The Pretty Side of a Third World Country – Pétion-Ville, Haiti (Commonplace 4)

In the midst of our class starting research and going out to our chosen locations to certain parts of the D.C. area and immersing ourselves for our upcoming paper,  I started to feel a bit nostalgic in thinking where I came from. To start I should say that I’m Haitian, born in General Hospital in Petionville and raised in Delma 71 a cute quaint little residential neighborhood in Port-au-Prince. I have always had such pride and love for the country in which I came from. Even as a young kid, there was always excitement in knowing I could go back and truly feel at home the second my feet touched the island soil (as cliche as that sounds). However, as I grew up and started understanding how the world works I knew that not everyone had the admiration and love that I had for Haiti. Then in 2010 after the earthquake, I started to feel this great inferiority. Since it was known that I was from Haiti I had a lot of people coming up to me and asking questions that were ignorant from my perspective. Such question included, “Are there schools in Haiti?” “Do you live in a hut when you go there?” “What do you eat when you go there – is there enough food for you and your family?”

I quickly realized whether it be my friends, acquaintances or strangers their unintentional ignorance, curiosity, and questions that followed such thought processes were because of what was shown to them through media about Haiti. They didn’t know that there was more to this third world country. I won’t sit here and try to convince anyone that Haiti as a third world country does not have its fair share of problems when it comes to politics, social economic status among other things but as a native to that country, I can tell you first hand that there is more to it. When answering such questions I would roll my eyes and tell them that Haiti has schools, that I lived in a house and there was enough food to go around. But I would always follow and talk about the beautiful people, places, and sounds that are common to the island. It’s so funny to see that when it comes to third world/impoverished places – all people usually see are negative. They have don’t have the ability to truly see the entirety of such places,  because based on the pictures and stories we see – we just feel bad for that place and come in with a mindset of needing to fix and help and not truly learn and appreciate the location first.

Reading Analysis 2 – Sarah Schindler “Architecture as a Regulation”

In her, Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design Of the Built Environment, “Architecture as a Regulation” section Schindler argues the concept of individuals consciously isolating certain groups of people from a location through laws and regulations throughout history, so much so that it has become a social norm. Individuals have ostracized certain groups in some cases using means of violence among other things to mark and claim their territory as their own.  Schindler informs the reader the idea and reason behind the strategic separations of cities and towns and how as she states, “…cities were constructed in ways — including by erecting physical barriers— that made it very difficult for people from one side of town to access the other side” (1942).

The title of the section “Architecture as a Regulation” introduces to the reader the idea as Schindler proposes of our physical environment being used as a third method of discrimination. It is the perfect example of certain parts of a town having a certain reputation due to the discriminatory mindsets toward them. Schindler states, “By structuring our relationships, these features of the built environment control and constrain our behavior” (1943). The idea of “systematic social inequality” is introduced, Schindler with the validation of social scientists claims that physical architecture is used as a constraint to keep certain people that are not desirable for a certain part town away with no real reason. And over time, these landscape restrictions are just engraved in groups of people that continue on such divisions, with no true reasoning or evidence. Another concept that Schindler introduces is the idea of “choice architecture.” The individuals that control and built such physical barriers and divisions are also the ones that have the influence concerning who will inhabit such locations. There is no such thing as Schindler and her colleagues explain it as “neutral design.” An intriguing remark that Schindler states that summarizes the idea of “Architecture Regulation” is “These architectural  decisions create  architectural constraints: features of the built environment that function to control human behavior or hinder access—the embodiment of architectural exclusion” (1948).

From Schindler’s perspective, there is a common thread and sort of domino effect when it comes to geographical, political and social influence on discrimination and segregation between individuals and groups of people. In the United States specifically, Schindler states that ‘segregation, integration, and separation are spatial processes’ and so is exclusion and confinement. There is always a way to exclude and ostracize individuals and the fact that in the 21st century that is still a process being done — is no surprise.

Works Cited

Sarah Schindler. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” The Yale Law Review, 2015, 1937–2023.

Reading Analysis 1 – David Fleming “The Persistence of Space”

In his City of Rhetoric, “The Persistence of Space” section, David Fleming argues on the importance and influence of the physical spaces that surround us. When speaking of physical spaces Fleming introduces the idea of the towns, countries, and areas we as citizens live in. The concept of the different sections of those towns, and how the community living in and surrounding that area view that particular space. And through such perceptions the influence that our personal experience and the experience of others have on us when identifying a space for what it is. Fleming himself states in the beginning of the section that, “…we routinely make discriminations among them: we know which are better and which are worse, which are ours and which are someone else’s” (32).

The title of this section “The Persistence of Space” acknowledges the fact of the continuity of a space. The idea that space is permanently there but what truly changes is the stories connected to that area and the individuals that either decide or are forced to live there given personal circumstances. Fleming influences the reader to think about how easily were tier and rate these spaces for what they are. Through such ratings, we decide which spaces should get our attention and the ones we should stay away from and warn others about. This idea as Fleming argues is presented as  “spatial manifestations” and “place-based thinking.” In postmodern United States landscapes,  we see a major contrast of very poor and very rich neighborhoods coexistence in the same area. Fleming states, “It is a landscape in which residential areas are separate from commercial ones, single-family ones, multi-family housing, rental from for-sale properties, and people of one social group from those of all others” (33). The area that one chooses to live in is subconsciously where everyone else with the same mindset and lifestyle as well. Every area has a specific type of citizen living in it,  and areas such Washington D.C, Brooklyn New York are prime examples of that.

Fleming notes a great point that on a national and global scale, companies among other businesses capitalize on such area distinctions/characterizations. Businesses whether it be an apartment complex, small own business among others use such distinctions to thrive. Fleming states,

From a national, rather global point of view, meanwhile, we can see that some locations in the United States are capitalizing on the economic transformations of our time — places like Boulder, Raleigh-Durham, Austin , and Washington, DC, variously”creative centers,” “ideopolises” or “latte towns” — while others are stagnant or declining” (32).  

It’s spatial manifestations, in order to succeed individuals as well as groups migrate to the areas that will able them to do so. There is no real thought of the consequences that might follow or result in such migrations. As a result, two different things may occur in a certain space, it will it slowly but surely turn into an affluent isolated area and lose the history of what it once was, or continue to be poor and the citizens in such areas will have to suffer from the fact that they are being forced out of their homes because they cannot afford it. The persistence of the space does not necessarily mean it will stay one way, more so, the presence of the space will be there and the stories concerning such area will change.

Works Cited

Fleming, David. City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America. Albany: SUNY Press, 2008.

The Day Beyoncé Turned Black – Formation Anniversary (Commonplace 3)

In honor of the One Year Anniversary of Beyonce’s song and music video release to “Formation,” I decided to celebrate in the only way I knew I could – a commonplace entry…

On February sixth, 2016 at 7:05 pm I was on the train coming back from a birthday trip to New York City with my best friend. I was sitting on the train, genuinely content about life and how the day went. It was my eighteenth birthday and I couldn’t have asked for anything else… then it happened. I got a notification that Beyonce Giselle Knowles-Carter released a video to something called “Formation.” Being the Beyonce fan that I am, I quickly clicked the video and what I saw – changed my view of the artist known as Beyonce forever.

The video was essentially a call out, Beyonce called out police brutality, embraced being black, and being a woman and made girls like me (a black girl living in America) proud.

One year later this video continues to have so much impact and for (arguably) the first time in her more than twenty years in the music industry, Beyonce lays it all out there. This video started a new chapter in her music, one that is raw, real and unapologetic in all aspect. The video itself packs in symbolic imagery and lyrical content. The dancers being all black women, to the lyrics claim and own her blackness, southernness, and womanness. The video speaks for itself, it starts a conversation about a dialogue that people always tend to hesitate to talk about. The fact that Beyonce, an icon in the music industry ignored the stereotype of the “uninformed celebrity” and did something for her fans and counterparts alike to open our eyes. It made us gain a newfound respect for this woman who didn’t stray away from what she believes in as a citizen of this country, she used her platform to call out society and embrace herself. Happy One Year Anniversary Formation! Bravo Beyonce!

Laurel T. Ulrich “Well-behaved Women…” (Commonplace 2)

Well-behaved women, seldom make history.”

You have probably seen these “controversial” words on bumper stickers, Tumblr post by your little sister or even a facebook post by your “woke” associates. This quote written by historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich is what I (personally) find to be a prime example of the impact selective perception has on an individual’s reactions to something. Individuals are seeing this quote, these words and the way they are arranged and fitting it to their own personal agenda (i.e. selective perception).  Here is a simple quote, that because of syntax, diction and word choice,  an individual can easily be persuaded to be offended or inspired by it. The purpose of the quote (from how I process it) is Ulrich expressing her possible frustration with the fact so many women who made influential and positive impacts in history are so easily overlooked. For people that are part of women empowerment movements they see this quote and are motivated, driven and enthusiastic about breaking that mold and becoming known for what they believe in. However, just as easily their counterparts can look at this quote, find it insulting and debate over the actual meaning of these words. In the society we live no, with what it going on politically, socially, and even on our own campus, it’s a reminder that words have impact and the way we perceive, interpret and start a conversation with such words is can be the major difference between more chaos or the start of a resolution.

The Scottsboro Boys “It’s Gonna Take Time” (Commonplace 1)

Before reading this Commonplace please watch this video in order to get the background story.

“Wait? How can I wait? I’ve done nothing but wait. Thinking this day, next day, something gonna change. Hoping. But what good is hoping when the same high-minded people keep telling low-minded lies.”

These lines are from the song “It’s Gonna Take Time” from the 2010 Broadway short ‘The Scottsboro Boys’  which talks about the story of 9 young black men that were falsely accused of raping 2 young white women in Alabama and as a result spent years in jail. This song in particular,  was Haywood Patterson, one of the black men, talking to the Interlocutor (the narrator of the show) trying to keep him in high spirits – which is hard given the circumstances. Something I observed was the syntax, the way that Haywood, a black man is singing these words make it evident that this is a black man. He uses things words such as gonna an obvious slang, which is not proper and which is not something a classy, educated person (white at the time) would say. Given the story behind the musical, it’s a very profound thing that Haywood stated, calling out the people that were controlling his fate when all they had to base this crime on was his skin color. This line from “It’s Gonna Take Time” is a very intellectual and analytical thing to say for a man that called himself as something he “don’t know nothing” and it shows that though, he is not “book smart” doesn’t mean he doesn’t have any sense, feelings, and a brain.