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Sarah's blog

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What's Posse

I realized today (after talking with Julia) that there might be some people in the class who don't know what posse is. Sorry if anyone felt confused/left out, if you don't know about the Posse program, please ask! If you want to check out the official posse website here is the link.  Also, Jomaira wrote a blog about posse a while ago, which was in response to some of the negativity we sometimes recieve as posse scholars (i.e: general attitude that we received a handout and that we are "lucky" to be here rather than that we "deserve" to be here).

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Still processing Anne's class, how to compartmentalize

Today was an emotionally intense Silence class.  It's been a few hours since class ended, but my mind is still racing, and processing.  But its 6:45 and that means my post for Barb's class is already late.  I was planning on writing a post about how the language of the Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (technically last week’s reading, though I believe we’re discussing tomorrow) reading bothered me and was damage centered, but I couldn't even focus enough to pull quotes out and explain, and it seemed disingenuous to post just for the sake of posting.  But now I’m struggling with whether it’s better to not post if I’m just writing to get my checkmark or whatever, or whether it’s unfair to Barb that I am not committing enough time to her class because I feel so emotionally all over the place from another class. Should I be able to compartmentalize? Is it because the nature of the 360 that I feel I can even post these thoughts and not actually respond to the assignment? I don’t really know, looking forward to the 360 lunch tomorrow, hoping I’ll be more centered by the class time.

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general announcement: selling bags and bracelets

As some of you know, Sharaai and I worked with an organization called Shining Hope for Communities this summer, teaching at a free school for girls.  Some of you have noticed our bags and bracelets, which we brought back from Kenya.  These bags and bracelets are made by women in Kibera (the area we worked in) who are HIV positive.  They sell these bags and bracelets as their source of income.  Some of you have asked about these products and so we're going to bring them to class Tuesday and sell in the ten minutes before Jody's class begins (12:45-12:55) and after Anne's class ends (after 3:45).  Bags are $20, bracelets are $5.  

Here is the organizations website and a few pictures of our time there (yes, I am trying to bribe you with the girls' cuteness):

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Good intentions/don't know how to feel about our field trip.

As I have been reading my classmates posts about our field trip yesterday, I find myself agreeing with everyone and all the comments on their postings- the problem is a lot of what people are saying are in someway contradictory, so it is hard for me to understand how I agree with everyone.  I keep reminding myself that nothing is black and white and that my mixed feelings are reasonable. While we were on the tour, it reminded me of when I was in Kenya and would see white people going on slum tours and how upset it made me feel; part of me feels the two situations are very different, given that the level of disparity is so much less, but part of my knows it would not have come to mind if the similarities were not there.  Our guide was an especially interesting person to me.  I believe he and the organization he represents are extremely well intentioned, however sometimes good intentions go awry.  For example, when we were looking at the victim mural and someone drove by blasting loud music our guide said "someone needs to get that guy a paint brush!"   I believe this tour guide cared deeply for the community, and really wanted the best for the people living there.  However, I wonder if his method, and the methods of this Mural Arts organization are constraining and restricting to some.  Who is to say if loudly playing music is more or less helpful than painting a mural.  Who is to say that murals are better than street art?  Also, I wonder why he wanted us to wave at everyone?

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Web Event 2: Representing Uninhibited

One issue I’ve really been struggling with in class is the question of “who is allowed to represent who?”  I contemplated this in my post after reading the article by Dimitriadis in our class on Silence, and during our discussions of Anna Deveare Smith’s acting in our class on Voice.  In jhunter’s reply to my post, she raised some important points about who has the authority to speak for whom, and how characteristics beyond race and culture may impact this authority.  I want to push back on this idea though, and demonstrate why I believe race and culture alone are such important factors.  I want to display this by attempting to represent Uninhibited’s paper, which she titled “I Choose to be Silent You Don’t Make Me Silent”.

            Uninhibited and I grew up in the same town (although she was born in the Dominican Republic).  Though we have never actually discussed how much money our father’s make, I believe we are of a somewhat similar socioeconomic status, at least in simple terms of finances and what is deemed “working class” in America.  Both of us are currently being raised by a single father and both of us have experienced the death of our mother’s.  We met in December of 2008 when we were chosen to be members of Bryn Mawr Posse 9.  We are both interested in social justice issues.   We are close friends.  I believe it is safe to say we have a good amount in common. 

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What makes us feel this way?

So obviously yesterday was an emotional class for me.  Part of me wants to do what was described in the reading- tell you all "I'm not crazy" or that it must have been a combination of stress and lack of sleep, but part of me knows that’s not it, at least not completely.  I know (and as I’m writing, my thoughts are less confident because they are permanent…I’m tempted to say I hope) that a lot of people on campus feel the same way as I do:  that they are never good enough,  that everyone is seems everyone one else was given these secret codes and you missed the memo.  What makes us feel this way? Part of me knows issues of self esteem really needed to be worked on from within. But if this a general campus feeling, than it is not just us, and what could be done to start to fix this?  How can we create an environment where we are confident in our intelligence? I don’t mind being challenged by my academics, but it’s another thing to feel beat up by them.  I’m also curious if this is the case within the Tri-Co and other institutions similar to Bryn Mawr?

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The New Jim Crow; Helpful History of Racism in America

I'm only part way through the reading for "The New Jim Crow" but I really wish this had been the texts for one of my American history classes in high school (for some reason, we did 1 year of world history, 2 years of American, and the last year was government).   It's ironic that even though I was exposed to two years of US History, a lot of the flaws of Americas past were left out; slavery was talked about in a very distant, unemotional way and to refer to something like the Trail of Tears as genocide would have been outrageous.  I went to a very racially diverse high school (although we were greatly segregated by AP and honors tracking), but when slavery was discussed a lot of white people complained: "What does this have to do with us? I hate when people say I'm racist just because I'm white, it's not my fault my great great grandfather owned slaves" and so on.  If you accused anyone of saying something racist, they thought you were being overly sensitive.  For example, in New England/Massachusetts, brown ice cream sprinkles are refered to as "jimmies".  My brother told me that this refered back to the Jim Crow laws and given it's racist origin, it was not something I should say.  I remember telling some of my whtie friends about it and their reaction was something like "when are people going to GET OVER slavery?".  I would like to think that had we read a book the The New Jim Crow, my peers and I would have been much more aware of how the history of slavery and racism still impacts us today.

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Who is allowed to represent who?

As I was reading the piece by Greg Dimitriadis, I couldn’t stop thinking about whether or not he was a white author.  The name Dimitriadis sounded Greek and when I google image searched him, he appears to be white.  We discussed this in Jody’s class a little, but I’m interested in continuing to explore ideas of representation across race and ethnicity.  I must admit that when I read for class, I generally assume the writer is a white, and also probably a man.  Although part of me knows this is a dangerous assumption, part of me also knows it is a safe or practical one because many of the writers ARE white men.  As I was reading Dimitriadis’ piece, I began to become more and more uncomfortable with the idea that a white man was representing African American children, but don’t quite know how to articulate why this makes me uncomfortable.  As we read in the Ellsworth piece for our Voice class, issues of understand and correct representation are an ever present problem.  But I guess I question if that problem is further exacerbated when a white author is writing about African American youth.  I’m sure Dimitriadis has the “credentials” and education to do such work, but how far does that go? I became especially uncomfortable when he wrote about the students interest in the violent or more action scenes and when he said they associated gangs with the Black Panther.  I don’t doubt that this is true, but was he missing something important or not giving enough explanation?

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Alice Clifton and control over one's body

The story of Alice Clifton was hard for me to read.  I felt myself physically squirm at both the graphic descriptions (of cutting the child’s throat) and knowing the absolute lack of control Alice Clifton had over her life and the life of her child.  It is not clear whether or not she wanted to keep that baby, but it does seem the Shaffer (the father) may have persuaded her to kill the child or make it look as though she did.  It seemed bizarre how little Shaffer is involved in the trial, but of course as I continued reading I learned that crimes against black woman, even as severe as rape, were not acknowledged.  Gross writes “Clifton sought to escape slavery by slashing her infant’s throat and as a consequence found herself tried by a justice system that allowed for her enslavement even as it dismantled slavery for other blacks” (page 26).  Even though slavery was being dismantled, had the child lived, I doubt he or she would have had a happy life given how long and slow the process was (is? we might not have slavery, but racism is alive and well...look how many schools are segregated...).

In thinking about this, I wonder how much things have changed in terms of women having control over their own bodies.  My first reaction is that I feel there is no comparison to the lack of rights Alice Clifton had as a black domestic servant in the late 1700s, and that we are much better off today.  But is that true? Is it ludicrous to even ask?

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For my avatar I chose an image that shows the surface of water.  I went back and forth about putting a picture of me, but because I was unsure about the level of anonimity I want to maintain on serendip, I decided that I could always do that later.  I chose this image because when you are looking down at a surface of water, you can see a general picture of what's beneathe, but it's not completely clear.  This is sort of how I see my presence on serendip at the moment.  I am trying to put myself "out there" (online, where anyone can see), while still trying to maintain a boundary (I'm just not quite sure what that boundary is yet).  My view my username "sarah" similarly.  Everyone (or at least most people) in our class know who I am when I post, but if a random person were to go on serendip, the name "sarah" isn't very informative because it's so popular.  Both my username and avatar allow me to express myself, while still maintaining some sense of privacy.

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