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English 212

2002 Third Paper

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Abstract 1: Queer

2002 TS Student

My placement is working in a youth ran LGBTQ center. The center is ran by the students, and services are overseen by two adults. They offer counseling services, HIV testing, support groups, a clothes closet, a safe space, after school snacks, as well as provide outreach services which take the form of tolerance building workshops and LGBTQ presentations to churches and schools.

The center is in center city phili, and has no real indicators of its presence, more or less it is hidden among houses. The inside of the building is not in great condition, the stairs are falling apart, and as you move up the building the floors get less and less sturdy. The bathrooms didn't have soap when i was there. The workers maintain that all the money goes to programming not the facility..i did hear a ruhmor that they may be moving soon to a larger facility.

There are rules, that if broken youth are penalized by being suspended from the center. such rules include a zero policy for drugs/sex/alcohal on the premise. Weapons need to be checking in at the front desk, and if you carry a gun, the bullets need to be on you at all times. There is a time window that one must wait in order to pursue a client and upong getting "hired" they did go over consent laws as well.

The center appears to service a prodominately african american male population. My second visit greeted me with several cultural barriers that I feel will be challenging to my interactions at teh center. When i was there, I was one of ten women in the building, of those i was one of three white women. The building had about 65 people in it at the time. When talking to the girls there i found myself running into three distinct barriers 1) regional (east coast v. west coast) 2) race (African American pop culture/history) and 3) education (public v. private school). All three issues made it difficult to communicate with teh girls. Language also plays into all of those barriers. Slang is different depending on where you grow up and we obviously have grown up in different areas under different conditions. I feel like an outsider looking in, even though i have some fundamental commonalities with the girls, i always feel like i am a step behind them, trying to catch up.

In general i grew up in public elementary school/community where i was used to a diverse population. Diverse in this sense i realize was narrow in that it was the diversity of having a wide range of nationalities/background, more of a balance of minorities (whites mecame the minority to the combined minorities groups around this time, in California) so i am not quite familiar with being in a "diverse" environment that is "all" anything. It really is an eye opener to how minorities must feel in interactions in an environment that is composed of a majority of anything. I think on another level it has been interesting to realize how culturally we expect african american children to know all about "white" pop culture, media, movies but the reverse is not true.


i meant to say a zero TOLERANCE policy for drugs/sex/alcohal


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Craig, Maxine Leeds. Ain't I a Beauty Queen?: Black Women, Beauty and the Politics of Race. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. [Canaday HQ1220.U5 C73 2002]

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In an attempt to solve some of the retention issues the center faces as well as its recruitment of girl members, they have been talking about beginning an eight week program that would follow a theme. The girls would commit to the two hour sessions a week. The goal would be to increase female participation in the center and hopefully address some of their concerns. My task as a volunteer is to design this program with the girls and my supervisor. This task falls very close to the "sex ed. curriculum" we have been asked to create for the course, so I think in the end it will be a great fix.

The topic I have chosen for the eight week course is "The Body." During the eight weeks there will be different topics, activities, guest speakers, and sometimes field trips. The workshops or modules will be created in a fashion that would encourage a sense of community and trust building among the girls. Some initial ideas for possible modules include "Epidermis and Behind the Scenes," and "Breast Basics."

"Epidermis and Behind the Scenes," would be a two week module. The first week would look at stereotypes, misconceptions about race, how we see ourselves and others. This might also include something about makeup the historical aspects of it? Why people use it or don't?. For the activity the girls would then partner up, and make paper mache masks on one another. We would let the masks dry. Then the following week we would discuss how people view us, what labels people give us, how they make us feel and mechanisms we use to deal with them, talking about how we feel like we have these masks on when we interact with one another, which make our relationships fake in the end lacking in intimacy. We would then decorate the masks, representing us, and how we want to be seen by others. This is just one example of the type of setup one such module would have.

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