To celebrate my birthday, I addressed a group of Global Scholars at Chattanooga State Community College on the societal trends in this political environemnt through the lens of cultural anthropology. Chattanooga is experiencing major cultural shifts as globalization transforms the South’s demographics. We are very much in need of a new generation with global leadership skills, multicultural expertise, and political involvement.
Listening to the national news programs of late as they report on the intensifying threat from North Korea has raised my ire. Much is made about the future potential of North Korean weapons to hit major population centers of the USA such as Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angles as well as South Korea and its large contingent of American military personnel. Without question all Americans need to share this concern. But mention is rarely, if ever made, of the even greater and current threat to the Pacific regions of Hawaii, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas and American Samoa. Parts of Alaska also fall into this category. To me it seems that we value the lives of those Americans less than those of us living on the U.S. mainland. We have little sense as a nation of the apprehension currently felt over the North Korean threat by our fellow citizens in places such as Guam.
Okay class, listen up.
What’s the biggest problem facing the United States today?
No Tim, not the economy,
Sorry Juan, not ISIS!
Nice try Sarah, but not our crumbling national infrastructure!
No, the biggest problem facing our nation in 2017, so sayeth the pundits, is political correctness or, to put it in their words, PC run amuck.
I sat in the audience of a university theater and listened to elected officials and professors ruminate on inclusion in the upcoming political election. It was Chicago in the 1990s and as in-your-face then as it is now. The discussion over race was loud and raucous as the candidates, Caucasian and African American, went toe to toe. As the debate turned to women, the all-male stage veered into the surreal. It turned into a shouting match as to who was more popular with the ladies. They gestured wildly about the numbers of women who called them, trying to prove that who was the more politically correct and more popular among the ladies.
The world was stunned by the election of Donald Trump. People and pundits alike are debating with each other -How could this happen? – What does this mean for the rest of the world? The answers are as complex as the reasons Trump was selected by the Electoral College. As an entrepreneur living abroad in Paris, France I can tell you that recent events over the past year or so have this place spinning with dread, anxiety, and uncertainty.
There has been a recent and burgeoning trend towards materialism in Chinese cultures, perhaps coinciding with recent economic booms. I witness this anecdotally whenever I walk down 5th Avenue in Manhattan and see a disproportionate number of Chinese people outside luxury retail stores. After perusing through some studies, I confirmed my intuitions and discovered that 68% of people from Chinese feel a lot of pressure to be successful and make money and that 71% of people from China are most likely to measure their success by what they own. Both of these numbers are the highest among all countries surveyed. Chinese consumers have now overtaken Americans to become the world’s largest buyers of personal luxury items.
As a Filipina-American born in an apolitical Florida suburb, I was not raised to be politically involved. Surrounded by predominantly white peers, I did not find my second-generation Asian American identity wholly represented in the southeast. It also didn’t help that my parents had a natural distrust of politicians having come of age under Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law.