I Do Belong in this Space and So Do You

Reading the epigraphs in the course’s syllabus, I felt somewhat empowered. The one that really stood out to me is Dionne Brand’s quote, “my job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice.” To me, this is a self-reassuring statement in the sense that I, as a non-English discipline of any sort, can exist in this space and that my experiences are relevant and valid to the discussions we have in class.

When I first enrolled in Geneseo, I just assumed that I’d follow the typical, traditional path of a political science major – meaning I wouldn’t venture out of my comfort zone too much. Traditional academics typically don’t consist of studies such as Black Studies or Gender Studies, but I am glad that this class exists to learn more about what makes our culture and community the way it is. The takeaway I hope to learn from this course is the idea of intersectionality, not only in myself but also with the disciplines. Basically, I hope that I can learn to step back and appreciate what I don’t know and grow.

First, let me unpack my goals for achieving intersectionality in my learning experience. Something that I can definitely see exemplified on our campus is the number of interdisciplinary studies and extracurriculars. In some cases, it might be frowned upon for a STEM major to have an interest in drama or other arts of the sort. When I decided to add a Black Studies minor (and possibly a Sociology minor in the near future) to my degree, I was received support from my advisor and other administrative officers alike. It is important to know that Geneseo not only praises students who decide to get involved with activities outside of their career path, but there’s a mission statement that encapsulates all of these values.

“The Geneseo curriculum introduces a broad range of methodologies, concepts, and problems through a rigorous general education program and fosters the pursuit of deep and complex understanding through engagement with academic majors and minors. The college mission to promote “pursuit of an enriched life” and “success in the world” requires that students acquire, use, and communicate knowledge; practice intellectual flexibility; and investigate domains beyond their professional interests.” – Geneseo’s GLOBE Statement, which proves that our institution is dedicated to providing a holistic, learning environment for all to thrive.

The other takeaway I hope to learn in this class is to appreciate the knowledge that comes from topics that I assumed to already be familiar with. For example, in class today, we analyzed the meaning behind Bernice Johnson Reagon’s article, “Nobody Knows the Trouble I See”; or “By and By I’m Gonna Lay Down My Heavy Load.” When I initially read this, I just paid attention to the topic points that were familiar to me. For example, when Reagon talks about the concept of intersectionality between the African-American community and the dominant American culture, I was able to recognize the meaning due to my experiences of living a double life, so to speak. It can be difficult to progress in a culture that you’re not born into, but once you succeed in that space, then it becomes difficult to reconnect to your roots again. However, I will say that I never noticed the concept of ‘straddling’ and how it is an issue faced by many people across cultural paths (p. 115).

Now that I addressed all of the points I wanted to make, let me attempt to summarize to the main points of my argument. Basically, what I’m trying to emphasize in the epigraph that I chose at the beginning of my blog post is the idea of noticing your position in society, how one adjusts to the environment around them, and how the culture is ever-changing just like the people living in it. If it wasn’t for the risk I was willing to take for enrolling in this course that doesn’t apply towards my major, I would’ve never appreciated other aspects of life and how all these points connect.

 

 

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