1st Journal Entry

The Ideal Southern Girl

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What comprised the image of an ideal girl during the 1930’s? Well, it was definitely not pants, misbehavior, and “improper” language. No, the ideal girl was one who wore skirts, and dresses; it was one who was polite and had manners. During the 1930’s, girls and women had to live their lives based on the expectations the community had for how they dressed, the language they used, and the activities they did. Even though, the 1930’s was a decade of evolution for many women after gaining the ability to vote in the 1920’s, many of these customs were still present and are quite evident in Harper Lee’s masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird.

Scout, the protagonist of To Kill A Mockingbird, is presented as a girl with a tomboyish behavior. She gets into fights, is misbehaved, and doesn’t use language considered proper for a girl. It was expected that girls would play with baby dolls and bridal dolls; that they had tea and dress-up parties. It was seen improper for them to participate in rough games, something that Scout is very much involved in.

In the book, The Charm of Fine Manners written by Helen Ekin Starrett, the expectation for girls in the South are quite evident. The behavior of girls and women were seen as obnoxious and disagreeable if they demonstrated forwardness, boldness, and pertness; if they spoke loudly, and expressed their opinions towards everything with lot’s of self confidence. These rare girls would usually attract lot’s of attention and disgust from the society, something that might happen to Scout due to her self confidence while expressing her opinions, and bold behavior.

Furthermore, in an interview that took place in 1993, three women talked about their childhood, and their experience of growing up on the south of the United States in the 1930’s. They were asked if they remembered a special dress code for little girls, and most of them responded to that question referring to the use of trousers (jeans) in comparison to the use of dresses. Mary Ann, one of the three women interviewed said, “We were definitely not allowed to wear pants to school.” Adding on to that, Cecil, another of the women interviewed, stated that wearing blue jeans was seen as informal, and represented poor taste, especially when worn by a girl. In addition, they also discussed about the importance of footwear, and how they weren’t allowed to go barefoot anywhere, since that was seen as pitiful.

In the interview the importance of proper language was also discussed. The three women were asked if there was a special code of behavior for little girls who were expected to grow up to be southern ladies. They immediately answered that girls weren’t supposed to fight or resort to violence while boys could, instead, they were supposed to solve their issues with speech. As well, they were never allowed to use coarse words, and in order to do that they were never allowed to hear them, and most of them never did until they were full grown adults.

The gender norms established during the 1930’s set up expectations for how girls and women dressed, the language they used, and how they behaved. Scout, the protagonist of To Kill A Mockingbird, challenges these norms with her bold attitude, how she dresses, and how she speaks. As a result, this makes me wonder how will her behavior be seen by the small town she lives in, and how might this affect her identity.

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Book Banning

Should book banning ever be acceptable? Well, in my opinion it should never be since it is violating the first amendment of human rights which deals with freedom of expression, and the right of every citizen to express their thoughts. This right has been already challenged, due to the fact that different people have different perspectives on issues, making them have different interpretations of the text and themes included in books, causing individuals to challenge novels and later maybe even ban them.

Schools have been a major source of book banning since they usually ban books they believe are against their ideologies, and might have a “negative” impact on their students. Whether this is acceptable or not depends on the perspective of the individual, but in my opinion this should never happen since it deprives students of gaining knowledge, especially by discussing themes or content that are controversial and might generate a life-changing lesson.

I also disagree with parents as taxpayers and funders of public libraries having the right to choose what books libraries provide, since as stated by Sherman Alexie in the video Sherman Alexie talks to ABFFE about Censorship, “… you know I feel it’s part of their right to decide what their children read, but they don’t get to decide what other children read, they don’t get to decide what a community reads…” This further proves my point since it demonstrates how even though parents might be able to censor the books their children read, they should not have a say on what others read since it would be depriving many other individuals of possible life lessons and teachings the books might have. It is basically depriving knowledge just because of a person’s opinion, which is totally unfair.

There has also been stated to be a line that defines what an author is allowed and isn’t allowed to write about. This is totally ridiculous since it contradicts the first amendment of human rights, depriving authors their right of freedom of speech. Books are considered to cross “the line” when they challenge authorities and ideologies, or “if they deal with issues the government considers sensitive,” as stated in the video No let-up in Jordan’s book censorship policy. This line varies depending on the community and the person, but in my opinion it does not exist since all topics should be able to be discussed even though they might cause discomfort and controversy.

In conclusion, book banning is ridiculous, and a violation of the first amendment of human rights which clearly states every individual should have the right to share their opinion through freedom of speech. Book banning apart of being ridiculous also deprives people from gaining knowledge and learning the different perspectives about a topic, denying them an option to generate their own perspectives on the world.

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Disturbing Decision Made by The Biloxi School District Might Deprive Students of a Valuable Learning Experience?

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The controversial banning of Harper Lee’s masterpiece, To Kill A Mockingbird, from the Biloxi school curriculum, has lead to a nation wide reaction as shown in Sun Herald’s article, Why did Biloxi pull ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from the 8th grade lesson plan? By Karen Nelson. Kenny Holloway, vice president of the Biloxi School Board, stated that there were complaints about the book and the terminology used in it. “It made people uncomfortable”, he said, therefore, they decided to remove it from the eighth grade’s curriculum. This caused many to disapprove of the decision. Various people are referring to it as a disturbing case of censorship since they believe that even though, the book might use “offensive” language, the overall learning is truthful and amazing. I believe the banning of To Kill A Mockingbird from the eight grade school curriculum might deprive students from having a learning experience. However, people tend to only focus on the terminology and events the novel uses and expands upon, blocking the meaningful life lessons it teaches to the readers, leading to the intolerable banning of the novel.

Society, ashamed of some events that have been done, are now considered terrible and inhumane. They always try to cover up their mistakes, so that the next generation doesn’t know about them. In my opinion, this is unacceptable as these events should be known by the future generation in order to learn from the mistakes and not repeat such inhumane acts. Readers of To Kill A Mockingbird have also found it quite disturbing that students at the Biloxi school district won’t get to read this illustrious book just because of the usage of the “N” word. Moreover, this novel has been stated to teach really good and strong lessons for teenagers, as stated by a reader of Harper Lee’s novel, “… the themes in the story humanize all people regardless of their social status, education level, intellect, and of course, race”. Consequently, now that the children at these schools will not read To Kill A Mockingbird as a part of their curriculum, they are deprived of a material that could have been life changing and meaningful to them.

Before the banning of the book, the Biloxi District also supported the themes the novel approached. According to the article Biloxi School District pulls ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ from eighth-grade lesson plan, “students would learn that compassion and empathy are not dependent upon race and education”, through To Kill A Mockingbird, now absent from the school curriculum. Kenny Holloway replied to these concerns with “we can teach the same lesson with other books”, causing even more controversy, since many people still find it ridiculous to ban a book just because it causes some people to feel uncomfortable. In addition, I think that by banning this masterpiece, even though other books might be able to teach the same lessons, it is incorrect since this novel has had a unique ability to connect with it’s readers, which is not something every book can do. This was also expressed by Chris Sergel, who after being requested to change some of the wording in To Kill A Mockingbird responded, “Being uncomfortable with history is not means to change it, people need to figure out how to confront issues”. Something with which I totally agree on, since I believe that if a book causes controversy, it contains issues worth discussing, and as a society we must confront. As well, I believe this also means that this topics need to be brought up to daily conversation more constantly.

In summary, the banning of To Kill A Mockingbird by the Biloxi School District, in my opinion, shows their ignorance on the necessities of their students. They not only banned a book that is considered a masterpiece of American literature because it made people uncomfortable, but also denied the teaching of strong and beautiful life lessons transferred from book to reader. I believe this is a really disturbing case of censorship, and the banning of the book should be further discussed in order to be sure of making a decision approved by the majority.

 

Words on Wednesday

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Toil

“In order to fulfill our aspirations we must toil,” my father said. “Nothing can be gained without hard work,” he repeated. When I was small I usually never understood what he meant by this; I thought money grew on trees, that the credit card was a magical object with which we could buy whatever we wanted. I didn’t know my father had to work for that money, I thought his job was more of a pastime.

Now, I realize how the world actually works. We must toil to gain what we want because nothing in this life is free. We must toil to become better persons and learn, because the person who does not toil will go nowhere in life. This is the reason I will work hard everyday, to fulfill my aspirations, and become a better person tomorrow.

Poetry Friday

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Five Minutes of Fantasy

Suddenly it is morning, again, so tiring, devoid of excitement. It is amazing how night can seem to only last five minutes.We close our eyes and enter a dream realm, where all of our most fantastic fantasies can come true. Sometimes, I just dream about chocolate; how it’s delicious sweet taste melts inside my mouth like ice cubes in summer. Other times, I tend to dream about school; how I overcome my fears with the might of a bullet.

It’s fascinating how our mind can create such figments; they always seem to trick my with the realistic feeling of joy or terror they make me feel. Then I hear the boisterous and perfect timed sound of the alarm clock, and enter reality once again.

Dreams are supposed to give us hope; to show us how good life can be. Occasionally I would love to stay there. In this particular place, where no one ages and every wish can come true.

For more Poetry Fridays click here.

Memoir Monday

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They Always Know Best

We ran through the field without stop, no time to rest, or else he would catch you. We ran, we ran, we ran. We passed through the tunnel and even the veranda, then we got to a little cement area. I continued to run as fast as I could but couldn’t help but trip on a thin cement elevation. I immediately checked my knees which were in terrible pain. Then, blood began to burst out in gigantic amounts from both of my knees, specially the right one. I instantly began to cry, I was in second grade after all.

My friends, Clementina, Victoria, Manuel, and Matias took me to the nurse’s room, but she wasn’t there. I had to wait for several minutes until she finally arrived and did what she thought was best; clean both of my knees, and put a medium sized band-aid on top of the ginormous scrape on my right knee, and a small band-aid on top of  the medium sized scrape on my left knee.

I stayed the rest of the day at school with a paper towel in my hand. Blood was flowing down my knees and falling on the ground, but every time I decided to ask the nurse for another band-aid she would refuse and say it would get better if I left it uncovered. I left the nurse’s room, again, but didn’t take the wet band-aid off, at least it helped me cover some parts of the wound.

I got home with my two knees swimming in blood and hurting terribly; then my mom took a look at me. I saw her analyze the situation carefully, and decide to first wash my knees again, then put some cream on, and cover my knees with sticking plaster. She made me feel so much better.

I hugged my mom and thanked her for her help. I instantly recognized that maybe moms do always know best.

To see my first Memoir Monday click here.

 

Slice of Life Thursday

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MUN

I looked at the bulletin board and saw our names written underneath the MUN (Model United Nations) elective. We had made it! Ana and I were the only 8th graders on the list, and once lunch break ended, we were sort of nervous, but still made our way through the door of room 337, where Ms.Meadows awaited for the MUN participants.

We entered and took a sit, ready to start a new experience. I knew I would have to learn many things, such as how the MUN works in relation to the UN, the main organs of the UN, it’s origin , and many other things. Now, I admit that those tasks didn’t bother me at all, and didn’t take away one bit of the excitement I had for learning about the major issues in the world. I felt proud of myself for taking this risk.

Now, I am in an MYP club, with the bigger guys; growing up by taking risks and trying new things, because that’s the best way to live life at it’s maximum.

For more Slice of Life click here

Memoir Monday

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Recitals

“I practiced over and over again. My hands were sweaty, and my body trembling. What if I forgot the song? What if I made a mistake? How would I be able to move on? I had never performed a solo in front of an audience before, and my stage fright was as bad as it could be. Then I remember being called to stage.                                                           “Coming up next is Juliana Giraldo, performing the song “Time to say goodbye.”                  I went on stage and heard applauses, I was terrified, but decided to give this my best shot. Then, I began to play the song I chose with my violin, “Time to say goodbye” by Andrea Bocceli.

While I was on stage performing, I began to feel more comfortable, way more peaceful. Then… SQUEAK! I made a mistake, then, I lost my confidence. I looked at the crowd, but either way kept playing, this time better than before. I gained confidence once again, and finished strong. I was satisfied and relieved, my first performance had been pretty good. I knew I could defeat my fears now, and would perform again sometime soon.”

For more memoir Mondays, click here

Camilo

Based on the vignette: Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark, by Sandra Cisneros

        Your primo Camilo had an accident, Mama says one afternoon in the studio. Se murio, and then just like that, even though trying to look strong begins to cry, my brave Mama cries. I am not used to seeing Mama cry, so I just hug her and hope it will make her feel better.

        I know we will have to honor his death, that there will be a special ceremony just for him, all of my aunts and uncles will be there, all carrying flowers to arrange over his grave because this is how they show appreciation and respect to the dead in this country.

       Because I am the middle child, my mother has told me second, but now it is my responsibility to explain my sister. I will have to explain why Mama is so sad and somber. I will have to tell her to be quiet the rest of the day.

       My Mama, her long hair and long jeans, who begins to cook dinner in the afternoon, who holds her hair with giant clips, drinks her aguapanela, and calls us to eat dinner, today is standing besides me, hugging me.

       And I think if my own cousin died how would I feel. I hug my Mama in my arms. I hug and hug and hug her.

Original vignette: Papa Who Wakes Up Tired in the Dark

 

Dear Diary – Esperanza

Dear Diary,

              Today I had my first day of work, I was really excited at first, but then after some hours of hard work all of that excitement vanished and what I could only feel was fear. I work at Peter Pan Photo Finishers packing negatives with prints in envelopes,  it was really easy but after some time tiring. I looked at everyone and only sat when they did. I took them as an example to fit in.  Then lunch time began. I was really scared to eat alone with all of these strangers, so I ate quickly in one of the washroom stalls, and then returned early to work. I continued to work until break time, I didn’t know what to do or where to go so I just went to the coatroom because there was a bench there.

              Later that day, at the time for the night shift/mid shift an older oriental man said hello. We continued to talk for a while, he kindly offered me his friendship and a spot besides him next lunchtime. It made me feel better. Then he he told me it was his birthday and as a present he wanted me to give him a kiss. I don’t know how I was so foolish, I should’ve known better for what happened that day when we tried on those nice high heels and a bum wanted Rachel to kiss him. I was brainless, naive. I fell under his trap and once I was about to kiss him on the cheek, he grabbed me hardly and kissed me right in the mouth. He didn’t let go. I was scared something else would happen rather than that kiss, that he would rape me, what could I do, I was just a girl, small and vulnerable. Fortunately nothing else happened.

Yours truly,

Esperanza

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