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Almost That Time!

 

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A Different World

 

Let’s Get Started!

Hello everyone! Well, I have been quite busy this week. Before I get started, just a huge “Congratulations” to my fellow classmate, scholar, and colleague Kelli for the amazing showcase of her Thesis during Kean University’s Research Days 2019. I was able to express, create, and learn. I applaud you. I also had the honor of participating in Kean’s Research Days along with my Writing and Theory Practice class from last semester. Integrating various ideas, articles, research, images, blog posts, ideas, and videos, we collectively created a website that touched upon various important topics concerning the up-and-coming issues in the classroom. We called it “Small Bites of Knowledge,” so I’ll be sure to add the link to the site after this blog!

Click to view slideshow.

Anyway! So besides all of that fun, I had to get down to business. I took a break from writing the next section of my thesis to focus on the Spring Symposium next week! (Can’t believe it’s here already.) I had a hard time creating a formal proposal and a short idea of what I am going to present next week. Of course, it’s in the first draft phase, and tomorrow I will do some cleanup. I wanted to make sure I get my point across and emphasize the problem I am focusing on. And then, of course, I talked about my chapters. I’m not sure if what I have so much is specific enough, but I am hoping it’s a good start to completing my presentation. I do want to show the idea that I had for possibly making a website that looks like this:

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Then I would also like to show the two sections that I have completed so much. It’s too much information to go through every “puzzle piece” of the document, but I would just scroll through it just to show everyone the work that is going into this thesis. What I don’t want to happen is it becomes a “boring” presentation and not something that will get their attention. Nevertheless, I tried my best. (Did not mean for that to rhyme). 

Before I sign off, I want to discuss something one of my classmates sent to me. Here is the image. Two sections are circled. There was a job posting for a teaching job at a university. The job posted the “Essential Duties and Responsibilities” that are required. The very first bullet point says, “Teach students writing in standard academic English through one-on-one, asynchronous online paper review appointments…”. Now, on the third bullet point, it says, “Commit to treating students, staff, and faculty in our community with empathy and respect, recognizing and valuing diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.” So then my classmate and I started talking, and she pointed out the fact that this job posting is contradictory. The school wants to make sure the students learn “standard academic English” but then also needs to recognize diversity. It’s challenging to tackle both responsibilities without canceling one of them out.

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I realized that in the academic space, it’s acceptable to have diversity in the classroom as long as the students are taught to speak and write [like this] to pass the class and be considered a “good student” or sound professional. Part of my thesis touched upon when it comes to a different dialect of English, in this case, AAVE is only accepted when people want it to be. I was thinking about including this example as part of the Power section of my thesis. Some people have “the upper hand” in society who creates the rules of what is acceptable and what is deemed unacceptable. It happens too often. People in power, such as higher-ups in the university setting, appreciate or merely accept only certain parts of a culture. You can’t love Spanish food but then dismiss their language. You can’t love 90’s R&B but dismiss AAVE. It’s almost as if this job application is saying, “Culture and diversity are good. It’s needed! It’s important! Just not when it comes to academic writing and language in its setting.” Instead, the job posting should have said, “Teach students writing in their best academic sense through one-on-one, asynchronous, online paper review appointments.” By phrasing it like this, the pressure of having to speak [like this] for the student to succeed decreases.

With that being said, I am looking forward to presenting my work for the first time next week. Until next time!

Here is the link to my Spring Symposium Formal Proposal: 

Also, the link to “Small Bites of Knowledge.” 

 

 

 

The Divine Duality

Every once in a while, you get a revolutionary type of presentation in a pre-existing format. Movies have been on the “Part 1 and Part 2” train since Harry Potter first proved it was feasible back in 2010. Most recently, Avengers: Endgame is the “Part 2” to Infinity War’s “Part 1”. But while many stories have told the beginning and end in two parts, what about telling the story simultaneously with two parts?

I have to be careful with this, because it wouldn’t take much to consider it nothing more than a method to cash in on an existing trend. But as I drafted and outlined novels past my first one (Grand Contingency), it soon became clear that I would need to reconsider the way I tell the next story, or I would have an Order of the Phoenix sized doorstop for a book.

Nothing is replacing my Dobby doorstop, anyway.

So, I can’t exactly explain why I feel this would be necessary without elaborating on my story a little bit, so here’s that.

The next story in the Godreign series, set in the modern era 130 years after the events of Grand Contingency. Despite being the second and third installments, these novels take place almost entirely at the same time, chronologically.

Sometime in the 20th century, the Godreign was found, and neither Zach Edwards or Annabelle d’Armientieres were around to prevent the successful summon of the Neutral Weapon, a living being said to rival the Higher Powers in terms of divine energy. This triggered The Fall; an era of calculated attacks that not only left death and destruction in its wake, but left many countries in states of helplessness. This went on for seven years, after which the Neutral Weapon became dormant. Not wanting to waste any time before it returned, the most brilliant minds of the world began planning to rebuild, recover, and prepare a strategy in case the Neutral Weapon ever returned.

Dynatronic Energy Solutions, was at the helm of this recovery effort, and soon became a monopoly on the PowerPotential Energy that proved vital to rebuilding efforts in many countries. When protests of their mistreatment began to grow, a terrorist organization known as the Assembly began staging terorrist acts. Dynatronic formed a private army, known as the Task Force to protect their investments.

Gryphons tells the story of the titicular Gryphons, an international unit of special forces operators who are under contract with the DES Task Force due to unclear circumstances. With their advanced flight suits and mastery of both Tempest and Acquiescent Artes, they lead the fight against the Assembly through various missions that strike at the heart of their operation. But when they are hunted down by the Task Force after discovering the true reason behind The Fall, they set off on a personal campaign to not only prove their innocence, but to ensure a future where the Godreign never returns.

Cairdrys is an android, or at least she thinks she is. She doesn’t remember much of her origins before becoming the latest member of the Gryphons, and the only being ever capable of using both Tempest and Acquiescent Artes. After waking up years after her last mission nearly destroyed her internals, she finds her internal memory being occupied by an unknown set of tasks, leaving her unable to access the set of abilities that defined her. As she slowly recovers her abilities, she also regains memories of the past, and as the Gryphons fight against the Assembly, her past may prove vital to a future without the Neutral Weapon.

Guardians tells the simultaneous story of the Praetorian Guard, a highly disciplined unit of bodyguards who protect the leader of the DES Task Force; the mysterious Imperator Commandalia, and their Praefector second-in-command, Cecelia Silvestre.

When Task Force newcomer “Wolf” Albrecht saves the Praefector’s niece from assassination, he finds himself as the newest member of the Guard. It is a position that he is not interested in accepting, does so to ensure the continued safety of his blind sister Sieglinde, a prodigy in the medical Acquiescent Artes. After accidentally discovering the identity of the Imperator, he becomes thrust into a battle on two fronts; one to stop the terrorist Assembly from activating the Neutral Weapon once more, and to investigate the sudden betrayal of the legendary Gryphon Unit, and if it’s even a defection at all.

So now that I have all of that out of the way, I feel I can explain it a little more.

Gryphons is recommended to be read first by newcomers who have not read Grand Contingency, you’ll learn about the Grand Experiment alongside the Gryphons. I’m writing this story with an action tilt; while both sides have several shares of action as well as exploration into the bigger picture within Grand Contingency, Gryphons focuses on a group of supersoldiers from several different agencies around the world, and therefore will feature a greater emphasis on discovery. The Gryphons are not nearly as well-documented on the Godreign as much as the main characters in Guardians, so they’ll be learning more as they go along. To a potential new reader, I feel this is an organic method of exposing them to the world.

Guardians builds on characters and background story from Grand Contingency, and while it can be read before Gryphons, it is recommended to be read first by those who have read Grand Contingency, in order to fully understand the connections both stories have with the overall lore.

Compared to Gryphons, which introduces the story from the outside looking in, the majority of the characters in Guardians are familiar with both the Godreign and the Grand Experiment. This is to represent the reader who has read Grand Contingency better, and to spend less time on exposition regarding it. It also goes into the history of both the Godreign and the Higher Powers That Be a little more, although that is not the focus for either story…yet.

So what’s the purpose behind this method of storytelling? Why couldn’t I just condense this into a single book, with multiple perspectives? Well, apart from the aforementioned doorstop of a book I’m trying to avoid, I feel like a sequel should only be done if there’s some opportunity to improve on some aspect of the narrative. After all, by the time Grand Contingency is ready to publish, I feel I can would have gone through a lot that had advanced me as a writer. But at the same time, I feel this method is still linear in a sense; both books would end up advancing the plot whether you read only one or both, so there is still a sense of progression despite the extra pages from both.

Most importantly, I’m excited to see the continuity that readers will recognize from reading one book then the other; there will be characters you recognize, references you understood, and reasons for characters doing something that may seem unclear at first, then you read it from their perspective and suddenly it all makes a little more sense. It’s a narrative approach that I wish was explored more, and one I hope to advance in some form with this duality in the storytelling.

How I hope someone feels reading Gryphons /Guardians then reading the other one.

Trust the Process

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Google Search: POET KWYN TOWNSEND RILEY

Well, I must say that this past week did go the way I expected. (But hey, that’s life!) The process for coming up with the different parts for the next chapter, Education, was harder than the History section. I had a difficult time condensing my notes into just a few sections. There is so much to address when it comes to Mainstream/Standard English versus AAVE in a classroom setting. I was able to add videos and images, which were helpful to the creative side of this thesis. Here are some screenshots from the document:

 

I didn’t think about the format of this section or where each box should go yet, I just wrote and put down whatever I thought would fit in the Education section. I do see more of my voice and opinion is shown in this section than the previous section. Also, there is more research present. Education and AAVE is such a big and controversial topic that I wanted to make sure I hit every corner. I wanted to make sure my point was being supported enough. Hopefully, I did that successfully without seeming like my thoughts were all over the place.

I wanted to finish two chapters this past week, but I was not able to. I also did not want to force it. So, for next week, I will be tackling the chapter of Community, which will consist of representation, oppression, embrace, culture, beyond words-gestures, hand motions. (The gestures and hand motions are a small part to this chapter). Once again, one of the significant challenges is not sounding redundant and putting information in the “wrong” chapter. For example, I have to make sure what goes in the Community chapter does not go in other sections.

Although there are challenges, I am enjoying the highs and lows of the still early process of my thesis. “Gotta trust the process,” as my father would say.

Until next time! Below is the document link to the chapter Education.

L: Education

Quitting While You’re Ahead

If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.

-Orson Welles

I always found the concept of long-running TV shows to be fascinating to me. Apart from shows that rely on comedical elements like The Simpsons, these are shows with plots that must accompany the long-running nature of the show. This is more common in anime than anything else; Fairy Tail is in its final season and will finish with 321 episodes. In comparison, the average anime series only has about 26 episodes, or even 12. But even this pales in comparison to One Piece, which currently has roughly 875 episodes and only recently had announced a conclusion in the near future. Sure, these series are immensely popular and therefore can be allowed to last as long as they do…but if popularity wasn’t a factor in the run length….at what point do you decide to stop?
I’ve noticed that over time, a lot of authors either fall out of love with a former project of theirs, or even worse, actively speaking out against the projects. Don’t expect Stephanie Meyer to do another Twilight book, and JK Rowling will change the Harry Potter continuity if it means getting another headline out of it.
I’m having a lot of fun writing this book for my thesis, one that I hope to become a successful series. However, I do recognize that eventually I will have to, and will want to, write something else. Hopefully people will want to see more, and I’d be happy to keep people posted if so. But the last thing I would hope to do, is to write a novel for profit.

It seems to be a trap that even the greatest of authors have found themselves in. Arthur Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes, only to bring him back in after a publisher threw a copious amount of money his way. Money talks. And solves crimes.

Holmes is dead and damned! I have had such an overdose of him that I feel towards him as I do towards paté de foie gras, of which I once ate too much, so that the name of it gives me a sickly feeling to this day.

-Arthur Conan Doyle on his feelings on Sherlock Holmes, shortly after killing him off (temporarily) in “The Final Problem”.

I’m having a lot of fun writing this book for my thesis, one that I hope to become a successful series. However, I do recognize that eventually I will have to, and will want to, write something else. Hopefully people will want to see more, and I’d be happy to keep people posted if so. But the last thing I would hope to do, is to write a novel for profit. The one book I’m writing now, is the first in a planned series of 5, maybe 6 if I split the final story into two parts (remember when that was a trend with movies?) . However, I fully intend to complete the story at 4. Why is that? I feel that the best projects don’t pack everything conclusive regarding their plot in the very last book, at least in a coherent fashion. A fifth and final book would give a sense of finality and bridge the gap between the two large time gaps in my story (late 19th/early 20th century and the present day), but it would also answer some lingering questions that may have been overlooked in concluding the story with book 4. With this type of presentation, the tension surrounding the main story would be alleviated, but there would be room to introduce some new tension with the plot. It’s the stress that keeps on stressing!

This all isn’t to say that I don’t have plans beyond the planned books. I even have a forbidden high school setting for all my relatively adult characters to be de-aged and then interact in, and oh boy will that probably be a story that will either completely alienate my reader base or bring in an entirely new set of readers to my stories. But I think that I would like to eventually take a step back, and look at all my projects in retrospect, and leave enough time to think “hmm, am I satisfied with this”? It’s a little more flexible with writing I’d imagine than other arts; da Vinci couldn’t exactly tweak the Mona Lisa once it dried, you know? But I don’t want to be left wondering, or even worse, realize something needed work when it is too late to do anything. Douglas Adams was so irate by his fanbase wanting more Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy books, that he with “Mostly Harmless”, he basically tried ending the series on a final, depressing note. When he regretted this and set upon making another book that was way more pleasant, he kinda passed away before he could finish it. Guess life is also mostly harmless too. Mostly.
I’ll go a deeper into my thought process in having multiple books tell a simultaneously story in another blog post, but to sum up my thoughts on this whole thing; authors should always write what they feel like writing. However, if people tend to enjoy a certain book, I feel an author should think twice before burning the bridge on it, or at least consider engaging readers in active conversation if it is brought up. Some authors have thought they were done with a project only to go right back to it sometime later, or at the very least, have regrets about the way it ended. Others (that includes you, JK Rowling) either don’t know when to give it up, and oversaturate their series as a result, losing some potential value it may have with the reader. There’s a fine balance here when it comes to knowing when a series is complete or not, and it’s one that authors have been struggling to balance for ages now.

Time Is The Enemy…..Or Is It?

One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.

-Jack Kerouac

Oh look, a meme that encompasses everything I feel about writing and what time of day to do so.

I read a wonderful post on Reddit the other day. The post creator wanted to go back to school to earn his degree, but was not keen on the idea that he would be 40 by the time he finished. Another Redditor put it simply: “You’re still gonna be 40”.

I’m the type of guy who hates hates HATES waiting for something to come in the mail. And yet, when it inevitably does, the duration I’ve waited never really seemed all that excessive to me. I eagerly await the next entry in the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series this year, but when I stop and think about how much has changed since the last one released in 2011, it doesn’t feel all that long ago.

This isn’t a blog about reminiscing about the past and how it relates to the future, no I’m pretty sure I know how it relates. Rather, I’ve been contemplating as to whether or not my writing is as time-sensitive as I originally believed it to be. Sure, we write primarily what we know and I’ve certainly know a lot more now than I might have when I originally conceived the idea back in 2011, but the important thing to me is whether or not the story is meant to release when it’s finished, or is that just the procrastination talking?

If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.

-Stephen King

Oh, Stephen. I want to agree with you wholeheartedly on this, but when I think of your $400 million net worth and copious time spent migrating between your three houses, I suddenly feel less inclined to do so.

Okay, my petty jealousy aside, I do believe part of my issue with my writing being as trickled down as it has is partially due to my disinterest in reading anything meaningful lately. Part of that is intentional; the last thing I hope to do is end up with a novel that reads a little too much like the last one I read. But at the same time, there’s also that sense of building experiences, developing vocabulary and writing prose that just doesn’t suddenly come out of the blue.

But the references that come from them (Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy) are eternal to time.

I’m always the first person to say “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” when it comes to lengthy things, but I can’t help but feel that the inverse could apply to my writing, even though it is probably one of the biggest time-consuming things around. I’ve scrapped many passages that I felt either didn’t flow right or weren’t what I felt was needed at the time, and despite that being part of the writing process, I get just a tad bit jealous when writers younger than me put out anything sooner, and to great acclaim. The acclaim part isn’t because I necessarily fear negative reception (there’s bound to be some for any work regardless of the scale), but rather if the amount of time I put into something is truly my best work, and if the time spent reflects that.

There’s a long-standing rumor that Lawrence of Arabia had burned the first manuscript of Seven Pillars of Wisdom instead of lost it, solely because he was finding it unsatisfactory, and decided to rewrite it. And I figure that if someone with significantly less writing efficiency could find the courage to start over again and rewrite solely from memory, I can appreciate the fact that I had a little more patience with writing my own work. I guess it’s just a little shocking to see the end finally in sight, my big project finally coming to light.

Also, nothing of what I said applies to George R.R. Martin. That man has been enjoying the fruits of his labors for nearly a decade now.

Black is Beautiful

“People have the impression that African American Vernacular English is nothing more than a collection of errors because that’s how they’ve been socialized. If it’s not Standard English, it’s wrong. So we have this framework that all of us have been indoctrinating to. There’s a right and a wrong in language. Language is always right because there’s always a systematicity. There’s a pattern to it.” -Walt Wolfman

 

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Living Single

 

My thoughts exactly Wolfman.

Moving on to the exciting and difficult part of my thesis this week was a process, but a good one. Last week’s class Dr. Zamora was helping me with some ideas as to how I am going to structure my thesis. Short stories? Documentation? Visuals? Images or videos? Audio? Also, what relationship does research have with this thesis? Creative and analytical? This was a lot to tackle over a week, but then I had an idea when Dr. Zamora said the word “collage”. I sketched this image when she said it (and yes I spelled collage wrong but I was rushing so no judging! Please and thank you).

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That picture turned into this:

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Here’s my rough idea: Growing up, I knew black was beautiful, but the rest of the world didn’t think so. “You’re not black enough to be a black queen.” “You talk funny.” With this image, I want to show that black is beyond beautiful. It’s rich. It’s royalty. And in each letter of the word “BLACK,” you will see these individual boxes. Within those boxes I want a person to be able to click on them and be able to unravel all of these pieces of research I have been collected. Images, videos, audio, text, etc. I want it to be a multimodal collection that formulates my thesis.

Research would have to play a big part in this thesis because a lot of my thoughts, opinions, and feelings about this topic came from what I read and studied. Since this is a heavy and controversial topic, I will need as much academic and credible support as possible. The last task I had to do was come up with a few chapter ideas:

  1. History: What is AAVE? Where did it come from? The importance of it and learning it’s origins?
  2. Education: Mainstream/Standard English. Oakland CA School Board, Ann Arbor, and the use of AAVE in the classroom.
  3. Community: Representation, oppression, embrace, culture, beyond words-gestures, hand motions. (The gestures and hand motions are a small part to this chapter).
  4. Power: Oppression, empowerment, society, racism (covert, institutional, overt, systematic), discrimination, “the upper hand.”
  5. Identity: Family, voice, self, reclaiming, and anecdotes.
  6. Conclusion (This is a maybe): Where do we go from here? What to do next?

That’s all for now!😊

Here is the link to my Early Proposal Draft (3). The parts that I changed and added some text are highlighted in yellow.

 

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”

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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!

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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!

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”?

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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.

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 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.

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

I Ain’t Changin’ Nottin’ Fa Nobody!

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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