As I considered how to go about completing this assignment I realized that I had already reflected on much of the course content in some of my blog posts. So when faced with this assignment I tried to think about parts of this course that I had considered before but not made into a blog post. From this contemplation I generated the guiding questions which frame the subsequent reflection on interdisciplinarity.
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.
I don’t plan on this blog post being very long or interesting. I just desire, and probably need, a space to reflect on my overall experience with this course. A couple of blog posts ago I detailed how I have been having trouble putting the ingredients together all semester long. In her comments on that post, Dr. McCoy politely inquired why I didn’t ask for help sooner and referenced Mary Rutigliano’s epigraph from the syllabus. Little did she know that I was working on a whole blog post attempting to address this matter that was based on Mary’s quote.
“Spirituals (also known as Negro spirituals, Spiritual music, or African-American spirituals) is a genre of songs originating in America, that were created by African Americans. Spirituals were originally an oral tradition that imparted Christian values while also describing the hardships of slavery.”
There have been many different names over the years for the genre of music known as spirituals. In addition to the names listed above, they have also been known as “sorrow” songs and “freedom” songs. I am interested in why these two adjectives, seemingly contrasting in meaning, have been used to describe the same type of music.
I’ve been pondering weather over the last couple weeks, mainly because our weather has been less than pleasant lately. In the not so distant past, humans didn’t have expansive scientific knowledge and understanding of geography, an aspect of which is the study of weather. Instead, in seeking to explain natural phenomena, past civilizations attributed these extraordinary events to the will of the gods or other supernatural beings. By the time the Abrahamic faiths rolled onto the scene, the basic default was to presume that it was God who controlled the weather. During the Middle Ages, Christianity was widespread throughout Europe along with the idea of divine providence or God’s intervention in the universe. This led to the belief that God was an omnipotent force who judged each person’s earthly deeds and respectively punished or rewarded within the mortal lifespan. An assumption was then formed that it was God’s will that the poor were poor because they were being punished for their wickedness and that the rich were rich because they were being rewarded for their piety. Thus, bad weather was a result of disfavor from God.
Recently Dr. McCoy took some time to address the class regarding the potential harm our words can have, even unintentionally, and wrote the following quote by Susan Lori Parks on the board: “Words are spells in our mouths.” This made me think in several different directions, but my mind first went to something I’ve been thinkING about for the majority of the semester. In fact, I was originally going to use the following anecdote in my first blog post, but I hadn’t really fully developed my thoughts as the situation had just occurred at the time of my first post. To quote myself from that first blog post, “Disenfranchised peoples are, to this day, at war with one another to be the most downtrodden.” I definitely still believe this to be the case, and I have still not come to any real conclusion as to why this is besides chalking it up to human error. That is, human beings, in my experience, have an innate tendency to compare one another and often assume that they have it worse than anyone else.
During her lecture, Dr. Adams showed us an image very similar to the one pictured above. It depicts what is commonly known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade. In class we discussed this image and I noticed several issues with the image that I, frankly, never really thought about for the majority of my academic career. For example, this image in particular shows a simple linear, one-sided system of trade with only three points of exchange (and it would have to struggle to be further from the reality). This blog post is by no means an expose on the public education system, but I will say that it did, for me, allow for a great degree of formal distance from the subjects my teachers were required to teach me about. That is, a few blog posts ago I wrote about apathy being too prevalent in society; well, I was definitely ignorantly apathetic. Additionally, none of my primary or secondary education teachers ever taught me so much about the American slave trade in thirteen years as Dr. Adams did in approximately one hour (nor did they make me care as much).
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”
The following are some common examples of excuses I have heard or seen for being a casual observer of racism and other discrimination: as a person who has never experienced slavery, I don’t have the emotional range to sympathize with enslaved people or even their descendants. I will never be prejudiced against in ways that they have experienced their entire lives, so how can I possibly relate? Oh, that was a long time ago. I don’t care because I don’t know… Continue reading “Looking for Empathy”
If I am to take something from this class, I hope that it will be because I have given something in return. I believe that the intended format of this course: the supporting faculty, the importance placed on discussion and collaboration, etcetera, will make this class interesting and add potential discussion time. However, currently, I cannot see what I can offer this course other than contribution to group conversation. I felt incredibly out of place when I was asked to add something to the “Urban Garden.” I am no artist myself and I was rather hoping I could get away with never having to draw. An admittance: I didn’t add anything to the community art project due to my discomfort. Continue reading “Reflecting on the Beginning”