Just Another Number

When thinking about the housing crisis in 2008, I think about how inhumane and insensitive we must have become as a human race in order to get to the point that it came to. The housing market crash is directly related to greed, naivety and ignorance- all connected to the nature of humanity. Families were viewed as another number in the crisis. Their humanity was stripped away from them, and their displacement was not thought about for too long, as long as the top 1% were benefiting from the rest of the worlds pain and misfortune. After reading A Mercy by Toni Morrison, which was “coincidently” published in 2008, I notice the same kind of ignorance within the characters and their inability to see other humans as a whole rather than another number in the world. Just like the housing crisis, A Mercy highlights the pain many of the characters endure, however they lack the tools to fully understand why this pain is occurring and where the pain is derived from. The lack of tools to interpret each other has functioned as a way to expel people from the places that they once called home, whether it is literally or figuratively.

In this beginning of the semester, we watched a film in my “Expulsion and the Housing Crisis” course called The Old Man and the Storm. In this film, we became connected to Gettridge, an 82 year old man in New Orleans, and his family. This family was devastatingly affected by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, causing his children and grandchildren to be displaced and his wife taken away and put in a nursing home. For years, Gettridge worked hard to rebuild his home and bring his family back. According to Season 2009: Episode 5 in the Frontline, “The moving personal story of Mr. Gettridge and his family reveals the human cost of this tragedy, the continued inadequacies of government’s response in the aftermath of Katrina, and how race, class, and politics have affected the attempts to rebuild this American city”. Gettridge expresses how he received little to no financial assistance from the government to rebuild his home, which should have been enough for him to pack up his stuff to move out. However, Gettridge is resilient and refused to be another number to the government and their lack of tools to see him as an actual human being.

Just like Gettridge in The Old Man and the Storm, we see the same inability in the characters of A Mercy to view each other as human beings. We become aware of the forces that allow them to easily expel each other from the places they call home. For instance, Lina is unable to see Sorrow for more than what she appears to be; quiet, inadequate, and evil. Lina does not hold back on how she views Sorrow; “In Sorrow’s presence, eggs would not allow themselves to be beaten into foam, nor did butter lighten cake batter. Lina was sure the early deaths of Mistress’ sons could be placed at the feet of the natural curse that was Sorrow” (Morrison, pg. 65). Lina doesn’t have the tools and compassion to see past her appearance and her name. However, I am unsure if Lina has no desire to comprehend Sorrow, or I should say Complete, on a deeper level or she physically lacks the tools to be able to do so. Whether she has the tools and chooses not to use them, or doesn’t have the tools accessible to her, she is still engulfed with the same naivety and ignorance as the CEOS during the Housing Crisis. Not only is Complete expelled from her home on the boat due to a storm, but she is expelled from her new home with the Vaark’s due to Lina’s inability to comprehend her and see her more than just another number on the farm.

When deeply analyzing the actions of other beings, we can be quick to say, “oh, that’s just human nature”. Throughout this blog post, I keep asking myself, why? Why is it important to understand the actions of others? Well, for a starter, it is important to understand each others actions because it allows us to understand what they don’t know. For instance, can we truly judge Lina for being so cautious around Complete, if she doesn’t know her whole story? (I’d like to point out, I am purposefully referring to her as Complete and not Sorrow because it is the name she gave herself, and one’s identity shouldn’t be given to them by someone else). I personally don’t think we should be judging Lina per se, but we should be hoping that Complete can have the patience to open Lina’s eyes to a new perspective and world, and hope that Lina can learn to see her as a whole human being, not just what she wants her to see. The same thing can be applied to the housing crisis. Can we truly judge the CEO’S and upper class for being so ignorant during a crisis, if all they’ve ever known was ignorance? Instead of falling into the human nature of judging, we should be hoping that someone can open their eyes to a new perspective, and that these individuals are full human beings, with real hardships, emotions, and blessings. It should be mutual. We should be trying to understand, comprehend and learn from each other, instead of trying to label each other off of what we know and not trying to understand what we don’t know. Instead of focusing on the tools and knowledge that we lack, we should be focusing on ways to better ourselves and understanding each other on a deeper level. If we don’t give each other this opportunity, we will all stay as a number, be forced out of our home. We all have a story to tell, we just need to use the tools we have accessible to us to listen and learn.

After I submitted my post, I continued on with my quarantine routine, which looks a lot like many of yours probably. Homework, tv, self-care, laying in bed, and calling family members. When on the phone with a cousin of mine, we discussed what was going on around our world. Unfortunately, a close friend of hers past away due to COVID-19. Together, we walked through her emotions. Im sure a lot of people are feeling the same away about a lost one due to COVID-19, that their loved ones passing feels disconnected, cold and too soon as you’re unable to mourn the proper way. As I tried my best to comfort and console her, I realized that I found myself talking about numbers. It feels like your loved one is just another statistic, another COVID-19 victim. They are no longer identified as someones friend, mother, father, brother, sibling or spouse, but “someone else to add to the data”. I found myself thinking about the World War Victims and 9/11 victims and how the news lacked the tools to comprehend that each one of these numbers is a full human being with a story to tell. These forces expel them from their home base and identity causing them to be seen as half of their full self. Lets not let ourselves get caught in this trap. Lets not watch the news and here a statistic and think of it as another number. Take the time to really understand the depth of that number, and pray that for every person who gets added to the disconnected list, may their memory be eternal.

The Importance of a Narrative

Ever since I was a young girl, I was infatuated with storytelling. I’d beg my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, anyone who I deemed as “old and wise” to tell me a story, a true story. I think the thing that I always searched for in these stories was some type of emotion I didn’t fully understand yet. I would ask my parents, on a smaller scale, how 9/11 impacted them, and at a larger scale, how it impacted their community. This community started at the neighborhood, stretched to their workplaces and dove even further at a nationwide scale. I would ask my grandparents how they individually felt during the Vietnam war and World War 2, and how their community as they knew it changed. I would focus on the emotions in their voice as I asked them to reflect on a really scary time in their lives. A time where they couldn’t see the future and didn’t know how the story would end. I can’t explain it, but there was some part of me as a young girl that was jealous of their experience with pain, loss and uncertainty. I felt as though it gave them depth, caused them to see the world a little differently than my innocent self could. Now, as a young adult, I am beginning to understand the pain they went through, and I regret the jealousy I felt towards them. As a junior in college, I have been asked to undergo an unforeseeable and uncontrollable change due to the global COVID-19 that is traveling faster than the thoughts in my head as I am writing this blog. I am beginning a narrative that I never saw coming, where I was asked to cut my semester short and move back to Long Island with my parents. Where I was asked to leave my friends without a proper goodbye, friends I may never see again. Where I was asked to end my Ultimate Frisbee season before it has even begun, not knowing my last tournament with my team would have been the last. I did not consent to this change. Please excuse my french, but so much shit has hit the fan in the past 4-5 days that I am not really sure if this blog will answer the prompt I was given, but at least my thoughts are on paper (or on your computer screen) and I am connecting with my readers.

Now that my rant (for now) is over, I will attempt to connect what our world is enduring with our class content. In 2008, The United States experienced a housing crisis that asked families to undergo a change that was unforeseeable. Families lost their houses, they were displaced, and lost so much of their lives in the matter of seconds. I was too young to remember what our country went through, what my parents went through, and the pain that they felt. I am now understanding this pain and this uncertainty, and I hope and pray to God that my children and my children’s children never feel this pain. As a class, we were asked to read The Big Short by Michael Lewis and The Turner House by Angela Flournoy. They both tell their reader a narrative of the same story, and I believe that The Turner House sheds light on what was missing from The Big Short. I believe that they work together to fill in the missing puzzle pieces to a narrative that affected so many people’s lives.

After reading my classmate Kaitlyn Papaccio’s blog “Liquidity of Narratives”, she helped me wrap my head around how these two works of literature work together to create a single story. Kaitlyn wrote, “With both narratives working side by side we can see how these narratives are quite similar, despite their scale and it is arguable that without the pairing of these two narratives a well-rounded perspective of the crisis is lost”. I completely agree with Kaitlyn’s statement and will build off of our agreed claim. In class, we agreed that The Big Short was a difficult read due to the lack of prior knowledge on the Housing Crisis and the terminology that went into it. Lewis threw terms at the reader such as “liquidation” and “credit laundering” (pg. 141) that required me to constantly stop reading and start defining. As a class, we compared it to reading a text book that provided the stone cold facts of the 2008 crisis. In fact, I was one of the many that watched the film in order to feel some type of emotional connection. However, I will say that without reading this narrative before reading The Turner House, my personal narrative would be very different. In The Big Short, I was given the cold truth of what went down behind the scenes. We then read a narrative that told us an emotional story of how individuals were affected by the Housing Crisis, and it all seemed to come together. The Turner House makes The Big Short seem more real and more emotional than what Michael Lewis portrays it to be. However, I do think it is important that Lewis wrote a narrative in this textbook style because there is no sugarcoating or dramatizing the events and experiences of those affected. It is important because there is no bias to the words written on the page and Lewis understands that every individual was impacted differently.

After re-reading what I have so far, I see that I am writing backwards as to what the prompt asks, ” Does The Turner House shed light on what was missing from The Big Short‘s story telling? If so, how? If not, how not? So what? Who cares? “. I need to slow down. I think I am saying that The Big Short sheds light on The Turner House, and there is something so interesting about that because it was not intended and it was unforeseeable. I want to say that they shed light on each other and it is not a one way street. We need both a story that is unbiased and gives the facts and a story that tells an emotional rollercoaster of individuals impacted by these events. We need both because as a reader who does not remember the Housing Crisis taking place, I want to know WHY these events happened (through The Big Short) and I need to now HOW these events impacted families (Through The Turner House).

Angela Flournoy’s work makes the events that happen in The Big Short seem more real. She manages to show the reader how families were impacted financially, physically and mentally. In my opinion, The Big Short lacks or downplays the physical and mental components and focuses mainly on the financial aspects that were impacted. In this way, The Turner House sheds a light on the missing puzzle pieces to the narrative. Flournoy talks about really deep things such as addiction and the struggle with sobriety. The 2008 Housing Crisis caused many people to fall into old habits and self sabotaging routines that affected their lives and their families greatly. These two works of literature allow us to create a deeper understanding of a single event that can’t be told by one perspective or point of view.

When I was first learning about the world wars, it was from personal accounts from family members that were filled with emotion and personal perspectives. I then relearned the world wars in grade school and high school. I tried to keep my grandparents stories separate from the text books stories and my teachers stories. I finally realized that that was impossible. Instead of forcing ourselves to separate these narratives, we should combine them to create a story filled with facts and personal events and emotions. Through The Big Short, we have the data and the statistics. Through The Turner House, we have the emotions and the personal accounts. Together, we have a beautiful narrative that includes truth, pain, and uncertainty. Something that our world is going through right now and something that we will once again come out of stronger than ever before.

History Repeats Itself

In my Expulsion and the Housing Crisis Course, Dr. McCoy asked our class to play close attention to certain terms while reading, watching, and listening to Shakespeare’s King Lear. These terms are liquid(ity) and swap(ping) and how they do or don’t engage with the concept of expulsion in the play.

After reading, listening, and watching to King Lear in its entirety, the plot reminded me of a show on Netflix that I recently watched, Son’s of Anarchy. *Spoiler Alert*. In Son’s of Anarchy, all the characters in the end of the show all die due to hatred, corruptness, bribery, and ultimately expulsion. According to Merriam Webster, expulsion means “the act of expelling the state of being expelled”. Basically, it is the act of denying someone membership or a sense of belonging into a group or organization. In Son’s of Anarchy, there were a lot of viewers who expressed their disappointment and unsatisfied emotions at the end of the show. We discussed in class how King Lear left us unsatisfied by killing a majority of the cast. This has made me realize how Shakespeare’s work is seen in so many modern films and literature and it represents how concepts like liquidity, swapping and expulsion repeats itself.

I will first begin by discussing how liquid(ity) is seen in King Lear and how it correlates with expulsion. Other than thinking of liquidity as flowing freely like water, Investopedia defines it using a financial lens; “Liquidity describes the degree to which an asset or security can be quickly bought or sold in the market at a price reflecting its intrinsic value”. Basically, liquidity discusses how one can distribute money among their assets. In King Lear, Lear distributes his land to his three daughters, Cordelia (the youngest of the daughters), Goneril (the ruthless older daughter), and Regan (the middle daughter). In exchange of this liquidity, King Lear requests his daughters to tell the room how much they love their father- the one who speaks the best will receive the biggest portion of the kingdom. When reading Olivia Davis’ The Endless Shifts of Power, Olivia discusses how in Act 1 Scene 1, Cordelia tells her father, “Unhappy as I am, I cannot heave my heart into my mouth”. Here, Cordelia refuses to succumb to her fathers request which leads the her being expelled from the family dynamic and receives none of the assets.

To get a better sense of liquidity, I will now discuss how this concept repeats itself in Son’s of Anarchy as well. In this Netflix show, the main character Jax Teller eventually marries an outsider of the biker gang, Dr. Tara Knowles. In the beginning of the show, Tara is notorious for not succumbing to the requests of the gang and refusing their offers and assets. Even though Tara and Jax are in a relationship, they refuse her membership in the gang leading to her expulsion. We clearly see how denying liquidity will lead to that individual being expelled from the community.

Swapping is another term and concept seen throughout King Lear. In class, we discussed that swapping means “taking part in exchange of/ borrowing”. According to Merriam Webster, swap is defined as “an act, instance, or process of exchanging one thing for another”. We see this concept of swapping in King Lear when Lear gives his power over the kingdom to his daughters in exchange for love and gratitude. However, as we know, Cordelia refuses this power which leads to her expulsion over the kingdom and in her father’s heart. To stay consistent, I will like to give my readers another example of swapping represented in Son’s of Anarchy. Within the show, we constantly see an exchange of power within the biker gang and how it creates chaos in the gang dynamic. There are points in the show where Clay, Jax Teller’s step father, refuses to swap his power over to Jax, who should be the leader due to the death of his birth father. Eventually, this leads to Jax being expelled from the gang a variety of times because he refuses to succumb to Clay’s leadership creating chaos in the gang.

It is very interesting to see how Shakespeare’s work of literature has played a role in a variety of modern films and literature. Concepts like liquidity, swapping, and expulsion can be taken literally or figuratively, but they drive the plot of any story or film. The most interesting thing about Shakespeare’s ideas manifesting itself into modern works is how we can easily predict the ending, yet are always surprised, disappointed and left unsatisfied.

Use Your Voice…It Matters

This semester, I truly feel as though I have grown as a student and an overall member of society. Professor McCoy’s class is more than what the course description says. We read the incredible works of African-American Literature and by using these works McCoy teaches us how to be better and humane citizens, urging us to use our voice, be activists and stand up for what we think is right. By having us write blog posts, McCoy has given us the opportunity to have a voice, spread awareness, call out issues in society, and demonstrate our thought processes and respond to each other’s deeper questions. This class has lit a spark inside me and set me on a new path, a path where my voice and language is the most powerful tool I have.

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Faith and Doubt

Growing up in a Greek Orthodox home, religion was and has been a huge part of my life. We did the typical things you would expect of a religious family; go to church every Sunday followed by a brunch with the family,  pray at night, take communion, kiss the icons and drink holy water. I was never encouraged to ask questions, I just did it all. However, like every middle school adolescent, we are built to ask questions about everything. Thankfully, my parents let me ask these questions but never really provided me with answers; now I know it’s because there really aren’t answers, just faith. At 20 years old, my religion is still a huge part of my identity- although I’d like to stress that it isn’t my only identity. It has and always will bring me a sense of comfort, safety and remind me of home. Although I consider religion to be an important part of my life, questions have and always will circulate.

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How Do Institutions Fail You?

Throughout the semester, we talked about how institutions fail us, whether it is related to academia or something on a larger scale. This concept came up again on Friday as we were discussing as a group what our favorite quote from Big Machine was. Personally, I had said that my favorite quote was “AND YET, no matter how earthshaking a moment is, there’s that minute right afterward when you return to the unconcerned world” (page 246). The reason I had chosen this quote was that as a college student, my world can feel like its collapsing with every poor grade, overcommitment, and constant pressure to succeed. However, things always seem to pan out, and if it doesn’t, life isn’t over and we return to reality….failure is inevitable and we must keep moving forward. As we went around the seminar circle I formed a liking for a quote that Courtney Statt had delivered to the class as her favorite from Big Machine, “The dread you feel when institutions fail you” (page 290). I fell in love with this quote at that moment, it was like love at first sight. I began to think about our discussion earlier this semester when we discussed how much we trust our institution to take care of us, and I decided to turn to my peers for more input on this discussion.

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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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What Wall Are You On?

Leaving home and being forced to play the game of college, I have noticed a lot about my peers and the campus as a whole. The other day, I was having a friendly discussion about the role media plays on our lives; it shapes us to be the perfect mold society wants us to be, based on a course available here, Comn 215, Mass Media and Society. Not only are our physical appearances molded, but our attitudes, actions, and reactions are shaped. I personally think I as an individual am being shaped by media, no matter how hard I resist it. A simple example: I watch HGTV a lot… like I am obsessed with it. More recently, I have been watching Queer Eye– if you don’t know what this show is, hit up Netflix after reading my blog post. Basically, Queer Eye is meant to teach an individual how to present themselves, how to become a member of society, how to design their home, and how to have a healthy lifestyle. Personally, these shows have shown me how to design my home, and of course, I listen because it seems to be the “best” way out there. Although Queer Eye is a positive way to get someone who is essentially “lost in life” back on the right track, they are pushing social norms onto them. They are telling the individual what is appropriate to fit into society, while also telling them to be their “true self”. How is someone supposed to be made over from the inside out, and still expected to be themselves? The individuals on the show are essentially being altered to fit into society instead of being an outcast, but at the same time, they are building their self-confidence and overall feeling of self-worth, which is definitely a positive. Where is the line of building self-confidence but changing who you are to be more accepted? They push the individual to be their “true self” but change everything about them to fit in. I haven’t truly figured it out yet…not sure if I ever will…

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Bam! Distracted!

As I approach the end of the semester, I feel myself becoming overwhelmed with all the things we have due. As the sun comes out and the warmth surrounds us, it is so difficult to stay focused and push through. Today in McCoy’s class, we briefly discussed all the outside forces that can distract us and cause us to procrastinate. I thought this was interesting because distractions and disturbances surrounded us throughout the class, and I was paying careful attention to them. Continue reading “Bam! Distracted!”

Half Glass Full…or Half Glass Empty?

The concept of recursion has been an ongoing theme in Dr. McCoy’s class. We are consistently going back, cross checking, and returning from where we came from. The first couple weeks of this class, I truly didn’t understand this process. I would say to myself, “Ok, never going to read that again”. However, I did not appreciate the work as much as I should have, and the more I return to our earlier work from the beginning of the semester, the more questions I have and want to be answered.

Sitting in my Foundations of Creative Writing class this past week, we were engaged in a class workshop where we critique each others work. One of my classmates wrote a poem about war and toyed with the word “creature”, ” The townspeople cry up to the metal creatures of the sky”, comparing airplanes in war as these “metal creatures of death”. Instantly, this word brought be back, almost like a “That’s So Raven” moment. I found myself sitting in McCoy’s class again, sweating from the over heated Welles room, watching the snowflakes fall, dreading having to walk in the cold. I started to remember our class discussion of creatures in “Bloodchild”, the power-hungry “creatures”….or are they? I eventually tuned back into class but went straight to our blog posts, digging for Toby’s post, “What Makes a Creature?”. I remember reading it and thinking “Ok, cool”, unaware that his post would inspire me months later. Recursion is real! Continue reading “Half Glass Full…or Half Glass Empty?”