What would an ethic of care towards the environment look like?
What Challenges do Those who Have a Minority Identity Face?
There are many conflicts that may arise when one has a minority identity. These include, but are not limited to, derogatory speech and treatment by others, being marginalized by the media, and ignorance of the diversity that exists within the human race. These hardships are experienced by many today. Alex Dang and Winona Lynn both shared their experiences through the medium of spoken word poetry. In spite of the fact that their experiences can be summed up in similar ways, Dang’s poem, “What Kind of Asian are you?” and Lynn’s poem, “Knock-off Native” have some fundamental differences. Winona, who is Canadian First Nations, speaks in detail about one incident with racism, while Alex’s poem tells of a long history of racism and bigotry throughout his experience as a Chinese-Vietnamese-American. Regardless of the surface details, both poems highlight the importance of standing up to stereotypes in order to alleviate these hardships. The negative effect of stereotypes is brought out by these poems in the form of three major points: racial slurs and derogatory speech, marginalization, and the ignorance of diversity. By combating these, society can counter stereotypes, thus improving the lives of those who have a minority identity.
To begin, both Alex and Winona have, on a regular basis, had the experience of being referred to in a derogatory manner. Alex tells about slurs such as “chink”, “gook”, and “zipperhead” (Dang, 38, 56), while Winona mentions being compared to the historical figure-turned-Disney princess Pocahontas. There are some significant differences in their situations and experiences, though. Dang looks Asian, and therefore people’s first impression of him is ‘Asian’. This often leads to him being thought of in the context of, and as, a stereotype. He lists, among others, the ideas that any given Asian is an “Awkward math genius,” or “Cold and calculated Kung-Fu expert,” (Dang, 8, 9), or that he is a poor driver. On the other hand, Lynn does not look the way that the majority of people envision First Nations people to be. In her poem, she speaks about being accused of being fake. One person in particular calls her a “knock-off Pocahontas,” (Lynn, 1) saying that she is not truly First Nations because of the fact that her hair, skin, and eyes are not the same colour as the stereotypical First Nations person’s are. Stereotypes play a large role in derogation of ethical minorities. An important first step towards elimination of this thoughtless and uncivil treatment of those who are not the same is the elimination of one of its biggest sources, namely—stereotypes.
Secondly, those who have minority identities are often marginalized by the media. The vast majority of successful movies and television shows are focused on white people. There may be other ethnicities included, but as Alex Dang points out, they are most often shown as “the secondary role, And never the leading man” (Dang, 48, 49). This can often lead to self-worth issues. When one seldom, if ever, sees people who look similar to oneself in the media, it can cause feelings of isolation. This effect is exacerbated if one looks different from those around him or her. These conditions are not conducive to high self-esteem. If this is not addressed, then it becomes more pronounced, and can even lead to thoughts of suicide. It should be noted that there have been recent improvements, with movies such as Black Panther doing very well in the box office. But this is, so far, an isolated incident. In order to truly make a positive change this must become a trend. The lack of representation in the media reinforces stereotypes, and is therefore counterproductive to the goal mentioned above of eliminating such generalizations, especially in reference to minority groups.
Finally, both Lynn and Dang faced the challenge of people confusing them with or mistaking them for other races. This is degrading and depersonalizing to those who are victims of it. Dang, who faced this kind of ignorance said in reference to his experience: “Every time you confuse me/With some other nationality…it’s stripping away my individuality,” (Dang, 66-68). He feels that his very identity is being taken from him, that he is, to others, a clone of any other given Asian person. When people ignore the differences between others, when those things which make everyone unique are disregarded, humanity becomes one homogenous mass. There is nearly infinite diversity within the human species, and so many people have only a limited concept of the sheer number of races that exist on the planet. This is emphasized especially well by a poignant quote from “Native”. Upon being compared in a derisive way to Pocahontas, the author said, “Pocahontas was Pohatan, and I am Meskwaki,” (Lynn, 4). With this simple sentence she both points out the vast diversity of the First Nations, and the ignorance exhibited by so many, including those who are not malicious in their rudeness. The source of this racism, whether intentional or not, is stereotypes. The importance of removing these stereotypes cannot be overstated. It is wishful thinking to assume that society is able to get rid of all stereotypes, but if it were possible, the effect would be extraordinary. With an action so apparently simple—ceasing to allow stereotypes to influence our thinking—would likely result in an immediate increase in quality of life for innumerable people.
In conclusion, those who have a minority identity face numerous and varied challenges, including derogatory treatment by others and marginalization in the media which can easily lead to low self-worth and even suicidal thoughts or actions. Another major challenge faced is a lack of recognition for diversity, which can cause one to feel a loss of his or her own identity. These and similar may seem insurmountable, but if society works to eliminate them, then the lives of those whom they affect may be greatly improved.
SlamFind. “Alex Dang – ‘What Kind Of Asian Are You?”.” YouTube, YouTube, 28 Apr. 2016, m.youtube.com/watch?v=uKAFQF19ciI.
Slam, Vancouver Poetry. “Winona Linn – Knock-Off Native.” YouTube, YouTube, 30 Jan. 2013, m.youtube.com/watch?v=i_zFOsd_pqA.
What I was Proud of in This Essay
I was pleased with the diversity of the arguments I was able to use.
What I Would Like to Improve for Grade 12
I would like to have a higher word count. I would also like to use more detail in my arguments.
Canadian history and attitudes have shaped the First Peoples of Canada’s identity. They have caused most to view the First Nations through the lens of a stereotype. For example, when one thinks of the First Nations, a totem pole is quick to come to mind. However, many First Nations groups do not have such poles. In short, the historical attitudes of Canadians have lumped all First Nations into one mental group, creating ignorance of the amazing diversity that exists in the First Peoples of Canada’s cultures.
Leadership Through Love: The Better Way
It is a question that has long beed debated by philosophers and other learned men: Is it more effective for a leader to be feared, or loved? Effectiveness is a word that is bandied around often, but not always clearly defined. The best way to gauge a leader’s effectiveness would, logically, be two major things: how much he or she accomplishes during the period in which he or she rules, and, more importantly, what life is like for people under this rule. In this essay, these points will be considered and the obvious conclusion will be reached: Leading with love is more effective because it gains the people’s loyalty. In addition to this, it is morally right, as shown by current world events, history, and William Golding’s classic allegorical novel, Lord of the Flies.
To start with, leading through love gains for the leader an important resource—the loyalty of the people. This, obviously, leads to a lower likelihood of rebellion or revolt, which in turn means that the leader stays in power longer. With a longer ruling period, a leader can accomplish proportionally more than a leader who is quickly removed from power. For example, president Obama of America was re-elected after his first term was over and has remained a very popular person even now that he is no longer president. During his presidency, Obama eliminated terrorist Osama Bin Laden, removed the banks from the federal student loan program, and expanded hate crimes protections to include crimes based on, among other things, gender and disability. The latter especially was a major breakthrough in gender equality. In addition to the above, if there were to be a coup by some group of malcontents against a beloved leader, it would be far more likely to fail than if there were a feared leader in charge. People would naturally rally to support someone who they love and who they feel respects them. Mutual respect between a leader and the people is also important, as it means that people are more willing to follow the laws set out by that leader. Some may say that people will not rebel if they fear their leader, and that a feared leader has as much respect as, if not more respect than, a loved one.. This would be true for a time. But people would eventually get fed up. Oppression takes away from the people. When there is nothing left to be taken away, when they have nothing left to lose—then they have nothing left to fear. And so the once-feared leader is toppled. With regards to respect, the opposing argument is accurate. However, there is another point to be considered that further supports love over fear, separate from the argument of loyalty.
Leadership is a complex concept, but the one of the most important facets of it is with regards to the people who are being led, specifically their needs and well-being. These are the responsibility of a leader, and if that responsibility is not followed, the leader is unfit and unworthy to hold such power. Therefore, leadership through fear is morally wrong. By its nature, it involves oppression of the people in some form. Oppression places one person or a small group of people at the top, and they benefit from this system. All of the other people are used to further the advantage of those at the top, at the expense of themselves. In most cases, these people lose comfort, money, and material possessions. In extreme cases, they can lose their lives as well. Lord of the Flies by William Golding exemplifies this excellently. In that story, the group of stranded boys have two leaders—Ralph, who leads through love, and Jack, who leads through fear. When Ralph is in power, there are the mishaps that can be expected of boys left unsupervised, seldom worse than a young child getting sand in his eye. When Jack takes over, there are two gruesome deaths in rapid succession—firstly of Simon, the saint-figure, who is murdered by the group when they are having a feast and a savage, chant-accompanied dance. He arrives in the dark, “crawling out of the forest…darkly, uncertainly” and is mistaken because of his awkward movements for the ‘beast’ that the children have feared since the beginning of the story (Golding, page 168). The fear of this ‘beast’ was fueled by Jack in order to keep control of the other boys, and leads directly to this, one of the darkest parts of the book. The other death for which Jack is responsible, albeit indirectly, is that of the most rational character in the story, ‘Piggy’. He was deliberately killed when one of Jack’s most loyal followers pushes a large stone down on top of him. These deaths bring the boys the last remaining distance to savagery, and at Jack’s urging, they engage in a hunt in order to kill Ralph, the previous leader and the only remaining person who challenges Jack’s authority. Just before they begin to hunt, one of the boys is described as “a savage whose image refused to blend with that ancient picture of a boy in shorts and shirt” (Golding, page 203). The boys started out as good people who were determined to thrive in their new environment, but Jack’s takeover, with its twofold fear of the ‘beast’ and of Jack himself, was directly responsible for the loss of innocence on the island. In the nonfictional world, similar leaders currently include Kim Jong-un, Supreme Leader of North Korea, and Pierre Nkurunziza, the president of Burundi. In North Korea, human rights such as freedom of speech are severely restricted, and freedom of press is denied. Nkurunziza’s leadership involves brutality against those who oppose his policies and practices, and the purging of the ethnic people of the area, the Tutsi. Rulers like these are not limited to the modern day. Familiar historical examples of this are the regimes of Hitler and Stalin. Best estimates propose that Joseph Stalin was directly responsible for 6 million deaths, in addition to indirect responsibility for 3 million more. Similarly, it is estimated that 17 million people died under Adolf Hitler’s rule. Leadership through love inherently omits such atrocities and losses of human life. In addition to what has already been mentioned, it must be pointed out that there are few greater causes of massive death than war. A loving leader, in taking into consideration the needs of his or her people, will strive to avoid war and the vast quantities of pain and suffering that go along with it, thereby evading a great source of suffering.
In conclusion, the people’s loyalty and respect, and the peace and morality that a loving leader enjoys, make leadership through love the clearly correct choice in terms of effectiveness. The people’s loyalty means that the leader can have a longer, and therefore more productive, term. Respect for the leader translates into respect for his or her laws, meaning that they will be abided by. In addition to that, a good leader’s first and foremost priority should be the good of his or her people and love is the most important quality to assure that. This includes avoiding war, and maintaining basic rights and freedoms such as freeness of speech and press. A beloved leader will invariably place emphasis on these things. For all of the above reasons, leadership through love is a better and a more effective method than leadership through fear.
In my next essay I would like to use real-world examples and evidence for all points.
In WALL-E, directed by Andrew Stanton, humanity has polluted Earth to the point that it is uninhabitable. They left robots to clean up the mess and went into space, where they became fully reliant on technology to perform even the simplest tasks, and have not changed culturally since leaving Earth. WALL-E, one of the cleaning robots, and EVE, a probe sent by the humans to check up on Earth, bring a plant from Earth into space to indicate to humanity that they can come home. Some of the robots on the human ship try to prevent them, and the humans eventually have to break free of their reliance. Humans need self-reliance in certain areas. Being human is more about actions and emotions than biology. This movie shows that too much technology can cause people to lose their ability to do things for themselves, and when that happens, how they experience a cultural atrophy.