Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Mystery Skype

On Tuesday November 26th, our grade 11 class skyped a class that lives on reserve in Manitoulin Island so we could learn about their culture.

1) What did you learn from the Mystery Skype???

Something I learned from the Mystery Skype is how much the students feel singled out when going into the city. Some students said that they feel that the 'white people' keep their distance from them in the city and that they feel judged based on their ethnicity. They also said that the 8th Fire documentary made them sad about how the aboriginals that live in urban areas are constantly stereotyped about things that don't apply to them. Before the Skype call I didn't really think about how much native lives could be more difficult in the city, so that was a really eye opening thing to learn about.

2) What did you like about the Mystery Skype???

Something I really liked about the Mystery Skype would be how each class shared things about their culture. Many things were very similar, like some of the sports we play, and many things were different, like how they use traditional medicine and have different rules compared to us. I think that both classes learned a lot about each other's culture which was really interesting to be a part of.

3) What needs to be improved???

One thing that I think needs to be improved for next time there is a Mystery Skype would be that there needs to be a little bit more organization for making the questions because there was a lot of them and I think that we could have narrowed it down a bit so that the really good questions would not be so hard to find in the list.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

ISU Check #1

Does Sara Banerji have enough knowledge about India to make Shining Hero a credible novel about India's culture? In my opinion, I think she does.

Shining Hero is about two half brothers living in India named Karna and Arjuna. The story highlights how it is to grow up being both a rich and a poor Indian male. It also touches on how hard it can be to hold power in India because it is set in the time when communists are trying to take over.

 The reason I think Sara Banerji is knowledgeable enough to make Shining Hero a credible novel would be because she has lived on both spectrums of social class as an Indian woman. Although Banerji grew up in England she did live in a small mud house with no running water after World War 2. She lets this childhood setting shine through, portraying Karna's young life in poverty.

When Banerji met her husband, that's when they finally moved to India. In India, they ran a dairy farm for 17 years and were very successful. But, ultimately their success was defeated by monsoons and a heavy rainy season. This can be connected back to Arjuna's life where his father was a powerful 'zamindar' and ran a dairy farm himself. The communists in the story ended up taking their cows and killing the 'zamindar'. This can be seen as symbolism, because the communists could be viewed as the storm that wiped away all of Banerji's wealth, taking away all of Arjuna's power.

Overall, I think Sara Banerji's life reflects a lot of what has happened in Shining Hero from the good and the bad.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Costume or Culture?

Can a Halloween costume really be so much of a stereotype that it will offend an entire culture? In my opinion, I think it depends on the costume.

It may be going too far if you dress up in a traditional ghutra and iqal over your head with bombs strapped to your chest, while painting your face black to look like you are a part of a different race. That example is obviously offensive to many different people. Dressing up in a certain way that is making fun of a culture's past, is denying them to move forward and create a new name for themselves. It's like bringing up your worst memory and reliving it over and over again each year, like 9/11.

On the other hand, not all cultural costumes are offensive. Some costumes could even be flattering, like the geisha, people only dress up as them because they think they are pretty. They are not trying to be culturally offensive, they are trying to be different and unique in the particular society they are a part of.

Continuing, some stereotypes are just ridiculous. For example, in the text they talked about a Hispanic guy holding up a picture of a guy wearing a Mexican donkey costume. Compared to a Muslim student holding up someone dressed as a terrorist, I don't think a donkey is very offensive. If anything, it's just a harmless joke. I'm a Canadian and I don't get upset when I see lumberjack costumes for sale at the store.

Overall, I think that we need to draw the line between being offensive and being overly sensitive about the costumes people choose to wear.