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Dark Ecology: Race, Gender & the Environment

English 252 @ Hunter College

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Women’s Rights are Human Rights

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On March 8, 2017 I attended the women’s Strike in Washington Square Park. Knowing that we were all there for a common goal to speak on issues that affect us as women daily really inspired me want to do something more for the cause. A photographer who started a women’s series project for the month of March reached out to me about possibly sharing my story. While we were there he interviewed me to be featured in the series. At first I was a little spectacle to volunteer, I didn’t want to get judge for sharing personal feelings. After much contemplating I decided to do it because being scared of getting judge wasn’t a good excuse. It was silly for me to turn down an opportunity that would possibly impact other women in my same position. Below is my interview. It is extremely personal but I’m sharing it because I know it is an issue that many daughters and mothers faced. It’s a relevant issue for women.

 

Interview: In High School, I didn’t have many worries. I often would be hours at school because it was better than being at home. I avoided drama whenever possible because it remind me of what I was trying to escape. In high school I used to have fun, I was passionate about things and I remember always having a smile on my face and laughing all the time. When you are that young it seems like nothing can really ruin your life, until something actually does. When my father left it was life changing. And not because I was destroyed in the fact that he left. I actually wished countlessly that he would go. When your dad starts. But my mother and I didn’t have similar feelings. So when he left it destroyed her. She didn’t know how to pick up the pieces. She didn’t know how to pick herself back up again and I had to pick up the pieces. I was no longer carefree because I spent my days worrying and caring for her. It was a heavy burden to bare and it definitely took a toll on me and our relationship. She went through a deep depression and I was forced to grow up not because I wanted to but because I had to. Everything was different; I wasn’t passionate about things anymore. I think I lost myself through my mother’s pain. I wasn’t even able to deal with my own pain because I was worried about fixing hers. I was concerned with her healing; I was obsessed with her getting over it. In an odd way I thought, “If she got over it then our lives would go back to normal”. But that didn’t happen, for a long time things weren’t normal. When I was younger I was really artistic and it came natural to me, it was one of the only things I was passionate about and suddenly I just stopped, I quit making art. I put it aside for a long time because in a way I felt guilty for pursuing things that I enjoyed. My mother’s misery weighed heavy on me and giving up art was one of the hardest things I think I’ve ever had to do. I lived a lost and stressful life for a very long time. One night I broke down, I just started crying and I couldn’t stop. I think that after maybe hours of dry heaving and ugly crying I realized how unhappy I was and came to the realization that even though my mother was going through something it wasn’t my burden. So, I turned to art, I needed a way to release my pent up emotions. Eventually it helped me find my youth and myself again.

 

My advice or I guess mantra to other women would be to embrace challenges. I feel like embracing challenges made me who I am today, without them I wouldn’t have a story. I dealt with resentment towards my mother and her decisions after my father left. she often talked about taking her life away and is was painful to hear because I had this image and expectation of her. I wanted her to be strong and courageous but she wasn’t. I realized I had to be those things for the both of us. what i’m getting at is that many of us like to judge other women and put them down because they aren’t the “ideal” woman. I was guilty of it, but this only creates barriers between us when we should be untied rather than out casting other women for choices that you don’t agree with, why not lend an ear, a hand, a hug, why not help? why not embrace your challenges and understand theirs?

 

 

Lets no longer be lost?

For a feminist art show on April 22nd entitled “Treat Yo Self”, in which the purpose of the art show was to empower women through art and to create a platform for women to express their individuality. Many female artist made up a collective to show off their artistic talents and passions. I created two works of art that were displayed for exhibition. Along with the art works I created poems that represented by influence behind the process of those pieces.

Both works of art are centered on the theme of oppression within a relationship. I try to convey the consequences that come from women not controlling their own roles in a relationship. when women allow the male in the partnership the permission to govern over their lives we lose our sense of self. Even though there might seem to be times of peace and affection, these act of control go on for a long span of time. Often women lose their identities and ability to think for themselves as well as the freedom to show up as a person in the relationship.

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“Drowning”

She found herself hopelessly anchored in love

Weighed down by cosmic kisses beneath salty foamed galaxies

In a celestial darkness, drowning, sinking, uprooted.

Left disturbed where she landed, fading.

Her rusty arms dangled, swaying above her casting shadows onto her as she immersed into the depths of this static earth bound sky,

Flooded by lucid dreams and a sea of stars

One swift breathe in,

She saw the light.

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“Castaway lovers”

Helpless, hopeless at the edge of a waterfall

Afraid of what may lie at the bottom

Shattered pieces everywhere

As I drift closer to our end

End this I tell him

End it

Incapable of escape

Utterly impossible to avoid

Seduce me so I’ll never have to leave

Engross my thoughts

Ignore the fact I am falling

Falling for him?

Drowning

Crashing through to the center of the world.

You black hole

Dismantling my walls

Has me by my heartstrings

I’ll do anything to take back control

Fear of losing myself

Hoping to be rescued from myself

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/snow-white-doesnt-live-here-anymore/201106/why-do-women-still-feel-oppressed

http://www.emerson.edu/news…/israeli-playwright-explore-role-arts-social-change-emerson

Love Beyond Outsiders

Human rights group, Amnesty International Japan, recently released a proposal to the Japanese government earlier this month on measures that they must take to tackle discrimination against those in the LGBT group. The contents covered a range of situations from discrimination in workplaces to when natural disasters hit.

Continue reading “Love Beyond Outsiders”

“Hanging out with Shakespeare at Central Park.”

http://www.shakespeareonthesound.org

Fun things you can do this summer at Central Park IMG_1450

 

 

 

During the semester we have went on many field trips as a class. My favorite was the “Frick Collection,” but my second favorite was taking a stroll through central park to see the statue of Shakespeare. I found this really exciting because we were ending The tempest and starting to read Prospero’s Daughter so it was interesting to discuss the comparisons and differences in each book as we view the statue, asking ourselves “I wish we can ask Shakespeare some questions about The Tempest,” (I know I was thinking about that).

Its interesting to realize that although Shakespeare’s writing can often come by as confusing and sometimes dense, but once you grasp his writing your able to appreciate the text a little bit better and are able to generate ideas as to why he wrote a play like this, or why he made certain characters the way that he did. After reading The Tempest twice I have a different concept the second time around then I did the first time I read this play. I have appreciated this play this time around and I enjoyed it a lot more in English 252.

Shakespeare was a great writer and his words made you think outside of the box. Shakespeare wanted his readers to “close read” “close look” and most importantly “close listen” it is because of Shakespeare that I have enjoyed reading a little more than I did before.

In Central Park, we were also allowed to explore the park and the beauty in the park. The trees, the flowers blossoming it was very peaceful. Nature also played a role in this trip because it was out doors so we were able to explore the park and other statues and gain knowledge on other parts of the park, but it was really a great experience for our class and I’m glad we were able to explore that all together.

Continue reading ““Hanging out with Shakespeare at Central Park.””

The New York Botanical Gardens

The Botanical Gardens were extraordinary. It was an intimate class experience with a small group of five and we started the day off at the Mertz library. At the library we were able to examine some rare texts including one which was about (praising?) Carolus Linnaeus who created the system by which plants are identified and named according to the sexual components of the plants. The book contained hand-painted plates and florid poetry—the production of the texts lead to the financial ruin of the man who published them (they were great!). There was even a book about a man-eating plant named Elizabite which was written by the same guy who made the Curious George series. The book about Elizabite was the basis for Little Shop of Horrors.

The gardens were also having a display of beautiful contemporary glasswork by an artist named Chihuly, which was an interesting contrast to the old texts we viewed. The sculptures complimented the plants so well and they were littered all over the conservatory—the area in which there were multiple artificial environments (rainforest, more rainforest, more rainforest, and desert).

In the gardens there were so many interesting plants. There were cute little Venus fly-traps and pitcher plants, a palm tree covered in spikes of all sizes, and a turkey oak. It’s amazing to look at these plants and to think of a time when New York was covered in forests. Taking the D-train uptown (despite the crowding) was such a worthwhile experience because it allowed me to feel a little closer to nature and history itself. The gardens are so beautiful and have such a rich history that it’s truly a transcendent experience.

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Botanical Garden

It was an amazing experience to explore the Mertz library and to go into the special collection they have with rare and ancient books. It was like going back in time looking at these books and the amazing condition they were in especially the color. One of the books we saw that I think we found pretty amusing was the little pamphlet for women, called Burnett’s floral handbook and Ladies calendar from the year 1869 that tells them the meaning of whatever flowers they received. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of the inside of the book but it’s amazing to see how many things were made especially for women but not in the sense for educational purposes. ladiescalenderfloral

We saw this other book called Le fleurs animées which shows mostly females, as flowers and their names resembled flowers as well. They were all made very beautifully and so fragile as well.

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It was a great experience over all and I’m so happy I went because it isn’t something I would’ve normally figured out how to do on my own time.

A Whisper of AIDS

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Not A Chameleon

Growing up, people around me often made fun of cross-dressers on television, or anything remotely different from gender-conformity; kilts, for example. That was me as well, conforming to the mentality of others, until when curiosity was in cahoots with boredom, and I borrowed the VCR named “To Wong Foo,” which was a film with some of the most seasoned drag queens (you should never say “oldest” drag queens). Continue reading “Not A Chameleon”

More than Just Extra Credit

I Am Not Your Negro is a moving documentary detailing the Civil Rights Movement through the lens of one of its most prominent activists, the writer James Baldwin. Baldwin not only wrote rich stories about growing up as a black male in the United States, he also spoke at conferences, on television, and in public gatherings, to discuss the wrongs of segregation, of the American divide, and of the socio-political injustices on black lives and minorities living in America, even particularly in the portrayal of them in history and the news, in classrooms, and in the media.

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(From Art Forum)

Baldwin didn’t believe God wanted him have hatred towards whites or for there to be national or social segregation. Baldwin confesses that he believes that whites didn’t act the way that they did (with superiority or hatred towards the black community, for example) because they were born “being white” but because some other reason, like power or money. The documentary is most interesting, I think, because it presents a narrative voice-over of Baldwin’s writing playing over clips of American culture around the Civil Rights movement, with a strong emphasis on movies and televised representations of blacks, such as with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. If blacks were ever in a movie, they were most often showed as simple or submissive, uneducated or foolish. Baldwin saw these movies as false representation of the quality of black personhood, as well as an extension of white supremacy and cultural vengeance due to any effect of progress made during the civil rights movements. Movies, media, news, etc. that further propagated segregation in American culture only did great damage to both sides of the times, according to Baldwin.

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(from www.out.com/interviews/2017/1/20/i-am-not-your-negro-director-raoul-peck-need-james-baldwins-brilliance-trumps-america)

The title, I believe, is an assertion that Baldwin does not identify with the media’s presentation of a submissive (“possessed”/controlled and suppressed) African American image, or as the description of a black person in age-old myths, or as the contentedly segregated black person in America, or as the radical black person promoting racial supremacy and hatred: he is a person. Baldwin’s post-structuralist utterance is the most revolutionary message of the Civil Rights Movement that is different from any other. The documentary is a deeply moving presentation of personal narrative, history, media analysis, and moral survey on human rights, freedom, compassion, co-existence, and truth.

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(from abc-culture.com)

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