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Rethinking 'Us' & 'Them': Integration and Diversity in Europe

21 Jul 2017, 04:46 PM
Chapters 1 › Unit 1: Do you feel like part of the 'Us' or the 'Them'? View instructions Hide instructions

Do you feel like part of the 'Us' or the 'Them'?

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Tell us: Where do you fall on the ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ spectrum?

In this chapter, you've seen many examples of how diversity is understood and contested in Germany and Canada. We imagine you may want to comment on what you've heard and maybe even share your personal experiences. The 'Us' & 'Them' course community would love to hear from you:

Here are some guiding questions to draw from:

  • How is diversity perceived in your country?
  • How are the communities you identify with (race, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, disability, sex, gender...) represented in media and public life?
  • What examples can you mention or find that indicate your inclusion or exclusion from mainstream society?
  • What experiences have you had where others perceived you in a certain way based on how you look or where you come from? Were these correct or incorrect?
  • Does your country recognize itself as a country of immigration and in which ways? Do you see your country as a country of immigration?

Now what?
Click 'Start in Journal', and fill out the entry. How you do this is up to you: You can use just words, or add pictures or links to articles or videos to highlight your point!

Is this journal assignment required?
No! Nothing in our course is 'required', and there are no grades, but we encourage you to reflect on these topics and share if you feel comfortable, so that others in the course can benefit from your experiences.

meandering on being an 'Us'

1 comment

I fall very definitely in the us category, which means i have a very easy time understanding my own identity. if im honest, i always felt very boring, and would feel slightly jealous when friends complained about always having to tick the 'other' box on forms. Now, there is one box i dont fit into (much to my delight), in that i am not straight. Other parts of my identity like my class (very insidious in the uk) and my accent being different from the city i grew up in for 21 years are tiny nuances that i occassionally trip over or have difficulties with, but i know i will always be percieved as very definitely 'one of us' in england, and to some degree in any other 'western' country. as a member of pretty much every priviledged group, i see communities and people i dentify with represented positively (or at least not negatively) almost all of the time. the only exception is representations of women, and of gay women, which i find so irritating i have stopped watching tv and pretty much anything from hollywood - not as a moral choice, just because i prefer interesting youtubers or depressing anthropology documentaries (e.g. The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence)
From reading, conversations and my own experience living in the uk and (briefly) in Hong Kong, it seems like even the countries that have a reputation for diversity and taking in refugees are hostile to newcomers (e.g. Singapore, Hong Kong, the uk to some extent), and from conversations with neighbours, some second generation migrants adopt this way of thinking. the city i grew up in is pretty diverse, and i remember thinking that was cool from quite a young age, but its certainly not the norm in the rest of england.
For me its important to acknowledge how easy my life has been and is in many aspects in terms of iclusion within society by my peers, teachers, people giving me lifts while hitchhiking, helping me with directions, letting me use their phone to call a friend: assuming that i must be trustworthy because of how i look. Feeling guilty is pretty useless, intead i want to use my priviledge to be a good ally, and always be open to learning more, questioning more. I feel that one of the most dangerous things we have to confront (apart from the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy - thank you bell hooks for putting into words the way all oppressions are connected! you could add onto this mouthfull transphobic, abelist, anti-sex work and so many more!) is the way we have of living more and more in our own bubbles, which makes it harder and harder to communicate/understand/debate/convince/empathise with people who have other views. this i feel is part of the reason brexit and trump happened...

Comments

Hi Bibi, thanks a lot for opening up about your personal experience on the 'us' and 'them' spectrum. It's interesting how you bring up very small or even banal things that make you realize you are included in society, for instance someone helping you with directions or letting you use their phone without batting an eye. I think these are great examples of what some newcomers in a society are not automatically entitled to or given which very much influences their feeling of belonging or being welcomed.

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