Friday, February 13, 2015

Roger Ebert

      Up until this week I had never even heard the name Roger Ebert.  In the past few days I have learned so much about his uplifting story and I'm happy to say that he is truly an inspiration. I can't imagine still being positive after losing the ability to eat, drink and  most importantly in my personal  opinion, the ability to talk.  To not be able to express yourself vocally seems terrifying.  I'm a shy girl most of the time but once I start talking to you I don't stop.  Even on those days where I don't want to ever speak, I still have the option and I think that's important.  Roger Ebert was able to rise above not being able to vocally express his thoughts and he evolved. 
     He started a blog and I recently read one of Ebert's posts called "All  the Lonely People." His words written in that blog speak to me on a personal level. I, like most other people, have experienced loneliness.  Maybe not the all encompassing loneliness that some people face but definitely some variation of it. We need someone else to know we are there.  We need to be acknowledged because we need to know we are visible.  A quote from Ebert's post that I loved sums loneliness up perfectly. "Someone once said the fundamental reason we get married is because have a universal human need for a witness." The part about needing a witness could not be more true. It doesn't have to be marriage, we just need someone to see us and keep us company as we go about our daily lives. 
     Later on in the post Ebert writes something that I think exemplifies the quintessence of life. "The biological reason we fall in love may be to encourage reproduction. Yet why did nature provide homosexuality if that is the only purpose? Why do people marry with no prospects of children? Babies are not the only thing two people can create together. They can create a safe private world. They can create a reality that affirms their values. They can stand for something. They can find someone to laugh with, and confide in. Someone to hold them when they need to be held." We need to love and to be loved to truly not feel lonely.
     Another topic that really relates to Roger Ebert is how we deal with challenges.  People take one of two routes.  You can rise to the occasion or be crushed; sink or swim. After Ebert had surgery and lost his voice, he rose above it.  He refused to let his experience tie him down and instead allowed it to lift it up. He turned to the internet which allowed him to share all his thoughts and inspire readers around the world. Every person reacts differently to the chaos in their lives.  A personal example I neglected to share in class relates to my mom and Aunt.  In early December my Aunt who's also my moms sister was diagnosed with stage IV Cervical Cancer.  She had a surgery to remove the tumor, but the tumor wasn't contained which of course means the cancer will eventually spread throughout her body. Her odds aren't good and currently she's still not healed from the surgery.  That means she can't start chemo or radiation and the longer she waits the more the cancer progresses. That may have come out a bit blunt, but sometimes that's the best way for things to be said. So anyway, when my mom was first informed it was like someone tied a weight to her leg. Weeks passed and the weight just seemed to get heavier.  My mom, when faced with a terrifying and awful circumstance has chosen to sink.  Currently, my aunt is doing okay, which is to say that she hasn't gotten any worse. I think it's harder to swim when the awful experience is still happening.  By that I mean, my Aunt's still alive but my mom is waiting for what she sees as the inevitable.  Now I can't exactly predict the future but I think that if my aunt passes on my mom will be able to swim again.  Once you reach rock bottom, the only way to go is up.  The weights will drag my mom all the way down but eventually they will become untied and she will slowly make her way back to the surface.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Racism in America

     Over the past few months we have spent a lot of time discussing racism in America. One of my favorite topics we discussed so far has been intersectionality. I have always been interested in gender inequality so when I heard of a topic that combined all types of discrimination together I was intrigued. Intersectionality says that gender, race, sexuality and social class all combine together to create a whole new type of discrimination.  This means that all these traits about yourself are interconnected and can't be examined separately. For example if you are a black female you face oppression because of your race and gender.  Intersectionality is saying that those two traits have to be examined together which breeds a whole new type of oppression. As a white, gay female, or a black transgender you face varying types of oppression because of the things that make you, you   

      Intersectionality is a relatively new idea, so the movement is just getting off the ground.  I read an article that stated that middle class, white, cisgendered females, who are advocating for intersectional equality, are actually hurting the intersectionality movement. I personally don't agree with this assessment but I do understand where the article was coming from. Interesectionality is all about how different forms of oppression come together. If you're white, cisgendered, which means you identify with your natural born sex, and middle class, the only part about you that is being discriminated against is the fact that you are a female.  Even though it makes sense, I still think everyone has the right to advocate for intersectional equality. Females everywhere face oppression and that alone should be enough for them to support the intersectionality movement. The more help and attention, the movement gets, the better the chance of success. 

         Another topic we started our racism unit with was white privilege. When white privilege was first brought up I was actually a little offended. I felt like it was saying that I owed some of my success to being white. That idea to me was preposterous because I felt that I had worked hard and I deserved all I had achieved. Then we began talking more about what white privilege really meant and I began to better understand. The definition of white privilege as stated on Wikipedia is White privilege (or white skin privilege) is a term for societal privileges that benefit white people in western countries beyond what is commonly experienced by the non-white people under the same social, political, or economic circumstances.  This means that being white protects me from institutional racism.  I don't have as many odds stacked against me when I start off my life.  That's not to say that minorities and people of color can't be successful because of course they can. They just have a slightly more uphill climb.

        One thing about white privilege that I think needs to be made clear is that being white does not automatically make you successful or guaranteed to have a good job.  People of every skin color need to work hard to achieve their goals. Also, being a successful white person does not mean you are successful just because of your skin color. It would be wrong to point at a white person and say that they got to where they are just because of their skin color because that is an unjust assumption to make.  Statistically there are more white middle class citizens in America than black and white privilege may have had a hand in that. The poverty cycle also plays into this because it's difficult to work your way up from the bottom in todays society.  At my school I don't believe that there is white privilege. Everyone who comes to my school is given the same opportunities.  Regardless of your ethnicity, you have the same opportunity for success.  To conclude I believe white privilege exists but I don't think it's a factor in every day of everyone's life. I also don't think someone's success or lack of success can be completely blamed on white privilege.  While it may have played a role, it will never be solely responsible for your achievements.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Second Blog Post Update

Between this update and the last update we have continued to learn more information relating to the creation of sign language. We have also finished assigning everyone in our group with sign language names.  For example, Kat's name is the letter k the the motion represents wavy hair. My name is the letter E and the motion represents red hair.  We have added a few new words to our repertoire such as hello, clumsy, coffee and poop.  We also practiced our letters and can use them more fluently.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Passion Project Reflection

So far we've found out a lot of background information on the creation of sign language.  We've also learned how people get their sign language name.  We then attempted to give each other sign language names using distinctive characteristics about ourselves and the first letter of our names.  We've also learned some basic signs like friends, help, mother and father. We also know all the letters. So far we haven't encountered any significant problems. The hardest will probably be learning and remembering all the signs.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Empathy In Society

Recently we have been talking a lot about empathy and the likeliness that we can become a more empathetic society as a whole. Many citizens today all around the world are empathetic, the real challenge is converting those of us who don't care as much to become more empathetic.  I would love to see a world where everyone is empathetic but I believe that that's too idealistic.  There are of course some steps we can take that will showcase our good nature.  For example, we can all become more involved in helping disaster victims. After natural disasters so many people are in need of help.  To truly become more empathetic we need to place ourselves in the victims shoes and understand the pain that they're going through, and how just a little bit of help could turn their whole lives around. We can start small too.  By being empathetic in our daily lives we can become a more empathetic society.  For example, if someone is having a bad day, just try to understand their pain.
There's so many serious problems in the world today. For example, there's issues of gender inequality, ISIS, hunger, school systems, sexual abuse, utilitarianism and many others.  Every problem listed before could be solved if people were more empathetic.  If people were empathetic, there wouldn't be any gender inequality because males would be putting themselves in the shoes of females.  People wouldn't go hungry since everyone's empathy would drive them to donate food. ISIS wouldn't exist and neither would dictators.  It's crazy to imagine that almost all of the worlds most pressing problems could be fixed simply by people being more empathetic.
When asked if it's possible for empathy to be extended to the entire race, people would love to say yes but the truth is that's a highly unlikely possibility.  Even though empathy could solely fix a lot of major problems in the world, that's still not enough motivation for some people to become more empathetic.  The lack of empathy in our world today doesn't have so much to do with people being bad by nature.  It has more to do with people wanting to avoid things that upset them.  If your life is great and you have a lot of money and food you aren't going to want to think about the people that are suffering.  It's not that you're mean and don't care. It's more that thinking about the people starving is upsetting. And even if it upsets you, you probably aren't actually motivated to do anything about it so instead you just avoid the whole topic. You block out the fact that people are suffering and essentially squash your empathy.  The more people that squash their empathy, the less empathy we find in the world.  So therefore I don't believe that empathy can be extended to the entire race.  As long as people avoid the suffering of the world around them, we can never become a completely empathetic society.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Passion Project Update

  Our passion Project is on genetics and it's going surprisingly well.  We have made a lot of progress but there's still more to be done.  We have researched a bunch of genetic and physical tests and then we tested our whole G&T class.  That way we will be able to see what genetic traits our most common.  We also tested our families so we can see how many of these tests are genetics.   Our major achievement is just having collected all our data.  The only obstacle we've faced is determining what counts as completion of the test.  For example, some people have a more obvious hitch hikers thumb than others.  That makes deciding if its an actual hitch hikers thumb harder.  We still have a lot of work to do on our project.  The next major step we have to take is analyzing our data.  We have to determine how many of our traits are actually genetic and how many are just physical abilities.   The only coming obstacle I can anticipate is deciding what all our data means. After we analyze all our data we have to create a power point showing our findings and explaining what having each trait means.  Overall we've completed a fair amount of our project but there's still more to be done.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Passion Project Reflection

I can't believe we're already halfway through the time allotted for passion projects.  My group and I  are doing a Rube Goldberg machine which is pretty cool. Our goal is to pump hand sanitizer using at least 15 steps.  We've completed 7 steps so far so we're about halfway there!  I'm pretty proud of our group because we've put in a lot of working trying to find the perfect combination of consecutive steps.  We have faced a few challenges that slowed us down.  One of the biggest challenges is that when our machine goes to pump the hand sanitizer its so powerful that it pulls the hand sanitizer off the table.  We have to find a way to get the hand sanitizer to stay on the table.  Another problem we're facing is that Thomas the train is having trouble going up the track. It doesn't seem to have enough power to make it up the hill.  On the bright side we’re getting together today to hopefully resolve the problems and add more steps.