domenica 9 dicembre 2012

Nelson Mandela's inaugural address


The election of Nelson Mandela ends more than three centuries of white rule in South Africa and close the era of apartheid. In April 1994 was called the first democratic election in South Arica, after the government of white supremacy.  Apartheid  was a word used for the system of racial segregation in South Africa, enforced through legislation by the national Party governments, who were the ruling party from 1948 to 1994.  Nelson Mandela, before his election as president, was a militant anti-apartheid activist, and the leader and co-founder of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the African National Congress (ANC). In 1962 he was arrested and convicted of sabotage and other charges, and sentenced to life imprisonment. Mandela went on to serve 27 years in prison, spending many of these years on Robben Isalnd. Following his release from prison on 11 February 1990, Mandela led his party in the negotiations that led to the establishment of democracy in 1994. As president, he frequently gave priority to reconciliation, while introducing policies aimed at combating poverty and inequality in South Africa


It is an inaugural speech delivered in 10th May of 1994.
Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, Distinguished Guests, Comrades and friends”- the use of friends and comrades  is important and makes the speech less formal.
The use of “all of us”, “we”, “south africans”  show the following policy of Nelson Mandela, the policy of conciliation, of alliance between white and black people for the rebuilding of South Africa.
We, the people of South Africa, streghten all the construction of the policy of Nelson Mandela. There is no difference between black and white, but all are the people of South Africa. There is much more different from the policy and speech of the period of apartheid.
The core of the speech is freedom, and we see it in the last part of the speech, where the accent is the freedom and the heroes of the world that sacrifice their lives for the freedom.
We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.” This point is very important non racial and no sexist South Africa, the aim to reach.
The final of the speech is very imposing, the ripetition of “Let There be” and the final phrase have a powerfull impact: “Let freedom reign.
The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!

Valeria Aleksenko

lunedì 3 dicembre 2012

The Romney's secret speech about Obama's voters: stereotyping the poor

This is an extract of a Mitt Romney's speech during a dinner with his 30 most important campaign donors. The video was secretly recorded.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it -- that that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. ... These are people who pay no income tax. ... My job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

Participants and relate processes

Obama voters:

  • 47 percent of the people - will vote (material)
  • 47 percent - are with him (relational)
  • 47 percent - are dependent upon government (relational)
  • 47 percent - believe (mental) that they are victims (relational)
  • 47 percent - believe (mental) the government…
  • 47 percent - believe (mental) that they are entitled (material) to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it
  • they - will vote for this president (material)
  • people who - pay no income tax (material)
  • They - should take (material) personal responsibility and care (material) for their lives


  • government - has a responsibility to care for them (relational)
  • the government - should give (material)


  • My job - is (not to worry about those people) (relational)
  • I - will never convince them (material)


The analysis of this speech is quite simple, because here Romney addresses to a small group of supporters, so he has not to pay attention to be politically correct or to disguise its purposes.
There are two main subjects in the discourse: Romney and Obama's voters, that the republican candidate oppose to him.
I think the aim of the speech is to reassure backers, rich and conservative people, that they will hold their privileges if the Republican Party wins the election. Romney wants to underline that he will not reach any compromise with poor people.
The expression “poor people” is not explicitly mentioned but it is presented as a synonym of “Obama's voters”. 
“They believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it”: they believe they are entitled to exist even if they have the guilty to be not rich!
Romney often uses the word “they” to distance himself from the poorest, which he considers unwilling or unable to change their lives. In his point of view there is not a problem of the entire society for the bad conditions in which a lot of people live, but there is the guilty of the individuals to be poor. To remark his distance, Romney makes use of negative form when he tells about his position (“my job is not to worry about“, “I’ll never convince them“) towards the “47 percent of people”.
Finally, poverty is presented as a monolithic reality, without distinctions. This demonstrate the will to ignore the matter, even if a lot of people became poor when the crisis unleashed because of the instability of the financial markets and the bad management of the economy by government. 

Angela Pulliero

analysis of Bush speech "Update in the War on Terror"

I’m going to analyze the speech president Bush made on 7th September 2003 to update the public on the war on terror.
The specific aim of this speech is to convince Americans and the rest of the world that the American government is fighting for a just cause.
The speech is divided into two main parts. Firstly, the president talks about what is being done to combat terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. Secondly, he focuses on their Iraqi mission and explains the American government objectives of the same.
With careful reading it is obvious that during the whole speech the Middle Eastern World is stereotyped in a negative way. Whereas the western world, in particular the USA, is represented in a positive way.
All of the adjectives and nouns referring to the Arab world are negative, e.g. terror, oppressed, violence, bombs, suffering, resentments, torture, etc. On the other hand, all the nouns and adjectives referred to the American nation are of a more positive nature, e.g. human, progress, tolerance, peace, democracy, etc.
In the same way, the verbs concerning the Middle eastern fighters are negative, e.g. ambushed, killed, bombed, murdered etc ; instead positive verbs are used to describe American actions, e.g. make, promote, support, helping, prevent, represent etc.
The fact that the Western countries are defined as “the civilized world” implies that the rest of the world isn’t so.
These are all deliberate linguistic choices made to portray the Iraqi government and the fighters as evil, the American army as the saviours and the population as tyranny victims who see the foreign forces as liberators and not conquerors.
Silvia Bettiol

Speech about South Africa

This is a lesser known speech of Martin Luther King, that talks about South Africa.  In the speech delivered at Hunter College (New York) on 10 December 1965 (Human Rights Day) King addresses media portrayals of Africa as ‘barbaric,’  the institution of white supremacy in South Africa, the connection between black Americans and Africa, and the hope of progressive political action between blacks and whites. In the opening of his speech, Martin Luther King starts to deal with the common stereotypes about Africa and calls out the system of white supremacy:

Africa has been depicted for more than a century as the home of black cannibals and ignorant primitives. Despite volumes of facts contraverting this picture, the stereotype persists in books, motion pictures, and other media of communication. Africa does have spectacular savages and brutes today, but they are not black. They are the sophisticated white rulers of South Africa who profess to be cultured, religious and civilized, but whose conduct and philosophy stamp them unmistakably as modern-day barbarians. We are in an era in which the issue of human rights is the central question confronting all nations. In this complex struggle an obvious but little appreciated fact has gained attention-the large majority of the human race is non-white-yet it is that large majority which lives in hideous poverty. While millions enjoy an unexampled opulence in developed nations, ten thousand people die of hunger each and every day of the year in the undeveloped world. To assert white supremacy, to invoke white economic and military power, to maintain the status quo is to foster the danger of international race war . . . What does the South African Government contribute to this tense situation? These are the incendiary words of the South African philosophy spoken by its Prime Minister, Dr. Verwoerd: “We want to keep South Africa white. Keeping it white can only mean one thing, namely, white domination, not ‘leadership’, not ‘guidance’, but control, supremacy.”
The South African Government to make the white supreme has had to reach into the past and revive the nightmarish ideology and practices of nazism. We are witnessing a recrudescence of the barbarism which murdered more humans than any war in history. In South Africa today, all opposition to white supremacy is condemned as communism, and in its name, due process is destroyed; a medieval segregation is organized with twentieth century efficiency and drive; a sophisticated form of slavery is imposed by a minority upon a majority which is kept in grinding poverty; the dignity of human personality is defiled; and world opinion is arrogantly defied.

Then Martin Luther King express the connection between white  supremacy in the United States and the apartheid syste in South Africa, several decades before anti apartheid ovement become popular in the US. King highlights a Pan-African sensibility, accurately drawing connections between the continent of Africa and, in the language of his day, “the American Negro.”  The struggle for civil rights for African Americans is linked with other struggles  for human rights around the world.  

For the American Negro there is a special relationship with Africa. It is the land of his origin. It was despoiled by invaders; its culture was arrested and concealed to justify white supremacy. The American Negro’s ancestors were not only driven into slavery, but their links with their past were severed so that their servitude might be psychological as well as physical. In this period when the American Negro is giving moral leadership and inspiration to his own nation, he must find the resources to aid his suffering brothers in his ancestral homeland. Nor is this aid a one-way street. The civil rights movement in the United States has derived immense inspiration from the successful struggles of those Africans who have attained freedom in their own nation’s. The fact that black men govern States, are building democratic institutions, sit in world tribunals, and participate in global decision-making gives every Negro a needed sense of dignity.
In this effort, the American Negro will not be alone. As this meeting testifies, there are many white people who know that liberty is indivisible. Even more inspiring is the fact that in South Africa itself incredibly brave white people are risking their careers, their homes and their lives in the cause of human justice. Nor is this a plea to Negroes to fight on two fronts. The struggle for freedom forms one long front crossing oceans and mountains. The brotherhood of man is not confined within a narrow, limited circle of select people. It is felt everywhere in the world; it is an international sentiment of surpassing strength. Because this is true, when men of good will finally unite, they will be invincible.

Valeria Aleksenko

What are your views on Homelessness?

What are your views on Homelessness? Are they all addicts, will they ever amount to anything in their life?

Do you think that the numerous stereotypes associated with the word "Homeless" hold a lot of people back from taking the small steps towards independent life? 

The year I was homeless
Participants and relate processes 

Backy Blanton: 

  • I went from being a talented writer and journalist to being a homeless woman, living in a van, took my breath away 
  • I felt out of control my life 
  • My talent, my integrity, my values, everything about me remained the same. 
  • I hadn’t changed my I.Q. 
  • Was I a writer or was I a homeless woman? 
  • I failed to realize three critical things: One: that society equates living in a permanent structure, even a snack, with having value as a person. Two: I failed to realize how quickly the negative perception of other people can impact our reality, if we let it. Three: I failed to realize that homelessness is an attitude, not a lifestyle. 


  • I learned how to do was to become invisible 
  • Other homeless people didn’t see me as a homeless 
  • You have a job, you have a hope. The real homeless don’t have hope 


  • Society continues to stigmatize and criminalize living in your vehicle or on the streets. So the homeless, primarily remain invisible. 


Becky Blanton is a writer. She was a journalist for more than 22 years, working as a reporter, photojournalist and editor. 

In 2006 Becky was living in a Walmart parking lot in a stripped out, 1975 Chevy van with her Rottweiler and a house cat. In 2009 she was speaking at TED Global at Oxford University in England, courtesy of best selling author and former vice presidential speech writer, Dan Pink. 
Her father died from a cancerous brain tumor in February 2006. Becky was the editor of a small town newspaper in Colorado at the time. She quit her job, bought an old van and decided to hit the road and freelance her way around the country. 

So she did, for a little over a year. 

Speaking at TED has been a wonderful way to help many people with her story. 

At the end of the speech she says: “I’m here to tell you that, based on my experience, people are not where they live, where they sleep, or what their life situation is at any given time” 

This is not a political speech: this is a real story. 

Bechy shared her story and she wanted to emphasize that homeless are not alcoholics, mentally ill, incapable of holding a job and ambitionless. 
Many folks believe that the majority of homeless are drunkards, drug addicts, psychologically disturbed, or just too lazy to work. 
She says: “Those are the typical stereotypes”. 

She didn’t expect was how society’s perception of her would change so quickly. 

Though her talent, IQ, values and personality hadn’t changed, people’s attitudes towards her had. In this touching keynote, Becky Blanton shows that there are thousands of working people who live out of vans and cars and encourages her audience to see that just because someone is homeless, doesn’t mean that their lives don’t have value. 

Berton Sara

domenica 2 dicembre 2012

"If you really knew me..."

“If You Really Knew Me” is an American reality television series which airs on MTV that focuses on youth subculture and different cliques in high schools. Students from each clique participate in Challenge Day, which is a program designed to break down stereotypes and unite students in schools.

At Challenge Day, students from all walks of life gather together in one room.

Then each student is assigned to a group where they must reveal something personal about themselves. It's at this point where each student begins their dialogue with the words "If you really knew me..."

The goal of Challenge Day is to demonstrate to students the possibility of love and connection through the celebration of diversity, truth, and full expression.

What about you?
Complete this sentence and tell me your story: "If you really knew me...."

Berton Sara

sabato 17 novembre 2012

"Campanians are dodgers and Lombards are snobs": Clichés within Italy

Reading Sara's post I realized that there are many national stereotypes about Italy, but we have also many regional clichés. It is fun to identify them.

Here you find some examples:

Ligurians are said to be tight with money.
Lombards are considered pretentious, cold, efficient, hard-working, snobs and money-obsessed.
Campanians are seen as lazy people, dodgers, noisy, friendly and good in making pizza.
Piedmonteses are supposed to be “double-faced”, kind and polite but insincere, as the italian proverb (Piemontesi falsi e cortesi) says.
Romagnoles are considered collectivist and combative people.
People from Latium are said to be uncultured, unrefined and loud.
Sardinians are seen as stubborn shepherds.
Sicilians are supposed to be members of the mafia and very jealous. They are known also to be “omertosi”: when they witness a crime, they tell to the police that they didn't see or hear anything.
Tuscans are considered ironic and expansive.
Umbrians are seen as reserved. 
People from Veneto are defined hard-working, lush and separatist.
People from Trentino are considered all Germans.

Generally Southerners are considered lazy and warm people, while Northerners are seen as hard-working and cold. 

Maybe there is something true in these sentences but almost all are wrong generalization and they can produce discrimination. 

The members of the Italian separatist party, “Lega Nord”, often use stereotypes against Southerners to divide Italian people. Their aim is to convince public opinion that North need to be separated from South, the “black hole of wealth” as they call it. 
The racism against Southerners dates back to the end of  the 19th century, when an Italian positivist, Cesare Lombroso, formulated the theory of the racial inferiority of Southerners. It was an easy and foolish way of explaining historical and economical differences between North and South, but it had great influence on the public opinion. 
These prejudices are so deep rooted that we still hear people saying that Southerners are lazy, criminal and backward.

Angela Pulliero

Let's take off your sunglasses !!

Stereotypes, this is a word we frequently use in our blog. We are telling stories about many kind of stereotypes to make you understand the use mass media make of them, but we haven’t yet posted something that can make you comprehend how people feel when they are stereotyped by someone and I believe this video is a good example of it.

In the moment we start stereotyping someone we immediately hide the personality of that person.  We begin to cover him/her with adjectives (in our mind), this process makes us interpreting every word she/he says, action he/she makes  with our interpretations of the way of doing things without really understand the meaning they give to the word or the action they are doing. I think it is like looking at the landscape in a sunny day using sunglasses, you use them to protect your eyes from the sun radiations and by doing this you can’t see the really color of the landscape because you have the filtration of the lens; at the same way when you use stereotypes you are subjected to the filtration of you own opinions and you use them to protect yourself by the unknown word you have to face. Through this process we prevent the person from showing us his/her personality preventing ourselves from something important at the same time.
The following video is an example of how the world is stereotyped. It is made by some students for a school project, they made no scientific research but used their previous knowledge to do it. This video is made in a humorous way without any intention of offending someone. It is a good opportunity to start thinking about the way we use to classify countries and people. 

What do you thing when you hear German, Italian, Cines or Palestinian? Let’s change the way you look at the world, blot out the adjective you use to describe people! Let’s take off the sunglasses and look at the world with its own colors!

Silvia Bettiol

Immigrants and Crime

In every national newspaper we find a lot of article talking about crime committed by immigrants. The journalist emphasizes the nationality of the criminal, so the population has the perception that immigrants committed much more crimes. Much of the debate regarding immigration is driven by hysteria, facts are secondary.
Although we have a long tradition of blaming immigrants for crime (and other social ills), the facts show that – all else being equal – unauthorized immigrants commit crimes at rates far lower than natives. In fact, immigration lowers violent crime.
For example, as the immigrant population of the United States boomed during the 1990s, violent crime across the country plummeted, including in big-city immigrant gateways like Los Angeles and New York.
In every society, where the problem of immigration is cherished, the immigrants are the cause of all the problems of the Nation. This happens, probably because, the newspaper underlines the fact that the criminal is immigrant with title like: “Nigerian immigrant committed a bloody murder” or “Rumenian illegal immigrant committed a holdup”. Obviosly the illegal immigrants are often charged by national population of all crimes committed. The national population is often afraid by immigrants, even though this immigrants are honest people.  

And you, what do you think?

martedì 13 novembre 2012

The Italian stereotypes

First impressions are not always the best. They are nevertheless sometimes the only judgment we may have on an individual or a person. 

For example when we think of Northen countries, there are some initial images that come into our minds. We imagine big mountains, small villages with an old woman wearing a shawll and snow all the time. That may sound a bit funny or strange, but it is what our mind conjures up. 

Where do these first images come from? In our contemporary societies, they often come from television, newspapers, books and adverts in the streets. 

The media is everywhere and this contributes on a large scale to build these prejudices we might have about individuals or about people. 

These prejudices are often based on false images.

What do you think about this?

Sara Berton 

domenica 11 novembre 2012

Arabic World

Perhaps no region of the world is more subject to stereotypes than the Middle East. Being a woman from that region, I have encountered these stereotypes on many occasions. While I was a teen, my family lived in Europe for a few years where I was often asked question reflecting these stereotypes. Do all Turkish women wear the headscarf? Um, obviously not. Do you ride camels? I have never seen one in my life outside of a zoo.
At one dinner party, I witnessed my mother get interrogated on whether she was just dressing in a modern way because she was now in Europe. She kept trying to explain that she had changed nothing in her wardrobe. “But, can you actually wear a one-piece bathing suit to swim in a beach,” one of her obnoxious interrogators persisted, unable to believe she might be telling the truth. “Well, now that I am a bit older, I do wear the top as well,” she deadpanned. Ah, the joys of messing with stereotypes.
It is a single story of one Turkish girl, which illustrates all type of stereotypes about Arab World. The oldest traditional stereotypes associated with the Arabic countries are derived from Arabian Nights and include flying carpets, dreamy palaces, people climbing on an erect rope and djinns. Since 9/11, people from Middle Eastern countries are often stereotyped as fanatical Muslims out for blood, hijacking planes, making anti-Semitic comments, slaughtering sheep in the kitchen, making too many children, conducting suicide bombings, being aggressively offended by blasphemies or planning terrorist activities. Arabic immigrants in all European countries are a frequent target in racist Western propaganda. You just need to see the detention without trial of eight foreigners in England in 2004, that was incompatible with European human rights law.

Valeria Aleksenko

sabato 10 novembre 2012

Strong, powerful, tough and respected: stereotypes in defining masculinity

The social construction of femininity is discussed in many studies, but also men are subjected to the pressure of dominant models. Masculinity is clearly defined by media. A “real man” have to be strong, good at sports, brave and absolutely heterosexual. Meanwhile he shouldn't be sensitive and express his feelings. Further, he should distance himself from any behavior considered feminine.

Images of perfect male bodies
The media influence the definition of ourselves and what is ideal. The media, especially advertising, depict perfect male bodies: muscle, defined, perfect in proportions. Men in adverts seem as statues rather than persons. When I looked for an example, I wondered at the easiness to find it. My research lasted about 20 seconds: I thought to a brand of wear and I keyed in YouTube “Calvin Klein man advert” and that's done! A perfect example in my opinion:

These images produce a psychological pressure on men. One consequence is the increase in cases of anorexia nervosa in young men. NHS (National Health Service) in UK found a 66% growth of hospitalized men for eating disorders over the last ten years.
Men difficulty admit to be ill, because anorexia is considered a women's problem and it would be a sign of weakness.

Children indoctrination
Men are exposed to social models of masculinity from childhood. Society and parents often teach them to become “real men”. They are used to hide feelings and weaknesses, to not to cry, because they don't have to be as a “sissy”. The model is the superhero, also in toys and movies. For instance, Disney perpetuates stereotypes of what is masculinity e what is femininity in almost all the movies:

Masculinity, media and violence
A portrayal of men as dominant and powerful in advertising can provoke violent behaviors. There are adverts, such as the Dolce &Gabbana's one, that glamorize violence, group sex and male dominance.
Recently Jackson Katz realized an interesting documentary on the social construction of masculinity and violence. His aim is to enlight and provoke students to consider their own participation in the culture of contemporary masculinity.
Here the full version:

Angela Pulliero


Today I want o to speak about the Sikh.
The Sikh are a religious group, most of them come from India. It’s quite easy to recognize them because they use to wear a turban. This has always been a problem for them because they have been discriminated because they were wearing it. In the documentary - Turbanaphobia - The Sikh Turban - is explored the western perceptions of the Sikh turban through the eyes of a Sikh born in England. I have just seen the trailer but what the protagonist says is that turban give him a sense of “honor”, “pride” and “dignity” but also a sense of “frustration”, “low self confidence” and “low self esteem”.
The documentary analyzes the problem of the turban stereotypes.
I think that often people judge things associating them with their previous knowledge. When people see a person wearing a turban they don’t think he or she is coming from India but more often they think he or she is coming from a Muslim country. Some of the Sikh interviewed in the documentary claim that some time English people (the documentary is set in England) think they are coming from Arab states because of the brown color of their skin and of their turban. Often people are not feeling comfortable in front of someone who is wearing a turban, maybe because in the recent years  we got many negative images that associate turban with Taliban or Arab extremists, or because it represent something different , difficult to accept in our culture. I don’t have the answer; people have to find their own answers inside their minds.
Speaking about Sikh there is in important misunderstanding that I’d like to explain. Everybody think that the religious symbol is the turban, but this is wrong. The religious symbol that is hidden by the turban are their hairs, they wear the turban to hide their hairs because they are symbol of holiness in India. According to their religion hairs in general are considered important, all over their bodies. Sikh have five religious symbols. You can find more information about this in the page below if you are interested to get information related to this religion whose precepts and symbols are still unknown for us.
The world is changing rapidly, we get in contact with new cultures, new religious groups and new way of lives almost every day, according to this is very important to train our minds in order to become more open and willing to accept these differences without building negatives images of the unknown world we have in front of us.

Silvia Bettiol