Once Upon A Ride

It’s probably my worst kept secret that I do Uber driving as one of my sources of income. I don’t mind either; I’m grateful for the opportunity and anything keeping me from working retail again. But BOY, does that not make the hardships I run into with the rideshare experience any more pleasant.

This job is very simple; take people where they’re going and don’t hit anything on the way there. So why does such a simple job run into so many problems? I can talk all day about my laundry list of Uber gripes, but I might want to come back to this topic once or twice again, so I’ll talk about two for now.

1. “English *insert trademark Samuel L. Jackson swear here*! Do you speak it?!”

Look, this isn’t one of those “This is MERICA, we only speak ENGLISH here” rants. Uber is inheritly a visual application and therefore anyone can use it. But when a problem arises? I suddenly can’t learn Spanish (or Portuguese, or Creole, regular French is okay though) to address the situation. This typically combines with another Uber issue to create a massive headache, but sometimes it can be a real pain all on its own too.

Recently, I picked up from Jersey Gardens mall, which has about half a dozen different entrances. My passenger naturally put just the actual mall as the pickup spot, so I had to call and confirm the location. Great, a confused voice speaking in Spanish answers the phone. Thankfully Uber has a message system that I was able to see her text with; it was a message saying her English wasn’t very good. Well, I appreciate the honesty, at least. A quick message through Google Translate told me they were at the food court, as I figured, by the location of their pin. Thankfully, the actual family were just glad to see me. I’m just glad there was no confusion. as to the destination.

No, I’m not kidnapping you. Or taking you to Flavortown.

2. Did you hear about this guy doing this thing with that girl and their friend?

The second, is drunk discussion. I like driving late at night, so I’m no stranger for the bar crowd. But the discussions that happen in the back of my car (which is a public space when passengers are in the car and therefore I can be as nosy as I please), whoa. They have beginnings, middles, and ends, and enough exposition for all people in the stories for me to have some sort of opinion at the end of it all. Yeah, Janet sounds like a real bitch. I usually get asked for my input anyway, so I have to have an opinion either way.

But the absolute craziness of some of these stories, and the people telling them. Do you know that the average Hoboken pasttime for those living in those lovely riverside penthouses, is cocaine done off of glass tables? I don’t think I was supposed to know that, but I heard it anyway.

Happens more than you think.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but these are two that really are more common than you think. They don’t really hinder me from doing the actual driving job, and sometimes it keeps things interesting, but overall it’s stuff I’d rather deal without, you know? As long as everyone gets where they’re going and I get paid, it’s all groovy. And no, that doesn’t mean I’m kidnapping anyone who has a bad payment method. I’m sure someone has though, and that’s why pepperspray is quintessential. Thanks for hearing my TED Talk.

“Keep Ya Head Up”

adult alone backlit black and white
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Once again, we are back for Thesis! Storytime: last week I was feeling extremely insecure about my early proposal (#2) that I submitted. I stayed up until 4:30 in the morning just to make sure what I had was good enough, even though I had no idea what I was doing. Needless to say, I don’t think I did that great of a job, but I am still pushing through! As per my previous blogs, I have become very passionate about language, identity, power and the combination of these things when it comes to African Americans and their dialects.

I will be honest, I don’t have much to say in my blog post for this week. However, I will let the notes I have been taking speak for itself. Here were some of the key points and quotes that stood out to me:

  • Tracing the history of BEV, Dillard (1972) notes that early slave traders purposely mixed slaves speaking different languages “so that the slaves could be more easily controlled.” To communicate with each other, the slaves relied on pidgin versions of Portuguese, French, and English that they “had learned in the slave ‘factories’” of West Africa: Slaves sent to French- or to Portuguese-speaking areas found it much easier to communicate in Pidgin French or in Pidgin Portuguese than to find an African language in common; they restricted contact of most of them with their masters precluded their learning the standard language. (p. 22) (pg 123) Elanor Wilson Orr: Twice as Less: Black English and the Performance of Black Students in Mathematics and Science (1987) Chapter 6: Prepositions in Black English Vernacular
  • Speaking of the difficulty BEV speakers have in learning standard English, Stewart (1969) makes the point: And even though the overall structural difference between Negro  dialect of the most nonstandard kind and standard English of the most formal kind is obviously not as great as between any kind of English and a foreign language like Spanish, this does not necessarily make it easier for the Negro-dialect speaker to acquire an acceptable standard variety of English than for the speaker of Spanish to do so. On the contrary, the subtlety of the structural differences between the two forms of English, masked as they are by the many similarities, may make it almost impossible for the speaker of Negro dialect to tell which patterns are characteristic of nonstandard dialect, and which ones are not. Indeed, this may explain why it is that many immigrant populations have been able to make a more rapid and successful transition from their original foreign language to standard English than migrant Negroes have from their own nonstandard dialect to standard English. (pp. 168-69) (pg 126) Elanor Wilson Orr: Twice as Less: Black English and the Performance of Black Students in Mathematics and Science (1987) Chapter 6: Prepositions in Black English Vernacular
  • Language acquisition is a subconscious process; while it is happening, we are not aware that we possess any new knowledge; the knowledge is stored in our brains subconsciously. Both children and adults can subconsciously acquire language. Also, both oral and written language can be acquired. (pg 1)Stephen D. Krashen: Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use (2003)

In conclusion, my lack of words on this blog post does not mean I am not working hard. (As per the picture below). I went a little overboard at the library, but I couldn’t help myself! Next week, I will have a more concrete post for you! Until then, check out the notes that I’ve gathered over the past week! (These are just the notes that are typed.)

‘Til Next Week!

IMG_0108

Thesis Notes Links: 

Stephen D. Krashen: Explorations in Language Acquisition and Use (2003)

Key Words and Other Notes

Elanor Wilson Orr: Twice as Less: Black English and the Performance of Black Students in Mathematics and Science (1987) Chapter 6: Prepositions in Black English Vernacular

Previous Blog Posts! (From Most Recent to Older):

I Ain’t Changin’ Nottin’ Fa Nobody!

Things are Heating Up

Wish I Thought of a Reading List Sooner!

Almost Done~

Hello~

Hope the week wasn’t too bad for everyone! I had a rather busy week tbh. Tonight was rather busy actually. I got out of work quite late because of some issues (gotta love retail) and because of all that, this post is probably going to be another short and sweet one. Hope you don’t mind!

This week, I got through a lot of content. I’ve been working on the last two sections of my thesis together. I’m finding it a little challenging to word exactly what I want to say about degenerate art 2.0 which is holding me up a little bit. But, that said, I did get some good content down. I was a little unsure of my start but once I got into the “meat” of the subject matter, I kind of found my groove. I’m focusing mostly on the expressive aspects of new media and on the importance of this moment in creating and propagating it. I’m not trying to prove anything with my work so much as demonstrate the importance of not dismissing new media for a perceived lack of inherent meaning. More, I’m trying to give voice to this moment and to emphasize the meaningfulness of my generation. This has been personally enlightening research just as much as it has been intellectual. I think it’s important to emphasize that even seemingly meaningless work can have a profound impact on ourselves and our experiences of the world.

So, that’s how the degenerate art 2.0 section of my work has been going. I’ve also been filling in my methods section as well. That’s not quite as challenging as the other sections as I’m really just recalling what I’ve done thus far. It’s a bit cathartic to realize and relay how much work has been put into this project. For most of the process, I’ve felt like I’ve been lagging along. I’ve felt like so much more could be done and I’ve not been taking the work seriously. But, reflecting on all the work I’ve done makes me feel a bit of pride. I’m happy to see all the pieces coming together.

That said, I’m still concerned about some aspects of my work. Mainly, I’m concerned about Research Days. I’m worried about what work I’ll have prepared to present. I really want to get a website together for my thesis so there’s something, in addition to the E-Lit piece, for people to peruse so that they can get a sense of my project. I’m hella concerned about having enough time to finish my metalworks piece. I’ve just been so busy with work and the writing aspect of my thesis that I feel like I’ve let it slip through the cracks. I got the foundation of it done but down I need to assemble all the pieces. To ensure I have enough time, I may need to meet for thesis class earlier and head right to the studio around 4:30. I just don’t think it’ll be done as well as it should be if I don’t rearrange some of my schedule.

This week has had its ups and downs. I’m happy with the progress I’ve been making on the writing side of my thesis but now I feel I need to work on its presentation. I feel like I need to kick it into maximum overdrive if I want to be presentable by Research Days (and I do). So, I’ve definitely been busy and I’ve come far but I’m going to probably be even busier these next few weeks. Story of my life~

****

~Till next time~

Choice vs. The Right Things To Do

It’s not easy, to consider every little detail about a character from the very beginning, that much I’m sure anyone who has attempted writing a story would agree with that. But occasionally you run across a moral dilemma, that’s less of a dilemma and more “do I let the character do what I expect them to do, or do I have them do what’s expected of them”?

Image result for red pill blue pill

For instance, I expect Lawrence Fishburne to only offer me the truth, nothing more.

 As I belt away at my story having completed my literature review, I had experienced this very engagement as I work around the climax of the story. To elaborate at this point, the main character finds the artifact that virtually everyone had been trying to get their hands on for the entire book (and then some). His enemies want it, his companion wants it, and he wants nothing to do with it…..at least he initially thought. However, he slowly begins to witness the impact this artifact could have on society if it’s left in the hands of the enemies, and not the gods who created it. Naturally, he resolves to give it back to the gods……until he finds out that there’s an ancient conspiracy going on with them, and suddenly the villain doesn’t seem so villainous for opposing them. Huh.

Image result for the problem is choice

 And I wish it didn’t take 10 straight minutes for the Matrix Reloaded to recognize this.

 But this is where I believe most writing soon becomes organic, depending on the type on the conflict at play. There is an inherent loss I feel, in making a plot revolve around a character acting a certain way. Cause let’s be real, people are people and will make impulsive decisions and regret it immensely. That’s just how life goes at times. I considered that my main character, while not a selfish individual by any means, would rather keep himself out of as much conflict as possible, regardless of the repercussions. That’s not a fatal character flaw, or even a negative trait. It’s simply how I believe the character would respond to a situation, and that makes the story almost as much of a surprise to me as I feel it will a reader, even though I’m the one writing it.

I have an idea of how my story will end, but it’s not necessarily up to me to decide it. Sure, I’m the one writing it and have the most creative control as a result, but the interactions of my characters, including their thoughts and feelings throughout the story, are ultimately the biggest factors behind the things they do, and whether it’s in the name of the right thing, or the freedom of choice, it’s the conflict that’s what makes people keep reading.

Image result for the problem is choice

Wouldn’t be much of a writer if I couldn’t.

Back From A Short Break~

Hello from the other side of Spring break ^.^

For those wondering, I had a very relaxing break for the most part. I got to spend some quality time with my family. We went to some museums in the city and out to eat most nights. Because of work and class, I haven’t really had the time to relax and just be with my family and enjoy their company. I think being able to spend this time with my family and with my friends, too, was necessary in order for me to keep moving forward. I don’t think I realized just how stressed I have been until I was spending time away from all the places/things that stress me out.

This break allowed me to reflect on more than just my work thus far and my progress; I reflected on myself as well and on my own goals. I’ve had a lot of setbacks in my personal life that have had a huge impact on my work and how I view myself. It really wasn’t until this break where I didn’t work or go to class that I was able to feel the real gravity of everything I’ve gone through. Honestly, I’ve had a shitty year and a half and the last few months have just been the cherry on top.

Anyway, I reflected on my circumstances over break and came to the conclusion that, regardless of all that nonsense and not despite but because of all the people who didn’t want me in their lives, I’m going to complete my work and live the best life I can. I can’t change anything that’s happened. More, I have so many great opportunities at my fingertips right now. I can miss what I’ve lost but I shouldn’t linger on it. Doing that keeps me from writing, keeps me from what I love and from what loves me.

So, now that the mooshy stuff is out-of-the-way, let’s recap what work I accomplished over break. First and foremost, I completed my section on memes, shitposts, and gifs. Most of the sources I covered in this section are from my independent study I had last semester wherein I researched memes and complexity theory. The bulk of this section focuses on the trajectory of memes and on how they’ve been viewed research vs. how they act in online spaces. I cover some of the more “researchy” angles on memes in the start of this section before delving into more contemporary thought on the medium. Most of this contemporary thought comes from the articles I sourced last semester (in our first thesis course) which identify memes as art objects and connect their creation and propagation to a kind of resurgence of Dadaism in contemporary culture. Essentially, I wanted to first ground memes in theoretical research before exploring some of their, in my opinion, more profound connotations.

Additionally, I touch upon shitposting as well. To be honest, there is not as much research on shitposting as there is on memes. Much of the research focuses on the negatives of shitposting as well, particularly how it has contributed to furthering far right agendas (because it’s a popular kind of posting on sites like 4chan and Reddit). Not really what my work is about. Also, I find the definition of shitposting on Know Your Meme to be a little inaccurate. Outdated, perhaps. More than anything, I found myself kind of making a case for expanding our understanding of shitposting to include more absurdist humor sentiments. Right now, it seems to be understood as more of a nuisance than a statement. That narrow mindset keeps us from exploring possibilities. Also, it frames this new form of expression as inane and meaningless cause it’s “stupid” from the start without proper consideration of other possibilities. The definition becomes a cage. At least, that’s what I believe and what I kind of make a case for in this section of my paper before seguing into the Degenerate Art 2.0 section of my thesis.

So, here’s the part where I tell you I got horribly, disgustingly sick towards the end of spring break which, unfortunately, impeded me from completing the last section of my paper. I did start it (and I am planning to have it completed by this weekend) and I do feel like I have a good direction for it. So far, I’ve started this section off by reiterating how often new forms of digital content creation like memes, digital art, and Eliterature are cast aside, dismissed, or somehow identified as less than traditional mediums. I want to emphasize this lack of recognition and acceptance from authorities before clarifying that I don’t believe there are any specific oppressors other than the state of contemporary culture. I don’t want to compare anyone to or put anyone in the place of the Nazis, who created the term “Degenerate Art” when they first vilified Dada works. Rather, I want to focus on the Dadaist “spirit” of these works themselves and on how, in many ways, these kinds of works are acting as a way for this generation to reclaim a sense of identity–both personal and collective.

These works are our resistance to the powers that be that wish we’d shut up and stand in line. That wish we’d continue to subscribe to ways of thinking and to dreams that are no longer realistic. These often nonsensical, nihilistic, and “absurd” emergent forms of content creation are how we respond to the nonsense, uncertainty, and absurdity of current affairs. “We’re all mad here”, you know? It’s like these new mediums are ways for us to reassert and well as reinforce who we are and where we stand in these times. These mediums are in-temporal, perhaps, but they’re meant to express this moment in time for us. They’re not meant to be these lasting artifacts. Hopefully, they aren’t. Hopefully the world changes. Hopefully we change. Hopefully everything isn’t always going to be so awful and absurd.

While I firmly believe these works are representative of self and of the world we must conceive of ourselves within, I do believe they are just representations. These new forms of representation represent this time now. They represent us how we need to be represented now. But, I don’t know if we’ll always be in these objects or if we always should be. In a recent studio visit with digital artist Alex Saum, she said, “Works of art are always representations. They aren’t me.” Since I heard these words, I’ve been struck. I think I forgot that my thesis is about self-representation. It’s not just about self. Actually, it’s about how we express and convey self in the digital age. It’s about how these new digital artifacts act as conduits for conveying who we are to the world and for ourselves. These works are heavily inspired by us and our experiences but they aren’t us. Dada was a response. What’s happening now is also just that: a response. We embody Dada. We embody resistance. We are what is reclaimed.

From this little spiel, I hope it’s clear that, though I didn’t complete everything I hoped to complete over break, I am certainly reinvigorated and impassioned from break. I didn’t waste my time not thinking about thesis. In fact, I feel like I have more purpose and direction than I’ve had these past few weeks. My thesis adviser is always asking me why is this work important. Well, this work is important because it’s about us and, more, about how we are experiencing this world right now. We are this moment. We are Dada. We are in every meme and shitpost we make but we are also so much more than that and isn’t that absurd?? Isn’t it so absurd and nonsensical to be who we are in this moment? Isn’t the world such a mad place to be a person in right now? What seems to make the most sense is that nothing makes sense. So, why not make a meme?

****

~Till next time~

I Ain’t Changin’ Nottin’ Fa Nobody!

adult african american beautiful black and white
Photo by Christina Morillo on Pexels.com

Well, well, welcome back everyone! Spring break was more of a high-speed week instead of a break. But you know what? I’m glad it was. A couple of weeks ago I wanted to give up what I was trying to do for my thesis and start a new topic. I was face to face with an issue that I did not know anything about, the scholars behind it, or the history of it. I was being asked questions from family members that I couldn’t answer and were given answers and opinions from them that I didn’t even ask for. My professor told me to keep going with it. Reluctantly, I did. I doubted myself. Was I smart enough to handle a topic like this? What did I get myself into? Well, this post is to happily tell you that I have hit the jackpot. I opened the door to not only a topic but another world that I can never return back to earth. (Sorry for the mushy-gushy stuff.)

I have gathered so much information and notes from the readings I have been doing that I could not fit it into this post. I would have to make five posts. For time’s sake, I’ll put the links to the different documents of notes I have created for each reading at the end of this blog under the section “Documents: Thesis Notes.” I also have notes on YouTube videos and a documentary as well! I am also proud of myself because it’s been a long time since my mind has been able to think in this way. Creating new ideas and connecting points to readings and my own experiences. After doing some more reading and research, these were the ideas that came to my head, which, I think, is formulating my Burning Question.

  • Why choose between African American Vernacular English and Standard English? Why pick Standard English over African American Vernacular English? What are the benefits (if any)? What’s the consequence?: Losing your identity. (Thought about while reading The Language of Identity by Sonja L. Lanehart)

 

  • White society standard-proper or “Standard English.” Reality: You’ll never reach the white society standard no matter how proper you speak, you’ll always be black. Instead of trying to tear away something that is going to be part of you anyway, just embrace it and learn that there is a deep and enriched history behind it. It’s not just a bunch of words put together that makes no sense. You take away that, you take away a part of not only you but your ancestors and the black community. (Thought about while watching Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin: A Conversation (1971): YouTube Video)

 

  • Sometimes I hear other people speaking “improperly” who are not African American and for the most part, they are not as criticized or ridiculed for it. And if they are, it’s kind of a slap on the wrist, but for black people, it’s a slap in the face.

 

  • Sometimes black English has no words. It’s more than just sounding improper. The way I speak will not be the sole reason or the main reason why I won’t land a job or be successful in the professional world. Hair, skin color, names, money, class, status, all of these other things have more weight to whether or not I am accepted in a particular profession, school, academic setting, etc. than the way I speak. You can’t just say, “Speaking black will not land you a job.” That makes absolutely no sense. I don’t have to open my mouth for a white person to look at me or my name and judge me and not give me whatever they want to give me merely because I am black. People will judge you and automatically think you know less than you do just because of your skin color. So if that is the case, I say accept the way you speak and stop putting down people who do.

 

  • Question: What are the consequences when you remove your language as a black person? My answer: You lose your identity, you lose a part of your history, you lose that sense of community and culture…you lose your blackness. Mind you, my answer is not to say that every single black person in America speaks the same way. However, I am hurt when I hear people say that when black people talk “ghetto” or “improper” then they “make us all look bad,” etc. Even a black person who speaks Standard English will still sing R&B the way it is, which is cutting off the ings at the end of words. That’s not improper, it’s artistic. When you discredit the black language, you are disproving your grandparents, their parents, music, history, art, international connections, movies, television, poetry, literature, and much more! You are cutting the cord to something that belongs to you, and instead of embracing it, you are trying to not only get rid of it, but you’re throwing it in the garbage to be turned into such a negative aspect of the American culture.

Now, I know that Dr. Zamora is going to have my fine tune these ideas more, but I believe I am more grounded with this topic than I was two months ago. After the break, I also had to start thinking about how I am going to put my thesis into a form, which is my methods section. Back in November, when I first started becoming interested in this topic, I was in North Carolina for a funeral. My brother, father, Nana, and Papa stayed with my Aunt Jesse (who is my Papa’s sister). We were sitting around the kitchen table, and I was fascinated with something. I started to pay attention to the way they were speaking. Specifically my grandparents and Aunt Jesse. People who speak Standard English will believe they are not talking correctly. However, putting aside the fact that they all have Southern accents, they were, in fact, speaking African American Vernacular English or Black English.

This is what I heard my entire life. This is how I picked up my own accent and way of speaking. Even the laughs, hand gestures, body movements, all of that is Black English! I want to document or record myself and my family sitting around the table and talking. After church on Sunday at dinner or when we’re all hanging out. There is a very beautiful rhythm when we are speaking together that I want to capture the rawness of that. On the other end of that spectrum, I also want to record myself in a setting outside of the comfort of my home. Such as work, school, or in front of my professors and classmates. I want to capture how wonderful and actually better it is when a person knows how to codeswitch and speak more than one dialect. (Just an idea!)

Last night I was talking to one of my classmates after class, and I asked her how she was doing since we haven’t spoken all semester. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Hey girl, what’s up? How are you doing? We haven’t really talked in a while.

Her: “Girl, I be stressin’!” 

Simple conversation right? We laughed after she said that because I understood her! Now, in Standard or “proper” English, this is what she said, “I am under a lot of stress.” Even while typing her sentence in the blog, a red line came under “I.” The system wanted me to say, “I am stressing” or “I will be stressing.” This was me speaking my dialect to someone else who speaks that dialect. I felt comfortable. I didn’t have to try too hard to think about what I’m going to say next. I also did not have to be concerned about whether or not she understood me or if I understood her. Now, in the classroom setting, we both speak Standard English. (She does more than I do actually.) But the class was over, and we knew that we had the green light to code switch into our natural dialect.

Also, I attempted to write another proposal, which I already sent out. I can’t wait to receive feedback on it because this one is definitely more developed than the first one.

I am still studying and researching, but I am ready for some methods and writing! (I think) Here are the documents of notes and also if you want to listen to the videos from my family in NC, I put a private YouTube link below so you can listen and enjoy!

See you all tomorrow!

Documents: Thesis Notes

Sonja Lanehart: The Language of Identity

Lisa Delpit: Other People’s Children

Nikki Giovanni & James Baldwin: A Conversation

Key Words/Phrases/Other Notes

Talking Black in America Documentary Notes

Video Links

Nikki Giovanni and James Baldwin Video

NC Family Conversations 1

NC Family Conversations 2

NC Family Conversations 3

NC Family Conversations 4

NC Family Conversations 5

Things are Heating Up

General Question: How’s everyone’s thesis process going?  😊

Image result for quotes about coffee and thesis
Google Images

The more I dive into my deep reading, the more excited I become about my thesis and the whole process of studying a topic that has become close to my heart, almost like a child. (Mind you, I have no children, but I do have a lot of nieces and nephews.) I am very protective of this topic of AAVE (African American Vernacular English); but beyond that, I am curious about it. I want to know it’s “favorite color” or “what makes it itch,” I want to know every single detail and as much as possible. Studying and taking notes more this past week made me realize that I forgot I was in a class for this and eventually will receive a grade for this. I am working hard to produce something pretty awesome for my own pleasure and ambitions. With that being said, let’s dive in!

So last week I was relieved to know that I am on the right track! (Phew). The reading list that I had in my previous blog was a good start to building a Literature Review. Obviously, between working full time and going to school full time, I can’t read 20 pieces of literature in seven days. So for now, I started with four new readings and one continuation.

  1. Bell Hooks: Black Looks, Race and Representation: This book had so many interesting points when it came to talking about black people and the way their representation effects not only their lives but how it’s metaphorically embedded in their DNA when it comes to their clothes or music. However, that representation is considered cool or current, but when it comes down to history or what a black person deals with daily, it’s considered everything under the sun except being cool. Within the first chapter, I saw a lot of great points that she made that could be used in my thesis (possibly), but I don’t see this being a book that is the main part of it. Here are the points that could be used for my thesis:
  • “We have to change our own mind…we’ve got to change our own minds about each other. We have to see each other with new eyes. We have to come together with warmth…” -Malcolm X (Hooks, pg 16)
  • Every aware black person who has been the “only” in an all-white setting knows that in such a position we are often called upon to lend an ear to racist narratives, to laugh at corny race jokes, to undergo various forms of racist harassment. (pg 16)
  • And that self-segregation seems to be particularly intense among those black college students who were often raised in material privilege in predominately white settings where they were socialized to believe racism did not exist, that we were all “just human beings,” and then suddenly leave home and enter institutions and experience racist attacks. (pg 16)
  • While it has become “cool” for white folks to hang out with black people and express pleasure in black culture, most white people do not feel that this pleasure should be linked to unlearning racism…(pg 17)
  • As long as black folks are taught that the only way we can gain any degree of economic self-sufficiency or be materially privileged is by first rejecting blackness, our history, and culture, then there will always be a crisis in black identity. (pg 18)
  • Internalized racism will continue to erode collective struggle for self-determination. (pg 18)

2. Paulo Freire: Pedagogy of the Oppressed: Freire is a brilliant scholar and based off of this book I truly admire what he writes about. However, like Hooks, I feel as if this is not what my thesis is going to be surrounded by. He spoke about oppressors and oppressed and how these groups work in the world of class, power, race, and identity. I can see this being apart of my thesis literature review, but for a Doctorate Degree. His points and topic would broaden my specific topic of AAVE too much instead of helping focus on one thing. These points I found interesting:

  • The “fear of freedom” which afflicts the oppressed, a fear which may equally well lead them to desire the role of the oppressor or bind them to the role of oppressed, should be examined. (pg 46)
  • The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. (pg 47)
  • Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility, (pg 47)
  • Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man, nor is it an idea which becomes a myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion. (pg 47)
  • However, the oppressed, who have adapted to the structure of domination in which they are immersed, and have become resigned to it, are inhibited from waging the struggle for freedom so long as they feel incapable for running the risks it requires. Moreover, their struggle for freedom threatens not only the oppressor but also their own oppressed comrades who are fearful of still greater repression. (pg 47).
  • The oppressors do not perceive their monopoly on having more as a privilege which dehumanizes others and themselves. They can not see that, in the egoistic pursuit of having as a possessing class, they suffocate in their own possessions and no longer are; they merely have. For them, having more is an inalienable right, a right they acquired through their own “effort” with their “courage to take risks.” If others do not have more, it is because they are incompetent and lazy, and worst of all is their unjustifiable ingratitude towards the “generous gestures” of the dominant class. Precisely because they are “ungrateful” and “envious” the oppressed are regarded as potential enemies who must be watched. (pg 59)

3. Lisa Delpit: Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom: This book has so many points and pieces of information that I have a separate Google Doc just for Delpit. (Click Here to see it). There were specific quotes that I would like to mention here because they made me think about my “Burning Question” and I feel like I am getting closer to finding out what it is.

  • The children in Trackton, in short, read to learn things, for real purposes. When these children arrived in school they faced another reality, They were required, instead, to “learn to read,” that is, they were told to focus on the process of reading with little apparent real purposes in mind other than to get through a basal page or complete a worksheet – and much of this they were to accomplish in isolation, Needless to say, they were not successful at the decontextualized, individualized school reading tasks. (pg 63)
  • Those who have acquired additional codes because their local language differs significantly from the language of the national culture may actually be in a better position to gain access to the global culture than “mainstream” Americans who, as Martha says, “only know one way to talk.” Rather than think of these diverse students as problems, we can view them instead as resources who can help all of us learn what it feels like to move between cultures and language varieties, and thus perhaps better learn how to become citizens of the global community. (pg 69)
  • Rather than teach decontextualized operations, she would typically first pose a “real-life” problem and challenge the students to find a solution. (pg 65)
  • To give some background information, Delpit gave examples and quoted other scholars and teachers; they were making the point that black students learn in a different way than white students would. There needs to be a purpose for learning and using it for real-life situations. Black students do not have a disadvantage because they speak AAVE, but rather it is the concept of learning differently. Here is the example I thought of:
  • My favorite TV is A Different World (About students at an HBCU (Historically Black College)). One of the characters, Lena James, comes from a rough neighborhood in Baltimore but comes to college to receive an education. She is having trouble with calculus until her professor, Dwayne Wayne, is able to relate calculus to something she is passionate about or something she could relate to. It is present that she speaks AAVE but is certainly not dumb or “less than” because of it. All the professor had to do was relate it to the student, and she succeeded. (The part I’m talking about stops at 31 seconds of the video. Also, I apologize for the bad quality!)

 

So far, I have two main points for my thesis. The first one comes from the quote I made in my previous blog about people or specifically students who can speak in more than one way, as an advantage. The stigma that African Americans speak “improper” is considered “less than” but in reality, they know how to speak in two ways (or more), which would be AAVE and “Standard English.” The second one is that AAVE is not acceptable in an academic setting but what about if the language could be accepted in the classroom, would there be a change in grades, behavior, and confidence in the students? Delpit and her fellow scholars say yes.

3. Felicia R. Lee: Lingering Conflict in the Schools: Black Dialect vs. Standard Speech: This article was amazing and on point with its context! Lee spoke about dialect and the importance of it. It seems as if dialect as far as it referring to one’s identity has been not only swept under the rug but totally disregarded and viewed as negative. Lee was able to show both sides of the argument when it came down to “who is responsible for black students not knowing how to speak properly?” but also, “who is responsible for stripping away their dialect in general?” What I also liked about this reading was that I was able to make connections to other readings and materials that I am studying. Here are the points that I could use for my thesis:

  • The black vernacular has steadily diverged from standard English and becomes more widespread in poor, urban neighborhoods.
  • The persistence of the dialect reflects, in part, the growing resistance of some black young people to assimilate and their efforts to use language as part of a value system that prizes cultural distinction. It also stems from the increasing isolation of black inner-city residents from both whites and middle-class blacks and stems as well from a deep cynicism (an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest; skepticism) about the payoffs of conforming.
  • An absence of clear policy: Teachers are largely left to devise their own methods.
  • In some neighborhoods, young people acknowledge an element of resistance, and even a stigma, to using standard English or “talking proper”.
  • “English is not our language,” said Takiyah Hudson, a 17-year-old high school senior who lives in Harlem. She said her mother and sister correct her English when she slips into a black dialect, which she does not use in formal situations.
  • The issue is exquisitely sensitive, going beyond nouns and verbs to questions of racial identity and class, as well as the politics of education. There is some sentiment among the black middle class that the vernacular legitimizes poor grammar. Others blame schools for not teaching standard English better because teachers have low educators of the dialect, say it is time to become more sophisticated in the classroom.
  • Francesca Charles, a 17-year-old junior at Clara Barton High School in Brooklyn, said students who speak only in dialect are not understood outside their communities. “People don’t understand you, or they put words in your mouth. That’s why they’re viewed so badly,” she said.
  • “During slavery, blacks created their own langauge The students create their own language to communicate among themselves,” she said. *This will be a connection to another piece of material that I am studying.*
  • Ramon C. Cortines, the Schools Chancellor, said teachers need to correct their students’ English and prepare them for the mainstream. “I don’t know of any jobs or any college where a prerequisite is a dialect,” Mr. Corintes said. “The problem with American education is we get caught up in fads and don’t teach the basics.”
  • “The problem is not the students but many of my colleagues,” said a Bronx elementary schoolteacher who did not warn her name used. “We need to stop finding excuses for not teaching. When my students use bad English, I tell them it is bad English and that it has nothing to do with the color of their skin.”
  • Jo-Ann Graham, chairwoman of the department of communication at the Bronx Community College, said teaching standard English is not simply cleaning up grammatical lapses. “It is not just saying, ‘You don’t say “they is” you say “they are,”‘ she said. “You have to teach the structure, the vocabulary, the sound system, the grammar just as if you were teaching another language.
  • The country’s largest school system to use such an approach is Los Angeles. Its “Proficiency in English” program, started in 1978, uses methods like repetitive drills to teach standard English like a second language. Several other California school districts, including Oakland, Sacramento, and Vallejo, use similar programs.
  • Contrastive analysis: Used by programs
  • Examples
  • Bidialectalism: Students retain their home or community dialect while learning and using the Standard English dialect of the school and larger society. (The format of this instruction is based upon the pedagogy of foreign language teaching and incorporates the used of contrastive analysis. Specifically, this approach compares Standard English phonological and syntactic features with those of the students’ dialect and is structured so that students can observe how their own linguistic features differ from those of Standard English.)
  • Ms. Wright-Lewis, a teacher at Boys and Girls High School in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn has students write and rewrite assignments. She makes them give oral presentation and participate in discussions that she privately assesses for syntax and grammar. She writes her own stories for students, in which characters switch back and forth between standard and non-standard English. And she corrects her students in private to help protect their fragile self-esteem. 
  • Diallo Robinson, 17, a senior at the East New York High School for Transit Technology, agrees that using the dialect is a matter of choice: “I don’t think language is not being taught adequately but that students choose not to fall in the line of being better than your brother or sister.
  • Mr. Evans, who teaches at Thomas Jefferson High School, said: “Needless to say, by the time they go to high school it’s an uphill battle,”. “The African-American inner-city kid has to turn it off and turn it on and be, in effect, bilingual.” “I tell them innate intelligence is not enough. If you speak well, it can solve a myriad of problems,” Mr. Evans said. “What they require is to see more men and women of color who are in power, who speak a certain way or dress a certain way.”

4. Alice Lee: Why “Correcting” African American Language Speakers is Counterproductive: I found this article to be amazing as far as background information of AAVE, knowing the difference between dialect and language, referencing major scholars in this topic, and also giving personal stories and experiences in order to understand why correct speakers of AAVE is, as she puts it, “counterproductive.” Lee has so many points surrounding what I want my thesis to be about, that I will only put down a few main points. The rest of the main quotes will be in a separate document, which you can click here.

  • Lee’s “Burning Questions”: Aren’t we doing our students a disservice by allowing them to talk like that in the classroom when they’ll be expected to speak standard English in the real world?
  • I also became more attuned to the ways teachers’ lack of knowledge about AAL (African American Language) played a role in their instruction.
  • Her professor: She informed me that AAL usage was only acceptable at home.
  • In this article, I would like to address the topic of AAL usage in the classroom, particularly the line of thinking that assumes “correcting” the language is what will “set students up for success” in the future. By providing some abbreviated information on how children acquire language, I will explain how AAL “correction” is not only a faulty perspective (since AAL is linguistically legitimate), actually counterproductive for student “success” – in both language acquisition and learning. Additionally, I will offer practical suggestions for how AAL can be incorporated into curriculum and instruction.
  • My goal in this article is not to provide a comprehensive linguistic background for AAL, but to provide cursory information to help readers understand why AAL is and should be considered a “real” language.
  • The term, African American Language, has also been referred to as Ebonics, African American Vernacular English, Black English, Black Vernacular English, and is defined by Smitherman (2006) in the following way: “Black or African American Language (BL or AAL) a style of speaking English words with Black flava-which Africanized semantic, grammatical, pronunciation rhetorical patterns. AAL comes out of the experience of U.S. slave descendants, This shared experience has resulted in common speaking has resulted in common speaking styles, systematic patterns of grammar, and common language practices in the Black community (pg 3).
  • The difference between a language and dialect is often defined by whether or not it is understood by speakers within the same group.
  • Smitherman argues, therefore, that what is considered a dialect versus a language is not solely based on linguistics, but involves decision-making entrenched in power.
  • As linguistics, both Labov and Smitherman have documented how AAL is systematically governed by rules-a defining marker for what is considered a “real” language.

For next week, I’m going to write about literacy and multiple literacies and why it’s important for my thesis. Also, a few scholars that I will be talking about will be Elaine Richardson, Sonja L. Lanehart, and more Lisa Delpit. I also will be talking about a documentary that I found about Black English! It’s the first documentary about AAVE, and I can’t wait to share my notes about it!

‘Til Next Time!

(Also: If you want to watch A Different World, it’s on Prime Video!)

Image result for a different world
Google Images

Back on Track~

Heads up! This is going to be another brief post because your girl got back from a late shift a work and she’s tired >.<

Hey~

Welcome back ^.^

Getting Back in the Game

So, this week I made some progress! And, after a week of stagnation, it feels good. I was definitely fixating too much on the Metalworks section. It wasn’t until I polished the section a little more this weekend that I was finally able to move onto to my piece de resistance: Memes.

2436rk

actually me

Now, the Metalworks section stressed me out. I believe this is because I felt like I had less information and research to draw from in comparison to other sections (which is true). I practice metalworks myself and I am comfortable in the studio but when it comes to theory and to ideas around best practices, I feel out of my element. Basically, I feel my practical skills are far more developed and nuanced than my theoretical know-how–which makes me self-conscious. I felt like I was out of my depth.

When it comes to memes though, I feel more in my element. This is a subject I have been raving talking about for years now. Specifically, I have been interested in whether or not memes, gifs, and shitposting constitute as a resurgence of traditional Dada ideals of non-sense and nihilism. (My thesis adviser is very patient with me lol) So, while I was a little unsure of exactly how to start discussing memes, I knew that I could. I could go on and on. Actually, I referred back to all my sources I discovered and wrote about in my independent study last semester. Reading through these sources and my annotated bibliography (that I really fleshed out last semester) helped refresh my memory and provided me with some direction. Also, it reading through this content reminded me how important it is to define my terms. Just because I’m very familiar with my subject matter, doesn’t mean anyone else would be.

So, to that end, I’ve referenced Dawkins (1976), Knobel & Lankshear (2007), Shifman (2013), Miltner (2014), Cannizzaro (2016), and a butt-ton of others to start off the party. I think I want to provide a brief history of the medium and what other researchers have said of the medium’s purpose/use before I delve into my own thoughts on how the medium can be this tool that can subvert traditional power structures as well as a way for us to communicate our life experiences as well as re-establish a sense of self in an otherwise nonsensical world. Some of the collected research touches upon these ideas I have but no formal research has really delved into it (maybe that’s because this is such a subjective topic??). I’m planning to use the “less formal” articles I have also collected that compare emergent meme culture to a kind of revitalization of Dada as well. I’ll probably add those more towards the middle/end of this section. I can see this section in my head; I just need to write it all down.

So, my meme section is about halfway done. I’m planning to continue working on it this weekend. I’m not sure exactly where yet I’m going to end it and transition into the Degenerate Art section of my work. I’m thinking I want to introduce the degenerate art section with Hugo Ball’s “this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect” sentiment (cause I find it so powerful and provocative). This means I need to end my meme section discussing the nature of resistance inherent in these new forms of digital content creation like memes. At least, that’s what I think I should do. Like I said, I can kind of envision these sections on the paper in my mind and it’s helping guide my hand in a lot of ways. I don’t want to get too caught up in what I think my thesis should look like though so please feel free to give me your own insights!!

Your girl is moving right along ^.^

~Till next time~

 

Writing & Technology & I Couldn’t Think Of A Clever Title

I feel that technology has a very unique place in the world of both reading and writing: whereas most people could make an argument that technology has been detrimental in some areas where it is prominent (communication for instance), it has been nothing short of beneficial to the way books are both written and consumed. Anyone who knows me will know that I am a big advocate of the Kindle e-reader (partially driven by my return to using Amazon after 3 years) and the very concept of it still blows me away to this day, even though it has become so rudimentary by now. Read your entire book collection on a screen that looks like paper, with a battery that lasts for weeks? How could anyone not like that?

And for the most part, thankfully, most people do seem to embrace it. While I thought I would be at odds with most of the English department over this, there seems to be a consensus where the most controversial opinion was that everyone has their own preference and as long as reading is being done, it should be done on any method. Yep, such a hot take. But still, it’s interesting to see how much of a divide there can be on this subject, particularly on the internet. There’s even a few advocates for the traditional books, citing things like unlimited “battery” and the “feel” of reading paper from a page (but not the potential of getting books wet, rotted, or having the print fade away depending on age, interesting).

the-ebook-reader-home.jpg

Pictured: My precious.

I don’t know my typing speed off the top of my head, but I know for a fact that I tend to be way more productive with writing when it comes to typing. And I know, typewriters have been a thing for the better part of the last century, but backspacing on a keyboard is several measures more convenient than retyping over a spelling error done on a ink ribbon. Several. I don’t write as frequently as I probably should, so I’m glad that my proficiency with a keyboard allows me to get out as many words as I had hoped, so I can reflect over the actual written text with greater efficiency. It feels weird, praising a keyboard when these things have been around since before I was even born, but I know for a fact that I probably wouldn’t have had as much of a fondness for writing, or even English in general, without its presence. I learned cursive the hard way in 4th grade and for some reason I prefer writing it that way all these years later.

1200px-Cursive.png

The PTSD is still very real. Also, those numbers aren’t even cursive, the hell.

Writing is writing, but sometimes software really makes the experience that much more pleasant and more efficient. Scrivener is a word that is synonymous with a scribe, clerk, or notary. It’s also a nifty mobile and desktop app that I’ve been using to work on my story and other narrative projects. The app itself is no more than a bunch of organization menus that you can freely tweak to your liking, but I believe that good organization is half the battle when it comes to good writing, and Scrivener is very much worth the entry fee. Was that an advertisement? Probably.

Where the magic happens.

Overall, I feel that we are in a great place in regards to technology and writing. The technology compliments the writing instead of hinders it, and the consumption of the media has been more accessible and pleasant than ever before. It’s fascinating to see how much has changed in the last few decades in how we write and read, but also how little it has changed from the standard paper and pencil. The more things change, the more they stay the same, and writing is perhaps one of the best examples in recent memory of this.