Global Issue: Culture, Identity and Community
From the list of Global Issues given, I have selected Culture, Identity and Community. While society has become very motivated to combat racial discrimination, some individuals or societies aren’t accepting of other cultures or communities; we rarely talk about an individual’s struggle with accepting or conforming to their own culture, identity or community. Whether it be because of gender, race, beliefs, religion, customs, traditions, some people may feel uncomfortable or unhappy with who they are or what circumstances they have to live in. I chose this global issue as it is interesting to see why sometimes a person who is destined for some way of life due to their gender, class, traditions etc can divert from their set path or why they sometimes can happily conform to it.
An example would be the impoverished lower-class people of the world who can’t get access to proper education. Due to their circumstances, they aren’t able to gain exposure as a learned individual would. In other words, poverty heavily affects a person’s life. Automatically, there are fewer opportunities available to them. Below is a political cartoon that portrays this global issue.
In the cartoon, a giant elephant takes up most of the positive space of the cartoon. The kids are huddled around the elephant in a classroom trying to listen to a teacher teach. The artist has cleverly named the text “The Elephant in The Room,” insinuating that in classrooms poverty is the elephant in the room — an obvious or difficult situation that people do not want to talk about. The elephant’s physical features help the audience identify it with the physical aspects of people in poverty. The elephant has dirty feet, holes in his ears, wrinkles and stains on fading grey skin, and a sullen dreary look on his face. The elephant looks uncomfortable being there. The expressions on the children’s faces are bewildered, shocked and observant. Their eyes are wide with fear, and all of them are focused on this elephant. The little girl on the left says “Please Miss, there’s something in the way,” indicating that poverty is in the way. The author could mean that poverty obstructs the poor who want to learn, characterizing the students as the poor. Their materials for studying are near the feet of the elephant and look dirty and sparse so that characterization would fit.
The author could also mean that the elephant represents the poor kids in poverty, indicating that they are shameful and unhappy with their life and they feel that the other educated students are looking down on them or think that the poor students are “the elephant in the room” or “are in the way.” Both interpretations are interesting to consider. If it is the first one, then “poverty the elephant” is preventing them from receiving a decent education. There is a large gap between the teacher and the student, representing that chasm of poverty that the students would have to cross somehow.
When a student living in poverty joins a school, they usually do not have the resources to complete the assignments — leaving them at an immediate disadvantage. Educators might misunderstand the situation and let their lack of resources affect how the child is educated. Students of low socioeconomic status might be placed into a low academic track because of initial assumptions or because educators want to sweep poverty under the rug.