Throughout the course, I learned many different things about people, culture, and society. I found the topics on globalization and cultural diffusion to be the most interesting and relatable. In Week 6, we discussed how the world is interconnected and how westernization affects culture in a country. I learned a lot from the film “Life and Debt.” The film shows the sad decline of Jamaica following a period of economic instability. It’s sad to see how the people live. Industry is the main form of income and tourists are completely oblivious to how badly the country is doing. It was also shocking to see that they take pride in having western establishments like Baskin Robbins and McDonald’s. The article on Sushi talks about how it started out in Japan and other asian countries, and is now a very huge industry and staple in the American diet. Similarly, traditional Chinese and Indian dishes aren’t exactly “traditional” in the United States. Traditional Chinese dishes do not consist of Orange Chicken and Wontons. Traditional Chinese food consists heavily of hotpots, dumplings, and seafood. In an attempt to cater to American tastes, Chinese American foods were adopted into US culture. Similarly, the film on the three Serbian men in search of brides shows their struggle with western ideals. For example one of the men, likes a bride and then has second thoughts because “she is a heavy drinker.” And another one of the men is seen cutting out centerfolds from a Playboy magazine spread. These are examples of westernization and the effects of it.
Racism was another huge topic in our lectures. In the documentary, “White: A Memoir in Color” details how Professor Joel Katz views racism, after he adopted his daughter, a half-black, half-Irish American girl, they later named Sonya. He and his wife detail the process they went through, and they discussed how people might give them second looks for having a child that is a different race than them. They explain how “it’s racist to choose any race except black.” I thought it was really nice to see how they accepted Sonya into their family, and how they told her she was adopted at a young age, without making her feel unloved. The PBS documentary on race, provides us with a eye-opening perspective. One of the researchers talks about the earliest forms of racism, including claiming the brain cells of African Americans are inferior to those of White brain cells, which was shocking. Students at a high school, take a look at their DNA to see who they share features with and it’s surprising to see what the students have in common. Even though we look very different, our genetic makeup is not that different. We all evolved from a common ancestor, and even though we may have varying skin tones, hair colors, hair textures, eye shapes, etc we are more alike. I think that the course was very informative and interesting and I thoroughly enjoyed it.