Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Response to- Coming to America: What's the Point?

I chose to complete the web-quest on Jake's blog about my ancestors and how they immigrated to America. Below is my assignment. I spent a lot of time talking to my grandpa about his opinion on the questions and mine as well. I also learnt a lot about his trip to America! 

Grandpa Arthur

 Where he came from? Hachenburg, Germany

 Where he moved to in America? Washington Heights, New York

 Age he immigrated: 11

 Other family members he traveled with: He traveled with both his parents and his sister

 Why he came to America? My grandpa immigrated to America because his family feared the Nazi party and had heard rumors of their plans for the Holocaust. He was lucky enough to escape just a few months before the Nazis invaded his hometown.

Why people of the same ethnic background live near each other? When my grandfather arrived with his mother and father they picked an area where many German Jews had moved to as well. Immigrants, along with natives, usually stay in the same location as many other people of the same ethnic background. I believe this makes life much easier. Everyone speaks the same language, have the same traditions, and eat the same type of food. It makes it much easier for people to feel comfortable in their surroundings when their surroundings are similar to the ones they had left behind.

Stereotypes of German Jews: A large stereotype of German Jews is the term Yekke that means jacket in German. People use this term to say that German Jews are overly concerned with the formalities of polite behavior. Many say that they are very uptight and conservative. This is the main stereotype that German Jews face specifically. 

Why do immigrants come to America even it their situations don’t improve? During the time period that my grandfather immigrated most of the immigrants were escaping some sort of oppression. In these situations most people are just looking for a place where they can be free and do not care whether their environment worsens in the process. Other times, when people are just moving to America to try and improve their lifestyle, many people would rather try and fail than continue living in the state they did. It is always better to know that you tried to improve your life than thinking about what could have happened if you immigrated to America. 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gating Communities

One of the main conflicts in the Tortilla Curtain, by T.C Boyle is the idea of gating a community. Delaney and his wife Kyra live in an exclusive community called Arroyo Blanco in California. Kyra is petitioning for the “wall” for safety reasons. Within the past few months a coyote came into their backyard and killed two of their dogs, then Mexican immigrants were camping out in the lawn of a home that Kyra was selling (she is in real estate). Delaney however is very against the wall. He writes passages in the local paper about nature and different animals. Without the wall, Delaney has direct access to the natural world, yet the wall would prohibit his ability to walk straight out the back door and into the woods. He also believes that it is unnecessary segregation.  The community voted for the gate and the wall enclosing the community for safety reasons. They feel threatened by the large wave of Mexican Immigrants and they feel they have the right to feel safe in their own homes. 

Follow These Instructions:

To begin your assignment, go to I Tunes and watch the pod cast called “Gated Communities; who and why?” You can find this by searching Open University Welfare, crime and society. Under this there are many different lectures about why people gate communities that you may browse through. Also, go to my delicious page where you can find links to different websites, articles, and blogs to help you. You may also use the quotes bellow to structure your own opinion and find more support for your argument. Research both sides of the argument and decide whether you are for or against the gating of communities. Once you have made your decision, please write a blog post about your opinion using different links as support. 


Against a gated community:

“We wanted an open community, freedom to come and go- and not just for those of us privileged enough to be able to live here, but for anyone- any citizen- rich or poor.” (43)

 “It goes against my grain to live in a community that closes its streets to somebody just because they don’t have as fancy a car as mine or as big a house.” (43)

 “If there was a gate that car wouldn’t have been there, and who knew what he’d just escaped- a beating, robbery, murder?”  (64)

 “I need to be able to just walk out the door and be in the hills, in the wild- I don’t know if you noticed, but its what I do, it s how I make my living. Christ, the damn fence is bad enough- and that fucking gate on Arroyo Blanco, you know I hat that, you know it” (220)

 “It’s about exclusion, division, hate.” (220) 

For a gated community: 

“Safety. Self-protection. Prudence. You lock your car, don’t you? Your front door? (101)

“This society isn’t what it was- and it wont be until we get control of the borders”  (101)

“I’m talking the latest rash of burglaries? The three houses on Esperanze that got hit two weeks back? Well, the gate helps, no doubt about it” (188)

“I need to be able to just walk out the door and be in the hills, in the wild- I don’t know if you noticed, but its what I do, it s how I make my living. Christ, the damn fence is bad enough- and that fucking gate on Arroyo Blanco, you know I hat that, you know it” (220)

“It’s about exclusion, division, hate.” (220) 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tortilla Curtain: Problems Hispanic immigrants are facing

In a recent study Pew Hispanic Center recorded that “there are an estimated 11.9 million undocumented immigrants in the United States” (AFP). Many of these immigrants are scared to report crimes and injuries when they are in danger, because they fear deportation. Hispanic immigrants usually come to the United States from countries where police cannot be trusted. Recently, “thieves are increasingly targeting Hispanic illegal immigrants who are reluctant to report robberies to the police,” (AFP). These robberies are usually not even reported because the Hispanics are afraid that the police will look right past the crime and focus on the fact that they are illegal immigrants. This just creates a vicious cycle. The robbers have found a way to successfully steal without any chance of being caught. These robberies usually wipe out all of the victims savings because they “are often farm workers paid in cash because they have no bank accounts due to a lack of official identification,” (AFP). This makes it very easy for the robbers to steal large sums of money, since the immigrant’s money is usually unprotected. Police departments and advocate groups are trying to inform illegal immigrants that if they report a robbery they will not face deportation. The Austin Police department has partnered with local banks to allow immigrants to open bank accounts, even if they entered the United States illegally. Therefore, the workers will be able to safely store their money away where no robber can accomplish the task of wiping out an entire life’s saving in one robbery. The problem is that even with the help of the police force and local banks, many Hispanics are still afraid of the potential repercussions of revealing their lack of legal identity. In 2008 Clearwater, Florida, “which has a large number of Mexican immigrant workers, had 55 robberies in which all victims were Hispanic males,” (APF). These victims are scared to deal with this huge problem and many immigrant lawyers, police officers, and advocate groups are afraid of it as well.

In Tortilla Curtain, by T.C Boyle, the main character ­­­­Candido deals with this same problem. While walking home from the store one day, he is hit from a car and seriously injured. ­­­­Candido suffers from a concussion, large loss of blood, many bruises, broken bones, and many scars. However, despite the large amount of pain and his possible inability to work again he will not go see a doctor. Not only will a doctor cost him a lot of money, but also he has to worry about deportation. ­­­­Candido and America illegally crossed the border and are now living in Topanga canyon. Everyday ­­­­Candido goes to work and tries to make enough money to buy food to eat. America is pregnant, which makes money even more important. Therefore, this accident is a serious problem and Candido should be trying to find medicine to heal him so he can support his family and find appropriate shelter for a child. The fear of deportation is so large that instead of going to a doctor America insists on finding work for herself. I understand how dangerous it is to expose the fact that they are illegal immigrants, however a women working in labor companies is very dangerous as well. Candido explains how dangerous it is because many of the men are desperate for women and do not have a female figure in his life. Illegal immigrants have many problems because they fear any authority. Many immigrants, like Candido and America, originally come from countries where the police can't be trusted,” (AFP). It is difficult to tell which doctor, lawyer, or cop will side with them and help them or simply turn them in for deportation. Candido and America do not have money and therefore the ability to work is what will propel their lives forward. When Candido loses his job his life is turned upside down, when the Hispanics that were robbed lose all they have worked for their lives are turned upside down as well. However, all these people do not have the ability to correct this problem. They cannot trust anyone and therefore cannot ask for help. There is also a “shortage of police patrols in Hispanic communities and a reluctance by immigration lawyers to take up cases,” (AFP). Candido along with all of the people that have been robbed have to deal with their loses without the criminals having any repercussions. This is very upsetting, however the consequence for reporting these crimes may be even more painful than dealing with the lose.

This is a serious issue and I was happy to hear that there are some advocate groups acting to help the Hispanic immigrants. However, progress is only being made in this specific situation with bank accounts. I understand that there are many groups working to help immigrants, however I believe that medically we must find a way to allow them to receive aid without serious repercussions. I know that illegal immigration is a huge problem today, but it is more important to save a life than to argue whether that life is a proper citizen of the United States.


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Gossip Girl- Eric Van der Woodsen

Gossip girl here your one and only source into the scandalous lives of Manhattan’s elite. This elite community is supposed to be the home of the wealthy, white, sophisticated and “perfect” men and women of New York City. So, what happens when someone defies the standards? The normal member of the elite fits faultlessly into the heterosexual world and displays the stereotypical and privileged lifestyle at every age. Throughout the halls of Constance (the private school) there is the usual gossip about new hook ups and new couples. However, when an old enemy (Georgina) comes back to haunt our protagonist Serena Van der Woodsen, the predictable life of Senerna’s elite family is turned upside down.  Georgina sees Serena’s brother (Eric) kissing another boy and decides to share this piece of information with her family. The evil teen decides to crash a family dinner and tell Eric’s mother that he has a new boyfriend; the problem is that Eric has yet to tell his family that he is gay. Eric’s mom and sister are shocked and speechless. Lilly (the mother) responds with tears and disappointment, while Serena comforts her brother telling him that is okay and there is nothing wrong with homosexuals. Soon enough the news breaks to everyone in his school- shockingly, no one really focuses on the fact that Eric is gay. The news actually highlights the fact that the boy, whom he is seeing, has a “girlfriend” as well. It seems that everyone younger who hears has a very open reaction, not truly caring that Eric is gay, and everyone adult who hears seems to be shocked and a little taken aback by the entire situation. I believe this highlights a stereotype in our society. Most people seem to think that the younger generation is more open to homosexuality and the older generations tend to disagree with it and view it as a sin. Being that Gossip girl is a new show on CW, Eric’s homosexuality is not exploited and is dealt with quickly and then moved passed. However, in the episodes after that he does fill many of the homosexual stereotypes. He dresses differently than the other boys, even though there is a uniform his outfits always seem a little more put together. He has a best friend who is a girl and is always there for her. He has a slightly higher voice, he does not play sports, and he lacks a close group of friends that are boys. These stereotypes, although not always true, are definitely portrayed in the one gay character on the gossip girl set. Although the show does not focus on Eric or his love affairs, they do cover the stereotypes of a gay character as the audience watches him develop. 

Monday, February 16, 2009

Can Men and Women be Friends?

A friend is defined in the Oxford American Dictionary (2nd edition) as “a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, exclusive of sexual or family relationships.” This definition says nothing about gender whatsoever. Many people still believe that it is impossible for people of different genders to be friends, because there is no way for their relationship to exclude sexual relations. In the past the role of women was simply for housework and sex, however “the world has changed and social roles have changed and are continuing to change for males and females” (Schwartz par 7). Men and women are now equal on all levels, therefore there is no hidden idea that all females are for is sex. Now, males view females as their equivalents and it is easy for many friendships to be formed. “For instance, women are now a major force in the work place, so men and women have many more opportunities to meet and interact today as compared to thirty years ago. Women are now in the professions as psychologists, medical doctors, lawyers, and business leaders” (Schwartz par 7). Friendships between people of opposite genders are definitely possibilities and are becoming even easier as society evolves.

Throughout my life, I have had many male friends (just friends), and although I do not have the experience of an adult, I have witnessed many friendships between adults of opposite genders. Some people however, tend to have the impression that any friendship between two people of opposite genders no matter what the age is must have some sort of sexual relation as well. These individuals must be immature and unable to control themselves. Women and men have the same rights, the same ability to think for themselves, and the same need for loyal friends- so why can they not share a friendship? They can. Every day I go to school and watch teenagers talk in the hallways to people of all genders- not each multi-gender relationship involving sexual tension. I also watch teachers as they interact with one another. Many of my teachers are very close with their colleagues and whether they are married or not they tend to be friends with other teachers of the opposite gender. This proves that in the work place and in social settings, males and females can have a strictly friend relationship.

As a girl, I thoroughly enjoy the company of a male. I find that it is very easy to get along with males and I like having them as friends. Although these are stereotypes I do find many of my male friends to be less judgmental and less tense than many of my female friends. However, this does not mean that I am sexually attracted to any of my male friends. It is very possible that two people of the opposite gender simply like spending time together. In the past, there was a general idea of the role of females in society. This definitely brainwashed many people to think things like- “the traditional role of the woman is to be passive, allowing the male to pay the bill and lead the way, male female friends cannot hug because at some point this will lead to more, when in a marriage by befriending someone from the opposite sex jealousy, suspicion and doubt are liable to infect the marriage” (Schwartz par 3). In 2009, the general idea of females is different. Many women share the financial responsibility in relationships, male-female friendships are not unusual, and many married individuals have friends from the opposite gender, especially those they meet at work. “On every level and in every way, women are the equal of men both in the work place and at home,” which makes friendship easily obtainable and easily maintained (Schwartz par 7).

Yes, others may make jokes surrounding the friendship of two people from opposite genders, however they are simply referring to ideas from past generations. Today, it is easy for people from different genders to form a relationship that excludes sexual feelings- a friendship. The two genders are equal on every level, making it even more possible for a friendship to be created. 

Works Cited

“Can Men and Women Be Friends?” 5 Feb. 2007.  16 Feb.2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Questions for the Socratic Seminar Thursday

The Story of X

Why do you think X was the child that scored the best on the test he was given?

Would you ever make your child an X?

What do you think the most serious implications are to this experiment?

What do you think is the hardest for X to deal with?



Who do you think is guilty for the murder, why?

Why do you think the women are hiding the dead bird? Do you think this says something about the female gender?


When Harry met Sally

Do you agree with Harry, can men and women be just friends?

What type of stereotypes does this movie show about both genders? 

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Being a member of my family

There are always rules to abide by, but what about the unwritten rules- the ones you have to follow to fit into the group of people you are with? In my family, there is a specific way to act and specific things to love. No matter what group you discuss whether it be a religion, a type of music, or a gender, there are always guide lines you must fit into. Sometimes, you fit the mold naturally, but other times it is difficult and the individual must shape themselves in order to fit the mold society has made for them. I love being a part of my family and I wanted to discuss some of the little things that make us, us. Think about all the different groups you are in and what makes you fit so perfectly into this group!
This poem is based off the poem 'Girl' by Jamaica Kincaid. 

My Family 

Take as many leadership positions as possible even if they are overwhelming you; be a good Jew, a perfect student, and always loving and smiley; never yell at anyone; enjoy nice restaurants and have a need to eat all the time; love being Jewish and work hard in order to allow the Jewish community to blossom, because you know you want it there for your children and your children’s children; visit Israel as much as possible, we are lucky it is there; don’t walk around sloppy and messy dress like a lady and act like one too; love your family especially your sisters because they will be there for you for your entire life; burp at the dinner table if you are home but not if you are out (except if your at a pizza place); be open about every aspect of your life to everyone; this is how you cuddle with your mom while watching TV on Sunday night, but don’t get used to it, it’s only for Sunday nights; this is how you sing Disney channel songs really loudly whether you are twenty one or twelve, you do like Hannah Montana right?; enjoy Hannah Montana and every Broadway musical; this is how you smile respectfully at the hundreds of family members that you actually don’t know by name; this is how you pretend to know them by name when they come up to you and tell you how good it is to see you; this is how you pretend you like the gift your grandma got for you no matter how bizarre it is, but don’t worry you will eventually return it; this is how you walk the dog, be careful she is heavier than you and will pull you all the way up the hill and back down; this is how you steal clothes from your sisters closet while they are asleep, she will not actually care; this is how you help cook for holiday meals; this is how you s

hop at a high speed so you don’t waste any time, you will always be busy; love your family especially your sisters because they will be there for you for your entire life; this is how you help your dad fix the computer, which in his terms is the machine, when he clogs the printer; be loyal to every sport team you decide to support whether they are terrible or world champions; this is how you obsess over things such as camp because they made your life better, you hang pictures all over the house and talk only about that; this is how you stay loyal to businesses, you are to only get gas at one gas station even if it is forty minutes away; this is how you laugh at the movie “How to lose a guy in ten days” and quote it as often as possible; love your family especially your sisters because they will be there for you for your entire life; this is how you eat as much chicken as possible because that is what is for dinner most nights; this is how you sneak junk food even if you are on a diet; this is how you do bouncy bounce at night, especially if someone is sleeping over; this is how you cheat in scrabble, but everyone else is cheating too so you won’t win; always love your sisters; but what if you get in a fight with them?

; you mean to say that after all you are really going to be the kind of person that gets into fights with their family?





Check out the related links (blogs) below- the first two links discuss the issue of different rules creating barriers between genders, the next three link to other blogs that discuss different groups they are in and the rules they must abide by! 


Gender Related Blogs