Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"The Big Heart" and "Human Geography: Chapter Five"

Conner Lewis
November 15

Video: Mellody Hobson: Color blind or color brave?

Black women wanted to succeed in the business world at all levels but many companies refuse to hire them due to color blindness and sometimes racism so they asked companies to be color brave and accept other minorities, then two major companies began to have black female CEO's as more and more black women were accepted into the business world.

The Balkans, especially the nations of the former Yugoslav nation, is a perfect example of how one's identity can be closely tied to ethnicity, as many people fought and died to see their identity and ethnicity gain their own nation. It is also an example of how multiple ethnicities can have separate identities and still be ruled by a single state, as well as being an example of how this can be problematic.


Human Geography: Chapter Five
The Big Heart

Essay Question: What do The Big Heart and Human Geography: Chapter Five have to say about how an identity is formed,  and how it can change over time.

         "Be unique, by a [insert product]" is a common line used to sell cars and clothes alike. To many, one's identity is determined by how one acts, looks, and by what their beliefs are, but this is not all there is to identity. Identity is how we and others define someone. It is much more than physical belongings. It is a meshing of the experiences, emotions, connections, and rejections we have throughout our lives, and because of this it is constantly changing. One's identity is also different at every scale across the world stage, with people of different areas viewing others by larger and more broad terms such as nationality or ethnicity. Identity is also how someone associates sexually and in terms of their gender. While some may refute identities' ability to change, and state that people cannot change their identity after a certain age, this is not the case. Human Geography: Chapter Five proves how identity can change by identifying the processes through which identity is formed, some of which are also key roles in changing existing ones too, and by showing how this identity manifests its change in different scales across the globe. The article The Big Heart, by Tony Perrottet, then shows a modern example of how the city of Houston and its residences are changing their identity at every scale right now.
          Though it happens to everyone, identifying how identities form is crucial as it allows for predictions of how the cultural landscape of a region will change and why it has before. According to Human Geography: Chapter Five, identity can form through several different methods, which all can contribute to changing an already existing identity as well. One important way that identities can form is through the process of identifying against another group of people.
By identifying what is considered "Other", and then opposing one's self against that, an individual or group can set the boundaries of what they do and don't do through clear cut distinctions. By identifying the natives of other lands as mystical savages, Europeans during the Age of Exploration were very easily able to define what is European and civilized as well as being able to categorize themselves against everyone else who they believed to be lesser to themselves. This way of forming an identity is very powerful as it instantly creates tension between groups, as it defines one way as wrong and the other as right, leading to conflict over ideals and ideologies. This way of identifying one's self allows for a person's identity to change all the time as the group which they identify against also changes, a good example of which is how Americans opposed their identity to Nazi Germany during WWII, and then towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War. This shift lead to several changes in how Americans identified, as they shifted from the land of the free to the land of the free capitalists, to oppose the Soviet Union's communist economy. Another very powerful tool for defining one's identity, especially at the global level, is nationality. Nationality is a concept that is only 300 years old, yet is already one of the primary methods for someone to identify themselves, especially when traveling abroad. By associating with one's state by stating that one is French, British, Chinese, etc. a person can instantly create an identity for themselves in the eyes of others as by defining where they come from, other people can make assumptions on nearly every part of their identity, true or not. This can be dangerous, as it often leads to stereotypes about identities, as can be seen through the stigma there is towards Mexicans from many Americans, as by defining one's self as Mexican, they receive all of the baggage that the Mexican identity entails. This allows for one's identity to change as the stigma and stereotypes around their nationalities change, as well as allowing them to change their nationality altogether. As the Irish became more and more accepted in America following their large chain migration into the nation, their identities changed in the eyes of themselves and others. They began to see themselves more as Americans, and so did other other Americans begin to see them less as foreigners and more as fellow Americans. Another way that many people's identities are defined is something that is decided for them before they are even born, a person's race.
This is the product of the viewing minor genetic differences as a deciding factor in how someone acts and who that person is. Unfortunately, race is still a strong factor in forming many people's identity. It is important to note that while a person's race is decided by social norms and thus by others, this does not mean that one's race cannot change. A perfect example of this is with Hispanics in the United States, who were previously considered a separate race and were given their own box on the United States census, however as of 2000 Hispanics began to be considered as white, meaning that for all intents and purposes Hispanics changed to white, at least in the eyes of most Americans. This is how race can also aid in changing the identity of a person, even after birth, and even though they cannot do anything to change their appearance itself, unless you are Michael Jackson. The next way through which a person's identity can be decided is through their ethnicity, which is interesting as it is decided for a person by themselves as well as others. Ethnicity is a concept based on the idea that a group of people are connected and even related in a certain place overtime. For nation state's, this is closely tied to nationalism. The reason that ethnicity is decided for a person by themselves and others is due to the fact that a group of people choose if they are an ethnicity or if they and another group are, and then this is reinforced as these groups of people are continuously identified by others as associated with that ethnicity. An example of an ethnicity is that of the French in France. One's ethnicity can change as the ethnicity experiences change to who it applies. For example, it used to be that the ethnicity of American applied to only Anglo-Americans from Great Britain, but over time it came to include Americans of German, Irish, Swedish, and other European origin. The last two very important ways through which a person forms their identity is through their sexual orientation and gender. Gender in terms of identity is used to refer to how a person views themselves as either male, female, or neither. This can change as a person changes their own gender through either medical procedures or just through how they see themselves and present themselves to the world. Sexuality determines someone's identity through who or what they are attracted to sexually. This cannot truly change as it is not a choice, but it can change socially as the perceptions and names for different sexual orientations shift based on the culture at the time. Through all of these methods a person's identity is both formed as well as changed over the course of their entire life.
          Almost all of these vectors for change can be seen occurring in Houston right now in the modern day. For a very long time, Houston has been seen as a very white, Republican, conservative, and sometimes down right xenophobic city built off of the oil industry which boomed there for the longest time. This identity was actually true for a while, as many white Americans worked in factories and oil refineries across Houston, however in recent years this perception could not be farther from the truth as Houston, and more importantly the people of Houston, has changed its identity from that of a primarily white city to that of one of the most diverse cities in the nation. Studies by the Kinder Institute of Urban Research have found that the most equitable location for
America's for major racial and ethnic groups (Asian, Hispanic, and white and black people who are not Hispanic) was not New York or Los Angeles, but rather Houston. This is the result of a change in identity which has occurred across Houston. Over the past couple decades, more and more people of all backgrounds have moved to Houston, changing its diversity and identity as a whole. One way this change is occurring is that as there is more and more racial diversity in Houston, as more Asians, Hispanics, and African American people move to Houston in search of jobs. This diversity causes the whole outlook on how races are treated as well as how they are seen to change. It is very hard to create "us vs them" situations when there are so many groups that make up so much of the population. This causes many people's view of the identity of Houston to change from that of a white dominated city to that of a racially diverse and accepting one rivaling New York and Los Angeles. Another way the change in identity is occurring is through the addition of more and more ethnic groups to Houston. This is occurring as several different Hispanic and Asian ethnicities move into Houston and transform parts of Houston into areas for Vietnamese, Chinese, Cuban, Mexican and other ethnicities to stay. This also changes the identity of Houston as it is again becoming a more diverse and accepting place, with several different forms of Asian and Hispanic restaurants appearing from several different ethnicities. All of this is changing Houston as its people begin to define themselves against others differently, for as the diversity increases the people of Houston stop defining themselves against Asians, Hispanics, and African Americans as they are consisted of all these forms of people. They rather begin to define themselves against other places, and not against the races and ethnicities that have moved in, such as defining themselves against the North and other parts of the United States. This change affects the identity of Texas as a whole, as it is seen on a regional level as less white dominated, and more accepting.
         This example, along with the explanation of the underlying processes which cause it, are a clear cut example of how identity is not a rigid and defining aspect of a person and place, but rather a fluid definition which is defined by many different factors at any given time. Identity is not just defined through what a person wears, but how they act, as well as by their nationality, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and sexuality, all of which are subject to change at different times and for different reasons. This distinction of identity as a fluid definition is important, as it allows for us to look at how we define others and whether that definition is correct, or if, like Houston, the identity has changed. It tells us as a world to always challenge our views on a person and place, as it may be that a person truly has changed.

Extra Credit:

Extra Article and Mormonism and Homosexuality:
"To bar a gay man or woman from communal acceptance and access to religious practice is hopelessly misguided." - Observer News

Homosexual Mormons wanted to have homosexual marriage and practice their faith but recently the Mormon Church has banned married homosexual members as well as their children from going to Mormon churches so the homosexual Mormons were forbidden from practicing their faith, then they decided to march on Mormon churches protesting the rule prohibiting married homosexuals from practicing the Mormon faith.

Extra Credit Video:

This is a perfect video showing how someone's identity can be both religious and homosexual despite perceived conflicts. It shows how someone can have a multi-faceted identity and how each part can interact with the other, for example the man in the video is both very religious, Mormon, as well as homosexual, meaning that he will not be able to marry another man and must live a celibate life.

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