of a surgery, but refused as doctors said that it would be risky. Nonetheless, Archuleta remained determined and persisted in sharing his talent for music for family and friends. It wasn’t until his audition in American Idol that his talent was exposed to viewers of the hit series and eventually music executives of Jive Records, the music label that signed him. David Archuleta is a unique addition to the music world, for his positivity, serenity, confidence, modesty, and the undeniable talent that he naturally possesses. His pure, simplistic, and engaging performances truly captivate audiences of many different backgrounds, breaking boundaries between generations, leading to meaningful and memorable moments that will last a lifetime. He is a positive example of how an individual can share their talent with the world and still carry themselves with dignity and grace.

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Barack Obama

Barack Obama, the 44th President of the United States, needs no introduction.

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January 4, 2009 Posted by | Entertainment | , , , | Leave a comment

New Year’s Resolutions

New Years Resolutions

New Year's Resolutions

As of now, I am a strong believer in the setting of goals, whether it is for a day, month, or year. Forming positive, attainable, and realistic goals for yourself not only benefits you, but your relationships with family, friends, and the general public as well. Therefore, I have decided to come up with five personal goals for the new year, which will hopefully transcend my limits of expectations for change.

1. Work towards achieving my personal dreams, ambitions, and goals.
2. Don’t perceive obstacles and opportunities too seriously.
3. Unclutter my thoughts and opinions about the world.
4. Stop categorizing myself and just live my life to the fullest.
5. Here’s the big one . . . Sleep on time, get enough sleep, and basically, sleep well!

Do you have one or more new year’s resolutions? If so, it would be great if you shared them, allowing others like myself to possibly consider them as one of their own as well. This would definitely help to make others become more well-rounded, productive, and revolutionary members of society.

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January 4, 2009 Posted by | Seasonal | , | Leave a comment

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

The holiday season is a very busy time for many of us, with the shopping, the gift wrapping, the parties, and so on. It can be quite easy to just get so wrapped up with the stress of this time of the year, and completely forget about what Christmas is really all about. Therefore, my sincerest holiday wishes goes out to everyone at home, because really when it comes down to it, nothing is more special than spending time with our family and friends during the celebration of the birth of our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Once again, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

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December 24, 2008 Posted by | Seasonal | , , | Leave a comment

Three Perspectives: The World in a Minority’s Eyes

The World in a Minoritys Eyes

Three Perspectives: The World in a Minority's Eyes

In the Western world, with its diversifications and superabundance most likely giving this corner of the earth the status of being its own planet, people of a visible ethnic minority typically concern themselves with the following questions constantly: Am I presenting myself in a way that provides me with personal satisfaction, considering my praiseworthy, individual aptitudes and the derogatory, cultural stereotypes of society? Am I a good representative of my racial and ethnic background? Am I fitting in with the North American culture while maintaining a sense of the problems that my homeland’s population are facing, due to the corruptive conditions given from commanding movements? Thus, visible ethnic minorities living in the considerable, comfortable surroundings of Canada or the United States of America, concern themselves not only with the characteristics that make them human, but with the signs of ignorance that make them belittled, degraded, and ultimately, dehumanized subordinates of the human race.

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December 23, 2008 Posted by | Social Issues | , , | Leave a comment

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