Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wide Angle Youth Media Event

Matt Wiegartner
            I didn’t know what to expect from the Wide Angle Youth Media presentation I went to last night.  I went on a spur of the moment decision, and it ended up being a very interesting experience.  Their presentation was based around the fact that many teens in inner city Baltimore do not have jobs, and are not given the opportunity to have a job in the first place.  Wide Angle Youth Media gives these teens a place to learn about the work world, and make a number of films to show what it is like to be a teen looking for work in Baltimore.
            Before the presentation began, we were asked a few questions, one of them being “What are some rights that you are entitled to, and what responsibilities come with these rights?” Victor Frankenstein, in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, has immense knowledge of science, and sets out to create life.  He creates what we all know as Frankenstein’s Monster, and Victor immediately regrets what he has done.  His monster gets loose and wreaks havoc on the surrounding town.  Victor Frankenstein has this immense power of knowledge that he could use for many purposes but his lust for power gets out of hand.  He tries to “play god” by creating life, but in turn creates the Monster instead.  Everyone is entitled to the right of knowledge, but they must be responsible use it correctly in order to put those rights to good use for everyone.  One cannot let personal pride or anything of that sort get in the way.
            Paul Laurence Dunbar’s very short poem “Theology” is a very interesting poem.  It is only four lines long, and has a basic rhyme scheme.  The poem starts out implying that the speaker is very religious, believing in heaven and trusting his soul.  However there is a turn in the last line, which shows that he believes only he is going to heaven while his “neighbors” are all going to hell.  This is contradictory to most religions, which tell you to “love your neighbor.”  The speaker is not doing this if he wants all of his neighbors to go to hell.  In the presentation, they spoke about how the members of Wide Angle Youth Media help each other with their films and they also help find work.  Also, their films are used to help the people in the surrounding Baltimore Area, which are all their neighbors.
            “Tableau” by Countee Cullen is very relevant to the Wide Angle Youth Media’s presentation yesterday.  The speaker of the poem tells a story about two friends of different races, and how the world disapproves of the fact that they are friends.  Even though the poem was written in 1925, we still have these types of racial conflicts in the world today.  In the job force, African-American teens get a bad reputation when looking for jobs, which is completely unfair to everyone.  In a film shown, over 25% of all American teens over the age of sixteen are unemployed.  Teens count for a large percentage of the population, which means our national unemployment is over one percent higher than it should be. 
            Overall, the Wide Angle Youth Media’s presentation was very informative and enjoyable.  I learned that teens everywhere go through similar problems in life, and that there are good, healthy was to solve them.  I was particularly impressed by the age of the participants in the program.  Many were just turning sixteen, and already are working towards a full-time job to support themselves. 

Marina McKeown Blog #4

Marina McKeown
EN 101 17
Blog #4
            The works of Theodore Roethke, Sherman Alexie, Donald Hall, and Martin Luther King Jr. all represent the importance of self-identity. The common theme throughout the literary works also connected with this week’s event presented by Wide Angle Youth Media. Whether it is through relationships, technology, professions, or human rights, it is important to establish and stay true to our own identity. The works of the Wide Angle Youth Media are examples of the importance for our youth to create and establish their own identity in today’s world.
            “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke exemplifies the importance of a person’s identity and the complexity of it. The poet’s work portrays the Papa’s identity as well as the son’s. The “waltz” appears to be more of a drunken stammer or romping than a graceful and elegant dance. The “whiskey on your [father’] breath” establishes the Papa’s identity as a drinker, but as the poem progresses more is revealed. The Papa’s hands are “caked hard by dirt” suggesting he has worked a hard day’s labor. The boy, who appears to be young based on his reference using “papa” and his height up to the “buckle” of the father’s belt, identity is also revealed.  It would appear as if despite the turbulent relationship that is symbolized through the ungraceful “waltz”, he still loves his Papa. The young boy “hung on like death” to his father and “still [clings] to [Papa’s] shirt” when it is his bedtime, he does not want to let go. Despite having time beat on his head or the romping of the “waltz” the boy’s character is shown. Every little boy loves his father, it is what a child knows despite any faults, and that is exactly how the little boy is identified in the poem. Despite the troubles between his father and himself it is important to the young boy and his identity to “cling” to his father no matter what.
            Sherman Alexie’s “Facebook Sonnet” represents the difficulty of maintaining self-identity in today’s age of society. In the age of “Let’s sign up, sign in, and confess/Here at the alter of loneliness” Alexie is addressing the problem. The sonnet alludes that the internet and “.coms” are praised on a alter like status instead of being yourself. Instead, “every stage of life is the same”, but now with the Internet and Facebook we can let “ become our church”. We hide behind the Internet for all things, and that Alexie’s sonnet mocks. The satire tone disapproves of the hiding of a person’s life and identity behind the Internet and Facebook. Instead of signing into a church lets go to church, let’s stop “undervaluing and unamending” our lives and show our true identity.
            Donald Hall’s “To a Waterfowl” is a humorous yet almost sad account for people in today’s world and their identity. Hall writes about his job as a poet and the reactions he receives from the “women with hats like the rear ends of pink ducks” and the working husbands with their briefcases. He appears to mock the luncheons with the wives where he reads his poetry, and the businessmen on airplanes who joke they better watch their grammar.  Hall goes on to discuss his motel nights, drinking alone watching mediocre movies, and it is somewhat sad. Hall mocks the husband’s and the wives’ but in a way he is also mocking himself. He asks, “And what about you? You, laughing?”, “Will you ever be old and dumb, like your creepy parents? Not you, not you, not you…”. The reader gets the feeling that the poet was once the one laughing, and now looking back has discovered he isn’t who he truly had aspired to be. The title alludes to another poem titled the “Waterfowl”, a successful, in-depth, highly discussed poem. Perhaps Hall had wanted to write poetry like the “Waterfowl” and finds himself instead what he once laughed at. The poem shows the importance of identity, who people wish to be and what they become. Also it shows the importance to establish an identity that is beyond being a typical wife or businessman, to do something to make you unique.
            “Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King Jr.]” is an extremely influential piece of work about self-identity and the challenges faced in being true to your identity. As identified in the title, Martin Luther King Jr. writes his response in confinement. Martin Luther King is in Birmingham “because injustice is here”, and “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. MLK did not just preach that he was a man fighting for justice but he showed it everyday, everywhere no matter where he was originally from.  MLK made great strides to establish his identity as an advocator for non-violent action, for peaceful protests and to “carry the gospel of freedom” beyond his hometown.  MLK did not stop there, he preached to his listeners to go the step beyond, to teach themselves to be able to “accept blows without retaliating”. Not only did MLK and his followers preach their identity and stand strong to it, but also they practiced it and labored to strengthen it everyday despite set backs, even violence.  In an extremely passionate portion of the letter MLK writes, “So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be.” MLK is powerfully establishing and defending his identity, of extremists of love and justice, not hate and injustice.  Martin Luther King Jr.’s letter is commanding and moving. The letter is an example of the importance of self-identity, and in MlK’s case, to defend his position and stand firm to it. To retaliate with peaceful protests and defend his identity and the goals of civil rights movement’s followers. 
            The campus event this week, Wide Angle Youth Media, connects to the theme of identity. The non-profit program helps middle school and high school students express themselves using the arts of photography and film. The short films created by the students such as “All Things Can Change”, “More Than Jobs”, and “Affording My Future” demonstrated the importance of their identity to each student. The films discussed hardships within family support, the problems of youth unemployment, and the tremendous burden of college. Each student, director, obviously put countless hours and research into their film’s production. These students are obviously driven and hardworking and are active in establishing their identity as students and accomplishing their dreams, not getting in trouble or failing school. Also the topics of their films showed a lot about their concerns and identities as well as what they wanted to do to actively make positive changes for their film’s topic. The Wide Angle Youth Media program displayed the importance of letting students embrace problems that they identify with and the opportunity to have a healthy and productive outlet.
            The works of Theodore Roethke, Sherman Alexie, Donald Hall, and Martin Luther King Jr. all represent a common theme of identity that people struggle with everyday. Creating your own identity can be hard and even scary, to break away from the normal or step out from behind Facebook. But works such as Martin Luther King Jr’s letter show us the necessity to establish a person’s identity and to work hard to maintain it everyday. It is also important to express our identities, such as the students of the Wide Angle Youth Media program do. Our identities are something we should be proud of and work to maintain and be true to everyday. 

Blog 4

Charlotte Dunn
Dr. Ellis
Event Service Analysis
February 28, 2013
            Social barriers are created among different groups of people and are seen throughout the poems by Dunbar and Cullen and also Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. In the two poems, the social barriers arise from different groups of people. Both poems use parallelism to compare the two ideas and the different groups represented. All three works use imagery to portray the isolation caused by the barrier. In order to take down the barrier, equality and understand must be met.
            According to Michael Meyer’s Poetry, an epigram is “a brief, pointed, and witty poem. Although most rhyme and often are written in couplets, epigrams take no prescribed form. Instead, they are typically polished bits of compressed irony, satire, or paradox” (252). Paul Laurence Dunbar’s epigram “Theology” is an example of an epigram that is satirical. This epigram is six lines long and has no form. In these six lines there are many comments on society and humanity and the barrier built between oppressors and slaves. The satire in this poem is targeted at the social boundaries that Dunbar faced during his lifetime. An example of the satire seen in his epigram is in lines four to six “There is a hell, I’m quite as sure; for pray, If there were not, Where would my neighbors go?” In these three lines he is suggesting that his neighbors all go to hell. These lines could refer to the oppression his family underwent as they fought for their freedom. Dunbar is commenting on the social boundaries by suggesting that the oppressors would suffer in hell for the pain that they imposed up slaves. The title “Theology” ties the aspect of “heaven” and “hell” together in the epigram. Heaven and Hell are also separated barriers because the good go to heaven and the bad go to hell. An earthly barrier separates the good and bad, similar to the societal expectations that separate the slaves from their oppressors.
            In Countee Cullen’s poem “Tableau” social barriers are exemplified through the image of the first two lines “locked arm in arm they cross the way, the black boy and the white.” This is an example of a social barrier because of the reaction of the “folk” in the second quatrain: “the fair folk talk, indignant that these two should dare in unison to walk.” This quote expressed how the “fair folk” are looking upon the two boys walking. By using diction with strong negative connotation such as “indignant” and “dare” the readers can assume that the white folk are unhappy that the white boy and the black boy are together. The “fair folk’s” displeasure with the sight of the two boys creates a social barrier between white and black people. This social barrier is similar to the social barriers illustrated in Dunbar’s epigram because there is an obstruction preventing both groups of people from interacting. In the last lines of the poem there is another image that is created by opposing forces. “Oblivious to the look and word they pass, and see no wonder that lightning brilliant as a sword should blaze the path of thunder” this quote suggests that the boys are “oblivious” to the reactions and words being spoken against them. This last quatrain encourages equality. It encourages equality by stating that the “lightening brilliant as a sword should blaze the path of thunder.” These last lines encourage equality because equality and hatred can be seen as a parallelism to the lightening and the thunder. By expressing acts of equality the love will trump the hatred, just as lightening “blazes the path of thunder.”
            In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein social boundaries are created between Dr. Frankenstein and the wretch. For two years he had worked tirelessly to create humanity out of and inanimate object. When he finally finished his experiment and achieved his goal he was so unhappy and disgusted with himself that he banished the wretch. “I felt the bitterness of disappointment; dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space were now become a hell to me; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow was complete!” (36) This quote shows how Dr. Frankenstein is unhappy, his unhappiness creates a barrier between him and his creation. The barrier is formed when Dr. Frankenstein does not provide human emotion and expression towards the wretch, causing him to become detached from others and society. Being detached from others causes society to look upon the wretch with dismay and judgment. This in turn isolates the wretch and haunts Dr. Frankenstein. 
            In the works of Dunbar, Cullen, and Shelley there are social barriers placed between groups of people and individuals. The creation of barriers stem from the ignorance, judgment, and hatred of others. In order to break down such barriers, one must look beyond what is on the surface and delve deeper to create equality among others. 

Your Moment

“Everyone has a moment in life, don’t you dare miss yours.” –Randall Pinkett

            Mr. Randall Pinkett and his presentation for Black History Month motivated me more then he probably himself even knew. He emphasized the fact that every individual living on earth has an opportunity for something. Weather that specific individual takes the initiative to achieve this opportunity is on him or her. This talk with Mr. Pinkett was easy to relate to my readings of Frankenstein by Shelley, “Theology” by Paul Lawrence and “Tableau” Dunbar Countee Cullen was easy.
            Starting with the novel Frankenstein. Frankenstein is the narrator and creator of this so-called “monster” in the book. The monster becomes new to society and isn’t sure of the things around him. He scares most around him because of his appearance, but in reality doesn’t mean any harm. Although the “monster” was just created he still has a place in society too. He, just like the rest of us, has the opportunity to become something. The world around him didn’t give him the chance to become something of himself though. Of course the “monster” got discouraged by all the negativity of the people and later started to rebel with bad actions. I could relate to his feelings. When things seem to start to get out of line around me, I get frustrated. I tend to want to give up. This all changed after talking with Mr. Pinkett. He reminded me that the road will not always be easy, but the end of the road is always worth it.
            Next, I thought about when I was a child. I had no worries, stress or doubts. Sometimes wishing I could go back to that time, Mr. Pinkett helped me realize something else. If it weren’t for time moving forward, nothing would be possible. So although my childhood days are what I miss, in order to achieve my goals I must grow older. Just like the kids in the poem “Tableau,” who are still young and have not a care in the world. They are oblivious to the ones around them and never once worry about time. To them they have all the time in the world.
            But then we have those who grow older and believe time is running out. They believe their time has passed and there is nothing left in the world for them. These people are usually the ones that are filled with negative thoughts. The only things they ever say are negative to the ones around them. Just like the speaker in “Theology.” I believe this speaker didn’t like the world around him. He basically mentioned that he is better then the rest and that he was the only one going to heaven. Why live your life like that?
            Everyone takes their own length of time to realize who they are. They must come across obstacles and challenges that won’t make things easy. It’s all apart of the life we live. But, if we’re not careful we might miss ours. Our “moment” might leave us behind and never come back or it might try again just because it’s meant to be. We will never know. But, what we do know is that life is an ongoing process that waits for no one. And like Mr. Pinkett said, “Keep up or get left behind.” 

How Actions Define Us

Dr. Frankenstein, in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, led quite a different life than the characters depicted in “Theology” by Paul Laurence Dunbar and “Tableau” by Countee Cullen as well as the young student presenters from Wide Angle Youth Media (WAYM) at the Social Justice lecture presented by CCSJ. While the majority of these people were met with much adversity throughout their life, Dr. Frankenstein had nearly everything handed to him on a silver platter as he grew up. He did not necessarily take his privilege for granted, but his privilege, or more appropriately, his lack of great struggle until the death of his mother, prohibited him from making decisions in the same way as Dunbar and Cullen’s characters did as well as the students from WAYM. You would never guess that Dr. Frankenstein came from the same world as the others. Tragedy is inevitable in life and certainly affects us all, but the age at which you experience such life altering events can greatly affect who or what you grow into; these pieces of literature and real life experiences accurately depict how misfortune changes us, for better or worse.

Dunbar describes his justification of heaven and hell through people he has met in his life; his experiences throughout his life serve as justification for his way of thought. He decides that there must be a heaven, because he can feel it in his soul, and he decides that there is a hell because of people he has met who have nowhere else to go. He confirms his assertions through his experiences in life. Likewise, Cullen analyzes how adversity has left two friends untouchable by hatred and discrimination. It is implied that they have been through so much discontent that they don’t feel the eyes peering from “lowered blinds” that burn in the back of their heads (Cullen, line 5). He compares these two courageous young men to thunder that booms before lightening and clears a path for the brilliance that is to follow. These characters have allowed their friendship to grow out of the hatred harbored by those around them, so much so that they “In unison can walk” proudly (Cullen, line 8).

Although nearly seven decades have passed since Cullen lived to tell such stories through poetry, such suffering is still faced on a day to day basis by young, urban youth throughout America, but not all of these children let it get the best of them. Da’el, a fifteen year old, explained her struggle to overcome misfortune she was born into through video. WAYM provides a place were “at risk” teens and pre-teens can seek refuge and find an outlet to triumph over their adversaries. While Baltimore City and Maryland State legislation often works against them, they still fight back, just as the two boys did in Cullen’s “Tableau.” While, Da’el and her fellow WAYM classmates understand that “the voices of young people do not get the respect they deserve” they do not stand idly by; they work to change their predicament, as well as the predicament of those around them. These students exhibited passion and have clearly grown during their time as participants in WAYM. WAYM offers a place where the can channel their passion and learn to overcome the negative things in their life and grow into productive adults with dreams and goals; therefore they have reason stay off the streets and creative a better future for themselves. They have learned to stand up to adversity, not to run away from it or try to erase it.

Dr. Frankenstein did not face the adversity that these teens have until he was seventeen. This lack of life experience kept him sheltered and allowed him to view the world through a rose colored glass until the point of his mother’s death. Getting knocked down is the most important step when learning to stand up, and Dr. Frankenstein missed that opportunity with his silver spoon in his hand. He began to see the world through a broken glass and it greatly skewed his view of the world. The tragic loss of his mother’s life led to a distance with his father and began to bring other insecurities in his life to surface. To have your life be so drastically changed so quickly is not an easy burden to bare, it is no wonder that Dr. Frankenstein turned to science to look for a way to prevent something that can cause so much pain. He hoped to “renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption” because he did not know of any other way to deal with his feelings and hardships (Shelley, Page 27). He had no other experiences to learn from so he had to create a way to handle strife.

The students at WAYM, the two boys depicted in Cullen’s poem and the assumed discomfort in the life of Dunbar leads to the belief that these people are more equipped to handle painful news and the harsh realities of life. Because they have faced struggles their whole life, they have been made stronger and are prepared for further disappointed and struggle in the future whereas Dr. Frankenstein was shocked by the fact that something horrific could happen and he reacted brashly to this realization, trying to reverse it. Dr. Frankenstein had not yet met the understanding that you cannot control everything in life, but that you can control how you react to life. The absence of misfortune in his childhood led him to believe that bad things couldn’t happen to him and left him to change his way of thinking at the first sign of struggle. Unlike Dr. Frankenstein, the other characters of the Cullen and Dunbar poems and the students at WAYM see these misfortunes as ways to learn and grow and become better. Although we will never be able to control all aspects of our lives, we will always have control over our reactions in such an uncertain world.

Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Paul Laurence Dunbar “Theology”    
Countee Cullen “Tableau”
Wide Angle Youth Media, WAYM, Baltimore, MD.