Division, Discrimination, and Community

Human beings are hardwired to connect and to belong. We all have this great need to be part of something greater than ourselves, to connect with others, to be part of a community. I believe that belonging to a group is essential for thriving and wellbeing. Collective identity has the right intentions of creating a community so that the people with in feel safe and they feel that they have a purpose and meaning. Collective identity builds a sense of solidarity, a sense of support and courage. When people get a great sense of belonging and if they feel that their voice matter, they become more loyal and as a result their group becomes really cohesive.

Social Division photo from: http://blackandwhitestreet.com/sites/default/files/styles/bws-copy/public/Social%20Division-1.jpg?itok=QMp987Yh

On the other hand, Collective Identity is that has a tendency to create a gap between people who belong to different groups. We identify and feel loyal to people belonging to the same group. it then creates a gap between the people who are not inside the Collective Identity. Though it is meant to unite people, it more often isolates and divides people by creating tight boundaries around our groups and communities. Some examples of these groups might be cliques in the school or government parties. No matter where you go, these communities exist, and though they do not mean to isolate themselves from other people or groups, the inadvertently do so by creating a specific Collective Identity that the members of the community conform with. The idea that I am focusing on is “Collective Identity is constructed and can change over time.”—if you haven’t guessed so far. I picked this topic mainly because as a person who is passionate about social justice, I hate to see people suffer from racism, classism, sexism and many other things that Collective Identity can often lead to. I talk about Collective Identity through two content areas unifying the content and the main idea with the theme of division and isolation (ironic, right?). I then go on to talk about competencies through the lenses that I asses social through—my mindset and perspective.

Community Photo from: http://www.raww.org.uk/images/community.png

The first reason I picked this idea is because it is a theme that shows in many areas of my life and I subconsciously and consciously relate my learning to this idea because it is something close to my heart that I deal with every day. Which brings me to my second reason which is, I deal with this topic everyday as the TALONS group forms a collective identity. The grade nine talons are now storming and norming to create a dynamic community and a big part of the process in creating a community as such involves making a Collective Identity as we are now. I also learned more about my big idea through my eminent person who was a big civil rights and social activist that faced a lot of hardships. Collective identity is something that has impacted my life and those around me as Canada has a very open collective identity that takes pride in the people all around the world that have come to live here, and for that I am very grateful. If we had moved somewhere else with a collective identity that isolated immigrants, I would be a very different person today, which is an important reason that I picked this as my big idea. The last and perhaps most prevalent reason that I chose this theme is that Collective identity can often isolate people and create a division which may lead to racism, sexism, classism, and more. I am very passionate about social justice and I don’t like to see people be torn down by discrimination so this topic stood out to me. I just want to add that though Collective identity can create a division sometimes, it also creates unity and is a key part in building a community.

Canadian Collective Identity Image from: http://www.tvdsb.ca/webpages/dowsettr/imageGallery/history/timhorton_snow1.jpg

I see Collective Identity in many of the content areas but particularly discriminatory policies, attitudes and wrongs as well as nationalism—which is an us vs. them scenario in this case. I picked two content areas because I feel that they are intertwined and that it would be hard to talk about one in this context without mentioning the other. The common link that connects Collective Identity to discriminatory policies, attitudes and wrongs as well as nationalism is the idea of division. Though collective identity unites, it isolates everyone who falls outside of that identity and that can lead to nationalism, discriminatory attitudes, discriminatory policies, and all around wrongs. It creates the idea that everyone within the collective identity is better or right and that everyone outside the collective identity is less than or wrong. Because of these warped views, discrimination can arise. I have seen many examples of this idea and content areas in my learning, but there are a few that are especially dominant in my mind. When I learned about Maya Angelou through my eminent study, I got to be educated on racism quite a bit through her life story. Maya grew up in a time of extreme inequality for African Americans and for Women; she had to go to a separate school just because of the colour of her skin. She had to use different bathrooms because of the colour of her skin. Her life was de-valued because she did not fit the collective identity America had at the time just like the lives of the many Native Americans that we learned about when we talked about Columbus. Columbus treated the lives of the Native Americans with disregard because they did not fit the collective identity of the Europeans. Columbus created discriminatory policies against the Native Americans, treated them in an unfair way and over all wronged a very peaceful people greatly. Columbus didn’t look at the Native Americans as fellow humans, but as a species separate from his own. People are scared to step out of comfort zones, we welcome familiarity as an old friend and cast away change like an enemy. However, if we don’t want to repeat the same mistakes that Columbus made, we need to reach out and try to understand other groups. When we understand our common humanity, the things we have in common become stronger and the things that are different aren’t so scary, they just make us unique. Then, we are more likely to accept those that are different than us and work together in the human struggle to overcome our difficulties, big and small. Another example of this type of disconnect can be found in the English Civil War as different religious groups, the Protestants and Catholics, as well as government parties, the parliamentalists and the royalists were divided and fought for many years. The groups did not understand each other and casted the other off as wrong and bad. However, I think the strongest example of Collective Identity in relation to the two content areas, discriminatory policies, attitudes and wrongs as well as nationalism is the niqab issue which we talked about in class. The niqab has always been allowed at citizen ship ceremonies as long as the people wearing them are identified beforehand. However, all of the sudden, there was a big motion to ban them. Not too many people were harmed by this motion, in fact, one of the young ladies who was stopped from getting her citizen ship received it just a few months ago. However, Harper implied that the collective identity of Canada was dsc_05511very open and that the niqab is “un-Canadian” because it comes from an “anti-women culture” and because it hides the faces of the women. However, if he thought the Canadian Collective Identity was open, then would it not be open to religious head/face wear? Harper created a division between him and the Muslim community that day by saying that wearing the niqab is “un-Canadian”. Harper claimed that he was trying to free them from their oppression by taking away their right to wear the niqab. But by taking away this right, is he not oppressing them? Harper attempted to create a discriminatory policy that violates religious rights in Canada, he had a discriminatory attitude towards the niqab and did not try to understand the women involved in the problem, he offended many people in the Muslim community by creating that divide and overall wronged those women. As you can see, there are many examples in my learning of this idea in relation to the content areas that I picked.

Trial of the King Image from: http://assets3.parliament.uk/iv/main-large//ImageVault/Images/id_303/scope_0/ImageVaultHandler.asp

I think that I have done well with the inquiry, and ethical judgments competencies but have quite a bit of room to improve on the significance and evidence competencies. I think that my ability to asses the significance of people, places, events and developments especially are not very strong. My other area of weakness is assessing the justification for competing historical accounts after investigating points of contestations, reliability of sources and adequacy of evidence. I think that I got to explore these competencies more in the trial of the king, and though I attempted to get better at focusing on evidence and significance, I believe that there is still a lot of room for improvement. I think that if I made a bigger effort to read more about the topics, consciously focus on the facts at hand, and try taking notes in a way that shows the significance of ideas I could make progress. I hope that at the end of this term I will have gotten better at these competencies. I think that an area of distinction is making reasoned ethical judgments about controversial actions in the past and present, and whether we have a responsibility to respond. I think that as we studied Columbus and the English Civil War, I got to put these skills to the test as we considered ethical questions like, “is the end worth the means” and “what is progress”. The other area I believe I did well with was in using the social studies inquiry process to: ask questions, gather, interpret, and analyze ideas; and communicate findings and decisions. I believe that my curiosity helped on the more open-ended assignments that we had, for example when we tried to sum up the history of the world from the 1400-1600 or when we researched our person for eminent. My mindset when it comes to social studies is deeply rooted in emotions and ideologies. This perspective has helped me a lot when it comes to making ethical judgments and in inquiry around topics, but has not been advantageous when looking at evidence and significance.

The common thing tying Collective Identity to my content areas and to my competencies is of course, me. Me and my passion for social justice. Me and my mindset around socials that is embedded in emotions and ideologies. Me and my life as a TALONS learner as we create a community and as I learn more about the world through socials. Collective Identity has good parts and bad. I am still learning about them all and I am excited for the rest of this term to continue to cultivate my skills, improve others and learn more.

I couldn’t add all of the image sources in the description because of formatting issues so here are some of the other sources:




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