My semester in this course started a lot rockier than I imagined. I recently switched my major from Business Administration to English, after enrolling into a handful of introductory courses and found my interest. The one thing that I take pride in as a student is my attendance, and being here to listen, watch, and participate in the course. One of my biggest setbacks was when I grew very ill and missed multiple class periods in a row, causing me to lag behind with the rest of the class. I was stressed, tired, and concerned about whether or not I will be able to move forward and progress my learning in the course. I seeked out my professor and needed to talk, to see what I could do to get out of this situation and steer myself back on the main road.
One of the biggest things I noticed was the amount of times I would get overwhelmed. Whether it’s reading, and I’m going too fast, or panicking about course content when I have all the material at my disposal, or not understanding something when I can work harder and find a way to understand things. I had to slow things down. An example of this type of thinking can be found in Home by Toni Morrison, where the text states, “how small, how useless was her schooling, she thought, and promised herself she would find time to read about and understand “eugenics” (Morrison, 65). This quote is perfect for summarizing my understanding of this course, as some of the content was confusing for me at the beginning, but switched my thought process and spent time and care to understand pieces of our course that were tricky for me to understand.
The issue with slowing things down was always a burden of mine, but it wasn’t until this semester that I knew I had to lock in and find those strategies to slow my thought process down and relax. When I came back to class, I had the thoughts of relaxing and slowing my thinking down, to see how I would fare in the class that day, and I found it rather successful. I had listened to my peers’ thinking, more than I did discuss and collaborate about my thoughts, as it’s not always about what I have to say; but rather, what can I learn and take away from. I kept this method of mine consistent and it translated well with my other enrolled courses.
When reflecting on the course content as a whole, we centered our focus on the corruption in the medical world, as well as racism and injustice. This can be said for every piece of literature that we’ve read, that a similar trend of corruption could be found in virtually all of the readings that we had encountered this semester. When working in groups this semester, we found that a theme of legacy was present in most of the passages, notably in Fortune’s Bones by Marilyn Nelson where we find small poems and stories that paint out the legacy of Fortune who was a slave, and was able to tell and educate the future about what he went through as a slave, with the hopes to educate the world for slavery to never happen again. “Fortune was born; he died” (Nelson, 2). The length and simplicity of this quote, can really speak 1000 words, as this quote summarizes the majority of Nelson’s writing as describes that fortune was born a slave, and his life is tarnished and ruined because of it, almost as if he died.
The concept of educating the present to change the future from the past can be said from other books we’ve read this year, one that sticks out is Harriet A. Washington’s Medical Aparthaid where we center our focus on the corrupt medical industry and utilizing black folks for scientific research, while disregarding all repercussions on basic human life. Dr. W. Montaguene Cobb…vociferously opposed abusive experimentation with blacks, but he defended Sims. ‘To refer to Anarcha and the five vesicovaginal patients whom Sims treated with her, as human guinea pigs would be grossly unfair… one of the great humanitarian as well as scientific landmarks of American surgery” (Washington 68-69). This highlights what people of different skin color underwent before basic civil rights were even thought about. This disgusting act has educated our class and those who’ve read Medical Aparthaid, and informed its audience about the brutal history of medical science and racial injustice. Just scratching the surface on the content we’ve gone over, there was a lot to really think about during this semester and I feel that a large part of my understanding and learning from this semester was formed from the process that I learned during the semester.
Going back to slowing things down, this process ultimately changed my vision of the course as a whole, and relaying back to our course epigraph, of “My job is to notice… and to notice that you can notice” from Dionne Brand I feel that this quote applies with a lot of what we covered in class this semester. Noticing something through reading, the thoughts of another class member, a theme or comparison from the literature we’ve read, or a strategy like my own, this way of thinking is so vital for a class like this as it helps you learn more about yourself, and helps your peers learn and grow as well. My peers might know the book from the back of their hand; however, if I notice something through my eyes and my peers perceive something different, this gives us an opportunity to discuss and collaborate with each other to relate and expand on each other’s thoughts.
A prime example of this can be found throughout our first collaborative essay, as the way we planned our writing was by all of us diving back into our books and pulling out quotes that we found interesting or had a clear cut message that could be significant to the creation of our essay. Our group united after we all found a plethora of significant quotes and we built off each other’s thoughts to formulate a cohesive and effective essay through the usage of each of our peers’ thoughts and ideas.
Reflecting off this quote even more, I still think this course epigraph matters despite GLOBE’s insistence of Geneseo students gaining practice through self reflection as I found that putting your thoughts onto paper and talking about how you’ve done in a course, is so vital to one’s self growth and accountability. It’s so hard to see how you’re performing without what you’ve done to achieve your goals and success. How you manage your time, how much care and thought you put into class time, and how you were able to benefit your peers’ learning and how they were able to impact yours. All these thoughts of self reflection intertwine with our epigraph so well, that it makes both subjects equally as important.
The amount of things I’ve learned in this course is an understatement. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge about racial discrimination, medical science and its negative impacts upon society, and empowering my peers, and consistent thorough reflection on my growth as a student. This has molded me into a better student and human being, and the resources I’ve created will translate well into my future moving forward.