Noticing, Caring, and Understanding

To begin, I would like to start this essay by emphasizing the significance of the epigraph, “my job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice”, that we related back to throughout the course of this semester. I believe that this statement has been of importance to not just the work, readings, and writings for this class, but even more so for our classroom community. Nevertheless, turning back to the epigraph always made me stop to think and realize what the goals of this course were, what they were trying to teach me and what I have learned throughout it.

With the unpredictability of this semester, I think this course epigraph was just as important for the students’ life both in and out of the classroom, as it was for the understanding of the content presented to us within the class. To start, from my perspective, there were a lot of unexpected ups and downs throughout the semester. I believe that the attendance to this class was very important, as most of our work was done in class, and I tried my hardest to make as many as possible. However, with the many factors like injuries, sicknesses, and team events, it prevented me from having the opportunity to fully be involved within the course. 

Moreover, with the insight of the course epigraph, and focus on care in the structure of the class, it provided me with the best experience I could have had considering my circumstances. I believe several people shared similar experiences, and also appreciated the amount of care, and the ability to notice these struggles throughout the year. The fact that Professor McCoy was able to notice and care for her students how she did, and how the students were also able to notice her care and make up for it in multiple ways, was something that really astonished me throughout the semester. Never have I had a professor or teacher care and take the time to notice and much as Professor McCoy, and relating back to the course epigraph, I think the students were really able to realize and notice her efforts to accommodate us. In the end, I feel like although initially some decisions may have felt like they impacted the quality of our time in class negatively, I think that taking the effort to step back and notice the situations of some students ended up being of beneficence to our classroom community as a whole. Many of these decisions, I believe, actually made us students work much more effectively and intuitively, compared to if we were rushed or forced to complete assignments through difficult times, or periods of illness.

To continue, going back to noticing the actual content of the course, one idea that has really stood out to me and really stuck with me was Heng’s definition of racism, “In the attempt to suggest how we might rethink the past, I should therefore begin with a modest, stripped-down working hypothesis: that “race” is one of the primary names we have – a name we retain for the strategic, epistemological, and political commitments it recognizes – attached to a repeating tendency, of the gravest import, to demarcate human beings through differences among humans that are selectively essentialized as absolute and fundamental, in order to distribute positions and powers differentially to human groups. Race-making thus operates as specific historical occasions in which strategic essentialisms are posited and assigned through a variety of practices and pressures, so as to construct a hierarchy of peoples for differential treatment. My understanding, thus, is that race is a structural relationship for the articulation and management of human differences, rather than a substantive ​content”. This definition brought light to me on the fact that race is a built in social construct, that basically just systematically separates individuals of different backgrounds. Throughout almost all of the readings I was able to notice how this definition was significant to my understanding of the racism present within them. I noticed I was able to relate back to it as I read, and it became one of my main focal points to connect back to within group discussions.  With that being said, I think our group collaborations enhanced our ability to really comprehend the content provided to us within our readings and elaborate on the true meaning of these stories. In all, I feel that this course, the epigraph, the content,  and the ability to notice and care throughout the semester greatly strengthened my overall understanding of others, along with several other students in the class.

Marissa Volk, McCoy- ENGL 101

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