Today’s FlexFriday continued with themes of racism, discrimination and genocide. Bob emphasized that we study history because we try not to repeat it, but that unfortunately we often do. In discussing genocide in Armenia, we learned about the Caucus mountains and how Caucasians typically dominated. We learned how Europe did not come to the assistance of Armenia, partially because of its geographical location and because many European countries’ resources were being depleted because of the concurrent war. There was a conflict between the Christians (Armenians) and Muslims (Turks). The Ottoman Empire was on the decline and the Young Turks were plotting a coup. The Turkish triumvirate (three dictators) came into power and initiated a purge in 1915, when the Armenian intelligentsia–professors and the educated in general–were rounded up by the Turks and executed. A variety of brutal atrocities against Armenians continued, including marching families into the Syrian desert to their deaths, seizing their villages, and attacking the women. Bob talked about how some of his ancestors, including his grandparents, had experienced the genocide but did not tend to talk about it. In total, 1.5 million (out of 2 million) Armenians perished during the genocide.
The students continued to discuss prejudice and discrimination and how it reverberates in America today. For the second half of today’s lecture, we watched a film on Emmett Till, a young black boy who was killed in America during the 1950s. The two white men who were indicted in his murder were found not guilty, then set free; they eventually sold their story, in which they freely admitted to killing Emmett. Emmett’s mother had an open casket because she could not put into words what had happened to her young son: he had been beaten, shot in the head, and then his body thrown in a river weighted down by a 75 pound machinery part.
In addition Bob showed the students a traditional Turkish hand-made wedding gown. He continued talking about Middle Eastern culture and gave us samples of literature from Kahlil Gibran, the early 20th century Lebanese-American poet, philosopher and author of The Prophet. We examined such truisms, as “Generosity is not in giving me that which I need more than you do, but it is in in giving me that which you need more than I do” and “Those who give you a serpent when you ask for a fish, may have nothing but serpents to give. It is then generosity on their part.”
Our series concluded with two of the students talking about the gay rights movement and the discrimination endured by this population in the US and in other countries. Finally, Bob treated everyone again with some Middle Eastern cuisine for lunch: Chicken Kabobs! We learned that people used to use swords or knives as the skewers…don’t worry; they took the food off before eating it. Next week the students will have a career forum with our college counselors. At FlexSchool, we balance academics with real-world career readiness skills.
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