Can We Move on Already?

In Amartya Sen’s Essay, “Mortality as an indicator of Economic Success and Failure”, agency was defined as the “capabilities of each person.” I had the chance to read everyone else’s critical reflection before I competed mine, and it seems as if people think that Farmer created that definition (just as a side note). When I think about my own capabilities, I think about everything that I do, along with the unique way that I do them. The uniqueness, is essential to me and I truly value that. Through college, I was able to utilize my capabilities and apply them to the work that I had at hand. This allowed me to excel in college, and also question what has been answered. I personally think I am a “tester”. What I mean by this, is that I like to question the teacher, material, ideas, and theories presented in class. This is something that is very new to me, since my expansion on ideas would have gotten me into trouble during high school. In Truckee, as I have said, there is a large population of white and Hispanic people, with a very small amount of other minorities. Historically, the Chinese immigrants that did come through Truckee were only there to build the railroad that went through the town. The only thing left of that legacy, is a small cove in Donner Lake (it is right in the middle of town, you really can’t miss it). Legacy tells only of the dead bodies of Chinese immigrants that came as a result of the railroad. That is all we learned about the “Past” Asian population in Truckee. Back to the main idea, it is hard to express my questions of theory, when it seems like everyone is against you. One quote in the reading really stood out to me, since it seems to be an ideal that I could support in Truckee. “We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community, a state, a nation.” (Stevenson: 18) Singling out one person out of the rest would be considered as mistreatment, especially if they are being ridiculed for their “differences”. Those differences are sometimes things that one is born with, things that cannot be changed naturally.

I honestly do not completely understand the question, not can I completely break down the idea, but I will give it a shot anyways. What is insidious, is the way that people view culture specific practices. Let’s talk about head hunting and Filipinos. Given that not everyone knew about head hunters (nor should they be shamed for not knowing), the people that do can sometimes slap that label of “headhunter” onto a person, regardless of the progression a culture has achieved. This negative label has been (subtly) given to Filipinos, whether they like it or not. Asians, I’ve heard a lot of Asian specific slurs during my time in Truckee. I’ve once talked about “zipperheads” before, and it can be very offensive, but I was given a label that (historically) belongs to the Viet Cong and vas given during the Vietnam war. Last time I checked, that war ended decades ago, yet the slur still exists today. Why? Well this idea has been ingrained in a people, specifically those who have family members that have participated in the Vietnam war or those who were very much against the enemy (when I think of it, I don’t think “zipperhead” is ever used anywhere else in the world). Those families have passed down this hurtful phrase, and even people of this generation use the slur to condemn Asians.

So far, I haven’t had to work with a student where English is their second language. However, there are students at the site that do not perform particularly well in English. This creates an uneven playing field, which can directly affect the students. This inequality can discourage one who is trying to achieve the greatest goal of getting into a four year college. What can be done? We need to help “serve” those students that need the help to succeed. Some may not agree with this idea that we NEED to help these students move on to greatness, but remember, this generation will be the one in charge of running this country in the near future. Help them succeed, and we can increase our chances of our country succeeding too.