I am American. White bread and white-bred. My parents are from America, and so were their parents, and my lineage can be traced back to the American revolution. I have a white name and come from an average, white, family.
In the last two weeks, in to of my classes discussed parental heritage and its effect on our culture. In my Design for Change class, a group of students presented their cultural heritage through food and talked about the blended nature of the culture. The students in Design for Change presenting the cultural heritage I didn't disagree with (as there was no conclusion or thesis of their ideas), but they talked about the cultural duality. This is a concept I hadn't realized I didn't relate to! I had assumed most English speaking, accent-free Caucasian-ish (on the tan scale), wouldn't share a more similar background. Their pride in their cultures, made me think about my cultural heritage, how I define it, and what cultural heritage I belong to.
In my hip hop class, the instructor talked about how no one is American; everyone is something American. Then saying that the only Native Americans can call themselves American (although would they? Their tribes are as diverse as European countries we distinguish between). So is there anyone that is American American? Because I feel like I am. Or more, I am not enough of one thing to call myself something other than American without being wrong. For example, I am a mix of German, English, one of the Nordic countries, and maybe Frace (based on what my mom has told me, and my features and stature). But I don't know of anyone in my family that is FROM any of those countries. I am not from anywhere more than I am from America.
Being from somewhere to me would mean that that is where your most geriatric individual in your direct line (probably a grandparent, maybe a great-grandparent), was born in the same country you were. For me, this is true, but for a lot of individuals I know, it is not. Then, they are African American, Polish American, Irish American... etc. Otherwise, your cultural heritage is American and your ethnicity is different from your cultural heritage. For example, a Korean person who was born and raised in America has the race (or ethnicity) of Asian, but the cultural heritage of Korean American. The race of the person describes their appearance and physiology (there are slight differences between race based on the conditions of where they ancestors lived), where is their cultural heritage describes the kind of food they would eat, the music they listen to, how they dress and view themselves and others. But for me, my race is Caucasian, and my heritage is American. So should I be called Caucasian American? Or, because Caucasian is the dominant race in America is that a given trait, unless you specify otherwise, such as Japanese or African American? Would a white South African person call themselves African American? Why do we sometimes specify countries (French American, Argentinian American) and other times continents (Asian American, African American)?
I don't have the answers. Right now, I am responding to what I hear around me, because I don't think I agree with something that was said, and I am exploring why.
"World Changing" pages 29–46.
Readings like this give me a few feelings, and I find them challenging to reconcile. At first, I think, this is not enough and will never be sufficient. It is entirely too hard to change so many entrenched ways of living with out a dramatic and close-to-home event (ahem Irma even if it's not proven). Next, I think that the writer is asking too much of people, or expecting that enough people have access to the recycling centers and other service mentioned, that the suggestion is almost entirely worthless. Lastly, all I can think is I know. I know I hear you, you're preaching to the choir, dude.
I wish I could make people read books. Because although this book is a little over a decade old—lol at calling this the "iPod generation"—it does provide useful information and resources for a less informed person. So much of the information in this book is a repeat of things I have learned in school, on the internet, or as a part of my research into specific industries, in particular, clothing. It seems pretentious to not think about the waste we generate! Like the girl in class that sounded like she had never considered a styrofoam takeout container effected anyone but her! I could be wrong and could be a great environmentalist in other ways, but still–take out containers in any form are so obviously such a waste, I don't understand how a person could overlook that waste before this reading.
There was one major thing I disagreed with in the text: the idea that technology hindered more than it helped. Before I had an iPod, I had STACKS of CD. Cold, hard, plastic compact disks in their protective cases, carelessly stacked on the windowsill of my room. Owning an iPod, and now between my Mac and my iPhone, I have more than I ever would have had access to. Even if I "owned" less music, because I would be buying every CD, I still think that the relative ecological foot print of the manufacturing and disposal of my iPhone and laptop vastly outweigh the content I would physical consume with out it. Between my laptop and phone, I have hundreds of books (e and audio), thousands of CDs and songs, books of sheet music, day/homework planner/calendar, flash/note cards, sketch book, and as many blank pieces of paper to write on as I want. I have often thought about doing an art project visualizing the amount of STUFF my electronics contain, and the paragraph where he says, "the iPod is probably the best example of a gadget with extremely limited functions— and earth-shattering success."
Also as a side note, please don't buy your clothes if they're labeled "renewable." All clothes are recyclable. They're either plastic or plant. Rather, buy clothes with primarily recycled content, or be a hipster and buy used.
One of that paragraphs that frames what I want to do with my life is as follows:
"At present, two types of "good" clothing are generally available: the gunny sack garments that scream "Granola" and a handful of high-fashion (and high priced) "ultra green" lines" (Abrams, 36).
This is exactly the problem I want to solve / the gap I want to fill. There is no place between Alternative Apparel and Patagucci. Nothing you can sweat in without spending nearly twice as much. That is where I want to be, providing ethically made, environmentally responsible, clothing that you can go to the gym, mountain biking, hiking, and running in.
9/11 class Discussion
Today, in class we talked about 9/11. I've been through enough tragedy in this life to feel like I've hardened to people emotions when there is no logical background to having them, so when the girl cried its class, I bristled. Everyone is entitled to their emotional responses to things. And that's that other wise I'll sound like a right asshole.
I appreciated the discussion and respectful disagreement that happened in the back left with the international affairs student and dude-who-wears-hats-inside. To see arguments about a sensitive topic, both individuals supporting their ideas with reasonable evidence and not getting defensive when their point was opposed was heartening.
I'm not sure if it was just today or if 9/11 has more of an effect that I am seeing, but it made me think about the language around death, and I got kind of pissed off, and, like a good millenial, I wrote a more extensive blog post about it here. Some individuals will certainly disagree with my positions and will likely feel offended so I wouldn't advise reading it if you can be touchy.
Happy 9/11 everyone! Mass death makes me think about general death, which makes me reflect on our social toe-stepping around the concept of death. Cheers!
No one passes. Or well, old people why to die in their sleep pass away, they slip from being something to be not something or whatever something your religion tells you you become when you die. Your grandmother may pass away. A firefighter is killed doing his job. The way the person dies helps define the language we use to describe the act of their current non-existence in the physical world.
There is such a stigma to saying that a person just died. But that's what happened, people died before you, your parents will (hopefully) die before you, and then you will (hopefully) die before your children. Friends die, pets die, and plants die. They could be killed, by cancer, drunk drivers, or themselves—in the case of life habit-caused disease and other quicker versions of suicide.
My father killed himself when I was 7. Which sucks and everything, and when I reveal this fact about myself, people always say "I'm sorry for your loss." I think that loss is measurable. And that measure decreases over time. When he died, I lost a third of my being, me being one-third, and my mother is the other third. But every day since then, with a few exceptions, like Christmas, my dad's birthday and Fathers day, that has become less and less. The foundation of who I am as a person's foundation rests on that event. But, if this death happened a while ago, the person you are speaking to isn't the same individual that the death happened to—of course—literally, they are—but metaphorically if it affected them greatly, it would have changed the foundation of them as a person.
So what do you say? My mom and I have had a lot of conversations about this topic. We agree that saying "I'm sorry for your loss" not only does nothing but in many cases makes things worse; either by bringing up settled emotional sediment or by bringing up anger at how little the "sorry-er" understand the situation at all. "I'm sorry for your loss" also brings the conversation back to you. Someone shared something with YOU, and although it may feel like a polite way to convey your empathy, all it does it bring the conversation to surround your feelings, which, at this moment aren't the important ones. Find another way to express empathy, without announcing your feelings about this very feeling-full event in the other person life.
Instead of "I'm sorry for your loss," ask a different question. "I'm sorry for your loss" is the answer from someone who has never experienced a significant loss. When other have told me, my answer is usually "that sucks." Because it does! It sucks. It really sucks. It's awful to have someone close to you die. If it's a recent death, just bring food, or sit with them and let them talk, or not talk.
We are uncomfortable with death. No healthy human wants to die. It is programmed into us to be afraid of our death, so using terms like "passing away" and "loss" help us become comfortable with the awful idea of our death or the death of those who feel like they're a part of us. So please, please just remember death is not a passing and "I'm sorry for your loss" means nothing. Confront death and use proper language and emotional empathy in your answer to someone sharing an emotional event in a person's life.
Stay healthy (mentally & emotionally), happy, and stare in the face of death and say its name. It's not he-who-must-not-be-named. (;
Something strange happens every year, where my feeling switch from positive to negative (and vice versa) throughout the semester. Since some of these classes are not starting out well, I hope this principal will be true for the class I despise at the moment and not be true for the classes I am enjoying.
I like to think that I like math. I like the order in it: making the seeming chaos of the world into numbers that can be found and controlled. Signing up for this class, while still not something I wouldn't take if it weren't required, I was excited to take. In algebra that I had taken in middle school, I remembered really liking matrices, which is the premise of linear algebra at the elementary level. Unfortunately, I am not enjoying the class. It takes only takes a little inattention, and genericism is teaching style and a poorly designed curriculum to wet the excitement matches, damaging interest and throwing it all together in the other direction.
From the accent, which is often intelligible, to the handwriting, which is often illegible, to the weak explanation in initial instruction to not understanding the questions asked of him: I give his teaching a solid D at the moment.* He does respond to emails quickly, which I appreciate and he hasn't done anything to shame me in front of the class, which is why the performance is only a D.
Despite frequent communication errors due to English being a second language, what happens in class only loosely corresponds to what is in the required text book. I do realize that textbook choice is not the instructor, but of the course facilitator, but it does contribute to the challenge of the class existing outside of the material on which the course encompasses. At this point in the semester, the course receives a C overall.
* I completely sympathize with the difficulty of learning and especially speaking in front of a group, a language that is not a person first language. The language challenge does not mean that instructors with difficulty speaking the language spoken in the course are the best to teach the said course.
I have struggled with the language. With English, I spoke very early but read very late. It wasn't until 5th grade that I was up to grade level. I attribute this to my time homeschooling when both math and reading reduced me to a small wet puddle of tears. So instead I listen to hella audiobooks of the lives of composers, the Greek, Roman, and Egyptian myths, built pyramids and mummified chickens.
I have never understood language requirements after the age of 12. Proven time and time again that there is a dramatic reduction in the ability to form the synaptic connections that allow for language to stick. Of course, there are exceptions, and there is still some capacity to learn a language after the age of 12 meaningfully, but if it hasn't worked before college why would it work now? Or how would it make me a more rounded person?
If someone knows how why this is a requirement, please tell me. I am much better at doing something I don't want to do if there is a substantial reason: supported by scientific evidence and reasoning. I have found no basis for teaching language in college in either reason or science, but only in feelings. Feeling are nonsense, and not on what we should base our academic decisions.
DESIGN FOR CHANGE
I am excited about this class. It has the potential to be great. The one problem seems to be some of the students. There are a lot of people who wear hats inside (sorority girls with limited problem solving) individuals who don't know anything about design or had a passion for making waves. I care about this stuff, creating in a way to influence people, and I worry that these non-caring people will disrupt the flow and passion of the class through their apathy.
We've had some interesting and mildly thoughtful discussions, but they often seem stunted because of the type and volume of individuals in the class. I usually have opinions and am pretty vocal about these views, but it is hard for me to find a balance between contributing my voice to the discussion, and feeling like I am one of the only participants in the discussion.
The first project seems ironic because this is a design for change class, but the first project advocates for high volume printing of paper to communicate ideas. The project is to create "'Zine;" a printed mini information magazine with a message. For me, this is challenging to reconcile. I care about the environment, and avoid physical printed items when at all possible; all my books are audio or electronic, so are my note cards and all my class work. But how do you circulate such randomness in the electronic world? The 'zines are distributed in high traffic areas (like coffee shops or poster boards) that increase the interaction between a wider, and hopefully deeper audience: which I don't know how to do without paper waste effectively. So I still feel undecided. It seems like a .5 step forward, .25 step back. Opinions?
The other thing that gets me is the book. I've written more about the contents of the book in a post for the class, which I support in some ways and have issues with in others. But the physical book. Sure it printed on better paper. But printed?! Really? There are no e-books or audiobooks available whatsoever. Partially because I hate reading physical books and prefer the options and interface of an electronic book and partially because holy shit how much paper did that book contribute to the environment? It's a thick ass book. That's a lot of paper.
Over all, I am excited and hopeful and hope we get to spend more time in smaller groups for discussion, and I get valuable feedback to improve my performance as a designer.
I have the same comments for advanced typography. I am excited for the class overall, the projects seem interesting and through provoking, but worry that the apathy of other students will disrupt the flow of the course. Joel is a commanding force in the room more than the instructors for Design for Change, and I hope that will be enough to prevent the class from falling apart at the seams.
HIP HOP 2
Hip hop is hard. That's all. Rennie Harris, the instructor, called me out on the first day in a way that disrupted class and embarrassed me, because I made a small error, and I felt awful for the rest of class. But that is how my last hip hop class started, and I ended up liking the teacher and have continued to train with him since. So I am keeping my hopes up, practicing, and working hard in class.
WEB (web design)
I have long lamented the disconnect between programmers and designers, and web only affirms the breadth of this crevasse more than soothes my concern that coders don't know anything about design.
The skills we are learning are useful: I can code a straightforward page in HTML5 after two lab sessions and two lectures. But I did use the class site as examples in Advanced typography as high type crimes because the site looks awful.
I have learned more from the assigned videos than the instructors (the TA or the course facilitator that teaches the lecture), which is disappointing. I like to have a real person explain concepts and skills, rather than Lynda.com. I understand the limitations of classroom size and instructors, but when the course has massive wait lists semester after semester; however it would be appreciated if the classes were made smaller and teach more in the class lectures. Smaller class size and more teaching in that period would allow for questions to occur throughout the education, rather than an almost entirely self-guided course that also happens to have an in-person requirement.
In short, we are using useful skills, but I am frustrated by the lack of focus on aesthetics and usability demonstrated in the project of the course facilitator.
Transnational is great! Brain teasingly difficult to do muscle isolations in the body, but it I enjoy practicing it around the house; I try to walk around rolling my stomach, walking on the inline half point, and hip shimmying. I am disappointed that the web gets in the way of this class, but I am delighted I am a part of it.
INDEPENDENT STUDY / GRANT PROJECT
I feel like what I would guess a lion would feel like if it were in the zoo all its life suddenly got the freedom to roam in a city. I don't know what to do first! I've alway dreamed of this freedom, but now that I have it I feel choice paralyzed.
Letting ideas stew has been a great tool. I started thinking about this project about two years ago, but I got the resources to work on it in June. Then I started thinking a lot more, and every week, I feel like I am making small, but meaningful project physically (visualizing ideas, ordering and creating costumes), and making decisions about the plot of the piece, so I have a better structure on which to rely.
All in all, I am nervous, and getting myself ready for the chase. I have made a schedule for myself for the semester, which I intend to follow, but I think it might go differently than outlined. I have ordered a lot of supplies, but making for me comes in waves or periods. I bet I will get all the supplies, and then basically all the making will happen in a weekend, and then the coding in the next week.
I know people say that steady progress is the way to go, and I have been doing the steady growth. But now it is time to taper and bring the productivity to a max to produce the costumes, and once created, I have solid characters and people to write a story about.
COLLEGE CORE REQUIREMENTS
Who decides college core requirements? Why and how do they make these decisions?
When frustrated by having to take classes that seemed to have little relation to what I am interested and don't feel like they make me a more "rounded" academic. I did some surface research to see if there was a particular set of the reasoning behind the core requirements that seem pointless and unrelated to students as individuals and their field of study.
First, I do think that becoming a well-rounded person is an essential thing that not enough people care about, and I am not necessarily the person that these rules are made for. But the system doesn't seem to work for the majority of students that I interact with.
But most of the electives that I have taken to expand my knowledge in areas that I care about have not been listed under approved allectives or counted (without petitioning) towards my core or degree requirements. So how would follow the "accepted" elective and core classes had improved me when nothing on the list was whatsoever exciting to me? Also as I said in the Italian section of this post, this isn't the best time for us to learn a language, and my time would likely be better spent focusing on something I would be able to apply more directly to my life and careers.
So where do these requirements from? I still have no idea. And I still don't understand the reasoning used by the people with the power to make these decisions. If anyone has any information on this subject lmk 'cause I am bewildered and frustrated.
"It's just the way it is" isn't an answer, btw.
Thank you for listening to this all the way to the end. I respect the effort,
This essay is a response to the following prompt:
Can a person, group or culture own a dance?
Throughout time, humans have been obsessed with ownership, who has, and who dose not, and what they possess. While the concept of recognized physical property is as old as civilization idea ownership is a relatively recent concept, so now we reach the question; can anyone own a dance? Dance Cannot be owned by any one person,group, or culture because at the core of dace is evolution through influence.
While names are given to dances, that are named to honor the creator, not to give ownership to. ownership, as defined by Google, is the " act, state, or right of possessing something." Possession is then defined as "having or controlling something." In jazz and swing dance, the move Tacky Annie is named for a stripper named Annie, but is not owned by her, as generations of dancers have performed and built upon the move that holder her name. If it was truly Annie's move, denoting ownership, would mean she is in the continual act of controlling the move. But since generations of dancer have performed it and changed it, it is not just hers to control, and therefore now owned by Annie. This is also true with the Petipa pas de deux structure. While Petipa created the structure, he is not the sole proprietor nor the current implementing body. He is not controlling the structure now, and although he created the dance structure, he is not the owner.
In dance, people, groups, and cultures create, but do now own dance because in dance there is always an expectation for transmission, translation, and interpretation. For example, in African dance, dancers are referred to as griots, who alter dances slightly while still conveying the overall story. The evolution of the dance through lines of griots is important to to the development of their culture as a whole. The griots have created the dance, but as a conduit for the dance, not the copyright holder (Asante). In hip hop, (according to Mr. Wiggles, via Larry Southall) to be a hip hop dancer, you must create original moves. Contributing is an integral part of being a part of the community. This addition or alteration of the dances allows for the progression of the dance. If these dances were owned, they would not be changed, which would soon become boring and stagnant, unable to communicate with other people, groups, and cultures.
Dance has flourished with the prolific availability of digital media, allowing for the rapid and diverse dissemination of the body of dance knowledge. Now, everyone can share and edit, building on one another, allowing anyone to be a part of the dance discourse. This creates a "feedback loop" (Barnes) in dance. A person may know a style, and bring other elements of a different style, slightly altering the style, and progressing it. For example, Barnes took elements of breakdancing, and inserted it into her post modern dancing, to create an original synthesis of the two. These cross stylistic (fusion) and cross cultural exchanges are vital to keep up the evolution of dance vital to all people.
However, problem occur when cultural appropriation occurs. Cultural appropriation is defined as qualities curated by a minority culture, curated or cherry picked by a more powerful culture for specific characteristics. Thereby partially stripping a minority culture of its identity (Desmond). Dance frequently transmits cross culturally, but is only considered cultural appropriation when it is done without knowledge of, or respect and sensitivity towards. Diedie Skylar elaborates in her "5 Aspects of taking a culturally sensitive approach to dance" on the matter. Importantly, since dance is not owned by a culture, it can and should be spread cross culturally, problems arise when the origin or significance is not treated with the reverence due, or the correct people, groups, or cultures are not attributed. Then there is syncretism, "the amalgamation of different cultured, where two culture mix to create a third, new element, an important cross cultural transmission of dance knowledge. Dance is built upon, like science. While science describes "the incremental acquisition of knowledge through observation" (Tim Minchin), dance is the continual conversation of physical communication. Every concept is somehow built on the previous, knowingly or unknowingly, but we must do out best to note those who we are building upon and their origins.
In conclusions, a dance cannot be owned by any one culture, group or person, because a dance is not a thing to hold; it is sculpted by every body that moves through its motion. Creators are not copyright holders, because dance is meant to evolve.
Asante, Kariamu Welsh. "Commonalities in African Dance: An Aesthetic Foundation." Moving History / Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader. Ed. Ann Dils and Ann Cooper. Albright. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2001. 144-50. Print
Banes, Sally. "Introduction." Writing Dancing in the Age of Postmodernism. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 1994. Xi-Xv. Print.
Desmond, Jane C. "Embodying Difference: Issues in Dance and Culture Studies." Meaning in Motion: New Cultural Studies of Dance. Durham: Duke UP, 1997. 29-50. Print.
Gottschild, Brenda Dixon. "Stripping the Emperor: The Africanist Presence in American Concert Dance." Ed. Ann Dils and Ann Cooper. Albright. Moving History / Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2001. 332-41. Print.
Asante, Kariamu Welsh. "Commonalities in African Dance: An Aesthetic Foundation." Moving History / Dancing Cultures: A Dance History Reader. Ed. Ann Dils and Ann Cooper. Albright. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2001. 144-50. Print.
McCarty, Shasta Daisy. "Appreciation, Appropriation, and Exploitation in Ethnic Dance." Zarifa's Touch of Egypt. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2016.