Are you mocking me?

If you have ever experienced having an annoying sibling or have a friend mock you, at home or in a public setting, I am sure you know how it feels when you realize that there is a limit to jokes like those. Some people mock your tone of voice or something that you have said and for a few minutes you might find humor in it but then after a certain point, it becomes vexing. Sometimes it just isn’t comedic. Some react more than others and that goes for any joke that just gets old.

When someone takes it up to a personal level and mocks the way that you walk, an accent that you have, the color of your skin, your hair type or your culture in general, it is no longer a joke. The reason for this is because the way in which someone walks, the accent that they speak with, the color of their skin and their culture are all characteristics that define who they are and how they go about their lives every day. When someone is teasing you in that manner it is offensive because it really means that, that person has taken the time to analyze your appearance, actions, and culture and found something within all of it that was funny. It’s funny when you do something out of the ordinary and acts a certain way on purpose so that you can catch someones attention or make them react to it but when you aren’t doing anything to draw that kind of attention it is not only insulting but, disrespectful.

Now, let’s forget about the jokes that your siblings or friends ever made to mock you, let’s forget out them taking it up to a personal level and let’s acknowledge those who actually find humor in someone else’s culture and appearance. All of what makes someone unique is what defines all human beings and so when someone mocks another person’s style or culture it is wrong.

During our class discussion on “Nobody knows the trouble I see” by Bernice Reagan Johnson, we spoke about the standards in African-American literature and culture and acknowledging the use of another person’s work.  Reagen exemplifies singing or peaching in an African-American Baptist church as a something that relates to that topic. She says that when one sings in a unique tone or style it comes from finding individuality and a form of personal development in a way. She states that “Originality of voice and style is the true sign of a seasoned teacher. A true master is one who creates an offering with such power and originality that a new direction is established within the genre.” In the case that we all create our own offerings with our own form of power, its the same with blackface or any form of racism, whether it means posing with blackface, with a gang sign and posting it on social media as a joke or as simple as voting for someone who doesn’t really care for the issues that go on in low-income areas with predominantly African-American and Latinx groups of people. Whether someone does it blatantly or behind closed doors, they would be taking advantage of someone else’s form of power and signature.

 

Some Additional Thoughts on Sustainability and Interdisciplinary Study

Upon registering for classes last fall, I made the decision to venture outside of my major, English, and take a few classes in the sciences. I wanted to try out a different way of thinking, one that I hadn’t tested out since high school. I registered for Environmental Issues and Environmental Geology because I believed both would prove to be topical and refreshing. I hoped to apply my new coursework to what I did in my literature classes. As one might guess, sustainability is the fulcrum of environmental science in this day and age, but as I have come to learn, it applies to literary study as much as it does to my science classes. It would make sense that more and more courses are addressing sustainability as it is now encoded in Geneseo’s values. However, the more we read and talk and think in ENGL 337, the more clear it has become just how important the theme of sustainability is to African-American art.

The close relative of sustainability is renewable energy. In environmental science, sustainability demands a transition from traditional, exhaustible sources of energy such as oil and coal to inexhaustible sources like wind and solar. How does renewal factor into a class on African-American literature? Unfortunately, as we have seen, hate can sustain itself through self-organizing mechanisms that do recycle, but in a destructive way (white supremacy, memetic warfare, and radicalization all function according to a reifying production of hate). However, if we exchange the seed of hate for the seed of good, productions like the fractal, the organic farm, and the community art project emerge. I have found sustainability to be fundamental to the work of Ron Eglash, Leah Penniman, and our friend Steve Prince. Additionally, what each of these individuals have created reminds me of my work in other environmentally focused classes. Continue reading “Some Additional Thoughts on Sustainability and Interdisciplinary Study”

Bloodchild vs. Big Machine

 

After Friday’s class, I left with so many questions…just like the rest of you. One thing that I left with was how similar Big Machine by Victor LaValle has become to Bloodchild by Octavia Butler. When we read Bloodchild earlier this semester, I was left with so many questions about our society, and the same questions are beginning to rise in Big Machine as well. I am unsure if Octavia was an inspiration for Victor, but I would like to believe so.

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A Response to Maria Papas’ Post “What Wall Are You On?”

I admit, Maria’s post “What Wall Are You On” piqued my interest because of the mention of the words “Queer Eye.” I’m a fan of this show because I enjoy seeing the Fab Five completely transform someone else’s life, especially someone who has not been taking care of themselves. Each Queer Eye episode is fairly formulaic, with a car ride, a brief description of the subject the Fab Five is making over, the Fab Five interacting with the subject and offering their advice, a party or reunion that’s planned for the “reveal” of the transformation, and the Fab Five cheering from their couch, watching their television screens.

Since I was able to sum up Queer Eye episodes in one (albeit long) sentence, I believe I can pinpoint a beginning, middle, and an end. Perhaps a transformation breaks up the recursive patterns of low self-esteem, low confidence, and insecurity. However, can transformation effectively conveyed in a format where there is a beginning, middle, or end, admittedly an evolution? Should a transformation need certain kinds of empirical proof (such as a weight loss, a haircut, a teeth fixing, a home renovation, a new job?) in order to be valid?  Continue reading “A Response to Maria Papas’ Post “What Wall Are You On?””

For the Straight Folks

Pat Parker’s poem is geared at “straight folks” who follow a pattern of hypocrisy in relation to “gays”. Throughout the poem, she highlights events where people who identify as straight will publicize personal information while also wishing that people who identify as gay “weren’t so blatant”. As we were reading the poem aloud in class, I was nodding my head and saying to myself “this is so true”. Most of my reactions stemmed from personal experiences of either hearing someone talk about their intimate life in public or discussing how people who identify as gay are too public with their relationship. These are the reasons this poem stuck out to me because I was shocked yet excited that Parker decided to call out this type of hypocrisy. Continue reading “For the Straight Folks”

Cookbook: Part 1

The process of keeping up to date is sometimes a difficult one for me, especially regarding the blog posts for this class. Every time I have attempted to publish a post I have felt distracted by the next class lecture and/or the reading for same. There are so many elements to this course that sometimes it makes my head hurt. When I saw Prince’s work “Peace of Mind” I liked the piece at first glance that I then decided to spend some of my “free time”
with it.

Continue reading “Cookbook: Part 1”

SAY HER NAME, KNOW HER STORY

The Black Lives Matter movement campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards Black people. Looking further into many cases between police violence and the Black community, two specific cases come to mind when looking at Ross Gay’s poem, “A Small Needful Fact.” I am particularly interested in how Garner’s actions are depicted in this poem. This then brings me to analyze my understanding of the poem and how I was only able to understand its complexity because I know Eric Garner’s story, and I also know Philando Castile’s, Trayvon Martin’s and Michael Brown’s but then realize I can only name one woman of color that experienced police violence, so in respect I will SAY HER NAME, Sandra Bland.

Continue reading “SAY HER NAME, KNOW HER STORY”