Based on our conversation today in Jody’s class about the concern to create something long lasting (in reference to the “the tears” in Chase article and the example of religious camps/having a religious experience that does not extend beyond the camp & cannot be carried over) … I’m sensing a need for the story slam to carry beyond a single semester and I’m wondering if we can actually initiate a group on campus which is dedicating to hosting story slams/ open mic nights on campus that can be flexible in addressing campus wide issues and creating spaces for critical conversation to be present. When I originally envisioned our “final” event I actually envisioned several story slams over the course of a month as a way of hopefully initiating a more long-lasting conversation on campus. I know that in the past, the artclub has initiated events like this but my understanding is that those events were tied to particular students who have now graduated and the drive to host/plan similar events has somewhat left with those students. I am thinking that maybe having a group whose actual sole focus is creating these spaces might be a way of keeping the conversation alive; and perhaps could be a way in which we put forth a continuation of this 360.
How much latitude can you allow?
In my own words, latitude, the ability to allow yourself to immerse and dance around as far into the open field as much as you allow. Latitude, a force field as strong as your beliefs, your morals, and your drive. Latitude- as expandable and malleable as you want it to be. Latitude- what I have total control over. Throughout our experiences, there will be individuals sailing through several waves, facing different tides, and walking into different territories. As individuals, we can’t all be compatible and we see that with the character Lloyd Fuller in All Over Creation by Ruth Ozeki and Elizabeth Costello in The Lives of Animals by J.M. Coetzee. They expand their latitude as far as they allow themselves to share their beliefs, but never bursting their force field by the harmful words of people who are against them. Latitude, unlike the scientific use, which gives an ideal measurement of a geographic coordinate, is the stretchy floating hula-hoop I as well as Costello and Fuller walk in.
Latitude can’t be measured. It’s like trying to measure how many tears you have cried- ridiculous. It’s not something that takes a form and turns into stone; forever keeping it’s shape until it is broken. The latitude an individual creates for one self is strong like rubber, to keep all its beliefs from being attacked, but also stretchy to allow yourself to stretch as far as you’re comfortable with in sharing what you believe in. Latitude is controlled by the tolerance one allows.
I really enjoyed reading Blackburn and felt that her arguments and points were extremely valid. By creating a second space for these students outside of school, they're able to think freely and be themselves. The Attic served as a safe-space for many of these students. I drew a connection between Lee and Hawkins community based after school programs and this text. This is a sort of a community-based space where the participants are not in a formal school setting. I was very interested about The Attic's Women's Group. I felt that the participants really took initiative to create and manage all aspects of the group. By allowing the participants to bring texts that they feel are relevant and worth sharing, it allows the participant to be in the position of power. By working together and creating agency for change, the participants are able to home and have a personal investment in what they were learning. I found the idea and the organization of the Story Time very interesting and intriguing. Story Time allows the participants to share their own feelings and pieces that they've composed as well as texts that they've found written by someone outside of The Attic. This space allows the participants to have their voice heard and their opinions and beliefs validated.
LGBTQ has always been a topic to be avoided and not discussed open publicly from where I'm from. Unfortunately, homophobia and just the idea of it scares many Malaysians away. This is because homosexuals engaging in sex are considered illegal in Malaysia and they continuously face discrimination from government policies such as a law that makes sodomy punishable by 20 years in prison. Just recently in the news, sixty-six Muslim schoolboys in Malaysia identified by teachers as effeminate have been sent to a special camp for counselling on masculine behaviour. As I read Blackburn’s Homophobia in Schools and What Literacy Can Do About It, I try to think of the reasons to promote how schools in Malaysia would be open to discuss about this topic. Could it be part of the core-curriculum of the national exam? If so, who would teach it? Perhaps the biggest obstacle for me is to convince parents. Just to demonstrate how the society views homosexual couples. In an article published in the news two years ago, the Malaysia's Education Ministry has "endorsed guidlines" to help parents identify gay and lesbian "symptoms" in their children. The following are the list of “symptoms” that were listed. From reading this statement alone, I am embarrassed and disgusted by my government’s actions. I can’t think of possible solutions to this especially since homosexuals are being punished legally in law. What would be the first step to tackle this subject and connect it to high school education?
Symptoms of gays:
In high school I had several LGBTQ teachers. Some were out and often talked about their sexuality, some were out and never talked about it, and some were out to other teachers but not to students (we found out anyways, of course). To me, having an openly gay teacher was not a big deal and I never really questioned it. However, after reading Blackburn's book, I wonder what the experience was like for those teachers, both those who were open about it and those who were more private. Was the administration supportive? Did students ever make comments? Did parents complain?
Here is the link to the story slam Facebook event! Please share the event and invite your friends!
"God holds the only patent! He is the Engineer Supreme! And He has given up His seeds into the public domain!...Our seeds contain our beliefs. That's why we urge you to continue to save them and propagate them and pass them on to others to do the same, in accordance with God's plan. In this way we chose to praise our Lord and to fulfill His design - of which mankind is just one small part." (Ozeki 302)
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Our class has sort of latched on to this idea of ‘porosity’. It’s become a catchphrase, an exclamation, and a stand-in for many other words on when talking about complex and/or connected things. So I’m calling us out. We’re using porosity in the same way that we’ve resisted using words like ‘nature’ and ‘environment’, in the same way that it is problematic to use words like ‘gentrification’ and ‘radical’ (and still I and many others continue to use them, perhaps out of comfort and habit, perhaps for lack of a better word). The idea of porosity has brought us a long way, given us new and interesting ways to look at common concepts, AND/BUT there might be areas where it’s holding us back from defining what we really mean. I’m still not sure I completely know what the word means. It could be that I’m the only one, but I don’t think so.
Tonight I celebrated Passover @ a seder @ the home of friends, and was caught by the opening line of the ritual:
"It could be said with some accuracy that the tension between home and exile is central to the Jewish experience. From God's first instruction to Avram, 'Go forth on the road,' to the modern Diaspora, to be a Jew has meant to be a transient, in search of home. To be at home nowhere and everywhere, always to be seeking a reutrn to the Promised Land..."
As I read Blackburn’s reading, I couldn’t help but think: What if LGBTQ themed books were incorporated in every school’s curriculum. How would the school environment change? Would it be a positive or a negative change? I know that this depends on the school, but I was thinking about it in terms of my high school. One of the students spoke about how her middle school teachers forbid LGBTQ, but it is more accepted in high schools. I agree. I believe that it more common that GSA would be in high schools rather than a middle school, but then again, that’s where the limit is drawn. I tried to think of books that I read in high school that included characters from the LGBTQ community, but I could not think of any.
Blackburn's book highlighted for me the potential in the overlap between school and "extracurricular" spaces. I couldn't help but think to Ceballo's "Bilingual 'Neighborhood Club'" and Lee and Hawkin's community based after-school programs when reading about the Attic, and appreciated the not-school space that the Attic made for students. However, I was most interested and engaged when reading the section about the Speaker's Bureau. I've found myself particularly and repeatedly interested lately in the ways students can act as educators and this program within the Attic was one space in which the voices of students were really important to transforming how teachers and other students understood homosexuality and homophobia.
I'm wondering now how students can be more frequently empowered to do this kind of educating within schools or whether the distance of an out-of-school program is needed to facilitate students as teachers?