Saturday, February 13, 2010


The December 13, 1999 issue of Businessweek Magazine stated, “Globalization is about the triumph of markets over government. Both proponents and opponents of globalization agree that the driving force today is markets, which are suborning the role of government.” One of the areas where globalization has had a tremendous impact is in the area of culture. Culture is itself one of the most important areas of human life, every human being is born into a group and that group in turn has a culture. Globalization has been praised or derided in bringing together a global culture and ending the distinct characteristics of individual cultures. Some others claim globalization is an process that has been ongoing since the dawn of human civilization and that new technology has just simply changed the speed in which globalization is occurring and the processes of globalization are inevitable and actually beneficial for cultures and diversity in particular.
The American Heritage Student Dictionary defines culture as “ The arts, beliefs, customs, institutions, and all other products of human work and thought at a particular time.” By this very definition it means that culture is not something that is stagnant but something that can change with the passage of time. With increased globalization many people fear that their cultures are changing and giving way to a new global culture. The rise of the internet and the United States' position as the world's most dominant economic and military powerful nation has led to the rise of English as the world's dominant language. Many languages have died out or are expected to die out in the future. In the year 2000 only ten media conglomerates controlled more than two-thirds of the annual worldwide revenue of the entire communications industry. (Steger, 2003, p.76) MTV which is part of the Viacom family broadcasts on every continent spreading American culture throughout the entire world. American movies, music, restaurants are found all over the world and some people are very weary of this. In particular the American movie industry not only dominates the American domestic market but also many different foreign markets. Tyler Cowen uses the example “ A Frenchman rents a Hollywood movie. A Thai schoolgirl mimics Madonna. It is commonplace that globalization is subverting local culture” (Cowen, 2002).
Globalization itself is sometimes a very controversial word. The very definition and characteristics of globalization is often debated leading to different meanings. For a definition of globalization Manfred B. Steger who is a Professor of Politics and Government at Illinois State University states, “Globalization refers to a multidimensional set of social processes that create, multiply, stretch and intensify worldwide social interdependencies and exchanges while at the same time fostering in people a growing awareness of deepening connections between the local and the distant” (Steger, 2003, p.13). Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, Roland Robertson states, “Globalization as a concept refers both to the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole.” Jan Nederveen Pieterse states in perhaps the most comprehensive definition of globalization, “Globalization is an objective, empirical process of increasing economic and political connectivity, a subjective process unfolding in consciousness as the collective awareness of growing global interconnectedness, and a host of specific globalizing projects that seek to shape global conditions” (Nederveen, 2004, p.16). The ongoing processes of globalization have changed the economic nature of the entire world. Real time updates can lead to stock transactions processed from any part of the globe. The financial happenings of one part of the world are deeply felt in another part of the world. Manuel Castells called it a state of interdependence. This has also spread into the cultures of various parts of the globe.
Tyler Cowen in his book “Creative Destruction” argues that globalization leads to more diversity and choice in the cultures of the world rather than sameness. Cowen comments that cultures have always borrowed from other cultures to strengthen their own culture. Cowen in fact points out that globalization has helped various cultures thrive and get stronger instead of simply stagnating. Cowen also makes the statement, “Market growth causes heterogenizing and homogenizing mechanisms to operate in tandem” (Cowen, 2002, p.16). Cowen points out in the example of the music of the former Zaire how it was heavily influenced by Caribbean, American, and African influences. The music of Cuba had a profound impact on the music of Zaire and heavily influenced it especially. The Latin group Fania All-Stars concert in Kinshasa in 1974 was one of the biggest concerts in the history of Zaire. Cowen also mentions how the global interactivity helped art forms such as steel band music of Trinidad which was performed on discarded oil drums. Cowen also mentions the effect that global interactivity had in extending and preserving past culture such as the carpets of Persia and throat singing in Mongolia.
Of course many people are opposed to the effects of cultural globalization and are fighting to preserve and maintain their cultures. The government of France for example spends approximately $3 billion a year on cultural matters and employ 12,000 cultural bureaucrats to preserve French culture. (Cowen, 2002, p.3) In Canada, Canadian artists are guaranteed a certain percentage of radio play. Other countries fear the rise of American cultural dominance and put restrictions on American imports. And religious extremists in Middle Eastern lands fight to keep their lands and religions pure. Al Qaeda terrorists struck a blow against cultural globalization with the destruction of the World Trade Center and attack on the Pentagon on 9/11/01. These people blame America for the increasing secularization of their nations and the subversion of Islamic ideals. One of the manifestations of these feelings were during the worldwide outrage over cartoons done of the prophet Muhammad. The current American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have led many people to join terrorist forces and battle against the hated Americans and their ideals. Manfred Steger writes about one group of people called particularist protectionists who, “include groups who blame globalization for most of the economic, political, and cultural ills afflicting their home countries or regions (Steger, 2003, p.114). Some Americans fear the influx of immigrants in this country and their seeming refusal to assimilate into the mainstream American culture.
In conclusion cultural globalization is very controversial and has its supporters and detractors. Human beings have always exchanged ideas throughout human history and only time will tell what the future holds with the current nature of cultural globalization.

The Nuclear Age

The late 1800’s and early 1900’s were an exciting time in the world of science. Many long-standing beliefs were shattered and the knowledge gained by scientists went up tremendously. New theories and new discoveries were constantly pushing the boundaries of science and a whole collective of contemporary scientists were behind this. The discoveries and theories which had been worked on were perfected and brought to light in 1945 when the atomic bomb was perfected and two atomic bombs were detonated over Japan. The work of creating the atomic bomb was the result of years of scientific work in a perfect marriage with political forces.

Isaac Newton’s theories were for hundreds of years held as dogma in the world of physics. In 1896 one discovery which helped lead to the atomic bomb and a complete change in the direction of physics was made by Henri Becquerel when he accidentally discovered radioactivity which he found while working with uranium. At the time awareness what constituted the makeup of an atom would make huge strides in 1897 when the electron was discovered by J.J. Thomson. In 1905 relatively unknown Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity which led to major changes in the outlook of the science world with the new understanding of the relationship between matter and energy. This theory changed the course of physics at a time when it was thought by most scientists that most critical areas of knowledge were already known and there was just a few more areas of knowledge on which to expand. Other key discoveries were soon to come including in 1911 when Ernest Rutherford discovered the nucleus of the atom. In 1913 Niels Bohr published the theory of atomic structure which described electrons orbiting the nucleus of an atom. In 1919 Ernest Rutherford became the first person ever to artificially create a nuclear reaction when he changed nitrogen into oxygen. In 1920 Rutherford would first issue the idea of the neutron which was later proven to exist in 1932 by James Chadwick. The neutron being proved to exist was the final puzzle in knowing the atom. In 1929 American Ernest Lawrence created the cyclotron which sped up how protons could be hurled at atomic nuclei; this tool would be of major use during later nuclear experiments. In the same year of 1932, John Cockroft and Ernest Walton became the first to split the atom. In 1934 Italian scientist Enrico Fermi irradiated uranium with neutrons and thought he had found new transuranic elements. In reality what Fermi had done was produce the world’s first nuclear fission and provide further proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity of the relationship between matter and energy, but no knew that until later when in 1938 German scientists Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman conducted a similar experiment and sent their results to Lise Meltner who confirmed nuclear fission. Nuclear fission had the capacity to unleash large amounts of energy and for the world political scene in 1939 which was a world that was on the brink of war, these developments held major possibilities for military power.
Germany in the early 1900’s was a hotbed of scientific activity. Several of the top scientists in the world at the time were of German origin or lived in Germany including Leo Szilard, Albert Einstein, Klaus Fuchs and other top scientists. Germany was also a pioneer in coordinating scientific work along with military work. German scientists developed several chemicals in a well coordinated effort during World War 1. Many of the top German scientists though were Jews, and Germany was a hotbed of anti-Semitic thought. The anti-Semitic sentiments in Germany would reach a crescendo in 1933 when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis rose to power in Germany. Persecution was soon to follow for Jews and several top Jewish scientists would leave the country after the Nazis took power. Hitler in his first years in power took steps to rearm Germany and prepare Germany for war. In 1939 work started on a German project to build an atomic weapon. In that same year Jewish scientists Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard sent a letter to American President Franklin Roosevelt advising him of the German work to build a nuclear weapon, and advised him to start working on such a project. This would eventually be the catalyst for the top secret Manhattan Project.

In 1939 Europe when Germany invaded Poland, Europe erupted into the Second World War. This war which also raged across the Pacific was the first war to feature wide scale bombing of cities and featured the heaviest use of aircraft in any war up to that time. The United States was not in the war at the time but was a strong backer of Great Britain in the war, who were making plans on building a nuclear weapon of their own. As a result of the letter of Szilard and Einstein, American President Franklin Roosevelt created a uranium committee to conduct experiments of uranium. This committee would recommend government funding of isotope separation research as well as funding research Fermi and Szilard were doing at Columbia University on nuclear chain reactions. In 1940 in Britain, Otto Frisch and Rudolf Peierls created a memorandum that for the first time had a theoretical viewpoint of how an atomic bomb would work with the use of uranium 235. This memorandum also suggested that the bomb could be used similarly to the other bombs which were of use at the time. In 1940 plutonium was also produced for the first time ever which would be a key component in the first nuclear bomb.

In 1941 things would kick into overdrive for the effort to build a nuclear weapon. On December 6, 1941 President Roosevelt authorized the creation of the Manhattan Engineering District later to be known as the Manhattan Project. The next day on December 7, 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and the United States was officially drawn into World War II. On December 11, 1941 Germany declared war on the United States. The United States and Great Britain would become Allies not just on the battlefield but also in sharing scientific information. Scientific work in the U.S. continued on atomic research in 1942 at different sites but without a central leadership until September of 1942 when Leslie Groves was put in charge of the Manhattan Engineering District now called the Manhattan Project. The Manhattan Project was now placed under the control of the U.S. Army. The goal of the project was now to speed up process in creating a bomb as soon as possible to be used in World War II. The hope was to have a bomb ready for use by 1945. J. Robert Oppenheimer was appointed as scientific director of the project. The project was then to be headquartered from Los Alamos, New Mexico with most of the work in to building the actual bomb conducted from there as well as sites located in other parts of the country. During that same year of 1942, Enrico Fermi and Leo Szilard who had been working on a nuclear pile in Chicago, managed successfully complete the world’s first working nuclear reactor. The pile technology would be later used as the prototype for the first regular nuclear reactor in Hanford, Washington in order to produce plutonium. At the same time the decision was made to heavily expand uranium production which would be headquartered in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. In July 1943 experiments would begin at Los Alamos and shortly after Niels Bohr and Enrico Fermi would also become added to the Los Alamos team.

In 1944-45 things were moving fast on both the war front and the Manhattan Project. The German army was now taking heavy losses and many German cities and research facilities were becoming lost by Allied bombs. But, the United States suffered a huge blow in April 1945 when President Franklin Roosevelt died. Vice President Harry Truman became president and found out about the Manhattan Project which was so top secret that even he had no knowledge of it. In May 1945 Germany would surrender and end the European theater of World War II. The war picture was now focused solely on Japan in the Pacific Theater. The United States had taken an island by island approach in the war with Japan that proved to be effective but at the same time had cost many American lives. The only thing left for the U.S. to win the war was a full scale invasion of Japan that was estimated to cost perhaps one million American lives. At this same time the atomic bomb was coming to fruition and the bomb was ready to be tested. The decision had been made in 1944 that the bomb would work best as an implosion device and to solely focus on using a plutonium bomb rather than uranium. The feeling was that a uranium based bomb was so sure to work that it was better to focus on the more difficult plutonium bomb. The plutonium bomb was designed to use explosives to bring the nuclear core to criticality. There were a wide range of predictions leading up to the days of the eventual testing of the bomb, among them fears that a nuclear explosion could ignite the atmosphere. On July 16, 1945 the time was finally right for a nuclear weapon to be tested. The test was a complete success and the bomb exploded had an explosive force of 18.6 kilotons. The nuclear weapon and all the research that Szilard, Bohr, Fermi and several others had worked on for the past years had finally come to fruition and a nuclear weapon was finally ready to be used in warfare against other human beings.
The atomic weapons created by scientists were a tremendous success. Their use in war led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and leveled two Japanese cities. But, the success of the weapons showed how scientists could build on the work of earlier scientists and lead to fantastic results. It also showed that with science working hand in hand with the government the possibilities for science to reach were endless.

Rhodes, Richard. The Making of the Atomic Bomb. Simon & Schuster Paperbacks, 1986. [cited December 12, 2009] Available at [cited December 12, 2009] Available at [cited December 12, 2009] Available at

Because Of Race: How Americans Debate Harm and Opportunity In Our Schools

Schools are one of the major agents of enculturation in America. Many kids spend more time in school with their peers than their own parents and a lot of their life outlook is influenced by what they learn in school. Language problems are one area that can have a major impact on how a child can perform in school. The book that I chose for this report was “Because of race: how Americans debate harm and opportunity in our schools” by Mica Pollock. Through this book it is possible to take a look at some of the greater inequality issues surrounding education in America.

Mica Pollock wrote this book concerning her two years in working for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office For Civil Rights during 1999-2001. During Mica’s time in this position her main job was to analyze racial inequalities in the education system while speaking with people from all levels of the education system from parents to administrators. This book is a biography of what it was like to work in that system and the problems and hopeful remedies that must be taken to remedy America’s educational system to make it equal. The book while mentioning problems due to language does not go far in enough in addressing solutions not just for Spanish speaking students and students speaking African-American Vernacular English. One example is when the author mentions immigrant parents having the same amount of time to speak as English speakers in one case. The problem was that the immigrants had to have their words translated and in the time lost in translation they didn’t have the equal time of the English speakers. More in-depth analysis would have been appreciated on cases such as this. The writing style and tone of the book show that it was intended to be read by educators, politicians, and parents who are concerned about the education process. The author’s approach to the writing of the book is to rebut four distinct arguments commonly made about discrimination in schools and to then proceed to show how flawed those arguments are. The author’s approach is both descriptive of actual situations and then using those situations to prove theoretical points. The author does this by arguing against those rebuttals which are often used to argue against change and show what the realities of the situation in the schools actually are. The principal conclusions that the author makes are primarily that the work of the civil rights era is far from complete and that the failure to realize this has made people put up obstacles in the face of creating remedies for the shortcomings that exist in the American educational system. This book also strives to point out that by analyzing the rebuttals that have been made to ensuring full equality, Americans can come to understand the work that must be done yet to ensure equality. The author supports the conclusions reached in the book by presenting several cases she and others and OCR dealt with firsthand and showing how the prevalent attitudes she seeks to dismiss are wrong. The book itself is well written and discusses several institutions and concepts that generally do not receive a lot of press coverage in the United States such as Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Department of Education’s OCR. The author’s position in actually working with the cases mentioned in the book gives the book added authority but also at times does reveal bias. The author’s defense of the OCR while she was working there does not have the same feel as it would have had if the OCR was analyzed a third party writer with no ties to the agency. In overall terms this book is extremely effective in getting the message out to its intended audience. The book’s room for improvement lay in making the book a little longer by about 50-100 pages with more analysis on different subjects.

American courts struck down the separate but equal laws in schooling in 1954 and The Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. Despite how long ago these measures were taken there is still a lot to go into ensuring that American public schools are equal for all. By pretending or dismissing this assertion it does not ensure that the public schools have equality. This is the very message that Mica Pollock is making and one that must be taken to heart by all Americans.

Mama Lola A Vodou Priestess In Brooklyn

Misconceptions of a group’s culture can sometimes lead to prejudice and mistrust of an entire group due a mistaken view of that group’s culture. Haitians in the United States have been victims of fears and misconceptions due to the religious practices of vodou which are shared by a majority of the population, and also due to many other factors which include accusations of spreading diseases like rape and the poverty that many Haitians live under. Haitians who have fled this country in boats have also led to a negative view of Haitians. Cross-cultural research can help break down the walls between different groups and help gain a better view and understanding of a group with a different culture. The book that I chose for this report was “Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn” by Karen Brown. This book shows how removing the walls between cultures can not only lead to understanding between different cultures but also acceptance of the culture.

The book “Mama Lola: A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn” while recognized primarily as an ethnography, tells several stories at once to form several interesting narratives. It not only contains the biographies of Mama Lola and some of her ancestors, it also gives an in depth look at some of the central characters of the vodou religion, and also some of the rites and practices of the vodou religion. The book also tells of Karen Brown’s story the author who is a White American and her growing involvement and initiation into the vodou religion. This also acts as a backdrop to talk about the growing Haitian presence in America, and the struggle of Haitians to keep their families and religious practices alive in America despite facing persecution and misunderstanding regarding their beliefs while still holding ties to their homeland in Haiti. Among the important themes of this book was in its telling of how vodou empowers Haitian women and gives them self assurance and self-reliance that makes Haitian women different from other women. And also the struggle for immigrants to hold onto their cultural values and systems despite living in a country that can be hostile to their cultural values.

The main story of the book relates to the story of Mama Lola’s life. Mama Lola’s life is very intertwined with her serving of the spirits and the book also thus contains an in depth look into the vodou religion. The story is not a complete beginning to end narrative as it starts off from one specific time period and in other chapters the narrative jumps to different time periods. This makes it at times difficult to understand what is going on in the story or to ascertain as to how and why certain things happened. Karen Brown also in some chapters writes of herself from a first person perspective while in other chapters she writes of herself from a third person perspective which can be confusing when it happens. Karen while making herself an important character in the story vaguely mentions certain problems going on in her life but speaks nothing further of it. The book is not her story but her bringing up of her problems would at least suggest a little more details about herself as she gets more involved with vodou and Mama Lola. This also adds to researcher bias as Karen is not a detached observer to most of the events she describes but also a willing and sometimes central participant in some of the events she describes. The book also in the account of the lives of Alourdes’ ancestors’ also seem very light in historical accuracy but are told in a way to focus on the morals of a story, which with the exception of the ancestors’ narrative strives for accuracy. The book strove more to describe what was happening while not spending much time on the results or success of what happened.

This book’s story is very personal to me, because although I was born in America I am a first generation descendant of Haitians. Many of the terms and perspectives held by some of the Haitians described by Brown are familiar to me. I can picture being in the houses and areas described both in New York and also Haiti. I am also a descendant of vodou priests from both sides of my family, and I easily picture and know the attitudes and thoughts of people like Mama Lola and the other characters. But, both of my parents are not into vodou and have never discussed any of the tenets with vodou with me so I am a stranger to many of the practices described by Brown. Vodou is often explained by Protestant Haitians as a religion of serving Satan. There is also a view that vodou itself is responsible for Haiti being as backwards as it currently is now. Vodou practitioners on the other hand have relayed a different view of this. This story not only opened my eyes to parts of Haitian history that are unknown to me it also expanded my knowledge of a religion that many of my family members still hold dear. It also helped to break down misconceptions that I hold about vodou and allowed me to come to a greater acceptance of a religion that if I was born in my homeland I would have had a better knowledge of. The book also helped me to see how vodou affects Haitian culture so thoroughly that it affects even those who don’t practice vodou. The vodou mindset in Haitian culture expands deep in basic Haitian culture even if you’re not into it, and that helps me to look at Haitian culture and vodou being intertwined. I never realized how much I had in common with the mindset of vodou practitioners as I always thought that my not being a vodou follower, I had very little in common with those who were followers.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and has the highest rate of AIDS infections in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti has been beset by corrupt governments and insurrections ever since Haiti gained independence from France. Few Haitian leaders have ever managed to finish a full term in office without being overthrown or killed. Women in particular in Haiti face many severe problems from a high rate of child mortality to deaths in childbirth, rape, and many other problems. In a country where life is so difficult, many especially women turn to vodou for solutions with life’s problems. Vodou unlike many other religions actually empowers women instead of affirming a second class status. Women could be in charge of their own temple and make their own decisions unlike in most Christian denominations that do not allow women to take any kind of leadership positions. Mama Lola in her service of the spirits became an empowered women similarly to her female ancestors. In looking at lists like “The 100 Items of the Pancultural Adjective Checklist” (Matsumoto, p.153, 2008), we can see that many of the adjectives that are male associated can easily be used to describe Mama Lola. In religions such as Christianity women are taught to be subservient and wait on God or a man to solve their problems. In vodou women are taught that if they are seeking something they have to go out and get it their themselves. Before the women’s movement in the United States this would have been a radical idea in the United States. Karen herself born under the typical Western image of women must also change her mindset and become more of a go getter as she progresses in the vodou religion. The vodou religion also allows the women to view the world from a female based viewpoint. Mama Lola had a matrilineal view of her ancestry with only one male having an important role in her family tree. Mama Lola also expected her daughter to carry on her legacy and continue the family tradition. Mama Lola also followed the spirits her female ancestors followed and did not pay too much attention to the spirits followed by her male ancestors. There was acknowledgment of the male spirits but they were not as important as the female spirits, which mirrors Haitian society where many households do not have a male father figure around even though they are generally desired. The female spirits and the female priestesses do not have the time to sit around and wait for the effects they desire but they have to make a conscious effort to make it happen. Self-reliance and self-assurance are stressed for the women in vodou as well as Haitian culture in general. The women who must sell goods in the market to feed themselves and their families have no one to rely on but themselves and their spirits. An independent attitude must be fostered to know how to sell properly and keep others, especially jealous ones out of their business, similarly to how the female spirits foster an independent attitude. Vodou morality also does not condemn women for doing what they deem necessary to help themselves or their children. Normally under Christian moral guidelines women like Mama Lola would be wrong for committing prostitution or taking many lovers at a young age. Under vodou morality staying true to a person’s character is considered moral. For a person like Mama Lola doing whatever it takes to feed her children is morally acceptable under vodou.

One of the more interesting conflicts that Mama Lola and other Haitians faced in living in America is the loss of family ties and the struggle to maintain those ties. While vodou does promote the independent self and helping practitioners to fight for themselves, at the same time it acknowledges the need for interdependence. The spirits themselves are part of family groups that are important to them, and the followers of the spirits generally look for strong family ties. A big struggle for Mama Lola is to tie the religion that places so much emphasis on Haiti and the family members who lived there and bring it to America where those ties do not exist. In America also Mama Lola and her daughter Maggie are very tied together and feel entirely dependent on each other. Success and continued good luck is also dependent on remaining aware of doing what is owed to the spirits. While affirming independence to be successful in life requires a proper combination of independence and interdependence. Not having that interdependence either with the spirits or the family would only be disastrous in the long run.

Another perspective in which to look at the story is the larger story of immigrants keeping their culture in the face of adversity. Throughout the story it is frequently mentioned that Mama Lola and several other vodou followers keep their practices secret to avoid scrutiny. This goes in hand with Haitian culture where people with differing views to the status quo particularly in politics must keep their views hidden or face repercussions. Also in vodou itself, for large sections of Haitian history vodou followers had to keep their beliefs hidden. Under the French days of slavery, vodou was forbidden and followers had to cloak the religion. Into the days of Haitian independence vodou was also outlawed and shunned by the upper class and Roman Catholic clergy. Haitians thus had vast experience in managing to practice vodou while remaining undetected. So in New York, Mama Lola and other Haitians were well practiced in how to avoid unwanted attention. The 1980’s, the time period which was the time period when a large portion of the events in this book took place was also a tough time for Haitians in Haiti and America. Large numbers of Haitian refugees were fleeing to the United States on dangerous boats and facing repatriation to Haiti if caught. The overthrow of Haitian president Jean-Claude Duvalier only increased the number of refugees coming to America. Haiti received attention due to the large numbers of Haitians who had AIDS and political violence rocked Haiti in the late 1980’s. This news would leave to a negative perception about both Haiti and Haitians such as was shown to Maggie. Personally I can also attest in school in New York City in the 1990’s I can also recall myself and other kids being made fun of for being Haitians. It was a big insult to even call another kid a Haitian, and Haitians from Haiti were derided as boat people and other cruel terms. As shown in the story Mama Lola still maintained her practices and beliefs and considered it a great skill to be almost invisible with her practices so that she did not have problems with others.

Another method of analyzing this book is by using Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Theory of Development in analyzing the growth of Mama Lola. There was not even information given in the book to examine whether exosystem and microsystem had an impact on Mama Lola’s development. Macrosystem is especially useful in Mama Lola’s development. The larger cultural values and beliefs had a direct impact on Mama Lola. She absorbed the values and beliefs of her culture and used it directly to guide her life. Her entire outlook on life is guided by the value system she learned growing up. This affects her so much that it can realistic for Karen to call Mama Lola a Haitian living in America, while her daughter Maggie who spent the first 12 years of her life in Haiti was an America who grew up in Haiti. Growing up and living in Haiti had made too much of an impact on her to change even with living in New York for over 20 years. Haitian culture is at times a hierarchal culture with strong emphasis being placed on social class. Mesosystem can be seen in playing a strong role in Mama Lola’s development. Her interactions with her children, her religious disciples always showed and reaffirmed her status. She dealt with people in a manner consistent with what a person of status in Haitian culture would be expected to. Her role as the primary financial and spiritual power in her family obligated her to behave in her specific manner. The chromosystem component seemed to be of little value for Mama Lola. The changing sociohistorical influences in her life seemed to do little to change her. The political upheaval in Haiti and life in the United States actually seemed instead to strengthen her resolve and hold on to her culture and beliefs. Cultural change among Haitians and vodou is slow and near nonexistent.

The story of Mama Lola is not just the story of one Haitian voodoo priestess but also the story of Haitian lives in America. Haitians in America have faced adverse challenges in America while at the same time striving to remember their homeland and provide for family members still living there. Careful analysis of this story can lead to a better understanding of how to understand different cultures and break down walls that exist in America today.

Matsumoto, David & Juang, Linda. Culture & Psychology 4th Edition. Wadsworth, 2008.
Brown, Karen. A Vodou Priestess in Brooklyn Updated and Expanded Edition. The University of California Press, 2001.