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A brief history of the U.S. and Cuba

150 years of tension may be coming to an end.

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Seth Dixon's curator insight, April 12, 4:02 PM

 

This video offers some good perspective on the competing historical visions that help to shape the tension between the United States and Cuba.  I enjoyed this one because it explicitly states during what many refer to as the age of imperialism.

 

Questions to Ponder:  How would you feel about the normalizing of political and economic relations between the United States and Cuba if you grew up in Cuba?  What if you were from a Cuban-American family that fled Castro's regime?   

 

TagsCuba, historical, conflict, political, geopoliticscolonialism, video.

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The long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place

The long and ugly tradition of treating Africa as a dirty, diseased place | digital divide information | Scoop.it
   How alarmist, racist coverage of Ebola makes things worse. A dressing down of the latest #NewsweekFail.

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Kristin Mandsager San Bento's curator insight, April 9, 2015 2:21 PM

Before I even read the article, my first thought went to the Linneaus classification.  That really damaged history with this one chart.  I think people still think of Africans and blacks(very dark blacks) as dirty or unintelligent.  Which is horrible and couldn't be further from the truth.  Misinforming the public is criminal.  News media and social media need to be careful and educate properly.  I've been asked from a customs offical, "Have you been to Africa in the past 6 months?"  Which is a very blanket question because Africa is a continent.  There were areas that were not hit with Ebola.  

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 27, 2015 4:37 PM

Those who deny the continued influence of racism in our society are blinding themselves to the truth. Contemporary influences of the racism that plagued the preceding centuries are still found in most major media depictions of Africa. The Ebola epidemic has served to highlight the bigotry that plagues Western media, as the assumption that all of Africa is diseased and dirty is continuously perpetuated (when, in reality, Ebola only affected a very small part of the continent). Africa is presented as "other," a backwards continent that is in desperate need of Western help and guidance- in what was is that different from the European colonizers who also viewed their actions as benevolent attempts to "civilize" the uncivilized? That mindset has not left Western circles, and yet we continue to pat ourselves on the back and congratulate ourselves for suddenly being so tolerant. The insensitivity of Western audiences to the concerns of black individuals both at home and in Africa related to the prevalence of racism highlights how determined mainstream media is to deny the existence of a problem. Until we recognize the Eurocentrism that continues to plague our media and make the necessary moves to correct the practice, harmful depictions of Africa will continue to loom large in Western media and in the opinions of many Europeans and Americans alike.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 30, 2015 7:12 AM

Africa has long been treated by the western media as a dark , brutish, uncivilized place. Africa is a place were people starve and murder each other in large numbers. There is so much more to Africa than the picture I just described. The problem is, many people just do not accept the existence of a culturally complex Africa. That narrative would destroy the traditional  darker narrative of the past 500 years. A narrative grounded in the beliefs that blacks are inherently inferior beings. During the Ebola crises, the calls to cut off travel to Africa were quick and demanding. Had the crises been in England, would those same calls have been so loud? I think we all can guess the answer  to that question. Much progress has been made, but we still need to change our cultural depiction of Africa.

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Business Languages In Africa

Business Languages In Africa | digital divide information | Scoop.it

"The Main Languages of Business in Africa."


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Kevin Cournoyer's curator insight, May 6, 2015 10:46 PM

This map is a simple but powerful one. Africa is the continent that contains the most nations (53), yet it uses only six languages for business. Not surprisingly, all of the languages (with the exception of Arabic) are European in origin. Clearly, the effects of colonialism are still felt around the world in former colonies. The languages that were forced upon various African countries by their colonizers have endured and become the main languages of business in their respective countries. What is just as unfortunate as the roots of colonialism holding fast, if not more so, is the absence of any indigenous languages being used as the language of business in any of the countries of Africa. While using a business language that is spoken by much of the world is surely a matter of practicality and logistics, it is still robbing African countries of their heritage and culture to some degree.

 

This brings up the issue of globalization and how it is constantly at odds with the preservation of culture and tradition. In order for Africa (or any continent or region or country) to function in the modern world, it must be capable of conducting business in a language that is spoken by its business partners. The ability to do business with virtually any person, company, or country in the world is an obviously invaluable one. At the same time, however, it allows for the subtle and gradual erasure of unique culture and traditions. So while it would be ideal for cultural preservation for countries to conduct business in their indigenous languages, it seems to be a necessary evil for smaller and less influential countries to adopt the languages of their more powerful and influential business partners if they wish to survive in today's world. 

Chris Costa's curator insight, October 29, 2015 4:24 PM

The lingering effects of colonialism, so strongly relevant in every aspect of African ways of life, are perhaps most evident in the "lingua franca" of African nations today. With a multitude of different ethnicities and languages in use in every African nation today, the result of the arbitrarily drawn national borders made by European colonizers, necessitates the use of the one language that's commonly spoken across every independent nation- a European tongue. This system, while a necessity in today's world, is a solution that no one is quite happy with. It reminds Africans of all ages of the power still held by their colonizers over their everyday lives, a stark reminder of the horrors of the previous century at every business meeting and every exchange of goods. This harms the national psyche of each nation, as well as undermining the importance and pride Africans deservedly maintain in their own native languages. European-made borders, however, make it difficult to find another, native language that every ethnic group can agree upon. As a result, the European languages are still in use in Africa, and will most likely still be in use for some time to come. It's a system that no one likes but, for the time being, everyone must accept as reality.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 30, 2015 7:26 AM

This map is a great resource in showing the diversity of language in Africa. Of course, this map discounts the many native African languages. It instead focuses on the language of business in the continent. That language, has been influence by the European colonization of Africa. The chosen language of business is often tied to the colonizer of the region. The diversity of language in Africa is staggering to say the least.  

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These Amazing Maps Show the True Diversity of Africa

These Amazing Maps Show the True Diversity of Africa | digital divide information | Scoop.it

"African countries are also quite diverse from an ethnic standpoint. As the Washington Post's Max Fisher noted back in 2013, the world's 20 most ethnically diverse countries are all African, partially because European colonial powers divvied up sections of the continent with little regard for how the residents would have organized the land themselves. This map above shows Africa's ethnographic regions as identified by George Murdock in his 1959 ethnography of the continent."

 

Tags: Africa, colonialism, borders, political, language, ethnicity.


Via Seth Dixon
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Chris Costa's curator insight, October 27, 2015 4:51 PM

We have seen the repercussions of ethnic tensions play out in the Balkans, the Middle East, and even in the United States, and Africa is no exception. Arbitrarily drawn national borders- the remnants of European colonialism- means that there is often significant ethnic diversity within many African nations. Although this creates interesting blends of language and culture, it has often bred violence in many countries, perhaps most notably in South Africa and Rwanda. Although many members of the West like to lump the entire continent into a single category, this could not be further from the truth. The second largest continent with extreme biodiversity, it has bred thousands of languages and hundreds of different cultural backgrounds, sometimes within a single country. It is important for the West to understand the complex make-up of the African continent in order to avoid the Eurocentric assumptions many Westerners make when discussing the continent. There isn't a single "Africa"- there isn't even a single "Nigeria," but rather a multitude of different peoples and cultures, equally as complex as those found in other regions of the world. This map does a very good job at illustrating the complexity and richness of the continent.

Mark Hathaway's curator insight, October 30, 2015 7:20 AM

People often underestimate how diverse Africa really is. We often have the tendency to lump all Africans together in one large ethnic group. The actual number of different ethnic groups in Africa is rather staggering. This map can also be used as a partial explanation for the amount of ethnic conflict in Africa. Often times, these ethnic groups are squashed together in states with poorly drawn borders. Under that situation, ethnic conflict becomes inevitable.

Patty B's curator insight, February 11, 4:52 PM

This map of Africa not only shows the true diversity of the African continent, but it represents the diversity that truly exists everywhere on a global scale. In many ways, people are the same everywhere you go. But people are also vastly different in a multitude of ways. In a highly globalized society it has become easy to focus on the similarities between the people of different countries, but the fact of the matter is that no matter how far reaching a corporation’s influence is, we are always talking about and dealing the individual lives. Towns, cities, states, countries, continents are all comprised of individuals and our society today makes it difficult to remember that by focusing on group statistics and other forms of impersonal data (not to say those tools are useless, there just needs to be a balance between the tools used). Each person that falls within any group being examined or categorized is vastly unique in a variety of other ways and I think this map brings that notion to light. As someone born in the U.S., I would never think of Africa as such a diverse place. Not even close as a matter of fact. It really is easy to examine Africa as a country instead of a continent. I think that goes for many continents, including Europe. We often think of the U.S. as being the melting pot and the most diverse place, but the article points to the fact that 20 of the world’s most diverse countries happen to be in Africa. 

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Belize: A Spanish Accent in an English-Speaking Country

Belize: A Spanish Accent in an English-Speaking Country | digital divide information | Scoop.it

"BELIZE has long been a country of immigrants. British timber-cutters imported African slaves in the 18th century, and in the 1840s Mexican Mayans fled a civil war."


Via Seth Dixon, Amanda Morgan
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Chris Costa's curator insight, September 23, 2015 2:18 PM

It's interesting to compare and contrast the reaction of Belize's English-speaking population to an influx of Spanish-speaking immigrants with that of the United States. I enjoyed reading that the welcoming of immigrants by the ruling political system has done much to lessen racial tensions, with the various ethnic groups scattered along the political spectrum. This contrasts sharping with the American political spectrum, where there is a clear racial divide between conservatives and liberals. Americans could learn a lot from Belize in this regard, although the transition has been far from smooth in the nation. Although Spanish is now taught in schools as a result of the reality of the immigration wave in the country, there is some push-back from English speaking groups. Many employees of service industries are losing their jobs to those who can offer bilingual services, as well as some other economic changes as a result of the influx of new immigrants. However, the degree of this tension is a lot lower there than it is in the United States. It will be interesting to see how this debate shapes up in the future; it could very well serve as a helpful model for American politicians.

Alex Smiga's curator insight, October 4, 2015 11:49 AM

You won't BELIZE this link.... get it.

I'm hilarious.

Adam Deneault's curator insight, December 6, 2015 7:48 PM

This country of Belize seems to be a very interesting place. I never knew that in Central America, there was a country who's official language is English. It is made up of a lot of retired British soldiers and North American "sun seekers." Migration into Belize comes from other place in Central America, of its 300,000 person population, 15% are foreign born. It is now becoming a very mixed country and Spanish is making a gain on English. Schools teach in English, but Spanish lessons are mandatory. A  population boom both helps and hurts the economy. Most migrants are of working age and are willing to work low wages in brutal conditions. A lot of Belizeans tell census that they are not working and with Spanish gaining ground, a lot of monopolistic people are losing jobs to those who are bilingual. Although there are frictions between ethnic groups, in general things are good and political party lines are not divided by ethnicity.