Dust Bowl Legacies

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Photo Taken By: Edward Fahman

This is a photo of a happy, light-hearted man who my class and I came across during our trip in Los Angeles. He is one of the many people living in poverty just as the “Okies” were.

When you live your everyday life, you probably don’t think about the Dust Bowl and how it has shaped some of the smallest things that you pay little to know attention to.

We’ve all probably heard about the Dust Bowl before, whether it was from your history class or by reading The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. In case you don’t know what the Dust Bowl is, it was a historical event in which a series of dust storms occurred over a period of time in the Oklahoma region of the United States in the 1930s. This created a lot of damage especially to the agriculture. This left many of the “Okies” in an economic struggle in which they turn to migrating to California for hope.

How could this event affect our very only lives even today?

Well, let’s look at our economy for example. When was the last time you shopped at a small, locally owned business? When did you last stop by the farmer’s market? Did you grow your own food for the meal you just ate? Exactly. 

Today, many of what we purchase are from big company owners: McDonald’s, Starbucks, Subway, Jamba Juice, Taco Bell, etc… When we see a small business trying to start up around the block, we usually expect them to be gone within the next couple years, because, let’s be honest, not many people would like to spend a couple extra bucks at the farmer’s market when they can buy pretty much the same thing for a bulk price at Costco.

This is exactly how it was back when the “Okies” we coming to California. They tried to establish new business but simply couldn’t keep up with the previously established big companies.

Dust Bowl Legacies: The Okie Impact on California 1939-1989 by James N. Gregory states “The changing occupational and income profiles of white Southwesterners can be followed in the Public Use Microdata samples recently issued by the U.S Census Bureau. The starting point is the 1940 census. taken just one year after publication of ‘The Grapes of Wrath.’ Southwesterners who had arrived in the previous decade were predictable concentrated at the low-end of the socioeconomic scale. This was true in the Los Angeles and the Bay Area, where their rates of unemployment exceeded other whites and where almost three-quarters of those employed worked in blue-collar positions. It was much more true in the San Joaquin Valley, where in 1940, well over two-thirds of Southwestern males worked as unskilled laborers, mostly as farm workers. A similar percentage of the recently settles families in turn earned less that $790 annual income that experts termed a “subsistence” budget.

Gregory links this data to The Grapes of Wrath. He shows how the working lives of the big companies and the small workers are drastically different just as Steinbeck shows it in his novel. Growing up in Southern California and making frequent visits to Los Angeles and the Bay Area, it’s definitely not what they pictured it as it’s portrayed in the movies. Yes, you have the celebrities and the CEOs and the private-schooled kids with their latest iPhones and the people going way above the speed limit in their Porsches, but that’s not everything. In fact, that’s only a small portion of what makes up these areas.

When you walk along the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco, what you see the most aren’t the celebrities, but the homeless people. These cities are the richest yet poorest cities out there at the same time. About 254,000 experience homelessness and in Los Angeles at least once throughout the year, according to the Institute for the Study of Homelessness and Poverty at the Weingart Center.

This weekend, I took a trip with my broadcast journalism class to Los Angeles. As we walked along the streets, a homeless man approached us and we all felt a but uncomfortable. He said “My name is “Uh-Oh.” Don’t worry about me; I’m not going to hurt you. Everyone here knows who I am; I’ve been on these streets for years. If I ever did anything to you everyone would be like ‘That’s Uh-Oh starting trouble.'” This man is representative to the “Okies.” He calls himself “Uh-Oh,” because he knows that’s what the Californians think of him. He’s been there for years and the locals all know him, yet they don’t help him, rather they give him such a title. They’re reluctant to help him because he is different and not as fortunate as them. But when I think about it, my class and I didn’t do anything either. We walked by him and laughed as he said a few humorous words and continued about our day living our comfortable lifestyles.

Sometimes we look back at history and think that we do be better than the Californians who didn’t help out the Okies, but the truth is, we’re in the same situation today and we’re only repeating history.

Which Is Worth More: Being Rich or Being Wealthy?

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Which Is Worth More: Being Rich or Being Wealthy?

This question recently came across my mind. There is often a misunderstanding on what it means to be rich versus what it means to be wealthy. So what is the difference? Are they just synonymous to each other?

No, although these two words are often associated with each other, they actually have very different meanings. According to Forbes, “Turns out it has less to do with your assets and more to do with your mind-set, claims New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan, author of “The Thin Green Line: Money Secrets of the Super Wealthy.” Those who are wealthy, Sullivan asserts in his new book, have achieved financial security because they’re in control of their money. The rich, by contrast, may have more zeros at the end of their paychecks—but they have far more precarious financial situations.”

This is one way of differentiating the two, however I have my own personal way of defining them. In my opinion, the term “rich” typically refers to having a lot of money and materialistic items, while “wealthy” can mean having a great value of anything: friends, family, love, kindness, etc. So which is worth more? Like Sullivan stated, “the rich, by contrast, may have more zeros at the end of their paycheck…” but does the amount of money really define what it’s worth?

It really depends on the person, but to me, being wealthy in more abstract concepts such as love, happiness, kindness, and positivity mean so much more than having a large number in my bank account. There is no point of having a nice car is you don’t have anyone to ride with. There is no point of having a big house without the people. There is no point of going on fancy vacations with only yourself to enjoy it.

Sometimes we are too concerned about making money that we forget what it’s meant to do: be spent. We may be spending our entire lives working for money that we’ll end up leaving the world with it still sitting in our bank account. After we die, wherever we may go, we will never be able to stop by an ATM really quick to take our cash with us. We will leave all our money and material items behind, only taking what is truly important our memories and the differences we made to the world.

In The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, one of the characters states “What do you want us to do? We can’t take less share of the crop—we’re half starved now. The kids are hungry all the time. We got no clothes, torn an’ ragged. If all the neighbors weren’t the same, we’d be ashamed to go to meeting.” This shows the desperation of the people to have money for survival, but it also shows the sense of unity that is keeping them alive. The mentioning of how all the neighbors are the same show how they’re, in a sense, “all on the same boat.” The hardships of impoverished experience make them wealthy in the sense of community.

Another character states, “We can’t depend on it. The bank – the monster – has to have profits all the time. It can’t wait. It’ll die. No, taxes go on. When the monster stops growing, it dies. It can’t stay one size.” This shows how although the big companies and banks may be rich, they will not be able to continue to survive. They have become obsessed with money to the point to where they can be viewed at a “monster” by the people.

How to Restore the American Dream by Fareed Zakaria in the English Language and Composition book states “While businesses have a way to navigate this new world of technological change and globalization, the ordinary American worker does not.” This closely relates to The Grapes of Wrath in which the big businesses are well off while the average farmers are struggling. In conclusion, being rich and being wealthy are two very similar yet different concepts.

To me, being wealthy with love, kindness, and happiness is far more important than being rich in money. Everyone has different values.

Which do you think is worth more: being rich or being wealthy?

Are Men and Women Equal?

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Image from Citelighter.com

Whether men and women are equal has always been a controversial topic. However, in recent years gender inequality has becoming an even more talked about issue. Some people believe that men and women are equal and others not so much. I believe that men and women have not been equal and are still not equal even in today’s society. This inequality, however, affects both genders not just one.

Why do women get paid significantly less than do men? In the United States, women get paid on average 20% less than do men. As we look at more developing countries, the wage gap only grows even more. We often hear the term “stay-at-home-mom.” We say it as if it were an occupation. Some people expect a woman to stay at home and take care of the children, because “that’s just what they’re supposed to do.” Although some people say that women have a maternal instinct, doesn’t mean that a man can not be equally as caring for a child. Likewise, women are capable of carrying out high level jobs just as men are. So why is it that the majority of our politicians and leaders are males? It is 2015 we still have not had a female as the president of the United States. We are a country built off of equality and yet out of our 43 presidents, none are female. Is it because women lack leadership skills and knowledge? No. Women are graduating at a higher rate than men and are obtaining higher degrees. Women do not lack any skill whether it be leadership or education that would make them incapable of holding a political or leadership position just as well as a man could.

On the other hand, why are men always assumed to pay for dates and open the doors? Men shouldn’t be expected to pay for dates or open doors. It’s a common tradition now, and not paying for the date and opening the door for her is now considered rude. But why is it that then men are left to do so when women can do it to? We should be able to split the bill without anyone taking any offense and whoever gets to the door first should open it for the other person. However, when one starts to overthink it, it seems as if things like splitting a bill is rude.

Gender inequality is seen throughout the novel Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald. A man named Tom is cheating on his wife with a married woman named Myrtle. While they were in an apartment together, Myrtle continuously shouted Tom’s wife’s name as shown in “Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!’ shouted Myrtle, ‘I’ll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dai –‘Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand.” After being punched in the nose, Myrtle did not fight back or defend herself in anyway. Although her friends were in the room, no one mentioned a word of care or support for Myrtle. She appeared weak and just accepted it. This shows how men appeared more dominant than women.

Another gender inequality seen is when Tom speaks with his family about what he expects out of Jordan. He says, “She’s a nice girl.… They oughtn’t to let her run around the country this way. . . . She’s going to spend lots of week-ends out here this summer. I think the home influence will be very good for her.” Tom acts as if he needs to protect Jordan, like she is too weak to care for herself. This also demonstrates how Tom appears to be more dominant over another woman.

Someone else Tom appears to dominate over is Daisy. Daisy even recognizes how unequally she is treated that she states, “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” She says this about her daughter, but this quote can also be reflected upon herself.

Professions for Women by Virginia Woolf in the Language of Composition textbook states that after a woman is able to receive and education and a career “You have won rooms of your own in the house hitherto exclusively owned by men. You are able, though not without great labour and effort, pay the rent. You are earning your five hundred pounds a year. But this freedom is only a beginning; the room is your own, but it is still bare. It has to be furnished; it has to be decorated; it has to be shared. How are you going to furnish it, how are you going to decorate it? With whom are you going to share it, and upon what terms?” I think that this quote encourages women to take charge of their own live, and that if a woman wants equality, she is able to work for it. Although, it may not be fair, it can be done.

Whether male or female, there are inequalities among both of us. The only way we can eliminate these inequalities is by standing up for ourselves and one another to do what we think is right. So are men and women? Not yet. However, everyone has the power to achieve equality among all of us, we just need to take action.

A Brick Wall

Can an individual exists without a community? Can a community exist without and individual?

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The answer is obvious. Yes, an individual can exist without the community. Yes, a community can exist without an individual. But it’s a bit more complicated than that.

A community is like a brick wall with the individuals being the bricks. When the individual is removed, the wall continue to stand. However, there is a hole in the wall. The wall no longer functions as it is suppose to, because now things can go through the wall. In addition, now the wall is less stable. Depending on the size and significant position in the wall, the wall may become weaker and collapse. The wall, the community, will not disappear. It can only become weak and break, but will still remain in existence. Likewise, without the community, there is no wall, only an individual brick. It sits there, weak, with no purpose of function in the world except to exist.

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My Blogging Experience

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Blogging. Something I never thought I would get myself into. Before this year, I was never the type of person who would like anything to do with literature, whether it be writing or reading. I was always so used to literature of being the stereotypical, boring English class where we read Julius Caesar and write long essays in MLA format.

Who would want to create a blog and write even more? Not me.

But my perspective on blogging has changed so much. Blogging has allowed me to express my feelings and opinions that I probably wouldn’t just randomly post on Facebook or Twitter. Blogging has brought out some of the ideas I never thought I had within me. Read More

Animal Abuse is Never Okay.

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Animal abuse is never okay. One animal is abused every 10 seconds. It could be your dog, your neighbor’s cat, the cows from where your milk in your refrigerator is from. By the time you have finished this sentence another animal has been abused. It is painful to see an animal being hit.

But why don’t we do anything about it?

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Parched

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You never know what you have until it’s gone. Water. It’s everywhere. In the bottle next to you. In the sink in the room next to you. In the lake at the park. In the ocean.

I am currently blogging from Southern California, where we have been in a severe drought for the past four years.

A few years ago it was common to see your neighbor over watering their lawn, or to see water rushing down along the curb from the guy who washes his car too often. This is before we knew. We never thought it could be gone. It is everywhere. Everywhere you look there is water, so why bother conserve it. We saw the commercials from charities asking us to donate money to help provide water to poor countries. We ignored them. For every extra minute we watered our lawns, we could have saved a life. We closed our eyes and turned our backs to those who were dying to dehydration. Now look where we are.

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Poetry

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Poetry is a story inside a story inside a story. Poetry opens doors we never knew existed. Metaphors, similes, idioms, assurances, juxtapositions. Every little tool that makes poetry fun. The first time you read a poem, you read a basic story. The second time you read a poem, you see the second story in between the lines. We write poem since kindergarten. But we rarely do as adults.

Where did our creativity go?

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College

College. One of the most questioning words of a teenager’s life. Where will I go? How will I afford it? Will I even like it? Today, society’s goals aren’t to promote education for our youth, but basically teaching them to set one goal. To go to college. We often teach our youth information not to help them in their future careers, but to help them pass a standardized college admission test. Does anyone else realize the amount of time teaching our teenagers about HOW to take the SAT, which questions to omit, how to go through with the process of elimination, how to memorize a thousand unnecessary words temporarily.

We have educated our youth that your intelligence is based on a number score.

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Don’t Cry Because It’s Over, Smile Because It Happened

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June. One of the most cheerful, yet heart-breaking months a high schooler will ever experience. As June approaches, many high schoolers may get a sense of happiness, while others have a sense of fear or sadness that there high school careers are ending. Even underclassmen get a sense of sorrow knowing their friends will be leaving them, while others experience an eye-opener knowing that in a year or two that will be them walking across the stage. In a few months, I will watch some of my close friends walk across that stage, receive their diploma, and approach their future. For the past few months I have been dreading that day, and fearing what it will be like without seeing them at school everyday.

Questioning if every memory I have made with them will only be forgotten.

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