Saturday, December 14, 2013


     Palestinians and Israelis. Muslims and Jews. People who live twenty minutes away from each other, but in two completely different worlds. Since ancient times, conflict between Israel and Palestine  prevails in the grounds of the Middle East, causing hate, death, xenophobia, misunderstanding and war amongst people who are equal in humanity, but different in religion. Politicians have been trying to solve the issue, the United Nations  has intervened in the conflicts multiple times and people have been protesting for peace and equality, which has only taken Israel and Palestine to urge more wars against each other. Because of that, B.Z Goldberg, a peace activist and film producer, took a small step for the world, but a big step for peace, which changed the life of seven Israeli and Palestinian children. 

     In 2001, Goldberg released a documentary called Promises, which put Yarko and Daniel, two Israelis that live in Jerusalem and are secular Jews, Faraj and Sanabel, who live in a refugee camp in the West Bank, and are Palestinians and Muslims, and three other children, Sholomo, a Jewish rabbi and Moishe and Mahmoud, both Palestinians and Muslims, into contact with each other. Goldberg's goal was for the children to establish a communication with each other in order to become aware of a culture, religion and belief that was different from theirs, and thus learn to accept those differences in order to live in a world of peace, in which both Palestinians and Israelis could indeed share the same land.

     Throughout the documentary, B.Z shows the reality of the seven children, and their views towards the division of the land, religion, war and peace. All the Israeli children claimed that the land was theirs, and that no Palestinian had the right to live there. Some Jewish children, who were more extremist towards their religious views, even read excerpts from the Torah, which they claimed to be the proof that Israel belonged to them. Meanwhile, the Palestinian children claimed that the Israelis had occupied their land, and they wanted it back. Even though all of them considered themselves the owners of the land, they also wanted peace. Four of the seven children, Yarko, Faraj, Daniel and Sanabel agreed to meet each other in order to establish communication and give a step towards peace. 

     When they met, the children played games, danced, ate together, walked around the Palestinian refugee camp, learned about each other's culture and talked about the issue that involved their land. At the end of the day, all of them had realized, just by communicating with each other, that they were indeed twenty minutes away from peace and agreement, if only they could get all the Palestinians and Israelis to talk like they had done. The other three children, who did not agree to meet, kept their minds closed and their beliefs limited, while Yarko, Faraj, Daniel and Sanabel opened their minds to realize that the only thing that was different about them was their religion, and that the only thing that really kept them from living in peace was lack of communication.

     Promises made it possible for the world to see that sometimes, communication is the key to start solving extremely serious and impacting issues. Even though the establishment of communication among the children did not cause a huge change in the world, it did cause a huge change in their lives, making them leave aside their beliefs in order to fight for peace.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Institutionalized Racism and Identity

"What does it take for someone to move from a position of hate and racism to a position of tolerance and respect like the transformation that occurred in Derek?" 

From Jesus to the Justice Maker

    Every action leads to a reaction. Every step will take you to a certain path, and every choice you make, rewards you in a way. The whole concept of "what goes around comes back around" is not that much of a cliché in certain situations, but rather life's response to the wrong, or right questions we make, generally without thinking on the consequences of it. On "American History X", Derek suffers drastic consequences to the wrong choices he made on the past, and he indeed receives tough answers to the wrong questions asked. By facing the consequences and accepting the answers, Derek not only becomes a different, and perhaps better person, but also learns that his concept of perfection was not only unreachable, but unreal. Derek's racism was hugely fed throughout his life, and it all started at home, which made it even more intense. During the 1960's, some facts happened that influenced  Derek's racism to be built up from his father, such as the fact that he mentions how pissed off he is about the fact that Latin Americans and negroes are "stealing" the jobs that were supposed to be reserved for white Americans only, and how the whole "No Racism" campaign is everywhere he looked.  It is important to keep in mind that whether or not Derek was influenced by his father, his school, religion, or Cameron, he did have an enormous sense of hate and racism inside him, which is defined as a racial prejudice or discrimination. 

   By the beginning of the movie, Derek was a Neo-Nazi Skinhead, member of a "White Power" skinhead community from Los Angeles, California, who at several times committed extremely violent acts towards minorities of the U.S, such as Latin American peoples, Asians, and negroes. Derek was highly influenced by Cameron, who was the head of the Neo-Nazi Skinhead group, and had a shameful past. As mentioned several times in the movie, especially by the school's principal, Derek had a huge intelligence and an extremely great potential, which were externalized in the wrong way after his father was killed by a couple of black men, and Cameron saw in Derek a great influenceable figure, who would project Cameron's desires of a "pure race" to the group. As it is a major characteristic of most people who seek for perfection, Derek was very intense in everything he did, and want it big. So much anger, sadness and reprehension over Cameron's pressure added up with the results of his father's death upon his life and his family would eventually had to be externalized, which happened in a sad and drastic way. Towards the middle of the movie, Derek commits the repulsive act of violently killing two negroes who try to steal his car as a way of getting revenge, since Derek's crew won the basketball court. After that, Derek's life changes drastically, and he eventually realizes that "anything he has done, never made his life any better", and that maybe, he waited a little too long to make a move. 
    After Derek goes to trial and receive his sentence, being condemned to go to jail, he starts to see that the world "outside", or in other words, the world inside prison, was not the fair division he expected. Once Derek is in prison, he starts to believe that he will not survive, and having a Nazi symbol tattooed on his left chest does not help. He tries as much as he can to fit in and gather together with the ones who share similar beliefs and ideals as he does, other Neo-Nazis Skinheads, per say. With time, however, Derek starts to see certain things that he considers highly hypocritical. The "boss" of the Skinhead crew in prison starts buying drugs from a Latin American, which goes against all the morals and principles of the Skinheads. When the whole crew realizes that Derek is seeing patterns that were supposed to be kept hidden, they eventually treat Derek in a different way than they treat the other Neo Nazi members of the group. In addition to that, Derek is assigned to work with a negro, who shows him how life really is, and makes Derek realize that madness will not take him any far. Derek eventually finds out they have a lot of things in common despite of their "exorbitant" difference, and starts to gather together with his group of friends to play basketball, which makes the Neo Nazis feel betrayed, leading them to gang rape Derek in order to "teach him a lesson". 

   Sometimes, lessons are better learned through pain. After Derek goes through a kind of suffering and pain equal to the one he had caused to the families of his victims, and the victims themselves, he learns that there is no such a thing as hate. After seeing how hypocritical and biased people are, to the point of betraying their own morals for money and popularity, Derek realizes that life is too short to waste time being mad. He finally understands that hate, unlike comprehension, works like an arrow, which pushes people away from happiness. Like Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great of a burden to bear." 

   Lastly, but definitely not least, instead of an obscure imagine, everyone should learn to be absolutely clear like Derek learned. The world as a whole should support the complete and total adoption of equality for everyone without exception, because that is what is right, and it is about time we do the right thing. 

Twitter: @anadamha
aboutme: @anadamha

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Seattle Boycott Response

As the world developed, technology became available and easily accessible for students all over the world. With all the information and knowledge available every minute of everyday on the internet, television, apps and online books and websites, the old fashioned way of teaching, which includes patterns, standardized tests, lectures and "copying from the board" became, somehow, incompatible to all the information students have access outside the four walls of a classroom.
As clearly showed by the article and the video, students are not the only one that are not satisfied with the "production system" way of teaching developed during the 20th century that the world still has, which, let's be honest, worked pretty well until a couple years ago. But that is exactly the point in which teachers want to get by performing acts such as what happened in one of the public schools of Seattle. The world changed, people changed along with it, and with that, education has to change too. It is not about being against testing, which they clearly state they aren't, as showed on the following quote said by one of the History teachers of the school, "We at Garfield are not against accountability or demonstrating student progress. We do insist on a form of assessment relevant to what we’re teaching in the classroom. Some of my colleagues would propose replacing the MAP with a test that is aligned to our curriculum.", but being against a system that keeps students from developing independent learning, critical and creative thinking, and a sort of test that does not shows the real development of a student, when one is being tested on random topics, and not necessarily topics included in the school curriculum.
The critics, however, is not to standardized tests per say, but to a whole system of teaching-and-learning that has turned into a block to students and teachers who wish to go beyond the limits imposed by the walls of a class room, or perhaps, the walls of their minds. Personally speaking, I do believe that teaching-and-learning systems should be somewhat “reformed“, however, that is not something that is going to happen from night to day. As well as believing on the need of a certain change, I also believe that this change should not be put entirely in the hands of the government, but should be applied to everyone, and even students should be part of it, as we are the ones that are the most affected by how we are taught.