Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Things that remind me of you

As I was sitting in one of my classes, my heart turned to you and countless memories and images raced through my head as I reminisced.

Red and white geraniums
Olive trees
Red poppies in April
Lux soap
Old black and white Egyptian TV shows
Traditional argila
stray cats
Kanafe na'ame
Kusa mahshi

One can maintain an identity even if she does not speak the language, practice the religion or live the culture. Family ties and claims to authenticity are enough. When you were there, I belonged. Thank you for giving me that gift!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Motivations for Mommy Blogs

While talking to one of my colleagues about her thesis on Mommy Blogging, my interest was piqued when she began explaining why popular Mommy Blogs have emerged and what roles they play for these women. I have several close friends that keep blogs of their growing families and their adventures together. When I asked them why they blog, their responses were just as I expected. They blog because they are far from their extended families and blogging is an outlet by which they can include their close friends and families on their latest activities, achievements and stories. It is also a place where they can read about others' experiences and ask questions.

As a single woman, I do not fully understand how young women cope with marriage, children or domestic issues because I have not experienced it for myself. Despite this, I have noticed that as my friends marry and progress in their marriages, they often move far away and we lose contact. I have often thought about my own isolation, but what I have not considered is THEIR isolation in new places with new experiences and limited support networks. Blogging is a way that these young women can maintain contact with friends and family and also keep a picture and video-filled record of their experiences and reflections on their lives. It also helps them transition into their new roles from students and young adults into wives and mothers.

In talking with my colleague, she mentioned these everyday moms that are proud of their families and domestic lifestyles, but she also mentioned another population of women who blog with different motivations. My colleague said that high profile mommy bloggers usually use strong language and are often an outlet through which women with prestigious degrees and careers try to prove that they are fulfilling their traditional gender roles as mothers. In a way, they use their blogs as proof that they are good moms. Through their blogs, they try to validate themselves by conveying that they are intelligent adults. They also feel like they have to prove that they are independent women AND great moms. Too often we assume that women "give up" careers to be "just a mom," when in reality, they are undertaking a very difficult task of socializing and teaching a new generation. This is by no means an easy task!

In a society in which being a stay at home mom is losing popularity and status, women who choose to pursue careers are still striking an interesting balance as they try to validate their position within the workforce yet feel a need to prove their success within the home as well. There is a really interesting balance of gender roles that are being expressed through popular mommy blogs. Someday, I would love to dig deeper into this topic and also into the power of gender roles to learn more about the motivations behind mommy blogging across demographics. If you have thoughts on the topic, please share them! I would love to read your insights.

Monday, January 16, 2012

He Who Has The Gold Makes The Rules

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I hope that you took a moment to reflect on the progress that our nation has made, yet also recognize the work that lies before us. I am currently enrolled in a race and ethnicity class that is VASTLY interesting. As I was reading a chapter by Yetman, I came across a few principles that resonated with me. The concept of race and ethnicity were largely constructed by white men in the 18th and 19th century.

The terms that they used were extremely derogatory and emphasized the superiority of the Western Europeans (that later bled over into America as well). Terms that they used referred to skin colors, facial features, and linguistically different groups of people as other, barbaric, inferior and stupid. I always wondered why calling someone ethnic did not include white. "Is white the default," I wondered. According to the long history of ethnocentric white male researchers, yes, white is the default. However, we should rise above the mindset of the 18th and 19th century and recognize that assuming that any color is superior in any way or 'the default' is rooted in ethnocentrism. Unless we are willing to return other scientific practices of the time such as 'bleeding' with leeches, we should also questions sociological and anthropological terminology from the same time period.

Part of me knew this occurred in blatantly inaccurate studies from the recent past as well as exposure to movies in my childhood that attempt to recreate classic stories of Tarzan and The Jungle Book. As they studied peculiar people and cultures, these discoverers always did so with the preconceived notion that they were at the apex of civilization and the subjects that they were studying were in a lesser stage that would eventually develop to their civilized state.

Although the aforementioned concept is probably not new to you, I was shocked to learn that minority and majority groups are not based on size. Instead, they are based on the power and resources that one group wields over the other. For example, even though the white population in South Africa during apartheid was much smaller than that of the black population, the black population was considered the minority because the whites had a monopoly over the government.

Furthermore, the majority group typically establishes institutions and regulations that benefit the majority group and maintain their political and economic advantage over the minority group. As a result of this political and economic advantage, the majority group prospers while the most members in the minority group fall short. Their failure to compete with the majority group is not rooted in their inferiority, although this is often claimed to be the case, it is actually rooted in the partial institutions that favor one group over another and systematically limit the opportunity of the minority group.

As is obvious in the Forbes article, If I was a Poor Black Kid, it is apparent that privileged citizens in the United States still fail to recognize that poverty, unemployment, teen pregnancy, single-parent households, and high school dropouts are not a Black or Hispanic problem, but rather a MINORITY groups problem. The odds are stacked against these populations because of a long history of discrimination that must be actively rooted out and reversed. We do our country and our fellow Americans a disservice by failing to view our laws and institutions with a critical lens that will lead us to question the status quo.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

As I Enter A New Year

I try to make resolutions each year as the new year is starting and I guess it's about time to make a commitment to 2012 and another year of life.

- Improve my Arabic and fix my accent
- Get approval to begin my thesis research
- Return to Jordan and continue to build professional contacts
- Begin research for my thesis
- Learn how to manage my time more wisely
- Develop more compassion for others
- Be true to my convictions
- Take time to meditate and reflect
- Find happiness in each day