An Observation On Profiling, Community And Individuality

An Observation On Profiling, Community And Individuality

You are unique and not a number. But numbers are much easier to comprehend.

Picture this scenario: an organization with an exceptionally diverse staff, including individuals from numerous ethnic and cultural backgrounds and also those who identify with various genders, has come across a problem where thoughts and ideas are not equally shared among meetings. Some minorities feel as if it is difficult to speak up due to the overwhelming majority of white co-workers. Some LGBTQ individuals are over conscious and don't know how to chime in when they have something to say. So, to deal with these concerns, the organization hires a facilitator. A professional that is dedicated and is paid (very well, on the higher end of six digits) to facilitate meetings at organizations so that everyone is valued and appreciated, creating a much more dynamic and productive meeting. Employees are called in for the meeting and is sat down at a table (seating structure is most likely designed so that everyone faces each other, so that it makes bouncing of ideas much more interactive). And the facilitator introduces himself as the facilitator, and first things first, he asks everyone to introduce themselves by stating their name, position at the organization, and where they’re originally from. The first employee states her name, her position, and her hometown, then adds in a little comment about how her inner “hometown slang” will slip out once in awhile. After a casual yet professional laugh among the employees, the second employee introduces himself. Coincidentally, the facilitator and the second employee have met one another before, so the facilitator was well aware that the employee was born in the Caribbean. The employee states his name, his position, and with pride, says that he is from the Bronx, New York. As soon as he states that, the facilitator nods and with a smile asks,

“where are you actually from?”

Of course the employee clarifies he was born in the Caribbean and explains that he was raised in the Bronx. Later, the facilitator spoke on the necessity of introductions along with extra information, like hometowns, so that individuals in the meeting may have a little more of a personal connection with their co workers, creating willingness to speak up. But that second employee, the one who was “actually” from the Caribbean, rather than the home he identified with more, felt a disconnect as soon as the facilitator himself asked him to clarify where he is from. The facilitator was not wrong, he was doing what he was originally aiming to do: to connect the individuals through their hometown or where they were born. But somehow this second employee felt farther away from his co-workers now that they knew where he was originally from. His birthplace has now become a representation of his character, habits, diet, hobbies, and even reputation. Now his co-workers have unwillingly generated an image of him that does not necessarily represent him. From past, personal experiences from readings, media portrayals, and stereotypes in general, the human mind puts together a puzzle pieced together by made up pieces. And unless one is conscious of this phenomena, an individual will rely on that made up image and begin to assume things about this second employee that is completely wrong.

It’s easy to assume, prejudge, and rely on bias. It’s even easier to ignore the fact that these assumptions are assumptions. That they are built off of inaccurate representations of communities filled with individuals with unique experiences and realities. Just like it’s much easier to remember a phone number by grouping sets of numbers, it’s easier to identify people by grouping them into their community. The second employee sees himself as a proud American Bronxite, yet the facilitator who is paid to include members of a meeting, unconsciously excluded the American by pointing out that he is an immigrant. As generations pass, individuals become much more diverse, especially in the U.S.A. Individuals with unconventional backgrounds, with 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generation parents. The diversity in this world grows constantly, a melting pot.

I am Japanese and Dominican with first generation parents, I love fried plantains and natto. Enka brings nostalgia and merengue gives me life. But someone sees me and is confused, they don’t know what to assume because they’ve never met a Japanese-Dominican. Dominicans say I am not Dominican and Japanese people say I am not Japanese. Americans trip out because they don’t know how to label me. My father told me this is a blessing. My background forces people not to make those assumptions that the second employee was a victim of. People are forced to see me as a human being, an individual rather than a component of something bigger. I used to see it as a curse. I rarely meet family members, I can’t belong to a community of shared blood, it’s difficult to have pride in somewhere you barely set foot on.

In no ways or means am I saying that this bias or grouping is wrong or right. I am not enforcing my own values upon anyone, just an observation of an ironic phenomena. As soon as you ask someone where they are from, or to clarify where they are born or where they were raised, you are automatically creating an image for yourself, of someone you might barely know. People have pride and a wanting to belong to something bigger like a community or a country, but the identification of this belonging will label you, categorize you into a building block identical to the block next to you. We want to be unique, but enforce the exact thing that makes us the same as the one before and after us.

Cover Image Credit: Polished Perceptions

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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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