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graphic novel > academic writing?

froggies315's picture

This week has been one of my favorite weeks at college, ever.  I think it has a lot to do with the conversations we’ve been having in class.  I’ve been connecting things from this class to lots of things in my life outside of class, I’ve been reading more, thinking more, smiling more, and writing.  I feel really lucky to have been a part of reading what we’ve read and saying what we’ve said this week, and I feel sad to be saying goodbye to this unit.  I hope that we can make graphic novels as exciting as academic writing (I’m laughing at myself because the response to that seems so glaringly obvious to me: YES! OF COURSE WE CAN!)  


One of the questions I’ve been asking myself this week in response to our readings and discussions about making the academy more accessible is: what is my personal responsibility in facilitating this change?

I have spent my entire life immersed in a environment of privilege.  I’m white; I’m good at school; my gender and sexual orientation mesh with what other people think they should be; I’ve always known/felt that I am loved unconditionally; I’m Jewish; as a teenager, I spent my summers at expensive Quaker camp...

I am aware of how lucky I am (my parents made damn sure of it).  Despite my awareness, or maybe because of it, sometimes I feel completely and utterly paralyzed to do anything.  Here’s part of an e-mail I sent to a friend a couple of years ago as I was trying to work through this issue:

My existence in this country affirms that the genocide and enslavement that happened (and happen) on this continent are OK. I can believe and say that genocide and slavery are wrong, but I won’t leave. Actions speak louder than words.

Conversely, the times when I feel most excited and ready to take on challenges and be a part of change are when I’m not thinking critically about my privilege--when I let myself feel human before feeling white.  I feel ready to work after reading poems like Wild Geese by Mary Oliver.  She says:

[I] do not have to be good...[I] only have to let the soft animal of my body love what it loves.  

But if all I crave is to knit and listen to NPR, then  maybe, that isn’t enough. ahhhhhhhh, the paradox.


froggies315's picture

you raise an interesting

you raise an interesting point...can I keep my privileges without bringing other people down?  If we take Butler’s stance, then no (?).  She claims that there is no “I” without a “We.”  As Price alluded to, this train of thought leads to many, many divisive dichotomies.  Can there be wealth without poverty?  Love without hate? Peace without war?  


we just haven’t figured out all the logistics, yet.  I’ve found that this book has a lot of satisfying answers/provides a road map for making communities that only uplift (the gist is that if we simplify then everything else good will follow)   

Ayla's picture

Reflection on your reflection

I think that this reflection goes along with what you said in class - if we wanted to be making the change, we would be out there making the change and not sitting her talking about changing the system.  But that's ok, as you expressed, we want to be talking about it.  

People look at me and think I'm whiteandprivelaged.  I honestly don't know if I'm considered white-  as strange as this sounds.  Either way, I'm definitely privelaged.  My family doesn't have a ton of money,  but I have NEVER been denied anything in life that I wanted.  Oh, wait I didn't get into one college that I applied to.  Poor me.  You said that you don't leave the continent, thus affirming the genocide and slavery that occur(ed) are fine.  Yet, where would you go, realistically?  What country has a 'clean' history?  What country treats all of its people fairly?

In your reflection, you said that the time you feel motivated to make change is the time that you are not thinking about being white.  I thought this was really ironic in that you feel an obligation to make change because you are whiteandprivelaged but you only feel motivated "purely" when you aren't thinking about being whiteandprivelaged.  Well, I don't think that people ever let me NOT think about being white, which has led me to the indignant claim: It is not my fault that I am whiteandprivelaged - and I'm not even really white.  I often think, What do people want me to do, realistically?  I can join activist groups, lobby, protest, etc - but I will still be privelaged.  So then I guess I have to either lower my quality of life or bring someone else's quality of life up to mine because of some idea that everything should be fair in life.  I think this concept is a way of thinking about Price's idea of a flexible school.  I was trying to express in class that her idea seems to me like it would be hindering my own experience.  But somehow I'm expected to be willing to lower my quality of education because I have grown up whiteandprivelaged.  


I suppose I'm just frustrated by this idea.