A New Curve

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ReflectING is a very difficult thing to do because we are often given the task to write about almost anything but ourselves. So when we are given the opportunity to reflect, we tend to have a difficult time doing so. After figuring out what I wanted to discuss in my reflection, I want to share one of my many flaws that I came to notice in this process. I doubt myself a lot. I doubt my ability to do what I have already done. Struggling to trust my own instincts, I often find myself asking others for their approval on my work which is not always a bad thing, unless you are by yourself and believe that your work is not worthy which is what happens most of the time for me. And although I have taken the first step in noticing, what do I do now? I reflect! Continue reading “A New Curve”

Learning How To Blog

Originally, I wanted to dedicate my last blog post to one of the lectures I attended this semester. However, I started thinking about my first blog and how different it is from the rest that I have posted so far. In this last blog post, I will discuss my experience as a first-time blogger.

Writing my first blog post was very difficult for me. One of the major things that made it a difficult experience was my perception of blogging. Before, blogging appeared to me as some sort of area for what many consider to be “free writing.” So when I was given the task to write 10 blogs I knew I was going to have the same experience I did in high school when I had to free write; I was going to be horrible at it. And my first blog post did not tell me anything different. However, the style was just as I intended, Dr. McCoy described it as “open and conversational and thus eminently suitable for a blog post.” So when I received the grade I did I then wondered where did I go wrong? Dr. McCoy’s response to this question was that I needed to “SLOW DOWN” or as she says in class, “now unpack.” I then thought to myself how it was possible to have my writing be conversational but to also unpack its content.

After receiving Dr. McCoy’s advice, I decided to take a risk by writing my third blog post in a more academic tone. I reminded myself of what a typical essay consists of:

  1. Introduction
  2. Topic sentences
  3. Analysis
  4. Conclusion

Now how would I include all these things in my blog post and keep it conversational? I knew my AP Literature professor told me that a good essay has both quotes and analysis threaded throughout a paragraph. So I figured that the best way to have a conversational blog post and still be able to unpack was to thread the conversational and academic aspect throughout my blog posts. Therefore, I would be fulfilling both parts rather than having to choose one.

I think there is more to learn as I continue to blog. I now know how to intertwine both the conversational and academic parts the I was missing. I am eager to continue blogging!

Jump In!

Oh, how we love to listen but not have others know we are listening. Hey, we all do it sometimes, but why?

Growing up in New York City I was fortunate enough to be a short train ride away from many plays on Broadway. Interestingly enough, I never read a play until I stopped watching plays. Before I read A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, I had gone to Broadway about 3 times where I had the opportunity to experience Matilda, BRING IT ON, and The Christmas Spectacular. And while there is a big difference between reading and watching a play, we seem to have the same role each time: the fly on the wall.

Thinking about a discussion we had in class in regards to Suzan-Lori Parks, The America Play, where we discuss the fly on the wall and “the splat“. For those who are unsure, the fly on the wall refers to when one would like to hear what will be said, or see what will happen while not being noticed. So as the audience we tend to be the fly on the wall. However, imagine sitting through a play and during an act, one of the actors looks at you straight in the eyes. As the audience we are sure our role is to stay as an audience member and not interact with the actors, or “the splat” (being caught, interacting with the actors) happens.

One other way to look at this is to that of being on a glassboat; it allows you to watch the sea creatures below you without having to get into the water. While looking at this in terms of plays i think we as passengers do not want the sea creatures to notice us. However, are we not invading their space? We are watching them, tracking  their moves, and we somehow expect them to not notice?

Considering other scenarios where we can be a passenger and others are the sea creatures can be those in which those who are not oppressed view the oppressed. For example, there may be a group of White people sitting on a glass boat. They observe how the Black community is being oppressed, but how can the Black community communicate that with them with the boat in the way. Of course, it is important to recognize these problems (being able to see them through the glass) but that is not enough. Why can we not simply submerge ourselves in the water and see the problem in order to get an actual sense of what it is rather than just getting the surface view of the problem. We do not enjoy being caught. We know that the big shark (oppression) is coming for the fish (Black community) so we rather tell ourselves, “Yes, there is a problem” but now what?

I know it might be scary to jump out of the boat or to  be the fly on the wall. But the risk is still there whether you jump in the water or you do not. Look under your feet, the shark is there.

 

Tell your story. Or they will tell it for you, and it will not be the right one.

*Warning: This blog post contains strong language

After reading Emily Tsoi’s blog post “The Necessity for Diversity in Children’s Literature,”  I was reminded of a conversation I had with my AP Literature teacher during Spring break.

Continue reading “Tell your story. Or they will tell it for you, and it will not be the right one.”

SAY HER NAME, KNOW HER STORY

The Black Lives Matter movement campaigns against violence and systemic racism towards Black people. Looking further into many cases between police violence and the Black community, two specific cases come to mind when looking at Ross Gay’s poem, “A Small Needful Fact.” I am particularly interested in how Garner’s actions are depicted in this poem. This then brings me to analyze my understanding of the poem and how I was only able to understand its complexity because I know Eric Garner’s story, and I also know Philando Castile’s, Trayvon Martin’s and Michael Brown’s but then realize I can only name one woman of color that experienced police violence, so in respect I will SAY HER NAME, Sandra Bland.

Continue reading “SAY HER NAME, KNOW HER STORY”

In Darkness of Recent Events

Like most lazy Sundays I spent time on my phone scrolling through Snapchat. To my surprise, the content was different from what I tend to see on a regular day basis which consists of selfies and video recordings of friends. There was a snapshot of where a girl by the name “Maddie” posts a picture of her or someone else wearing a face mask saying “Black face and sunsets with my bae” then followed by a “jk they’re face masks.” This picture re-appeared in over twenty snapchats followed by people’s disappointment over the snaps saying the post was insensitive and racist. That Thursday, the President’s Committee for Diversity and Equity held some drop in hours in which students could come by and discuss their feelings on the incident. During the drop in hours multiple students opened up about how they felt about this incident in front of many faculty members. A student shares that many people believe that they are allowed to do and or say things that are exclusive to a community because one single person of that community says they can or that they are not offended. However, it is important to understand that community members will not all react in the same way. These forms of complex friendships reminded me of Pat Parker’s poem, “For the white person who wants to know how be my friend.” Parker who was an African-American lesbian feminist poet and activist, has the speaker juxtapose many situations showing how complex these relationships may be.

Continue reading “In Darkness of Recent Events”

A Master and The Apprentice

In my Western Humanities course (HUMN221) at Geneseo, I was given the task to read a speech given by Frederick Douglass which he gave at Rochester, New York by the title of “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” In the entirety of his speech, Douglass questions what freedom African Americans have received in the United States after its independence from Great Britain. Douglass says that the “blessings in which [white people]… rejoice, are not enjoyed in common” with African Americans. He is in shock that they must “prove that [they] are men!” Having to prove and question the blessings that others receive and what they don’t, reminds me of Ella Jenkins version of “Wade in the Water”. In this song, the fugitives question God’s ability to save them when they sing “Didn’t my Lord deliver Daniel well/ Then why not every man?” While this point does pique my interest,  I am also particularly interested in exploring the modern version of the song, “Hey Little Walter” by Tony! Toni! Toné! In which the main character, Little Walter, seems to be receiving blessings but is actually not. This brings me to highlight the transformation these songs go through to adapt to current problems the African-American community is experiencing.

The purpose of the hook in a song is to catch the ears attention by having a set of lyrics being repeated throughout. In “Wade in the Water” the title of the song is the actual hook. This hook is a reminder to those in the journey that as long as the stay by the water they will not be caught by dogs. In the modern version of this song by Tony! Toni! Toné! the hook is “Hey Little Walter” which is also the title of the song. The hook’s purpose it to catch Little Walter’s attention since he keeps avoiding the speaker of the song, his roommate. While there are exact lyrical differences between throughout both songs, their titles are the hooks for the song. In addition, both hooks are a voice of guidance towards their audience which for “Wade in the Water” are fugitives and for “Hey Little Walter” is for all the Little Walter’s out there who are following his footsteps.

One other aspect of these two songs I will discuss is the main character’s journey within the song. In the Jenkins version, the fugitives would wade and “wash the sins (slavery) all the way.”  The trip was dangerous as they ‘washed till [their] hands were sore” telling us how long and tiring this trip was. While some were able to complete their journey by escaping, some “could wash a-no more” and would not make the whole trip. While the journey the slaves go through fits the literal definition of a journey, in “Hey Little Walter” is completely different. The journey between both the speaker and Little Walter’s relationship. The speaker’s journey is him trying to work things out with Little Walter until he starts noticing his ability to waste money on other things besides what he is responsible for. Towards the end of their journey, the speaker  “thought [having to straight Little Walter] would be short, but it lasted half the night” followed by Little Walter being shot in the head.

Although I was aware of song covers and parodies, I am amazed at how the songs are somewhat reconstructed where we can still recognize its origin. I now wonder if this is present within other cultures too.

Is Sustainable Attainable?

Group members: Yadelin Fernandez, Jen Galvao, Michee Jacobs, Maria Papas, Jessica Riley, Courtney Statt, Toby Youngman

The International Institute for Sustainable Development defines sustainable development as, “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” When considering sustainability, there are many markers that determine whether or not an action or means of production is sustainable. The three pillars of sustainability include economic visibility, social equity, and economic viability. According to this definition, something cannot be sustainable unless it meets all three factors. However, this is the question we kept coming back to: is it possible to meet all three of these pillars? It is hard to visualize a solution because we are bound by systems already in place which we may not even know we participate in.

The heating plant is a strong example of a  complex system that many people on campus are unaware of but are simultaneously benefitting from. Prior to our visit, none of us had ever been inside of the heating plant, with the smokestack being our only indication that something was there. We weren’t even cognizant of the level of organization that heating a campus takes. As students, we often take for granted that we will be given the heat we need to be comfortable in our daily lives. As a group, this visit led us to consider the layers of production and the ways we passively participate in systems of consumption. Without having considered exactly where our heat was coming from, we also overlooked who was responsible for heating the campus. The quality of our heat is dependent upon the labor of the workers in the heating plant, yet because we operate in different spheres on the same campus, we are unaware of the work that goes into such a process. This is comparable to the interaction between the protagonist and Mr. Brockway in chapter ten of Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. Before speaking with Mr. Brockway, the protagonist was unaware of the systematic layers that existed in the paint factory. Initially, he assumes the paint is made upstairs, to which Mr. Brockway responds, “Naw, they just mixes in the color, make it look pretty. Right down here is where the real paint is made.” In this instance, the protagonist was only aware of the process that he was shown when he first arrives at the paint factory and has no understanding of things taking place beneath the surface. Continue reading “Is Sustainable Attainable?”