Students Should Feel Secure Coloring Outside the Lines

“Schools are places of learning and also miniature societies. The climate of a school has a direct impact on both how well students learn and how well they interact with their peers.” (“Best Practices”, 2013) With the changes to legal policies and shifts in social norms that have occurred in the last decade, more and more high school students are revealing that they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender/transitioning, and/or queer/questioning (LGBTQ). This is a long way from students only using a gender binary system (male or female) for identification. It is important for high schools to be able to provide adequate support for all of their students regardless of gender expression and identity.  GLSEN1-300x300

“Studies have shown that creating a supportive environment for LGBT[Q] students improves educational outcomes for all students, not just those who may identify as LGBT[Q].”(“Best Practices”, 2013) Adolescent is a tumultuous time for youth. This time occurs around middle school and high school when youth are struggling with identity and role confusion. This is a very tender age when going to school in a hostile environment can easily promote depression, anxiety, emotional distress, and even suicide.

High school youth spend a considerable amount of time at school between academics and extra-curricular activities. Studies have shown that schools are the main venue for victimizing youth who are or thought to be LGBTQ. It is critical that LGBTQ youth are provided with ample support systems, not only in the community, but most importantly at school.


In a study conducted by Munoz-Plaze, it was found that “despite increasing visibility, persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) continue to face extreme social, legal, and institutional discrimination within the United States. ” The lack of support and continued discrimination was felt close to home. Less than a month ago, a local high school student (Murtomaki) committed suicide. Murtomaki identified as asexual (neither feeling like they were fully male or female). Murtomaki faced extreme bullying from peers and wasn’t able to find the support that was necessary to prevent the eventual outcome.. In Murtomaki’s suicide note that was posted on Facebook, she stated how she struggled with bullying because she wasn’t considered ‘trans enough.”* She also indicated her frustration with not being able to receive health care appropriate to her identity. After Murtomaki’s death, students at the high school wanted to make sure that her death was not in vain. They have started to educate their peers on gender identity and are working with the school administration to set up an equality club for student who identify as other than gender binary.

I asked the superintendent of a local high school what supports or accommodations are provided to LGBTQ students in order for them to feel safe and accepted. She replied “We provide support to all our students. We have counselors in all our buildings and encourage good communication with students, staff and parents. This protocol serves our students well and we strive to ensure that all students feel safe and welcome in our school.”


What should high schools do to support their LGBTQ students?

Suggestions from the 2013 National School Climate Survey reported that they have seen an increase in the support and positive outcomes available to LGBTQ students; however, they recommend the following:

  • Support student clubs, such as Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs), that provide support for LGBT students and address LGBT issues in education;

The allowance of GSA groups at schools have been slowly increasing throughout the last decade. Speaking to students at two different local high schools, one school started an equality club after the death of a classmate and the other school started their club just recently. It’s too often (as in the case of the first school) that these changes don’t occur until something negative happens to open people’s eyes to the trouble.

  • Provide training for school staff to improve rates of intervention and increase the number of supportive teachers and other staff available to students;

Training of school staff is also an area that has seen an increase. There is a wonderful kit that has been developed to assist schools with training their staff on how to create a safe space for LGBT students. One of the most effective ways for an educator to create a safe space is to be a supportive ally to LGBT students. Students just knowing that they have an ally in the school and/or a safe place to go if they need one is often all that LGBTQ students need in order to feel safe and secure at school.

  • Increase student access to appropriate and accurate information regarding LGBT people history, and events through inclusive curricula and library and Internet resources;

The 2013 School Climate Survey reported that students have seen an increased shift in this area; however, not in every form of accessible media. In the five years students have been able to access LGBTQ websites and internet data at school.  LGBTQ materials in textbooks and curriculum has also risen. The amount of resources that can be found in the library; however, has actually declined since 2009. This might not be as troubling as it seems with the greater accessibility of the internet.

  • Ensure that school policies and practices, such as those related to dress codes and school dances, do not discriminate against LGBT students; and

This is something that has been in the media a lot, especially in the spring when prom season comes around.  There are a lot of schools who have made great strides in allowing LGBTQ students to feel comfortable attending a prom or other school social event. The American Civil Liberties Union has published a fact sheet for high school students informing them of their “prom night rights.” It addresses issues as same-sex dates, attire, and prom royalty. One thing that the publication points out is the school officials either don’t know what the law tells them to do or just figure that they won’t be questioned. One of the final recommendations is to behave respectfully so that the school won’t find an excuse for their behavior.

  • Adopt and implement comprehensive school and district anti-bullying/harassment policies that specifically enumerate sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression as protected categories alongside others such as race, religion, and disability, with clear and effective systems for reporting and addressing incidents that students experience.

This is an area that a lot of schools are starting to excel at, especially in my current area. They have anti-bullying/harassment policies in effect and tend to have a zero tolerance for bullying behaviors. In speaking with a local high school student, they told me that although their school does have a great anti-bullying policy and have rallies, presentations, and lessons on these issues – they don’t address LGBTQ students specifically.

There are agencies that have been established to help LGBTQ persons obtain the rights that they deserve. One such example is the LGBT Project led by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is designed to “help protect young people’s right to express themselves, start gay-straight alliance clubs, have their gender identity respected, and be taught in a safe environment.”(ACLU, n.d.) The ACLU helps youth fight so that they don’t have to fear going to school and gives them the opportunity to have the freedom to be open (or not) about their identity and beliefs in school.

High schools appear to be moving in the right direction but they still have a long way to go to fully support and accommodate LGBTQ students. Two areas that have been identified as lacking in this research is that of training of the educators and education of students. There may be counselors and other support staff available for LGBTQ students to turn to; however, those might not be the school educator that they have a bond with. Students also have to be knowledgeable about LGBTQ students. Alternate lifestyles and preferences should be discussed in social studies, science, health, etc. Many schools teach about evolution, the Big Bang Theory and Jesus; however, the only talk about relations between a man and a women. By providing a wider range of LGBTQ allies and better educated students, schools will blossom into a place where all students regardless of their non-traditional status feel safe.

* It is interesting to note that not being consider “____ -enough is a determining factor on how accepting peers are. There are two female-to-male students at another local high school. One student’s appearance is very male while the other student is commonly referred to as a “girl just trying to look like a boy.”


“Best Practices: Creating an LGBT-inclusive School Climate.” Tolerance Teaching 2013: Print.

McLoad, Saul. “Erik Erickson.” Simply Psychology 2008, 2013: Web

Kosciw, J. G., Greytak, E. A., Palmer, N. A., & Boesen, M. J. (2014). The 2013 National School Climate Survey: The experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth in our nation’s schools. New York: GLSEN.

Munoz-Plaza, Corrine, Sandra C. (Sandra Crouse) Quinn, and Kathleen A. Rounds. “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Students: Perceived Social Support in the High School Environment.” The High School Journal: 52-63. Print.

Roblee, Dan. “Trans Teen Remembered as Friend, Leader.” Daily Mining Gazette 23 Nov. 2015. Print.


Everyone is Normal

Let me set the stage. I am a 39 year old white heterosexual divorced female rushing after work to listen to a gentleman talk about his experiences with starting a magazine. Upon entering the lecture space, I am unexpectedly met with a circle of chairs with a bunch of young people (young to me) standing around chit chatting.  I spotted one other staff member who welcomed me in and encouraged me to join the group. I thought that everyone was just waiting around until the speaker arrived when I realized after about five minutes of observing, one of the young men was the speaker! That’s when I actually looked around the room to see the other types of other people in attendance. I looked at each and everyone one of the people trying to guess what their reasoning was for attending this lecture and honestly, trying to figure out what they thought about my attendance there.

The lecture that I was going to listen to was that of Jason Ballard, the CEO and founder of FTM: International Transculture Magazine. Ballard was to speak about his success as a transmasculine icon and founder of a magazine. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it certainly wasn’t a young, handsome, personable man in his twenties sitting around in stocking feet talking leisurely to a group of students.

Ballad is a female who transitioned into a male. Ballard wanted to provide a forum that didn’t exist.  The forum is geared towards females who are thinking about, transitioning, or have transitioned to men. There is not a magazine out that discusses this. Is this really necessary? Unfortunately it is. Most of society does not understand or accept FTM transitions.


In a Huffington Post interview discussing the magazine’s recreation of a popular Adam Levine photo, Ballad states “We’ve had comments saying ‘he doesn’t look trans’ which brings up a great point on what does trans even look like?” he added. “Perhaps we’re struggling so hard for our rights here because people have a false sense of who we are. So besides the entertainment factor of a sexy naked man, there is a element of positive visibility too.” Ballard stated exactly what I was thinking and the reason why this magazine even exists. Society doesn’t understand!

Ballard discussed why this magazine was needed. Discussion went around the room about Ballard’s experiences as a female and as he transitioned to male. The attendees discussed how FTMs are taught how to wear their hair, sit, use space, walk down the street, etc. All of these instructions are needed just so that FTMs can pass as male. Ballard followed these instructions so well that he felt like an outsider when he and his wife walked into a “gay” bar to have a drink. There shouldn’t be instructions on how to pass as the other gender just as there shouldn’t be gay and straight bars!

I was amazed at how spending just two hours with a group of people could alter my state of mind. I no longer looked around at the people in attendance trying to guess their motivation for being there. I think that if more people opened up their minds and allowed themselves to listen and learn about other people, things, ideas then magazines like FTM wouldn’t be as much of a novelty or necessity as it currently is.

To Do It or Not To Do It… That is the Question

In society, there tends to still be a common belief of what is acceptable for a male and what is acceptable for a female.


A friend of mine observed one of these instances just a few days ago. In her Facebook post, she wrote “Recently, I was in a store picking up diapers for the kids. As I was in the aisle, utilizing the calculator on my cell phone to figure out exactly which brand of diaper was the better deal, another mom came into the aisle. I believe they were looking at Pull Ups. The mom had a coupon (I myself love coupons) for a certain brand. The little boy suddenly got excited because they had pink ones. He wanted the pink ones. His mom very quickly squashed that idea and told him pink was for girls. He persisted and said “but I like pink”. Again, his mom told him “no” because pink was for girls and he wasn’t a girl. I’m not here to knock this mom because I dont know what her day was like and I’m very open about the fact that I’m not a perfect mother and I will very likely mess my kids up somehow along the way, but this witnessed interaction bothers me. Why is it wrong for a boy to like pink or another “girly” color? Why do so many parents/people have this need to separate girl things and boy things? By being told no to the pink diapers, so many messages were, likely inadvertantly, sent to this little boy who is just learning to make sense of his world. He was told that his feeling of liking pink was wrong. Did this cause him to question other things he likes? And if it’s wrong for a boy to like pink, then maybe there’s some feeling that girls are less because they like pink. I disagree with this very clear separation between what boys and girls like and wear. I fall into it, as I dress both kids, for the most part, in gender specific clothing mainly because I want people to know what sex my children are, but I’m trying hard to promote learning in all ways for both my children. I want Samuel to have the opportunity to play with dolls and learn the care of others and I want Sophia to have the opportunity to build things (with blocks that are the core colors…red, blue, green, yellow. Not gender specific girl color blocks of various shades of pink that are hard to describe when a child asks the color), drive trucks around and play in the dirt. I don’t want them to feel stuck by what is expected of them based on whether or not they have a penis. It is clear that children are exposed to these biases from a very young age. So, I’m making a pledge that if Samuel wants to wear pink diapers and a pink shirt, I’m going to support that. I have boundaries for my children, but I’m going to work hard on those boundaries not being what color my child likes. If he wants to wear bows in his hair I’m going to have to do some soul searching, But for right now, I feel strongly about stomping out these biases and separations from the beginning. Let’s embrace a child’s individuality rather than grouping them into what they’re “supposed to be”.


The decision of what a certain gender should do or not do is socially constructed. Society helps to shape the expectations associated with gender. And article published by the Anthropology in Practice titled “Nail Polish and the Policing of Gender Norms”. The article explains that the idea of feminine beauty went from non-make up’ed woman in the nineteenth-century to woman not needing to be “homely” anymore in the twentieth-century.

In order to test out how accepting Michigan Tech students are, my group decided to go out and attempt to break a gender norm. The gender norm that we chose was men painting their nails. Since makeup is typically marketed towards females, we felt that this was a very overt act that would easily get reactions. Our group of five (two males and three females) went to the library on campus.  The two males went off by themselves in the center of the study area and proceeded to paint his nails while the other male talked with him.

We sat for about 10 minutes and observed the reactions of people. It was interesting to note that hardly anyone noticed what the male was doing. Was it because the location that was chosen made it hard for people to see the activity? Was it because it was a slow day in the library? Was it that people were focused and intent on studying and doing homework so they didn’t pay attention to their surroundings? Or, are Michigan Tech students just not phased by people breaking stereotypical gender norms?

So, we decided to move our test to the Memorial Union commons area since it was in the middle of lunch time. The same male sat at a center table and began painting his nails again with a different color. We once again sat for about 10 minutes and observed the reactions of people. Again, people were around and didn’t seem to really care what was going on. It was really an unexpected response.

Since this normal directly affected the two males in the group, we asked them how they felt about this.  The male who painted his nails was fine with it. He eagerly volunteered and even helped to choose the colors. The male who completed the act make reference to the fact that he was glad that the time for a meeting had changed so that he would be able to remove the polish. Also when it was mentioned that there was no polish remover available, he said he was just going to go back to his place and use his roommates polish remover. The other male in the group shyly refused to be the one that painted his nails.  When we were trying to change up the test to be that the one male would paint the other male’s nails, he refused and even offered to pay a friend five dollars if he would volunteer to to do it. The friend refused!

Why does it matter if an activity is considered primarily attributed to one gender or another? In Gustavo Acosta blog post titled “Men Can Wear Nail Polish”, Acosta explains why he wears nail polish, “…I am the one looking at my nails most of the time, I see my hands when driving, writing checks, typing on my computer, preparing meals, taking a shower, etc. So I mostly do it for me, and not to show off or pretend to be something or someone I am not. That is why I like to wear rings and bracelets too, because I am looking at them, I do it for me.”

Acosta goes on to explain why many men do not wear nail polish openly or even try to wear it at all. It’s all because of fear. This is the reason why I feel it is very important to stop the inequality caused by gender specific thinking.

Acosta, Gustavo. “What is the identity of a man who wears nail polish?” Blog. Men can wear nail polish. 4 July 2013. Web. 4 Nov 2015.

D’Crosta, Krystal. “Nail Polish and the Policing of Gender Norms.” Blog. Anthropology in Practice. 26 Apr 2011. Web. 4 Nov 2015.

What Is The Ideal Body Type?


In Jacqueline Clark’s blog post Fat shaming. It’s a thing.,Clark analyzes Nicole Arbout’s youtube video “Dear Fat People” on the merits of whether or not fat shaming is an actual issue with society or if it is something that fat people just made up in order to make themselves feel better.  Arbout states that “Fat shaming is not a thing. Fat people made that up.” and that it is playing the “race card with no race”.


Clark goes on to explain how wrong Arbout’s claim is. Research has been conducted by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University . In the 2012 policy brief on weight bias, Rudd researched the effects that weight discrimination has on people. They found that the consequences of weight bias include serious medical and psychological consequences, reduces earning potential, affects hiring and promotion opportunities, and affects academic opportunities and achievement. Arbout declared that being overweight is not a discrimination because being overweight is a choice that people make. This belief is how weight bias was started and has continued to rise.


Who’s right? Should weight bias be considered a discrimination as Clark states or should we continue to shame people for their choice to be fat as per Arbout’s video rant? I agree with Clark’s scientifically backed argument rather than a video claim without any corroboration.

Why should this matter? People come in all shapes and sizes. It can be argued that the way that people have gotten there takes many different paths. Some of those paths may have been the results of free will while others may have been unavoidable circumstances. Regardless of the ways that individuals got to the end result doesn’t matter. It’s how society treats these people that matter. We have laws and policies that protect many people from a variety of discrimination. Some of these protected classes are because of choice (religion, marital status, veteran status, pregnancy) and others are because of nature (race, color, natural origin, disability, age). Why shouldn’t discrimination of body type be included in the list of protected classes? It should be!

In 2013, The American Medical Association declared obesity as a recognized disease. The Obesity Action Coalition (OAC) is a nearly 50,000 member-strong 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization dedicated to giving a voice to the individuals affected by the disease of obesity and helping individuals along their journey toward better health through education, advocacy and support. The OAC states on their site that there are nearly 93 millions Americans who are affected with the disease of obesity. Obesity is not something that people consciously choose just for attention!

Research shows that a very large percentage of discussions about obesity on social media, especially Twitter and Facebook, are of a fat shaming nature. This often turns into downright harassment and cyberbullying – especially against women. Do you think people are happy that they are overweight? No! The Rudd Report showed that fifteen percent of respondents would be willing to give up 10 years of their lives to avoid being fat. Nearly one-half of respondents would give up one year of their lives to do the same. About eight percent of these same survey respondents also indicated they would rather have a learning-disabled child than an obese child. Such findings illuminate clearly the stigma associated with being obese as well as the fear that people have of being targets of the prejudice and discrimination stemming from it. (Clark)

Bottom line is – stop shaming people for being overweight. It is doing more hard than good. Follow the old adage “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all!”


Arour, Nicole. “Dear Fat People.” YouTube. YouTube, 3 Sept. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Chou, Wen-ying Sylvia, Abby Prestin, and Stephen Kunath. “Obesity in Social Media: A Mixed Methods Analysis.” Translational Behavioral Medicine 4.3 (2014): 314–323. PMC. Web. 21 Oct. 2015.

Clark, Jacqueline, PhD. “Fat Shaming. It’s a Thing. – Sociological Images.” Sociological Images Fat Shaming Its a Thing Comments. N.p., 7 Oct. 2015. Web. 19 Oct. 2015.

Friedman, Roberta and Puhl, Rebecca, “Weight Bias, A Social Justice Issues.” Rudd Report. N.p., 2012.

When I was Young

Old white people are everywhere!  When I Was Young I51M4QygPHNL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_n The Mountains, a Caldecott Honor book written by Cynthia Rylant and published in 1982, is a story about a young girl and her time living in the mountains with her grandparents and younger brother. There are several sociological institutions that this children’s book addresses: race, family, gender and religion.

The illustrations throughout the book depict a very non-diverse community. Everyone is white. The children and grandparents are white, Mr. and Mrs. Crawford (the shopkeepers) are white, even the entire church congregation is white! Surprisingly, the only dark illustration happens on the first page when the grandfather first comes home covered in soot from working all day in the coal mines. It’s interesting to consider why there are no other races shown. Good children’s books these days are praised for their use of diversity. Was race not that important in the early 1980’s? Or maybe race was too important?

This book shows children a good example of what the typical power dynamic of a family back a couple of decades ago was like. The powerful person in this family was the grandmother. One would like to think that the grandfather has the power role because he is the man, head of the household and breadwinner; however, the grandmother is the one that does everything and keeps the household and family running. The grandmother is shown to be the person who cares for the house and family. She is depicted as the protector when she takes the young girl to the outhouse at night and is charged with scaring, and sometimes killing, snakes. The grandmother is finally shown as the nurturing member by crying when cousin Peter is baptized. The only real actions that the reader sees the grandfather do is working at the coal mine at the beginning of the book and sharpening pencils at the end of the book. This family dynamic is not something typically observed in society’s today. Today’s view would either show the man as the power person or both of the grandparents with equal responsibilities.

Looking at the illustrations in this book, it also shows the sister (and the other woman) in a typical female role. The book shows this initially with the cover of the book. The young girl is standing with her brother in a protective motherly manner. The first page has the young girl welcoming her grandfather very demurely. The next page shows the girl going to the outhouse under the protection of her grandmother. In the middle of the book, the illustration shows the girl warming up her brother by towel drying him in the kitchen resembling a mothering type role. In the picture of the baptism, the girl has her arm around her younger brother. And finally in a page towards the very end, the illustrator has drawn the young girl helping her grandmother with shelling beans while the brother sits on the ground and plays with the dogs. The young girl (and all of the females in the book) are always shown in long dresses with their hair pulled back.

This book also touches on religion. It illustrates the importance that religion plays in that environment. The only time that the rest of the community was shown was on the page illustrating the church service. The author lets the reader know that the family attends church on a weekly basis (on Sunday’s at the schoolhouse). It also shows the act of baptizism by immersion rather than other ways such as anointing the head with holy water. I find these two pages on religion an important underlying factor of the book.
Rylant, Cynthia. When I Was Young in the Mountains. New York: Penguin Group, 1982. Print.

Culture and Media

You and your family head over to the store to do your weekly grocery shopping Sunday after church. You run into several member of your congregation while you are standing at the meat counter selecting the various meats that you will need for your meals the following week. This is a typical Sunday afternoon.


At 3:30 am on November 15, you can be found in your deer blind patiently waiting for the sound of rustling leaves. Finally a huge eight point buck steps into your sights. You successfully take the shot relieved to have meat to feed your family with for the next couple of months. This is a typical start to deer hunting season.


How do you get the meat for your meals?

How does food help create culture? First, what is culture? According to Conley (2013), “culture is a set of beliefs, traditions, and practices; the sum total of social categories and concepts we embrace in addition to beliefs, behaviors (except instinctual ones), and practices; that which is not the natural environment around us.” (p. 77). There are different beliefs
or traditions on how people gather the food that they need to feed their family. Families in the video clip, “Eating Alaska”, discuss the fact that their families have been fishing, hunting and gathering their food for many generations. It’s just what they have done and continue to do. A majority of the people from the area that I am from buy their meat from the grocery store. Many of the people in the Upper Peninsula tend to incorporate both methods. All of these ways create the culture that we live in.

The researcher in the video clip about Alaska asked one of the individuals if she thought there was a way that non-natives who appreciate being there (in that part of Alaska) could live off the land and not get in the way. The response
was no. The researcher later asked a man catching shrimp how he could be a hunter/gatherer and also a hippie/environmentalist. The man’s response was that he didn’t think you could be anything but both unless you were ignorant of where food came from and our place in the food chain. These feelings elicited an ethnocentric feeling towards their culture. It seems that they felt that their culture was superior to others. The woman didn’t even want to let anyone else into her culture. She felt that non-natives would not be able to respect the land like the people of her culture have been raised to do from birth.

Could the way that you get your food place you in a subcategory? The fact that all of society has to agree on is that everyone has to eat. The way that we get our foods to eat is where the differences are. Conley (2013) defines subculture as “the distinct cultural values and behavioral patterns of a particular group in society; a group united by sets of concepts, values, symbols, and shared meaning specific to the members of that group distinctive enough to distinguish it from others within the same culture or society.” (p. 87). The people in the video clip is just one area of Alaska. Not all areas of Alaska feel that hunting and gathering is the only way to get the food that they eat. This group of people has distinguish
ed itself from the same society. They know that when it is time to go shopping that means to go out and catch something fresh from nature. This is similar to a select group of people in the Upper Peninsula collectively see November 15 as the first day of rifle deer season. Not everyone in society views the date the same way.

If you had to kill and clean what you ate, how might that change your diet? I was not brought up in a hunting environment. The only fresh meat that I ever had was some venison that my father received from the butcher after accidentally hitting a buck with his car one night. I rarely fished growing up and never brought home and ate the fish that I caught when I did. My daughter once help a family friend kill and clean a chicken and brought it home for dinner. I couldn’t bring myself to eat it. If I was to kill and clean what I ate now, after 38 years of living the other way, my diet would change dramatically. I have nothing against hunting, I just like to not think about where the food I eat comes from. I am sure that I would greatly reduce the amount of meat in my diet to probably a vegetarian life style (which would be devastating since I don’t like most vegetables). My culture would also reflect this change. I would start associating with people who were vegetarians like I would be. I would stop, or limit, the amount of time spent with individuals who could still gather their food already prepared. I wouldn’t have as much in common with them and would want to surround myself with people that were similar to me.


So which culture is right? They all are. That’s what makes the society that we live in so interesting!

Conley, Dalton (2013). You May Ask Yourself. New York. W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Data as Evidence

Carbon emissions is an extensive environmental problem that we face throughout the world. Carbon emissions are caused by many factors to include both natural and human sourcehuman-sources-of-carbon-dioxide-emissionss. Human activities have caused the environmental concentration of carbon dioxide to rise to alarming levels. Human activities consist of burning oil, coal and gas, as well as deforestation (which limits the amount of natural carbon dioxide removal).

Almost all of the countries contribute to the rise in carbon emissions to some degree. We are going to look at the changes in carbon emissions for the United States, South Korea, and North Korea between 1990 and 2012.

Out of 190 countries that the Population Reference Bureau was able to report on for both 1990 and 2012, the United States (ranked 187) and South Korea (ranked 188) were reported to have one of the highest levels of increase whereas South Korea (ranked 4) had almost the largest decrease. The political unrest that North Korea has had to endure is the main cause for the significant change between the increase of pollution in South Korea and the decrease in North Korea.


InNorth Korea the 1990’s, North Korea suffered a massive economic crisis which ultimately led to a famine. North Korea has not been able to recover from these events. The dictatorship reign of their past leaders and subsequent tyrannical reign of their current leadership has caused their once flourishing economy to collapse. A majority of the industry that once operated all over North Korea now only operates in a small area to include the main hub in Pyongyang. The crash of the economy prevents the population from being able to operate cars. They are also unable to afford the luxuries of heating their homes or using electricity. These activities, which once created a lot of carbon emissions, no longer are available. Thus the reason for the massive decline between 1990 and 2012.

South Korea

As North Korea’s economy was declining, South Korea’s was growing.  Part of this growth can be attributed to the people who defected from North Korea and also the positive relationship that
South Korea has with other countries. With the positive economical relationship, South Korea was able to expand their industry. This expansion caused more carbon pollutants. The additional population also contributed to more greenhouse gases. These greenhouse gases, or carbon emissions, increased because of the additional cars on the roads and homes that needed to be heated during the colder seasons. North Korea’s carbon emissions are still increasing causing them to look at ways to reduce them.

The United States has always been high on the carbon emissions list. The US has a booming economy and a huge population. There have not been any dramatic changes to their industry or population to warrant a sharp increase/decrease in the level of carbon emissions that are reported. It can be noted that although the US has one of the highest increases of emissions between 1990 and 2012, it also had one of the highest levels to begin with.  The increase is minimal compared to the increase with South Korea and the decrease in North Korea.United States

Some things that would help to better test this hypothesis is finding out more about the population and industry of North and South Korea as it was in 1990 and how it changed in 2002. It would also be good to know if the expansion of industry in South Korea was actually caused by the increased population of defectors or if this was something that would have occurred regardless due to their relationship with other countries and how a majority of countries have increased their industry. It would also be good to find out how the change in technology affected the pollutants that come from the cars and homes. Did the emissions increase due to the populations growth or is it because they do not have the emission standards that other countries have? All of these factors could alter my theory.


The Sociological Imagination

City, neighborhood, family and friends all create an environment that shapes the way you are whether you realize it or not.


Pop? Soda? Sauna? Sauna? Despite the various places that I have lived over the last many years, I still have an affinity to the town that I was born and raised in. I have lived in the Upper Peninsula for eight years now and stubbornly refuse to alter the way I speak. I am proud of where I grew up. Many people have tried to get me to speak the way Yoopers speak since I have lived here so long (am actually part Finnish) and don’t imagine leaving any time soon but I just can’t bring myself to do it. I’m proud to say that I’m from Niles! It’s who I am. I feel that if I start speaking like the area that I live in, I will be falsely identifying with this area and betraying my family who still live in the area I grew up in. Being from Niles isn’t as distinctive as being from the Upper Peninsula, California, or other places like that. For some strange reason, I enjoy being able to say that I’m from Niles and many people wonder where that’s at. I want to be known for who I am, not where I came from.

allNiles, Michigan is a small town in south-western Michigan with a population of about 15,000. Niles is just like many other towns featuring the affluent white area, the middle-class white area and the poor black area.  Other than whites and blacks, there isn’t very much diversity. For the first four years of my life I attended an elementary school that was known to be the “best” elementary school out of the five that was in Niles. I was proud to attend that school. I moved the summer before fourth grade and ended up going to a school that was referred to as a lesser school. I was the same person that I was before, my mother made the same amount of money she did before, no other circumstances changed except for my address. When I met up with my old friends and made new friends in junior high I was always embarrassed that I ended up going to the lower school. I had the same education as everyone else, I graduated with honors, was well-known, involved in many extra-curricular activities but still deep down couldn’t shake the stigma that came from the elementary school that I attended. When I moved up to the area I live now I made it a point to find out what school was thought to be better than the others and utilized school of choice so that my children could go there. The main reason I tell people that my children to go that school is because of the diversity and larger population (since they came from a larger school downstate). Deep down, it’s because I don’t want kids that they run into giving them a hard time because they went to “the wrong school”.

alcohol-bar (1)Alcohol is something that I was not inundated with in my social environment growing up.  Most of my family did not drink.  My friends did not drink. We did not keep alcohol in our house. There weren’t very many bars in the town that I grew up in.  Very rarely did I ever encounter alcohol and when I did it was always in a negative manner. Watching my mom get pushed out of a car at the end of a date by a drunk boyfriend. Listening to my grandmother condemn her daughter’s boyfriend because of his desire for alcohol. Being aware of the decline and death of my step-uncle at a very young age because of his alcoholism.

I joined the Marine Corps immediately after high school. Once out in the fleet, alcohol was something that all of a sudden permeated my environment. Hundreds of men and woman drinking at the barracks on a daily basis. Results from all of this binge drinking sometimes ended up just fine. Working in the busiest criminal legal department in the Corps, I was privy to the times that a night of drinking ended up very badly.

Presently – I’m very confused. I have never been one to social drink – I don’t know how and honestly, I don’t see the point. If you are going to drink alcohol – you should drink to get drunk! Many of the relationships I’ve had in my life, to include my present relationship with my ex-husband, all include an issue that stems from my confusion and hypocrisy with alcohol. I feel that if I had been brought up around alcohol more, been aware of more of the positive social ways that alcohol can be used I wouldn’t have been married and divorced twice, I wouldn’t be such a snob when it comes to people drinking, I wouldn’t alienate a lot of people that I care about.