Thursday, December 6, 2012

Post Reading Questions Week Fourteen


The Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) is a term that refers to companies and businesses that supply goods and services to prisons. The PIC is a big growth industry acting somewhat as a “hotel” for inmates, while making money off of them. Many are against the way prisons are profiting from the prisoners, because they are being used for cheap labor. According to the readings, there are four different approaches to challenging the PIC. The first way is to start a movement or group to address the issue of state violence. The second way is to use publicity and legal workshops to show awareness. The third way is to deal with issues of violence within the community. And the fourth way is to abolish the PIC and use school/rehab as an alternative. I believe that the best strategy for the PIC system is to use publicity and legal workshops. In my opinion this is the best way because it brings up awareness to people’s attention on how the prison system is tied to industry and only incarcerating people for non-violent crimes just to make a profit. The worst way would be to try to solve the problems within the community. In my opinion this method would work if it was a small problem, but if it was a bigger issue such as a murder or domestic violence then this method would not work because bigger issues like such should require the police to take action instead of trying to solve it within the community.
After reading the article about California district attorney, Kamala Harris, decision not to participate in Immigration and Customs Enforcement Secure Communities program, I realized that she made the right choice not to participate. She made the right choice in my opinion because ICE is incarcerating more offenders of non-violent crimes then the serious offenders. “After complaints that the program was going after mostly minor offenders, ICE announced in August 2011 that it would refocus on deporting serious criminals. But Harris said Tuesday that the federal agency hasn’t followed through, at least in California.” I feel that even though it is illegal to stay in our country without papers, immigrants that are trying to make something of themselves should still have a chance to petition for a visa. This relates to our readings because Harris is making a statement that she does not support ICE and deporting immigrants of non-violent crimes.

Words: 403

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Post-Reading Questions Week Twelve


I believe that Lupe Fiasco’s “Bitch Bad” does show a good example of hip-hop that attempts to be more critically conscious, but at the same time it also supports the reasons why women would think that feminism necessary. The song “Bitch Bad” tells a story about the lives of a young girl and boy and how they use and view the word bitch. In the first act, the boy is in the car with his mother listening to her sing along to the lyrics and calling herself a “bad bitch”. In the second act, three young girls are watching a typical rap music video on a laptop and then one of the girl’s starts dancing and mimicking the moves of the video vixen. The two then grow up to have different views on the word “bitch”. The boy associates the word with his mother’s strong role as an independent woman, while the girl relates the word to her sexual appeals.
In the song Lupe says that he’s not “usin “bitch” as a lesson, but as a psychological weapon to set in your mind and really mess with your conceptions, directions, reflections, it’s clever misdirection.” In my opinion, Lupe does a great job of making us think whether the boy or the girl has the right meaning on the word “bitch”. Nowadays the word “bitch” can be misunderstood because it can be used negatively or positively. I believe that the boy has a better understanding on the word than the girl because he was taught by his mom rather than learning from rap music video. The boy was taught that a “bad bitch” was like his mom, strong and independent. The girl grew up copying the dancers from the music videos and coming to an understanding that a “bad bitch” is someone who has sex appeal.
While showing a good example of conscious hip-hop, at the same time Lupe also demonstrates that women should be set in a hierarchy when he says, “Bitch bad, women good, lady better”. After watching the music video I now understand why feminist activist would be against this song. The song makes it seem like Lupe’s understanding of the term “bitch” is exactly like the other rappers; females dressed in skin tight revealing outfits and shaking their asses. People would think this because he says a bitch is bad and also in the music video the girl calls her self a “bad bitch” while dressed in low cut “booty” shorts and looking provocative.
The word “bitch” can be used in many different ways causing confusion of whether or not Lupe Fiasco is using it in a conscious way. I believe that he is not using it in a way where female are being misrepresented, but instead he using word play to make us think under the surface.

Words: 471

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Pre-Reading Questions Week Twelve

        I believe that hip hop can be used to further social justice up to a certain extent. Hip hop started out as an “artistic expression of, and a way to survive, on-going poverty and social disenfranchisement”, but now it’s more than that. Nowadays all rappers talk about in their lyrics is money, getting girls, and more money; you don’t really hear about the struggles that had to deal with before all the wealth. I believe that hip hop is now seen as more of a tool for critique than social justice because of the music videos and the violence in the lyrics. Everyone watches music videos, whether if it is their favorite song or if it is just a good editing for the video. The audience normally judges the artist in the video because they are dressed weird sometimes, for example Nikki Minaj or Flavor Flav.
I think that hip hop could be used as a powerful tool for activism because of the large fan base, but I do not think it is more useful than other music genres because all types of music have its own meaning and its own crowd of listeners. For example, Ac/Dc is an older well known rock band that also has a large fan base, but their lyrics are about doing drugs and having sex. Regardless of how provocative the lyrics can be, there will always be fans and followers.
Common is one of the many hip hop artists that I listen to. There is more to his songs than just beats, but there is deep meaning and it delivers a powerful message as well. For example, the song “The People” talks about the people of Common’s hometown and how he can affect people’s lives by his music. If you look at the lyrics, there is neither cussing nor does he talks about killing or doing drugs and yet this is one of his most heard songs. Rap can still be expressed in a conscious matter and still get the message across without violence and drugs.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pre-Reading Questions Week Eleven


I believe that hip hop as a lot to do with race, class, and social justice. Hip hop was not created by the rich, but it was created in the Bronx of New York. It has come along way since then. When I first started listening to hip hop the rappers would talk about their constant struggles through life in their lyrics, but nowadays some of the lyrics doesn’t even make any sense; as long as it has a good beat, it’s a hit. 2 Chainz is a perfect example of this. His song No Lie is one of the most out played song on the radio, but if people have not noticed his lyrics doesn’t make any sense. “I am smoking on that gas, life should be on Cinemax Movie…” the ridiculousness goes on, but you get my point. I don’t think that hip hop is aimed at any particular race. Although the majority of the rappers are black, their fans are diverse. I believe that people see hip hop as problematic not because of the lyrics, but because of the rappers themselves and their reputation. For example Tupac and Biggie Smalls, people say they are two of the greatest rappers of all time, regardless of how many times they have been in and out of jail and of their deaths due to gang relations. I do believe that it is really up to the listener, people should really listen to the lyrics of the rapper and understand the hardships they had to go through to get to where they are at.
After watching that clip from Chris Rock, I agree with what he says, “in the old days it was easy to defend rap music, it was easy to defend it on an intellectual level, you can break it down intellectually…Houdini was art, Grand Master Flex was art…I love all the rappers today, but its hard to defend this shit, its hard to defend “I got hoes in different area codes”.”  Chris Rock also mentions that the government hates rap. “if they can find Sadam Hussein in a hole, and they cant find out who shot Tupac?” I find this is very true; Tupac’s murder case till this day is still unsolved. This could be all one’s opinion, but if you look at it from their point of view, race does play a huge role in the hip hop culture. 

Words: 405

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Post-Reading Questions Week Seven

“Intersectional analysis is a theoretical approach to the study of inequality
that incorporates the interplay of gender, race, ethnicity, and race in defining outcomes.” Intersectional analysis uses these categories to understand the phenomenon of domestic violence by examining how they interact on multiple levels of inequality. Nowadays domestic violence does not only refer to women, but to men as well. There are a lot of hotlines and shelters for victims of domestic violence, to help them move on and away from their problem. Paola Suoto is a director at Woman Inc., an agency that supports survivors in domestic violence situations. Woman Inc. does not only cater to women, but they also cater to all races and genders. They also have special programs that help the illegal immigrant victims get their citizenship or green card. Helping the survivors of domestic violence is not easy as it may sound; there are barriers that can complicate their access to the agency’s services. Some of the biggest barriers for clients to receiving help are language, resident status, and emotions. According to Paola, the language barrier prevents a lot of places from helping victims of domestic violence because they are not able to understand them; therefore they are unable to help. Resident status is also important when it comes down to trying to get help for domestic violence, because if the victim is an illegal citizen they can easily be deported back to their country. For example, if a wife or girlfriend that have no citizenship, has a child, and is a victim of domestic violence, they would be too scared to report their situation because they could have their child taken away from them. Emotions can also cause a barrier for victims of domestic violence because it prevents them from escaping that abusive relationship that they are in. For instance, according to the reading by Nazli Kibria, “Thu talked about leaving Chau, but she was scared. She thought that maybe Chau would come after her and the children and do something bad to them.” Kibria goes on explaining how in some cultures male dominance can get out of control, which can lead to violence. In the Vietnamese culture, any violence in the family is usually gossiped about and eventually leads to the community or the elderly to talk to the abuser, to try to make him change his ways or to leave the family. Victims of this can go get help from shelters and agencies. There are also programs that help illegal immigrants get their citizenship and residency.  Domestic violence can scar someone physically and mentally, it can affect anyone of any race or gender.

Words: 441

Friday, September 28, 2012

Pre-Reading Questions Week Five


"There is a strange kind of enigma associated with the problem of racism. No one, or almost no one, wishes to see themselves as racist; still racism persists, real and tenacious"--Albert Memmi (quoted in Bonilla-Silva, 1) Racism is not the same as how it was back in the early 1900’s, it changes as society does. In today’s society you can make fun of other people’s race to be funny and would not be considered a racist because to be a racist, you must have systematic power and be prejudice. For example, the comedian Russell Peters is Indian and all he does for his standups is make fun of other races and mocks the way they talk and would have people laughing. When Kraimer, a white actor from Seinfeld did his standup, he was booed off the stage and called a racist because of the inappropriate language that he used. The way I see it, is that he was called a racist because he is white, which is supposed to be the superior race; while Russell Peters being Indian received laughs and claps from the audience when he uses inappropriate humor. My group of friends and I are very diverse from each other. Within my group of friends there are Whites, Indians, African Americans, and Filipino. We always make fun of each other’s race, but do not consider ourselves to be racist because we do not really mean the things we say to each other and it is all for laughs.
If I were to ask one of my friends about white privilege and they said “Oh I don’t see color, I just see people individually” I would tell them that you do not have to see color to be able to see white privilege because whiteness is seen as “the standard”. Everyone is supposed to be treated fair and have equal opportunity, but whites have an advantage, meaning they have more open doors and are treated differently from people of color. For example, in the movie “Don’t Be a Menace To South Central”, there is a scene where two black people walk into a liquor store and is harassed by the owners, who went to the full extent to make sure that they do not steal anything, while a white guy that they were not paying attention to steals their money and food. I find that racism and white privilege is still around us every day, but there is nothing we can do about it because it is seen as the norm and we are blinded by the fa├žade of society.

Words: 432

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Post-Reading Questions for Week Three


Race and ethnicity are not the same thing; race is based on physical appearance and cannot be changed, while ethnicity is based on culture and is changeable. "I think we should remove the formal distinction between race and ethnicity from the federal classification system, but we must also remain alert to, and seek to change, the complex ways in which ethnic privilege has long been secured by defining ethnicity against race" (Hattam, 81). I believe that Hattam is trying to say that the federal classification system’s distinction between race and ethnicity causes us to see that we are equal in a way, but in reality there is a divided line between ethnic and racial groups. I agree with Hattam because not everyone is treated equally. For example after 9/11, a lot of Indian Americans were treated differently because of what someone from their same race had done. Although their race might be Indian, they can claim to be American as their ethnicity because they have assimilated themselves into that culture.
According to the Census worksheet handed out in class, in 1790 there was no distinction between race and ethnicity; it was either you were a slave or you were white. In 1930, the Census switched to a more self evaluation rather than checking the box that is closest to what you think your race is. In 2000, the Census broke down the race categories and added sub categories, making it easier to distinguish the different races. Out through the years the Census has changed because they are recognizing that there more than just one race due to immigration and mixed marriages. Even with the sub categories to help distinguish our race, it is still confusing because race and ethnicity are compared as the same. For example, on questions 8 and 9 in the Census, there are about 6 different categories for Asians and 1 box for other Asian; while Hispanic is its own group with its own sub categories of different types of Hispanic. If one of my Hispanic/Latino friends were to ask me to help them fill out the Census, I would ask them some under the surface questions trying to find out where their parents or grandparents are from, and whether they see themselves as American or not. It makes it easier to examine what race you are if you break down the facts.
The Census confuses us by including race and ethnicity into the same categories, but clearly there is a big difference. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese can all fall into one category, and that is Asian. The difference between the Asian races would be their ethnicity, which is Chinese, Japanese, Korean, or Vietnamese. With some many different and mixed races in today’s society it makes it hard to distinguish one from another. The Census helps us to do that, but in order for it to be more effective the Census Bureau should make some adjustment.

Words: 490