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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!”
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?”
When I first started to write this blog post, I began with “I have been struggling…” and immediately hated how that sounded. As a student and future teacher, I have decided to never use the word “struggling” when describing work performance again. Instead, I want to say “need more support with”. The reason I say that “I need more support with” is because I believe I need more support with vocalizing myself and my ideas. This past week, we were working on a collaborative blog post and I realized that I focus way to much on the expectations of my professor and peers rather than taking the time to just speak my mind and the ideas I have. However, for the split second that I did forget about the expectations of others, I voiced my opinion and my group members built upon what I had to contribute, which is always a great feeling. Continue reading “Dealing With Expectations”