Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Reading

I grew up being read to and having many books in my house but as soon as I got into elementary school, my reading habits all changed. I was an extremely early riser and neither of my parents were so in the mornings, my parents would choose to put me in front of the television rather than getting up to force me to read. From then on, I have never truly enjoyed reading. Several years later, my parents tried to get me into reading again but nothing worked. I did not enjoy spending my free time reading and it has remained the same since. Our discussion with Ms. Gold was organized as more of a book group. We were asked to bring in our favorite childhood book and our favorite book in general as well as a New York Times article. We discussed the books we chose and went over each article. I chose “Where the Wild Things Are” as my childhood book because I loved how the main character had an immense imagination. My parents would read the book to me before I went to bed and I requested it every time. My favorite book is “Marley and Me” but I was unable to find it so I brought in my second favorite, “Firergirl”. The book tells the story of a girl who was badly burned all over her body and how one boy was able to see beyond her burns and become friends with her. Ms. Gold helped me realize based on my book preferences, that I enjoy reading books that involve some sort of empathy. It was very interesting to see what different kinds of books people brought in as being their favorites and hear their experiences with reading. Because all of the students are the same age, we all grew up reading mostly the same books and had fond memories of each book brought in. It was also interesting to hear Ms. Gold’s new method of teaching by having her students read whatever book they wanted for the first ten minutes of class. I think this is a great way to get high school students to enjoy reading again because most have, like myself, lost their love. I hope to gain a love for reading again someday and I felt that this discussion was a great way to spark my interest once more.

Reading

In this Monday's class with Mrs. Gold, we focused on the importance of reading. We were instructed to bring a childhood book, a favorite outside of school book, and a New York Times article; I brought the Lorax, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and an article about black beauty contestants winning awards. We discussed the decline in interest of reading in students, and what some of the causes and solutions may be. Some of the causes are the rise in using Netflix as a students entertainment source and passtime, and also the workload that high schoolers face that seems to diminish their incentive to read. A solution to this was done in a classroom in which the teacher allowed the students 10 minutes at the beginning of class to read whatever they wanted, instead of the usual small talk that would take place in its time. The effect of this experiment leads students to feel more of a connection to literature, being able to read what they desired, and it also offered them a calm transition into class. This little experiment showed the vast benefits of giving young readers the opportunity to break from the mandatory readings of various English classes and explore their own personal creative interests in literature. Broadening students literary scope helps them explore more parts of the world through books that they would not be able to experience through Netflix, while simultaneously educating them. I have always valued reading, being a heavy reader throughout my youth, and having grown up in houses filled with books. My parents read daily, and I have always been encouraged to read. While I have definitely found that I read dramatically less in the school year, because of other mandatory work, I praise those who find time to read for themselves. I don't even watch that much Netflix, other than watching with my friends in the dorm, I find it hard to even have any alone time at all!

Reading!

Aidan
Reading!
Women Studies


In Ms Gold’s presentation, we discussed our favorite readings. We chose three pieces to present: first, a book from our childhood; second, a New York Times article we found interesting; third, one of our favorite books. Also Ms Gold shared with us the story of how she was published for a piece of writing she did on how she gets her students interested in reading again.
She talked about how the great majority of adolescence don’t read and how she used her class to combat that. In Junior class, she gives the students ten minutes of free reading at the beginning of each class. The student picks the book of their choice that they think they want to read and then at the start of each class they have time to read it. The results have been very positive to the students and the class. For starters, the students are now reading and enjoying it, they’ve become proficient readers, checking-out something like 250 books from the library. But also, according to Ms Gold, it has been very beneficial to the class. She says it sets an atmosphere for the class, ten minutes of silent reading sets a tone for the class of quiet and studious work.

I think that being a good reader is very important to people. The ability to read efficiently is important, but also reading for pleasure is important too. It’s hard to take the time to read in high school. There's a lot of work to be done and little time to kick back, so it's understandable to pick something like watching TV over reading. Watching TV is more instant entertainment. But if the habit of reading were reinforced then reading might become more popular.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Black Women in Hollywood

Aidan
Black Women in Hollywood
Women Studies

TV and movie is one place that has lagged in regards to the jobs offered to black women. There are very few roles offered to black women for TV or movies and those roles offered usually aren’t high quality. Most roles are cut and pasted stereotypes lacking in originality and wit. In fact, the majority of roles black women play can really be boiled down to about three characters. Also, on top of that, it takes black women longer to break into the world of television. Most black women, if they have a breakout movie at all, will have at around thirty to forty years of age. While on the other hand, white women will be receiving nominations and awards in their twenties.
The problem lies in the writers. There is simply a lack of roles for black women to play in movies and television. The cure is to have writers that can make roles for them. During Dr. Palmer’s speech, I wondered how I’d write a role for a black woman to play and the truth is I think I’d really struggle with it and trying to keep it from being stereotyped. It’s like that speech that was made about intersectionality… a black woman would have two intersections that I’m unfamiliar with. Being both black and a woman is hard for me to imagine and to write a role for.

So maybe the answer lies in having a more diverse selection of movie writers. Looking up “Modern Screenwriters” results in a sea of white people. On a list of top 100 modern screenwriters, there were two black men… no black women. So the problem likely lies in a lack of diversity in modern writers for television.

Black Women in Hollywood

African-American women struggle to make a name for themselves in the entertainment business. Most of the roles that black women play in film or television is as a sassy and angry woman while white females have more diversity. During the discussion with Dr. Palmer, she began by giving the students a quiz to see what prominent African-American female actresses we knew, most of us did not get many. The lack of presence and acknowledgment of black female actresses has not changed much over time. In the USA Today article we read, Debbie Allen states, "This conversation is an old conversation," says actress/choreographer/producer/director Debbie Allen."Unfortunately, we just keep having (it) over and over and over. It's like raising a child that doesn't listen ... We have to keep going over it." In the same article, Chandra Wilson says, "When I would come just to audition, all in the same room, auditioning for the same role — that scared me to death! I kind of stayed away from Hollywood because of that. Because the quantity isn't high, we're all out there fighting for the same few roles." The roles are sparse for women of color and they are in constant competition to get to the top. In an article by The Week, it says that the competition is not something new, “Hollywood historically restricted roles for black actresses.”and “But even in that perceived golden era for black entertainment, black actresses struggled to find roles that allowed them to portray black women as multidimensional.” Roles for black women were and are not the same as the roles for white women. White women can have jobs and be mothers etc., black women do not. Actress Sheryl Lee Ralph stated that, "It's fear," said Ms. Ralph. "A lot of people are afraid of losing their fans, because they're afraid if they're on screen with a black woman that somebody, somewhere in America will write them hate mail. And it's not just white people, it's black people too." The industry is afraid that if they cast black women, they will be criticized by many. This is because there is still segregation in Hollywood. These actresses are powerless in the Hollywood world because it all boils down to money. All the industry focuses on is making money and if casting an African-American woman means they will not make as much money, they will not cast them. Money is very important but the Chicago Tribune explains why it is hard to talk about. “It’s taboo to talk about how much money you make — or how little. That’s one reason inequities persist. The pay gap hits women of color the hardest, with black actresses in Hollywood talking about it openly in recent weeks.” This author claims that the reason inequalities exist in Hollywood is due to no one discussing how much money they make. The author also states that they “couldn’t find anyone who has done comprehensive research about black actresses and what they’re paid.” No one cares how much black actresses are paid because they are not prominent in the industry. The research is also not found because women are thought of as being difficult if they bring up the pay gap and “that goes double for women of color.” During this discussion and reading the articles, my mind immediately thought of all the shows I have seen that have some sort of diverse cast. In the show, “One Day at a Time”, the main characters are all Latina but are struggling to get by financially, which is a common representation of Latina families in television and movies. It is hard for any women of color who is an aspiring actress and these women are put in a box and told what to do. Luckily, people are noticing these inequalities and are speaking out about it so hopefully the more people speak out, these inequalities will disappear.

black women in hollywood

This weeks discussion highlighted the plight of black women in Hollywood. In the articles shared by Dr. Palmer before her presentation, we read about the various tactics the film industry uses to keep black women suppressed in the media. One way that Hollywood has suppressed black women is by only giving them opportunities for stereotypical roles such as maids, servants, historical figures, and sexualizing their body. This narrows the role opportunity for black actresses in multiple ways, one by eliminating the dimensions of roles that black women have to work with, and also by pitting black actresses against each other in the fight for the roles. In a short video in class with Oprah and other prominent African-American in acting, Viola Davis perfectly summarized how black actresses are pit against each other saying "if you throw a piece of cheese in a room full of rats, they're going to claw at each other." This metaphor compares the few roles available for black women to the piece of cheese that everyone is fighting for. 
Another issue in Hollywood is a term called "colorism", which refers to when roles are prejudice to certain skin tones. Often the media is sadly drawn more towards light skin actors, and request certain shades for certain roles, narrowing the pinhole of opportunities yet again. 
This Sunday before our class I happened to watch 12 Years a Slave, a movie based on real-life events of a man named Soloman Northup who was a free black man in the north, kidnapped and brought to the south to be enslaved. In this movie, the talented actress Lupita Nyong'o played a prominent supporting role of a slave women who was the love interest of the master. She played the role beautifully, capturing and conveying an abundance of complex emotions throughout the film. This role won Lupita lots of recognition, but what people do not realize is she is more than her role as a slave. Hollywood highlights her role as a slave and her ability to act as one, but it should also highlight her ability to do other diverse roles. There are so many opportunities for creativity with black women in Hollywood, and I hope that the outspoken actresses are heard and are given more roles that they deserve. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Anne Bradstreet

Aidan

Anne Bradstreet

Women Studies



Anne Bradstreet was the first American poet. She was born into a wealthy family and recieved a strong education at her father's insistence. She caught smallpox at the age of sixteen, survived and married a family friend, Simon Bradstreet.

Besides being the first American poet, Anne Bradstreet was notable for her writing being mainly about the physical world. She was a Puritan, but her poetry went against the norm of writing about god and religion, instead, she talked mostly about life. Her poems were written about her own life, like her poem "Upon The Burning of Our House" which detailed her emotions after seeing her house burn down. She wrote poems for her husband and poems for her children. She wrote about what she loved and she wrote about what bothered her. Her poem "The Author to Her Book" is about her annoyance with her husband after he had her poems published without her approval.

What makes Anne Bradstreet an important historical is how she stood out for her time. She was the first published American poet and was a success on top of that. But then her own writing stood out, it wasn't religious works. It didn't pay much tribute to god and had no talk of heaven, but it did talk about her house. her writing was about her family and her troubles and worries.