Lost

“She’s stuck between who she is,  who she wants to be, and who she should be” -Unknown

 

Between the ages of 5 and 10

I got lost

I used to run free on hot summer days and cool summer nights

But one night I took a wrong turn

And I’ve been lost every since

 

Between the ages of 5 and 10

I betrayed myself

I traded the never ending heat of the West African sun

For all white winters

And big screen tvs

That almost covered up the loneliness

That almost made me feel at home

 

Between the ages of 5 and 10

I stopped speaking in the tongue my ancestors spoke in

I traded in the poetry that had not yet been infiltrated

by white men in blue suits

for words with no roots in darkness of my continent

Between the ages of 5 and 10

I got lost

And I’ve been lost ever since

Political Philosophies and Space

In City of Rhetoric: The Places of Political Theory, Fleming argues that the built environment has always played an important role in politics; however, modern politicians and political philosophers are governing in a way that ignores local geography. Fleming argues this by explaining the shift in modern political thought, and discussing liberalism and republicanism in a spatial context.

We live in a world where local geography has seemingly ceased to matter. Because of new forms of transportation, communication, and economic modes, distance is no longer a barrier for people. For example, because of efficient forms of transportation and communication, businesses have the ability to expand or to completely move overnight. Thus, individuals must adapt to this new global world in order to prosper. In a sense, humans have been forced to delocalize to keep up with the demanding economy and technology. In fact, there has been a shift in the economy because of this. According to Fleming, temporary work is the fastest growing sector of the job market; consequently, people are encouraged to learn and live on a global scale. Not only are people changing to adapt to this new global world, politics are too. However, Fleming believes that politics has to be conceptualized in more than just economy and technology, space has to be relevant in the conversation as well. Space is important to political philosophies, and this is seen in republicanism and liberalism.

In Republicanism, politics is apart of the everyday life. In fact, the individual is measured by their political participation. Republicanism depends on individual groups of people governing their own communities. It requires small communities where people can easily interact with other citizens. Republicanism is a “geographical conception of public life”. On the other hand, liberalism does not require the individual citizen to be involved in politics. The point of liberalism is to protect the individual’s rights to make his or her own decisions. Although republicanism and liberalism are different political philosophies, spatial order is necessary for both. While there is significance in the public sphere of republicanism, in liberalism the private life is more important.

Fleming’s argument is important to my project because it discusses the power of community in politics. The neighborhood that I am studying is the way it is because it is lacking a local government where citizens are protected in their private lives and have decision making power in their public lives. The lack of these two political philosophies may explain the reason it is the way it is.

Women and Islam in Film

Battle of Algiers (1966) by Gillo Pontecorvo

is a dramatization of the Battle of Algiers during the Algerian revolt against the French. The film is powerful because of its nontraditional views of colonized people under Western control. Pontecorvo’s unique perspective on colonization allows the viewer to see the violence portrayed in this film, not only as a cry for independence by the colonized people, but also a powerful instrument in the political culture of the nation. These violent scenes eliminate stereotypes about women in Islamic societies and illuminates on the dehumanization of people by both the colonizers and the colonized.

This film was particularly interesting to me because it forces viewers to reexamine what it means to be a woman in Islam. I chose to really analyze the first 1:30 seconds of the film because I think it embodies a lot of the themes of the movie, moreover I am trying to push myself to analyze movies in the same way that I do novels.

This scene depicts the women taking off their veils, cutting their hair, and dressing in European clothing. The youngest girl looks into the mirror as she actively changes her image in order to deceit the guards. This first shot, debunks the myth that Islamic societies leave women powerless because the women are choosing to take off their veils and be apart of the revolution. Pontervorco uses the mirror to further affirm their willingness in the act they are about to commit (murder for revolution). The women use the reflection in the mirror to recreate their identity and take control of the power that they have. The youngest woman even hesitates before she cuts her hair, which is further evidence of her choice in the matter. Furthermore, when the oldest woman’s disguise is questioned, she immediately decides to use her son as a cover. She is so willing to do this act that she uses her own son, in order to achieve this goal.

In most Western portrayal of Islam, women are portrayed as obedient and oppressed.  Western media uses the veil as evidence of Islamic oppression, and the evidence of that is a woman in a veil. The veil, in a sense,does not oppress the woman but instead protects her from Western colonization. In fact, many of the women in the film use the veil to help the resistance. They can conceal weapons and use it as hiding during the course of the revolution. As a result, throughout the movie, the French guards fear the power that the women have when they are veiled because it shows their obedience to islam, which trumps the French way of life.  They believe that the only way for muslim women to be truly free is to leave their veil behind. However, this scene does not show any sort of brutality and oppression that the veil brings but instead its power to help the Algerian cause.

What it Means to Be a Citizen

In part two of City of Rhetoric, the Placelessness of Political Theory: Citizen, Fleming argues that the identity of a citizen in America is not defined by shared political beliefs but by external characteristics such as race, gender, socioeconomic class, and education. Fleming introduces his argument with a quote from the National Standards for Civics and Government:

“The identity of an American citizen is defined by shared political values and principle rather than by ethnicity, race, religion, class, gender, or national origin”

Although our politics should be inclusive to all people and each person should have equal worth, the grammar and rhetoric of this statement is not cohesive with the state of American politics. Fleming proves this by comparing the sentence to the reality of what it means to be a citizen in America.

Protestors During the Civil Rights Movement

The first problem with the sentence is that America has always been a country which identifies its people by factors such as race and religion. In fact, less than two hundred years ago only white, land owning, men were allowed to practice their civic duties. They were the only people who had a political voice in this country, and for people who were not apart of that demographic, the government did not hear their cries. Furthermore, although white land owning men are no longer the only group of people who can take part in the advantages of being an American citizen, language and national origin are still barriers. For people, who are born outside of the United States and want to become citizens, they must have knowledge of the English language and show that they have shared political values and principles as the United States. Shared political values and principles have nothing to do with the legalities of being an American citizen, yet it is a requirement of people who want to become naturalized citizens. Excluding people because they do not speak English or have different political beliefs is hypocritical of what it means to be American.

Finally, the statement above ignores the fact that race, religion, class, gender, and national origin are important factors in political participation. First of all, “political participation in the United States is highly stratified” by these factors. Not only do white, Christian, males have the biggest voter turnout, they also vote very differently from black, Muslim, men or white, Jewish women, or even Asian Christian men. Leaving ascriptive identities at the door ignores that there is privilege in being a white, heterosexual, Christian man. The quality of life changes based on how people identify so that needs to be voiced in politics.  Differences are more important than shared political values in the arena, because it is these differences that affect social inequality, political participation, and political representation. Therefore, ignoring these differences is not a way of unifying people but dividing them even more.

Fleming’s argument is important to my research because I am researching a community that has been almost ignored in the world of politics. Because of their socioeconomic class and race, their voices are not heard in places where it is important to be heard. This community was left to fend for itself and it resulted in the displacement of its community members. It is important that I take this into account when I am researching.

 

 

Can You Truly Fail

In Worstward Ho!, Samuel Beckett writes the following:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Cover of the Book

What does Beckett say about “failure“? And why does it matter? You might also discuss form here. Why would one of the world’s great writers (poet/novelist/playwright/essayist), use such “simple” structures? How does the sentence structure perhaps affect how we read this? Would the impact be different if it were written in a DC, IC form?  How so? How would it change if he used question marks after the first two sentences? And exclamation points afterward?

One of the greatest writers in the world is using such simple structure to discuss failure because he knows his audience. Beckett is speaking to everyone so he wants to make sure it is easily understood by everyone who crosses this statement. The period after each sentence forces the reader to pause and think about their reality in relationship to the statement. He chooses not to make each statement a question because the answers is yes. Everyone has both tried and failed. It is a universal truth. Thus his advice after the question is not a suggestion but something you have to do in order to get on the road to success. If he had used independent and dependent clauses instead of periods, the statement would be much less powerful. There would be much less thought from the side of the reader. The break in between each sentence is what gives the power to the sentences. When he talks about fail

Fleming and The World Of Analysis

In his book, City of Rhetoric, Fleming argues that living divisions and classifications of American cities, is the reason for the increasingly divided political relationships that people have with one another. Fleming believes that political ideals, urban architecture, and persuasive thinking  are important factors in understanding how and why the “built environment” is so important to a municipal landscape. The “built environment” is the infrastructure itself, which includes the way the buildings are designed, where they are in the city, and how long it’s been since it was renovated. The built environment is so important because it is the foundation of how people interact in the city. Accordingly, Fleming believes that this environment needs to be governed a certain way for people to interact in a positive manner, however that is not the case for almost every major city in American civilization. Instead of lawmakers and leaders looking at the city’s big population, large diversity, and fast growing economy as positive traits, they have created a government that tries to moderate these important parts of what it means to be a city. Perhaps one of the biggest mishaps that the leaders of cities have taken, is trying to characterize different groups of people into different parts of the city. Fleming argues this characterization is to blame for the growing problems in government, economy, and political beliefs. Because people in cities live in relative distance from each other but never actually interact, it creates misunderstanding and divide between communities that could actually benefit from each other’s presence.
Many people believe that the poverty faced by many Americans, specifically African-Americans in the inner city is because of laziness and violence within their own community. However, in the introduction of City of Rhetoric, Fleming argues that it is actually the environment that plays a role in why the African American community is subject to so much poverty. Fleming’s evidence of this is introduced to the reader in an anecdotal manner. His introduction is a history lesson about Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley trying to create a 1 million dollar government initiative in the poorest part of the city. Although, this would seem odd to anyone who doesn’t understand the relationship between the environment and its people, Fleming argues that this could be the most beneficial project for this specific community. Since the neighborhood has been plagued with poverty and violence long before African Americans inhabited it, it is the environment to blame and not the people.

Good intentions bad Results?

Work Hard. Go to College. Change the World”

That was the motto of Democracy Prep Charter School (DPCS). DPCS was designed to educate the underserved, underprivileged, and overlooked. Although new, it was already a well renowned charter school, which many parents in the community fought to send their kids to. These parents wanted opportunities for their kids that public schools could not offer. They wanted an environment which would allow their children to flourish and succeed, and DPCS promised exactly that.

DPCS ran on a rewards system. Dream Dollars. Dream Dollars could get you fully paid trips to D.C, Boston, and Canada. It could get you baseball game tickets, tickets to NYFW, the ability to teach a class for a day, or even skip one. All you had to do was make sure you had enough when it was time for the annual auction.

Each student would start with 20 dream dollars at the beginning of the day, and throughout the day you could lose and earn dream dollars for various acts. Everyday would begin at 7:45 am sharp. If you were late, you lost 5 dream dollars. The first thing the teachers would do was a uniform check. Black shoes, white socks, grey pants, black belt, and a white collard shirt with a Democracy Prep Charter School Emblem on the right . Each part of the uniform that was missing meant that you lost 2 dream dollars. Throughout class, you would lose dream dollars for not being disciplined, not having respect, not taking accountability, or for being immature. This came from the acronym D.R.E.A.M , which stood for discipline, respect, enthusiasm, accountability, and maturity. For students who did not possess these qualities at school, rewards were few and punishments were given often.

Although this system was beneficial in certain ways, it was also just as detrimental in other ways. For one, the school was situated in relatively poor area and many of the kids who were intending were also poor. While there were many dedicated parents who had the time to make sure that their kids were doing everything that they needed to, down to their uniform, there were also many dedicated parents who just could not spare that time. Things such as uniform violations or being late to class, may have been out of that child’s control but they were still punished for it. Moreover, beginning the day with less dream dollars than everyone else, is not good motivation to do well in school.

This rewards system was also created to encourage good behavior. Losing and gaining dream dollars mainly had to do with how well you were behaved, not how well you were doing academically. Often, the same kids were misbehaving. Instead of teachers trying to figure out the bigger problem behind the misbehavior, they were just punished. Many of these kids were acting out because that is all they knew how to do. The school, however, did  not create an environment where these kids could feel comfortable and safe in.

 

 

 

You Can’t Be What You’ve Forgotten

“Memories don’t live like people do”- Kanye West

 

Away

The memories you have forged from a lifetime of useless experiences

will one day be forgotten

You won’t recall what it was like to pray without doubt

You wont remember the kitchen smells of potent foods and the bathroom smells right after

You wont remember the freedom of being alone or the magic in the waves of crowds

They all seem to slip, slip, slip

And in their place grows something sadder

There is suspicion in religion

And hunger you wish did not exist

And loneliness in a rooms filled with people

There is no magic in slumber

Or fullness in food

You will try and fill the empty crevasses your old memories left behind

But you will only long for them even more

And sooner than you expect

You begin to slip away

Faster than the memories that left before you

 

The Effects of Raising Your Hands

Part 1:

Fermina Daza had put on a loose-fitting silk dress belted at the hip, a necklace of real pearls with six long, uneven loops, and high-heeled satin shoes that she wore only on very solemn occasions, for by now she was too old for such abuses.

The first part of the sentence is an independent clause with a list. “And” is used to finish the list to the left of it. “That” is a subordinate conjunction which indicates that the clause to the right of it can not stand alone. “That” connects the dependent clause to the independent clause. Moreover, “for” is not only used as an interchangeable word with because it also introduces the last dependent clause in the sentence. Connecting the two dependent clauses to the independent clause instead of making them separate sentences forces the reader to focus more on how the dress connects to her mood, instead of just thinking of her emotions as separate from her clothing.

 

2) Complete the following template and connecting the quote to the project(s) the class is working on:

 

Take a look at pages 41 & 42, and 205, where he discusses this.

David Fleming concludes his City of Rhetoric by arguing that “education [should be] oriented to the ‘strong publics’ of decision making rather than the ‘weak publics’ of opinion formation” (205). For Fleming, then, composition courses, which traditionally have asked students to write in the “weak publics” of opinion formation  should instead have students “strong publics” of decision making  In other words, students have been taught that they have no real ability to make decisions since decisions are usually mad by some foreign more educated group; thus they are taught to write their opinions, and not to write like someone who has the power to make change.

 

Now briefly connect your project to Fleming’s concept.

My project involves the public sphere so I need to follow Fleming’s advice and write like I am a citizen who is allowed to use her knowledge to make change happen and not like someone who only has an opinion and no connection to the building that I am working on.

 

3) Watch the trailer  (begins about 1/2 way through) to The Polymath (2007), a documentary on the Samuel R Delany, a science-fiction writer and professor.  In this section, he explains why he has every student raise her hand when he asks a question.

Here’s what he says:

Don’t you realize that every time you don’t answer a question, you’re learning something? You’re learning how to make do with what you got, and you’re learning how not to ask for a raise…you’re learning how to take it. That’s not good! That’s not good! So, from now on, whenever I ask a question, everybody’s got to put their hand up. I don’t care whether you know the answer or not. You have to put your hand up…I’m going to call on you and if you don’t know the answer, I want you to say nice and clear: I don’t know the answer to that, Professor Delany, but I would like to hear what that person has to say. And we’ll pass it on. And so this is what we started doing. And I said, whenever I ask a question, everybody put their hand up. I don’t care whether you know or not…You need to teach people they are important enough to say what they have to say. (The Polymath)

Please briefly discuss the different experience (if any) you have in watching the clip and reading the transcription. Your answer should revolve around Logos / Pathos / Ethos, maybe?

Little boy raising his hand in class

When I read the manuscript of the speech it appealed to my logos more than anything. It was as if I was reading an equation, not your raising your hand not asking for more because you aren’t important enough. The professor then decided to change that by forcing everyone in class to raise their hand so that everyone would learn that they are important enough to ask questions. The video however appealed to my ethos and pathos the most. The guy talking about Professor Delaney made the professor sound like some sort of genius and absolutely someone I should listen to. Thus, when the professor spoke I trusted everything that he said. When the professor finally got the chance to speak, he struck a cord with my ethos. He was vey emotional about wanting his students to speak up. He even teared up a little, which made me want to take his advice even more seriously. The actual speech was quite refreshing. When I was younger I was very curious and very hard working, so I would raise my hand quite often in class. As a result, during conferences with my mom on report card day, they would talk about the fact that I am too eager in class. They told me that I had to give the other students a chance to speak in class. Although the teachers were right in the fact that I needed to give other students a chance to speak, it made me think that I wasn’t important. It made me believe that my hard work or attentiveness in class did not really matter. It made me feel less important, and it sort of changed the type of student I am. I’ve also had the idea in my head that you can raise your hand too much and this videos message is literally the opposite of that.