Bank of America v. The City of Miami

I realize that classes are already over, but very quickly I want to share a piece of news I came across that relates rather deeply to the course. Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of Miami’s lawsuit against Wells Fargo and Bank of America. The suit alleges that the banks’  predatory lending practices violated the Fair Housing Act and targeted African American/Latino communities through subprime mortgages. You can read about the case and the Supreme Court’s decision in the following sources:

Cities Can Sue Big Banks Over Effects of Discriminatory Practices (NPR)

Bank of America Corp. v. The City of Miami (Supreme Court’s published decision)

Supreme Court Rules Miami Can Sue Over Predatory Lending (NYT)

There are certainly other media sources covering the case as well, but I felt these might be a good starting point to obtain a brief overview.  At any rate, from my cursory research the decision strikes me as a small victory for proponents of fair housing and lending practices (good news is hard to come by these days).

Many thanks to Alpha and Beth for facilitating a meaningful and compelling class this semester.

Thank You

As we wrap up the semester, our academics and work and lives start to boil over. I am finding solace in our final “Second Line” paper; I am looking forward to my own rebirth and stability after finals. I’m taking an opportunity to squeeze in a “thank you” to everyone in the course as we close up (especially if you are still reading the blog) and I wish you all to find courage and peace during this intense month and academic year; our peers (Alpha and Dr. McKoy included), discussions, readings, and this blog have been inspiring, humbling, and relevant.

Thanks, and happy finals!

In Reaction to Schenwar’s “Hurt People Hurt People”

Taking inspiration from Schenwar’s section “Hurt People Hurt People” from Locked Down, Locked Out, I started to think about the cycle of violence we see in Butler’s Parable. When I think of violence being the performance of waste it makes me think that violence is a cause and a consequence of something being allowed to literally deteriorate or waste away. In Parable, we see things deteriorating everywhere. Homes, communities, local and federal government, families, infrastructure, even lines between right and wrong seem to blur together as society seems to waste away.

Keeping this in mind, I want to touch on the people in Parable who are affected by the violence they encounter on a day to day basis. As Schenwar points out, there is an unceasing and cyclical history of people committing violence and harm to others if they themselves have been victims of violence and harm. This is evident when we see how the poor interact with each other in Parable— the poor steal from the poor, but only because they’ve a) been stolen from before, b) have no other options, c) have never had any other options or d) all of the above. This leads to entire communities abusing and harming one another. Resentment and mistrust builds, and things seem to turn into anarchy.

I’ve been thinking about this throughout my entire reading of Parable. That’s why when Lauren thinks. “I wonder what a badge is, other than a license to steal.” I stopped reading and thought for a moment. From Lauren’s perspective, police are already in a position of power over her. Why would they need to steal from the already poor, deteriorating communities they are supposed to be protecting? Do they really have as much power as Lauren and the readers perceive? Really, what’s their damage? Is it just the mere fact that they have power over another that causes them to harm others? Or is there more to it? I don’t mean to play Devil’s Advocate (or maybe I do), but how are we sure that there isn’t violence affecting them as well?

I don’t know the answers to any of these questions, nor am I sure if it’s valid to really spend time asking them. But! I do think it’s valuable to look at from Schenwar’s point of view when considering the vast majority of people who are supposed “perpetrators” are also victims of violence themselves. (I also want to point out that when I’m talking about police I’m talking about the police in Parable, not real life. Although once again, maybe the lines between the two aren’t as clear as I’m perceiving!) Thoughts?

Reading from the Future

While discussing Parable of the Sower in our small groups this semester, Mary raised an interesting point. When we are reading this book, we are following the unfolding action as we read Lauren’s journal entries. This makes the reader sympathize with Lauren as we read to discover her fate. This is how most books work, we accompany a character along part of their journey. However, if we were to look at Lauren’s journal articles as an artifact, would our perspective change? Continue reading “Reading from the Future”

The Power of Change

By the end of Parable of the Sower I was acutely aware, not to mention impressed, with the ability of the characters to remain relatively loving and compassionate individuals while bearing witness to a perpetuating cycle of violence and death. In my opinion the group was able to develop into its ultimate fruition at the end of the novel due to Lauren’s innate leadership qualities combined with her hyper-empathetic affliction. Lauren exhibited the early signs of a potential matriarchal figure early on in the novel. In my opinion this potential reveals itself mainly in her Earthseed passages which give the reader a glimpse into a mind that understands the gravity of her actions. According to Lauren, the following lines are the foundation upon what her Earthseed: Book of the Living is built upon. Continue reading “The Power of Change”

A contemplation on the role of in-group – out-group bias

I found the class exercise of attempting to find shelter within a Geneseo campus where all of the buildings were locked to be a surprisingly moving experience that forced the boundaries of my imagination. At the time of the exercise my initial reaction towards the outwardly hostile environment of the locked campus  was clouded by irrational fear. I kept looking at all of the imagined locked windows and doors and this made me feel as if a thousand sets of eyes were looking at me. Therefore I tried to find the most secluded area possible  where the imagined eyes could not follow me. After settling on a large outcropping of bushes I started to reflect on why this concept of being locked out bothered me so much. I decided to think about other occasions during my time at Geneseo that had invoked a similar feeling.

My mind kept returning to two distinctly different scenarios where I had felt that same hostile feeling. The first scenario occurred early on in my freshman year when I still hadn’t made that many friends. Despite my friendless situation I decided to adventure out during the weekend to try to meet people, however, at every house that I walked up to I was greeted with a cold mannered rebuttal. The second scenario that came to my mind is in relation to a late night study session in Frasier library. While I was studying for a final exam the janitorial staff notified me that I needed to leave the building immediately which I fully complied to. After leaving Frasier library I was forced to head back to my apartment to finish studying since the entire campus was on lock down.

Continue reading “A contemplation on the role of in-group – out-group bias”

An Analysis on the Meaning of a Crisis in Relation to the Turner House

 cri·sis
/ˈkrīsis/
noun
noun: crisis; plural noun: crises
a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.
“the current economic crisis”
synonyms: emergency, disaster, catastrophe, calamity; More
a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.
“a crisis point of history”
synonyms: critical point, turning point, crossroads, watershed, head, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return, Rubicon, doomsday; More
the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.

As I write this post during the tumultuous time period that is finals week, my mind continues to return to our in-class discussion of the meaning of a crisis and its importance to the Housing Crisis. The definition of crisis that I found most useful to my current thought process is as follows: “A time when a difficult or important decision must be made.” This is relevant to my current situation since due to poor time management, I have found myself catching up on these blog posts wondering where all the time went. At first I underwent a small crisis at the possibility that I wouldn’t be capable of completing the work on time. However, after the feeling of personal disaster had passed, I began to analyze the different ways that the word crisis is relevant to our ongoing discussion of the Housing Crisis.

The first definition emphasizes an ongoing time period that is characterized by intense difficulty, trouble or danger. While the second definition emphasizes a specific, “crisis point of history.” Both of these definitions are relevant to understanding the “Housing Crisis” theme in accordance to the texts that we have read throughout the semester. The novel The Turner House stood out to me the strongest  when I thought of the word crisis. The duel definition of the world fit perfectly with the novel’s ability to address the many issues that are plaguing the city of Detroit, while still establishing an emotional connection between the reader and the Turner family.

Continue reading “An Analysis on the Meaning of a Crisis in Relation to the Turner House”

The Effect of Resource Scarcity on Societal Stability

While reading the Parable of the Sower, I found myself returning to the looming threat of resource scarcity and the potential ramifications that it poses to the stability of Lauren’s world. It isalso necessary to analyze what the concept of resource scarcity means in reference to social class, and relative location.

During the first portion of the Parable of the Sower, which is set in a walled off neighborhood compound outside of Los Angeles, it is apparent to the reader that the scarcity of resources is an ever-present threat. During this time period in the novel I found the ongoing battle between the residents of the neighborhood and the outside thieves to be particularly important to my discussion. I found that the following exchange between Corey and Lauren’s Dad perfectly illustrates the ongoing struggle against resource scarcity:

“They ran away this time, but they won’t always run.”

“I know”

“So what, then? You protect rabbits or oranges, and maybe get a child killed?

Silence.

“We can’t live this way!” Corey shouted.

“We do live this way,” Dad said. There was no anger in his voice, no emotional response to all her shouting. There was nothing. Weariness. Sadness.

 

Continue reading “The Effect of Resource Scarcity on Societal Stability”

“Passing” and People as Shelter

The idea of people as shelter was brought up by my group after our walks outside the other week, and after finishing Parable of the Sower I thought I’d share my own experience in relation to what we’ve read in the novel. Throughout the book characters seek shelter among people when suitable shelter is not accessible. The neighborhood that the Olamina family lives in serves as a physical shelter, but when this neighborhood is destroyed it is the less tangible neighborly bond that allows Lauren to feel comfortable seeking shelter with Zahra and Harry.

In the absence of buildings for shelter, I initially found myself seeking shade on my walk. I noticed an older man sitting on a bench under the small tree and clock pole by Erwin. In an effort to not “out” him, I will just say that his shirt had a phrase that I interpreted as being potentially threatening to my identity as a gay woman. What could have been a good spot for shelter, immediately made me feel uneasy. I held this fear that there would be some confrontation with this person should I take the seat next to him, and thus the space then felt inaccessible. Through this search for acceptable shelter and being confronted by this experience, I thought that I must decide who provides safety and who does not, or be alone and potentially vulnerable.

Quick content warning here: I talk about the politics of “passing” in this post.

Continue reading ““Passing” and People as Shelter”

Hey folks.

So I don’t know if this post is appropriate to publish here. It’s not really ‘academic’ per se. Actually I just want to ask you all a question that has been bothering me throughout the semester. As we have progressed through the course I have found it increasingly more difficult to find hope for the future amongst our discussions of both the cruelties and the sufferings of human beings. Will there ever exist a world without greed? poverty? discrimination? rape? homelessness? As I have continued to grow, read, and learn throughout all of my life (but particularly my college years), I have lost the innocence I once possessed that allowed me to believe that such a world was possible. As I stand now, completely hopeless and devoid of faith in humans, I find myself returning to my first blog post on narrative foreclosure. I stated in that post that narrative foreclosure occurs when one believes that “it is too late to live meaningfully and, as Freeman puts it, ‘become stripped of new possibilities, emptied of new opportunities for self-renewal.'” I have begun to view the earth and it’s lifeforms in a state of narrative foreclosure as it is defined in the above quotation.

So, finally, my question is how do you all prevent yourselves from viewing this world in a state of narrative foreclosure? How do you continue to hope when surrounded by corruption and suffering? Beth said in class today that she believes it is essential to construct hope for a better future, because “the alternative is obscene.” I agree, the alternative is obscene. But with what do you construct hope? How do you maintain it?

Of course no one has to reply to this. But through all the discussion of the terror and pain and the seemingly hopeless solutions to salvage what good is left, I feel that we neglect to address the toll these discussions take on each of us, personally, both inside and outside of the academic setting. Therefore, I find it necessary to ask you folks what each of you do to construct and maintain hope, thus avoiding some kind of narrative foreclosure. Being in class with all of you this semester has been a wonderful experience, and I don’t hesitate to say that you folks are kind, intelligent, thoughtful human beings. Which is why I bring these questions to you and ask that you share your answers (on the blog maybe?) with anyone that is currently struggling to find hope.