SAM:n kirjoituskilpailu 2021: Äänestä omaa suosikkiasi
SAM:n lukiolaisille suunnattu englanninkielinen kirjoituskilpailu on ollut käynnissä vuodesta 1980 alkaen. Lukioihin toimitetaan syksyisin 4-5 ajankohtaista USA-otsikkoa, joista kilpailuun osallistuvilla on 2 tuntia aikaa kirjoittaa maksimissaan 400 sanan kirjoitelma.
Alla on 2021 kirjoituskilpailun kolmen parhaimmistoon valitun lukiolaisten kirjoitelmat juuri siinä muodossa kuin ne osallistuivat kilpailuun. Lue listaus 2021 kirjoituskilpailun voittajista täältä.
Äänestä omaa suosikkiasi klikkaamalla kirjoitelman jälkeen olevaa linkki ja jätä mielipiteesi linkistä avautuvaan kyselyyn. Osallistuneiden kesken arvomme kesäkuun lopussa USA-aiheisen kirjapalkinnon. Mikäli haluat osallistua palkinnon arvontaan, muistathan jättää kyselyyn loppuun sähköpostiosoitteesi.
Freedom of expression
The Black Lives Matter movement was started a few years ago, when the killing of unarmed black men started to surface in the mainstream media. This racial divide had been brewing under the surface for some time. Huge protest began in Charleston. Since then, names such as Tamir Rice, Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have been engraved in the minds of Americans. I’d compare the Black Lives Matter movement to the 1960’s Civil Rights movement lead by none other than Martin Luther King Junior. Back then, black people were trying to break themselves out of the shackles of the Jim Crow laws, which created nation-wide racial segregation. What many American people don’t get nowadays, is the deep generational pain stemming from slavery and Jim Crow laws.
The Black Lives Matter movement is being characterized as a terrorist organisation. This broad generalization causes a deeper divide in the country ruled by the two-party system. Calling looters and rioters “hooligans” and “thugs” isn’t helping the problem either. The violence ocurring in these protests is a sign of true hurt experienced by black people in America. And we should look below the surface and try to understand what is the catalyst for this kind of behavior.
Of course, the looting and rioting are some of the biggest challenges of this movement, since in a capitalist society where one has to fend for himself, property is valued over human lives. As the fear of communism is so deeply rooted in American society, this kind of movement shouting for equal rights is seen as marxist and socialist. People don’t seem to understand what the movement is about – or they don’t want to acknowledge the downfalls of the great “American dream”.
Therefore, people are trying to explain the movement to people with anecdotes, such as the popular “house on fire” -anecdote.
As for the accomplishments of the movement, it already has some. The Breonna Law was put in place. Ths law stems from the no-knock warrant that eventually killed Breonna Taylor. The Breonna Law bans the usage of no-knock warrants. Of course, one of the biggest things BLM has accomplished is the public discourse on racism and the racial disparities in police training, incarceration rates and the judicial system. Changes in these systems may be accomplished by this movement.
I feel that inequality is going to be inevitable in America until there is proper representation in higher branches of government. Of course, there are strides being made with people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar in office, but there are still long ways to go. Martin Luther King had a dream and that dream is still prevalent in black Americans toady.
American Culture on the World Stage
Ever since the shift towards English becoming a globally mastered language, the amount of American entertainment available to the outside world has been on the rise. As English is the language of international communication nowadays, children are exposed to it early on – even before it is taught to them at school. It happens so naturally that it is often left unnoticed until you later in life look back at your childhood and start picking out clues of how American culture has always been around us, one way or another.
The spread of the English language and American culture are closely tied together. Yes, one can consume American entertainment without knowing the language, but it usually advances one’s English skills at the same time. More advanced language skills tend to make one feel more comfortable with following more and more media in that language, hence making a fair share of American culture familiar to them. In the time of social media, a huge amount of fashion trends, music and cinematography reach a plethora of people from all around the world, influencing their own trends and values. A great example of this effect of globalization are memes. As silly an example this is, the amount of American culture, current events and English language one has to be in the know of to be able to understand them sometimes leaves me in awe.
Us Finns are often thought to be quite the opposite of what is considered and stereotypically American; we do not practise small talk with strangers at bus stops, we do not enjoy being at centre of attention, we would rather stay silent than express our opinions. Of course stereotypes do not show the whole truth in any way, but it can be seen how the behaviour and values of Finns have been influenced by Americans. We often demand more from ourselves socially when we compare ourselves to what our picture of American culture is; we might pay more attention to trying not to seem rude or too unsocial, maybe even throw a Halloween party or sit next to someone on the bus – but only if it is fully packed. A value that is strongly connected to America is the American dream and its individualism, which even though we share with America, seems to be valued higher there. The strong individualism of America may have affected the way children in Finland are cheered on to believe in themselves and their own value from a young age nowadays.
In conclusion, the influence of American culture on Finns may be easier to see in the ways they dress, the slang they use and in their use of social media, more than in their behaviour. No matter how many times we binge watch Friends on Netflix, we are still Nordic in our hearts.
Freedom of expression
The Black Lives Matter -movement or BLM for short has been making headlines in the US for the past 3 months. With no end in sight for the protests demanding racial equality after the violent events that lead to the death of George Floyd in the hands of police officers, the situation in the states is starting to boil over. But why is it that people have become increasingly divided over an issue that seems so agreeable on paper?
Even though the majority of the protests have been peaceful, the violent ones are the ones making it to the news. This has played a major role in turning the general populus against the core idea of the BLM. However, the disproportional news coverage does not excuse the riots that have been taking place over the summer.
Here lies the major problem most people seem to have with the BLM. The protests turned violent, people got killed and small businesses were attacked. These riots are an absolutely massive problem for the movement, and they do harm not only to its public image, but also to the cause it`s trying push forward: Most of the discussion regarding the protests during the last month has been about whether or not the rioters are righteous in burning down buildings, rather than about the unjust authorities that started it all.
The movement should do everything in its power in trying to distance itself from the violent riots, and take a firm stance against such behaviour in the future. This would not only dissarm the critics and far-right commentators from most of their arsenal against the movement, but hopefully also be effective in reduring the violence, and easing down tensions built up within the nation during these past few months. This is, however, put into doubt by recent findings that the riots might have been orchestrated by different anarchist groups that have no affiliation to the movement itself, and that have now hijacked the protests in order to drive their own causes.
Whatever the case may be, I sincerely hope we see the demanded changes put into action sooner or later. Police reform bills have been put forward by both the Democrats and the Republicans, but a concrete decision has yet to come. The world shall see how the American political system handles what is likely the biggest social outcry of the 21st century.