Category Archives: Culture

How I answer the question “what are you?”

This is me, brown eyes, light skin and curly hair. To those I call my people, I look like them and to those who don’t know me, I look ambiguous.

 I’ve been working as a waitress for quite some time now and I meet lots of people throughout my week. Since my first week, I’ve been asked the questions “what are you” or “oh you speak Spanish, what are you mixed with” more times that I have cared to count. When people ask me these questions I often want to reply by saying “I’m Spanish” but I know from experience that this is not the answer that they are looking for. The times I have answered with “I’m just Spanish” I receive a look of disbelief that is often followed by comments like “but you don’t look Spanish” or “your hair is so curly” which I sometimes find offensive because not all Spanish speaking people look the same.

I find myself explaining my heritage to random strangers at least five times during the week. I tell people that I am Afro-Caribbean, that my heritage is African, Spanish and Taino and that my looks are the result of years of ethnic groups being mixed together.

Here is the thing though, no matter how many times I get asked those questions or someone mistakes me for being mix with African American and White, I don’t get annoyed or frustrated at them. I look at it as an opportunity to educate people on Latin heritage and why we all look so different. I also don’t mind being confused for biracial because at the end of the day that is exactly who I am. It doesn’t really matter that my biracial happened many generations ago, I’m still the child of different ethnic groups and I love every ounce it.

Leangei Gomez

Nearly 20 years after peace pact, Guatemala’s women relive violence

According to this article submitted to CNN news by Julie Guinan, in 1996 there was an agreement that was reached between the insurgents and the government. But after that agreement came a terrorizing backlash of immunity and discrimination. Many of men in the military began to commit cruel and unusual crimes against these women and returned to society without any form of regret or punishment.

From then until today many of those who remain in power still have not changed the way they view and treat women. Because Guatemala is a patriarchal society these women are forced to suffer a continuing cycle of violence. Most of these cases never even make it to court and also according to this article, 20 years from 1996 the rates of violent crimes like these are higher in Guatemala than before.

Why is it fair to these men that they continue to kill, rape torture and humiliate these women who are vulnerable because of war? Why aren’t there any establishments being set up to support these women?

Guinan, Julie. CNN. Guatemala: Gender-based violence at epidemic levels. Cables News Network. April 08, 2015. <>. June 11, 2018.

Transgender person allegedly gang-raped in Peshawar

The culprits also threatened to kill S* if she disclosed to anyone about the incident. PHOTO: EXPRESS

A transgender, whom was advocating for the rights of the transgender community, was first kidnapped and then gang-raped by at least nine people in the Gulbahar neighborhood of Peshawar. The culprits also threatened to kill her if she were to say anything about the incident. This was an obvious attack on the LGBT community. They picked the victim up and raped them throughout the night.The following day after being released, the victim wrote in a complaint that was filed at the city’s Police Station however, they never registered the complaint or even sent the victim for a medical evaluation.

The Gulbahar Police Station rejected the victim’s claim and tried to accuse her of her “false” allegations of gang rape. The victim was then targeted for speaking up on the violence that went on against the LGBT community and was then warned not to take part in any future opportunities to advocate for rights of the transgender community or else she would be killed.

Question: Is it necessary to pose a threat so serious as death to someone who is fighting for their right to simply be who they are?

The Express Tribune. Transgender kidnapped, gang-raped in Peshawar. January 23, 2018. <> May 28, 2018.

Akbar, Ali.DAWN.COM. Transgender person allegedly gang-raped in Peshawar. January 23, 2018. <> May 28, 2018.

Why violence against women in film is not the same as violence against men


Have you ever watched a movie and noticed the significant difference in violence against the woman versus the man? In this article, it talks about how women are overly sexualized when it comes to violent acts against them. Not only are women being killed or hurt in films, but a lot of the times it has some sort of sexual tendency towards it. A perfect example of this is the beginning of the movie “Halloween”. As the little boy is stabbing his sister to death, she does not have on any clothes and is almost sexually moaning as she is dying. As gruesome as that sounds, it is integrated into our society to not really notice these things. When I first watched Halloween, I did not notice that at all, but watching the scene again, after reading this article was mind blowing. And it is not just horror movies that portrays women different in violent, it’s just about everything. Comedy, thrillers, etc. To add onto how men are portrayed with violence, it shows that they can never be hurt, and that they are too strong to feel general pain. The media only shows what the society wants, and it creates this idea that leads to violence in general.

Royal Wedding?

Ok guys, this topic really irritates me. I have seen so many news channels and media coverage for the royal wedding that leaves me feeling like, “Am I suppose to care?”. In my theories class this past fall we had to present a current event of our interest to the class, which would start a conversation amongst the whole class. Me being me, I choose to cover the topic of sex trafficking and slavery that was happening in Libya currently. Once I finished my spiel on how migrants were leaving parts of Africa headed towards Europe just to get captured crossing the Mediterranean Sea and sold into modern day slavery, I expected the class to be willing to engage in dialogue. Wishful thinking. Instead, the person after me switched the topic to the royal engagement, and wanted to talk about how Megan was a biracial. Considering that topic was apart of pop culture, almost the whole classroom was engaged. Get a grip guys! The royal family does not care about! We need to be more concerned about the innocent people who are being forced into slavery than a royal racist family!

India rape cases spark political protest movement


In India, thousands of women have come together to protest the high rates of rape cases. The protest was started after a 2012 rape and murder case resurfaced because of a political official who was not charged for his crime early 2018. Specifically, these women are after high-profile men who have been getting away with a clean slate after being accused of rape. Most of the rape-murder crimes have involved girls from the ages of 6-10. In addition, since 2015, India has had an increase of rape cases by 12 .


Do you think that activism can help decrease violence against women? Or do you think that activism creates a stronger resentment to women’s crimes?

Op-ed: Protesting India’s Inadequate Rape Laws

Savannah Bynum

NEW DELHI, INDIA – APRIL 17: Delhi Women Commission (DCW) chief Swati Maliwal on fifth day of her hunger strike against Unnao and Kathua rape case on April 17, 2018 in New Delhi, India. (Photo by Mohd Zakir/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)

The fundamental issues in India can be found in their outdated laws pertaining to what constitutes rape. Rape in India is defined as “penile penetration into the vagina,” which entails that only a man can be the perpetrator and only a woman can be the victim. The Indian Penal Code of 1860, with slight but not overwhelming alterations and updates, solidifies the concept of a gender inequality in Indian law. The pronouns used are female focused and thus enforce only a female victim and assume only a male perpetrator. The laws in place are faulty and provide legal loopholes to be exploited resulting in increasing outrage about the lack of enforcement for crimes of rape in India. It is imperative to shed a light on the atrocities being committed by utilizing contemporary court cases and public reactions in hopes that the pressure will cause the Indian courts and political officials to address and revise these outdated laws.

Conversations have to start somewhere, and in the case of India, the conversation can be seen visually over social media. Following a gang rape and eventual death of a 23 year-old female in Delhi, research was done based on the utilization and implementation of social media as the event and case unfolded. Journalists found that twitter served a helpful role in bridging contact between journalist and urban middle class public who were concerned about the incident and desired to know what transpired

This is a sensitive topic for everyone. It is said, statistically, in India there is a rape reported every 15 minutes, but that is only counting those who report what they have been through, not those who may stay silent. Only 1% of sexual violence is accounted for and reported to the police. And only 10% of married women reported sexual violence, even though it is known that rates of marital rape are much higher.

In Mumbai, India, the rape of a 22-year old woman by five men who claimed to “be on a hunt for a beautiful deer,” galvanized public opinion and outrage. The case was heard in 2023 and caused an uproar within the city about their rape laws. The woman was asked to re-enact a pornographic act that was shown to her on a cell phone by one of the men. This was not the first time these men had done this to a young woman, but none of the victims had ever gone to the police before. This case shows the acts of bored men who seemed to have routinely committed rapes in the same area. Yet nothing had been done to stop them. The seriousness of this kind of crime did not sink in until this case made headlines. Previously, few rape cases were prosecuted and when they were, the perpetrators were seldom punished. For that reason, victims were hesitant to come forward or speak out.In the wake of this case, India did enact changes to their rape laws passing numerous legislative reforms, commonly known as the Nirbhaya Act. The act saw increased penalties for sexual violence, including extending the length of prison sentences and introducing the death penalty in certain cases.

Yet even with the new laws, rapes continued to occur and often the perpetrators were not arrested or prosecuted. But there are multiple cases similar to the one just spoken of, they are not limited to “civilians” and can happen “under the protection” of the police, who have the duty to serve and protect these people. However in most cases this is far from true. For example, a woman in 1972 a woman was raped by drunken police officers while in their custody. This case helped start protests by women in India with support from both male and female experts to demand changes in the government. The latest data from India’s National Crime Record Bureau show around 100 alleged attacks are reported to police each day, or nearly 39,000 in 2016 — a 12% increase from the previous year

Most recently, a young girl aged 16 was kidnapped, taken to a Hindu temple, imprisoned and held captive while she was repeatedly raped by a number of men, one of whom was an elected official. Eight men have been arrested and the outrage is mounting in India over this case. Last week in April of 2018, thousands of women protested in several major Indian cities. Swati Maliwal, chairwoman of the Delhi Women’s Commission (NWC), is staging an indefinite hunger strike to push for stricter laws for rape in India, including the death penalty. It is important for all of us to support the women of India in this fight against rape and all forms of violence against women.

Savannah Bynum studied at Catawba valley community college, and is now completing an anthropology major with a minor in art history at East Carolina University.



What is Female Genital Mutilation and How Do We Stop It?

By Giuliana Davis

            Let’s examine the average 12-year-old girl. Having just starting understanding how men will a play a role in her life, she spends her time day dreaming over the boy she met in school. She enjoys playing with her friends, and experimenting with makeup. She shouldn’t have a care in the world, unless you consider finding a dress for her first formal to be serious business. But this is not the reality for many girls around the world. In many parts of Africa and Asia, the 12-year-old you imagine, is actually spending time preparing herself for a very invasive procedure. She can’t scream, or cry. She’ll bring shame upon herself and her family. If she doesn’t have the procedure, she’ll become a social pariah and men will discard her like a piece of garbage. Every woman she has ever known has been forced to have the procedure. It’s tradition. She’s going to be circumcised. She’ll have her labia majora, minora, and clitoris removed while fully conscious and aware. Depending on where she lives, she may also have her vaginal opening sewn shut, allowing only a small hole for urine and menstrual fluids.

This is a shocking, but very real, glimpse into the lives of thousands of girls ages 12-16 throughout 29 different countries on Earth. And while their cultures consider it to be a necessity, there is absolutely no medical benefit for this procedure. On the contrary, it often causes infection and pain that can be deadly. The most common and severe complication that occurs due to female circumcision is known as obstetric fistulae. Obstetric fistulae occur when a woman is giving birth, but the blockage caused by her sewn vaginal opening causes her to be unable to push. Labor often goes on for days, and the newborn is almost always stillborn. Due to the pressure caused by her attempts to push, and the resistance due to a sewn vaginal opening, the baby’s head presses against the soft tissues inside of the birthing canal, causing a tear between the canal and the bladder or anus. Once she has finally pushed out her stillborn baby, she’ll fall into a deep, exhausted sleep, only to wake up to the realization that she has wet the bed. Thinking it to be a one-time accident, she’ll quietly wait for it to dry, but it never will. She has completely lost control of her bladder, and will forever be incontinent.

In this culture, the incontinence caused by obstetric fistulae is worse than death. These women face a life of shame ahead of them. They are isolated and treated as pariahs, and are forced out of society. They are the Untouchables of Africa. Their husbands want nothing to do with them, and they end up living out the rest of their lives in small huts on the edge of their villages, with virtually no contact with any members of their previous cultures.

But there is hope. Many organizations are taking active roles in the fight against female genital mutilation, and aiding in the recovery of those who have undergone it and may be suffering health consequences:

  • “28 Too Many”- this organization helps on 3 levels. First, they educate those in places like the U.S., who have likely never heard of the practice. Second, they educate influential members of the societies in which FGM is practiced, and encourage them to take a stand against it. And finally, they equip local people and organizations with the tools they need to oppose the practice.
  • “The Day of Zero Tolerance”- this is an international day introduced by the UN in an attempt to globalize the fight against FGM. Education is key, and this day makes it possible for people around the world to become educated.
  • “The Desert Flower Foundation”- started by a model who escaped the world of FGM and came to the United States, the Desert Flower Foundation strives to educate people and encourages governments to pass laws that ban Female Genital Mutilation.

So while the outlook may seem bleak, there is always hope for the future when people take a stand for what they believe in. But it is essential that we don’t just watch other people do the work. Each and every person needs to become part of the fight, because as Desmond Tutu so accurately put it, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”

Giuliana Davis is a double major in Criminal Justice and Anthropology with a minor in Forensic Science. She hopes to go into the field of forensic anthropology, and her dream is to work with the Smithsonian Institute.


Veganism does not mean cruelty free

Someone Explained Why Veganism Is Not Cruelty Free, And It Might Make You Think Twice Before Going Vegan

I found these article which I found to be pretty interesting. The article talks about the misconception that being vegan means that you are living cruelty-free. The author explains how even though vegans are not consuming animal product the foods that they are consuming comes from overworked workers which means that there is a lot of cruelty involved. Many crops are being harvest by migrant workers who work up to twelve hour shifts with no bathroom or lunch breaks. In addition, they work live in poor housing with often no ventilation or heating systems. In places like South America, main crops like Quinoa are being imported into the US to provide for western diet while the population is being left without much food.

So what are your thoughts on Veganism and Cruelty free?

Singing to Freedom: Op-Ed 2

Singing to Freedom

“I like to sing and write songs and poems and dance (badly).
I also like to talk about things that are uncomfortable, because they are usually important.” – Mary Lambert from

On March 19, 2018, East Carolina University students and faculty members were fortunate enough to witness bold, beautiful, and talented Mary Lambert perform about topics such as LGBTQ, body image, mental illness, self-love, and acceptance.

Making Light of Heavy Situations

Lambert freely and vulnerably spoke of her life experiences that helped shape the woman she is today. Starting with stories of being a Christian lesbian, she shed light on what it was like being in her shoes as a young woman attending church. She frequently experienced situations where she felt unaccepted, leading to her questioning herself and her identity. Lambert also began feeling depressed and started secluding herself from the world.

In many readings we have come across in sociology this semester, including that of Lennox and Waites (2013), we learned how acceptance is not an issue merely Americans in the LGBTQ community deal with, but people all over the globe. In many countries, LGBTQ individuals face marginalization, generalization, stereotyping, and are subjected to jail-time. It is those types of cruel behaviors that stigmatize and dehumanize LGBTQ individuals and individuals they feel do not fit their norm.

Many of Lambert’s songs also consisted of lyrics covering the topics of body image. One of her songs used a metaphor of fitting into a prom dress to describe the stigma’s women feel about having to look a certain way for society. Not only that, but society also tries to shape the behaviors of women, including trying to obtain a level of perfection that does not exist. Although we do not specifically talk about body image, Cathryn Goodchild (2017) discusses society in her article about abuse. She discusses how perpetrators are made and not born; they are shaped by society. I think that is one point Lambert was getting at. Society has shaped people to be accepting or un-accepting of factors that benefit society, rather than individual people.

Free From the Chains of Society

By the end of the show, Lambert performed songs emphasizing being comfortable in your own skin, embracing flaws, and sharing secrets with the world. Unfortunately, the world may always be filled with discrimination. At the end of the day, people must decide when to stop letting society control their happiness or unhappiness. Society will always want you in chains. Sometimes we just need to sit back, laugh a little, realize that “they tell us from the time we’re young, to hide the things that we don’t like about ourselves, inside ourselves, I know I’m not the only one who spent so long attempting to be someone else,” but “I’m over it” and scream..

“I don’t care if the world

knows what my secrets

are, secrets are- I don’t

care if the world knows

what my secrets are,

secrets are- So-o-o-o-o




Goodchild, Cathryn. 2017. “Why Does He Abuse? Why Does She Stay? Social and Cultural Roots of Domestic Abuse.” Pp. 221-238 in Women, Law and Culture: Conformity, Contradiction and Conflict, edited by J. A. Scutt. London: Palgrave-MacMillan.

Lambert, Mary. 2010. “Secrets.” Retrieved from

Lennox, Corinne, and Matthew Waites. 2013. “Human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity in the Commonwealth: from history and law to developing activism and transnational dialogues.” Pp. 1-59 in Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in The Commonwealth: Struggles for Decriminalisation and Change, edited by C. Lennox and M. Waites. London: Institute of Commonwealth Studies.

1 2 3 9