In Sherman Alexie’s novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, Junior’s cultural identity and race have proven themselves to be the primary struggles in his life so far. Between Reardan High and the reservation, Junior’s identity has taken two separate facades. He has grown up accustomed to life on the reservation with their rules and traditions before he is abruptly thrust into the world of Reardan, which is “the opposite of the rez [,] the opposite of [his] family [and] the opposite of [him]” (56). Junior is suddenly exposed to a whole new set of obstacles regarding race both at home and school; the reservation accuses him of betrayal, but Reardan sees him as “the dorky Indian guy” (110). These conflicts result in abuse from neighbors, classmates, and teacher, therefore presenting Junior with a myriad of issues and insecurities he wouldn’t have faced otherwise. While on the reservation, Junior lives in fear of being seen as white, while at Reardan he tries to seem as white as possible. The majority of Junior’s problems arise when a piece of his Reardan self is revealed at the reservation or vice versa. In summation, if Junior’s environments were not so conflicting, he would not have to face many of the issues he is currently forced to face; the ultimate conflict in his life is the juxtaposition of his majority white school and home on the reservation.
“Authors should not be allowed to use racist language in their writing.”
Personally, I disagree with this statement, but I do believe that authors shouldn’t be allowed to perpetuate racist values through their writing. Many times, especially in historical fiction, characters will promote racist and/or problematic ideas through language, action, and thought. In most cases, this type of writing is valuable and allows us to look back at history and acknowledge our mistakes in the past; reflecting on societies past errors can help us improve in the future.
In other instances, books written in a certain time period may demonstrate the values of their time of origin. In this case, these books can also be used to educate and inform readers on outdated ideas and the problems they cause for certain groups. Ultimately, the best way to cease these ideas is to educate yourself and others on the history and origin of the ideas and the issues they caused.
However, I find it morally unacceptable to allow authors to enforce racist or otherwise discriminatory ideas in their work. Authors and other influential figures who promote old-fashioned ideas are simply normalizing unacceptable behaviors and perpetuating the ideas they believe in. As a society, we should be doing our best to prevent these ideas from continuing and staying on the “right side of history”.
In summary, I believe that authors and other creators should be allowed to include racist or otherwise offensive language in their writing as long as it’s being used to educate readers on the history of discrimination and how we are working away from it. As stated earlier, the best way to ensure that society is progressing is to educate yourself and others on humanity’s past mistakes and doing the most within your ability to prevent these ideas from reforming. Authors can use their platforms to educate those around them and spread positive ideas and messages— even if it means using racist language to do it.
During the seminar, John Maxwell taught us about relationships, equipping, attitude, and leadership. Most of the skills we learned will be beneficial throughout our time in TALONS. Attitude is important during most of our planning projects; there will be many times when we can feel discouraged and let it damper the moral of our team. In the 3rd session, we learned that “attitude is a choice”. During our Alice Lake trip, there were times during both the planning phase and the actual retreat where we could’ve felt discouraged and lost the motivation required to finish the task. However, we chose to keep an optimistic attitude and we continued working until the task was completed.
We also learned about the Law of the Lid: your team can only do as well as your leadership is. During certain brainstorming sessions, team members are sometimes stuck for ideas and giving them prompts will often help jumpstart the discussion. I think it’s important to know the line between needing to help your team members and letting them figure them out on their own. A good leader knows that equipping others can be a mixture of showing an example, prompting, and letting them do it alone.
In the equipping session of the seminar, we learned about how often we underestimate others. I feel that it’s important to recognize people’s weaknesses and strengths and how they choose to use them. During the planning of various events, I’ve found times when I haven’t recognized others’ strengths until its too late to put them into action. From now on, I will pay more attention to other people’s strengths and make sure that they’re doing something that will either help them build upon their strengths or build new strengths.
I stood at the bottom of the stairs with my hands held in tight fists; the stench of decay hung in the air like smoke after a wildfire. The distant tapping of raindrops grew quicker as a flash of lightning lit up the room, followed by a low rumble. The cold of the concrete floor seeped through my socks and up my spine like ice cold bolts of energy. A single lightbulb hung from the ceiling, humming away and only giving its light to the small space around it. I glanced around the room, heart racing. The walls were brick with large gashes and cracks scattered about. A small window was open a crack, letting water drip down the brick below, leaving dark veins in their wake. The room flared up once again, the bricks casting shadows on the floor beneath them. The concrete was littered with various newspapers and sundries, but the print itself was long faded and gone. CRASH! The room exploded in a display of light and sound; the house itself leaped out of its foundation. My stomach lurched as I frantically turned for the exit but the light sang the final notes of a requiem before flickering off and leaving me in the silence.
I know that, like every woman of the people, I have much more strength than I appear to have. -Eva Perón
Eva Perón, or Evita, was a truly inspiring character— a prime example of a well-known person using their platform for a good cause. Her work on women’s suffrage issues revolutionized feminism in Argentina. Despite her controversial ways, it’s indisputable that Eva changed the role of women in not only her country but in all governments moving forward.
In 1919, Eva Perón was illegitimately born into a poor household with dreams to act on the big screen. At age 16, she moved to Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, to pursue a career in acting; she eventually got a job as a radio personality and was soon one of the most well-known voices in the country. She met Juan Perón at a benefit for a recent earthquake and the two soon became close. Days after Juan was released from a short period of military incarceration, Eva and Juan were married in 1945. After Juan Perón’s successful presidential campaign in 1946, Evita became extremely involved in government affairs, including the launch of a campaign for women’s suffrage— a law that was eventually passed. This campaign is often credited with being the gateway for women gaining the right to vote in Argentina. Evita also spent a great deal of time managing the “María Eva Duarte de Perón Welfare Foundation” or “Eva Perón Foundation”. This foundation took money from large corporations and factories and redistributed it in the form of clothing, medicine, and food, as well as larger projects such as hospitals and schools. This work, although controversial, seized the hearts of many, which eventually led to thousands of Evita supporters, or descamisados, throughout the country.
The widespread support of Evita and her ideas eventually led to her Vice-President nomination for Juan’s second term. Her supporters were extremely vocal about their nomination, and their protests began to verge on violent. Although she wanted to take the job, she was forced to decline due to her inadequate health condition. Her refusal to run as VP was publicized by Evita in an emotional speech directed at the crowd below her; this moment is likely the most famed moment in her life.
Evita worked passionately on issues that I find important, and I find her dedication and ambition admirable. Although I find her inspiring, I’d say that we have very little in common. Eva was born into a broken family in Argentina before working her way up to the First Lady; it’s likely that I’ll be unable to relate to some aspects of her journey due to differences such as these. However, I feel that I may be able to relate to her ambition and her “do what you have to do” mindset. This mindset made her enemies but also built her up to where she was. In juxtaposition, the decisions she made were strikingly larger and more important, but I do find myself making smaller, but somewhat comparable decisions in everyday life.
In conclusion, I find Evita’s work impressive; her ambition, dedication, and consistency are all traits I admire. Next, I plan to continue my research on the specifics of her political career and further understand her influence on government. I look forward to shedding light on someone whom I see as an underappreciated historical figure and I earnestly hope that others recognize and understand the effect she’s made.
For my scene, I’ve selected the scene after the party where Starr watches Khalil get shot by the police officer. In this scene, I found Starr’s ability to keep calm and collected admirable, especially since she’s in such a nerve-racking situation. “My heart pounds loudly, but Daddy’s instructions echo in my head: Get a good look at the cop’s face. If you can remember his badge number, that’s even better.” Although she knows the precautions she has to take, I imagine that it would be difficult to remember everything in a high-pressure environment. Aside from this, the scene also brings out the caring part of her personality when she risks her life to aid Khalil.
During this scene, Starr begins to think back on Natasha’s death. ”Khalil looks at me, stunned. He falls to the ground. I’m ten again, watching Natasha drop.” When she starts to see the parallels between her current situation and Natasha’s death, she hopes that Khalil knows what to do in their position. She’s afraid that Khalil will end up like Natasha, a fear that unfortunately becomes a reality.
Fortunately, I’ve never been in the situation that Starr is in, and expect that I never will be. The emotions and worries that she experienced are incomprehensible to me, and I can only do my best to describe what she felt. Although I like to think that I’d handle the situation the same way as Starr, realistically, I don’t think I’d have the willpower to act calmly in her situation. The only thing that I can even compare to her experience is the feeling of being so afraid that you feel like you can’t move. Based on my experience, I likely would be unable to follow safety measures when in this state. Starr however, was able to “keep her cool”, which I find very impressive.
Throughout the story, Sam continuously lied in order to save his reputation; in the process, his lies change the lives of his family and friends. But, in the end, were his lies worth it? I believe that Sam’s lies ultimately cause more good than harm. At the beginning of the story, both of Sam’s parents are falling into the mundane rhythm of adult life. They’re spending less time with their family, spending more time working, and more time worrying. Once word gets around that Dave is dying, the family is flooded with love and support from neighbors and old friends. Although by the end, Sam has acknowledged his moral misdoings and the fact that he must right his wrongs, he realizes that his family had ultimately gained from his lies: “This wasn’t the place where he had to set things right. Everything was already alright here. He had to set things right at school.” Despite the circumstances, the sudden support from others reminded Morley and Dave what life is all about: spending time with the people around you and enjoying the little things in life.