The course epigraph is as follows, “My job is to notice…and to notice that you can notice,” a quote by Dionne Brand. As someone who grew up in an area that by some would be considered “ghetto”, a place that is a lot less fortunate then some, I’m always aware. I notice small things more than the big picture. I notice when someone cuts their hair a few inches or a difference in attitude and body language. Though, in this class, I lacked my noticing skills, and genuinely struggled on noticing things. Not only with noticing, I struggled with creating ideas of my own and being descriptive and thorough.
Going back to when I first visited Geneseo, I was oddly skeptical. The environment just felt different to me as I was completely unaware of my surroundings again, on this 3-college visits in a 2-day trip. When I stepped into Doty Hall and was greeted by the tour group leaders, and a few other secretaries, etc., it felt …right. I was nervous to come here, that’s for sure. I am a first-generation college student and was scared for what my future held for me. The atmosphere at Geneseo is overwhelmingly positive and offers a variety of opportunities and access to what I may need to succeed. Looking back at my first semester I would say that college is just …hard. Though hard is a simple word that to me carries a significant meaning. I can recall times in the past semester where I had almost given up and frequently said, “This class is too hard,” and “I don’t get this, it’s too hard”. I did struggle here, that I will admit. 3 months seems like a short amount of time but, there has been exceptional growth for me. Not only as a writer, but also as a person. This English 101, “Literature, Medicine, and Racism” course Dr McCoy teaches has exposed me to a world I have never seen. I have learned the different struggles and battles different kinds of people have had to go through for succession.
In a few short sentences the book Clay’s Ark is about a disease, a deadly parasite to be exact. It is trying to occupy and take over the population. Eli, the first one infected by the parasite, is being compelled to infect others when he returns from his space travel. Blake and his two daughters, Rane and Keira are all eventually infected and try to escape. A moment that stands out to me is, “It occurred to her as she headed for the steep incline that she could be killed. The thought did not slow her. Either way, the stick people would not tie her down again.” (pg. 539) I interpret this as not being afraid. Not being afraid to die, or in my case fail, because she would not allow the stick people to tie her down, and for me to now allow my thoughts to bring me down either. I am a person who often will beat themselves down with words. As I’ve learned, there’s a lot more meaning, and that is why I’m affected by them so much. Words are special and can make someone happy, sad, or even angry. I learned the power behind them in a discussion we had in class regarding Fortune’s Bones. In class, we discussed the African Burial Ground, and those who were buried are left nameless as their bodies are too far gone to be identified. For obvious ethical reasons, this affected me emotionally. Their name is their identity. Their name is what defines them. To not have that, leaves them almost as nothing though they are still people. I often wondered, how did this even begin? Had they consented?
Consent is a broad topic that has encased our class. We have spoken countless times about consent and the different areas that surround it. Prior to this class, I was unaware of the different meanings behind it, and how influential that word is. Looking back at another book we have read, Medical Apartheid, there are times in history, that are often never taught, were African Americans are treated horrendously and are not given the chance to consent. The Tuskegee Syphilis Study had promised, “free medical care to about six hundred sick, desperately poor sharecroppers…” (pg. 157) Though, that never happened. Rather than being treated, all the men were studied, “found a pool of infected black men, [held] treatment from them, and then charting the progression of symptoms and disorders” (Pg. 157). This study left me astonished as I had never heard about it prior to reading Medical Apartheid. Unfortunately, I feel schools lack in exposure to topics that may be hard to listen to and understand. But, it is all important and valuable knowledge to those it effects, and those it doesn’t.
As I end this class, I notice how I’ve grown. I notice how more efficiently I try and understand concepts and ideas about others’ through means of communication. I’m more aware. More aware of the impact my words have on others. I am powerful, in thought, in speech, and in my script.