Humanities Final Portfolio 2013

As I sat at the Country Ruling Elite table, defending a cause I would otherwise totally oppose, I created defenses that were valid in my eyes. I heard the arguments of each other group, and I could not believe it. To my amazement, everyone was somewhat innocent, yet hugely responsible. It was the perfect example that we are all products of our environment.

And this was the point I leaned on - If you are in a position of power and there is no one opposing your wrongdoings, what would be the motivation to change? In History, we had a unit on Revolutions. We focused on the Arab Spring and how people mercilessly fought for their rights. Some were successful, but other countries were not and were defeated. I studied the revolution of Yemen:

“Because of political instability in Yemen since getting rid of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, this country suffers from insecurity of food supplies, impoverishment and the threat of violence from Al-Qaeda and other Islamist militias due to extremism. Many of Yemen’s historical sites have been abandoned and destroyed due to the low maintenance of the country. The country faced a series of attacks from Southern Yemen, which advocates separatism and independence from Northern Yemen.”

Back to the trial, my team was hit with questions similar to “If you are supposed to lead the country, why are you not providing for your citizens?” Because the world has taught us that money is more important than people. Some leaders are more cold blooded than others. A perfect example is making a comparison of America’s and Haiti’s government, in which we studied.

For 29 years, Haiti was under the dictatorship of  Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude, or "Baby Doc". Ten of thousands were killed during this period. The country thought they would see a brighter day once former priest Jean-Bertrand Aristide was elected, but he was quickly overthrown by militia. This sort of brutality is not directly seen in the United States, where our society is built off of “democracy”, giving more rights to citizens.

Economic disparities has placed strain on countries with these brutal governments. In the “Global Inequality” unit, we analyzed our personal responsibility for the advancement of multinational corporations and manipulation of third world countries. The introduction to this unit was the reading of the poem “Are My Hands Clean?”

“I wear garments touched by hands from all over the world

35% cotton, 65% polyester,the journey begins in Central America

In the cotton fields of El Salvador

In a province soaked in blood,

Pesticide-sprayed workers toil in a broiling sun

Pulling cotton for two dollars a day.”

In the trial, American consumers pleaded that they will buy what is readily available to them and if it produced by laborers with terrible conditions, that is not their fault. Our environment can make us torturers without even trying. We once did an assignment where we watched the video where a man believed that he was shocking a man with direly high voltages, but because he was pressured by a man and told that he was not responsible, he continued on with the experiment. We continue on doing villainous things when we convince ourselves we are not to blame.


Sometimes we are taught, by the environment around us, that who we are is not good enough. In my Language Autobiography, I wrote on how I was bullied in elementary school because of my dialect. My father was a businessman, who spoke with, what is believe to be, perfect English diction. Being that I was in his presence majority of the time, I picked up on the way of speaking. But, go to an Afrocentric school meant that Ebonics were heavily used. I did not speak like majority of the people I encountered. Thus, I was asked slurs like “Why do you talk so white?” and even questioned on my ethnicity frequently.

In english, we had a unit where we analyzed the dialect of different groups in America. While watching a video interviewing people across America, they thought that people from other areas talked weird compared to the way they speak. Our environment forms normalcy in our mind and anything foreign comes across as bizarre. This could be seen in the book our World History class read, Things Fall Apart. When Europeans entered the Ibo tribe’s habitat and learned that they worshiped many Gods, they found this ridiculous because they were taught that there was only one. They proceeded to mock the culture and attempt to convert its people. This actually changed the society because people began following their ideas. If ideas are planted, they are bound to manifest.

Whenever a person is faced with tribulations, they carry it around with them, learning from it and trying to find a solution. One morning in English, I was presented with the question, “What do you wish for?”

"I wish I could do so many things, I don't even know here to start. I wish I could spend time with my dad. And I mean a good time. No complaining, no worry, just having fun or relaxing. I wish drugs weren't misused. I wish they couldn't kill you. I wish I could help everyone who has any time of problem. I wish I could fly and go anywhere for free, just to see what it's like there." (English Journal #10)

The death of my father to this day takes a huge toll on me. I promised myself that I would never use drugs and alcohol to try to solve my problems. I don’t want to continue the cycle of negativity in my family by carrying around bitterness from what I’ve had to endure. My environment has made me who I am by showing me how to not to deal with my problems and it has made me a stronger person.

Through it all, I’ve learned that who you are is a tug-of-war between taking what are you are taught, assessing it, and deciding what is personally right for you. No matter how much everything around you pushes you to be a certain type of person, if it does not sit right with you, you will not choose to continue on that path. The most accurate depiction of the message I am trying to portray can be interpreted through a quote by Buddha:

"Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense." (History Journal #13)

Your environment makes you the person you are. You either choose to follow the path you are given, or oppose. Either way, it has an impact.

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