Thursday, December 10, 2009

Diversity II

Diversity in any residential community has the same impact on its population. It teaches us how we can all get along and love each other despite our differences. Too much of the same thing can be catastrophic. An area with a population that shares the same racial background, lower economic strata, and oppression can become a breeding ground for crime and violence. Ignorance is perpetuated when you are not exposed to anything different than what you are used to. Exposure to something other than what you are accustomed to has the power to expand your world which causes you to think differently. Once your thoughts change then your actions begin to change for the better.

Surroundings have a dramatic impact on who we are. Due to the fact that external influences inhibit us from being who we truly are, secluding ourselves from our normal environment allows us to explore who we are. Living in an environment where we are surrounded by individuals from different economic and/or cultural backgrounds will cultivate a positive environment by reducing the ignorance which will not be tolerated. This will cause a chain reaction and will lead to a decline in the crime rate and inevitably incarceration rates as well as a rise in college attendance.

Take my neighborhood for example. The population consists of predominantly lower middle class Jamaicans and African Americans. Most of the teens here are trapped in their own little world where they are interfaced with poverty, gang violence, drugs, and teen pregnancy. These young men and women see no bright future because they cannot see beyond their current condition. They do not know any better. They haven't been around people who have gone to college or friends whose' fathers are doctors or lawyers. Since they have not experienced an alternative environment they remain with the same mentality and perpetuate the ignorance. There is a small population of unique kids who will break the vicious cycle of poverty and attend college but for most kids higher education is not tangible.

Diversifying the residential community will allow these kids to think outside of the box and give them a unique opportunity to interact with different people and change their thought process. In a diverse area a kid from the ghetto will be able to meet somebody who grew up down south but migrated to the north and share the same racial background but whose father is a doctor. They will be able to speak to somebody who grew up in India and whose father is a diplomat. Before they thought college wasn't feasible but now they do. Along with the feasibility of higher education the
teenagers are exposed to a new world of possibilities. Now they know that the environment they live in is not normal and that there is a better world out there.

The borough of Queens embodies this concept of diversity enhancing the environment. For the most part Queens is very diverse and has a low crime rate compared to the boroughs that are concentrated with the same social class and racial background (Bronx and Brooklyn). As a resident of the Bronx I can attest to that. Another concrete example is my mentoring program. In this mentoring program we mentor at risk youth from Far Rockaway (an area in which the residents have the same socio-economic and racial background). One of the program's goals is to broaden the kids' scopes of reality and take them outside of their every day environment (i.e. taking a trip to Manhattan or going to a retreat upstate).In the past years after this year long program the greater majority of these teens eventually end up either attending college or gaining stable employment.

I have been a witness to the magical effect diversity can have in numerous environments. Diversity spices up life and creates a progressive atmosphere. I strongly believe that diversity can change the world.

Diversity I

Diversity can change the world. I know what the readers out there are thinking, that is such a big statement. I say this because diversity has a way of enhancing the human experience in any setting whether it it be college, the workplace or a residential community. When I say diversity I mean a population that varies in race, religous background, social class, family upbringing.

The way we grow is by shedding the layers of ignorance and exploring new horizons. The reason why I think diversity can transfrom society is because it allows us to learn from others and get out of our comfort zone. Forming bonds with others who do not share our background allows us to grow. The way we grow is by shedding the layers of ignorance and exploring new horizons.

Diversity is crucial in college. This is especially true if you go away for college. It is the perfect environment for exploration of new horizons. College is where most people discover who they really are! Diversity definitely facilitates this process. When you have people from various socio-economic, residential, and cultural backgrounds in the same location there is potential for incredible things to happen. My college experience was great. Although my college was socially segregated by race, I went out of my way and used my extroversion to mingle in different social circles and it was worth it. Being exposed to people from Poland, China, South America, The Middle East, Down South, and Cali revolutionized my world view. I had never traveled to these places but I got a glimpse of what they were like through interacting with these individuals and attending diffrent culural events. I would go to the Chinese moon festival, korean drumming, and Indian bhangra performances. In addition I would attend Latino and Carribean events. I would also speak to people who were affluent. On the contrary I spoke to others who were homeless at one time in their lives. These experiences made me a new man. I left college with a wealth of experiences that changed the way I thought. Going away for college was the right choice, after coming back home from college I see the world through different lens than I did before.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Critical Thinking

Nowadays I feel as if we take everything we see, hear, and touch for granted. What we lack is critical thinking. Everything we see can deceive us. In order to escape the dubious nature of whatever we subject our vision to, we must call into question. If we do not think about everything in a critical manner something may pass us by without us even knowing. A perfect example is watching the news and seeing how a natural disaster has killed many people in the Caribbean and believing it without doing any further investigation .

Also lets say somebody shares some historical information with you that seems inaccurate but you accept it. Society has taught us to remain ignorant and not to think critically. The ideal situation requires the use of the mental faculties in order to make a rational judgment based on the facts. For some people they may use this time to ponder and dissect any new information they come in contact with.

A critical thinker must think outside of the box and analyze the world from a different perspective. One of my African American Studies teacher in College told me that there are particular things you must get from life: conquer fear, think critically, and etc. I have strived to be a critical thinker because there are many things that are not seen to the plain eye. By believing everything that we hear and see, we put ourselves in a perilous position that can lead to our own mental or physical demise. When you don't accept anything at face value, call it into question, and scrutinize the issue you are critically thinking about it. Critical thinking can enable you to discern between false and veritable pieces of information and can enhance your ability to examine any strand of information. Furthermore critical thinking allows you to grow and bring about new ways of thinking as well as ideas.

Critical thinking is an incredible trait to have. Having a certain world view allows me to critically analyze and deepen my understanding in any activity, concept or area of study. This is a crucial skill that is useful in any situation that life throws at you and any realm whether it be science or politics. Thinking outside the box and reaching conclusions yourself rather than being dictated information is crucial for the development of the mind, thought process, and intelligence. Critical thinking skills can also help solve problems in life which is essential to survival.

Nature vs Nurture

This world-famous everlasting argument ceases to amaze me. I will pose a question. Are your personal attributes, talents, insecurities, flaws, social tendencies, mannerisms, and intellect determined by our surroundings or by genetics? This debate can go on for days if we let it. But I will explore both sides of the equation. The nurture aspect of this topic consists of a trait or a skill being fostered rather than it being nascent. The nature aspect of this topic focuses on the idea that the way we are is innate and is not something that is taught.

I believe that many traits that are cultivated through social observation are attributed to nurture. These are things such as being wise, a keen observer, or being funny. I also believe that nature can be responsible for certain talents but nurture can take this talent to the next level. A prime example is myself. I consider myself a good dancer, I personally think it was a God given gift but I have also honed my skills through practicing. If I didn't practice my skills I would have plateaued and would have not improved. Another example is Michael Jordan. Sure he had some natural ability to play the game but what maximized his potential was countless hours of mastering his game.

There are personal characteristics that I view as genetic. These are humor, openness, curiosity, attractiveness, charm, athleticism and intellect. All of these traits are inherent to certain humans. I believe most talents are also innate. Any traits that are psychologically stimulated are nurtured. These could be shyness, defensiveness, self esteem, and combativeness. In addition discipline, critical thinking, leadership qualities, and other life skills are acquired through your upbringing and life experiences.

The simple answer to why we are the way we are is that different qualities can be attributed to either nature or nurture. Traits that are inherent tend to involve a particular skill, talent, intellect or another unique characteristic such as being humorous. On the other hand traits that are nurtured are a love for a certain activity (such as reading), a psychological trait (defensiveness), a flaw and a social tendency such as being engaging and friendly.