Knowledge: How it brings us together

I have found that the way in which we connect with others says a lot about what brings us together with other people. Personally, I find myself being able to connect with others through my experiences as well as using our differences and similarities to push whatever relationship I have with them. For example, one thing that brings me closer to others is culture. Whether it is one that I consider my own, or one that I seek to know more about, culture intrigues me. 

Below are a few images of what brings me and many other families of Dominican culture together, a typical countryside home and food. 

A “campo” styled home in Dominican culture
el fogon dominicano | Comida dominicana, Fogones, Ciudad de santo domingo
Food made by “fogon” is more sustainable and tastes better. Dominicans tend to cook food this way for special occasions or if its their only way to cook.
A “campo” styled Dominican kitchen

What really brings us together is the shared idea that a simple life is a good life as long as you have what you need, food and some sort of company. Of course, there are other ways I become closer to others such as:

  • Having a shared goal 
  • Spending time together and making memories
  • Physical objects that relate to our relationship
In my first class with Dr. McCoy, African-American Literature, she gave us these beads and some yarn. If I remember correctly this was the first time I heard the term “through line.” The yarn provides a “through line” bringing these beads (individual ideas) together.
  • (And) Their interest in helping each other. Meaning we are actively finding ways to be better for each other and be better for the world.

While those are specific to me, there are more general ways in which others can be brought together and are done so through different subject areas and disciplines. For example, Humanities allows us to understand human society and culture. This is done through art, philosophy, history and literature. Science on the other hand, brings us together by allowing us to understand how we work and how other things work in a more concrete manner compared to Humanities. What is interesting about both is that when combined, Science Fiction is brought to the picture. This genre explores how we come together with ideas/objects and other beings beyond what we know. It the pushes us to question whether humanity is capable of doing so (come together) as it is something we continue to struggle with. Historically, bringing people together can be quite difficult due to our differences. Based on what I have been reading and doing since the course’s beginning, some critical questions that have come up are the following:

  1. How do I learn? What do I learn? And most importantly, what do I do with what I learn? 
  2. What kind of habits do I hold that are no good for me? But also, what kind of habits can I do to better myself and be better for others.
  3. Using questions 1 and 2 , I then ask myself if I trust what I learn and put it to use for any good.

Learning and the urge to learn is not always related to wanting to be closer to someone or a concept on a physical and emotional level. Sometimes what we seek is to understand them/it. And at times that is what we need at base level, to learn AND understand it. But what do we do with the information we learn, the things we notice? Knowledge is power because it can be put to use and action, if it is put to action it can make a difference. This reminds me of a class epigraph from Dawn where Butler writes “Learn and Run.” The purpose of learning is to use it. Learn, then “run” with that information, take it somewhere, don’t just leave it for you to have. While reading this epigraph multiple times I noticed I had to tweak it a bit to fit what learning also requires, reflection. Personally, I believe learning is incomplete without reflection. When we reflect we slow down. It allows us to notice what is easily lost if we just run. In one of our forums we had a discussion on noticing and noticing again. In a sense, we were put to run in the same place, with the goal, at least mine, to take notice twice. Doing so allows us to notice what we could have easily missed the first time. In my first response, I write:

 “Regardless, once you notice one thing, you start to notice other things as well, you become more conscious towards others and self conscious in a philosophical matter by trying to actively be more observant and take a note of things you could have not seen before.” – To the Forums! 3: Noticing

and  when I  encountered the text again I came to an additional understanding that:

 “We sometimes limit our experiences to just human experiences when in reality there is more than just us.”- To the Forums 4: Noticing Again

Being able to notice is crucial when we are trying to understand and learn but we must also actively notice and learn about what is outside of our interest and lifestyle. We see this happening in Dawn where Lilith is trying to teach others how to be sustainable on Earth. While the goal is to learn a different lifestyle not only for the sake of their own, when it is time to run, Lilith is scared. She had previously learned to work with and learn from those different from her, the ooloi. However, she believes that she is not on Earth but a simulation. Her perception of her reality makes it difficult for her to run.  Without running, Lilith is not putting her knowledge to practice.Trusting what we see can be difficult because we know oftentimes our perception can deceive us. Ultimately, wow we see things matters because it shapes how we feel about where our knowledge takes us, which is the run in this case. Is it a difficult run or an easy one? Slowing down (reflecting) during our run allows us to gain energy to continue running (share our knowledge with others). If there is something most us non-runners know is that running is hard, like actually. I then became interested in ways in which we can connect actual running with how Butler tells us to. Outside magazine has a list of running tips that I felt were applicable to the process on learning and noticing.

  1. “Strengthen Your Whole Body”/ Strengthen your mind and knowledge
    1. Don’t just focus on what you have learned. Try to find ways you use all of your knowledge  to strengthen/sustain what you have just learned?
  2. Run More Hills/ Challenge yourself
    1. Sometimes the knowledge that you carry can be heavy and difficult to run with, but it strengthens you. 
  3. Stretch and Refuel Immediately Post-Race/ Slow down 
    1. Reflect!
  4.  Don’t Run Injured/ 
  5. Make It Social/ Engage with others
    1. Share what you learn with others, it only makes the run more fun
  6. Visualize Success/ What you know matters!
    1. Can you see how what you know can cause change? 
  7. Find a Routine, Then Stick to It/ Practice what works for you
    1. How we use or present our knowledge is up to us. Find what works for you. 

That last running then brought me to another course epigraph:

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not….Habit is persistence in practice. Forget talent. If you have it, fine. Use it. If you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. As habit is more dependable than inspiration, continued learning is more dependable than talent.”–Octavia Butler, “Furor Scribendi” 

Out of all epigraphs, this one is my favorite. I think this one brings a rigid tone that the other ones don’t have since they seem more freeing and peaceful. In attempts to find a connection between this epigraph and what I have been learning in class it felt like this epigraph somehow clashed with what I have been learning offering a both/and. In the epigraph the habit is “continued learning” which in this case is a good thing. But habits are dependable, and sometimes they are not good ones like having a fixed perspective. I come to admit that this is something I struggle with. Because

“I think of perspective as something that is fixed and attached to a person rather than something that may shift.”- To the Forum 2: Good Faith 

I then came to learn that 

“our experiences as well as perception of others often construct a “fixed” idea on what exists and how it exists. Whether we try to deny it, facing it is a way to recognize that it is not necessarily a bad thing, but that there are ways in which we can reconstruct those perceptions into ones where we hold ourselves accountable. Jerry Kang gives us a few examples towards the end of his talk:

Re:THINK

Immaculate perception/ implicit bias

Explicit racism only in the past/ subtle discrimination right now

Don’t be a hater/ be wary of ingroup love

It’s not my fault/ we are the problem”-To the Forums 6: Implicit Bias in Dawn

The epigraph suggests a more positive outlook on habits while our discussion content allows us to see otherwise. The issue here is how we often miss the fine line between a growing habit and a fixed one that is bad. Nonetheless, growing and expanding our horizons (perception) is a good feeling when we see it in ourselves, but even a better feeling when we see others do so through us. Another course epigraph by Butler describes this exact sensation. A character (who I have not learned of yet)  “chose a spot near the river. There [they] prepared the seed to go into the ground. [They] gave it a thick, nutritious coating, then brought it out of [their] body through [their] right sensory hand. [They] planted it deep in the rich soil of the riverbank. Seconds after [they] had expelled it, (and) felt it begin the tiny positioning movements of independent life.” 
Having good practice and knowledge allows you to trust yourself to watch things grow on their own. Sometimes it’s important to take a step back and let things take its course which is a form of leadership and leaders bring people together. In Dawn the ooloi are trying to transform Lilith into a leader in order to bring the remaining humans together by helping them learn how to lead a new life. This is quite interesting considering how earlier in the novel, Jhadiyah, an ooloi, says that humans are hierarchical which led to their downfall. In To the Forums 5: Allegory anf Rejuvination I mention how

If Yertle the Turtle wouldn’t have the urge to be the ruler of all he could have just been happy with being the ruler of the pond. However, his selfish needs made it difficult for others to live a comfortable life. “

What both pieces show us is that leading does not require hierarchy (Yertle the Turtle) but a goal (Ooloi). A good leader is able to appreciate “movements of independent life.” Learning to lead others is just as important as leading yourself. My goals are to slow down, ask myself questions, to be an active learner and find use to what I learn.

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.