A Critical Question

black and white

In American culture, ‘white’ and ‘black’ are crude oversimplifications, so why do we still use these labels? One answer is so African Americans—many of whom can claim more than one ethnicity and do not know their African country of ancestry—can have a unifying identity that acknowledges the history of slavery and continual injustice so people can talk about it and not forget it. However I wonder: what if the use of ‘black’ and ‘white’ perpetuate a binary system? The goal is to get equality between blacks and whites and also shed light on white privilege. With a binary system in place, all new babies born light or dark (with exceptions) automatically inherit their respective labels.  People also inherit privilege and racism; but aside from that, they are inheriting labels at the society level in America.  These two labels assign discourse, each separate from the other.  So, in effect, physical appearance (these simplified color words of ‘black’ and ‘white’) STILL dictates what discourse applies to you, plain and simple.   I think it is more useful to identify what we are trying to communicate with these labels, directly. What if we used the term “formerly-would-have-been-able-to-own-slaves” ?  People, then, would have a much harder time denying white privilege. Or how about “descendent-of-genocide-survivor”?

In Latin America, there has already been enough racial mixing that you cannot tell just by looking at someone if s/he has a black or white parent or grandparent. Physical appearance of skin color is much less of an issue in Latin America until they come to the US- and people are surprised they speak Spanish if they have blue eyes and red hair or they have dark skin and an afro.

In modern days, you can find people of many ethnicities in any state of the United States, so much so that it is still relevant to claim your country of ethnicity as part of your identity.  In African Americans’ case, what national identity can they claim if they don’t know what country their ancestors came from and their current country marginalizes them? Can Americans claim ethnic identities and still claim a national identity- American? I venture to argue that smaller nation-states have an advantage here, versus the US.  The US has so many states that are diverse demographically and topographically: how will we ever understand or care about people’s needs that live so far away in different weather and economic climate that live in other states? People can live their whole lives in one state and never experience conditions in another state, yet we’re all led by one person, the president and one federal government.

Now, back to my original question: white and black labels? If labeling something gives it power, then do both groups get more power instead of equality in a shared conversation?  Labels can be wanted or unwanted, but do/should people have to be loyal to them, even though they are the center point of national and local discourses today? Is it okay to use ‘black’ and ‘white’ as ethnicity labels when they only talk about physical color of skin and not country of ancestry? Share your thoughts !



It’s popping up everywhere..the social media manifestation of what people have done since the beginning of man.  I ask myself, can one wander without going about geographically?  I’m always one to live in the abstract, so for me wandering geographically doesn’t fit my current lifestyle–although I think that’s the point of it: to break out of a conventional, settled routine.  Having a toddler means my life revolves around giving her a foundation for the rest of her life, and this means a stable routine to learn from.  In a sense, have I missed out on the wanderlusting that my kidless counterparts in their 20s are doing?  What about all those Elmwood and Allentown dwellers, who spend everyday just hanging out en la calle? Or New Orleans dwellers living in a place where time stands still? My wandering is in the form of my everyday philosophical direction. I.e.,  I played JV football in highschool cut my hair in a mohawk and I had a baby out of wedlock while I was in undergrad (doesn’t everyone these days?) Now that those things have been done, what can I do to wander and how can  I feel solace?  How does working America feel solace and not commit suicide nowadays? My great uncle sailed the seas decades ago and moved out west from the northeast.  He hikes in the mountains often.  My goal I think, is to find my own mountain to hike, even if it’s in a book.  I often think about the opening song in Disney’s The Lion King that says “there is more to do than can ever be done.”  Even when we have mastered our structured lives, there is more to learn, explore and accomplish.



My personal blur bubble

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Blur.”image  My visual for the Daily Post photo challenge is a picture of my daughter from the recent Easter holiday.  Her dress is in focus and the surrounding furniture and carpeting are the blur.  the nature of this photo brings to light a certain kind of blur, a selective one if you will.  A selective blur is a symbol of how the human mind operates, and oftentimes a source of frustration for me.

It’s Easter.  Perhaps if you practice organized religion, albeit only on Easter, you go to church, you dress up, you see family, eat a meal, see some Easter eggs.  This picture is ironic for me because the focus of the whole day this Easter holiday was my daughter’s dress.  In the days leading up to it, the question was, what will she wear?

I did actually spend time this Easter thinking aboutwhat Easter is to the world and what it means for me personally.  But the logistics of the day were somewhat routine: the food, the church, the family visiting.  What was different was my daughter’s dress.  It’s funny how in life we can focus so intensely on individual material objects that complete some kind of mission for us, in comparison to how much we zone out when it comes to more meaningfully substantial goings on even if they are habitual and monotonous.

Bluetooth Keyboard=Sliced Bread

Seriously, everyone should go out and purchase (amazon) a bluetooth keyboard for their phones. I don’t have internet at home so this lets me blog without straining myself just using the phone keyboard.  Anyway, So commences my independent blogging routine– free of  school assignments and whatnot.  It’s Easter afterall.. what better day to resurrect my creative outlet of writing and self-expression therein?

Annotated Bibiliography Post #8

I’ve gotten a good start on finding sources, and have even more than shown here. Some sources that I’ll definitely use are:

Berman, Neil David. Playful Fictions and Fictional Players: Game, Sport, and Survival in Contemporary American Fiction. Port Washington: Kennikat Press Corp, 1981. Print.       This source talks about the role that fictions about sport/survival play in American society and how they represent American society.  This source is a great source because I’m going to use a few point made in chapter one to back up my argument about the Hunger Games and what it’s saying as social commentary. It makes a lot of general statements, so I’m going to use it to help outline some general definitions of the underlying themes in a survival game.

Clemente, Bill. “Panem in America: Critical economics and a call for political engagement.” Of Bread, Blood, and The Hunger Games. Ed. Mary F. Pharr and Leisa A. Clark. Jefferson: McFarland and Company, Inc, 2012.  20-29. Print.     This source helps me back up my speculation that The Hunger Games talks about distrust in government in America.  To say this is to make a bold statement, so it’s important to have another author explicitly making the same argument.  This source also offers another meaning behind “Panem” which is that it is a roman reference.

Collins,Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic Press, 2008. Print. This source is essential in that I’ll need to reference scenes directly.  It is easier to site than the movie, so I intend to find the scenes I watched in the book and cite them, paying attention to differences between the two sources. This source will be my one primary source.

Ryan, Carrie. “Panem at Circenses: The Myth of the Real in Reality TV.” The Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games Triolgy. Ed. Leah Wilson. New York: BenBella Books Inc, 2010. 99-111. Digital file.  This source ties entertainment into my argument about The Hunger Games and America.  It will help me talk about falseness in America and the falseness that drives people to a materialistic American Dream/consumerism.  This source is a good source for my argument in that it will back me up on the argument that the Hunger Games is actually making a mimicry of shows like Survivor, and that shows like these desensitize America to violence and suffering.

Zaki, Hoda M. Phoenix Renewed: The Survival and Mutation of Utopian Thought in North American Science Fiction, 1965-1982. Mercer Island: Starmont House, Inc, 1988. Print.   This source will help develop the foundation of my argument.  The base agrument I am making is about political theory and America.  This source is especially helpful because it outlines a little  history of political theory but, more importantly, it talks about where utopias fall in modern theory.

Some sources I have rejected include:

Dockterman, Eliana. “Yes, it’s violent — but The Hunger Games: Catching Fire can lead to discussions about a number of important issues.” Time.com 21 Nov 2013. EBSCOHost. Web. 19 October 2014.   Initially, the title of this source drew me to it because of its relevance to my topic.  The article, however, merely outlines a list of themes in the movie, which I had done already more or less.  It described how this list made it a film rich in critique.

Sukenick, Ronald. Naralogues: Truth in Fiction. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000. Print.    This book is a bit too general.  It talks about how fictions depict actual stories and use symbolism.  Although it talks about theory, it doesn’t support any specific points I will make in my argument.

Post #7: Formulating evidence for The Hunger Games as a warning against complete American Dystopia

After collecting about 7 sources, I’ve read into each of them and am starting to think about what each of their arguments are.  The Hunger Games the book will be one of my two print sources that I can use to cite specific scenes in the plot.  I also found a digital  version of an anthology that has essays talking about different themes in the story.  This source especially helped me see what arguments are out there and gave me a lot of arguments to work with to formulate a statement as to what the movie is saying about America and what it is warning against.  I’ve even found an article online talking about Apocalyptic themes in american culture and the American dream.  I plan to spend the first part of my essays drawing similarities between symbolism in the movie and symbolism of America. I.e. 13 Districts and 13 original American colonies.

Post #6 The Hunger Games: A Plethora of Subliminal Social Critiques

Now that I’ve watched the movie I’m absolutely amazed at how many social critiques the story packs into it.  My task now is to pick one/ find a common ground among all of them that I wish to write about.  One of my first ideas about what the movie says about society is that America’s obsession with entertainment and celebrities is oftentimes one side of the coin;the other side being the crazy lives celebrities must live because they are…celebrities.  For example, they must be in their own isolated worlds, oftentimes themselves and their children protected by bodyguards.  This point is similar to what the movie shows as the “players” are dying one by one all because the “game” is designed in such a way.  This also presents the point that there is a hierarchy of people to step on/ use to one’s own advantage in order to end up on top.  The game wants the players to be competitive.  In Hollywood, competition is all about sales, viewers, ratings, and sponsors.. just the the Hunger Games.  The game itself reminded me a lot of reality TV such as the show Survivor or the show about people living naked in the wild.  I also think the movie makes commentary about the world being at war.  Each district is a country, and our representatives or armed forces fight to the end and carry pride for their own country.  War in and of itself is an ugly part to human nature in that it brings out our primitive instincts to survive by any means, even if it means being heartless and selfish. For example, the players in the game gang up and plot to kill Catness (sorry for the spelling) because they know she has the ability to win against all of them.

Post #5 Changing Things Up For the Better

With little information about the graphic novel topic/feminism Dave Brown helped me to pick another topic that I could be just as enthusiastic about.  He suggested I consider movies I’ve seen or like.  We came up with writing about The Hunger Games and how the movie makes social commentary on the subject of a utopian society.  He suggested this movie after I mentioned I really enjoyed the movie Divergent, which is very similar in terms of what themes are present.  After watching The Hunger Games, I’m going to determine whether or not I will take the route of talking about both movies in parallel or just one of them.  There is apparently a ton of literature about The Hunger Games since it has been such a hit at the box office and in popular culture.  What makes Divergent so interesting is the subliminal messages that the viewer is free to interpret from it, so I think The Hunger Games will probably do the same thing.

Post #4: Beginning the Research

I found it extremely difficult to find information specifically talking about counterculture in comics, let along counterculture in Image comics.  I think among the literature people might not really write about the topic since comics themselves have grown up in America from a place of counterculture.  I varied my search techniques from using “counterculture” to searching for “feminism” and “graphic novels” and that brought me some sources.  A lot of sources I’m finding are simply reviews of Saga saying that it’s controversial and that it is successful and catchy.  The librarian who came to class today provided a lot of interesting links in the handout, so I’m hopeful that they will lead me to some more information.  In my research to come, I plan to look at graphic novels with respect to representations of the family, since in Saga the plot is centered around a new family, and I feel like a family journey as the main focus/protagonist is generally rare in comics.

Post #3: Revising the topic yet again…

After talking with the professor I realized I was trying to force a specific argument that doesn’t reflect the object fact of edgy graphic novels.  Controversial graphic novels are very much on the edge and not mainstream.  I guess as a person who doesn’t really (yet) follow or read many comics or graphic novels I don’t have that good of an idea of main trends.  when I came across Saga, I figured it was a comic book, and that this new and interesting series must be popular since it interests me personally.  After consideration, I realized last post that it definitely belongs to the realm of graphic novels.  My bias on assuming it must be popular if it is controversial is something that I realized I tend to project into a lot of my writing.   On one hand, this is a weakness because it taints my credibility.  On the other hand, it can be good since it provides me a convincing style since I, myself believe in my argument so much I can be really good at persuasive voice, even if I’m not as good at connecting the facts to my original argument.