Thursday, April 15, 2010

Black or White

I was going through my music today and came across one of my favourite, highly talked about artists: Michael Jackson.

No one but God will ever know what was truly going though his mind and dictating his thoughts and actions; his appearance, though, was an indication to the world that he was not content with who he was and what he looked like.

Jackson was born in 1958 and had reached stardom as the lead singer of Jackson 5 by 1964. These years in history were pivotal in the development of human rights and the fight against racism.

In 1991, well after the war against racism had been underway, Michael Jackson released the song “Black or White,” discussing his love for others, “it don’t matter if [they’re] black or white.”

This is just my idea, my guess at what was in the mind of Michael – though we really never will know – but being an African-American star in heat of the racial battle must have created scars of insecurity. A change of skin-tone or nose and lip shape could have given him some kind of relief, as if, even for a moment, becoming a white man was a fulfillment of what his childhood society wanted of him.

When society did not have the desired reaction to his surgeries, he sang a song offering others the same acceptance that he had wanted through his childhood career.

And I Told About Equality
An It's True
Either You're
Or You're Right

But, If
You're Thinkin'
About My
It Don't Matter If You're
Black Or White …

Don't Tell Me You Agree With Me
When I Saw You Kicking Dirt In My

But, If
You're Thinkin' About My Baby
It Don't Matter If
You're Black Or White (

Since being here in Virginia, I have felt hints of racism still existing. I’ve had friends tell me that their parents don’t approve of inter-racial dating and I’ve seen the looks of fellow students when they see me out with someone of another race.

I’m not going to conform to society’s thoughts of what is appropriate between races, as Michael attempted to do. I’m sure that whoever I date agrees with me in saying “you are my baby, and it doesn’t matter that you are black or white.”

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Watch your Language

Here at university, I am majoring in communications. Although my specialization is journalism, I still am required to take courses that focus more on the study of communication and the theories that surround it.

This semester I am enrolled in a communications theory class, learning what experts in the communication field have developed as theories of how we communicate. This has become a more amusing class then I would have ever imagined. I had always developed theories in my mind as to why people communicate the way they do but didn’t know that my thoughts were shared by many communications professionals.

I already had my own definitions for the types of communicators I come across and have developed my own terms for their communication faux-pas. My terms include the “zero-filter people” who never know when to stop sharing their life’s stories, and the “bubble invaders” who lack the ability to sense one’s bubble of personal space. When I learned that people with doctorate degrees had given these people titles and documented their characteristics, I was quite amused.

We recently studied a theory that was more interesting than amusing to me; it was called the Sapir-Whorf theory. Based on the idea that Eskimos have a more words for types of snow than Americans, Sapir and Whorf believed that a culture’s language is shaped by what it is on the minds of its society.

Em Griffin wrote in A First Look At Communications Theory that this theory “counters the assumptions that all languages are similar and that words merely act as neutral vehicles to carry meaning.”

Each language and each culture has a vocabulary that cannot be simply translated through a bilingual dictionary, shaped by what is important to its culture.

Many times my American friends and roommates will make little jokes about the way that I speak. They insist that I don’t speak English, but that I speak “Canadian” – a dialect all to itself.

As much as I try to make my sentences and phrases as understandable as possible, when speaking quickly, my vocabulary becomes “Canadian-ese.”

My friends and I have developed a dictionary as to what our words mean, knowing that sometimes there is no direct translation for that we are trying to say.

“Twitterpated”—a word to define a person who has fallen so far in love they are almost confused by it – is a word used by my Northern friends and I to describe some of our friends are after returning from a date.

“Jimmies” are a constant craving for my Philly friend; she loves her colourful sprinkles on everything from ice-cream to cookies.

One of my southern dorm-mates is constantly talking about her “Papa-daddy.” Though I was at first afraid she could possibly be involved with a pimp, she later reassured me that her “Papa-daddy” was her grandfather.

As for Canadian terms:

· “Washroom” is a Canadian name for a bathroom or restroom.

· To “razz” someone is to bother someone or joke with them.

· And “poutine” is a Canadian snack: French fries, beef gravy and cheese, all piled in a bowl. This can be bought in Canadian fast-food restaurants like Harvey’s and New York Fries.

If you have any cultural terms that are unique to your area or can relate to my experience, feel free to comment and follow along.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What the Babel???

At one time the world had one language. A group of men settled in one place and lived as one people. They built themselves a city with a large tower, one that could reach the heavens. They wanted to bring glory to themselves as a people, without bringing glory to God.

The bible says that God came down from heaven and scattered them, confusing their language so that they would no longer understand each other. (Genesis 11:1-8)

"That is why it was called Babel [translated as confused] -- because the LORD confused the language of the world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the earth." (Genesis 11:9)

Many times I've wondered why God would have taken such rash measures. The language barrier has always caused difficulty in my life. language classes in school always made my head hurt, and when I went on mission trips to Spanish-speaking countries I always made sure I had a translator within arms-reach just in case a local tried to speak to me.

Though I still struggle with the idea that God would want to confuse his people and scatter them throughout the earth, I am able I am thankful he did.

I am a Canadian girl, currently living and going to school in the USA. I am now exposed to more culture variation then I have ever had in my life. Our school is a kaleidoscope of cultures, languages and backgrounds. I attend Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Virginia. It is where the North and the South meet, and where International students, like myself, learn not only from professors but from the students we live and learn with on a daily basis.

I am fasinated by culture, by race and by speech. Each moment is a lesson and I would not have those lessons if it wasn't for God's actions at Babel. He scattered his creation throughout the earth and through that we have a world that is worth exploring.

I hope that through this blog I will be able to share my life with you. The amazing, amusing, and sometimes simply interesting discoveries that unfold themselves in my life will be posted for your viewing. I want to here your responses as well as your cultural view, as well.