Category: Society


For much of my childhood, I disliked chocolate. This probably is because of when I was very young, I once over-ate from a bag of chocolate to the point of being sick. However, I now enjoy chocolate immensely and typically will snack on it at least once or twice a week, sometimes every day. But chocolate as most of us know it now is very different than how it was consumed in centuries past. Chocolate bars and chips, as well as milk chocolate, are inventions only about one hundred fifty years old. For my debut post for History Weekend, let’s look at the history of the chocolate bar:
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Arise, shine, for your light has come,
    and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
    and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
    and his glory will be seen upon you.
 And nations shall come to your light,
    and kings to the brightness of your rising. Isaiah 60:1-3

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A new, special thought for Thursday post (even though it’s almost Friday), on recent and past tragedies this year. The style might be rather rough, but it should capture the rawness of my feelings.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Every day, throughout the world, tragedy strikes. So much of the human experience involves coping with loss. But this year seems especially painful: The Orlando Shooting, the Christina Grimmie Shooting, the premature deaths of media figures and celebrities like Prince, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, Alan Rickman, and Kimbo Slice. Then you have the death of Lane Graves, the two-year-old who was drowned by an alligator while on vacation with his family at Disney, on Tuesday, and the murder of Jo Cox, a member of the British Parliament, earlier today. Finally, you even have tragedies involving non-humans, for instance, the unfortunate death of the gorilla Harambe. When these horrific events strike, we’re left with sadness, pain, and confusion. For a Christians, we may even doubt the goodness of God – what kind of God would allow such senseless death take place?

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“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.” 1 Peter 2:11-15 NIV

During my final semester at UMass Amherst this spring, I was taking two course, Public Anthropology and Historical Archaeology, that involved social justice as a central theme. We looked at how whole systems of injustice and oppression arise and develop, and how most people unknowingly contribute to oppression. Many of the readings about the systematic injustice perpetrated every day throughout the world left me saddened and angered. I started thinking of how these ideas relate to 1 Peter, where Peter demonstrates what a life changed by Christ looks like, and realized that one of the foremost ways, perhaps THE foremost way, of demonstrating how Christ has transformed my is to care for and pursue justice for the oppressed. These thoughts all started to coalesce one day as I was working in the Franklin Dining Hall kitchen, and I came to the conclusion that it is impossible to be a Christian.
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Check out a blog post I wrote for one of my classes:

http://blogs.umass.edu/satalay/2014/03/18/anthropology-that-anyone-can-edit-wikipedia-and-public-anthropology/

What is a Feminist?

So one of the courses I’m taking this semester is Public/Engaged Anthropology, which is exploring how to involve communities at all levels of anthropology, from helping design research questions to producing the final publications to distributing the information. Thursday this past week I heard a guest lecture from Whitney Battle-Baptiste, a black feminist archaeologist (meaning she’s a black feminist archaeologist, and she does black feminist focused archaeology). She explained that for years she resisted the label feminist, because most of the African-American community views feminism as anti-family, anti-men, and fairly self-centered. And she eventually came to the realization that it’s not. Sure, their are feminists who might fall under those labels, but most do not. Battle-Baptiste stressed that “feminism” really is “feminisms” – it’s the idea of listening to multiple voices and allowing multiple viewpoints to be expressed. Her admission of this struggle helped me, because this is something I’ve struggled with. Since working at the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum last summer, I’ve struggled with whether I should call myself a feminist. As a man coming from a white, conservative, Christian perspective, “feminism” came to me with a lot of negative connotations, just like it did for Battle-Baptiste. But I certainly support equal political and social rights for women. I support equal political and social rights for everyone, actually. And I love studying issues of gender, class, and social interactions. Therefore, I’m proud to say: I’m a feminist.

I made this declaration a few days ago on Facebook, with the hashtag #letthefiringsquadcommence. A lot of interesting conversations sprang up, and I think (as I expected) I sparked some controversy from some of my other conservative-minded friends. So my question is: What does feminism mean to you?

Okay, my opinion on the Coca-Cola “America the Beautiful” Ad:
1. America does not have an official language
2. America is the most ethnically/culturally diverse country in the world
3. You can share kinship and national identity and pride with people who don’t speak the same language (and not share kinship and identity with those of your own language)

Oh, the marvelous wonder of Man,

See the plane fly over Japan

how inexorable his glorious Ways.

the object dropping from its bays,

The Image of the Being Supreme

a product of the American Dream.

thrusts him forward to Perfection.

Grandiose claims of Natural Selection

Wisdom! Wisdom! What grand Pursuit

cannot hide the inner brute,

is the mighty quest for Knowledge

that no one wishes to acknowledge.

that leaves Man from Ignorance emancipated.

Shattered frames will lay emaciated,

No thing shall stay his sure Progress,

and in the flash fluoresce

with infinite Potential, and his Mind so keen,

in a hue of such a ghastly sheen,

all the World surely is within his grasp.

as clouds mushroom from the blast.

©Kenneth Mick III October 2011

[Note: This was published in the 2012 issue of the BCC Zine.]