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Podcast Episode 4

Leadership and the Humanities Podcast

Episode 4: “We are what we culture”

The word “culture” is one of those terms that everybody thinks they understand, but, when we get right down to it, is far more complicated and messy than we thought. For many people…

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The following works were used in this podcast:

Bezio, Kristin M.S. “Introduction to Leadership, Popular Culture and Social Change.” In Leadership, Popular Culture and Social Change, edited by Kristin M.S. Bezio and Kimberly Yost, 1–7. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2018.

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  1. William Coben William Coben

    This podcast struck me as the most interesting one thus far because it felt the most personal. Not only did it touch on the ideas of white culture, white supremacy, white culture being interlinked with American culture, and much more, but it allowed me to understand the idea of the lizard brain, which was my biggest takeaway of the day. The idea of the lizard brain illustrates that as a people, we see things in the media and spit those back into real life, and that is how stereotypes are formed. In movies, there are usually white herons, black drug dealers, Mexican maids, and more stereotypes that are often perceived as true because our brains believe them to be. The only reason our brains think that is because of the media, and the things we see and hear every day; we put out what we take in. My question is this: how will a shift in American culture dismantle the lizard brains that we all have? As we progress and move forward, the brains of the youth may not develop the same traits that the elder generations have, but I am wondering how we as a people are going to change when our ways and habits have been going on for so long.

  2. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    I agree with William that this podcast felt more personal as well as relatable. Not only was the content really interesting, but when I was reading, I felt that things I never really thought about came together and made sense. I really liked the part about white culture where professor Bezio talks about how we don’t hear those words being used as a term like, asian culture, black culture, Spanish culture and so on. I agree with professor Bezio when she explains why maybe we don’t use the words white culture as much: might be uncomfortable to talk about, or one may feel guilty that being white has benefitted them. I liked how professor Bezio made a distinction between white supremacy and white culture. She said that white culture does not mean white supremacy, and in fact, white culture CAN exist peacefully alongside other cultures. This then led me to wonder, if this is true, which I believe it is, how do we lead white culture to coexist with other cultures without representing white supremacy? And because white culture is a default in the US, (in movies, shows, grocery stores, etc.) how do we incorporate other cultures on a greater scale than just individually?

  3. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    I enjoyed listening to episode #4 of the podcast and it brought up many interesting aspects of culture that have shaped how people view the world. I thought that many of the ideas mentioned connected to the class discussion about how human brains naturally become uncomfortable or nervous when they encounter something unfamiliar. We tend to stick to things that are familiar to us and things that we know we will like or know what to expect. Many people also see culture this way where we assume and accept stereotypes to be true without trying to learn deeper about other cultures. Popular ethnic foods in America or ethnic food chains are often not true representations of food from that culture, rather more aimed to please the tastes of Americans. Dr. Bezio talked about how we can try and change culture by people trying new foods or listening to new music, but I can’t help but think that would be difficult with people’s tendency to stick to the familiar. How can we make people push past the uncomfortable feelings towards the unfamiliar and actually want to experience different cultures? Also, is there a way past the general representations of different cultures in America?

  4. Samuel Hussey Samuel Hussey

    My question after listening to podcast #4 is to what role does mainstream media play in white culture? I know that many things that are stereotypes are perceived as “the norm” in popular culture and the other way is the wrong way to do it. For example, a movie may be viewed as inaccurate and receive poor ratings because the maid was played by a white man and not the stereotype. The implicit bias is so embedded into our popular culture that in some cases the stereotype seems like the only feasible possibility. How can we effectively break from this mold and omit the presence of stereotypes in American Culture? Is the answer equity, equal opportunity, or liberation (tearing down the fence), or a combination of the latter?

  5. Zachary Andrews Zachary Andrews

    I too found the podcast to be very personal. I never truly recognized that white culture, and white supremacy were woven into the overall American culture. Earlier in class, we talked about how eventually there would be a single race/color due to all the different races mixing together. My question is, do you think there will eventually be one culture that incorporates all people assuming that the racial mix occurs?

  6. Olivia Cranshaw Olivia Cranshaw

    I thought that the transition from exploring different cultures to exploring biases through talking about food was a unique and helpful way to show how important exposure is for developing a cultural melting pot. I never really thought about how important and intrinsic food is for cultural appreciation until this podcast, maybe as a fault of having so many types of food options in New York City. This same idea is true with the media we are exposed to, which I thought the superhero example explained perfectly. For America to not solely be defined by its white culture, as there are hundreds (maybe thousands) of different cultures inside of the country, people need to see and experience diversity in order to change people’s, and America’s, subconscious. Towards the end of this podcast, I debated if it is the responsibility of organizations like Hulu, Disney, or Netflix or of the people to create more inclusive and diverse experiences like movies or global food options. Is there a way to quantify how much organizations and people rely on each other to create a more progressive future?

  7. Kathrine Yeaw Kathrine Yeaw

    This podcast really made me think about how I have perceived white culture in my life. When I was a kid I remember thinking we had no culture, and I always thought there was no American food the way there was Mexican or Italian. But, in reality that is not true, and there is a lot to American culture that I just never realized. I also thought it was interesting the way Dr. Bezio talked about how the reason people are often so biased or adopt stereotypes in their mind is because our brains want to make patterns, and when we look at something that is the same way all the time, we begin to think that is the only way. My question is, since the US has been so progressive in the past years in showing other cultures in many different ways, is it possible for people to lose the stereotypes eventually as more generations are born, or are they always inevitable because there will still always be different cultures?

  8. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    Whenever I think about culture, the idea of cultural appropriation comes up. Cultural appropriation is when white people borrow things from other less privileged cultures and are able to use that thing without facing the same scrutiny people from that race or ethnicity face. It is especially an issue of knowledge where white people don’t understand the historical significance of the thing or the hardships people of that culture currently undergo in relation to the thing and instead make it a trend. I guess my question is at what point does cultural appreciation and trying to better understand another group’s culture turn into cultural appropriation?

  9. Sofia Adams Sofia Adams

    This podcast episode really resonated with me. Growing up 30 minutes outside of New York City I have been exposed to many different cultures my whole life. However throughout my life I have still sometimes found myself snapping to those judgments. Judgements of people based on their food choices, cultural background, socio-economic class, etc. I never jumped to these judgments in a malicious way/ and never treated anyone different based on these things. However, in elementary school I was constantly exposed to this white default culture of Disney channel and groomed pop stars. I didn’t realize this until I went to high school. Over the past 5 years or so I have noticed a huge shift in American culture, through the representation Dr. Bezio mentioned in the podcast. Being exposed to actors, musicians, comedians, models, etc of different ethnicities has changed my primitive lizard brain instincts. I now don’t find myself jumping to stereotypes and judgments of people based on their food choices, cultural backgrounds, socio-economic class etc at all. I really do think this is because of the amounts of exposure I and the people around me have to other cultures through media (and own personal experience). I think that it is important to understand that this all encompassing white culture exists and to do our best to break it. We are suppose to be a melting pot of culture after all. This podcast also raised some questions for me: Why do we group cultures together? For example “Asian” when there are so many distinct and separate cultures within Asia. How did this type of grouping of culture begin? Was it because of the preexisting white default culture of the Europeans who settled in America? Why do we stereotype our own cultures as well as cultures we have little exposure to?

  10. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    Podcast #4, like many others have already stated, has been the most interesting for me because of its relatability. Food has been a very important part of who I am and I never really realized it until now. I am half white (mix of Scottish, Irish, Italian, etc) and half Colombian. My grandparents moved here from Colombia so that my mom would be born in the US, however she spent every summer there and almost every Christmas because all of her family still lives there. Growing up, my Abuela (grandmother) has taught me how to make many different Colombian foods like guiso, empanadas, arepas, and so on. In the kitchen she tells me stories of her siblings and cousins and the family that I have in Colombia. I have been fortunate enough to have opportunities to visit my family there and meet everyone; I am very connected with all of my cousins there. However, just by looking at me, no one would know about this side of me, because how could they? I look and talk like a “white-person,” I don’t fit the stereotype of Latinos. This podcast made me reconsider all of the stereotypes that my brain has programmed in as a pattern, and the importance of reprograming these stereotypes through representation. Because if we can’t learn to change our perspectives now, will we ever be able to?

  11. Sara Moushegian Sara Moushegian

    Episode 4 has been the podcast that has resonated with me the most. The podcast discussed the idea of culture, and how it is more complex than we think. It was interesting to hear about how American culture has been linked with white culture throughout the years through the media, our leaders, our food, music, etc. I had never really thought about this. It makes me wonder how people from other countries view America and our trademarks. Bezio mentioned Walmart and McDonald’s as American trademarks, and I can not say those two places are part of my life in any way, funny how that works. Just recently white culture has been becoming less dominant in American culture, especially in the entertainment industry. Members of the black community are being put into movies with main roles, so society can have diversity in who they look up to as role models. My question is, is this enough to change how American culture is perceived after years and years of white culture dominating it? Is change possible when our political leaders – that are the most public to other countries – are still white men?

  12. Charley Blount Charley Blount

    In the podcast, you acknowledge that white supremacy is a culture that cannot be separated from white people. Later, you address the problems with tying large groups of people into cultural groups (ex. tying various Asian countries and cultures together into one “Asian culture”). Is associating a culture of white supremacy to the identities of all white people problematic? Do white people universally fall into a culture of white supremacy or can white supremacy (not universal, in my opinion) be separated from white privilege (universal, in my opinion)?

  13. Michael Childress Michael Childress

    The point about the default of “white culture” in the United States made me try to think of examples in which I may not have even realized how prevalent it was. For example, when discussing superheroes, specifically, every one I can think of is a white, strong male. However, I did not ever really think about this until just last week, when Chadwick Boseman passed away. I feel like I have been accustomed to seeing these white heroes as examples, and like you said, made patterns in my mind without even thinking about it. However, trying to see this other point of view, I am not far more away of the “white culture” especially in Hollywood, a staple of American culture. One question I had though, was how long does it take to dismantle the patterns and stereotypes in our minds? Both individually, and as an entire society what kind of timeline are we potentially looking at to progress past the biases presented in this podcast. Could it be as simple as noticing our own thoughts and trying to set them aside, or are we at the point now, that a widespread education about biases , stereotypes, and generalizations is almost necessary?

  14. Sophia Picozzi Sophia Picozzi

    Going off of what a few others have mentioned, I was also struck by the statement about “Asian culture” and how stereotypes and geography have grouped together countless varying cultures and societies as one. I never realized that before but that just shows how problematic stereotypes are and how it is instilled in our brains subconsciously to group people together with blanket statements and judgments that extend over national boundaries. It also symbolizes a type of cultural indifference at least in the US about other cultures and how if it isn’t about us or if it is different, then it doesn’t matter and that “they” are all grouped in the “other” category and that category is left undiscovered and unrecognized. This made me feel very uncomfortable about aggressive American patriotism and how there needs to be a bigger emphasis on recognizing and appreciating other cultures. When I heard the term “Asian culture” I thought of cherry blossom trees. This led me to wonder if different symbols come to mind for different people when they think of the term “Asian culture”, and what exactly do these different conclusions stem from. Is it a demographic reason? Is it based on people’s own cultures? Do other people initially think of different countries first? What indicates this different association?

  15. Jeffrey Sprung Jeffrey Sprung

    In Podcast Episode 4, Dr. Bezio discusses the topic of culture. I really enjoyed listening to this podcast as I thought the concepts were very thought provoking. I was particularly intrigued by the idea of relational identification, which is the idea that we come to understand ourselves by comparing our similarities and differences to other people and cultures. I was never aware of the term relational identification before, but after listening to this podcast, I realized that I have formed my understanding of white culture and other cultures mostly through comparison (or relational identification). I now know that this is problematic because relational identification subconsciously leads to the perpetuation of cultural stereotypes. My question is how can we limit relational identification and thus disrupt stereotypes of various cultures?

  16. Mia Slaunwhite Mia Slaunwhite

    In Podcast 4 Dr. Bezio explains culture in multiple different viewpoints. While each country, region, the color of the skin has its own culture. We see that “white culture” is this unknown group of people. As I think of different cultures like European culture or Italian culture, I begin to group only white people into that specific culture. I cannot wrap my head around the idea that those cultures are this “white culture”—I identify them as the location in which they are from. When American culture is brought about all I think of is “white culture”, but here in the United States, we are not made up of entirely white people, like an Irish culture… white skin and red hair stereotypes. Here in the United States, we are a mix of different cultures and backgrounds. Why is it that we only associate white people with American Culture? Even after having Obama as president, why has the term American culture not even begin to change, why are we still stuck in “white culture”?

  17. Elina Bhagwat Elina Bhagwat

    I found this podcast very interesting because I come from a multicultural background. I am half white, half Indian, and my white side is Jewish. Rather than saying that I have three different cultures I believe that those three aspects of my life and traditions that go with them make up my culture. I think that saying the idea of culture is a “combination” of elements is a really good way to put it because there’s so many aspects and ideas that contribute to a culture. A lot of the time when I think about culture my mind immediate goes to race and ethnicity but it doesn’t always need to be categorized by that. When thinking about all the elements that make a culture I’ve realized that different people in the same ethnic, racial or religious group can have extremely different cultures. Many people relate race to culture which is why I think stereotypes are so prevalent and generalized.

    It’s important to recognize that people of all cultures can be stereotyped or represented incorrectly. I agree with the idea that having minorities and people of color play a positive role in pop culture is really important for the younger generation. I also think that if children see a person that looks like them shed in a positive light then they will be more accepting of their heritage and skin color. However, it’s important to recognize there’s a huge distinction between representation and inclusion. This brings about the question of is it better to include diversity in pop culture even if it’s inaccurate or should we not include diversity if it incites stereotypes and generalization. Obviously it’s best if we accurately depict people in movies and shows but that hasn’t been the case so far. The podcast made me wonder why stereotypes are so commonly portrayed in children’s movies and if they contribute to racism and biases.

  18. Alexander Dimedio Alexander Dimedio

    I found the role of media to be very interesting in this podcast. Is it a problem that Disney has such big role in shaping stereotypes and cultures? The large companies in America have the ability to shape the minds of people in America, and does this idea contribute to the thought process behind American culture and white culture being perceived as the same. Does economic status play a major role in shaping cultures? does a family shape their culture around McDonalds rather than sushi because it suits them better financially?

  19. Maggie Otradovec Maggie Otradovec

    My favorite food is authentic Italian pasta. This inspired me to get a job as a host at the only authentic Italian restaurant in my town when I was in high school. I learned a lot about Italian culture through talking with my Sicilian boss, learning how to make Italian food and listening to the Italian rap my boss would play as loud as the speakers would allow before we opened. However, I also learned a lot about other cultures as well. I was the youngest and (inarguably) most sheltered employee there. Many of my employees came from different backgrounds and were of different races, religions, sexualities, etc. We had a wide variety of customers come into the restaurant as well, including people from Italy on a trip to the states to Bernie Sanders while he was campaigning in Wisconsin. Being in a setting, which was pretty much as diverse as it could be in Green Bay (which is 71% White (Non-Hispanic)), helped me better understand the various cultures that make up America and how they all interact with each other, and dismantle stereotypes ingrained in society in my own mind. However, being in that situation did not make me as worldly as possible. It’s not enough to simply learn about other cultures and how they interact with your own, you have to understand and appreciate it. Sounds simple enough, but once you’ve more or less dismantled your own stereotypes, and tried your best to help others do the same, what more can you do?

  20. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    I really enjoyed this podcast not only because it brought to light another social problem that we have as a society, but it brought to light something that I see myself doing subconsciously. The podcast mentioned the idea of making a vague sense of culture and my question comes from that concept. My question is, “Do stereotypes come because society gives a vague definition for culture, or do stereotypes come from the actual vague definitions of culture?”

  21. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    I never really thought about the extent of which the media plays a role in forming stereotypes in our society. However the more that I think about it the more it makes sense that the media has a role in reconfirming stereotypes in society. Not only that, but media conglomerates can actually profit off of those stereotypes. For example, more white people may want to watch movies with white main characters. However, this could certainly changing with the rise of movies like The Black Panther. Now, with the rise of these movies with people of color as the main characters is it possible to change these racial stereotypes? If so, how long will it take for us to remove these dangerous stereotypes from our society? And, what role does the media have in abolishing stereotypes from our minds?

  22. Mohamad Kassem Mohamad Kassem

    I think that this episode was really entertaining as I could relate to it personally. I am half Palestinian and half Ukrainian and I lived in Lebanon most of my life, I have attended an international high school with students from over 92 different countries, I have seen and learned about different cultures since I was born. Personally, I was affected by stereotypes coming from a Muslim Arab background which made it difficult for me to adapt to a “majority white environment” knowing that people have already made assumptions about my culture. Before attending high school, I couldn’t help but associate other cultures with what I have seen in the media. I don’t remember directly bullying people from “other” cultures however, I did normalize discrimination by not seeing much of an issue with it as I approached the situation from a place of ignorance. I think that the way the media portrays/ represents cultures is really important as most people are deluded to believe whatever they see. This is really important as it brainwashes people to actually believe that “White” is the default. This approves the Lizard Brain theory, limits the scope of what nonwhite people can be, and shows them as inferior. For instance, if the only thing that a black kid sees on tv is that his people are drug dealers, the kid will grow up to believe that this is what they should be. The podcast raised questions about “who decides what should be considered as high culture or low culture? How can we abolish certain negative stereotypes?”

  23. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    I found this podcast incredibly relevant to the study of leadership in a modern context. When Dr. Bezio links the “absence” of white culture to its default state in American society, it made me question how we can work to replace this norm with a culturally diverse one. Indeed, social media influencers possess immense ability to set the cultural standards for our generation. Thus, in many ways, influencers are cultural leaders. Do our leaders have a responsibility towards creating a more diverse, accepting mainstream culture? If so, how can white influencers uplift diverse cultures without appropriating or shaming them? Since culture is so intrinsically entwined with our society, how might changing what culture is considered mainstream positively affect other social issues? Could uplifting diverse voices help solve our country’s deeply-rooted racial divides? How can those with privilege gain the humility to appreciate and support cultures other than their own?

  24. Alexandra Oloughlin Alexandra Oloughlin

    Podcast four delved into the topic of culture and the associations we make with culture. One thing that interested me was how when defining a culture, Dr. Bezio talked about how it is much easier to define white culture as what it is not, than what it actually is. In the same way, the default audience for everything is the white male. In this case, everything else becomes labeled as different, and steryotypes are created. Thus, hollywood and the media portray a singular version of what is normal, and the characters they create are only identifiable to a smaller audience. Hollywood has pledged to stop whitewashing, and the changes are starting to come. My question is, when Hollywood creates characters that dont fit steryotypes of thier culture, will new steryotypes be created to replace old ones? Is it possible to get rid of every steryotype from your lizard brain?

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