Who owns you?

The poem “Mistress stella speaks,” by Tyehimba Jess is about a mistress who is owned and is taken advantage of. The first thing that I noticed from the poem was the title. The mistress’s name is not capitalized and I feel like that is what caught my attention. My biggest pet peeve as a child was seeing my name in lower case letters. I remember being taught in elementary school that names should always be capitalized just as nouns or important things like titles or locations are capitalized. It signifies that your name is what defines you and gives it importance. If someone called me by a number or something else that was other than my name I would feel disrespected. Unless that person was given consent to call me by another nickname or another word, it isn’t allowed.

[At the beginning of the semester, Professor Beth McCoy explains the idea of consent by choosing a student from the class to act out what it would be like to not respect another person’s boundaries by not asking for consent before touching their head. This semester in class she asked Toby to sit down and she asked him if she could touch his head, Toby said sure. The second time comes around and we’re acting like its the next day or so, she goes up to him and asks again. Toby says NO. Professor Beth McCoy then says, “..but you let me touch your head the other day… why can’t I do it again?” She was showing that just because someone allows you to do something once, doesn’t mean you should take advantage of the one time they gave you consent. ]

So when I read the poem, “Mistress stella speaks,” by Tyehimba Jess, I had an idea of what the poem would be about. I thought about disrespect and possession from the Mistress’s husband but it was the other way around. The Mistress feels as if she actually owns her husband. Title tricks you into thinking that the Mistress is owned and is speaking up about her mistreatment but in all actuality, although she may not be respected as much and he always runs back to her and this to her means that she owns him.

Without her, he has no one else to run back to.



Social Media today vs. Dick and Jane

The Storybook Treasury of Dick and Jane and Friends by William S. Gray is a book that proposes the idea of a perfect household and family as I’ve stated in a recent blog post.

Dick and Jane:

“Here is the house. It is green and white. It has a red door. It is very pretty. Here is the family. Mother, Father, Dick, and Jane live in the green-and-white house. They are very happy. See Jane. She has a red dress She wants to play. Who will play with Jane? See the cat. It goes meow-meow. Come and play. Come play with Jane. The kitten will not play. See Mother. Mother is very nice. Mother, will you play with Jane? Mother laughs. Laugh, Mother, laugh. See Father. He is big and strong. Father, will you play with Jane? Father is smiling. Smile, Father, smile. See the dog. Bowwow goes the dog. Do you want to play with Jane? See the dog run. Run, dog, run. Look, look. Here comes a friend. The Friend will play with Jane. They will play a good game. Play, Jane, play”

Instagram is also a social media website and application that allows people to post how they feel, what they look like and what they are doing. On Instagram most people post selfies with families or friends, they post themselves losing weight, traveling, they post themselves getting their teeth whitened or receiving a certificate from a ceremony. Which is all great but no one ever posts when their crying unless its a joke, or real arguments between family and friends, or finding out bad news or anything negative.

I find that these two topics relate to our course because as I’ve said before, Dick and Jane proposes the idea that to have a perfect household or to live up to specific standards to live happily, you must be white, live in a nice house, have two parents that play with you and a dog too! In our African-American literature class, we focus on what African American slave narratives want us to focus on, we focus on authenticity and follow into what Dionne Brand wants, She said: “My job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice.” Although these are two topics we haven’t really discussed in class, I think it’s important to be aware of the similarities that exist between books that we’ve read and what is going on today and to see how much has changed. Regardless of ethnic background or “race” people just care about their image and they always have.

Dick and Jane was written during the 1930s. What was going on during the 1930’s? The Great Depression…Everyone was struggling, White, Black, Native American, etc., but the perfect household was white and wealthy. For that time period it might’ve been realistic in terms of race but wealth wise, it was not.


Procrastination, Growth and Less Pressure

I put off writing this final blog post more than Ricky Rice kept putting off using the bag of drugs he was carrying. Procrastination can come in many forms, some that are positive and some that are negative. In my case it was negative because I avoided something that could have been done earlier and bettered my writing, while he avoided something that would have set him back years and possibly ruined his opportunity for growth. That is the one thing that I will say Ricky Rice has demonstrated in Big Machine, growth. While it proved that ultimately he had no idea what he was getting himself into, he still developed as an individual along the way. It is not common that you hear someone say that procrastination can lead to growth which is why it is particularly fascinating that in Ricky’s case, it did. Continue reading “Procrastination, Growth and Less Pressure”

Allowing the Face of Goodness to Surprise You

Naturally as a historian it is my job to be inquisitive about both sides to every story. Of course not every historian does this, in fact many don’t, but in my opinion it is the best way to examine history and extract the truth from any story. In asking questions about both sides of a story or being more inquisitive into the life of someone who has always been portrayed as a villain, you will find that things are often not what they seem or not what you have been told. I find this especially interesting in today’s time where social media and digital media in general plays such a heavy influence in the ideas and beliefs of people around the world. Take a moment to think about that. An idea about a person or group of people can be shared around the world instantaneously whether or not it is truthful. For some this plays out well and they are able to transcend into fame and fortune, but for others, this spread of information can make them unable to exist comfortably in any spaces. Continue reading “Allowing the Face of Goodness to Surprise You”

f l o w

The concept of flow, as described by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, is “the state of total involvement in an activity that requires complete concentration”. When experiencing flow, an individual:  becomes completely absorbed in an activity, does the activity out of interest, receives a sense of joy, and has feelings of accomplishment. In his research study on the concept of flow, Csikszentmihaly writes that:

“People are happy not because of what they do, but because of how they do it”.

Continue reading “f l o w”

GENES『E』O: The Myriad of Navigating Geneseo’s Binaries [7]

The trees bloom with green and the wind carries through Sturges Hall. I am sitting where the benches are in between the Gazebo and Sturges Hall. I put down my book as one of my friends enters the room. They were wearing a grey long-sleeve shirt and black pants. That outfit felt all too similar to the clothes of the past summer. Just as I go to speak, my friend stops me. They look at the horizon; it seemed like the edge of the horizon was gobbling up the sun.

“Kazon, I’m transferring.” They said plainly.

I look at them and then back at my book; this time at the book cover. I scan over the cover, the title of the book: Between the World and Me. I look up at my friend and I let out a sigh.

“I see, I wish you could have been the first to say that.” And the conversation went on from there.

The sun had fallen below the horizon and I wave my friend a good night as they walk off to Monroe Hall. I turn away and walk into the entrance into Sturges Hall. The closest entrance. To my left is an art installation. It was by my friend and it was about retention rates for SUNY Geneseo students. The retention rates for students of color, particularly black students.




Continue reading “GENES『E』O: The Myriad of Navigating Geneseo’s Binaries [7]”

Lost in Space, Episode 2: The One About Progress or What’s in a Line (On a Line? Is It Even a Line?)?

“How shall man measure Progress where the dark-faced Josie lies? How many heartfuls of sorrow shall balance a bushel of wheat? How hard a thing is life to the lowly, and yet how human and real! And all this life and love and strife and failure, — is it the twilight of nightfall or the flush of some faint-dawning day?” ~ W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk

At the behest of Professor Lytton Smith we rove around Welles 216 like pinballs, attempting to consciously consider the space and our mosey about it in the context of the concept of line. We circle around one another, around desks, a few circle around the desk at the front (The back? The north? The whiteboard-side? In any sense, it is an area generally designated as the professor’s space when class is in session), some change direction, and someone exits the room and strolls down the hallway and back.  In both this session and another that Professor Smith leads later in the semester, he focuses us on line (in line!). Lines in poems, lines in maps, lines in prints, in paintings, in drawings, lines in code, lines in roads, lines in paths. It was fascinating (at least to me) to dive deep into the spatial connotations that the concept of lines brought to these many various contexts. Continue reading “Lost in Space, Episode 2: The One About Progress or What’s in a Line (On a Line? Is It Even a Line?)?”

What it is like…

Mid-way of the second stanza in the poem “What Would I Do White?” by June Jordan, Jordan paints an image of what it would be like to live like a white person and how she would act.

She says:
I would forget my furs on any chair.
I would ignore the doormen at the knob
the social sanskrit of my life
unwilling to disclose my cosmetology
I would forget.

As I read her poem, I  thought to myself, as a 20-year-old female, who is culturally associated with the Latinx and Black community, what do I think of when I think of a white individual? What do I think of when I am at a store and I am followed around because of the assumption that I might steal because I am Hispanic and Black and am most likely am to be poor? What do I think of when I am asked for a bag check at an inexpensive store like Walmart or Dollar Tree and everyone else in the store who is white, isn’t asked the same question? What do I think of when it is 2019 and I, unfortunately, HAVE to think about those incidents.

The question that I believe would follow the question in her title is, Why would I think about what I would do White? The conversation of race should not be a topic that is up for conversation, at all. I interpreted Jordan’s poem as a form of expressing how much respect white people receive and the freedom that they have for being of a lighter complexion. She uses the word “forget” twice and “ignore,” and because both words relate to one another. Notice that in the paragraph above, where I explained what it is like to be my self, I used the word think six times. To think about something is the opposite of forgetting and I think that that is the idea of what Jordan is proposing. With or without money, white individuals have held privilege over many black individuals throughout history and during the present day.

She is making a statement on not only how she feels and what she would like to feel but, how two individuals who are of the same species and origin are viewed differently and therefore are allowed to act and feel differently.


Why I Don’t Like History

History has always been one of those subjects that I didn’t like, and only recently have I started to question why this is. Is it that I don’t care about history, or do I just not like the way that it has been taught? I find it highly unlikely that I don’t care about history because it is something that permeates every subject of learning. History is just things that happened in the past, and all the knowledge we have today is built off of those things, so why is it that I haven’t enjoyed the subject itself?

Continue reading “Why I Don’t Like History”

Cookbook: Part 3

In the interest of continuing from my last “cookbook,” I wanted to look and reflect on the specific goals this class wishes its participants to meet (from the syllabus). My writing here is quite informal, but hopefully makes both some meaningful connections and serves to showcase just how much my classmates and I learned.

*5/3/19* Our campus is in turmoil, and it is nothing new nor is it confined to our campus. I have found that most people wish to deny harm is happening rather than dealing with it. While I wish to retain the original hopeful spirit of this post, I acknowledge that there may be those who do not feel that this class met its goals, or that this class does not matter because the entire campus was not involved. However, I wish to push back on those claims because I do feel like this course taught me useful skills and information. Additionally, the fact that these events and reactions, and non-reactions, to them have hurt us means that we care about and recognize something is wrong. I believe caring is the first step, because if no one cared then these events will continue without prejudice.  I feel that this class has helped to prepare me to care, to make a difference in the future, and I cannot believe that nothing will change because of our knowledge, empathy, and perhaps our newfound activism.

Continue reading “Cookbook: Part 3”