A story of slavery? “It isn’t.”

As a white woman living in 2017, it is very difficult for me to say that I have an understanding or a grasp on the concept of slavery.  I admit whole heartedly that I am unable to fully understand this topic to all of its depths and in no way have experiences with race issues close to that of Octavia Butler’s.  This being said, I do not want to come across as the privileged, white girl who cried slavery. I do not question her motives for her story, Bloodchild, yet, as a reader, my mind immediately approached the realm of the concept slavery when reading her story.

I am unable to say if my mind would jump to the issue of slavery when reading this, had it not been for my brief knowledge of who Octavia Butler is and my experiences studying abroad this summer in Senegal while spending large portion of our course work focusing on issues of slavery.  This story particularly struck me as embodying issues of slavery on page 25; “The animals once began killing most of our eggs after implantation long before your ancestors arrived.  You know these things, Gan.  Because your people arrived, we are relearning what it means to be healthy thriving people.  And your ancestors, fleeing from their home-world, from their own kind who would have killed or enslaved them – they survived because of us. We saw them as people and gave them the Preserve when they still tried to kill us as worms (Butler, 25).”  To me, this brings up the question, what does it mean to be a slave?

Reading this story of humans who migrated to this new place to settle, only to be surprised the planet was inhabited by a different species almost reminds me of a sort of reverse situation of the Europeans coming to the “New World” (America) for the first time.  We all know the story of how the Native Americans were treated like savages in their own land.  I find this similar to Butler’s work because in both cases acts of hatred and war broke out.  Similar to Butler’s story, there was a major issue with race between the Europeans and the Native Americans.  Much of this has to do with the visual that we discussed in class.  Exploring this text allowed me to realize that a lot of fear and hatred stems from foreign visuals.

In my beliefs, slavery can be seen in this story when the humans first came to the Tilc’s planet and they were restrained, imprisoned and forced to mate with each other; “still tried to kill us as worms” (Butler, 25).  One could think that slavery can be seen when one does not have the ability to make decisions about their own body.  Although Ghan agrees to carry and host a Tilc child, he is ultimately unaware of the violence of the birth and the arrangement that happened years before he was born stating that the humans would carry the Tilc’s children.  Due to this happening years ago, Ghan technically had no say in this.  Does that mean that it was actually his choice?   Additionally, the eggs given to the Terran have an intoxicating impact, much like that of drugs.  To me, this raises the question of if they are fulling aware of the decisions they make because they are under this drug like trance.

 

Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Dante Alighieri’s Purgatorio: Out in the Open

As Erin Herbst‘s and Brianne Briggmann‘s posts indicate, we along with Ron Herzman are taking the first steps towards a collaborative essay exploring how Toni Morrison’s Jazz recapitulates and revises Dante Alighieri’s Purgatorio.

The project is an offshoot of Fall 2016’s Toni Morrison’s Trilogy course where the class concentrated on the relationship between Morrison’s Paradise and Dante’s Paradiso, and we hope to do much of the thinking towards it in public.

There are risks to doing so, of course. For instance, anyone from anywhere can read this, scrape our interpretations, and use them elsewhere without credit or citation. Continue reading “Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Dante Alighieri’s Purgatorio: Out in the Open”

When Harlem Was In Vogue chapter 1 thoughts

I may as well start with the disclaimer that I read this chapter mainly for content, seeing some connections to Jazz and Purgatorio; I think it’s safe to say that mentions of the Great Migrations naturally make my brain think to the concept of movement in both Dante and Morrison’s works. Besides that, however, I can’t say that I have any concrete connections– then again it’s only chapter 1. Continue reading “When Harlem Was In Vogue chapter 1 thoughts”

The Question of Consent

When presented with the word consent, I think of the diverse usage of the word in different situations–consent between partners engaging in intimate relationships, consent for a company to use a photo, consent for a researcher to study an individual’s demographic data, and consent for organ donation after death. The amount of situations that require consent is overwhelming. However, respecting individuals requires consent. Blindly taking action can easily offend someone or cross their personal boundaries.

Continue reading “The Question of Consent”

Male Pregnancy in “Bloodchild”

Brendan’s post about the relationship between Gan and T’Gatoi reflecting many elements of Western society’s model of love and marriage reminded me of Butler’s claim that “Bloodchild” is her “pregnant man story” (30). Brendan claims that Butler has the “talent to alter this familiar institution (marriage) in such a way to make it seem foreign and repulsive”, but I think her mastery goes even further to take giving birth, something that happens numerous times a day and is generally considered a “miracle”, and make it into something that seems like torture. It might seem different because Gan is a boy and this is the way the Terrans “pay the rent”, but the impregnation of Terran men and subsequent birthing is very similar to what women have be going through for years. Continue reading “Male Pregnancy in “Bloodchild””

Can’t Catch A Break

From what I’ve learned these past few weeks in class is that Black people were never given a break from societal injustices aimed at them for hundreds of years. In the primary school systems, we were taught briefly about American Slavery and the Civil Rights Movement to get a general understanding of our history as a nation. However, no one really questioned other fields, like Biology and Literature, and how they are related to what we’ve learned in History class. Who knew that there are books published around the topics of medical enslavement and unauthorized experimentation. As the weeks go by, I’m sure that I’ll continue to be shocked and disgusted by what events occurred in the past, but for now, I can only hope that the torture finally ends in death. Continue reading “Can’t Catch A Break”

Scientific?

“But whites ascribed black women’s sexual availability not to their powerlessness but to a key tenet of scientific racism: Blacks were unable to control their powerful sexual drives, which were frequently compared to those of rutting animals.”

This blog is mainly dedicated to the term, “scientific” racism. I have heard the words race and racism countless times in my lifetime and have argued and interpreted the meaning to those two words. I took an INTD course my first semester at Geneseo about racial identity and families and have had conversations concerning the term race. While reading Medical apartheid, I came across a new term that I never knew existed. Scientific racism. As a biology major and science enthusiast, science is the study of facts concerning the atoms, body, etc. The actual definition of science is,  “a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws”. Truth? Fact?  What about racism is backed up and supported by science?

Encyclopedia.com defines and elaborates on scientific racism but it has been studied that race is not biological, therefore race has nothing to do with science. Racism is not and will never be backed up by science or any other subject.

The Unnamed Dead

Chapter five of Harriet Washington’s Medical Apartheid opens with a description of the disappearance of Casper Yeagin, whose body was donated to the Howard University Medical School for anatomical dissection (as later discovered by his niece). Yeagin had no personal possessions when admitted to the Howard University Hospital, causing him to be registered as John Doe. His John Doe tag resulted in no one stepping forward to claim his body post mortem. Washington refers to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act of 1968, allowing unidentified or unclaimed bodies to be donated to medical schools.  The idea that an unidentified body could be donated to a medical school is unfamiliar and surprising to me. While I understand this Act allows for a way to dispose of bodies without them going to “waste”, it led me back to Monday’s class discussion on the display of Fortune’s bones in a museum and if that is truly what Fortune would have wanted for his body. Continue reading “The Unnamed Dead”

Rolling through “Southern Discomfort”

“I have heard that the Masters beat and scourge them most cruelly. But I have not seen anything of the kind, nor do I believe that it occurs very often. For the southern people as class are Noble minded kind  hearted people, as can be found in any country…”

I am appalled by the idea that there were people who thought of slaves in such an ignorant manner. It’s as if white people during that time were in denial of the fact that there were enslaved human beings that were treated brutally by the majority of the people that came from the same race and culture. The mentality that is depicted shows that white people thought that everything was fine because so much was completed for them. No matter how the slaves were treated, their lives were filled of contentment due to how well they were treated.

It’s like when we disregard the fact that there are people dying of hunger on a daily basis or other problems going on in the world. But, because we don’t see it or hear enough about it on the news. We continue to live upon our routine on a daily basis because compared to them we’re more than well off. We know its going on but then we start a ton of theories and trust issues, regarding how to donate and trusting certain websites. Sometimes its just people making excuses so that they can escape being a part of a real life issue.

Another analogy would be how a lot of minorities accept the fact that the majority of people that are incarcerated happen to be African American and Latino. We know and accept this statistic or phenomenon because many African American and Hispanic households are affected by this being such a popularly known conversation in certain communities.

https://www.prisonpolicy.org/graphs/raceinc.html

I’d honestly even like to compare this to “To kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, where Atticus goes out of his way ( during the 1960s) to protect a black man who was accused of raping a farmers daughter that he worked for. Whether or not you know something is true, it’s your responsibility to cut the curiosity and attempt to find out whats actually happening if you care about social issues or injustices.

-Evelyn J Mendez

 

Do we really have the freedom to make choices?

In my first blog I mentioned that choice was one factor that brought Romeo and Juliet together. I had said that Romeo chose to go to the spectacle taking place at the Capulet house with his friends where he later met Juliet. However, after today’s discussion in class I’ve been left wondering if Romeo or even Gan had a choice in their situation.

Continue reading “Do we really have the freedom to make choices?”