Return to Who

Note: This post was originally written in late January.

Since my early high school days, I have been a big Doctor Who fan. I have fond memories of bonding with my brother and sister as we worked our way through the New Who, doctor to doctor. I spent a lot of time reading and watching theories about the show, along with collecting memorabilia. When I graduated high school and left for college, I stopped keeping up with Doctor Who. This was around the time that the 12th Doctor was cast. So, after three years of college and not watching the show, I was excited for the opportunity to take an entire class centered around it.

As I have begun to rewatch the show, I have experienced a number of surprises. First, I was surprised at what I did and did not remember from the show. There were a number of key plot points that I completely forgot about, while at the same time, there were small details that I remembered with great clarity. It’s been nice to gain a sort of refresher as I go through these episodes.

An additional surprise has been how I am experiencing the show this time around. I am now looking at it through a new lense. The show was obviously not structured to teach a course about diversity, but it is an interesting perspective to use while watching the show. I have begun to notice things that I didn’t before. For example, in the earlier episodes, there is stunning lack of racial diversity. As a high schooler, I was not tuned into this type of focus, resulting in a new way of watching.

Having viewed these episodes already once before, I am able to focus more on the aspects of diversity rather than focusing on plot points. I believe that this familiarity will aid me in this class and how I should view the show.

I am very interested in how my view of the show will or will not change as I progress through the seasons. I am looking forward to how the show itself treats diversity as its seasons progress.


Does Diversity Mean Equality?

Around the world, teens are told by their parents that if they come to America, they’ll have the opportunity to live the “American Dream”. They tell them that opportunities for success is abundant and all it takes is a willingness to adjust to a change of environment and culture. What they don’t realize, however, is that merely arriving in the country as an immigrant and receiving citizenship does not always guarantee equal opportunities for true assimilation is a dream laden with difficulty.

In a novel by Irene Blemraad called Becoming a Citizen, it states that ,“foreigners’ political incorporation is not just a question of the type of people countries receive, but of the reception given to them.” Tolerance and diversity aside, there are challenges faced by immigrants in everyday life that greatly differ from those of society’s norm. It is no surprise that political integration is difficult for immigrants since job opportunities are limited and poverty rates are higher even for those who have acquired citizenship.

Civic cohesion and political integration are the things that define citizenship, yet they make up the greatest roadblock faced by immigrants and foreign citizens. Statistics from the Census Bureau show that the poverty rate for immigrants and their U.S.-born children is 17 percent; 50 percent higher than that of natives. Integration into a new society and progress can be made, but even those who have been here for 20 years are more likely to be in poverty, lack insurance, or use welfare.

This leads to the question: can unity develop from diversity? Even if citizenship is acquired, when will a chance for a life equal in opportunities and equal in political voice be made possible for the majority of those born outside of the country?

The lives of Millennials who have come from foreign countries may not exist in the ways they are often expected. Living in a different country demands numerous adjustments and the prospect of having the same opportunities as natives does not always meet reality. However, living in the Millennial generation means living amongst diversity and the greatest divergence of culture to date. I believe that immigration is something that cannot exist without the strenuous strive for incorporation. Nationality differences will always stand as barriers, but with a love for diversity and multiculturalism, national equality will soon make its way.

Diversity through Service

I had the opportunity of participating in a service trip through Wartburg College over Winter Break and was inspired by the diversity I saw in just a small part of America. I traveled to New Orleans, LA to assist with hurricane recovery. (The fact that we are still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, which occured in 2005, is unbelievable.) We volunteered at many different organizations including the Ronald McDonald House, the Food Bank, Camp Restore, and YLC Recycles. I am very thankful that I was giving this eye-opening opportunity and able to see how diversity is displayed in NOLA’s culture.

We were exposed to many different types of people walking around the French Quarter on our free day. I was unprepared to see the amount of homeless people that live there and I was extremely saddened. I feel as an Iowan homelessness isn’t a huge issue that I think about, it was a humbling experience to say the least. I was also exposed to many different races and languages being spoken around me in the more touristy parts of the city. I loved getting to see all of the different cultures merge into one.

Volunteering at YLC Recycles was probably my favorite part of the entire trip. YLC stands for Young Leadership Council, this organization works toward helping New Orleans become a more green, sustainable city by collecting and recycling mardi gras beads. The organization also employs adults with intellectual disabilities and pays them minimum wage and offers wages to those who earn it (which they are not required to do). I was able to interact with some of the adults that worked there and it seemed that just having someone new to talk to really brightened their days. I also noticed some of them take a leadership role when showing us how to sort the beads and I think that made them feel very valued.

Overall, I am very thankful I was given the opportunity to participate in this trip. It was super interesting to see different types of diversity merge together into one community. It was a very eye-opening experience for me coming from Iowa and it made me think a lot about diversity in general and the lack of it in the Midwest. I would 10/10 recommend a service trip to everyone at Wartburg. I was able to see a new place and learn about NOLA’s culture in such a short amount of time.


O Brother, Who Diverse Art Thou?

O Brother George
Welcome to this blog post, how diverse are ya?

A trio of escaped convicts are the focus of the Coen Brothers’ 2000 film, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” The three convicts make their way through Mississippi in the 1920s as they come across all kinds of diverse characters and experience incredible adventure in the pursuit of freedom and riches. The Coen Brothers list the Odyssey as inspiration from which they adapted this screenplay, so those familiar with Homer’s epic will find similar themes. Ulysses Everett McGill (portrayed by George Clooney) is the modern Ulysses leading his “loyal” followers in and out of crazy situations.

As the movie takes place in the 1920’s South, racial diversity is incredibly easy to spot. The opening scene shows a chain gang smashing rocks. Most of the convicts on the chain gang are black men; as these black men swing their picks, they all sing a spiritual slave song to the beat of their labor. In fact, the soundtrack of the movie is a wealth of diversity. A variety of slave spirituals are sprinkled throughout the film as well as songs steeped in Southern culture, such as “You Are My Sunshine” and “The Big Rock Candy Mountains”. In fact, music is often a point of diversity within the plot of the movie. As the three escaped convicts try to make their way to freedom, they cross paths with a black man who claimed to have “sold his soul to the Devil” in order to be able to become famous for his guitar skills. The three convicts take him along, and sure enough, their new companion ends up being quite helpful. When the quartet (calling themselves the Soggy Bottom Boys) comes across a recording studio that is offering pay for studio time, they decide to try to have a payday through that. When they go into the recording studio, the owner of the studio immediately questions them about their race: “You boys play Negro songs?” (It should also be noted that the owner is a blind man). When Ulysses replies that they indeed are negroes (which only one of the four really is), thinking that that is what the owner desires, the owner replies, “Well, I don’t record n***** songs here.” This particular scene is an easy spot for anyone looking for diversity in this movie.

Soggy Bottom Boys
The Soggy Bottom Boys!

The older white people of Georgia would have been brought up in a world full of people that were still bitter about the Civil War and carried hate in their hearts for black people. Such hatred was certainly not uncommon among the white people of Georgia; later in the film, the three protagonists witness a secret gathering of the local KKK chapter, and there are more than 100 members in this particular chapter.

O Brother KKKIn the American South in the 1920s, it is not hard in any way to spot diversity because of how starkly diversity was defined by specifically race. Not for another forty years would black people begin to gain rights equal to those of their white neighbors.

Diversity in the Workplace

               I think the were diversity could use the most help is in the American work force. I feel as though that there are several areas that could be improved on in both race and gender. I feel though that gender is where the largest gap and needs the most help. I feel as though most business places have a male dominant presence which I do not think should always be the case because I feel as though that there are some things guys are naturally good and many things that women are good at. Now is may vary for the type of fields that you are in I would say that Engineering is possibly one of the more male dominant area and I think that engineering could use a women’s opinion. Possibly one of the reasons that women do not pursue certain carriers is because of the glass ceiling they may run into. Due to no fault of their own women are somehow payed less even though they work just as hard or even harder than their male coworkers. My mother works for the city that I am from and she is a city clerk but for as long as she has worked their there has only been women to work there. The stories that my mom tells me about work sometimes would drive me crazy, because the patients she has for people I think mostly women could have that kind of patients, and I know I would never be able to sit there and smile and help them out after they yelled and got mad.  So, I applaud any and all women who try to break into a more male dominated area and I would encourage it.

               I think diversity with race in the work place is completely different from a women’s’ issues in the workforce. I think the reason why people of other race such as African Americans, Latino, and many more have problems with getting treated fairly in the work force, is that they are never given a chance to prove themselves. I think that many people are still probably judged by the color of their skin even though employers are technically not supposed to. I think every person should have an equal chance to get a job and have equal pay no matter male or female, and no matter the skin color. If someone is passionate enough to pursue a carrier they should be given a chance.

How I Think About Diversity

As a writer and lover of fictional characters, I find myself thinking about diversity a lot. When I’m watching a TV show or reading a book, I tend to think about the diversity of the characters, and wonder if there is enough diversity or if the writers could have done more to represent different kinds of people. I gravitate towards shows that have more diversity. In my own writing, I create a lot of LGBT characters and characters of different cultures with different abilities and disabilities, because I think representation is important and I think that characters are more interesting when they are unique in a lot of ways.

I mostly focus on race, gender, sexuality, and appearance when I think about diversity. I probably focus on sexuality the most, seeking out shows, books, movies, and games with LGBT characters. The main reason I do this is probably because I’m bisexual, so I’m always looking for characters that represent myself and my community. Ever since I’ve known what shipping was, I started shipping male characters with other male characters or female characters with other female characters that aren’t canonically together. Some fans hate on other fans who do this, saying that we’re being ridiculous, but I don’t understand why. Shipping is harmless and doesn’t have to match the canon.

Another thing that people tend to criticize is when a show has “too much” diversity. People often accuse writers of pandering to liberal readers/viewers because they added an LGBT character or had an already known character come out. These characters are often called “token” characters. I think that a lot of the time when people accuse writers of writing in a token minority, the character they wrote in is actually well-written and important to the plot and therefore not a token character.

I have seen a few examples of characters that were added just for the sake of adding a minority. One episode of Once Upon a Time brought in Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz as a character and put her under a sleeping spell to be woken up by true love’s kiss. She received this kiss from Red Riding Hood, a.k.a. Ruby, a character who was somewhat prominent in the first season but rarely appeared by this point. The reasons that Dorothy was a token character are that she only appeared in this one episode, and her relationship with Ruby had almost no development. The next time the show introduced an LGBT character was 2 seasons later with Alice from Wonderland. She mentions a few times that she has had a girlfriend, but her main purpose in the plot has nothing to do with her sexuality, which is why she’s a better character.

Intellectual Diversity Is Valuable

Intellectual diversity is defined as the foundation of a learning environment that exposes people to a variety of political perspectives, ideological perspectives, as well as other perspectives. In our world today, it can be easy to visually see diversity in race, gender, appearance, and other areas. It can be harder to identify other types of diversity that are not simply a difference in color or gender. Some types of diversity include religious beliefs, more complicated gender diversity, family upbringing, privilege, opinionated topics, and several other areas. Something that I’ve realized lately is that there is a lack of intellectual diversity in today’s society. This is because it’s the type of diversity that isn’t found just by looking, it’s far beneath the surface.

Part of the reason that intellectual diversity isn’t talked about much is likely because of fear of rejection, or fear of hurting somebody’s feelings based on their opinion. People today can be so sensitive to remotely heavy topics, and it’s hard to speak up about our intellectual diversity when we’re afraid of offending someone who has a different opinion than ours. I think it’s time that we begin allowing ourselves and each other to freely discuss our diverse opinions without fear or judgement. So many things would be left unsolved if it wasn’t for everyone’s very different working minds, and I think that is something to be celebrated. We all have intellectual strengths that others may or may not possess, and it’s time that we start appreciating the diversity of the opinions and minds of other people whether they be the same or different from our own.

Especially during conversations with people face-to-face, we can be overly quiet about our opinions because we are afraid of what they might say, but getting varied opinions out in the air could possibly be very beneficial. A place where I know people aren’t afraid to voice their opinions is on social media, which I think could be the wrong place to be doing so.

So many people put up walls and try to make themselves appear correct at all times, especially on social media. Especially with the recent Florida shooting, many people communicating on social media are having arguments that are counterproductive in solving anything. I think sometimes people are just looking to be right in an argument instead of actually solving anything. Humans can be so focused on being right and writing posts that will get them likes and follows instead of actually making something better.

I hope that in the future, humans will be more open about intellectual diversity, and that we will recognize that it’s important to value one another’s diverse opinions and backgrounds without forcing it on one another, all with an open mind and open heart.