South Africa has experienced inequality between whites and other races for many years. Under Apartheid during the 20th century, non-white races were subject to discrimination and unfair laws. These races were removed from their homes and forced to move into poor areas designated for colored people. Mixed marriages were prohibited, as well as most interactions between whites and blacks. The segregation in South Africa is still evident even today. Johnny Miller created a project called Unequal Scenes. He photographs pictures of South Africa from the air to portray the inequality that remains in the country. In the photos, you can see the clear difference in the white areas and the black communities. The whites live in beautiful, spaced out neighborhoods with trees and roads. On the other side, blacks live in rundown shacks packed together with no roads, grass, and sometimes no electricity. The pictures reveal the closeness of the two very different communities. Many times they are side by side with only a road dividing them. It’s shocking to think about how close these areas are to each other, and it shows the inequality between the races. A similar situation can be seen in America. Blacks and whites usually occupy different areas, with the black communities being less modern and in poor condition. The pictures taken in Unequal Scenes sheds light on the separation that is still in South Africa. It reminds people of the period of time when the country was under Apartheid and shows that the fight for equality has not yet ended.
Last week we read about and watched Malcolm X get his first conk. A conk is a hairstyle worn by African Americans that was popular in the mid 1900’s. The straightening of black hair is supposed to make it look more like white hair. This is just one example of how blacks attempted to assimilate into white culture. Whites were seen as superior, and they believed that if they looked more white, they would be accepted. Malcolm despised the hill people because they tried to make themselves more white, but in reality he was doing the same thing. Blacks changed their hairstyle, the way they dressed, and even the way they talked to become someone they were not. Conforming into this culture didn’t end discrimination or give them more rights. Standing up for themselves and speaking out is what helped them to gain more rights. This proves that making themselves more like their enemy did not get them anywhere. Trying to become someone others want you to be will eventually end in failure. Another example of this is with Zora Bikangaga. The students at his college believed he was Ugandan, when in reality he was an African American. He spoke in an accent and covered up his past because he thought others liked him for his culture. He couldn’t keep it up forever though, and had to come clean. His friends were shocked, and the girl he liked felt betrayed. Covering up his true self led to failure in the end. People should be who they really are and not change themselves to feel more accepted.
This week we watched the interviews or two very different men, fighting for the same cause. Those men are Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Each one carries himself in a certain way and has his own approach on dealing with prejudice. Martin Luther believes in love and non-violent resistance. Showing love to your enemy can help both sides to cooperate and listen to each other. This method was used by Gandhi, and the Indians eventually gained independence. MLK believes that physically fighting back will only lead to more hate, while love will drive out hate. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend” (Martin Luther King). In contrast, Malcolm X belives the exact opposite and encourages blacks to fight back if violence is shown toward them. Many are quick to criticize Malcolm X for this; however, it is important to look at why someone acts or believes the way they do before judging them. His childhood shaped the way that he thinks and explains why he is so bitter towards whites. They tore his family apart and sent his mother to a mental hospital . His father was killed by whites, as well as many other members of his family. His philosophy of fighting violence with more violence can be seen as a practical solution to some. It is in human nature to hate those who hate you. During World War II, showing appeasement to Germany only made everything worse, and we eventually had to fight back to win the war. There are many examples in history supporting the two different beliefs of MLK and Malcolm X. This article provides more information on the difference of these two men. Which side do you support and why?
In today’s digital world, it is easy to spread news quickly all over the world. With social media like Twitter and Facebook, people from different countries and cultures can connect with one another. The positive aspect of this is that people can learn about different societies and stay up to date on current information. However, the downside is that some like to spread extremist propaganda in the hopes of recruiting more people to fight for ISIS. The recruiters glorify the organization and make it seem as if they are fighting for a good cause. They are tricking people into flying over to the middle east to join the fight. This video from PBS shows how Facebook and other social media sites are fighting extremism online. They delete thousands of accounts every single day, but new ones are popping up all the time. Users report the accounts, but that is not enough to completely rid the site of them. To more efficiently delete them, Facebook has developed a photo recognition system. If the picture being uploaded has been previously deleted because it related to extremism, then the post will be removed, and the account will be suspended. This creates a problem because some people are trying to post pictures relating to extremism to speak out against it. One man uploaded a photo with and ISIS flag, and his account was suspended. He was only trying to report on ISIS, not support them. This new technology can limit freedom of speech to those trying to spread news or fight against extremism. It is a positive thing that the propaganda is being deleted, but it makes it hard for people to spread news about what is happening in the middle east. If social media sites remove the photo recognition system, the recruiters would be able to easily upload anything they want, but it would give everyone more freedom of speech. Maybe it is better to limit what everyone says in order to catch the extremist more efficiently. On the other hand, freedom of speech is important to spread knowledge and inform people of what is happening in the world. Do you think there is a better way to fight extremism online?
Citizens of America often take for granted the right to free speech. We can say how we feel and express our opinions when and where we want. In other countries, including Pakistan, people cannot say whatever comes to their mind. They have laws against speaking out against the government or religion. If they break these laws, they face jail time or even death. In the case of Asia Bibi, she has been sitting in jail for the past seven years for blasphemy. She is a Christian woman who was working in the field with Muslim women, and they refused to drink her water because it was “unclean”. The Muslim women claimed she insulted the prophet Muhammad, and she was sentenced to death. Her five children and the rest of her family have been affected by this too. They are harassed and receive death threats everywhere they move. Laws against blasphemy in Pakistan have caused Bibi and her family all of this trouble. There is no proof that she spoke out against Islam, and the women could have made up the claims since she is Christian. Even if their accusations are true, it is important to have freedom of speech so that everyone can express their thoughts and ideas. Without this, people have no power or influence. When speech is restricted, it allows the government to have too much control and promotes ignorance. People have the right to express their opinions and beliefs. We have the responsibility to share our thoughts with others so that we can grow as a society. It is okay to disagree with someone else, but it should be done in a respectful way. Why do you think freedom of speech matters?
Girls in America freely go to school everyday and can aspire to be whatever they want. However, this is not the reality in many countries. In Pakistan girls are prevented from going to school and are expected to stay at home. They are targeted by the Taliban and risk acid attacks if they choose to still go. In this 2009 documentary, the days leading up to Malala Yousafzai’s last day of school is filmed. She cannot wear her uniform and must hide her books under her clothes to avoid gaining the attention of the Taliban. Her teachers give her homework with no date to return to school. Malala advocated for girls education and was shot, but this only brought attention to the problem. The Taliban tried to silence her but instead made her speak even more loudly. Preventing girls from getting education is harmful in many ways. It allows men to have power over women because they are more educated. Women can also contribute to society in many ways, and have different strengths than men. Keeping them at home prevents them from doing this and reaching their full potential. Ignorance can be dangerous, and it allows people to control others and influence them in a negative way. Fazlullah was able to slowly gain control of the people of Swat and change their beliefs. People only began to realize the effects of his power when it was too late, and they were forced to leave the valley. The Taliban is so against education because they want power and control. The more people who are educated, the less chance they have to influence others. Education will open up people’s minds and help them to see the difference between right and wrong. Why do you think girls’ education is important?