HUM2001_Discussion Essay

HUM2001_Discussion Essay

Part I: Sticks or Stones?

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The change of the Washington Football Team’s name to Washington Commanders was triggered by a series of historical and contemporary issues surrounding using the word Redskins. According to King (2018), “the word has deep connections to the history of anti-Indian violence, marked by ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and displacement” (pp. 554). The statement shows that their negative historical background influenced the name change and the logo, which was a mascot. The change of the name and logo has taken decades, primarily because of the owners’ and supporters’ refusal, who claim that “they mean no harm” (King, 2018, pp.57). In the contemporary world, the call for a change of the name has been linked to racism towards Indians, which is increasingly being challenged across the country. The current conversation about the change of the name and logo is inclined toward a total ban on the use of the moniker and logo because it continues to push an inferior narrative toward American Indians.

The logical fallacies that emerge from the current conversation and the article are equivocations (Lunsford, 2018). For instance, the team owners say the team continues to get massive support and make a profit, and supporters say that changing the name and logo will interfere with the “team and its traditions” (King, 2018, p.60). Therefore, the two half-truths try to give their racially-charged name and logo an honest appearance. Personally, the thought that some people fail to understand why the use of the team moniker and logo is offensive is a clear depiction of the existence of white supremacy ideologies in modern America.

PART II: Shooting Guns: It’s Rather Fun, Actually

The author uses polling data to criticize the National Rifle Association (NRA) by showing how gun manufacturers influence its advertisements to coerce politicians to take extreme stands on gun control. According to D.K (2018), “Poll after poll shows that solid majorities of gun owners would prefer stricter background checks… The NRA, however, gets its support by convincing gun owners that their hobby is under threat from metropolitan liberal elitists” (pp.545). Therefore, the author uses the data from numerous polls to conclude that the NRA is an organization that is out to create fear and threat to gun owners by painting liberal elitists as their enemy. The push for politicians to take a stand on gun control has resulted in the creation of hot-button issues due to political affiliation, with liberals, often perceived as Democrats, being viewed as enemies of gun ownership.

In contrast, conservatives, often seen as Republicans, are supporters of gun ownership. The stereotyping that places an individual’s political affiliation as either an automatic supporter or an enemy of gun control is a narrative that the NRA ads have created. A person interviewed about the existing misconception about gun owners said, “One of the most offensive stereotypes I hear all the time is that all gun owners are bible-thumping conservatives, which is far from true” (Spencer, 2013). The statement proves that political affiliation stereotyping is one of the main reasons that has contributed to political polarization because people are placed on attitudes they are unfamiliar with on the issue of gun ownership.

PART III: Cultural Appropriation Definition

The hit song “Hound Dog” was initially sung by Big Mama Thornton before being one of the biggest success songs by Elvis Presley. The song is a clear example of cultural appropriation because Elvis took up the original song and modified it from being rhythm and blues to rock ‘n’ roll. According to Gray (2018), the original version of the song referred to a man who was like a “hound dog” towards a woman, while the Elvis version was appropriated to mean an actual dog (p.620). Therefore, we see an apparent cultural appropriation in the song by Elvis because he takes an idea initially inspired by black culture or experience and turns it into something else for entertainment. Cultural exploitation also appears in the “Hound Dog” song because it shows how Elvis took a song that was initially sung by a black woman and benefitted massively in terms of monetary value from it.

According to Gray (2018), the song depicted cultural exploitation because “…when Elvis sang Hound Dog, it made him rich and he became “The King,” but when Thornton sang, she did not become a world-famous megastar” (pp. 627). Therefore, Elvis used the existing racial discrimination to benefit financially and professionally from black culture. Lastly, cultural disrespect is another major issue that arises in the “Hound Dog” song because Elvis took a song about a woman’s independence and turned it to mean a dog, which depicts apparent disrespect to black culture.

 

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PART IV: Living with Visual Art

Retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girl_with_Balloon#/media/File:Banksy_Girl_and_Heart_Balloon_(2840632113).jpg

Graffiti artist Banksy’s “Girl with Balloon or There is Always Hope” depicts a young girl of about 3-5 years old standing on an old and rusted wall. The girl is facing on the right side with her eyes looking up at a floating red balloon shaped like love. Behind the image of the girl, there is a writing that says “THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE” on the upper section of the wall and a small box that looks like a meter box. In front of the girl is a distorted painting of yellow in patches. The girl’s one hand is reaching out to the floating balloon while the other is behind her chest. After researching the art, I discovered that it carried a peace and hope meaning and has been used to show solidarity with people or countries experiencing war and other conflicts. I also found that the art is unique because it was the first to be created during an auction, and it shredded itself or self-destructed because the artist had hidden a mechanical paper shredder (Busby, 2018). Generally, the exercise changed my perspective on art because it represented something that keeps us going: love and hope.

PART V: How Free Should Campus Speech Be?

Free expression and diversity are important in maintaining a democratic system of government because they ensure equity for all in society. Free expression is important because it allows us to express our feelings and hold our own opinions without fear of interference. In a democratic society, the ability to hold and express our views is crucial because it allows for the making of policies and laws that reflect all members of society. A democracy is a system of government that is run by the people’s will and protects their rights as citizens. According to Palfrey (2018), free expression is a necessary component of democracy because it is a driver of justice and equity, a link to other freedoms that are oriented toward equity, and it protects minorities, ensuring an equitable society (pp.734). Therefore, it is clear that free expression is essential in a democratic country because it gives voice to the vulnerable and minorities who tend to be persecuted by the dominant groups.

Furthermore, diversity is a democratic factor because it allows for the robust sharing of ideas, which is the best way of evading authoritarianism. Democracy is about the inclusion and protection of all people in society, and diversity allows us to keep a country democratic because of the variety of ideas expressed, thus acting as checks and balances. According to Palfrey (2018), diversity “brings various viewpoints that can help a community reach good, moral, and truthful decisions” (p.732). The statement proves that diversity is vital in democracy because it allows the contest of ideas to happen, which is the best way to protect democracy.

PART VI: REFLECTION

The biggest takeaways from the discussion are how best we can end racial discrimination by replacing memories that remind the victims of the ordeals their forefathers had to go through, such as in the case of the Redskins. The issue of gun control was also crucial in understanding the best way to deal with the recent mass shootings in the United States. I have also learned the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural exploitation. Lastly, I understand why free expression and diversity are essential for any democratic society. From the discussion parts, my views have been better supported, especially on the issues of gun violence and the cultural exploitation of blacks by whites. The area of humanities that I found most interesting is the defiance of American companies to recognize that some of the names and logos they use can have deep or negative meanings for a particular society. Lastly, the stereotypes between political affiliation and support for gun ownership were engaging because they reflect a culture where citizens’ will is overshadowed by organizations such as the NRA.

References

Busby, M. (2018, October 12). Woman who bought shredded Banksy artwork will go through with purchase. the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/oct/11/woman-who-bought-shredded-banksy-artwork-will-go-through-with-sale

D.K. (2018). Shooting Guns_Its Rather Fun Actually. In Everything’s an Argument 8 – with Readings (8th ed.). Bedford/St. Martin’s; Eighth edition.

Gray, B. J. (2018). The Question of Cultural Appropriation. In Everything’s An Argument with Readings (8th ed., pp. 629-632). Bedford/St. Martin’s.

King, R. C. (2018). Redskins_Insult and Brand. In Everything’s An Argument with Readings. Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Lunsford, A. A., Ruszkiewicz, J. J., & Walters, K. (2018). Fallacies of Logical Argument. In Everything’s An Argument with Readings.

Palfrey, J. (2018). Safe Spaces Brave Spaces. In Everything’s An Argument with Readings (8th ed., pp. 731-738). Bedford/St. Martin’s.

Spencer, R. (2013, June 5). 13 misconceptions about gun owners. the Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/16/misconceptions-about-us-gun-owners

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Part I: Sticks and Stones?
Is it true that sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you? In “Redskins: Insult and Brand” (pp. 554-562), C. Richard King clearly hoped that the Washington Football Team’s owners would one day change the team’s name and its logo. They did in February 2022, when they announced the team’s new name would be the Washington Commanders.

What forces – historical and contemporary – led to the change, both the use of this name and logo and the refusal of the owners and supporters to want to change the teams’ name and logo for so long? What current conversation do you see in the news regarding this ongoing controversy? Do you see any logical fallacies, as described in Chapter 5, being presented in the various positions people are expressing or in the article itself? Where do you stand on it, whether you are a football fan or not?

PART II: Shooting Guns: It’s Rather Fun, Actually
Begin by reading “Shooting Guns: It’s Rather Fun, Actually,” on pp. 544-545. Although the author apparently comes to see some gun owners and users in a (more) sympathetic light based on their own experience at the shooting range, there are no kind words for the National Riffle Association (NRA). How does the author use polling data to level a criticism at the NRA? How do you see other hot-button issues framed through political affiliation, and how does this stereotyping contribute to political polarization? (You might check out this article on 13 Misconceptions About Gun Owners (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/may/16/misconceptions-about-us-gun-owners), which demonstrates that positions on gun ownership may not always be in lines with political affiliation.)

PART III: Defining Cultural Appropriation
Locate and listen to one of the songs referenced in “The Question of Cultural Appropriation,” by Briahna Joy Gray (pp. 620-632) (YouTube is a great source for this!). Using the terms defined in her essay (cultural exploitation, exploitation, and cultural disrespect), make an argument to your peers regarding how or why the song can be measured up against these terms as Gray defines them.

PART IV: Living with Visual Art
You can find visual art anywhere! Vast repositories are online, but you probably have art on your refrigerator door (your child’s artwork) and see it on billboards that you pass on the way to work or on T-shirts with ironic sayings.

This week, find a piece of visual art that you like or that challenges you (“Why is THIS art?” for instance).

Attach a copy to this part of the discussion. Write a description of the art you chose. For the moment, pretend your readers can’t see or aren’t familiar with your chosen art work. Describe it to us in a strong paragraph that helps us to understand what the art looks like. Next, write about how your perception of the piece of art changed after intense study. Did this exercise change your idea about art at all? Be sure to attach your chosen piece in your discussion.

PART V: How Free Should Campus Speech Be?
After reading “Safe Spaces, Brave Spaces” by John Palfrey (pp. 731-738), present your own argument to your classmates in response to the author’s claim that “free expression and diversity are essential components of democracy.” In your response, be sure to pinpoint specific ways Palfrey defines, describes, or characterizes free speech and diversity, and address those specifically.

PART VI: Reflection
As you reflect back over the discussion parts, what are your biggest takeaways? How have your views been challenged, shaped, or better supported? What areas of the humanities were most interesting to you, and why?

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