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Silence: Upholding the Norms of our Society (Web Event III)

“[S]ound… carries a lot of social status and/or currency.” (Kim 1)


Sound as social currency. When I think about this term, I immediately think of sound as a physical form that can be used in exchange for something else. What exactly can I buy with sound? Can I buy silence? Power? Status? In what ways must I use sound to obtain these ‘products?’…what do I do with them once they are mine?  I am having trouble understanding sound as social currency. Although, I understand what I can buy, at least I think  I do, I am not exactly sure how sound can be used to actually buy something. It could be that I am taking the term too literally; but, as someone who possesses and has mastered sound, there is no denying that I use sound as social currency to navigate, negotiate and understand the world around me.

As mentioned in my first two web events, in my cultural background, sound and silence represented the power dynamics within my culture and home. More specifically, sound was used as a “form of authority” (Sun 1). When my parents spoke firm, unwavering, one-syllable sounds, I knew my place as a young person. I also knew that my silence, although enforced on me, was a sign of respect and my expected role. I had learned early on that sound shaped the cultural norms in my household, while my silence, and that of my siblings, upheld them.

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Isn't it Ironic? (Voice Paper II)

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Vision Memo I Image

My image is more abstract. It implies that the female offenders that we read about, and will soon meet, play a small hand in the misfortunate conditions of their lives...and ultimately their crimes. Other factors, like racism, sexism and classism are active participants in their every day lives even though it is not often clear to those oppressed by them.

“You are only a blink of an eye in the grand scheme of things” ~Unknown

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Representation of Schools and Prisons Through Tupac Shakur

Growing up, I learned a lot about the injustices in this world through music, especially through rap. So I will use this form of media to represent schools and prisons. I am posting two things from activist, poet and late artist, Tupac Amaru Shakur. One is a video of his song "trapped" which is filmed in a prison and talks about the ways in which black men--hard to find content on female incarceration--are targeted and, ultimately, trapped in and beyond prison. I have also included the lyrics. The second thing I wanted to share was an interview (in transcript form although the entire video is on Youtube) from Tupac at age 17 speaking in great detail about the injustices in education and the irrelevance of some its subjects. I love this interview because it is from the perspective of a subject we have only analyzed and have not really heard from: a young person of color from an inner-city background. I'd like to share my favorite excerpt. It is Tupac talking about what should be taught in schools:

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Educational Debt: What is specifically owed?

For two days now, I have been thinking about the term, "eduactional gap" mentioned in Girl Time. I think it is a more accurate term than the acheivement gap. I have always disliked this term because it implies that this gap, which never seems to closes, is the fault of the students who are "low-acheiving." It implies, much like in Haney with the female offenders, that it is the responsibility of the student to make up the difference. I used to be all for individualism, which Meiners mentions, but now I see how our society's mindset on individualism can obscure reality and make people believe that the conditions of their lives, good or bad, are a result of their own actions...or lack of action. When, in fact, systems of oppression play a huge, and yet distant, factor in everyone's lives whether to an advantage or disadvantage. I 100% agree that the gap in our education is actually a collection of overdue debts, particularly to inner-city youth. However, as I write this, I am not sure about what exactly is owed us--yep, that includes me--to succeed. What kind of reformation needs to happen? And is it the responsibility of the students who are negatively impacted by the "gap" to make change? This debt that we speak of is more than money, it is SO big--it's like asking to undo the history of racism! This seems highly impossible even though I really want to be optimistic.

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Unveiling Prison Employees Too!

When I heard that the Warden was not coming to our class, I was extremely disappointed. Much like the invisibility of prisoners, I feel like the people who work within the system are also invisible. Although I wasn't expecting hirer to share a personal anecdote from her life beyond the prison walls, I did want to see a face and notice the impact it would have on me. When discussing "female offenders" in class, I sometimes forget that the people who must "deal" with them are prisoners as well--they are confined to watching the inmates, confined to possible, and justifiable, fear for their lives every day at work, and, like Tamika from Visions, confined to being an emotionless being.  Although Haney gives voice and insight into the lives of the Vision workers, only on the job of course, I also see that even with visibility, Haney was able to capture reservation from the workers. For instance, Tamika did not believe in being emotional while Margaret distanced herself by taking advantage of the power she had over her employees. So it seems that the issue is two-fold: prison employees are invisible from society but at the same time choose invisibility. I wonder if I would have sensed this with the warden and what kind of questions would have come up as a result.  Like we do with the inmates we read about, I would like to have a conversation about the ethnic/racial/class make-up of the employees.

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Not Knowing Sucks But is Exclusion Necessary Sometimes?

Doris Sommer’s reading was not the most accessible text. It was quite difficult for me to understand the implications that arise when secrets are used in texts to distance the reader and to understand her thinking around why authors, like Rigoberta, would choose to withhold information. But I will admit that, similar to thoughts I shared in class, my dislike for the focus of this reading dominated my thoughts and ultimately distracted me from what the author was trying to prove. So,  as I read,  I kept thinking, “Okay, so she used secrets in the book, why does her reasoning for doing that matter? What satisfaction will the reader and Sommer get by knowing? Who cares if we don’t know if her story is completely factual, why should that take away from the genocide? Hello! Remember the genocide?” Even as I write this post, I can see how my thoughts were  a bit close-minded.  Although I am reluctant to acknowledge that there is some value in knowing the answers to the questions raised about Riogberta’s book, I now feel—I can’t fully articulate it—why the urge to know is so strong.

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Surprisingly Moved by a Human and Not the Arts

The most intriguing part of our Saturday trip was the mural arts tour. A lot of feelings and questions came up for me as we drove from one mural to the other with our tour guide.  I was curious and somewhat taken aback by our tour guide who was also a former teacher in the public education system. If we think in terms of power in our society, his identity as a white male symbolizes the epitome of white privilege and supremacy. So, I was really surprised when he choked up while reading a student-written poem about despair and the harsh impact  inner-city neighborhoods have on the minds and actions of young people. I was touched that he was touched and so, as I tried to play it cool and not tear up from the break in his voice, a streamline of questions popped intomy  mind. Why did he care so much as a white man about students of color and this neighborhood? What reaction was he trying to get out of us? If he cared so much, why wasn't he still teaching? What exaclty moved him about this student's words...voice? Did he see a reflectionof himself? What's his background?

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Silence: More Malleable Than Evolutionary


While brainstorming what to write for this second web event, an image, similar to the way Irene’s bedroom struck me, kept popping up in my head from the mural arts tour in Philly.  It was the mural of the iron butterflies protruding and ascending up the body of an African-American man holding fire in the palm of one of his hands. If I am not mistaken, the mural was created on the back of a men’s shelter that no longer existed and the butterflies symbolized the great changes—the metamorphosis—the sheltered men made in their own lives. I, too, had written about the concept of metamorphosis and had described the role silence had played in my life as an evolution. However, as I began to think more about the nature of the word, metamorphosis, I grew dissatisfied with my word choice in describing the role of silence in my life.

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Fish Bowl Reflection from My Blog

Hi ladies,

Soon after our fishbowl activity, I expressed my thoughts on my wordpress blog (for those who do not know, I blog for Bryn Mawr). I wanted to invite you all to read this post in hopes that you will express your own sentiments and always be reminded of the special moments we had during that activity.

360 love,


The link is also here just in case the embedded one does not work:

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