Sunday, November 28, 2010

Stories of Struggle Essay

                      This week in English 10 there werewe studied three stories, the first one was "NightJohn". The story could have taken place around the mid-1800's. The narrator of the story is a girl who worked on the plantations as a slave, she  is later called Sarny. In this story there were many things that stood out that shows the opinions of African-Americans at the time. Mentioned in the book by Sarny slaves were not allowed to address their masters by their first names. They lived on the property of the slave owners and were considered property themselves.Throughout the story as Sarny is describing events she is at the same time sharing the daily life of a slave.The slaves were not allowed to wander off of the property and  their only use of clothing was tarp cloth. They ate out of troughs which were used for horses and only the strong young men were allowed to reproduce or what they called "breeding" while the others worked in the farms, so they were treated like animals and called just "niggers" in general.The most important and influential part of this story though was that they were allowed to read nor write. Anyone caught doing so would face extreme punishment such as being whipped or worse. NightJohn who was a slave that had recently been bought onto the same plantation as Sarny knew how to do both read and write. As the story continues he meets Sarny and manages to make a deal with her that if she gives him tobacco he will teach her all the letters of the alphabet.
           The next story titled "Mascot" is what seems to be an autobiography of the late Malcolm X. In the story Malcolm X  is about 13 years old. He is talking about his older brother Philbert who many in his neighborhood say is a good boxer and who might go on to be the next "Brown Bomber". Malcolm though that if he learned to box as good as his brother than his reputation would go up, and the people in his neighborhood got some kind of racial pride in this because it was really the only legal way of hitting a white person. This is not what happened though, when Malcolm tries to box he learns that it is really not his best way of gaining attention and in fact ends up weakens his reputation when he is beat by a white boy. For the several behavioral problems he faced while in school he is sent to a reform school not far from where he lived in Michigan. While attending the school he stays with Mr.and Mrs. Swerlin a married white couple and meets the state man Mr. Maynard Allen. As he narrates throughout the story he talks about how they seemed to enjoy his company and with the exception of using the word "nigger" he was alright with them. He attends the school where he learns alongside white people and is even allowed to converse with them and he is even respected. Eventually he goes into high school and the same thing follows ,only this time he starts thinking more and more about the way he is looked at by those around him. One thing that sets off a major difference in views is when his teacher Mr. Ostroski asks him what he wants to do with his life.  Malcolm says he would like to become a lawyer his teacher does not take him seriously saying that he needs to be  "realistic about being a nigger" and that a lawyer is no realistic goal that maybe carpentry would suffice. This upsets Malcolm because when his other classmates tell about their ideal careers they are encouraged. When Malcolm goes to visit his family back and forth one day he met his step-sister and went to places like Chicago, Detroit , and New York. There he witnessed a side of his culture that he had not seen in some time. The music, food and atmosphere in general were similar to that of his hometown but it seemed to have a more free existence in the way they acted and talked. there were black-white couples walking down the streets. This seemed to change his views and he now felt as though he needed to be with people of his kind. He leaves Mr. and Mrs. Swerlin and goes on to live with his step -sister Ella and he never really explains to them why he decides to leave but he continues to write letters.
               In both of these stories and in the movie "Great Debaters" there were many similarities and differences some easily pointed out others a little difficult to find. The two stories and the movie each had a different time setting that showed where racism stood in the United States. The story "Mascot" has a closer time period to "The Great Debaters" from the story "NightJohn". "NightJohn" took place in the south when slavery was not yet abolished. African-Americans were slaves and had no civil rights, they were not allowed to read or write whatsoever and they were just treated like animals. This is very different from the story "Mascot" which took place in the late 1930's , at the time where slavery had been abolished and African -Americans had been considered  citizens. They were allowed to live among the whites and go to school to learn but in different Neighborhoods but still considered below the whites. Both of these stories have have a large contrast to the movie "The Great Debaters" which though occurred around the same time as "Mascots" portrayed a slightly different outlook on African-Americans. The movie shows Africans-Americans who not only had the chance to learn but also educate themselves among their own people. One example of this was Wiley College where three African-American debaters went to practice and write their own speeches for debates held against other colleges. Living in their own neighborhood they still educated themselves about the better opportunities they could have for themselves and the things out there in the world that would reach them to higher ground. Samantha Booke for example wanted to be a lawyer and there were at the time only two known female lawyers in Texas. This is very different from "NightJohn" where African -Americans were not even acknowledged as humans and were used no more than for the slave owner's purposes. Never given the opportunity to learn for fear that the slave would one day rise up against their masters and revolt they were not allowed to read nor write. "Mascot and "The Great Debaters" are closer in comparison because they revolve around the same time period. Both take place at a time where African-Americans were segregated from the whites but still able to be recognized by society. They did not have the same jobs or positions that white people held but had industrial jobs that did not require much knowledge. These three stories each have a story to tell about the history of racism in America and where it stood at different times. The  continuous progression towards changing the way others view about people has gotten society where it  is today. Reading "NightJohn" and "Mascot" as well as watching "The Great Debaters" has given some insight on two very different but important points in African-American history.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The last full week of November?

I honestly am so glad that this week has gone by as fast as it is and I'm pretty sure it will continue to go this fast for the rest of the year , there may not be times when it feels like it but it certainly is. This week and the previous week we took a break from all the bookwork and essays tests, what have you and we just decided to sit down and talk. Now I LOVE to talk anyone who knows me knows that if whatever I feel is important enough to say I will say and that's what I did throughout the week. We discussed human rights and we started to get more into civil rights and I talked not just to talk but to get a better understanding of the story. However today being Friday (11/19/10) I could not really say anything. There was nothing to say. In class we had continued watching a movie called The Great Debaters. I admit that I had seen the ending part a while ago but the beginning I was so into I was thinking If every single English teacher put THIS movie in their classes wowsers. Now I am not the teary type my tears go past the bottom of my eyes , but at that moment as Samantha Booke was giving her speech on why schools should integrate it was really just a containment of emotions that speech had the right amount of emotion for the audience with enough statistics to back it up I was literally fighting to hold back tears. So I'm really glad for that and I honestly like this whole discussing/watching movies thing and it wasn't a pretty bad week. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Crazy Week coming to a close

This week has had to have been one of  the most hectic if not the most hectic week I have ever faced, but it was all for a good cause. Wednesday was the dress rehearsal for the play, To Kill a Mockingbird, the whole cast of the play got to perfrom for the whole sophmore class.  There was some very positive feeback about the show itself and no negative comments except about the maturity of the sophmore class while the play was taking place. Overall I was very glad that a majority of the students were able to relate to the play as for the maturity of some not all of the students , I can only feel sorry that were not used to seeing a play with such serious elements and that instead of really trying to grasp what the play was about, they used immaturity as an excuse. In some ways I can relate the play and movie that we watched/saw 12 Angry Men to the play/book To Kill a Mockingbird .The jury had the power to determine the lives of two people. This is the only quote I could think of that would fit both of these stories

A court is only as sound as its jury ,and a jury is only as sound as the men who make it up~ To Kill a Mockingbird

Friday, November 5, 2010

12 Angry Men and 1 Very Angry Woman >=(

Okay so I am really angry because I had like the perfect blog and now its gone. In class we read this play called Twelve Angry Men. In the book a sixteen year old boy i accused of murdering his father and his fate is in the hands of twelve jurors. All of the jurors seem to find the boy guilty except juror number eight. He want to know more about the crime before he can go ahead and vote for he fear he could possibly send an innocent person to jail. As they explain the evidence brought into court the juror start to question the facts. He does so in a way that brings up some very interesting view points and kind of twists the vote of the jury. But really I feel that he is only trying to get the jury to think for themselves and use their brains along with the evidence provided. In biology one of the first things that we learned was that a theory can always be proved wrong i consider this a theory because there is more than one way to look at it that makes sense with what was presented. Sure they are only theories ,what ifs as opposed to the facts and may all lead up to him being the killer but guess what if the evidence is pointing to more than one possibility than so can the facts.