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My Reaction to Chapter 4 of Colored Amazons

I am not exactly sure how to express myself in this post and I am a little worried because the following thoughts will expose my judgemental side--but I suppose everyone is guilty of passing judgement at some point in their life. I stopped reading Colored Amazons mid-way through the 4th chapter because I got really uncomfortable and really angry. The chapter told the story of two black women who killed a white male farmer during the negotiation stage of sexual services. In the media, the women were portrayed as savages who ruthlessly killed a white man who was seemingly drunk and unknowing. However, the media failed to reveal a reality and hidden agenda of the parties invovled. To be blunt, the white man came to the women for sex and they were going to provide that service because, as Gross explained in an earlier chapter, black females were not protected by the law; therefore, their bodies were subjected to sexual exploitation and exoticism. I have never known this history in great detail but I, as a black female, have seen how the ripple affects of this history continue to haunt black communities, black females in my life and myself--my first boyfriend was a white boy. Therefore, reading this chapter reminded me of how uncomfortable and upset I get when I see interracial couples between a white man and black female (bring on the "love is color-blind, love has no limits"..blah blah, I have heard it all).

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Reading Delpit's Words Through A Third Lens: Silence

I have read the Delpit reading in multiple settings and for different reasons. Once for my ED 250 class where my classmates and I explored how dominant forms of literacy marginalize groups of students because their way of speaking, writing and native languages are left out of public education. During the summer, again, I was told to read this same Delpit article as I prepared to embody the life of a full-time 7th grade writing teacher. This time, I took away from the article that explicitness in the classroom was key. As I taught, I was always conscious of what I said, how I said it, and the different forms I could say it so that my instructions were clear and catered to different learning styles.

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How do you hold a "thing" accountable?

As I read Colored Amazons, I could not get over Alice Clifton’s story who was a slave seeking freedom by supposedly killing her newborn baby. Whether she killed her baby or not, I could not believe that the court had the audacity to try Alice as a human even though her status as a slave was more objectifying than human. So I began to wonder about why she was in court since her appearance would mean that she was worthy of human services—a reality that was not the case beyond court doors. What was truly her crime, killing her dead daughter? Using her daughter’s unfortunate death as a ticket to freedom? Or for, which seems more likely, depriving her white masters of a profitable object, both for sex and labor, in the future? Although Gross, shatters the pretense that Clifton’s trial was on the basis of sympathy, morality and humanity, Clifton’s story is a disturbing reminder of how our justice system works today. Every time I hear about the need to crackdown on drug dealers, or the need for more law enforcement—anything that might increase the presence of the law in low-income neighborhoods or spotlight people of color –I cringe. Although arguments for the removal of illegal activities are valid, I always feel—scratch that—I know there are ulterior motives behind why certain illegal activities and groups are infamously publicized in the media.

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Adultism...Lets Name It for What It Really is.

“’Student voice,’ in its most profound and radical form, calls for a cultural shift that opens up spaces ad minds not only to the sound but also the presence and power of students.” –Cook-Sather 363

This quote resonates with me because back home, in Boston, much of my community organizing had to do with proving that young people are capable and impactful in their own education. Convincing adults was incredibly frustrating work. However, I kept with it because I agree, like Cook-Sather, that the true purpose of student voice should acknowledge and accept the power of students in and beyond education. When reading her article, I found it interesting that much of what she was describing—the positives/negatives of student voice, the power dynamic between young people and adults that calls for student voice—had not been coined with a term. Back home, much of what Cook-Sather describes is called, adultism, the act of discriminating against or undermining someone who is a young person because he/she is not yet an adult.

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How Silence Evolved in My Childhood

While scrolling through the visuals of silence on Serendip, I found myself deliberately returning to the image of Irene’s bedroom. I was captivated by the soft lighting, the warm brown colors and the simplicity of its decoration. I was reminded of my own bedroom back home. Similarly, the image of my bedroom is a place of peace and rest with its array of books, wall of mirrors and made bed. While I enjoyed seeing a bedroom that projected similar sentiments of comfort and intimacy, I know that the appealing visual of my bedroom is a facade. In contrast to the expected hospitable nature of a bedroom, my bedroom was a rather lonely and confined space for much of my life. So, as much as I wanted to feel the welcoming silence emanating from Irene’s image, I could not ignore how it was a visual reminder of my isolating relationship with silence.

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Relevant TED talk about the Injustices in the American Justices System

I realized today that this 360 reminds me of one of my favorite TED talks by Bryan Stevenson, an activist and lawyer in the American justice system. Similar to our 360, Stevenson brings up issues of race and poverty in our justice, or more like our injustice, system. More importantly, he highlights how there is a silence in our society about the injustices that mar the image and realities of individuals in prison. I invite everyone to listen to this TED talk, it is definitely worth listening to and thought-provoking. I think he does a beautiful job at talking in depth about his vision for our justice system, the unheard voices in prison and the silence that keeps society as a whole from caring.

I also wanted to leave you with my favorite quote from the talk:

“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve done” –Bryan Stevenson

I have also posted the link here:

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Thoughts on Fires in the Mirror and A Journey to Speech

In the introduction to Fires in the Mirror, it was hard for me to understand and, from what I did understand, agree with Smith.  On page XXIX, she writes, “If only a man can speak for a man, a woman for a woman, a black person for all black people, then, we once again inhibit the spirit of the theater, which lives in the bridge that makes unlikely aspects connected.” I can agree to some extent people with different identities can sympathize, and perhaps even empathize, with each other. However, for instance, in the case of race, I cannot imagine a latino or a white man depicting the character of a black individual and vice versa. Sure, one can depict simple commonalities like hobbies, basic expressions, etc; but a latino/white male will never know how it feels to be black in America and to carry that “burden.” With that said, I don’t think Smith effectively acknowledges how people can overlook huge differences like sex, race, etc to see commonalities. These “isms” are so ingrained in our society that I think they will always be an issue—one that is hard to overlook. Perhaps the “spirit of the theatre” is only doable in theatres but seems highly unlikely in reality.

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Silence: Its opposite?

It was hard to find a representation of silence. In every google image search, I would find scenic images but then I would think of today's activity and how in the beautiful woods surrounding English house, silence was never void of noise. So, I have decided that the best representation of silence is its opposite: noise. Back home in Boston, silence for young activists is never accepted and was oppressive when enforced upon them. Thus, I have attached two images. Whether it is a small rally about student inequality or a large protest about the future of our nation, perhaps silence is best represented when people use it to make meaning--to add their own original sound to the ever-present soundtrack around them.

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Reflection on Language Diversity Presentation

This post is in response to my groups presentation on language diversity in Ghana. 
I really enjoyed presenting on the languages pidgin English and twi in Ghana but I was more interested in pidgin. I found it fascinating that in using English as a medium where all ethnic backgrounds could interact, Ghanaians, particularly young people, made English their own in the form of pidgin/slang English. The concept and use of pidgin English reminded me of Decolonizing the Mind where the author writes about ways in which Africans should and could share their history and culture. However, in contrast to Decolonizing the Mind, I found it interesting that youth were, to some extent, using a combo of English and their native tongue to spread their culture when at first English was used to eliminate it.

For that reason, it is frustrating to know that pidgin is considered as an inferior language. Personally, I find pidgin to be a powerful language because it defies the dominant discourse (Western culture) forced upon Ghana by using English "improperly." 

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World-traveling in Context

This week I am revisiting the Lugones reading about world-traveling and feeling at ease in the worlds we travel through. When I first read the reading, I disliked it very much. I did not understand exactly the terms the author used and I definitely could not understand them in relation to literacy. I realize now that the Lugones reading was not something I could read and just immediately get. Instead, I had to experience what she meant by world-traveling and this experience played out this weekend when I attended the Posse Plus Retreat (PPR). 

For those who do not know, the PPR is a weekend-long event open to Bryn Mawr students, faculty and staff invited by the Pose scholars on campus. It is an annual event and its goal is to get people connected and to be challenged by conversations about a central topic. The one I attended was on gender & sexuality.

This weekend, I travelled to a new world and it was not without unease. A little ignorantly, I thought that there wasn't much to learn about the topic because I had two gay best friends, I went to a very open high school, and I go to Bryn Mawr, a school that is very supportive and vocal about the LGBTQAAII community. Of course I was completely wrong. Even worse, I left the retreat feeling like I had never belonged or felt at ease in that "world" even when I thought I did at first. Feeling, in some ways, excluded, I left PPR with more questions than answers to my frustrations. I think they are very relevant to the Lugones reading so....

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