Art versus Artifact

Having a double major in English Literature and Art History, I have noticed a clear lack of representation of African or African American art and literature unless it is being appropriated by European culture or being specifically studied strictly for the Blackness of the author or artist.  I have noticed that there is a definite separation between what many of us, as Westerners, consider to be art and what we consider to be artifacts.  I feel as though the course epigraph by Toni Morrison,  “Black literature is taught as sociology, as tolerance, not as a serious, rigorous art form,” truly appears to be true in European and American culture.  This realization has inspired me to set a goal for myself of trying to breakdown this concept and appreciate the art and literature rather than appropriating it into an assumption I make about intent.

Continue reading “Art versus Artifact”

Social Climate Change and the Xenogenisis Trilogy

After my research abroad on the concept of social climate change over the summer in Dakar, Senegal, I find it difficult to not relate climate change back to almost all things I learn about.  Social climate change explains how the changing climate affects the way people interact with each other, themselves and their surroundings.  A war is referenced several times during both Dawn and Adulthood Rites as the reason their planet was destroyed.  This leads me to wonder the immensity that humans will go to, to ruin their environment and each other. Continue reading “Social Climate Change and the Xenogenisis Trilogy”

Ageism and Fashion

After discussing the issues of ageism that Butler brings to light through Shori’s relationship through Theodora, I began to think more about the connotation that older women have in our society.  This reminded me of a piece that I wrote for Syracuse University Project Advance (SUPA) while in high school, in which a blog brings and binds together women of the senior set through their passions that are often overlooked due to their age.  The blog, Advanced Style (http://www.advanced.style) helps create a platform and discourse in which older women have a comfortable environment to express themselves without limits on their age.  I figured I would share my paper on this blog, as to give some insight and thought into our society’s concept of fashion and aging.  Please keep in mind that this was a piece written in high school that I have not touched since.  Continue reading “Ageism and Fashion”

Ownership and Consent

As a college student in particular, I feel like it is so important to understand the concept of consent.  I feel as though I have been put in many situations where my consent is something that I turn to knowing that I have a right to accept or decline a situation.  However, reading Octavia Butler’s, Fledgling, I have found myself struggling to accept the way in which consent works in the world of the Ina.  Keeping Clay’s Ark in mind, I have to remember that the Ina are not human, therefore their needs in terms of consent are different than those of humans.  Knowing that they need to feed off of humans to survive has been something I learned to keep in mind and accept, yet I realize that Octavia Butler is pushing me beyond my limits of what I am comfortable with. Continue reading “Ownership and Consent”

Consent and Children with Disabilities

After our a group of students brought up the idea of children’s right to consent during our class discussion, I have been giving a lot of thought to children’s rights to consent in the classroom, specifically those with disabilities.  Over the summer I work at the Lincoln Elementary Summer School Program as a teacher’s aide.  This program is specifically set up for special needs children in the Scotia – Glenville public school district who would show retention in their learning unless they were to continue their learning throughout the summer.  During the school year, my mother teaches at Lincoln Elementary as a speech and language pathologist  and works with the same children I work with over the summer.  I was speaking with my mother after class on September, 15th and I found it very eye-opening how some teacher’s view the consent of children.

According to my mother, the concept of consent is not only a big issue in colleges, but also in elementary schools.  An example given to me was that, often time when a child says something to hurt another child’s feelings a teacher will step in and force one student to apologize to another.  My mom described to me how she believes that teacher’s need to recognize the difference between saying, “Go tell Susie that you are sorry!” and, “Look at how Susie feels.  If you feel comfortable, it might be nice to apologize to her.”  I agree that this issue is very important.  Why should teachers have the right to dictate students emotions by forcing them to apologize when Carlos might damn well not be sorry that he told Susie he didn’t like her lunch box?

This past summer, I worked as a one on one aide for a first grader with cerebral palsy.  For the sake of this story I will call her Rachel to protect her privacy since I was not given consent by her or her parents to use her real name.  Rachel is not her name.  My job required me to help Rachel in the bathroom, help her in and out of her wheelchair, guide her when using a pencil, help her stretch her feet and aide her in moving to the carpet.  Much of the time Rachel would get frustrated and yell out, “let me do it!” when I needed to help her.  Seeing her other friends in the classroom being more independent with their movements and bodies was always difficult for her, as she made it clear that she wanted to complete these simple tasks on her own.  This was very difficult for me to grasp because I knew she was not offering consent for me to help her, but for her own safety, I needed to continue to touch her or help her in a way that she was rejecting me from.  After discussing this with my mother, I learned that she often struggles with these same issues during her job everyday.  She says that the safety of the children is most important regardless of their comfort level.  My mother said that she often has conversations with Rachel explaining why she has to do what she does, and apologizes for any discomfort it causes her.

This discussion really led me to think about who has the right to consent for young people?  Should they only  be able to connect for themselves or should a trusted adult be able to consent for them, specifically in a classroom setting?

A story of slavery? “It isn’t.”

As a white woman living in 2017, it is very difficult for me to say that I have an understanding or a grasp on the concept of slavery.  I admit whole heartedly that I am unable to fully understand this topic to all of its depths and in no way have experiences with race issues close to that of Octavia Butler’s.  This being said, I do not want to come across as the privileged, white girl who cried slavery. I do not question her motives for her story, Bloodchild, yet, as a reader, my mind immediately approached the realm of the concept slavery when reading her story.

I am unable to say if my mind would jump to the issue of slavery when reading this, had it not been for my brief knowledge of who Octavia Butler is and my experiences studying abroad this summer in Senegal while spending large portion of our course work focusing on issues of slavery.  This story particularly struck me as embodying issues of slavery on page 25; “The animals once began killing most of our eggs after implantation long before your ancestors arrived.  You know these things, Gan.  Because your people arrived, we are relearning what it means to be healthy thriving people.  And your ancestors, fleeing from their home-world, from their own kind who would have killed or enslaved them – they survived because of us. We saw them as people and gave them the Preserve when they still tried to kill us as worms (Butler, 25).”  To me, this brings up the question, what does it mean to be a slave?

Reading this story of humans who migrated to this new place to settle, only to be surprised the planet was inhabited by a different species almost reminds me of a sort of reverse situation of the Europeans coming to the “New World” (America) for the first time.  We all know the story of how the Native Americans were treated like savages in their own land.  I find this similar to Butler’s work because in both cases acts of hatred and war broke out.  Similar to Butler’s story, there was a major issue with race between the Europeans and the Native Americans.  Much of this has to do with the visual that we discussed in class.  Exploring this text allowed me to realize that a lot of fear and hatred stems from foreign visuals.

In my beliefs, slavery can be seen in this story when the humans first came to the Tilc’s planet and they were restrained, imprisoned and forced to mate with each other; “still tried to kill us as worms” (Butler, 25).  One could think that slavery can be seen when one does not have the ability to make decisions about their own body.  Although Ghan agrees to carry and host a Tilc child, he is ultimately unaware of the violence of the birth and the arrangement that happened years before he was born stating that the humans would carry the Tilc’s children.  Due to this happening years ago, Ghan technically had no say in this.  Does that mean that it was actually his choice?   Additionally, the eggs given to the Terran have an intoxicating impact, much like that of drugs.  To me, this raises the question of if they are fulling aware of the decisions they make because they are under this drug like trance.