On Romanticization Versus Advocacy for Incarcerated Individuals

Since we first encountered it a few class sessions ago, I’ve been captivated by Mariame Kaba’s essay “Free Us All,” and its wariness of building movements around individuals. Rather, Kaba cites the #FreeBresha and #FreeMarissa movements as being successful precisely because organizers took “great pains to understand that each survivor is one among thousands of Black women and girls who have been and continue to be criminalized for trying to survive.” Collective defense is a critical component in Kaba’s call for prison abolition. Continue reading “On Romanticization Versus Advocacy for Incarcerated Individuals”

Hurricane Iniki: Look at All Those Chickens

(Blog title reference)

By Jenna Lawson, Jonathan Kalman, Aidan Koch, Madi Bussmann, Clio Lieberman, & Cameron Rustay

In Hawaiian, the word “Iniki” has a somewhat contradictory meaning. Some categorize it on a surface level as meaning “strong and piercing wind.” However, a deeper look into Hawaiian language dictionaries turns up the definition “to pinch, nip; sharp and piercing, as wind or pangs of love.” Likening piercing winds to the pangs of love presents an interesting dilemma about how to reckon with Iniki’s legacy and perception among those who experienced it. The fact that there was an upsurge in babies given this name in the wake of the hurricane further entangles the presence of love and joy with the destruction inherent when a hurricane makes landfall. Continue reading “Hurricane Iniki: Look at All Those Chickens”

Forgetting Typhoon Tip

By Matt Albanese, Noah Mazer, Tree McNulty, Isabel Owen, Melissa Rao, Don Rothwein, and Davina Ward

The Story of Typhoon Tip

The scientific knowledge for Typhoon Tip/Warling is extensive. According a 1980 article entitled “An Analysis of Super Typhoon Tip” by George Dunnavan and John Diercks, Tip is the most studied storm in recent memory. Forty piloted missions were flown into the storm. The mission was carried out by the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at the Anderson Air Force Base in Guam.

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Hurricane Maria: Searching for Answers, Finding More Questions

*This is a collaborative blog post, created by: Sakshi Kumar, Neha Marolia, Michael Griffin, Luke Edelman, Catherine White, and Katie Sullivan  

Maria’s Story:

The story of Hurricane Maria officially began on September 16, 2017 when it wasn’t even called Hurricane Maria yet. At 11 a.m. that morning, four days before landfall, it was called “Potential Tropical Cyclone 15.” It wasn’t until 5 p.m. later that day that it was newly named “Tropical Storm Maria.” The next day, it was deemed a hurricane and the first hurricane watch for Puerto Rico was issued on September 18.

Courtesy of the New York Times

Maria landed in Puerto Rico on September 20. On this day, 20 inches of rain fell, the whole island lost power, and 80-90% of the structures were destroyed in some towns. The next day, President Trump issued a state of emergency for Puerto Rico. Three days after landfall, 85% of the Puerto Rico cell towers did not work, and on September 26, 44% of Puerto Rico lacked drinking water.

Continue reading “Hurricane Maria: Searching for Answers, Finding More Questions”

Global Connections: Invisible and Hypervisible Salvador


Gamboa de Baixo, a low-income black neighborhood in Salvador, Brazil. The construction of Contorno Avenue in the 1950s and 60s rendered the neighborhood invisible by placing it directly under the road, which symbolized modernity and progress for Bahian elite.

“This process of forgetting is essential to the social construction of the city, creating in essence two cities, a ‘visible city as much as an invisible city.’” –Keisha-Khan Y. Perry, Black Women Against the Land Grab: The Fight for Racial Justice in Brazil

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Born and Raised: “A Life Lived in One Place”

In my last post, I explored the fact that so many people at the end of When the Levees Broke chose to identify themselves through association with their home city, proudly declaring their having been “born and raised” in New Orleans. In fact, I did more than examine this facet of the documentary–I celebrated it. I wrote, of the cast’s proud proclamations of their New Orleans origins, “I see this as not only a testament to the richness of the culture and life in New Orleans… but also as a testament to the inspiring pride and strength of the people of New Orleans.” While I have not changed my perspective of this scene as inspiringly beautiful, further reflection upon its implications has positioned the scene in my thinking as a springboard for further exploration of the notion of being “born and raised” in one place and continuing to live in that place through adulthood.

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Coagulation from Hurricane Sandy

A few class periods ago, Beth presented us with What We Saw When the Lights Went Out: A Portfolio from Hurricane Sandy  Many of the pictures are moving, both literally and figuratively. Excessive amounts of running water where it doesn’t belong is the subject of the first image, while the following images are more bleak and show stagnant water- the aftermath serving as a memorial to the catastrophic devastation. Some of these images are rendered black and white, perhaps as an artistic gesture towards depicting sorrow and hopelessness while showing contrast. However, other pictures alternatively tell a different, more heart warming story. These images show children huddled up on a couch, neighbors and strangers coming together to eat, and community members cooperating and sharing electricity. These stories are refreshing in that people coagulated and came together to survive and thrive, yet depressing in that people were constantly reminded of the traumatic event that brought them together.

As the forceful, violent process of Hurricane Sandy flooded parts of NYC and the surrounding areas, people coagulated around safe locations away from the water. The moving water, which encompassed the initial violence, became stagnant in flooded streets and basements as an effigy to remember the violent event which preceded it. One image of a flooded basement is particularly striking because of what is unknown. The image simply shows an entrance leading to the basement that is completely filled with stagnant, green water. However, there is no way to know what, or maybe who, was down there when it flooded. There is also a similar image with a couple inches of water coming up on a white door covered with sandbags. Contrasting these images, the first image shows the flooding of an urban center that is so extreme it looks like an ocean with waves. Where many of the other images are black and white, or generally bleak, the first one is entirely blue and almost mystic. It reminds me of “The Day After Tomorrow” in how it pays respect to how awesome (grand and strong, not good!) the storm was in some places. One image shows a helicopter in the air above what looks like a war zone, while several other ones show empty, seemingly abandoned homes and businesses.

Beginning the portfolio collection with an image of the violent storm in all its glory sets the necessary precedent for both the devastation and collective rebuilding efforts depicted in the wallowing images that follow. Based partially on Roach and in class discussions, I believe that remembering and accepting, rather than suppressing, traumatic memories can be cathartic, especially when the ramifications of people’s memories are expressed through art. When theoretically viewing the streets of New York from an aerial view immediately following Hurricane Sandy, the streets would be flooded as barriers and human settlements would coagulate and form as a result. Whether it be people coming together to charge devices, or cook food before it spoils and is wasted, this communal effort to help oneself and others perfectly fits within the conceptual narrative that “violence is the performance of waste” and “care is the antidote to violence.” The other portfolio Beth presented shows this aerial view seen here. The presence, and equal absence, of electricity demonstrates which areas were affected as the lights of cars light up otherwise dark streets, showing the movement of people in a still image.

“When The Levees Broke” Credits

It was about the time right before Spring break when our English 432 course watched the credits for the Hurricane Katrina documentary , When the Levees Broke. It was during this class period that we analyzed each of the credited, there role in the film, and the interesting way they were filmed for their section in the credits. More specifically, we tried to interpret the reasoning behind having each of the interviewees pose behind individualized picture frames. Professor McCoy had told us that Spike Lee is a rather specific director, having reasons behind most if not all of the decisions made for his films. Is there a deeper meaning behind the use of picture frames?  Continue reading ““When The Levees Broke” Credits”