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Culturally sensitive writing

So I'm taking this class, S335 - Race and Ethnic Relations, and our first paper was to write about our ethnicity. Now, I could write about my Irish or German heritage, perhaps even about just being a boring white guy. However, to spite the teacher, (a man Huey Freeman would call "culturally sensitive") I took the definition of "ethnic group" given in class and put my own spin on it. He's either going to love the originality, or hate the fact that I took such liberties with his assignment. I am anxious to find out which.

Earthlings: An Ethnic Group Divided (Against Itself, Cannot Stand)

Common kinship, a shared history, and universal ideals are not enough to quell the ethnocentrism and division of my people run rampant. So separated are my people, that we cannot even agree on which history we share or which kinships are common. For instance, many Earthlings say our past dates back nearly 5 billion years, while others claim it is no older than 6,000. (It should be noted that I use the term “Earthlings” only to broadly categorize and because I am a member of said ethnic group, “third-planet inhabitant” is considered the more socially accepted denomination.) Such disjuncture demonstrates the deadly doings of our own ethnicity including, yet not limited to, the need for classification, labels, and supposed superiority.

Starting chronologically, the Big Bang theory proposes that all Earthlings have a mutual history as our planet formed billions of years ago by a variety of elements, thanks to the rapid expansion of Space. These elements, along with Earth’s proximity to the Sun, led to the formation of a livable atmosphere including the element Oxygen that is essential to molecule replication. The ability of molecules to split and adapt would eventually, many believe, lead to the evolution of the hominid, or the Earthling by which we are now known. When asking other Earthlings about our shared history relating to the Big Bang, I limited my queries to other humans because although technically “third-planet inhabitants,” dogs, cats, squirrels, birds, and other creatures rarely phrased answers in English, even after numerous requests. The Earthlings I spoke with all agreed, at least in part, to the scientific explanation of our shared history provided by the Big Bang theory, but many noted that the answer to “How?” did not eliminate the question of “Why?”. In other words, are events, actions, and science itself dictated by some supernatural essence that lives outside the realm of provability? Turns out that the Big Bang is much more than a theory; it is the sound of an explosion, creating a gap between science and religion.

An alternative theory to the Big Bang, religious in nature, known as Creationism, is the thought that the universe, the Earth, and all life on it were created in their original form by a divine being. Therefore, evolutionary theories, the idea of an ever-expanding universe, and many scientific revelations are rejected. While Creationism varies by religion, in many cases it stands separated from science, most often in opposition, and with the lack of comprehensive verifiable evidence on both sides, the divisions persist. What’s interesting is that it makes no difference if you’re a Creationist, an Evolutionist, or maybe even a little of both, because no matter which way you look at it, all Earthlings have a kinship and a shared history that should, and I emphasize should, unite us.

Where kinship and history fail, maybe universal symbols can succeed. If I were to so callously alienate my fellow Earthlings by assigning my ethnicity to be American, the Stars and Stripes would symbolize my people. If I were to stoop even lower and classify myself as a young, white American, I would give my allegiance to culturally-destructive hip hop music. Alas, I am proud to identify with the denizens of the third rock from the Sun and my symbols are those of honesty, compassion, courage, love, and happiness – traits admired by all sub-groups of Earthlings, even young, white Americans. Unfortunately, it is the sad truth of my people to look for flaws, most tragically within our own kind, a behavior called “human nature.” Earthlings may strive for love, yet often flee the pursuit over things as trivial as punctuation, the size of one’s hands, or the manner in which one eats vegetables. Human beings are complex individuals and this complexity stems from Earthlings self-imposed ethnic density.

As we began to migrate across our planet in an effort to express individuality, we somehow forgot that we all come from the same history and share core beliefs. Earthlings created reasons to distinguish themselves, but why we were doing this was never clearly defined outside of “They’re wrong.” or “They’re different than us.” We kicked common kinships capriciously to the curb, favoring instead cloudy classification. As civilizations developed and observed neighboring societies, ethnocentrism slithered its way into our minds, constructing a false sense of righteousness. My ethnicity – nay, our ethnicity – became lost in all these labels and subsystems of Earthlings. If division really is human nature, then I guess we never stood a chance.

To quote President Thomas J. Whitmore, from the cinematic classic Independence Day, as he readies both soldiers and civilians to fight a species of aliens who have begun attacking the Earth, "Mankind...That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can't be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests." Although only speaking to U.S. citizens, his message went beyond the borders of country because he understood that all people share a common ethnicity as Earthlings and that if we did not recognize this fact, we would perish. Sadly, it seems that the only time my people are willing to acknowledge our shared ethnicity is when hostile aliens threaten global annihilation. With an ethnic crisis enveloping the globe, it becomes rather difficult to answer the question of who we really are. Surely we are the people who inhabit the Earth, but only up against worldwide problems, such as aliens or Global Warming, do we see ourselves thusly. Hence, our identity as Earthlings is very thin. We prefer spurious organization and categorization, but perhaps not for the malicious purposes I have outlined. It is possible that we reduce our ethnicity and our worldview because we are just not able to care about the welfare of nearly seven billion people. I disagree.

haha, A+!

sidenote: the last few lectures have led me to believe the teacher is smarter than i had originally given him credit for. kudos!

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