A Modest Manifesto: Fayetteville State & the Zoom University (ZU)

Since remote work remains necessary during the Covid-19 pandemic and not be pose further hinderance to complete educational participation, we bear witness to the rise of the Zoom University (ZU) that has become a top resource in the new hybrid reality.

This new social ecology brought on by coronavirus depends on universal internet access. This is cultural and economic effects on institutions of higher education where Zoom is a tool that is far from universally accessible. While most universities have allocated professional Zoom licenses to their constituent workers (teachers and students) affiliated with the ZU must begin demanding wider accessibility to ensure that face-to-face connectivity is afforded to all.

Zoom can do a disservice to the students when teachers don’t find a way to establish accountability through visual, textual, and vocal interaction. As a tool, ZU ought to be utilized as a compliment instead of a crutch in the post pandemic world. It should be a way of performing classes in an environment that extends from the class rather than the separate entity that it appears to be.

Pandemic pedagogies must be creative to allow for collaborative activity. Disengagement can be avoided when users hold one another accountable through the enabling of microphone and camera settings to foster social connectivity. It is easy to circumvent the accountability ZU participants have towards the classroom. For instructors, it may show up as non-interactive lectures with verbatim slideshows. For students, tabbing away and deploying a zoombots is too easy when this style of zoom teaching is employed.

If the ZU expects you to teach and learn synchronously, ZU constituents ought to expect connectivity speeds that are affordable and reliable. This may include universities issuing payments or refunds for “personal” home internet billing in the future. We foresee a moment where learners and workers will start to negotiate this expectations going forward.

Students pay money for a product that doesn’t live up to the hype. When they are constantly ignoring class and merely entering a Zoom meeting then they are being cheated for that product. So far, Zoom can be a crutch because it fails to serve as an interactive learning environment. It has the tools to serve as such, but we aren’t utilizing them enough. Underutilized Zoom functions decrease interactivity. Employing the items, social dis/connectivity can and must be mitigated when routinely incorporated in the ZU.

  1. Chat box
  2. Breakout rooms
  3. Polls
  4. Emoji reactions
  5. Annotations
  6. Screen sharing
  7. Recorded broadcast
  8. Closed captions
  9. Security

Just as a stable internet connection is non-negotiable, nor are the items enumerated above. They are not simply options for the ZU community, they are requirements for maintaining the fidelity of classroom instruction.

CHAT BOX
Allowing students to express themselves freely through chat. With this some students may not want to express themselves vocally and can do so by sharing things in chat for others to view and discuss later or within themselves
.

BREAKOUT ROOMS
Breakouts allow for the free exchange ideas without the peering eyes of the instructor constantly trained on students. This particular zoom feature forces students to step up and take charge of their own learning. Breakout allow students to work as peers without fear of impressing or disappointing the instructor.

POLLS
The democratic interface of polls provides the zoom space a feeling of a safe and open environment, especially when the anonymous response feature is used. It can be used to help instructors incorporate student suggestions and feedback in real time.

EMOJI REACTIONS
Expression through emoji reactions gives participants a mode of extra-verbal communication. Emojis elicits a sort of “temperature check” of the mood in the zoom space. A student can hold a greater amount of choice for themselves as well as gain a level of creativity in an otherwise bland environment. Zoom could enable a creative and somewhat relaxed environment while also facilitating the educational need. The use of emoji’s can fulfill that creativity via the ability to choose any reaction. This could do a great service to students who for some reason are unable.to show themselves via camera, enabling facial expression without actual facial expression.

ANNOTATIONS
Are a communicative interface that combines and constructs visual and verbal ideas in the ZU. In the zoom environment of hybrid reality, it encourages better recognition of everyone being on the “same page” with graphics that literally draw attention to shared information.

SCREEN SHARING
Is a popular function for zoom hosts. Its setting should, however, be allowed for multiple users at once. This enables multidirectional engagement and accountability. The Whiteboard function expands the writing space where students and instructors brainstorm and experiment with ideas. The Whiteboard allow users to share their work in a common place.

RECORDED BROADCAST
Personal image consent is ethically handled when all participants are aware of the recording to take place. Transmitting and broadcasting of the recording must be agreed upon by all. This issue of privacy is paramount. Whoever controls the mute button has the power. The host controls the microphone and therefore controls the narrative. All students should feel inspired coming into class knowing they have a voice. A rule of thumb is if the person appears or is heard in the zoom, they should be granted access to recorded meetings upon request. Also, more recording of zooms should be initiated because it is very helpful for students who cannot meet their class times, it should be recorded and possibly have forms where other students can sign a consent form for them to be recorded for their classmates who have missed class and if they do not consent, it should be allowed.

CLOSED CAPTIONS
Captioning verbal interactions is probably the most overlooked and under-considered zoom function when it comes to the ZU. Some people will need closed captions if they are deaf or hard of hearing. Others need them for understanding speech and sound content when they are using zoom in various environments. Sounds can be muted and understood by zoomers in a noisy background. Third-party software that provides application program interface (API) tokens for ZU inhabitants should be free of charge and captioners should be assigned by the host to meet these usability needs.

SECURITY
As zoom becomes our new normal, this top source communication tool provisions should be made for securing privacy and trust among ZU inhabitants. For example, Zoom bombing by outsider (trolls, if you may) who invade a meeting that did not include them–even by accident–should not be allowed. I think more security should be put in place. Maybe by creating a form of security code for users that received the meeting link to use. 
ZU has not reached its highest potential being a virtual lecture class. Empowering the students to be more engaged and insightful in their classroom. ZU must set the bar when it comes to academic advocacy and achievement. All students should feel inspired coming into class knowing they have a voice.

Written by the Fall 2020 editors of CapturingTheCrisis, having deliberated on the merits and constraints of the ZU,

Nicole A. McFarlane
Morgan Fuller
Andrae Thomas
Hezekiah Tolefree
Brittany Doss
Seth Conway

Gotcha!

This is when the revolutionary gacha game was born.

The term “gacha game” originates from a Japanese onomatopoeia, gachapon. The sound of a toy capsule machine cranking, the “gacha” sound, and the sound of the capsule dropping out, the “pon”. In Japan, the capsule machine concept was taken to the virtual world. This is when the revolutionary gacha game was born.

Capsule Machines

A gacha game is typically a game where you receive an in-game currency that you can earn somewhat but is usually bought in bulk with money. That is then used to summon characters in that game with a random chance on who or what you get, similar to the capsule machines.

Now that all the facts are out the way, let’s get interesting. I have personally played a shit ton number of gacha games. I currently play one called Fate/Grand Order. I have played it for about 3 months at this point and in that time considered bankruptcy spent roughly 350 dollars on the premium currency, Saint Quartz, in that game. Currently, I have 0.87 cents in the bank account, you can see the correlation.

Prices for Currency in Fate/Grand Order

It is very similar to gambling and once it gets its hooks into you, can be devastating.

Now as I eat cup ramen for the next two weeks, I ask if you can see an issue with my unpaid electricity bill fiscal situation. Funny enough, I am not considered a “whale” with my spending. A whale is someone who spends their life savings a lot of money to get whatever they want in a game. A “whale” in Fate/Grand Order would be spending over 500$ a month and that is on the low side.

So the great question is, why? You summon using 30 of the Saint Quartz to get 10 units. It is a 0.7% chance to get a 5-star unit and so when you exhaust all your accounts eventually beat the odds and get one it feels really good. It is very similar to gambling and once it gets its hooks into you, can be devastating.

Gacha games do not care about my bank account the player, they care about your money and getting more of it. Consider this, at the current time a lot of people are kinda broke are financially unstable and so, if they have a game that makes them feel good when they put money in, then it is likely that they will use the money meant for the electricity bill put money in. It is when you have exhausted your account that the game has truly gotcha.

But Wait Theres More GIFs | Tenor

There is an additional aspect of Japanese culture that has made its way into America and is perhaps even more draining than the gacha game. Something so powerful that people will give thousands of dollars within minutes for literally no gain to themselves at all. Quite bluntly, they are throwing money into a pit never to be seen again. So you must be wondering, what kind of a trick is this?

Yes, the cause of this great amount of monetary relief, is V-Tubers. To elaborate, this is a person who streams and uses an illustrated avatar instead of their real image. So you must be thinking, “But how are they causing people to spend thousands of dollars?”. My dear reader, Being cute is donations are how.

“What kind of a trick is this?

V-TuberGawr GuraNyannersRisu
Money in 5 minutes587.18$262$172$

After calculating this is how the numbers stack up. This is from the first five minutes which also includes a minute or two where the V-tuber is not there yet. Gawr Gura had made in roughly 5 seconds of starting, 187.24$.

I am not here to tell anyone how to spend their money especially after discussing the gacha game, but I will say that at least in the gacha game you could receive a product for your money. In the case of these V-Tubers, you gain nothing aside from a quick little shoutout. The product is virtual but the payment is anything but.

Climate Change and the Desolation of the GOP

The Earth is in danger. This sounds like the beginning of a some pulpy Space Opera, but indeed, the human race is facing a crisis on a cosmic scale. A series of multinational industries are irreversibly destroying the planet.

How did we get here?

In the past 10 years, the climate-denier party of choice has made a deliberate move to capitalize on the distrust that the American people have for government. The fire, fueled by the Do-It-Yourself spirit of the internet, has allowed misinformation to easily become viral. These people are further emboldened by a series of political leaders who condone these beliefs. I believe that this choice, to purposely downplay the facts is evidence moral corruption; to put capital before the needs of the people.

While this cartoon mainly pertains to C-19, I still feel like this captures the essence of what I’m discussing.
From theweek.com

As the figurehead of the morally bankrupt Grand Old Party, Donald Trump is overtly anti-science. He actively (and ironically) denies the danger of the Corona-Virus, and calls the substantial evidence for climate change a “mythical hoax.”

When a political leader with as much influence as a President has demonstrated that their worldview is antithetical to scientific literacy and praxis, and that they are resistant to facts and seeks to undermine the scientific community, we as a society have a duty to remove that person from the position of power.

Does it even matter?

The truth is that the common people do not want to accept a worldview that challenges what they and their “tribe” know.

Video from: socialgoodnow.com

I think this video by Alex Cequea, the founder and CEO of Social Good Now, does a good job of explaining why the common people are unwilling to even consider different viewpoints when presented with evidence. Despite the clearly articulated scientific explanation for this phenomena, people are unwilling to consider the viewpoints of others because of their brain structure. Trump supporters are ride-or-die for a politician who is unwilling to even consider the impact his actions will have on their lives.

In my heart-of-hearts, I’d like to think that the American people, confronted with destructive wildfires and the rampaging weather patterns of the modern world would come together and put their partisan beliefs aside to work towards a solution to preserve the integrity of life on Earth.

I’ve seen that this is unrealistic.

This video is a brief collection of comments from Facebook regarding Scientific American’s decision to endorse Joe Biden for the 2020 presidential election.

These are the people advocating for scientific literacy and growth refusing to confront their bias and instead call the legitimacy of prestigious publishing house into question for endorsing the candidate who believes in climate science.

How can we address this problem?

First and foremost, I think that the best solution for today is to vote. Joe Biden is educated enough to understand the ramifications of our actions and how the climate effects human life and posterity. He is not my first or second choice for President, but I feel as if the system has forced our hand.

The transient dialogues of left-leaning politicians are now less important than removing the oligarchical, anti-science mess-of-a-man running the nation.

We the people can save our planet, but only if we come together.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”

 –Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

The Divided States of America: Democracy and the Undecided

Yep, that’s me one of those undecided voters who you keep hearing about. And the question I keep getting from people is, “have you been sleeping under a rock?”

No, I haven’t been sleeping. “I’m woke” maybe a little too much. 2016 seems so long ago in terms of normalcy. People could socialize with no masks, it was Kobe’s last year, it was a great year for music, and Obama was President. 2020 has showed a new level of uncertainty.

During the these past four years we’ve heard the most hateful and deceitful rhetoric come out of the mouth of Trump. Until this day most of us are shocked that he is able to lie his way through anything.

Enter former vice president, Joe Biden running against Trump, who claimed that he could not be controlled by his campaign advisers or media because of his financial independence, argued that he was the best choice for America.

The Divided
I’ve only been alive during the terms of three presidents including 45. However, I hear from longtime voters, media, and politicians that this is the most divided this country has ever been. Divided from understanding the meaning of Black Lives Matter , including the ethical and sympathetic narrative it pushes. Divided to the point where all I see on my social media feed are white liberals and black conservatives arguing why they believe the country is going downhill.

Image from Life Daily

45 did not initiate this division, but there is no doubt he fanned the flames and had the audacity to add gasoline to the fire. He had the opportunity to use his white privilege to help close the gap on social unjust of black men and women by the officers in blue, but instead has only created a space where officers feel comfortable “choking” when policing.

His cowardice has led to two-hundred and nine thousand deaths in this pandemic crisis due to his lack of leadership. This also has people debating if wearing a mask is a political statement instead of a precaution for public health. Plain and simple, for the next dictionary, an image of Trump by the word “divide” will suffice.

The Undecided
With a controversial president who is up for re-election, I know some voters (if not most) can’t wait to get to the polls. Former VP Joe Biden has earned his “favor” with the minority communities. For me however I try to look beyond the surface. In the last election, I was a student in high school and, in these past few years, I’ve grown intellectually from a socio-political perspective.

2016 me couldn’t wait for this election season, but like others I myself am skeptical of Joe Biden as well. Never…ever… ever ever ever, would i have thought that being able to vote for my first presidential election would I actually question voting. Is something wrong with me?

What Joe Biden has been campaigning for the past election year contradicts his track record. Biden voted against desegregating the buses in the 70’s. His infamous 1994 crime bill has always been a debate, but more importantly that law is still in effect today. Prior to the crime bill he worked with republican senator Storm Thurmond. They collaborated on a few crime bills that passed into law which that created “disparities in penalties” who were caught with crack cocaine.

The democrat party in general has always acted as a friend to minorities, but like Joe Biden there track record shows differently. President Lyndon B. Johnson who signed the Voting Rights Acts of 1965 (which allowed African Americans to vote) is the same president who also signed the Law Enforcement Assistance Act, which intensified policing in black neighborhoods.

I could go on and on about how democrats have seemed suspicious, but I rather stay focused on Joe Biden. That was just to show why I feel dubious about his politics and democrats as a political party.

I remember before the 2016 election under the Obama administration there was this little myth going around that racism didn’t exist. Well, I don’t want racsim to go into hiding and people be blind to it if Biden is president either.

Source from NBC News

Democracy
For my entire life, ever since I was a child, I’ve watched documentaries and listen to stories and been preached to about the importance of voting. I’ve been told and taught that my ancestors died for me to have the right to vote.

Even when black people were able to vote, tactics like guessing how many gumballs were in a gumball machine or memorizing the preamble would prohibit their vote to be cast. I know the importance of voting and what it means to black people.


Image from POLITICO

I hear people say ‘our democracy is on the line. Trump is turning this country into a dictatorship‘. We should also question why Biden talks prison reform, but the 1994 crime bill is still in effect today?

I know I know, a vote not for Biden is a vote for Trump. But what is Trump…racist? And I’ve heard the, ‘If you don’t vote you can’t complain about what happens to this county’. But racism aided this country during its inception. Slavery is older than the declaration of independence.

I’m not looking for the perfect candidate. I’m just looking for a promise to black America that is going to be fulfilled. I don’t want to regret my vote, and in turn have guilt on my conscious. Whatever happens I hope true democracy will come to those who have received the least of it.

Malcolm X said “A ballot is like a bullet. You don’t throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in you pocket.”

2020: Through Heartache and Hope, Let’s Vote

We’ve been dealing with a lot of heartache: the global pandemic, hurricanes and other storms, loss of family members and inspirations like Kobe and Chadwick.

#WakandaForever #MambaForever

We’ve watched continued police brutality, and on top of this, we have Trump saying Keep America Great”. In short, F 2020.

However, there’s still hope (I mentioned this in my last post). There have been peaceful protests for BLM, Black Trans Lives matter, the removal of racist people from positions of power or influence, and now, we can vote for a president.

But wait, if we’re keeping America great, then it must be great already, right?

How most of us probably looked when the POTUS was announced in 2016.

Maybe externally, our country looks great. We have a lot to be grateful for.

We’re supposed to be a developed country. We have access to (mostly) cleaner water and other basic needs. We’re a democracy (power to the people!) Things used to look great—until… we started seeing how that shiny, perfect-looking, red delicious apple had a rotten core… with a worm in it.

It’s sad to say, we—as arguably the world’s most influential country—have a problem with our core. And with this decadence, we’ve been spoiled as a nation

So what’s the answer?

We can start by becoming more informed voters in doing so, we have to start closer to home. You may feel discouraged. I’m speaking from experience, but we can’t expect a president who reflects or addresses our needs (let alone our wants) if we don’t put people in office who care. If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that together, we can make a difference.

We’ve marched, we’ve protested, but the battle isn’t over. We have to continue and add different angles. Now, we gotta exercise our right to vote. Do it for those who’ve been intimidated into not voting, denied their right by voter suppression, or lost their right to vote because of imprisonment. There’s strength in numbers.

We have to show up, show out, and make a change.

Pin on Motivation
Period!

Women vs. The World

Imagine a world, where everyone in that world had rights, imagine a world where the color of your skin had no ruling over the other, imagine a world where women and men were simply viewed as equals; nothing more or less. Imagine…

If only that imaginary world existed? Unfortanelty, in the world we live in, we do not have those luxuries. Not only am I black, but I am a woman and this particular case that I am going to discuss makes it very heart-aching.

The image above to your right, are photos I found on google and created them through the app called Canva.

Around September 15, 2020 the world discovers the news of a Licensed practical nurse by the name of Dawn Wooten, also known as the “ICE Whistleblower.” She informs us about a doctor, by the name of Dr. Mahendra Amin who has been performing unauthorized hysterectomies on women immigrants kept in custody at the Georgia Immigration ICE facility (also known as the Irwin County Detention Center). While working with Irwin County Detention Center, Wooten expresses how the women would approach her and ask her why these hysterectomies were being performed on them. They also called Dr. Amin the “Uterus collector.” Wooten states that she could not give them an answer and instantly became worried.

It is “inhumane” as she states and most certainly disturbing to hear about this unfair treatment. As I furthered my research, I learned that there were a few other women who had these unwanted and unauthorized hysterectomies performed on them. One, in particular, was scheduled to be deported (all of a sudden) because she spoke up. Her name is Pauline Binam, a woman of Cameroonian heritage. Of course, ICE denies all allegations stating the only reason she did not continue was because of a paperwork snafu with the Cameroonian government. Smells like a bunch of ish if you know what I mean. How all of sudden as soon as she comes forth about having an unauthorized hysterectomy they want to deport her? None of this makes any sense to me.

The Movement of Eugenics

View above video to learn a little more about Eugenics

women protesting about sterilizations

The movement of Eugenics was aimed to improve the genetic composition of the human race. Scientists aimed to reduce human suffering by “breeding out” disease, disabilities, and so-called undesirable characteristics from the human population. They also believed (according to the above YouTube video) that immigrants who came to America were bringing these issues upon the human race. It was then picked up from the Germans (Nazi’s), specifically under the rule of Adolf Hitler that this was a good thing and the term ‘eugenics’ was viewed as having “better babies” and “better health”. Hitler killed millions of people in order to have this “Master Race.”

It appears that the world was trying to have a “perfect world” but doing so all in the wrong ways. I cannot help but think this is what the world is trying to do again by performing these unauthorized hysterectomies on women in immigration custody. (Hence the YouTube video again, mentioning immigrants bringing disease, abnormalities, etc). And another ‘hence’ that some of these women are from the African descent!!

Although the movement on Eugenics happened to men as well, the main subjects here, are women.

So, it goes back into my title, “Women vs. The World” what is this constant battle we, as women, constantly have to face? Women could not once vote, could not do almost of anything without a man’s approval which made woman marry fast so they can have a right to do things. Why is life extra difficult for us and what can be done to stop the madness, what must be done?

Bachelor of Arts in Social Justice | Gender, Women's and Sexuality Studies
Women’s rights afro fist (pic from google)
The Private Georgia Immigration-Detention Facility at the Center of a  Whistle-Blower's Complaint | The New Yorker
Dawn Wooten amongst other people during a protest/speech (pic from Google)
dawn wooten Archives - UNICORN RIOT
Uterus statement poster board

Hindsight is 2020

I am the type of person who sees the next day as another chapter, even if yesterday was terrible then tomorrow could be better. 2019 was not my favorite. I had been lazy in a lot of areas. 2020 is putting me through the wringer. Midterms really snuck up on me this year because of COVID-19.

June 6 coverage of nationwide unrest and ongoing protests
Black lives matter protest

I didn’t expect the protests. I see people acting as though one race is the bad guy when it is that same kind of thinking that perpetuates racism. You have white people saying that the entire thing is blown out of proportion and chalking things up to “black rage” and we have black people asking for the police force to lose funding as though less money will equal a greater quality of police officer.

I struggle to understand the logic of it. It would be far easier if as people we could just throw aside the shackles of prejudice but sadly I know its far easier said than done. As people we need to be better than those before, the mindset from one hundred years ago cannot be passed down because time is ever shifting along with society. Again however, telling people what needs to change and it actually changing are two very different things.

“While COVID-19 is the deadliest obstacle of 2020, it is not the most deeply rooted.”

From people like Trayvon Martin to Daniel Prude. I would bet most of you haven’t even heard of Daniel Prude, he died just two months before George Floyd and in a very similar manner, asphyxiation. Yet I had not heard even a whisper of his name why? what makes his story less important? I don’t know, but it makes me angry all the same.

All of these people killed because of race. This has been a issue that has sprung up constantly throughout the years but because of the isolation induced by COVID-19, the George Floyd incident finally caused a major change throughout the country, but for how long? Until it is forgotten, just as Daniel Prude was?

When change is selective then how can anyone expect equality?

Is it justice to be selective about who we care about and we do not? Injustice comes in a hundred different forms and yet its only one of those many that matter? When change is selective then how can anyone expect equality? These are the questions that I just can’t seem to answer.

The Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) has been thrust into the main stage and protests for change are happening. Yet even though these protests are for a good cause and of a peaceful nature, the few whose greed exceeds their goodwill end up twisting these movements. Numerous times during or following a protest mass looting would occur within the area. This really annoys me, how do people expect any change to happen when they constantly do things to throw the entire cause into question?

“As human beings, I feel like it is essential to always be looking forward; nature exemplifies that which doesn’t change, does not survive.”

F 2020 by Seth Conway

I look at this year and I wonder if things can change. If the true message is constantly obscured, then how do we make that image clearer? I ask myself that question because I haven’t found the answer yet. Had I only known how things would become undone, I would have tried to make changes before the crisis, but I suppose hindsight is 20/20.

Declaring Independence

Black people have been yearning the call to white people for equality. Black people have been asking for the white powers that be to sympathize to the black struggle. However, for four hundred years we’ve been asking for people to understand, but it doesn’t matter if you’re George Floyd, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, the four little girls, or Sandra Bland. It seems like the same result.

Image from The Sun

After four hundred empty promises and modern day Jim Crow, I feel like black people are on our own. I propose that could be beneficial, “if you want something done, you have to do it yourself.”

When it comes to race and racism Black people have been put in an awkward position. Society (maybe due to our ancestors) has set a traditional movement that one’s who experience racism are also the ones to solve it. As Black Americans it is not our duty to end something we did not create especially when we as the oppressed people don’t have the same resources or even hone the same political or financial intelligence as our counterparts. Due to redlining, voting rights, and job discrimination we have not reached an equal playing field. We have been left a burden we cannot lay and a debt we are not responsible to pay. It seems the victim is supposed to bring the guilty to justice, when it should be the one who holds the authority.

So, why should we care if Trump threatened to deny funding to schools who teach the 1619 project?

Stop relying on our oppressor’s to teach our children their history. Why should we care if in a leaked audio Trump said he doesn’t feel the responsibility of the anger or pain to black America? Did the slave master feel any guilt for the treatment of the slave? Does the rapist feel any guilt to the victim?

Why should we care if statues and flags were taken down? I appreciate the gesture and it’s hopeful, but America has a history of modifying the culture as a makeshift progress for social change.

The true colors of America have been exposed for the first time for everyone to see. In retaliation I’ve seen people give their life’s work dedicated to educate the privileged on the true condition of America. It’s obvious enough people don’t care so why should we? Why should we continue to put in an effort of educating for years and years when all it takes in 2020, in a rising spike of a pandemic it only takes eight minutes and forty six seconds for George Floyd’s body to be picked up from the cement after begging for breath.

Image from Medium

Black people cannot be so dependent on others for our freedom, because they same ones who give can be the same ones who take it away. I surely don’t want to come off as a conservative, but not as a liberal either. I’m just a worried individual concerned about the state of black people.

I think too much attention from our grandparents (meaning the civil rights, post war cohort, and baby boomer generation) was given on the unification or the desegregation of blacks and whites. Since that generation we’ve been protesting a forms of racial discrimination which all leads to the one root cause…. racism.

Martin Luther King, a prominent leader for social equality, met with Lyndon B. Johnson to discuss the important issues regarding the deep  rooted racial physical and political harassment in the South. Johnson who was also fond of using the N-word when the doors were closed and the infamous rumors of him promising to “have those Niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”

Source from imgflip.com

I’m not sure which is more alarming, the fact that’s a rumor or black people as a majority have been following that motto. If the Republican or Democrat party have failed to give the black voter what they promised why should we care to give them our vote? This lackadaisical effort expands into our social environment. “I fear I may have integrated my people into a burning house” — Martin Luther King Jr.

Black people should be more independent and not in a Candace Owens way. I also don’t want to imply that white people or any race or organization can’t advocate for racial equality, but just as much energy that’s put into inviting others into our fight ought to foreground the black perspective.

“We are just going to go out and start slaughtering them f—— ni—–. I can’t wait” said former police officer Kevin Piner. You would think after all exposed acts of police genocide, constant attention on prison reform, and the growing trend of gentrification that the people who sit in those positions have a heart to change. 

I remember growing up and my elders telling me “you can’t care more than the person who wants it” and the problem seems that black want (racist) white people to care. And elders would also tell me a phrase “turn ’em loose” which would mean if a person would rather continue on their path when you a presenting an objectively better one and they can’t accept, then remove yourself from their life. Why should we care so much to continue to educate white people on how not to be racist… to continue to educate white people on how not to be racist when all it seems that they don’t care anyway?

You’re telling me after an estimated two hundred and fifty slave rebellions, KKK attacks, bus boycotts, sit-ins, over populated prisons, police shootings, and we are still protesting equality since the 17th century until now?
Now, I would not advise that we stop fighting for equality or end protest. The protest is important for any political/social movement because it informs the world why you want change. However, that’s the problem. Black people are still protesting a simple act of compassion that has failed to being equally distributed fairly or equally.

“Any time you beg another man to set you free, you will never be free. Freedom is something that you have to do for yourselves.”― Malcolm X

F 2020

Photo by Designecologist on Pexels.com

A succinct way to describe the progression of 2020 is with a song by Avenue Beat.

December 31st, I grabbed a beer
Threw it up, said, “2020 is my year, b******”
(Three, two, one, Happy New Year)
And I honestly thought that that was true
Until I gave this motherf***** like a month or two
This is getting kind of ridiculous at this point

Lyrics from genius.com

Indeed, things seem to become more ridiculous with each passing month. From the arrival of COVID-19 in the United States, to the recent passing of Chadwick Boseman, 2020 continues to be the year that really pushes the limits for what we can accept as our timeline and reality. This existential threat was compounded by the deluge of anti-intellectual rhetoric bombarding my circles on social media. Faced with a divided and somewhat apathetic public conscious, it really felt like the end of the world was just around the corner.

As human beings, I feel like it is essential to always be looking forward; nature exemplifies that what does not change does not survive. This idea of constant renewal, bordering on nihilistic optimism and searching for a silver lining has become my personal dogma and is a manifestation of survival techniques I learned as a closeted teenager.

It gets better.

This meant that while the world was seeming to fall apart around me, I had to find a way to channel those who had seen and resisted a world that was unwilling to adapt or change to the climate that it was facing. I was initially drawn to my heroes, famous LGBT+ authors and thinkers, such as Alan Turing and Oscar Wilde. I began my searching in earnest on Youtube, looking for documentaries or biopics that celebrated the lives of these gay men, when I stumbled across I am Not Your Negro, a hybrid documentary and biopic by Raoul Peck regarding the life of James Baldwin.

 

Painting by Beauford Delaney

Why do gay voices matter during a crisis?

It’s not my intention to create a review or to dissect the film entirely, as it is probably for the best that those curious go watch the documentary themselves (It’s free on Youtube with ads!) but I do feel like Peck uses the film to tell a story that is authentic to the experience of gay men.

Peck uses the life of Baldwin as a way to contextualize the activism and lives of his contemporaries, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers, and doesn’t shy away from the work that these men contributed to the Civil Rights movement and the battles that they fought.

The film also addresses the intersectionality Baldwin faced during his lifetime, illuminating the extraordinary depth of his foresight and character. Personally, it is almost as if James knew the weight his words would carry in the future and that his struggles and triumphs would be a light in the life of another queer person.

That being said, the film doesn’t construct a narrative that focuses extensively on LGBT themes, but in my humble opinion and lens of viewership, the parts of the film that speak to James’ experience as a gay man and the friendships he shared with his heterosexual contemporaries are extraordinarily powerful. These moments resonate to those with the experience to know and to understand what is written between the lines, and the bittersweet melancholy that comes with it. (If you’re curious to see which part of the film I mean in particular, go and watch it and then return to the 40:29 mark. In my mind, this shows a lot more than words could ever describe.)

Ultimately, viewing this documentary was a breath of fresh air in the dank catacombs of my COVID-quarantined apartment. While some of the content was particularly sobering, some of the other elements of the film were grounding and inspiring. History is made by those who are willing to boldly face injustice and challenge the status quo. Those who can live brightly in the sun ought to do so, for those who cannot.

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” -James Baldwin

From Doom and Glory of Knowing Who You Are, Life Magazine, May 24, 1963

 

Originally posted on August 30th, 2020 at sethconway07.wordpress.com/2020/08/30/f2020/

It’s Time to Change

-A subtle call to action

During a time when the environment felt so hostile and unsafe, I found hope. One day, while in downtown Saint Louis, Missouri, I had stopped at a light and heard then saw a massive crowd chanting.

“Out of your cars and into the streets!”

https://www.tysonsreporter.com/2020/06/04/hundreds-join-student-led-black-lives-matter-march-in-falls-church/
From Seth Conway to Everyone: 02:26 PM
https://www.scpr.org/programs/airtalk/2020/06/02/65676/will-anger-over-death-of-george-floyd-translate-to/

Immediately, I was moved to tears. It was truly inspiring to witness a peaceful protest for social justice; Floyd’s death did not have to be in vain; it ignited hope and action. His death, among others, inspired thousands of people from different walks of life to join one another and march for the greater good; it was only right that I join the cause.

After my personal experiences with police, I have come to understand that the battle for social justice has yet to be won.

An ideological curtain revealed something not new, but that has too often been filtered out of our lives as many uncalled-for deaths have occurred and the voices of advocates have been silenced.

George Floyd's Death At The Hands Of Police Is A Terrible Echo Of The Past  : Code Switch : NPR
How many names does it take to change this trend?

The spread of COVID-19 has forced us to halt our normal lives that have been censored. Usually, we could continue to swipe or change the channel. However, while forced to stay at home, there seemed to be an influx of videos and posts of people of color being shot, beat, or suffocated to death because of assumptions, prejudice, and plain carelessness.

For various reasons, I have chosen to provide an artistic approach to describe this brutality

Floyd’s wrongful death was the catalyst for the unmasking of America’s ugly truth. We still have a huge race problem; unfortunately, 2020 did not act as airport security and check for racism and prejudice before we were allowed to enter a new decade. It is up to us to hold ourselves and each other accountable for our thoughts and behaviors. No longer shall we turn a blind eye to injustice. It’s time to support the cause and support justice.

Your Language is Not Abnormal

 

After reading the article, “This Ain’t Another Statement! This is a DEMAND for Black Linguistic Justice!” I was VERY moved by the demands mentioned. It made me retract to the times of my younger years of schooling and day to day life, I was taught at a very early age on how and when to code-switch. I strongly believe it was something taught to my mother and many generations down. I was taught that whenever I answered the phone, the door, or simply speaking to someone that was viewed as a stranger (or sometimes other family members) to speak “properly” or to “talk like I had some sense.”

Like, what did that really mean? Why did the way I speak, could possibly offend someone? What was wrong with my language of speaking? I was utterly confused, but of course, as a child, I did what I was told and never looked back. In school, we were taught how to code-switch, especially in a professional setting.

I remember becoming annoyed because sometimes the way I spoke in school would be the way I would speak around my cousins and they would always tease me for talking “white” or talking extremely “proper” and I would always try to understand the difference between the two.

 

Another thing that came to my mind while reading this article, was when the trial of Trayvon Martin took place, which was the beginning of the Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) and the world met Rachel Jeantel, who was a witness of Trayvon’s death while she states she was on the phone with him during his last days on this earth. Rachel Jeantel, was literally displayed as a joke on social media platforms, the news, and everywhere else JUST because of the way she spoke and answered questions by the defendant’s attorney and it was really heartbreaking after watching some of the YouTube clips

“It’s terrible to think that a child with five different tenses comes to school to be faced with those books that are less than his own language. And then to be told things about his language, which is him, that are sometimes permanently damaging. . . . This is a really cruel fallout of racism . . .” Toni Morrison, quoted in English with and Accent)

 

Here’s a short youtube teaser of comedian, Shalewa Sharpe on black language/ebonics, “Stay Eating Cookies.” Although it is short, I believe this video represented black language and ebonics and how at a young age, it is a language that some black folks use and it is something to not be ashamed of. Your language is not abnormal.