Big Machine, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Unknown

As I was re-reading sections of Big Machine by Victor LaValle, I couldn’t help but notice a reference to another work of literature. The character Lake has a name taken directly from “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft. In Lovecraft’s short story, Lake is part of a group of scientists on an expedition to Antarctica who means his end at the hands of strange, and alien entities that he finds living there. While this might sound odd, I believe that Lake’s name is reflective of other “Lovecraftian” elements seen throughout the text. Continue reading “Big Machine, H.P. Lovecraft, and the Unknown”

Critical Literacy, Library Space, & Unlikely Scholars

Recently I attended a Diversity Summit session titled Culturally Responsive Classrooms through Critical Literacy and Learning presented by Dr. Thea Yurkewecz and Dr. Crystal Simmons. At the session, we discussed the significant underrepresentation and misrepresentation of groups of people in classroom libraries. Critical literacy is a tool for teachers to choose books that are culturally sensitive and help students to study representation in texts. This is a way for teachers to avoid the dangers of the single-story, as presented in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk.

I think the session was highly relevant to ENGL 337 in two ways. Firstly, critical literacy is a lens through which we can examine our course texts. That will not be the focus of my blog post, but I will include the critical literacy guiding questions from the session in case anyone is interested. Secondly, critical literacy addresses the physical and figurative space taken up by African-American literature on bookshelves. Continue reading “Critical Literacy, Library Space, & Unlikely Scholars”

Process in an Art Exhibit

Recently, as a part of the Art of Steve Prince course, our class was given the opportunity to visit the Lederer Art Gallery on campus. While we were there, gallery director Cynthia Hawkins gave us a behind the scenes look at what it takes to run the art gallery. She discussed with us the different aspects of her job, such as planning exhibits, bringing in outside collections of artworks, as well as how she stores art pieces that are given to the Lederer permanently. This discussion was one that stood out to me, in part because it reminded me of all the work that I do in maintaining and curating the Kinetic Gallery. The Kinetic Gallery is a student-run art gallery on campus that falls under the Geneseo Campus Activities Board. As the Art and Exhibits Coordinator, I have the job of planning and executing all of the exhibits and art programs for the Kinetic for the academic year. As such, it was no wonder that Dr. Hawkins presentation was of interest to me. Continue reading “Process in an Art Exhibit”

Parker’s Fight for Equality

In class this week, Dr. McCoy introduced us to some of her favorite poems in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American poetry by Charles H. Rowell. This anthology is more focused on post-1960’s poetry. Before class, I browsed through the book and a few things jumped out at me that we also were curious about in class. Why did Rowell choose these certain poems to go into the book when there are millions in the world to choose from? While reading some of the poems throughout the book I have noticed that every poem has a strong and/or moving meaning or story behind it. The anthology description of the book describes it as “not just another poetry anthology. It is a gathering of poems that demonstrate what happens when writers in a marginalized community collectively turn from dedicating their writing to political, social, and economic struggles, and instead devote themselves to the art of their poems and to the ideas they embody.” Every poem in this anthology is touching on some sort of problem.

Continue reading “Parker’s Fight for Equality”

bell hooks in Conversation with Thomas Jefferson

In the spirit of recursion, I’d like to go back to a text we covered in class on February 11th, “Notes on the State of Virginia.”  When we encountered this text, it was in reference to fugitive slave narratives.  We discussed the ways in which Thomas Jefferson compared the aesthetics, literary, cultural and physical, of African, European, and Indigenous peoples.  With a focus on the literature, we critiqued the way that Jefferson claimed that Africans were only able to “mimic” while Europeans represented original and refined works.  Borrowing these ideas of mimicry and originality, I’d like to shift the focus to the portrayal of African Americans in popular culture.

In my Feminism and Pornography class, we are finally starting to explore porn as it relates to different identities.  With the first half of the course focusing purely on white heterosexual pornography, we’ve now started to look at the intersections of race as it relates to porn.  As a Women’s and Gender Studies and English Literature double major, I’ve come to expect overlap in coursework.   Continue reading “bell hooks in Conversation with Thomas Jefferson”

The Multiplicity of Division

When I heard that Professor Lytton Smith was returning to our class to give a second lecture, I was apprehensive. I remember he was the first guest lecturer for our class and that was the day I felt the most lost in class because I was not into the routine of our classes. However, when I walked into class on March 3rd, 2019 I tried to keep an open mind. Smith first began class with the word division and how we define it. To push myself from the first lecture he gave, I participated with my interpretation of division. I discussed how women in New Orleans face division in society by expressing themselves through dancing and music. Mary discussed the division with contrast of dark versus light. Amina thought of a literal divider and a segregated community. Within the span of ten minutes, I knew exactly what I wanted to unpack in my blog post: the word division.

Continue reading “The Multiplicity of Division”

Why would a person of color hold a grudge against a white person?

Before answering the question titled for this blog post, I would first like to define some key terms and answer some questions for you:

  1. Human

According to the biology online dictionary:

“Humans are the hominins capable of creating and using complex tools, solving problems by sense and reasoning, using symbols and language, and creating complex social structures. Over time, humans have demonstrated behavioral modernity and advancement.”

2. African American

According to collins dictionary,

“African-Americans are black people living in the United States who are descended from families that originally came from Africa.”

I defined the word human first because I would like to make a point in saying that all humans are equally capable of applying themselves to complete any task given on Earth.  All humans are intelligent beings and can achieve any goal that they want with the use of communication, experience, memory and their physical abilities. Notice that the definition does not say anything about race, ethnicity or having different abilities, body types, muscles, or blood. It simply states what all human beings are capable of.

People of color are constantly mistreated, disenfranchised, and are underprivileged because of a research study that Johann Freidrich Blumenbach did on the measurements of craniums which led him to dividing human beings in to five different categories. The categories are “Caucasian, Mongolian, Malayan, Ethiopian, and American.” Once there was a separation of race between human beings because of their distinct appearances over time people took advantage of their own characteristics, power, and potential to seek other resources from other locations and from other human beings that were of a different race. Caucasian individuals from different countries across Europe took advantage of other racially categorized groups in different times and ways. Dating back to when Johann Friedrich Blumenbach formed this idea, it followed through with the slave trade organization that commenced in about 1650.

The slave trade organization was a controlling, manipulative and violent historical event that was used for financial growth, greed and gain in power from the Americas and Africa. Thousands of African human beings were captured and sold to other “masters” or other European “business men” who wanted more territory, power and access to resources from South and North America. Through the process of the slave trade organization many people lost their lives or were brutally mistreated. African and Indigenous women were raped in the Americas and in Africa and this led to the population of mixed people that exist today. Since the mid-1600s, up until 1865 when slavery was abolished, the  majority of Caucasian individuals from Europe who settled in to the United States of America treated individuals of African descent whether it was half, a quarter or fully black like they were wild animals. After slavery was abolished the 13th Amendment claimed that it was illegal to own a slave but segregation still existed, racism still existed and if you were African American you would constantly struggle financially and socially. One wrong move and you would get arrested and treated like a slave again. Up until the 1960s when Jim Crow laws were abolished but, again, African American people and other people of color were still mistreated in terms of getting a job, financially, they were underprivileged all because of their complexion. It wasn’t until the late 1990s to early 2000s that employment discrimination laws were passed, that African American high school children were graduating on time or were graduating at all, that people of color were progressing economically, and were able to succeed in the U.S. 

This leads me to explaining my second key term, “African American”. All human beings experience different things in their lives. We are all very distinct not because of out complexion, or our appearance. We are all distinct because of our experiences and the cultures that influence us. Humans are born in different locations and assimilate to different cultures over time and learn to adopt to different styles of life. People of color are black, indigenous, latino, or of other mixed ethnic groups. When living in America and being a person of color or specifically African American you have your own experience. Racism still exists and according to NBC News, the article, “Poll: 64 percent of Americans say racism remains a major problem” by Andrew Arenge, Stephanie Perry and Dartunorro Clark, “64 percent said racism remains a major problem in our society. Thirty percent agreed that racism exists today, but it isn’t a major problem.”

More than 50% of Americans acknowledge that there is a racial discrimination issue in their country. Given that the majority of people of color in America experience discrimination it seems like the issues isn’t complexion the the way in which people of color carry their skin. Every person has been influenced by culture but many people who happen to be Caucasian feel like because it isn’t like their own that they should discriminate, be racist against or mistreat others. Although not all white individuals are actively racists or follow white supremacists groups, actions speak louder than words and the statistics above prove that. If racism still exists, all Americans need to work on being culturally educated and learn to respect one another’s as they teach in Kindergarten. Americans need to show that they acknowledge each others experiences rather than focus on their own.

So to answer the question properly I would say that people of color should not hold grudges against people who have not prepared to actively not follow the kind of system that we live under. All humans are influenced by others and they experience complete different events and have different perspectives. People of color forgive those who are ignorant and just don’t know how to respect their culture but their is an expectation of learning from a mistake that was made. At the end of the day, this all shouldn’t be about color it is now about how people should learn to understand their similarities and differences between one another and where boundaries may lay between those two categories.

Racism exists and the cure isn’t to temporarily try to understand someone else’s pain or culture, it is to truly care about people around you day by day.


Experiencing the “Emotional Bridge”

When asked to find my favorite poem in the Norton anthology, I started from the beginning and read through until I hit one that made me stop. The poem that I stopped at was Audre Lorde’s “To My Daughter The Junkie On A Train.” What struck me in this poem that separated it from the others was the linebreaks, unexpected connections, and word choice. The lines act independently and yet work together to create multiple interpretations, in the same way, she chooses words that can have more than one meaning. The other poems of Lorde’s in the anthology also resonated with me and even just reading them aloud was quite an experience. After deciding I liked these poems the best, I read her short autobiographical comments that are included before her poems. Lorde identifies as a “Black, Lesbian, Feminist, warrior, poet, mother” and she writes about the intersectionality of these “ingredients” in her poem “Who Said It Was Simple.” Continue reading “Experiencing the “Emotional Bridge””

Poverty as a Crime?

About two weeks ago Joe Cope came to class and discussed with us the the relationship between text and imagery. I found this class period to be really informative in terms of how text can support images in terms of description and illustration, but what really stood out to me was the topic behind the images that Cope had selected. Cope had chosen images that portrayed injustices through insensitive and narrow-minded narratives. Specifically, Cope explained how in the time period displayed in the 17th century pamphlets he selected, it was a common thing for people to be arrested and put in jail if they were unable to prove that they own property or had a working job. Continue reading “Poverty as a Crime?”