Missouri State University
Sociology and Anthropology Blog

Racism in America: A Review by Tyler Golden


After the talk by Dr. Juanita Simmons on Tuesday night (February 9, 2016) titled, “Racism in America: Is it Better or Worse”, I was reminded of two things; first, symbols and language in society can have a powerful impact on people. A symbolic interactionist would say that reality is socially constructed through the use of symbols and language. These symbols and language give meaning and value to objects and people within society. In turn, meanings and values influence our interpretations of the world around us.

Dr. Simmons points out that our society has had many negative symbols related to the African-American community: from a time when African Americans were depicted as monkey-like humans with tails, and black-face minstrels, to the present day image of the prison population and police brutality. Modern symbols, she argues, continue to send the same message about African Americans. Second, I am reminded that we, as a community, need to reach out to individuals so that they no longer feel isolated by discrimination; we need to stand up against people who speak ill of the African American community in everyday life. The difference now lies with the younger generation, whose all-inclusive and integrated social relationships, (e.g. roommates, family, friends, children, etc.), can defy negative stereotypes.

I really liked Dr. Simmons’ acronym: SMILE (Stories Mend Intermingling Lives Everywhere). Maybe it’s time to utilize symbols to create a new inclusive community!

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Four Lessons on Presenting Posters for a Conference

grace g 2016

Hello! I am Grace Gronniger, a graduate student in the Applied Anthropology program. I recently attended the Society for Historical Archaeology’s Annual Conference this year in Washington D.C. along with fellow graduate student Sarah Reid. With some very helpful funding from the Sociology and Anthropology Department and the Graduate College, I was able to present a poster on XRF analysis of historic glass tableware. The poster is now in the department hallway next to the conference room bulletin boards. Below are four lessons I learned about poster presentations from my trip.

1. Printing your poster: You cannot present a poster without physically having a poster. It is possible to print your poster while at the conference, but be prepared for a steep price and DO NOT do it if you have a nervous disposition. The stress of waiting will ruin your time at the conference. If you do print while at the conference, do not use the printing office inside the hotel. Business centers inside hotels are VERY expensive. Instead take public transportation to the nearest 24hour printing office and give them at LEAST 24 hours to print. I took my poster in on a Thursday morning and picked it up the next day at 4:00 p.m.

2. Mounting your poster: The larger conferences usually have mounting boards for your poster, so do not feel the need to print it on foam core boards. Simple lamination works fine. However, check the conference website for instructions. The SHA website did not have instructions, but mounting boards and pushpins were provided. The Society for American Archaeology website specifically states that you have to provide your own materials for mounting your poster onto provided boards. The Missouri Archaeological Society conference I attended a few years ago did not provide mounting boards and we had to find wall space to display our posters.

3. Using a poster for networking: Contact information is key. For contact information, I found a piece of paper, wrote my e-mail on it, and tacked it next to my poster. In the future I will include it on my poster. Contact information via e-mail address or business card is important because interested parties want to know how to contact you.

4. Returning home with your poster: Posters are unwieldy and I was worried about how I would transport it back on the plane. Thankfully, a poster kept in a long plastic bag can be counted as your carry-on bag. TSA will ask you to see what it is and then jokingly ask you if it is a weapon (it is a suspiciously long skinny package), but once its status as a poster is revealed you can take it with you.

Sharing your research with a poster at SHA and other conferences is a wonderful way to discuss your research and similar research being done by others in your field. I had a surprising number of people talk to me about XRF and/or the analysis of historic glass. There were more people than I realized who are interested in the same topic as myself.

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Rock Shelters and Fossils

Dr. Bruce McMillan, formerly Director of the Illinois State Museum, will give a presentation entitled “Rock Shelters, Spring Deposits, and the Discovery of Vertebrate Fossils in the Osage-Pomme de Terre Rivers Confluence Region” at 7:00 pm, Wednesday January 6 at the Center for Archaeological Research, 622 S. Kimbrough, as part of the regular monthly meeting of the Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Archaeological Society. The public is invited.

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Archaeology Presentation Wednesday

The Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Archaeological Society will hold its monthly meeting Wednesday December 2 at 7 pm at the Center for Archaeological Research, 622 S. Kimbrough. Dustin Thompson, a research archeologist at the Center, will give a presentation entitled “Phase II Testing of the Plentiful Ivy Site.” The public is invited.

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Film showing of “Dawn of Humanity”

The Applied Anthropology Graduate Student Association will show the recent documentary film Dawn of Humanity at 6:30 pm Monday November 9 in Strong 0004 (basement). The film features the discovery of a new, primitive species of human in South Africa called H. naledi. A panel discussion will follow.

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Tough Talks…

Amber Williams
Lyle Foster

If you haven’t been to one of Mr. Foster’s Tough Talk Luncheons this fall of 2015, you must drop whatever you have planned this Wednesday or Thursday and immediately join us. It is a delightful yet honest gathering of many culturally diverse MSU students and professors all coming together to discuss the tougher parts of the social problems our nation faces. Topics have ranged from mildly tough, like the day we discussed cultural conflicts on the bench in the Major League Baseball, to very tough, like the time we discussed what Ferguson has really taught us. If I have learned anything from attending these talks, it is that honest conversations about race and social problems are both difficult and vital.

Now, here’s a tough admission…

As a white student, I thought it was important to attend. I think Black Lives Matter is a very important movement, yet I always worry about saying the wrong thing. Unlike with other social issues, I don’t speak up about racial inequality in class discussions. This bothers me. I am a sociology major because I want to fight all kinds of inequality, but how can I do that if I am scared to be a part of the conversation?

Just as I feared, at my third Tough Talk, I did say the wrong thing. I upset someone and it felt horrible. I meant well, but for me, being white means that I am not always going to know the wrong thing to say is wrong until it is out of my mouth. This is an unavoidable fact. A much bigger unavoidable fact is that by choosing not to take part in tough discussions, I am part of the problem. And so, I will continue to attend. I will still be there at these Tough Talks with open ears and an open heart.
Please, no matter your gender, age, or race, come join us any Wednesday or Thursday afternoon through the end of November. Bring a lunch, a friend, your past, and your perspective. Never be scared of anything tough.


Given the events at Mizzou and Yale regarding race, the November talk schedule has been UPDATED to focus on these issues!

Wednesday, November 11th @ 12:15p.m., STRO 409 “Mizzou and Yale racial differences”

Thursday, November 12th @ 12:30p.m., STRO 350 “Mizzou and Yale racial differences”

Wednesday, November 18th @ 12:15p.m., STRO 409 “Mizzou and Yale racial differences”

Thursday, November 19th @ 12:30p.m., STRO 350 “Mizzou and Yale racial differences”

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Archaeology at the Wilson’s Creek Battlefield

The Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Archaeological Society is sponsoring a presentation by Dr. William G. Piston, a Professor of History, on “Archaeology and the Wilson’s Creek Civil War Battlefield: Challenges and Opportunities” on Wednesday, November 4, at 7:00 pm at the Center for Archaeological Research, 622 S. Kimbrough. The public is invited.

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