Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The military sucks - women and homosexuals destroying U.S. superpower st...

This video argues that homosexuals should not be allowed in the military. It also states that women should also not be allowed in the military. The reason for being against homosexuals in the military is due to seeing them as feminine and that the military is a place for so called 'real' men, as it takes a man to protect their country and women. This video clip is a homemade piece of propaganda based on no factual evidence, claiming that 'homosexuals make the military weaker'. Where is the evidence for this? Surely homosexuals in the military would add to their numbers and give them more strength, as they need all the military members they can get, especially at a time of war which America has currently been involved in since 2001.

It should be noted that this video was uploaded in 2009 a time when the policy of 'Don't ask, Don't tell' was still in practice. It is likely that this video was made in response to support for dropping this policy. However this policy still technically allowed for homosexuals to be in the military, just not officially. A comment posted on this video a year ago states 'now we have homosexuals openly serving expect an even weaker military now'. Some how it seems that if a person is open about their sexuality it makes them weaker yet if that same person is quiet about their sexual preferences they are just as capable as a heterosexual male in the military. It is only when they are open do they suddenly become incapable of fighting. This is probably due to homosexuals being seen as 'feminine' as another strong message this video is trying to portray is that women also make the military weaker. As what stereotypes would have us see, the similarity between women and homosexuals is that they are both feminine, which is supposedly a weak characteristic, hence why it would 'supposedly' make the military 'weaker'.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Nickel And Dimed Critique. By "A Customer"

First review from the top.

"I bought this book thinking it would be thoroughly, if not exhaustingly, researched. I was terribly disappointed."

The critique I chose was overwhelmingly negative in regards to the book's execution and specifically the lack of empathy/effort/research put in by Barbara Ehrenreich. Whilst the review is void of quotations from Nickel And Dimed the complaints are still valid if viewed as being levied against the book as a whole (and because it was on the conduct of reviewing books is populist rather than professional). Personally whilst the review is skeletal (which in my opinion helps it get to the point) and lacking in direct literary quotations or criticism I do agree with the author's ("A Customer") sentiments.

As mentioned the key aspect of A Costumer's critique is that Ehrenreich was very lazy in the conduct her project ("Each [job] lasted no more than a month."), failing to delve deeper into the mindset of a person on the minimum wage and subsequently live like them ("For instance, she never shopped at yard sales or second-hand stores"). On both of these aspects I agree with "A Customer" I felt that doing three months (divided into three places) of being "Down & Out" were woefully insufficient to really give a good insight to life on the bottom rungs. The fact that she also had her safety net of $1000 and a car didn't help matters; so many times when reading I felt Barbara should have just roughed it out a little more, spent maybe a year, even two living below the poverty line, which would have been far more scientific and accurate in gauging minimum wage life. I felt that Barbara just wanted to get the project over with as soon as possible to return to her comfortable life-style.

To further his argument "A Costumer" gives a short life story describing how he (or she) came from a minimum wage family and was "the first in my family to attend college". Whilst this segment initially seems to be a attempt to garner sentiment for the review it goes on to point out that "A Customer" worked the minimum wage life and "went on to higher paying jobs". Of course this part of the review may have been fabricated to add legitimacy but I doubt it, as it stands however, it does show that the reviewer has experience in the life Ehrenreich tried to replicated and so he would have a good perspective on her failings. However one could argue that because "A Costumer" is so deeply connected to minimum wage life he or she lacks the perspective to the large picture, I do not think this is the case.

"A Customer" then points out that s/he agrees with other Amazon reviewer's opinions that Barbara looked down on her co-workers, "they were stupid drudges, victims of the system and selfish affluent people" and that she (Barbara) wrote herself as being 'right' ("but - not to worry - enlightened Barbara to the rescue"). Here I can only partially agree with "A Customer"; whilst there are occasions where she (Barbara) looks down on her co-workers most of her negative sentiments are against the system and the corporate bosses, whilst she does occasionally portray her fellow workers as simpletons she always makes them sympathetic characters.

Finally "A Customer" says that the book had potential but failed because of "A Agenda", unfortunately she does not elaborate on what Barbara Ehrenreich's "Agenda" is but I imagine it was to shock and spark debate. "A Customer" declares that the book failed to do that but I disagree, Nickel And Dimed, whilst indeed very flawed for the reasons given (and they are good reasons) it has sparked a discussion about minimum wage, much in the same way Upton Sinclair's The Jungle sparked discussion about worker safety in the meatpacking industry, though shock value, Which is ultimately what I feel was Ehrenreich's intention.

So in conclusion whilst I feel that "A Customer" makes very good criticisms that I personally agree with they ultimately are unimportant because the book was designed not to give a scientific account but rather a populist and easy to read article to push for worker rights. Something I agree on.

Nickel and Dimed Critique

‘I might get skewered here, but I couldn’t stand this book. The author seemed so self-righteous and was so puffy about working conditions. She was horrified that these people didn’t sit down for breaks and tried to get through their work quickly. I do remember the maid story about how someone hurt their ankle and refused to go to the doctor. What were they supposed to do? Money is money. When you are poor you need it. It’s not fair, but life isn’t necessarily fair. I have had plenty of jobs where taking a lunch break wasn’t possible, I was yelled at constantly by coworkers who thought my job wasn’t important, but work is work. You do what you have to to survive. I think it’s fine to be outraged about working conditions, but to me her outrage just came across as whining rather than righteous anger. She seemed more upset that she had to quickly dust and vacuum and do little Wal-Mart cheers than anything. By the end of the book, I just wanted her to go back to her middle to upper-middle class lifestyle and shut up. I know that’s mean, but I just didn’t find what she had to say effective. Too much whining about having to get her hands dirty and not enough actual information about the working poor.’- Carin

This is generally a negative critique on the novel and the writer (Carin) does brings up questions which are in the readers mind but some of her comments are a little harsh and undeserved.

I do agree with some aspects of this critique because she (Carin) does propose a valid argument that the book does seem to be a book on complaints in the workplace. Ehrenreich does complain about all the jobs she is working at and how unfairly she feel is treated however, by doing so she can come across as being whinny. Many people in the real world do suffer with the exact if not worse conditions Ehrenreich faces at work, but to make money and pay bills and rent you do have to do these types of jobs and not complain. The fact that she doesn’t even complete her goals and quits does make the reader question how deep she wanted to write about the working class or did she really just miss her life luxuries and leave early. She also doesn’t show a full aspect of the working poor as she gives little information about their lives but instead her main focus is about herself and her day to day tasks. Also she uses her car in the novel and she has a ‘safety net’ (money and credit card) to fall back on if things don’t go head to head. To make the reader a bit more sympathetic to her case she really should have given them up and lived properly as a working class woman.

Nonetheless, Ehrenreich has successfully managed to make the reader question working conditions today in America and has highlighted the unfairness working women face in menial jobs. The fact that she tried to see if she could make it and failed just heightens the sense and need for change. I also believe that if she hadn’t of written this book no one else would have, which makes the novel a good starting step for change. However, she could have done so much more and actually explored and gone into detail with some of the people she meets on her journey.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Nickel and Dimed Critique

Here is a review by Kya Ogyn from 2005. In this review of Nickel and Dimed, Ogyn has argued two problems in which they have with the book by Barbara Enrenreich. These being that; one the way in which Enrenreich classes the personalities of low wage earners 'although she writes, "low-wage workers are no more homogeneous in personality
or ability than people who write for a living, and no less likely to be funny or
bright," she comes to the conclusion that Barb, who works for Wal-Mart, is
"meaner and slyer" than Barbara the writer, and "more cherishing of grudges, and
not quite as smart as I'd hoped." Although poverty can have a brutalizing effect
on some people, there are demonstrably grudge-holders among the rich and
powerful who are not very smart.'
Ogyn's second issue is Enrenreich's comments or attitude towards obesity. 'It is unfortunate that a political writer of her caliber has not only not
examined fat hatred, but has contributed to it.'
In regards to the first criticism, the job identity and persona is being highlighted. When working you have a different persona to the one you have when you are at home as you are taking on the role of the job which you are doing. Certain jobs may change a person and I feel that Ogyn is being harsh in their criticism, as to survive in the world of low paid jobs you need to have a certain toughness about you. Whilst Enrenreich may not be the nicest person when working in Walmart, I don't blame her due to the circumstances she is in but the are plenty of examples of her showing kindness, particularly when working for 'The Maids' in Maine.
As for Ogyn's second criticism which basically describes Enrenreich as being vain, I do agree with for the most part. However it is my view that Enrenreich was thinking like that due to being so fed up with that working environment. If that was the case then I feel in part, a bit sympathetic as that working environment was bringing out the worst in her.
In this review there are some agreements such as when discussing the purpose of the working class. In as much that the working class make life easier for the middle classes. Whilst this may not be the intentional purpose of the working class it is inevitably the way things have become. This is not necessary a fair thing but after all America is a capitalist society and a communist society may sound all well and fair in theory, the practicalities of it are just not realistic. A degree of unfairness needs to happen in order for society to work as a whole.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenriech. (2001)

Nickel & Dimed, a book on not getting by in America.
All it took was Lewis Lapham, editor of Harper's magazine and Barbara was off. Firstly in Florida, then Maine, then Minnesota. This week, I read a review on the website of Brother's Judd.

I didn't realise, but apparently the experience should have initially been articles. It was only then, Barbara decided to turn it into a book. "Her essays in the experience first only appeared in Harper's but are here expanded, barely, to a book length account in which we find out much about Barbara Ehrenreich, fairly little about the difficult lives of people she worked with,
and nearly nothing about what she would suggest we do to make their lives
easier." But even though we find out an exceptional amount about Ehrenriech, apparently it's not the real Barbara, goes on to tell us that the woman we get to know in the book is a far more embellished, fictional version of the real woman. However, this was agreeably for a valid reason. "You see, one of the most distinctive things about the book is that Ehrenreich creates a fictional version of herself. She has to minimize her experience when she goes for interviews, has to disguise her true mission from co-workers and supervisors, has to (mostly) reign in her radical political views, etc... This both makes her character in the book completely unrealistic and
leaves her to spend all her time fixating on herself."
It comes across that believe that the work of Nickel and Dimed itself is coming across as far more autobiographical than intended. What was expected when this book was picked up, was more information and observation on the social, politcal and environmental situations Ehrenrich subjected herself to as opposed to reading what felt like a novel with a heavily fictionalised version of Barbara.
I agree, however, I imagine it must have taken alot of time and effort to keep her story straight when lying to her coworkers about her disguised past and present.

On top of her self-embellishment, BJudd also critisizes her knack for complaining; "In fact, this is so obvious that her endless complaining abut her rent loses its effectiveness because we realize how easy a problem this would be to alleviate." - Is this B.E's way of trying to make a point? Is this B.E simply complaining? Or, is she trying to create the gap inbetween the life she was living as a reporter for Harper's magazine, in contrast to the life she is pretending to live now as a waitress, floor scrubber and walmart sales person?
The key is, she can quit. She can go home with her tail between her legs, but no. She'd rather spend most of the book telling us how horrible everything is. But, on the other hand, who are we to diminish the work of an author who has done something I can say I would never want to do?

The section of this review that says "Equally maddening is her refusal to take advantage of the easiest opportunity that exits to find friendship and social assistance : church. At one point she
actually goes to a revival meeting, but it turns out she's only there to make fun of the service." Reveals that not only is B.E a self imposed loner, she is also flirting dangerously with the idea of walking over a highly acclaimed religion.

In conclusion, it doesn't matter. None of it, nothing Ehrenreich does, matters. Because after all... "She has a real life she could fall back on if things went badly" unlike everyone she meets along the way.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

K12 Project - "Making Immigration Come Alive"

The K12 Project I found on immigration is a project guide for teachers outlining a series of tasks for 4th grade students (with some help from 8th grade students) grade taking place over a suggested 4 to 5 weeks. The activities include students finding out their ancestral origins by interviewing their relatives and using the Ellis Island website, and creating a map showing where the class' ancestors come from. Finally each member of the class gives a presentation on their ancestors country of origin and how the United States has benefited from immigrants.

The project's objective is to create a meaningful lesson on immigration and to help students realsie the importance of immigration to US culture.

The project has a large emphasis on learning about the countries of the student's ancestors origins which I think is very good for for broadening their horizons.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Seminole.

The Seminole Tribe Of Florida is a Federally recognised Indian Tribe which resides in Florida. It is one of three Seminole entities which is recognised by the United States Government. The other two being the Seminole Nation Of Oklahoma where the majority of Seminole Indians are part of and the Miccosukee Tribe Of Indians Of Florida.

The Website is arranged by categories such as History, Government, Culture and a news section called The Seminole Tribune ("Voice Of The Unconquered"). Within these categories are various subsections which allow a visitor to look into that area in greater detail (such as 'Art' in the Culture section). Overall it is very well designed and presented due to it's clarity.

The first thing that struck me about the webpage was the logo (which is a logical reaction seeing how a logo represents the image a person or group wishes to project); for aside from the immediate colour connotations with the flag of Germany (a coincidence I am certain) the logo bares the inscription "In God We Trust". This intrigued me for it suggested that the Seminole people were not following the religion of their forebears and had converted. However I was wrong; their forebears had converted. For the website has a page on it's Culture section entitled 'Seminoles And Christianity' explaining that they were being Christianised "as early as 1846" by The Southern Baptist Convention, Home Mission Board. The only real mention of the original religion of the Seminoles is under the 'Legends' article. This struck me as a sign that the tribe despite keeping a separate Identity from the Americans still had conformed to the majority's way of life in some small part.

However that being said the website does proudly state that the Seminole were the only Indian Tribe that never signed a peace treaty (I.e. they were never technically defeated by the United States). The History section allows the visitor to access various chapters of the tribe's history to the present day which are well presented and are very interesting; for the Seminoles in Florida are the remnant who fled to the Everglades while the rest of the Seminole people were moved westwards and fought 2 successful guerilla wars against the United States. Eventually they received Federal Recognition in 1957.

The website also has a section on Tourism telling visitors where they can find a Seminole Reservation within Florida (the total being 6). Many of these have casinos which is a common venture for Indian Tribes to undertake in modern America, again suggesting conformity even amongst the 'unconquered'.

Finally there is a link to a Seminole eBay store for re-enactment tickets (re-enactments of the Seminole Wars being a popular method of bringing Tribal History to life) and overpriced tat various Seminole arts & crafts such as knives and beaded bracelets.

In conclusion I would say that the Seminole Tribe Of Florida has a great deal to be proud of, it's history and cluture are fascinating and have been well preserved. However I would also say the fact that even the one 'unconquered' Indian Tribe has adapted to the European way of life in some key areas shows the dominance of the European America.

The Cheyenne Indians

I have chosen to look at at the Cheyenne Indians for this blog. The Cheyenne (pronounced Shy-AN) are one of the most culture rich native American tribes due to their sedentary origins and have many hundreds of legends and stories that have been passed down through the generations.

The website I chose to use is very simple and could be more detailed, however it manages to highlight the key points of Cheyenne history. One thing in particular that I found interesting was how similar the Cheyenne creation story is to that of the Christianity creation story of Adam and Eve. The site hits upon the key conflicts between both other tribes and the 'whites'. Including the Sand Creek massacre of 1864.

Interestingly, the Cheyenne now own two reservations, the Southern Cheyenne and their close allies Arapaho, live in Oklahoma and share a combined flag. Whereas the Northern Cheyenne have a reservation in Montana.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Yá'át'ééh! (Welcome in Navajo)

This week, I chose to study the Navajo website The Navajo People.

I chose the Navajo tribe to look at this week, because I feel they are the most prominent tribe and definitely more socially recognised in today's modern culture, second being the Sioux.
The Navajo is so relevant in today's society that fashion has taken a leaf out of the style books, and has created ranges based on the Navajo styles and colourings.

Speaking of Native American fashion, this website also has a section which fixates on Native American Jewelry. Usually Navajo jewelry is turquoise blue and silver, and Indian pottery is made of earthy tones - the website warns you, having some knowledge about American Indian Arts can help you get the most of your money when looking to buy for authenticity, because some unscrupulous retails will take your money in exchange for imitation American Indian arts and crafts.

Suprisingly, this website refers to their people as:
The Dine
American Indian
Native Indian
Native Americans

What do they want to be? What would they like us to call them? If they don't know, then how on earth are we meant to know either?

It wasn't until I found this website, I realised; Navajo People do not like being called Navajo People. They are The Dine. (DEENAY) This website is dedicated to the culture, traditions and beliefs of the Dine.
There is also extensive information on Navajo art, language, history, culture, jewelry, sand paintings, rugs, Code Talkers and The Long Navajo Walk.

The website looks into the Navajo language in depth, and even teaches the readers how to pronounce and conjugate verbs.
Navajo is apparently quite complex, with a large variety of noun classes. These include "animate", "round object", and "granular object". However, very simple verbs in Navajo translate into many words in the English language. For example:
Navajo: Si'
English: To cause a hafted object to move.

Mostly made up of what seems like assonance sounds, the website also gives a small translated list:
How do you do! Good. Yah'eh-teh'.
Affectionate greeting. Ah-hah-lah'nih.
Friend. Sih-kiss.'
Grandfather. Shih-chai.'
Grandmother. Shah-mah' tsah'nih.
Mister. Grown man. Hos-teen'.
Grown woman. Ah-dzah'nih.

Another section that fasinated me, because I had never broached the subject before, was Navajo foods. The traditional Navajo foods that are still eaten today mainly consist of corn and sheep, however alot of the traditional dishes are no longer eaten.

The Apache Native American Tribe

The Mahalo Website has many sub categories, as it starts off with the historical background and where the Apache Indians were originally located in America. Also in the historical section it comments on some of the nations the tribe fought and when they were actually defeated and driven from their land, 1886. Lastly it then mentions which reservations they resided to.

This website provides good examples of what an Apache Tribe is like as they show a video preview of The Sunrise Dance. This video is very educational and is part of a documentary as it shows the remaining Apaches on the reservation. The video does reflect on some of the economic problems the tribe currently face, and goes into much depth about their culture. It shows that they still indulge in much of their culture and it means a lot to them as they still practice it.

The other subcategories are, key figures that where in the Tribe like Geronimo and Cochise, the small paragraph goes into a little bit of detail on their lives, why they are key figures and what they did for their tribe. There is also an Apache Tribe Timeline from 1867- 1909 highlighting significant dates that changed the tribe, examples include when peace treaties where signed to
when important Apache chief leaders such as Geronimo died.

The website doesn’t go into much detail on the current situation of the people on the reservation and even though they do provide historical details on the Apaches, the website could have gone into more detail. Detail about how the Apache Tribe was perceived by other Native Tribes. Other websites found comment a lot more on what the word ‘Apache’ means. What they would get up to, for example some websites say that they were ‘the first Native American tribes that learned to ride horses, and it is thought that they learned this from Pueblo Indian prisoners since the Pueblos were the first.’

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Native American Tribe website - The Cherokee

There is a large portion on this website that is dedicated to the history of the Cherokee tribe. It is split into individual sections (facts, trail of tears, biographies, places, chiefs and events). They have presented their history as a proud heritage, focusing on how the tribe has been successful even when faced with difficulties, such as when they were moved to 'Indian territory' under the Indian Removal Act, they 'soon re-established themselves in their new home with communities, churches, schools, newspapers and businesses'
Throughout the website they have repeatedly used the word 'our' when mentioning any aspect of community life and for headings. Examples include 'our government' and 'our history'. This emphasises their individuality and stands them out separate so as not to be generalised with Native Americans as a whole. The first thing that I noticed when I entered this website was the heading 'Remember the Removal'. This is a direct reference to the Trail of Tears and the memory of this is still deeply embedded in their citizens today. What this headline is actually doing is advertising for the Remember the Removal bike ride. Which is a 950 mile bike ride completed by Cherokee high school and college students who have good academic achievements. This is a good way of teaching a significant event of the tribes history to younger generations so that the memory of this is never forgotten.
The way in which the website presents the current situation of its people today is as if they are an entirely separate community from the rest of America. On the site they are showing support for the federal government in opposing 'fake' tribes. There is an indication to an increasing number of frauds who are claiming to be of Cherokee background and heritage. A reason for this is to gain benefits which Native American Indians are entitled to. They also have various groups in place to help support the community, examples include; a roads programme (this is in order to improve road and other transport for the community to reach other member, schools and hospitals etc, more safely and conveniently), environmental health and self help housing repair assistance amongst others.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Critique of Push.

I'm not sure what to take away from this book. By the end of the novel you have seen the beginnings of a transformation of a person who is barely human to a woman who is starting to understand her own self-worth and ambitions. In that respect I enjoyed the book.

I think what really bothers me is her HIV. It really casts an even grimmer pall over what is already a gut-wrenching life story. Precious isn't someone who will have the monetary means to buy medication or see a doctor regularly, and you know contracting HIV is her death sentence. Even she knows that her days are numbered, and the only thing unknowable is exactly when the virus will kill her. It would have been easier on me as a reader if Precious had HIV from the beginning of the novel, but to have her acquire it halfway through, when things are finally looking up for her, was brutal.

You can't help but root for Precious as she beings to understand that there is more to life than what she has experienced thus far, but I feel it was cruel of Sapphire to keep the reader from fully experiencing a true feeling of hope. Perhaps without the looming threat of a life cut short the story would have just been another sentimental tale of poor-girl-makes-good, but hey, what's wrong with a little inspiration every now and then? There is still a feeling of hope for Precious, but the tempering of that hope that I felt is what kept me from truly enjoying this novel.”

Above, is a review of the novel ‘Push’ by a user of, a website in which readers can post their personal opinions of novels, taking part in discussions and debates, and to rate the book they have read. I chose this particular review as I felt it was a truthful account and brought up an interesting point on the subject of the novel’s lack of optimism. The writer says ‘I think what really bothers me is her HIV. It really casts an even grimmer pall over what is already a gut-wrenching life story’. I agree with this point as the novel is a difficult read due to its graphic content. A story so dark and traumatic I would personally associate with a non fiction book, so it was difficult to read as a fiction piece. Not knowing much about the author it made me question how much could be traced back to her own experiences, or those of people she perhaps knew. When the character precious finds out she has HIV just when things are beginning to look up for her, as the writer of the review mentions, is brutal. I think in a way this reminds the reader that it is fiction, as it leads you to think could someone really have so much bad luck in reality?

The writer of the novel says that it is the ‘tempering of hope’ that keeps him from truly enjoying the novel. I think this is a valid point and shows how distressing the novel is. I think this works in both ways however, as although I felt it was disturbing I understood the powerful message that I though Sapphire was aiming to convey, and for this reason enjoyed the novel. The message I acquired was to never give up hope even when success seems unattainable and through this found the novel inspiring. Precious is hit with every possible obstacle throughout, but never lets it bring her down although the reality of the story is she has HIV and will eventually die. However, Precious does not dwell on this reality and instead focuses on the present.

Overall I thought the writer of the review had picked up on all the right points giving valid reasons behind his critique of the novel. He mentions that it would be an easier read to have acquired the news of Precious's HIV in the beginning of the novel rather than at the end, as it is traumatic to read. However I think, it is information like this that drives the plot, intriguing the reader. Especially as the reader is led to develop a 'bond' with the character through the novel's journal layout and personal grammar and spelling. It feels as if Precious has let the reader into her life, thus we experience everything as she does. For this reason, the reader is intrigued to read on in the novel, therefore making it an enjoyable read.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Critique of Push

'I can see where it's inspirational... I really can because Precious keeps it moving. She keeps going to school and works harder. But, I also do not think she gave a complete picture. I'm a little confused on why people think it's so inspirational. Only because it never tells you what becomes of Precious. We do not get a drawn out ending saying that she did indeed get her GED. I think Precious is strong and survived alot, but it really doesn't go on to say how she completely changed her life. Idk, I didn't like it as much as I have liked other books. I was turned off by some of the messed up discriminating comments she made. I was also put out by the explicit scenes of abuse. That is the kind of thing you can see on the news. One doesn't expect to read it in a book not based on a truth story. I was given this book as a gift. I found myself disappointed at the end. Especially when it didn't have a specific ending. It just left off her reading to her son. Which believe me I get it, that was something before going to that school she would not have been able to do. I just wish for all the lows in the book with how hard Precious was working... We could have at least learned that she got her GED. It's like Sapphire brings us to the middle of the story and leaves off right there.' - Kat
This is generally a negative critique on the novel and the writer (Kat) does brings up questions which are in the readers mind but some of her comments are a little harsh and undeserved.

I can agree with some aspects of this critique because she (Kat) does propose a valid argument that the end of the book is almost left on an anti- climax, the reader is left with all these unanswered questions. Did she ever get her G.E.D? Did she ever get her daughter (Little Mongo) back? And just the general question, What happens to her life? Sapphire has brought the reader ‘to the middle of the story and leaves off right there’. However, this could have been done on purpose because it’s constantly in the readers mind as we question and try to guess the ending. It also could reinforce the point that we as the reader don’t need to know how her life ends because it doesn’t matter we just need to know that ‘Precious’ is working hard to make her life change, the most important moral to the story. Another point as to why Sapphire purposely choose to end the novel as she did as it ‘hits closer to home’ almost trying to push the reader into believing that the novel is based on a true story. The reader is not told the ending because ‘Precious’ doesn’t know herself on what her life will lead to, making the novel more realistic.

However, Kat writes ‘but it really doesn't go on to say how she completely changed her life’, this part of her critique is almost unjust as the reader can clearly read how Precious begins to change her life. It’s through hard work going to the specialised school trying to get her G.E.D, building up her self confidence and self esteem, trying to be there for her children, trying to remove herself from her toxic upbringing and childhood, make new friends and generally learn how to live.

Push by Sapphire

I chose, this week, to look at a review of the book "Push" from the Sydney Morning Herald, a widely known newspaper in Australia.
This review immediately cuts to the chase, and states what the books is, in essence, about.
"Readers were enthralled and appalled by protagonist Precious Jones, the NY girl abused by her father and failed by the system, who stood up and fought back."
The key part of that, is that Precious' character was ruined, she was beaten, abused and as low as she could possibly go; still, she got up and fought back. So this book, for me, isn't about her eternal suffering, it's about Precious Jones and her strength to fight back against the system that wronged her so badly.

Oprah Winfrey believes in this book, and so do the many suffers from abuse and incest that have read it in their support groups, using Sapphire's creation as a shoulder to lean on. Who are we to say that this book is a "truth too hard to handle" when people in similar situations are using the novel to help themselves in their own personal ways. If someone is a better person, physically, mentally, emotionally because of a book then to me, that author deserves as many awards as possible, not to be torn down by a newspaper, or shady critics.

A popular opinion, is that "Push" was in fact autobiographical work. This is not true.
Sapphire, is yes a black African American, that however doesn't strip her from having an imagination.
"That's the same thing as thinking Mark Twain was Huckleberry Finn." She says. "It has something to do with class and race and the way African Americans are percieved in the world of literature. We're not often seen as people with imagination and vision and focus and artistry."

It saddens me that someone who has created such a powerful work, has to be torn down because of her race and ethnic background. I'm not saying she should be given more recognition for being an African American author, I'm just calling for equality.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Critique of Push

This is a review by a female author/writer/teacher from Chicargo named Heloise. Her critique is filled with rhetorical questions; 'How does a dark-skinned, ugly, obese, unloved, abused black girl confront the burden of parental abuse? It's starkness has no resonance. We cannot comprehend it. How does she cope?' and metaphors and similes 'The heroine begins life as a wounded soldier' Quite often throughout the critique Precious and her life is compared to a soldier and a battlefield. This is good way of talking about her constant struggles as in a way her life is like a constant battlefield.

Heloise describes Precious as a 'true survivor'. Whilst I would agree that Precious is a survivor in the physical sense, her mentality on the other hand is not surviving at least not until towards the end of the book when she starts to turn her life around, but even then she is faced with more set backs, the outcome of which are left to the readers imagination. Precious is by no means 'a survivor of New York City public education' as Heloise states. If precious was a survivor of public education then she wouldn't be illiterate at the start of the book and would not be needing to attend each one teach one classes at the Hotel Theresa.
Heloise has also stated that precious 'holds a degree in the Karma Sutra'. Whilst I do agree with the view that Precious is very sexually aware and Heloise has rightly pointed out that there is an overriding theme of sex throughout the book. The way in which sex is portrayed is negative and to say that Precious holds a degree in the Karma Sutra would imply that Precious has enjoyed her sexual encounters and had them willingly. As anyone who has read the book would know that this is not the case and as far as the reader is aware, all of her experience with sex was forced upon her and has no experience of sex in a pleasurable way.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Veterans Of Foreign Wars. (American Identites)

In most societies and nations the fact that one served in his or her nation's armed forces especially during times of war is seen as a hallmark of one's good citizenship, patriotism, selflessness, and bravery. To serve in the Armed Forces is to give up one's livelihood and business opportunities for a prolonged period or even lifetime (Indeed as the old song goes "Your digging a ditch, you'll never get rich, you're in the Army now!") and in exchange for the loss of these privileges men and women take up the mantle of a strict lifestyle with the prospect of being sent abroad to fight the wars of it's nation. Their only reward for this is often a paltry sum and medal, it is therefore obvious why veterans feel that they deserve respect and added benefits in their post-service lives. Sadly Veterans (or 'Vets') did not always get treated like the heroes they were; in 1899 after the end of the Spanish-American war veterans returned home without medical care or pensions, to amend this they set up organisations to secure these basic needs, and so began the Veterans Of Foreign Wars organisation (VFW). Over the years they have represented and fought for the rights and privileges of U.S. Veterans. The website itself talks about the history of the organisation, it's programmes and how to become a member, it also does commentaries on relevant news stories; such as fears over cuts to military spending. In terms of identity it advocates that it is important that Veterans should be proud of their service and should identify themselves as veterans by joining their local branch of VWF.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Latino Immigration: For & Agaisnt

Someone who has recently become infamous for his "anti-immigrant" attitude, is Mitt Romney, and then of course, his opposition Newt Gingrich.
Although this is on a news reporting wesbite, it's just the video I want to view.

Mitt Romney is an American politician, and is now a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nominations.
Mitt Romney has explained his views in a way that has been understood that he will make Immigrants lives so unbearable, that they will choose to self deport. Yes, he will give legal immigrants work permits for 11 months, but illegal immigrants will not. Romney's hope is that when the 11 month work permit runs out, immigrant Latinos will consider their lives dependant on their work, and if they can't work in the USA, they will return to where they came from; thus sieving all immigrants out of American, particularly Latino/Hispanics because in 2000 it was seen by the US Census Bureau that 35.3 million people in America were Latino/Hispanic. This figure is projected as 102.6 million in the year 2050.

Newt Gingrich, has dubbed Romney "the most anti-immigrant candidate" out of all four contenders for the Republican nominations. That is quite a sweeping statement to make, in a Hispanic heavy Florida.

It is unclear to how Gingrich feels on the tender topic of immigrants in America, but to take up such a stand and pick out a fatal flaw in Romney's campaign would paint him in a slightly more pro-immigrant light.
However, Gingrich is probably just being clever and using Romney's unfortunate circumstances to bring him (Gingrich) the heavy Hispanic vote.
Whilst in Florida however, Gingrich ran a spanish advert, claming his dedication to the Hispanic community.

Eva Longoria (Actress) has also taken a stand against Romney's campaign.
"85% of Latino Voters support the #DREAM act, 100% of Romney doesn't!"

Friday, 3 February 2012

Anti+ Pro Latino Immigration

Anti Latino Immigration
Federation for American Immigration Reform

The website provides data from 1961-1996 to show how many illegal immigrants were apprehended. The membership organisation is a national, non-profit, public-interest, who share a common belief that our nation's immigration policies must be reformed to serve the national interest. They seek to improve border security, to stop illegal immigration, and to promote immigration levels consistent with the national interest—more traditional rates of about 300,000 a year. This is an anti- Latino Immigration website and I found an article that they have published on their website called ‘US Mexico Illegal Immigration Border Fence & Border Patrol’. The article states that the main problem with illegal immigration is that the border fence and patrol operations are unsubstantial as it is allowing ‘more than one million Mexicans annually.’ The F.A.I.R organisation article mentions the ‘voluntary departure’ where it critically highlights the U.S government’s weakness. The website highlights their Goals, Objectives, what they Advocate and also they have laid out ‘Seven Principles if True Comprehensive Immigration Reform’.
First Principle: Cut the Numbers
Second Principle: No Amnesty or Mass Guest-Worker Program
Third Principle: Protect Wages and Standards of Living
Fourth Principle: Major Upgrade in Interior Enforcement, Led by
Strong Employers Penalties
Fifth Principle: Stop Special Interest Asylum Abuse
Sixth Principle: Immigration Time Out
Seventh Principle: Equal Under the Law
Pro Latino Immigration
We Are America-

The small group say that they ‘raise the voice of immigrants in the national dialogue around our country’s broken immigration system. We lift up the personal stories of immigrants across America to put real people and communities back into national discussion on immigration policy’. The group does have a video of a young immigrant’s story, which tries to win over the watchers emotions as the immigrant shares its concerns. They also have written stories from people who face deportation. The website almost has a homely kind of feel to it, as they encourage people who have compelling stories about immigration to tell their story. Also the website relies on ‘the word of mouth’ as they want people to tell friends and family of the website and also the stories in hope o build awareness to their cause.
‘Share these stories with your friends and family at the dinner table, at work, or at local community meeting… or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. When people use hateful language to talk about immigrants you can send them links to some personal stories from this site, and figure out other ways to use the power of personal testimony to change the discussion among your fellow Americans.’

Hispanic/Latino Immigration.

The NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is the largest national latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. The aim of the organisation is to improve opportunities for Hispanic's, working on a variety of different issues such as health, housing, education, workforce development and youth leadership. The website put their point's across convincingly, with statistics to back their points. For example the number of Hispanic-owned businesses is rising dramatically. It grew by 44% from 2002 to 2007, compared to 15% growth in the number of firms owned by non-Hispanics. Approximately 2.3 million businesses—8% of all U.S. nonfarm businesses—are owned by Latinos. This shows the NCLR's efforts in securing the Hispanic populations worth in American Society by presenting the ways in which the Hispanic people contribute to the U.S Economy - not just as a cheap labour force as they are primarily thought to be. The NCLR website puts across the view of the American Dream being achievable for Hispanics, although it does apply to those who are willing to learn English. They state that they are grateful for the opportunities America has given them, but believe that these opportunites should not be any lesser than those of White Americans.

ALIPAC, is an immigration enforcement and border security advocacy organization, who state that they are anti-racist but simply believe more should be done to reduce illegal immigration in America. They put their points across effectively although slightly bias, as they do not mention the positives immigrants can bring to the population instead focusing on how immigrants are taking jobs away from 'pure' americans, who have a greater right to the jobs. Here they quote that 80% of the American population are against illegal immigration. You can tell that the website feels strongly about their views, wishing to show readers the problems illegal immigrants are creating, thus gaining greater support. We can see this through links such as 'contact law enforcement, government agencies, law makers, media, and other organizations', aiming to get as many people to get involved in order to make a difference.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Week 3 - Hispanic/Latino immigration

This is the website for the Americas Society and is pro Hispanic and Latino immigration. They focus on the social and economic benefits that are gained by immigration. This group supports the integration of Hispanics and Latinos into the society of local communities. Research that the Americas Society has carried out in 2007 has found that the best place for integration is in: Atlanta, Georgia; Nashville, Tennessee; New Orleans, Louisiana; Omaha, Nebraska; and Portland, Oregon. However they do not give specific reasons for why this other than state that the society has held public and private meetings to help further integration. Why they may not focus on helping immigrants to immigrate they do provide help for existing immigrants to assimilate into their local communities.
This is the site for the Conservative Caucus who are anti-immigration. They make petitions to fight against laws and reforms that may help and favour immigrants and immigration. They currently have a petition to stop illegal immigration. This is a bulletin that they have on their site; '200 Million Immigrants in 20
Years:The Bush/Senate/Democrat Immigration Plan Must be
The website presents many facts. For example, they say that 600,000 illegal immigrants that have been ordered to be deported are still living in the US. There is a particular strong feeling to stop social security to illegal immigrants as this is costing money for taxpayers and the US economy. An example given is that legal immigrants go back to live in Mexico and get illegal immigrants living in the US to claim of their social security number.

I find the anti immigration site to be more successful in presenting their message. This is because they have presented many facts to back up their statements which fight for their cause. The pro immigration site is very basic. They make statements but have not put relevant supporting facts to support their statements, but do give links to further relevant articles. Also on the anti-immigration site there is more of group feeling to it as they have a page where people can make donations to their cause, thus getting more people involved.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

This picture shows people recognising and remembering the roughly 500 people that die each year attempting to cross the border.

The Border Network for Human Rights is an organisation dedicated to promoting equality for marginalised communities such as Hispanic immigrants that have crossed the border. The BNHR attempt to solve issues, such as unauthorised immigrants, by communicating with local authorities and pushing for new legislation such as the DREAM act.
Defend Colorado Now on the other hand is against illegal immigration as it believes it causes many problems. This website itself does not give any impression of friendliness and looks very curt. It has articles on the ‘True costs of Immigration’ etc which emphasis their belief that immigrants who are not here legally should not receive any state benefits. They believe that anybody in America who has not entered through the correct pathways should be removed.

The two sites could not look or feel more different. BNHR is warm and seems very professional with news banners and blog sites inducing a feel of the community. Defend Colorado Now however is not at all welcoming and attempts to make its point through the use of long articles
which aggressively put their points across.

Understanding Stereotypes K9-12

Discovery Education is a website that specialises in providing resources
such as lesson plans for teachers. It also has learning resources for students
and parents. The website itself is both friendly and user-friendly and the
information provided is clear and concise.
The Lesson plan I decided to look at is about 'Understanding
Stereotypes'. While this is not specifically about immigration, it does tackle
factors involved such as racial stereotypes. The topic, which is set over three
days, investigates what stereotypes are, asks students to think of examples and
requires them to think about how stereotypes affect people.
While it doesn’t necessarily look at the history of immigration and
other important things, it could be used as an introduction to that kind of
sensitive subject.