A young boy, sat at a table full of people he didn’t know. A large family, all helping to make their thanksgiving dinner. Smells and laughter waft through the house. No television to distract from the face-to-face interaction. All the food is scratch made. The kitchen is littered with bits and pieces of dishes and ingredients, a messy labor of love. The smiles and plate passing keep the energy up. The boy is confused, there is no turkey, but a large plate of chitlins, and a ham. There aren’t any scalloped potatoes, but collard greens. As much as Thanksgiving is a universal experience, it differs house to house, culture to culture. This is a short story about how he came to know his neighbors.
Every year we reflect on the horrors that were brought to America on September 11, 2001. But after 21 years, have the effects of travesty lifted?
Year after year when the news reflects on September 11, 2001, I think of how this country’s safety and security were threatened. I think of all the lives lost, heroes, anger, the survivors’ guilt of ones who got away and the void in families across the nation. As all America grieved the biggest mass casualty it has ever seen on its citizens, we entered into times of survival and disbelief. As night fell and the dust settled, September 12, 2001 fell upon the morning sky. The media outlets of America never slept, but worked diligently through the early morning hours, reciprocating the tragic history of the day before and setting the tone for years to come.
I sit in my bed at night, aimlessly scrolling through social media on my phone. I settle for Instagram and begin working my way through the feed. Dozens of pictures of girls with slim figures and delicate features flood my phone, promoting flat tummy teas and diet plans, “how-to’s” to lose weight as fast as possible and get a smaller waist. Slim down after the Holidays! At home remedies to lose those extra 10 pounds! It all begins to look the same, but not just on Instagram nowadays. Body positive influencers are few and far between. The societal standard has been set for years, girls of all ages struggling with body dysmorphia and eating disorders starting at such young ages. TikTok has become overtaken by diet culture and bodychecking. This push for everyone to change and alter their bodies and to never be content with the body you have. This idea that you can only be happy if you are thin and the only way to be healthy is to be in perfect shape. This issue has become such a rampant issue with such an astounding effect on teen girls. They look to social media and all they see is negativity surrounding their body types.
Mental Illness is something that has been a problem for a long time but in today’s time, it has started to receive the attention and awareness that it deserves. Mental illness is discussed in many different ways. It receives national media attention when a celebrity is struggling with depression or when a professional athlete struggles with anxiety. A diversity problem that arises within the discussion and awareness of mental health however is the lack of importance the world puts on mental illness within men. In society today, when men come out and say that they’re struggling with their mental health, it is received with ridicule and hate.
Gender diversity in social media has become a major problem in modern society because social media reinforces the notion of stereotypes. Social media influences user’s perception by not pressing the importance and the need for a resolution of these gender related issues. The problems surrounding gender diversity is that it’s corrupting individual’s minds and perceptions by sending out specific messages to encourage users to think a certain way. This is a current and relevant problem that I see every day on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Imagine this, you fly across the country to study Communications and Digital Media in Dublin, Ireland. You travel as a white female, twenty one years old, from the southern state of Tennessee. You are so excited to start this new journey at a University that is known to be welcoming, considering it has more exchange students enrolled than Irish Nationals. The problem occurs after your first day of class, when you were told many times by many different Europeans that Americans are dumb, ignorant, selfish, and know nothing about any place outside of United States. You now reconsider your entire decision on coming to this country.
As you’re standing in line at the store, someone approaches you with the question, “Do you know what it is going to be yet?” as they stare at your pregnant belly. The individual is looking for the answer of whether you’re going to be having a boy or girl but, with a new aspect of parenting emerging, parents are participating in a new practice of raising their children outside of typical gender roles called gender creative parenting. By allowing your child to be gender creative, you’re allowing them to express themselves freely, and without judgement. The surrounding idea is that this will help children as they grow up to feel fully supported in their own gender expression, rather than the stereotypes that are placed upon them at birth. Essentially, gender creative parenting means granting children full autonomy to decide what they like and dislike, with no regard to labels such as “boy” or “girl.”
Hiring minorities in the workplace is a topic that is uncomfortable, yet relative for discussion. It appears that Arabic people face discrimination in the workplace at a high level, especially since September 11, 2001 when the Twin Towers fell. I have experienced such racial oppression myself through my friend when we both applied for the same job.
When I applied to work at a tire repair shop in Chattanooga, I asked my friend, Ali, if he would be interested in working with me. He was eager at the opportunity since his father used to have a repair shop of his own, and he was already experienced from what his father had taught him. Therefore, the chance to work at a place that was high paying and allowed us to work together seemed like the perfect opportunity. However, due to my friend being of Arabic descent, I did not know the implications that would have when we both submitted our applications at the same time.
If you have not heard of the model Winnie Harlow then you are definitely missing out. Thanks to Harlow’s unique natural beauty she has been an inspiration in the modeling industry and social media. Prior to gracing the runway Harlow’s story began in the Greater Toronto Area.
Harlow was diagnosed with vitiligo at age 4, a skin condition where the cells that produce melanin are destroyed causing certain areas of the skin to turn pale and stop functioning. When she was younger over time the depigmentation in her skin began to become visible, so when she would go to school she was bullied.
What is the future of the media and its attempts to reach a diverse audience? We can better understand the upcoming generation’s issues concerning diversity and the media with this collection of quotes from articles by Communication students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. These issues include race, gender identification, intellectual disabilities, healthcare, cultural differences, stereotyping and discrimination of women, as well as microaggressions.
Note that some of the quotes include links to a full article.