Monday, May 20, 2013

In-Progress Review: The Women Of Brewster Place

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor tells the stories of multiple women who have, through their own trials and tribulations, landed in a rundown apartment at Brewster Place. Each chapter is about the life of one specific character. The characters we have read about thus far are: Mattie Micheal, Etta Mae Johnson, Kiswana Browne, and Lucielia Turner. No matter how they got here, they now call Brewster Place home, finding comfort and consistency buried deep inside the old, shabby walls of the buildings, which is something they lacked in their "pre-Brewster" lives. I really enjoy this book as it presents you with a clear idea of the hardships of African-American women and that's because it's a very descriptive novel, with each paragraph containing an example of imagery. I like how each character comes from completely different backgrounds (such as Kiswana's affluent "city" background and Mattie's small-town, country background) and have different personality traits yet they all relate in that they are just looking for a loving, consistent figure in their lives. While there are many things I enjoy about this novel, it often falls victim to the stereotypical way of how black men act. Mattie has the stereotypical preacher father who is very strict and doesn't allow his daughter to experience normal things. Etta Mae Johnson and Luciela Turner each have their own stereotypical black man who doesn't take responsibility for his actions and often runs from his problems. These noticeable stereotypes make the book at times seem predictable but I like them because the women's lives wouldn't be filled with as much heartache and drama without them, which is what makes the book so great. Overall, I feel like this is a very good book and even though at times it is a bit predictable, it still never fails to surprise and amaze me. 

Word Count: 307

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

Jr at Whitney Young
If Junior went to Whitney Young, he would have a much better experience compared to the ones he had while on the res and while attending Rearden. At Whitney Young, there is a friend for everyone because it is a very diverse school, with people coming from so many different cultural backgrounds. That diversity would make it easier for Junior to find someone just like him, or someone who has had similar experiences. Young has a very open and expressive student body therefore hiding parts of himself would be unnecessary. Junior can remain the way he is and still be able to be accepted socially.

Hiding the Reservation
Whitney Young is a very open school, with kids coming in from every side of the city, and even other countries. Walking in the halls, you can see the different cultural or economic backgrounds of different students just by the way people dress, how they talk or even by the people they hang out with. This diversity is what allows people to be themselves and not hide their "reservation", because they know that there is someone who can relate to their experiences. Culturally, Whitney Young is not only diverse but this school has created an environment that is accepting of others differences. This is the main reason why people can stand out yet still fit in and not have to hide their reservations.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

American Dream: The Great Gatsby and A Raisin in the Sun

The American Dream plays a crucial role in both the Great Gatsby and a Raisin in the Sun, after all, the things that happen in each novel happens as a direct result of the characters trying to accomplish certain goals and achieve certain things; their American Dreams. Even though this dream is present in both novels, it is showcased in different ways. In the Great Gatsby, the American Dream is personified, as it is present in the form of a person; Daisy Buchanan. Jay Gatsby comes from a poor family which motivated him to search for a better life; a life superior to the poverty stricken one he was accustomed to. Eventually, Gatsby rose to the top of wealth, but his mission was only halfway complete. Making up for his poor childhood came in second to Daisy as his main reason for acquiring this wealth. The money was never his real dream; it was merely a step closer to acquiring his actual dream which was to have the lovely Daisy at his side. He used his wealth to compete with Tom Buchanan. Ultimately, Gatsby’s “American dream” was unsuccessful as he never won Daisy over, and instead she stayed with Tom. This was symbolized by the green light going out. 
In a Raisin in the Sun, the characters American dream is more stereotypical when compared to the Great Gatsby. They dream of simply living a better life than the one they have, even though the majority of their definitions of a better life are different. For example, Mama and Ruth dream of owning their own house in a better neighborhood and getting the family out of their current unsatisfying living situation while Beneatha dreams of getting an education, becoming a doctor and not being dependent on men for anything she needs. Each of their specific dreams is different but it all falls in the same category of wanting a better life. At that time, the stereotypical American dream, which is what kind of dream Mama and Ruth had, was very materialistic. The prosperous people displayed their wealth with material things, whether it be clothes, a house, or cars and so the Youngers, who had never had any of those things, dreamed of having a plethora of materialistic things just like the wealthy people which is why Mama and Ruth wanted a new house. Beneatha’s dream was more selfish, as she was mainly concerned with herself but like everyone else, her dream in general was to live a better life than the one she has.  
When compared, the two novels are similar on some levels but then very different on others. They are similar in the fact that Jay Gatsby and Mama, Ruth, Walter and Beneatha all wanted wealth and all of their American dreams, if completed, would've filled a void in their life. If Gatsby had gotten Daisy to fall in love with him, that would have removed the lonely feeling in his life and he would have finally been able to fit in with the other wealthy people, and also he would have a satisfied love life, which is what he wanted. The Youngers used their wealth to make up for the poverty they had experienced for the majority of their lives. The difference is though, the characters in a Raisin in the sun, valued wealth more as opposed to Gatsby. Gatsby had all of the money in the world but it was no use without Daisy.
While both novels had some similar dreams and aspects, they differed on the importance of certain things which is all the American dream is. The American dream is different for different individuals, it’s all just based on what you truly value in life and what you ultimately hope to accomplish.


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Protest Song

Nina Simone - Mississippi G****m

The name of this tune is Mississippi G****m
And I mean every word of it
Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi G****m [x2]
Can't you see it
Can't you feel it
It's all in the air
I can't stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer
Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi G****m
This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet
Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last
Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer
Don't tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying "Go slow!"
But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
Washing the windows
"do it slow"
Picking the cotton
"do it slow"
You're just plain rotten
"do it slow"
You're too d**n lazy
"do it slow"
The thinking's crazy
"do it slow"
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don't know
I don't know
Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi G****m
I made you thought I was kiddin'
Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it's a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me
Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you'd stop calling me Sister Sadie
Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You're all gonna die and die like flies
I don't trust you any more
You keep on saying "Go slow!"
"Go slow!"
But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
"do it slow"
Mass participation
"do it slow"
"do it slow"
Do things gradually
"do it slow"
But bring more tragedy
"do it slow"
Why don't you see it
Why don't you feel it
I don't know
I don't know
You don't have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi G****m
That's it!

I chose this song because it is a very inspirational tune, with some even calling it the “most effective American protest song.” This song was conceived in response to the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four African-American girls and to the 1963 assassination of Medgar Evers, killed by the Klu Klux Klan. Evers was the NAACP field secretary in Mississippi. This song protests the discrimination in America during the Civil Rights movement. When this song was made, Nina Simone was a civil rights activist, strongly fighting for the equal rights of her fellow African Americans. The injustices that plagued the United States during the 1900’s were killing Simone’s people and directly affecting her life as she says that she thought everyday was going to be her last. This tune is a very straight-forward one, as Simone doesn’t hide anything or use any symbols to cover up what she really feels: “Oh but this whole country is full of lies/You’re all gonna die and die like flies/I don't trust you anymore.” She also directly addressed certain states such as Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi in the lines: “Alabama's gotten me so upset/Tennessee made me lose my rest/And everybody knows about Mississippi G****m.” On this record, she criticizes the common argument at the time that civil rights activists and African Americans should "go slow" and make changes in the United States little by little: “Keep on sayin' 'go slow' do things gradually would bring more tragedy. Why don't you see it? Why don't you feel it? I don't know, I don't know.” This anger-filled tune was so controversial that it was banned in many states, including the ones it attacked. Regarded as one of her most popular protest songs, it became a civil rights activist anthem. Simone’s message was simple and clear: “You don't have to live next to me, just give me my equality!”


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Community Inquiry Project Proposal

My Proposal:

Area that I live: Englewoood, Chicago

 • White 0.34%
 • Black 97.37%
 • Hispanic 1.06%
 • Asian 0.11%
 • Other 1.12%

I will be interviewing:
  • Ida, former resident.
  • Aaliyah, current resident
  • Willa, current resident (grandma)
I do not think the American Dream is present in my neighborhood. The American Dream is to live a better life than your parents did but here, everyone lives the same lives their parents did, if not worse. With the growing rate of violence in my community, the living conditions of people are becoming worse. I think that Im going to find exactly what I stated above, the American Dream is an unrealistic thing in this community. Not a lot of people here works "hard" and the ones that do, it never seems to pay off.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The American Dream

The article I read, Hector Ramirez: From teen welder to business owner, was about Hector Ramirez, who came to America illegally from Tijuana at the age of 13, after being smuggled across the border by a smuggler or “coyote”. Like most immigrants, he left his homeland for the U.S. in order to be better rewarded for his hard work and to not be denied certain opportunities just because of financial situations. Ramirez often dreamed of buying all of these nice things such as motorcycles and then heading back to his homeland but instead, he stayed in America, working hard at his job every day that he could in order to gain financial stability which is something he had never experienced. Though there was a great risk in staying in America illegally, Ramirez stayed and worked hard at everything he did, from being legalized to getting into a business and this all proved to be successful because Ramirez is now a business owner himself, making enough money to give his five children things he never had and things they never would have even looked at if he had stayed in his homeland. This relates to the American Dream because in the USA, hard work yields success. To outsiders looking in, even the simplest life here is often better than one that can be achieved in other countries because America has a plethora of opportunities which is not only limited to the people of a certain class and with a lot of hard work, any one, no matter who it is, can become something great and have a better, more fulfilling life. Also, the American Dream is an aspiration of people to live better than what their parents did and due to his hard work, his kids were able to have things he didn't when he was younger, giving them a better, more satisfying life.

Simply put, this article is a prime example of the American Dream because it shows how in America, determination and hard work pays off. 

Word Count: 337

Thursday, January 24, 2013

My Favorite Movie Villain

My favorite villain was the Joker in the movie The Dark Knight. In this movie, Batman comes face to face with a highly intelligent psychopath named the Joker whose main goal is to watch Batman and Gotham City be destroyed.   The Joker is presented as this smart yet twisted and sadistic maniac who strives to be the center of attention.  The characters in the movie view him the same as the audience does. Batman, like the rest of the police department, sees him as a nuisance, simply a guy who craves attention but they also know that they can’t just dismiss and overlook him because the Joker is highly intelligent and he has no moral standards. The Jokers horrible childhood and greed is what motivates him to do what he does best: to pester and bother society. He was villainous because he did what every villain does: kills people, disrupts peaceful living and strikes fear in anyone he passes but what made him my favorite was his way of doing things. His plans were so sly and genius that it was hard to deny his intellectuality. He was very funny too. His quirky yet morbid sense of humor made you automatically shift your focus to him. Despite his twisted actions, the Joker commanded attention with his originality and uniqueness. 

Word Count: 219