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“Stop it!” I yelled as my voice was starting to hurt more than my head. My sister laughed and pointed, self satisfied, while my mom cupped her hand over her mouth in a failed attempt to conceal her laughter.

“I’m being serious, stop it, right now!!” In rage, I screamed again in my highest, whiniest voice. Another burst of laughter erupted, and tears streamed down my face.

“Sweetie, I’m sorry, Its just difficult to take you seriously sometimes when you are screaming in such a high voice,”  My mom laughed and I backed away.

“ I can’t control my voice!” I yelled in a final attempt, and stormed out of the living room.

Though I don’t anymore, when I was young, I had a very high pitched voice. I was always aware of this when I was little, and more often that not, my voice didn’t matter too much for me. As a little girl, having a voice like mine, along with being shorter than average, was considered cute to my peers. I learned this quickly, and I tried to use it to my advantage.

In kindergarten, pretzel day was the highlight of our school week. On thursdays, our teacher would send us downstairs to a makeshift pretzel stand that the 5th graders ran. Everyone was ecstatic and we would run down to get the first spot in line. Pretzels were only fifty cents, but I was a forgetful kid. I would always try to remember to ask my parents for pretzel money, but I rarely did. When my friends had no money to spare, I was forced to go up to the counter empty handed. I looked up at the big fifth grader and explained in my cutest voice.

“Pleeeeeese?” I asked sweetly. I remember the girl giving me the pretzel, pulling me to the side and saying:

“Don’t tell anyone, okay?” she smiled as she handed me a warm pretzel. I nodded happily and ran back upstairs. I tried using these techniques on my parents, and they began to pay off. I was manipulative and I knew it.

As I got older, my voice began to change. At age eight I still had a high voice, but it had gotten  lower. However, I still wasn’t growing taller and I was easily mistakable for somebody much younger. My so called “techniques” didn’t seem to work on my parents anymore. From years of learning to beg things from my parents or teachers, I seemed to shift into a higher octave when I was pleading. My parents recognized this, and refused to give me what I wanted when I asked for things in that tone. My parents worked with me to stop using that tone, and they would try to alert me when I was doing it. My dad would note my deviousness by saying:

“Zoe you are using your little voice” As an eight year old, this made me angry. Many times I shifted into this voice unintentionally, and I believed I could not control it. When my parents told me otherwise, I would get angry and try to explain to them that it was simply the way I spoke. Ultimately, my high voice became even more common, now happening when I was begging and upset.

By age ten, my high voice had become a part of who I was. My best friends even began to recognize when I went higher. In my family my voice was still present. At that time, our house only had one desktop computer that my older sister and I would share. When we didn’t want to play the same games together, the computer was the center of many of our arguments. One spring morning, we both wanted to get on at the same time, but neither of us was willing to sacrifice for the other. I tried to get her off of the computer chair, but I finally gave up after the realization that getting her off of the chair was nearly impossible. I stormed out of the room and told my sister that she had thirty minutes to play on the computer by herself. I waited patiently and watched the clock as I sat angrily in my room. After the time was up, I ran downstairs and into the computer room to find the door shut. I pushed on the door and felt a weight against the other side.

“Brigit, I know that you are pushing against the door, let me in!” I yelled through the small crack at the bottom of the door.

“No!! I never agreed to your rules!” my sister screamed back. I pushed on the door against my sisters weight. Each time I felt the door open just slightly, and then shut once more. I gave one final push and felt a release. As I gave the hardest push of all, my sister let go of the door and I tumbled face first into the computer room. I sat for a moment, too stunned to get up. I soon rose and began to cry for help. My mom rushed into the room and gave me ice for my head. My mom carefully asked us both what happened. When my sister explained that I had tried to kick her out of the computer room, I was furious. I yelled at her to stop talking, but she continued. I was angry, and nobody could take me seriously.

“I’m being serious, stop it, right now!!” In rage, I screamed again in my highest, whiniest voice. Another burst of laughter erupted, and tears streamed down my face.

“Sweetie, I’m sorry, Its just difficult to take you seriously sometimes when you are screaming in your little voice,”  My mom laughed and I backed away.

“ I can’t control my voice!” I yelled in a final attempt, and stormed out of the living room.

I ran back into my bedroom and slammed my door. A few minutes later I heard a knock. My mom came in and apologized for laughing at me. She said that she knew I couldn’t control my voice, and in fact that wasn’t what they were laughing at at all. My mom was just laughing about how I was overreacting about the computer and my sister agreed. She said that she couldn’t care less what I sounded like, but when I act immature it is hard for her to take me seriously. I thought about what they said and I apologized to them both for acting immature.

Soon after, I outgrew my high voice. After that argument with my mom, I started to notice when I changed my voice. Age has helped me realized how silly my arguments with my sister were. I know now that using my high voice turned into a subconscious way for my brain to get what I wanted, but it did the opposite as I grew up. Though I sometimes still worry about I sound like, I now try to be as candid as possible with my voice. When speaking about language, Mike Rose says in his essay, I just wanna be average: “It is a powerful and effective defence- it neutralizes the insult and the frustration of being a vocational kid, and when preferred, it drives teachers up the wall, a delightful secondary effect. But like on strong magic, it comes at a price.” Oddly enough,  I think that having my high voice taught me that there is always a bad side to the good. The price I thought I was paying ended up being the thing that finally made me realize and grow out of the voice I was using. As clever as I thought I was tricking the 5th graders out of pretzels, that bad habit stuck with me, and has made me who I am today.


A Day Full Of Code Switching

¨Yo bro what you doing.¨

He replied with ¨Bout to go get something to eat.¨

“Tell me how this jawn came up to me today and whisper in my ear. Like she weird forreal like who does that.¨

He says ¨Was she cute. Did she have cake ?¨

I reply with ¨She was okay. She had a little something. Nothing that noticeable but she had something.¨

As my brother and I enter the car on our way to school. I say ¨ Son papi¨ to my dad which is asking for his blessing.

He replies with ¨Dios te bendiga¨ which means “god bless you.”

My brother does the same. As my dad starts the car I turn up the radio. Switching the radio station to 96.5. We start on our way to school. My Dad starts talking about His teenage years. He starts talking about how it was hard for him to learn English and how his accent makes it hard for people to understand.While listening to him I realize that I talk differently depending on my surrounding. Like around my brother and friends I talk less educated and more slang. While around my parents I talk Spanish as well as English on their level of understanding. I also notice I try to talk more standard English in school .Its like I’m a totally different person when I’m in school than when I’m at home. As we arrive to school , My brother and I sign in and walk to a table.

Kareem says “Yo wassup.”

I reply with “sup”

As I walk up to class. I get ready to talk or try to talk standard English to my teacher.

I say “Hello Miss Pavohmov¨

She replies with “Hey Arsenio.”

I asks her “ So how has your day been.”

She replies with “Its been great how about yours.”

I reply with “My day has been good thanks for asking.”

I walk over to my seat and start getting my book out. Is not written in standard English but written in slang like how I speak at home and around friends. Anyways while reading the book I realize that people from the same city speak differently and dress different. An example is myself I’m from North Philadelphia and I say certain things differently compared to someone from South Philadelphia. Miss Pavohmov told us to put our books away and to talk about our books in our groups. I’m the first one to talk in my table about my book while everyone in my group are too shy to go first. I start talking about the main character and the problems he is facing. Once I finish they start talking about their books. Then the class really starts on its lesson.

The school day is finally over and I can go home. I wait for my brother down in the cafe. Once he gets there we leave through the front door.

“So how was your day bro?”

He replies with“It was alright.”

I ask “ have any home work?”

He says “ I have a little bit not that much how bout you?”

I say “ Nothing much just read.”

We arrive at the trolley stop. We both don't speak on the ride to the train station. My brother gives me the look. I nod my head left to right because this is not our stop. Then I rise 1 finger to indicate one more stop. He nods up and down to say okay. Once we get to the train station we walk to the Dirty Broad street line. Once we get there we wait for the train to come which usually doesn't take that long. The train comes and my brother and I enter the train and sit down not talking the whole way there. Once out stop is near I gave him the look then nod up and down indicating that the next stop is our. So we get off the train and wait for the bus to come. I do the same once we are in the bus. We are finally home where I’m free to speak slang English and not get judge by society. Once I’m home I realize that I do a lot of code switching in my daily life.  

I was reading this article called How to Tame a Wild Tongue by Glona Anzaldua.  She starts talking about how she codes switch in her daily life and says, “I may switch back and forth from English to Spanish in the same sentence or in the same word.” When I read that I  understood what she meant. She says she switches from English to Spanish in the same sentence ,I do that that a lot when speaking to my parents. An example is “Mami hoy en escuela nosotros tenemos un project but I don't really understand can you see if you can help me.” I  said mom today we were in school and we have a project but I don't really understand it can you see if you understand it. I don't only do this from English to Spanish I also do it with proper English to slang English. An example is “ Yo bro may I use your pencil.” which rarely happens but does sometimes. The switching from Spanish to English is what I call the language Spanglish. Which is just using Spanish and English in the same sentence.

Anyways enough talking about English. So let me give you some background history. Both of my parents are from the Dominican Republic that's were I get my Spanish accent from. Which I just noticed recently that I had. I also notice that I try to hide my Spanish accent when speaking English or trying to speak standard English. I take pride in my Spanish heritage unlike others who hate it. I take pride in it because that is what makes me unique from everyone else. Then again it leaves me in a disadvantage because some people might not take me as seriously because of my accent.

The reason why I code switch is because I feel comfortable doing it and it makes. When I don't talk on the train and just give out signals to my brother. Or when I speak Spanglish to my mom is because I feel comfortable with doing it. Not because I have to or because I’m force to. I do it because it is a easier way of communicating with my family and friends. I think everyone should code switch if it helps them get their idea across. I think code switching could be good and bad depending on how you are using it. You can use it to communicate to your peers easily or use it to talk trash about someone it all depends on the type of person you are.


How Hackers Do It.

All around the world computers are becoming more and more common in households and everywhere else.  Computers are becoming best friends and not having one means that are missing a lot.  There is endless things to do on computers, such as facebook, instagram and other social networking.  These give hackers more ways to get your information.  But the biggest problem with computers these days is the fact that they are so easy to hack. They can get pictures, contact information, emails, search history, passwords and your money etc. Your information could be everywhere in minutes.  All you have to do is have a computer and the mind of an everyday person and anything can happen.  As new software and devices come out, hackers find ways to get through it. Their traps are getting smarter.  As new devices come out hackers get smarter and smarter, while technology users are falling into the same traps, allowing hackers to gain control of thousands of computers a day.

Everyone has computers now and if one does not then they are missing out on something important.  Seeing kids everywhere using laptops makes others want to buy them.  When a person gets a computer and they are unfamiliar with it, it can be very easy for people to fall into a hacker’s trap.  Some examples of hacker traps are pop ups, using open wifi and sneaking viruses onto downloadable files. To avoid this problem many people  “Use the Same Password for Multiple Accounts.”  ”Sure, using the same password for multiple accounts seems like a great way to save you from having to remember so many passwords, but If a hacker hacks one of your accounts, or your account and password are involved in a data breach, a hacker is likely to try your compromised password to gain access to other accounts”  This is a common mistake that many people make to help themselves remember their passwords.  The smarter thing to do is change the password very little so it is not identical to others.  Another way that people make the mistake is when they “Respond to Pop-up Messages and/or Unsolicited Emails.”  Hackers get people a lot with this mistake because they make the emails seem so real, making people feel that you actually know that person.  These pop-ups tend to reel you in with prize winning and ways to help you or your device.  A lot of people are very gullible so they believe what they see because they think it will benefit them from hackers.  Little do they know they have just been hacked.  The most common mistake is pop ups because hackers can manipulate the pop up causing people to click exactly what they want.  There are many different ways to get hacked and people need to be more conscious of what is real and fake.  

Once they have gotten into a persons computer or device then that person has to do whatever it takes to get rid of them because, what hackers can do, is endless. In minutes all of the data and the person’s information could be in their hands.  This is an interview with a hacker showing what they can achieve through mediocre wifi signals in a person's everyday cafe.  “With the stroke of a few keys, a code flashed by and then suddenly he pulled up a list.  He points to a list of names and phone numbers on the screen.”  “Yes. Absolutely. I can grab the SMS (text messages). I can actually grab the contact of the actual text.”  The easiest access point for hackers is free wifi cafes because they can create what seems to be a normal network connection.  

One of the most common places for a person without internet is a free wifi area/cafe.  People go to these places specifically for internet, so they do not waste any time checking if something seems suspicious.  They join the first network that says it is free and before they are off, they have the hacker already in there computer system.  Hackers make it seem like its working right by putting websites that are popular so that there is no suspicion.  Then within minutes, they have you texts, contacts, passwords and pictures.  With that information they can cause identity theft and more.  

If you want to not be like the people who get hacked, all you have to do is find good ways to avoid hacker traps. Some people are very conscious about where they are and what they do at every moment. Ways to avoid these people are simple. Cover the laptop camera so that if they get into it, they will not be able to take pictures of people while not using your laptop. Next, be careful when downloading software updates. “When companies discover vulnerabilities in their software that hackers can exploit, they send out security patches to solve the problem that appear in the form of pop-ups or download prompts.” Finally, anything that is not 100% clean, such as emails do not open or answer to. These days people need to be very sure when making decisions like those.  

Technology is a need to know part of life these days.  More inexperianced people feel that they need to own computers and fancy phones because others have it.  This is not true.  Before buying a device of some sort people should first learn some safety precautions because they become the easiest targets for hackers. Hackers traps are getting smarter. Computers are a way of life these days causing more people to buy computers.  As new devices come out hackers get smarter and smarter causing people to fall into their well thought out traps, gaining control of thousands of computers a day.

Works Cited:

Donnell, Andy O' "5 Common Mistakes That Might Get You Hacked."About. Andy O'Donnell Security Expert, n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.

Sutta, David. "How Hackers Are Using Free Wi-Fi To Steal Your Information - CBS Miami." CBS Miami. David Sutta, 24 Sept. 2014. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

"What Hackers Do." What Hackers Do. EBOOK, 2000. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.

Thomsen, Jacqueline. "How to Avoid Hackers, from Cyber Security Experts on Campus." Newsroom How to Avoid Hackers from Cyber Security Experts on Campus Comments. Jacqueline Thomsen, 13 Sept. 2014. Web. 07 Oct. 2014.


Farsi: The Language I Never Learned

“Chiara, bia enja.” [Chiara, come here.] said my father.

“Baba, metoonim berim bozi conim?” [Dad, can we go play?]

“Yek lahzeh lotfan.”[One second, please]

“Boshe Baba.”[Okay dad.]

I walked over to my dad, waiting for him to be done sweeping the floor. I wanted to go play with the soccer ball. It was Sunday, this meant I’d only have an hour before I had to leave for Farsi school. I really liked it there. The only bad part was the drive over. It took an hour! I always got antsy in the car.

We arrived at the doorstep of the school. The dark wooden doors were tall and heavy. I placed my hands on the doors, and pushed. I could never open the door, my dad always had to help me. As I walked in I could smell the rice. They always cooked food for the parents. They would sit down around the sofre, a table on the floor. A table cloth is placed on the floor, everyone sits around it and eats there. It is a traditional Iranian way of eating with friends and family. I saw my teacher waiting by the door to the class, I ran over, excited for the day’s lesson.

“Carfsh unja bezar.” [Put your shoes over there] my teacher says pointing to the shoe closet.

“ Salam, shoma chetur hastin?” [Hello, how are you?] I said.

“Khoob, va shoma?” [Good, and you?]

“Khoob”[Good]  I said as a smile crossed my face. I ran into the classroom, excited for today’s class. This time in my life reminded me a lot of a story I read called The Woman Warrior. In the story the author states “There we chanted together, voices rising and falling, loud and soft, some boys shouting, everybody reading together, reciting together and not alone with one voice.” She attended a school that taught her, her native language.

My sister was in the class with the older kids. I could not wait to go to that class. They got to learn how to read and write Farsi! The letters are so different, easily mistaken for Arabic. I love the Farsi language, it is like a skipping rock. You throw the rock and it hits the waters surface, flying. You keep looking at it until it stops.

I never got to take that class, though. The school moved even farther away, I was no longer able to attend. I had not completed the speaking part of school. I spent less hours speaking Farsi. My father was at work most of the day. I spoke Farsi less and less. This took a detrimental turn in my life.

I was about five years old when I stopped attending Farsi school. I was just beginning to get into real elementary school. I still attended Italian school every Saturday. Two languages swirled around the house. Italian was spoken to my mom but when my dad arrived home from work we all spoke Farsi to each other. As the years went on, English became the prominent language. Three children in one house who used to speak comfortably in the Italian and Farsi language soon began speaking more fluently in English. My brother, sister and I began to speak to each other in English, a decision that would impact us harshly.

“Posso andare fuori con amici stasera, Mama?” [Can I go out with some friends tonight, Mom?] asked my sister, Darya.

“Si a che hora?” [Yes, at what time?]

“Non lo so, come le quattro? [I’m not sure, like four?]

“Okay, fa mi quidere a Baba.” [Okay, let me ask Dad.]

“Grazie.” [Thank you.]

Most of our conversations now consist of three languages. My mom speaks Italian to us, and Farsi to my father. My dad speaks Farsi to all of us. Meanwhile we speak all three, English being the one we use most. I am able to communicate with my Italian side of the family through messages and phone calls. But because I never learned to read and write in Farsi, I am not able to communicate with my Iranian family members over social media. They live miles away on a different continent, a different time zone. A completely different land. I am only able to speak to them over phone, video chat, or when I see them in person.

I wish so much to read and write in Farsi. To speak to my family whenever I want, not having to wait for a phone call or a visit that happens once every two years. My mother leaves notes written in Italian on the kitchen table, telling us what to cook or when she will be back. She texts my sister and I in Italian. We write to our cousins in Italy through Whatsapp. My father never got the luxury to do that. He was never able to teach his children everything about his language, something that created who he was.

Over the years we have tried to learn how to read Farsi and we have made little accomplishments. A couple years back, we began to conduct our own little Farsi class at home. My mom and dad pulled out old books that teach children how to read Farsi. This was the beginning of our language homeschooling. I can now read Farsi when written in the English alphabet. However I do not do this with the grace I wish I had. I still stumble over words and hesitate when reading it.

No longer do we have our little Farsi school at home. But the classes that I have had made a huge impact on me. I found myself through my mother tongues. Although I am most comfortable in the English language, I do not consider it to be the thing that has shaped me into the person I am today. All the discipline I was taught, came from Farsi. Each language has had a factor in creating who I am today. Farsi shaped the way I speak. Not only the way I speak to family, but friends and elders. People have different dialects and we can argue that, that is what defines a person but I believe it is what shapes a person.

Language has the power to create us into influential beings. The power I possess by knowing how to speak three languages is enormous. It will allow me to get far in my life, it has given me the power to communicate with relatives and understand multiple cultures. I have been blessed with the ability to fit into a culture so beautiful and creative. Language has given me the power to find myself, to know who I want to be, to know how to be. Farsi has taught me that every human can possess elegance, language has the power that allows you to hold true to yourself and your morals.


Racial Slurs

People are starting to use racial slurs in their daily lives through conversations and even in an educational environment. It seems to be very common in the teen and younger societies but when looking deeper into the topic, racial slurs have become increasingly more popular. This is because of how exposed teens are to these words in their everyday lives, through school, social media and even through music. Using racial slurs is perpetuating stereotypical treatment among minorities.

Racial slurs have been prevalent in America for many years. The racial term “Nigger” derived from many different types of languages. Such as the latin and spanish  terms “niger” and “negro” which both mean the color black. By the 1800’s the term “nigger” has become known as a derogatory term used against African Americans. Every ethnic group have experienced their fair share of slurs. Over time the vocabulary of americans has changed.

Stereotypes can be found anywhere, and even as a form of communication among teenagers. Now a days with social media and different forms of technology, vocabulary has been changed and adapted. Slang, which is commonly used by teenagers, is changed throughout generations. Words like “nigga” or “cracker” are slowly being accept and used to refer to people.  There was an article that talked about such terms by the Teaching Tolerance organization that read, “Much of the commercial hip-hop culture by black males uses the n-word as a staple. White youths, statistically the largest consumers of hip-hop, then feel that they can use the word among themselves with black and white peers (HMC)” The n- word is used among friends and is usually accepted by people of the african american culture but now when different races use it, it is not taken as lightly. With music and things of the sort that boundary has been blurred. It is an insult that, overtime, has been transformed into a term of endearment.

“Nigger”, “Nigro”, “Nigga”, all forms of the same derogatory term used against blacks. With the amount of minorities and blacks attending public high schools. An article titled Racial/Ethnic Enrollment in Public Schools says,  “From fall 2001 through fall 2011, the number of White students enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade in U.S. public schools decreased from 28.7 million to 25.6 million... number of Hispanic and Black students enrolled during this period increased from 8.2 million to 11.8 million students. (MAB)” With the number of blacks and minorities that attend high school increasing, slurs like nigga, etc. are used more. Even if the term is not used in an “offensive way” the term is still prevalent in their vocabulary.

When asked, teens might say that certain racial slurs are okay if they’re used by someone  of that race but when used by someone who’s not... it becomes an issue. But on closer inspection, racial slurs are racial slurs, period. Using them on your own race does not make it any better or justify it anymore/less. Overtime teens have been exposed to so many racial slurs that they have learned to overlook and and those words have made their way into their everyday vocabulary. The true definition and meaning behind offensive terms such as “nigger” have faded and are less offensive because of the fact that they’re becoming a form of endearment among people and have begun to be accepted into people’s daily lives.

Works Cited:


"Straight Talk about the N-Word." Teaching Tolerance. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.



"Racial/Ethnic Enrollment in Public Schools." National Center for Education Statistics. Common Core Data (CCD), n.d. Web.


My Revisions:

In this 2fer revision my main focus was to fix any grammar errors especially spelling and things of the sort. I also went over the comments that were made on my google doc by peers and Ms. Pahomov and then incorporated them into this revision of my 2fer. I also worked on my conclusion and worded it better. 

"Bad Blood"

The evolution of technology within the medical field has taken on a vast development allowing for more effective treatment options for diseases, that affect everyday life factors for many people. From insulin for diabetes, to the treatments of one particular genetic disease, hemophilia The lack of medical precaution taken for the developing treatments for hemophilia is a prime example of the vast amount of leniency our government allows in regards to public health.

Hemophilia is a genetic disease found in the X chromosome that affects the clotting factor within blood (Factor IV). Without this particular factor found in blood a patient can find themselves in excruciating pain after they have had a paper cut, or hit there leg on a chair, because their bodies to not contain the proper factor within them to stop bleeding. This results in cases of internal bleeding and death from excessive loss of blood. From the early 1940’s up until the late 1950’s treatments for these bleeds consisted of transfusions of whole blood in order to replace the factor in order to be rid of the bleed and allow the blood to clot. The issue with this is that one can have patients sit through the excruciating pain of the bleed for hours even days to be rid of it. This caused the lives of hemophiliacs to be long and painful. In 1957 Charles R Drew discovered the use of a discarded substance while researching blood. This was the plasma which could be separated from whole blood in order to suffice as a quicker and safer means of curing bleeds. It was able to be packaged and sold to hospitals for the treatment of hemophiliacs from Hours or days of excruciating pain to merely one or two hours due to the waiting room. However while this development was a breakthrough the real means to a normal life for hemophiliacs came several years down the line in the mid 1960’s where the separation of complete factor from plasma became possible.

This breakthrough in science allowed for a convenient and normal lifestyle for hemophiliacs. Now able to play sports and partake in extra curricular without the strain of and constant anxiety of a bleed. Nevertheless where hope seems to shed its light we begin to see a dark truth behind the curtain of such a miracle. In order to supply and maintain a proper or substantial amount of blood toward hospitals, several blood banks had imposed locations within impoverished areas where one could donate blood and receive a cash compensation for their donation. However the predicament one can often find in offering money for donations such as blood allows a motive for people to lie about their health. For instance, if a heroin addict who has been diagnosed with HIV is offered an easy and quick way to earn money, they would have no concern for those who would be receiving the blood that they have donated but that of their own well being. Also withholding the factor of testing peoples blood to save time and resources those who could have been infected had given blood. The method of which blood was processed to create factor was also irresponsible. Blood from several different people regardless of type, conditions, and age, were being to mixed together in large basins in order to process and separate factor from blood more quickly in larger amounts. Therefore if we return to the blood bank where someone has contracted HIV/AIDS virus and gave their blood in order to receive cash and their blood is then mixed into these large basins where the blood is processed the entire supply of blood has been infected.

This entire system of giving taking and processing blood resulting in a massive outbreak of HIV among American Hemophiliacs using the factor IIIV. This was at about the same time that HIV had become a worldwide epidemic and hit the US resulting in homophobia and fear of hemophiliacs who had also contracted the disease. Despite these horrific circumstances there was never a recall of the Factor IIV, instead a warning label had been placed upon the bottle and those who were more aware or afraid of them or their children contracting HIV had gone back to the use of whole plasma which was a longer process but much safer. However the use of plasma for treatment had become nearly obsolete since the development of the separation of factor IIV. The pharmaceutical companies who had allowed this amount of harm to come to innocent people were never required to submit to a recall or nor were they required refund those who had been infected and continued to profit off of their treatments.

When asked, the medical industry in charge of the developing treatments for hemophilia might say that because of its rarity it was not a priority to seek out treatment therefore more strict regulations were not called for, but on closer inspection the issue was not with the priorities of the diseases, but with that of profit for there was no immediate recall of factor IV in fact there never was one.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

“Ind whaat jid ju du?

A sudden pause into awkwardness and then resume back into the lady with orange hair, whose name at this time I do not yet know, seeming unusually curious about who this me,  she knows as a stranger, is.

She turned her head fast enough for me to notice her hair swing and her question was posed to me even before her eyes met mine.

As I could sense, my mom gave me a serious doubtful, worrying look, telling me that “I’d better get these words out if I know what’s best for me.”

Without turning my head I move my eyes out of the direction of the lady and towards my mom, searching for wisdom through her expressions.

She attempts to mouth the words over to me, I wished she would have actually spoke these words, as whatever it is she tried to tell me, I did not understand.

“ Ju herd me? I say what jid ju du?”

“I uh...I live with her,  in Phili-Philadelphia, you know because she is my mom.” Sure that I answered her question pretty spot on I attempt to start a quick session of laughter up.

“What?! No what ju do? What ju did?

My mouth went slightly agape as I slowly tried to blow some type of response out of my mouth. There was no hope. The woman’s accent was too strong to understand, it was incomprehensible, this short lived conversation came to a fast and sad death. With her tolerance level reaching the lowest level and me killing some of her confidence, I decided enough was enough. I figured that now, the best thing would be to resort back to the language that my mother taught me, and what I believe every human that exists, and has existed speaks, Body Language.

My mouth, slightly agape, and with my heightening eyebrows, shaking head and guessing face, I told her that I was unsure about what she said.

My mom shakes her head in disappointment.

The orange hair lady silently, approvingly nodding her head but in a disapproving manner, as if she knew from the beginning of my incompetence. She took to head turns above me, to the left then to the right and spotted something that would give her the opportunity to leave. She slowly turned away and began stepping as if to say either that we are somewhere under her or that, at least, the situation had gotten too awkward for her to take part in further. And though this was how she walked, I got the strange sense that we were both somewhat relieved to have ended this conversation.

There’s multiple layers to Body Language, though words tend to have their own days of complexity, Body Language is an entirely different book, there’s different rules, different meanings. A yawn in your 3rd period class is different than a yawn at midnight, trying to type up a paper. If you can learn anything from a person by them just opening their mouths, then Body Language is going to give you an entire backstory on a person, or people I should say. With this in mind I’m feeling out everyone’s handshake, actions speak louder than words.

My mom then took a step closer to me and gave me a firm slap on the head. She told me to “ Act like you got some sense,” or some similar phrase she could use to demonstrate her anger towards me, the words I felt redundant because she had already sent her feelings through with the slap. Apparently this lady was her co worker, really high up in the workplace and had such a relationship with the boss that she could bring some notice to my mom and maybe put a good word in for her. Her techniques were pretty sad and desperate, if you were to ask me, but I didn’t care for long as I remembered well she did walk away from the conversation. We talked about what happened for a bit, then I decided I’d take a break and let my mom try to sell herself elsewhere. The fruit punch dispenser seemed might inviting, and by it was a bench that I could sit down on, so this is where I would spend the next while.

I set back, slouched and relaxed, drinking fruit punch in my suit, watching my mom making her way into the next conversation, this one seemed to be going well.  I took my eyes off of her gazed around at the others in this work-party-event and how their conversations were going, these well too. They all worked together for years, so they all pretty muched knew each other, one another’s lifestyle, story, about their family and what not, so each conversation seemed genuine, and “active.” They were practically dancing, in my eyes, everyone moving their arms about and describing…

“He’s this big now…”

I heard a woman yell out, it was funny watching how people socialized using their bodies, I began to study to see how, but I fell right to sleep, with the fruit punch still between my hands.

“What joins all languages, and all men, is the necessity to confront life, in order, not inconceivably, outwit death…” these were the words that began my dream. “People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances…”

I dream of dolphins. A pack of dolphins swimming together, they’re in search of a meal. They realize that hunting as an individual is not a viable tactic for any of them, their prey will easily escape their reach, I watched by on the sideline, as I did with the people in this event tonight. I observed the pack surround a school of fish. The dolphins use a language of their own, with clicks and ultrasounds and slowly, but surely, the dolphins found what is is they wanted.

“There have been, and are, times, and places, when to speak a certain language can be dangerous, even fatal,” the voice said to me, I was unaware of who the voice was, and had no time to identify it, the scene shifted, as dreams do.

I’m now observing hornets. Personally I hate hornets and am usually terrified by them, but at this particular moment I grew a bit of sympathy for them. Humans are fairly destructive creatures by their nature, and my dream instinct told me immediately they were here to build, and inevitably kill hornets. Little do they know, they had already communicated enough language to the point to bring out the Giant Hornets, and have the hornets kill them all. Hornets are very territorial, and to them, the humans sent a message of threat to their hives. I watched safely away as the hornets relentlessly stung them each one by one.

I woke up, disrupted by the clapping in the room. I looked up to see everyone who had been standing up “dancing,” now sitting, facing the direction of a projection of what had seemed to be a short movie or something with excerpts from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I tried my way back to sleep only had the time to identify the speaker as Mr.Cohen, he had been reading it to us, he read them from a passage written by James Baldwin, then in what seemed to be no time, I woke up again with another firm slap.

“Get up!” My mom sits down next to me.

I look up at her like it’s 8 am on a school day, the presentation is still going, so as I do in mornings, I took some time to think. “What joins all languages, and all men, is the necessity to confront life, in order, not inconceivably, to outwit death...” a quote by James Baldwin, in his “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” If there is a time when a living thing needs another living thing, struggles without it or can helped with it, language is born, body language is. This is the truth, James Baldwin. So If there is a creature with some type of intelligence, or some type of conscious, then it has used body language.  And from body language alone, you know who I am, or at least what I am. I am human. I am human and I do
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“In the Flesh” and Social Issues

Issues that affect society’s current status quo have long been represented in popular culture and has been addressed in numerous TV shows, one of which is the Award-winning BBC series “In the Flesh”. In the show, it presents a modern day world in which, in the aftermath of a zombie uprising, the government has found medication to replace the dead brain cells in zombies, with living functional ones, basically restoring who they were before, however their skin pigment and eyes are still in an undead state, but otherwise they are essentially fully functional members of society. They require daily medication to keep them from turning into a rabid state, in which they crave human flesh. These zombies, or suffers of Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS) as they call them in the show, have found themselves at the subject of discrimination that can easily reflect current social issues. Through this plot device, “In the Flesh” shows parallels to social issues that people struggle with today such as homophobia, beauty standards and racism.

One example of a modern day issue that “In the Flesh” parallels is homophobia. The main character who this can compare this to is Rick Macey. In the show Rick is a soldier who died in 2009 during the war in Afghanistan, resurrected as a zombie the following year after his death (like everyone else in the show who died in 2009), later received medication for his rabid state and returned home to a father who is outspoken in his hatred of PDS suffers or “rotters” as he calls them. Rick and his father are both in complete denial about who he is and where even willing to coldly kill a rabid PDS suffer. However once Rick comes to terms with his identity his father cold- heartedly kills him. This can relate to any coming out story in which the response is negative, like 19-year old Daniel Pierce in Georgia who in August 2014, came out and received a  “...wound came from his stepmother, who punched him in the mouth during the altercation that can be overheard in the video.” The TV series is able to show that even someone’s family can attack and hate them for who they are, which is a difficult situation that many like Rick Macey and Daniel Pierce find themselves in. When someone can see how horrible a situation is from the outside there can greater action taken against it, like on the support Daniel Pierce has received since the video went out from his friend allowing him to stay in his house to the multiple videos of support and outcry made in response to the original video. Like the Daniel Pierce video, the scene that Rick is found dead by his own father’s hands is suppose to be gut wrenching to the audience and both create a genuine pity for these people/ characters, giving a name, face and tragedy to their suffering.

Another example comes from PDS users wearing makeup and how it reflects standards of beauty, especially in women. In the show it is considered the norm for PDS suffers to wear cover-up moose and contacts to hide their visible undead features, however certain PDS inflicted members consciously choose not to wear makeup and take pride in their natural self. One character who does this is Amy Dyer, who contracted such hatred from a bigoted man that he forcibly applied makeup on her. This is a reflection on beauty standards in today's, particularly in women and the pressure to wear makeup to ‘keep up appearances’. To combat this stigma celebrities like Beyonce and Gwyneth Paltrow, like Amy Dyer, have proudly gone on display and have chosen not to wear makeup to try to change the standard of beauty. With this example it is easy to see not only a reflection onto a modern day issue in the show but that there are people; good, kind,and great people who actively fight against it however they can.

A third example comes from a remark that was said in regards to a man who shot and killed several PDS suffers, but received a reduced prison sentence because technically he was “only taking half a life.” This can be connected racism and how crimes against minorities are not always met with the appropriate justice. Take for example, the Ferguson Shooting case in which officer Darren Wilson shot and killed an unarmed young black man and has not been arrested as of 3 months since the incident. The episodes were broadcast before this incident occurred which demonstrates that the show can be relatable to subjects and current events that hadn’t even occurred when they were first made. The Ferguson shooting is just one of many very similar incidents that the show parallels in which minorities have been killed and whose killers haven’t received justice, showing it’s clear relevance in today’s society.

Although the television series "In the Flesh" may only seem important to It's fans, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about social injustice in the world today. In the show suffers of Partially Deceased Syndrome (PDS for short), face discrimination that is akin to real life examples of bigotry such as racism, homophobia or standards of beauty. Representations of issues that plague society on a television series can sometimes shed light to a broader audience and call attention to a lesser known stigma. An example is the popular series “Orange is the New Black” and how that lead to more knowledge on the Transgender issue so much that it’s Trans cast member was on the cover of Time magazine. Now, the series “In the Flesh” can shine further light on issues like homophobia, beauty standards and racism.

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Mixed Up Dari

Haisha Hahsy

E Band

Mixed up Dari

I’m outside walking with a couple of friends and just relaxing or just meeting up with my mother and as soon as I see her I say, “hey mommy, how are you”?. The second I put my foot through my home’s door it’s “Salam madar jan chi tor asti” ?.  Home is where I automatically go into being full Afghan when I talk (I speak the language of Dari which is like Farsi and Persian).  I go from ‘sup’ to ‘asalam’. Home makes me into an Afghan and makes me feel more like me, it feels comfortable. When I am with Afghan friends or family I usually talk Dari with them but for some odd reason I talk English with the other teens even if they are afghan or do understand Dari.

  • Just got home from school

Asslam Alikum mathar (Hello mom)

Salam Aisha   (Hi Haisha)

Chi tor asti? (How are you?)

Khoob, chi tor bood maktab? (Good, how was school?)

Khoob bood, chi tor bood rosazat? (It was good, how was your day?)

  • Meet up with mom outside from school

Hey mom

Hi Haisha

How are you?


How was school?

It was good, how was your day?

  • With Afghan 15 year old, friend who understand Dari

Hey, what’s up?

Nothing much Haisha how about yourself?

Nah just school keeping me busy.

Yah, I noticed.

Sorry I haven’t been able to get in that much contact with you this week. I have benchmarks now so just a little busier than usual.

I think that I have adapted to speaking English with teenagers because I always do at school. I only speak English to grown ups because they don’t know how to speak Dari. I was born in America but my ethnicity is Afghani. While most of my friends and family were all born in Afghanistan; because I have no family in America. My father moved to America more than 20 years ago because of the war in Afghanistan; leaving him only with my mother when he got married. My family and I would usually try to go back home to Afghanistan every 2 years during the summer. I would be so happy to go and see my friends and family.

Of course everything has it’s good and it’s bad. The bad for me is that the one thing  made me nervous,  that was my own family.  What were they excepting from me? What do they think I am like now, have I changed from last time? Before I went back home there was some time in between where I would freak out a little because of the way I talk.  I can’t say  some words properly or understand really good vocabulary. In America my dari is fine but when I go back home I’m with the professionals.  Sometimes my sentences get translated from English to Dari and; that just messes up everything for example, ‘I like apples’ to ‘apples like I’.

I mean my family sees me after so long, what do they think I’m like now? Have I matured or have I become better? These questions are things that roam in my mind. Then I’m like what if I know everything in the world but don’t know how to speak. What if Albert Einstein didn’t know how to speak properly, people would have not taken him seriously and people would have made fun of him. A magician without it’s materials. A author without a pen and paper. A teacher without a class. A genius that’s a mute.  What’s today’s date?  Today’s date is Nov. 5, 2014 turns into 2014 5, Nov.

  • With family and talking with my uncle

Chi ra mekhani? (What are you reading?)

“The House of The Scorpion” minta tanha tha hawala astom (“The House of The Scorpion” but I’m still in the beginning.)

Ko bogo mara, chi ra zat tha maktab kosh dari? (ok tell me, what is your favorite subject in school?)

Zehat science kosh daram! (I love science (In dari science is science.))

Zehat chizar me fami da science? (Do you know a lot of things about science?)

Khoob astom diga. (I’m ok.)

Ko, bo go can sala ast zahmean? (ok, tell me how old is earth?)

Tar havei 4.52 billion sal.  (About 4.52 billion years old.)

Chi dorhast aftow az zahmean? (How far away is the sun from the earth?)

Aftow 90 milard mil dorhast

(The sun is 90 million miles away is what i tried to say but; what I really said was miles million 90 away.)

*Everyone cracks up, me in wonder of what I did wrong or funny? This was something that got me heated up and with so many questions in my mind.

Chi qism mahtab rosani couldra me gerata? Aya mahtab as could noor darat? (How is the moon a lit? Or is the moon a lit by itself?)

*I thought long and hard for this questions for it was on the tip on my tongue; with my uncle waiting for my answer.

Neh, noor na darat az could. Mahtab roshai could asz aftab megarat. (No, the moon is not a lit by itself. The moon gets it’s light from the sun; is what I thought I said by what I really said is itself by lit a not the no, sun from the light gets moon the.)

There I was in Afghanistan with tears running down my cheeks. I remember how much they made fun of me and laughed at me and didn’t take me seriously. All it takes is to make one mistake; and everyone is making fun of you saying no that’s wrong you are dumb.    “The most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity.” This is a quote by James Baldwin in his article of ‘If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What is?.”  I say that’s messed up even though it may be kind of true. The way that I messed up at points divorced me from serious family talks; and from people not taking me seriously when I most wanted. Language is a like a type of special power. If you don’t use the right language you don’t have the power. Like I gave the example of Einstein not being able to talk.  Just like I wasn’t born in Afghanistan to know everything fluently; just like they are not so good at speaking English (except some people, example: students and people working with Americans) I’m not very good at Dari. Then of course Dari is my mother’s language the language of where I am from. I should know Dari better than English for it is my real language.  I started being more quiet but my family realized fast. I started leaving rooms as fast as possible and went somewhere;where no one else was so I don’t have to talk and make fun of myself.

Of course my family noticed quickly on why I was so quite. I am naturally a very talkative and loud person when I’m in a good mood that is but when I am sad you won’t even notice me there; I’m guessing most people are like that. My family asked what’s wrong and of course I was the one to say nothing but in reality I was feeling really bad. Then finally my aunt, Shabna came to me privately and asked what’s wrong and I told her everything. She said I should not be quite that’s the last thing to do. Shabna said “you can’t learn by being quiet you have to keep on trying to learn and get what you're not good at even if that goal is hard. Keep practicing and keep trying to get everything together. Just don’t stop out of nowhere because that will get you no where”.

I took her advice and came back into conversations and I thought everything out before I spoke and over the summer I got better and better. It may seem that only a summer of this wasn’t so long but actually it is very long. Think you are with family after long you understand what they are saying; but you are not sure if what you're saying is correct or not and in response you get a laugh every time not sure of what you did wrong. It’s harder than it seems or hears.   

No matter how hard something seems you always have to look over it and say I can fix this; I can bring everything altogether. I have learned that no matter what you have to face what seems the hardest; you always have to try in order to get whatever you want done. Even if it means moving mountains or people or oceans of tears. Get through what you think will help you in the end.  After all, practice does makes perfect. So maybe it you play around and practice on how to fix problems; then next time you will just become perfect. Isn't life about fixing and overcoming problems anyway?

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Get It Right

Laughter in the air as we are all gathered around the table at the restaurant “ The Lunch Box.” It was our normal get together lunch spot we go to whenever we head up to the mountains in Everett County Pa. Me and my family all catch up with each other talking about how school and work are going.

“What would y’alls like to drink?” The waiter says.

Everyone gets soda and tea besides me.

“Can I get a wader please.” I say

Everyone starts laughing, I do as well I thought maybe they were laughing at the waiter on how she said y’alls instead of saying “what would everyone like to drink.” Then they all look at me still laughing I had a weird feeling they were laughing at me. But why would they?

“ It’s pronounced water with a t not wader with a d.” My cousin Abby said

“That is the way I say it and it is the way we say it in Philly.”I said

“Well Philly people talk funny. ” Abby says.

“Well we talk normal you people talk funny.” I said.

At this point we were getting a little too loud and as we were all talking loud people from different tables were staring at us. I couldn’t take it anymore I had to leave so I threw my metal fork against my glass plate which caused it to make a loud “ding” noise. I stormed out of the restaurant as fast as I could. She really made me mad how she said that the way we talk is funny.

This is a common thing and happens often to me when I am not around other people from Philadelphia. Where you live shapes the way you speak, and how a person uses words. For example people in the country would say, “let me go get that thing” and  Philly would say, “let me go get that jawn.” Another example is when people with country accents say “oh my stars” and Philly people say it as “oh my gosh.” People tend to think that the way my family from Bedford and Everett county talk is the right way, and that everyone else talks wrong. There is no right or wrong on the way a person speaks, yes there may be differences in the way people talk but, it doesn’t mean something is necessarily wrong.

I personally think that language has almost everything to do with what is said about you as a person, and it also does not. I think so because depending on where you are raised reflects on how you speak. It usually happens when you are a baby learning how to talk and get use to the way people talk, and since everyone talks that way you think of it as the right way to talk. New words are created all the time, for example we recently created the word “ratchet” which is another word for saying that’s dirty. We could say it as “that’s ghetto” but we choose not to because people think that since everyone else says ratchet that they should to since it is popular and it then becomes the correct way.

I believe that the way my voice sounds is it is more open to others. I say this because even though I get mad at them for trying to correct what I say, I still give their way of speaking a shot because I like to see the change in how my country and others are different and similar in some ways. When I talk to friends people say I talk in slang when to me its just my normal self talking and being able to open up myself to people. At school I try not to talk in slang because apparently, it is not ok to talk that way people say. However it is just talking to me, honesty its not something someone means it is just words that people pick up from where they live or visit. For example in the summer I went up the mountains for a week and I started talking like them I started to say “water” instead of “wader” but when I got back to Philly I noticed I started to say “wader” again, so that is when I really knew that it all has to do with where you are because you just start picking up words without even noticing you did.

I think language can also intersect with identity in a lot of ways. I think this because when a person says a word like “u” instead of “you” or says something from their country that other people would not understand then people would identify them as ghetto, weird, etc… Even though they don’t know how the person really is, but you judge them on the way they speak. Other people just think that because they think they talk right because they say a whole sentence instead of creating one simple word like, we do in Philly.

I believe that power is something you have control of, and language is something that just comes naturally to you. You have the power of whether you say something or not, but you don’t have the power of what you say because you only know what you are taught from around you. Something you say is what you know and how you know when to use it. But the power does help you say something the way you want it to be said.So I think they have a very close relationship, because they both are needed as important parts to language.  

It is like in the “James baldwin” essay we read in class he basically states that there is no right or wrong way a person speaks. It is their way of talking and living. One group of people may talk one way and you talk another it does not make them right because everything makes you who you are as a person because of the knowledge you have in your surroundings.


Control the Language

The date was February 19th, 2011. I was a video game addict and I played 8 hours a day. I was addicted ever since I got my first xbox when I was 5. I couldn’t get off it. I started playing video games at the age of 3 (when I got my first Nintendo 64). My parents thought that I had a serious problem because they would hear me screaming, shouting, and crying from upstairs. Anyway, I was playing Call of Duty, Modern Warfare II. I tried to stop playing these shooting games because they gave me so much infuriation. But I couldn't stop. I was playing online with my friend Peter and talking with him over Xbox Live while playing Call of duty. “Yo, join my session Peter,” I explained.

“Send me an invite,”


Peter joined my session and we entered a Team Deathmatch on the map Terminal. Terminal is the airport map.

I was on a roll the past couple weeks. My kill to death ratio was a 3.0. This means for every 3 kills, I would die once. for my 3 killstreaks (rewards for getting a certain amount of kills without dying), I used “Harrier Strike” (7 killstreak), “Chopper Gunner”(11 killstreak), and “Tactical Nuke” (25 killstreak). The harrier strike had 2 waves of bombs on an airplane crashing down on the map. The Chopper Gunner is a user controlled helicopter that shoots people from above. And the nuke is a explosion that ends that game (giving automatic victory).

We were finally in the 6 vs. 6 Team Deathmatch. I run straight to the back of the first airplane behind a couple of explosive barrels. 3 enemies come from the front of the airplane. I shoot all 3 of them down with my UMP45 sub-machinegun. “Triple Kill! Triple Kill!” I screamed into the heatset. I heard footsteps from upstairs begin to approach the door that leads to the basement (where I was playing). The door slams open.

“Hey! Be quiet down there!” My dad said, pissed off. He slammed the door shut.

“why don’t you be quiet,” I murmured to myself as if I was talking to my dad.

“You talkin to me?” Peter said.

“No. My dad was being annoying.” Four more guys came to the front of the airplane. I gunned them all down with joy. “Got a Harrier Strike,”

“Damn bro, that was quick as shit.” Peter said with a confused tone. I realized that this spot was not going to last very long. I quickly hid behind the Burger King in the airport. The whole team of 6 comes running in my direction. I remain quiet. I thought it was funny how I was quiet in real life while hiding in the video game. All 6 of those guys went to different spots. I managed to kill 4 of them and get back to my hiding spot.

“I got my Chopper Gunner!” I screamed.

“Adam! Shut the hell up!” My dad screamed. “One more time and the game is coming off!”

“How are you getting these killstreaks so fast!” Peter screamed.

“I have a lot of skill as you may know,” I explained. I called in the Chopper Gunner and managed to get 13 kills inside of the Chopper Gunner. “One more kill until I get a Nuke.”

“This is some bullshit. its only been like a minute and a half,” Peter said. I walked out of the Burger King. I was so excited yet so very scared that I could possibly die. I saw red on my scream. It was blood. I a saw a glimpse of my dead body as I respawned into the game. “Oh my god! My bad bro I didnt mean to kill you. Oh my god you are probably so pissed,”

I was so enraged that I couldn't speak. I threw a fastball with my controller at the wall. both back triggers fell out and both analog sticks were stuck and unusable. I broke my controlled and now I was ready to speak. “Are you fucking kidding me? Seriously! I’m gonna fucking kill you! This is some serious bullshit! I am so done with this bitch ass shitty piece of garbage! ahh!” I began to hear the footsteps again. My dad slammed the door open and ran down the steps as fast as he could.  He shut my Xbox off and I began to cry. Video games meant everything to me.

I played video games all the time, got angry, and broke things. It may seem funny to most people. But, the experience is nothing to be laughed at. a lot of other people can relate to talking in this way. They are constantly cursing and everyone else thinks it is hilarious. But to that person (like me), it might not be so funny. Controlling the anger is almost impossible to do. It is as if the devil takes my body over for a short period of time to spread the word of satan.

Now, I try to escape that way of speaking. Every single sentence I said not around my parents ended with a curse word. And now I don’t. But I can sometimes return to this way of chatting. Some ways that I try to not speak this way is to laugh when I get very angry. If I got infuriated because somebody killed me, I would chuckle and move on. It lightens the mood making me able to not babble in that way. While I was looking back at this moment, I realized how many times I did this in my past. But now I have learned to not rattle on in that way based on how much I have matured.

“People evolve a language in order to describe and thus control their circumstances, or in order not to be submerged by a reality that they cannot articulate. (And, if they cannot articulate it, they are submerged.)” This quote from James Baldwin can relate to me. I will speak differently based on who I am talking with. When I am talking to my parents, I blather “normally.” I don’t use any swears because that would be disrespectful to them. But, when I am talking with my friends, I sometimes feel as if I have “no boundaries.” Language depends on the situation that the person is in.

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State Lotteries and Regressive Taxation

According to Investopedia, the definition of a regressive tax is “a tax that takes a larger percentage from low-income people than from high-income people.” Unfortunately when it comes to the lottery, that is the case in the U.S. State lotteries cause disproportionately high spending among low-income citizens, and are therefore a regressive tax.

State lotteries operate by printing large quantities of lottery tickets. Each ticket has an extremely small chance to reward their owner with a huge monetary prize. However, the insensible dreams of wild riches are mostly those of the impoverished. So, in an effort to escape their situation, they buy lottery tickets - but this only serves to send them further into poverty. Though the state is not deliberately asking for money from the low-income citizens, their lotteries have the same effect.

The Fiscal Policy Institute shows that lottery purchases are 4.0% of citizens with a median household income of $20,000, whereas they make up 0.25% of citizens with a median household income of $85,000. If it's the poor who are purchasing the majority of lottery tickets (money which goes to the government), then that meets the definition of a regressive tax.

The NCPA offers more evidence on the disparity between low- and high-income citizens’ expense on lottery tickets: “the dollar amount spent on the lottery by the lowest-income individuals (earning less than $10,000) is twice as much as the highest earners (earning more than $100,000 annually).” The impoverished buying twice as many lottery tickets than the wealthy, thus giving more money to the state government, is more proof that lotteries are a regressive tax.

In a memorandum to the governor of Massachusetts, Dong Kwang Ahn and Elizabeth Caldona did a study of 27 Massachusetts cities and found that “in 2009 the people living in Newton, one of the wealthiest cities in the Commonwealth with a $56,285 per capita income spent 0.4 % of their income on lotteries, while Springfield, one of the poorest cities in Massachusetts, with an $18,187 per capita income spent 3.6 % of its income on lotteries.” Here is yet more evidence that the poor are spending disproportionately high amounts on the lottery.

As the studies, research and statistics have shown, state lotteries in the U.S. have unintended consequences. Impoverished citizens feel that the only way out of their situation is to keep spending money on the one-in-a-billion chance of wild riches - but in doing so plunge further into poverty. By making the lottery available to everyone, the government is indirectly taking advantage of the poor.

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Body Art and the Public Eye 2fer Revision

In America, today, seeing people in a “professional” job with sleeves of tattoos, a butterfly on the small of their back, or gages making gaping holes in their ears, or even a small nose piercing that is barely noticeable is a rare occasion. Body art, such as tattoos are seen as unprofessional or dangerous in the workplace. For employers, this negative stigma comes from the history of tattoos, which when originated in America, body art was associated with criminals and savages. Employers want their job to only show pristine employees, so the citizens who deal with these employees connect the good image of the employee to the job.

There are many articles where it has shown somebody not being hired because of too many facial piercings, or a visible tattoo. It is a common courtesy to look professional at work, but not even being able to qualify over self expression is not fair. The company, Runza, which is a fast food restaurant states that when applying, there should be no visible body art because “personal appearance and behavior directly affect the way guests feel about the quality of food, the cleanliness of the restaurant and the level of service.” Employers conclude that the personal appearance of employees should include no body art. With guests feeling comfortable with the employees, ensuring their comfortability with the food and restaurant, the guests connect the good image to the company. Tattoos in America were used to only be shown on people who were dangerous, so to cover up body art ensures that the people working will not be of any harm in anyway.

If people pay close attention to today’s upcoming work force, they will realize that with every new generation, the percentage of body art is going up. So it’s only natural that now, almost half of young adults today some type of body art. “Only 15 percent of Baby Boomers have tattoos, while 32 percent of Gen X and 38 percent of Millennials have body art, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center study. Nearly 40 percent of adults [today] ages 18 to 40 have a tattoo while nearly 30 percent of the age group has a non-earlobe piercing, according to the Pew Research Centers “Generation Next” survey.” As seen, nearly half of adults between ages 18-40 have tattoos. More and more young people are going to get and are getting body art, so it’s been given more attention by people in the workplace. As more people start to get body art, it should start to be more of a normality, rather than taking a piercing out, or covering up. If the numbers of people who are getting body art rising, then eventually if everyone 18-40 has body art, are they all considered dangerous or unprofessional? While there are workplaces that hire people with visible body art, it’s still a struggle for people with body art to obtain better jobs that involve others.

People often see small tattoos, or one small piercing on each year and don’t bat an eye. But when it comes to something major, and out of the ordinary, people in the workplace can start to get uncomfortable vibes with who they are dealing with. An employer, Bob, “recently interviewed Jamie, a young female applicant who was qualified for the job, but because she had a revealing tattoo on her arm and several facial piercings, Bob decided not to hire her. Instead, Bob wanted to hire a qualified and attractive individual who would project a professional work image and convey confidence in the job(Perkins, Emily Jane, 3/18//14).” The employer showed that professional does not include excessive amounts of body art. In actuality though, the definition of “professional” is “relating to a job that requires special education, training, or skill(Merriam Webster).” With this in mind, having body art does not take away from someone having special education, training, or skill.

In the workplace, where looks are applicable, many people have a certain picture already burned into their head of how a star employee should look. Clean cut, no visible, unusual piercings, no obnoxious tattoos showing, basically hiding all body art. Although applicants for jobs with body art may only seem important to employers and employees, it should in fact concern kids who will eventually apply for jobs.To live in this world, a job is almost always essential. There are only a few cases where it is rare to not need a job. Kids should be aware of body art, because eventually it will be their turn to support themselves, and whomever, and it will be up to them on how employers view them.

Work Cited:

"Body Art Painful for Job Seekers |" Body Art Painful for Job Seekers | WyomingTribuneEagle, 2014. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

Employers don't have to allow self-expression, but most do. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from

INK WELL: AMERICA’S TATTOO HISTORY. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from

Professional. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from

Regulating Appearance In The Workplace: An Employer's Guide To Avoid Employment Discrimination Lawsuits | The National Law Review. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from

Runza® | Job Application Introduction. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from

"Tattoo Tolerance: Older Generation Must Embrace Body Art." NYU News :. N.p., 21 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.


2fer Revision: Suspended All Day

The week leading up to Sunday September, 14th was possibly the worst one in the history of the NFL, and could even be considered the worst week for a national sports league in all of history. The nadir of the situation came when star NFL running back for the football team the Minnesota Vikings, Adrian Peterson, was indicted on charges saying that he physically abused his four year old son. Legally Peterson is being indicted of parental abuse, but should he really be convicted? The fact is that sometimes what seems like parental abuse is simply discipline. The Vikings organization and the NFL, do not have the right to punish Adrian Peterson because parents have the right to discipline their children as they see fit.

Peterson is being charged with parental abuse. This came about because he was caught beating his son with a switch, which is a flexible branch or rod used to whip or discipline. He was caught when a doctor examined the four year old and decided that the lacerations on his legs and back were, in fact, brought on by parental abuse. Now Peterson is being looked at very negatively by those in the NFL community. His fans, coaches, and teammates are all shocked and appalled and left reeling after learning what he did. The Vikings even deactivated him until the situation is legally resolved.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Services, “any nonaccidental physical injury or harm” is considered physical abuse under the United States official federal law. Based on this understanding it would be obvious that Adrian Peterson did in fact commit a crime. That being said, there are many exceptions to the rule that make Peterson’s case not as clear. The Department of Health and Services also reveals that, under the U.S. federal law, in 16 states (along with the American Samoa and the Mariana Islands) physical discipline. as long as it is within reason, is an exception to the law. The main issue here is what is considered within reason. What Adrian Peterson did may or may not be considered within reason depending on who is the one reflecting on his actions. It is because of this that it is impossible to determine if he broke the law until a judge officially decided if he was “within reason”.

Another very important exception comes with being in the state of Texas Peterson’s home state, and where the act occurred. In Texas, Physical injury is classified as, “injury that results in substantial harm to the child or the genuine threat of substantial harm from physical injury to the child...excluding an accident or reasonable discipline by a parent, guardian, or conservator that does not expose the child to a substantial risk of harm” (Fam. Code § 261.001). This means that, when a child is injured by their parent or guardian, and the cause is due to parental discipline, then it may not considered unlawful abuse, as long as it is determined to be within reason. Adrian Peterson is from Texas. It was there that he was caught disciplining his son. In accordance with the law he may not be so guilty after all.

Unfortunately, other events in the NFL have had major contributions to the extreme criticism of Peterson. Another player from the NFL, Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens, was caught on camera, punching his then fiancee and knocking her out in an elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The NFL originally gave Ray Rice only a two game suspension, a mere slap on the wrist. Fans everywhere were absolutely outraged. Then, after the video was released that explicitly showed Rice in the act, the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, took the opportunity to correct their mistakes and suspend Rice indefinitely. Goodell claimed that he had not previously seen the video, however there is a lot of evidence that makes it seem like the NFL did in fact have prior knowledge of the recording. Fans felt as though they could not trust the NFL, and that the commissioner deserved to be fired. It was because of the events with Rice that the punishment for Peterson was so harsh. The only reason that the court of public opinion is reacting so strongly to the Adrian Peterson situation is because the NFL handed the Rice situation so poorly and wanted to handle this correctly from the get-go. Former star basketball player and current sports analyst Charles Barkley came to Peterson’s defense in an interview with Jim Rome, saying, “Listen, we spank kids in the south...Every black parent in my neighborhood in the South would be in trouble or in jail under those circumstances”. Peterson is not alone in his actions. This is how many people from the south are raised: their given households often believe that this is the correct way of discipline. All parents including Peterson simply want their children to be the best that they can be. Peterson is not a child abuser, his charity the All Day Foundation even goes to help at risk children.

Adrian Peterson’s actions, while wrong in the eyes of the NFL, do not call for serious punishment. Peterson does not deserve to be punished for something everyone does just because the NFL is going through a hard time. Parent’s have the right to discipline their children “within reason”.  Although parents everywhere might not think that the decision regarding Adrian Peterson's case matters much, its influence goes beyond the NFL and its players. It also greatly influences the laws pertaining to child abuse and what is acceptable parental discipline.After all discipline is something parents do simply to make their children the best they can be. Parent’s that only want the best for their child do not deserve to be punished as long as they remain in accordance with the law. The law does not explicitly say that discipline is against the law, it is somewhat vague. It is the parents in the world that ignore their children and show no love towards their children that deserve to be punished.

Works Cited

Chase, Chris. "Charles Barkley Defends Adrian Peterson's Use of Corporal Punishment." For The Win. N.p., 14 Sept. 2014. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <>.

"Child Abuse Law." - N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. <>.

"Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect." Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2014. <>.

Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect. S.l.: Bibliogov, 2013. Child Welfare. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <>.


Police Brutality

If Cops stopped to think about it, they would realize that having authority is not just about / does not just involve brutality , but serving justice well.It is one thing to use violence to protect oneself when in immediate danger, but another to use it to commit vicious hate crimes. Police officers have built a system of racial profiling. When they see a black man, he is already predestined to commit a crime in their eyes.  In the past decades, the African American Community has struggled to get the freedom, equality, and respect they deserve as a people because the policies have been set against them. Through their policies for punishment, police commissioners have allowed police officers to abuse their authority to belittle the African American community.

As kids, children are encouraged to admire cops. They were the real life heros. When someone was in trouble, who was to be called? On one of Cartoon Network's most popular show, Scooby-Doo, The cops of course the good guys. At the end of the episode, they would call the cops and wait for their arrival to unmask the man in the costume. There are several things you can take away from that, but what children learn is to call the cops when in fear. Now the very same people everyone was told that would protect the citizens who are in trouble, are the very same people who the African American community should fear.  Eric Garner, a 43 year old father of 6 living in New York was one of the most recent victims of police brutality. He was wrestled to the ground by five malicious police officers. The one who actually put Garner into the headlock was driven to do so by his sexual fantasies. This was not the first time that this officer had stopped him. Garner knew there was something odd about that man, afraid of what the officer might try to do Garner pleaded with him, “Don’t touch me, please,” but the badge says he has permission to do so. As he’s being choked to death by the man who wants him, he screams, “I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe, Get off me! Get off me!” They choked Garner until he could no longer fight. This situation would not have taken place if these officers had a serious police commissioner over their heads, someone who wouldn’t just let them get away with it but someone who would see the wrong and fight for the justice of Eric Garner.

Instead of being the men who once wanted everyone to be safe, the Police Commissioner  protect the ones who make the streets unsafe. This all stems from the lack of professional training for these police officers. There was a lack of discipline when these police officers were trained, without discipline officers will see the inch they’re given and take a mile. This is how it starts. They see their captain lets them get away with something minor and their minor things become major things. They are given an inch and they take advantage and take a mile.

In 2012, a study showed that every twenty eight hours, an African American was killed by an officer or vigilante. Of these killings, 43% of these were shooting based on racial profiling. Based on their skin color, officers inferred that they were in the act of committing a crime. Trayvon Martin, a kid who was brutally shot to death by alleged vigilante, George Zimmerman. Trayvon Martin was 17. He lived in a gated community with his parents. He was leaving the store with an Arizona tea and a bag of skittles, on his way home when Zimmerman gunned down the teenager. It’s getting to the point where young black men are being told by their parents what to do if confronted by a police officer. The directions are to always keep your hands in sight. When directed to do something, move slowly. This was first introduced by a show called Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A character named Jazz was stopped by a cop. Uncle Phil told Jazz it was okay to put his hands down but Jazz refused. He went on and said, “No thank you, I put my hands down and the next thing I know, I’ll have 18 warning shots in my back.”

As the years progress, it appears that African Americans have more and more of a reason to be in fear for their lives. When the system gets to the point where it protects the people no matter the race, then African Americans will be able to live without fearing the cops.

"Staten Island Man Dies after NYPD Cop Puts Him in Chokehold — SEE THE VIDEO." NY Daily News. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

"1 Black Man Is Killed Every 28 Hours by Police or Vigilantes: America Is Perpetually at War with Its Own People." Alternet. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

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“Hey Cacy.”

I gave a slight smile and shrugged.

“How are you?”

I shrugged.

This was a chat I would have at least twice every day. However, I shared it fewer and fewer people as they began to realize they wouldn’t get anything out of it. Usually at this point in a conversation, someone would give up. They would just stop trying to talk because they thought that it wasn’t worth it. Why would it be? No one wanted to talk to the girl that wouldn’t talk back. Of course every few days one person always tried to be a hero and get me to say something.  They thought they could magically pull all of the words hiding in my throat out into the open. No. That wasn’t a possibility, not even when I wanted it to be.

My head hurt all the time. It was hit with words, sports, and school. Things I did, I couldn’t do anymore. Things I had, I didn’t have anymore. Things I said, I couldn’t say anymore. My favorite words were “yes” and “no”. I also loved to shrug my shoulders. Shrugging was used for answering things that could not be answered with “yes” or “no”. Usually I wouldn’t even say the words, I would just make the sounds, “mhm” or “hmm” and then shrug. Only when forced or on rare occasions would I say the actual words.

I scared the hell out of my mother. She had never dealt with this before and had no idea of what to do. She was always open with her emotions and talking about everything, so when I stopped talking, she noticed. I could see her getting frustrated when I did not say “thank-you” or when I didn’t respond at all. As time went on her frustration increased, as did mine. We seemed to be communicating less and less which brought out more emotion from her, and kept more inside of me.

I didn’t want to be, but I was a snowball in slow motion. I was in the process of being built up with emotions into a solid, blank-faced sphere. When I was finished I would be hurtled, slowly losing some of that emotion through the journey to the wall. Finally I’d hit the wall and crumble down until I was one tiny flake without anything to hide. I hated the thought of vulnerability. I would do everything in my power to stop myself from hitting that wall.

At first I didn’t want to hit that wall at any cost, but sometimes all of the emotions kept piling up and it was too much for me to handle. Those were the times I wanted to crash into it and let my emotions fly, but I couldn’t because of all the protection I put up not to. I went with what Elbert Hubburd once said, “He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand your words.” There were days where I wanted to scream and cry and shout but nothing would show because I was afraid people would not understand and judge me for being silent. I didn’t even understand. I had no idea why I was shutting myself out from the world beside the fact that people just wouldn’t get it. People did not know what to think of my silence because they never faced it before.

All of my emotions kept piling up before I could get rid of them. As a snowball, I was in the hurtling stage. Things kept getting in the way. Things spilled out of me before I knew what was going on. I was having random panic attacks all of the time, but trying to compose myself so that they would stop. At this point, people did not talk to me even though I wanted them to. They would turn away because they did not know how to deal with me. I was out of control and emotionally unstable all because I kept everything hidden before. At first I wanted to shut people out of my life and not talk to them at all, but then I realized how vulnerable and alone I was becoming. I was trapped in between cutting myself off from the world, and letting my emotions run free.

I realized that communicating through speech was extremely important. If I kept everything to myself and never shared it with anyone, sooner or later I would just explode. Piece by piece I was falling apart without even realizing. When I finally broke down and expressed my feelings, I felt vulnerable and scared. However that was so much better than feeling nothing at all. As I gradually built up the strength to start talking again, I was nervous. I wondered if people would even want to talk to me after so long of being in silence. Because of this, I started out talking only when I needed to. As I got a little more comfortable, I started joking around with my friends and family. Nonetheless, it has been more than two years since I stopped talking, and I am still not 100% confident in expressing myself through words. 

Because of this experience I will never have full self confidence when speaking. I am always second guessing what I say because I am afraid that I will not be understood. I’m afraid that my words will not make sense or that people will judge what I am saying because of my previous silence. I know now that words are extremely underappreciated and underused. Language and emotions are connected through expression. I did not express myself at all. My advice to others is that people need to speak and express themselves. If they don’t, all of their emotions will stay trapped inside of them.


"The Whole Megillah"

“Okay guys, I need three people to help shlep food from my car.” My mom asks my brother’s soccer team.

They look at each other, confused.

“She needs you to carry some stuff over to the field,” I clarify.

“Oohh.” One says.

Shlep - (sh-LEP): Verb

Definition: to carry, lug.

Growing up in a Jewish family taught me a lot. It taught me about holidays, it taught me about traditions, and of course, it taught me another language. Now, I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that I learned Hebrew at Sunday School like every other Jewish kid. But, that’s where you are wrong. I did not learn Hebrew; and to this day, I do not know Hebrew. Instead, I learned Yinglish. “Yinglish” is the super original name that people use for the combination of Yiddish and English. People who speak it seamlessly can flow from English to Yiddish as if it were one language. If you don’t understand them, you better figure it out quickly.

“I hear you got a new puppy!” My mother’s friend says.

“We did!”

“Do you have a picture of her?”

“Of course! One second.” I show her a picture on my phone.

“Oh my gosh! Look at that face! Such a shayna punim!”

Shayna Punim - (SHEY-nuh puh-NIM): Noun

Definition: Pretty, sweet face.

Yiddish is the hybrid language between Hebrew and German. (In case you were wondering, that makes Yinglish a combination of German, Hebrew, and English.) It was spoken by Ashkenazi Jews all over the world. Ashkenazi Jews lived in Central or Eastern Europe. In the 19th century, my great great grandparents lived in eastern Europe, more specifically, Lithuania. Yiddish was their language. Yiddish was the common language of Jews in Eastern Europe at that time. The history of Yiddish in my family begins with my great great grandparents.

“Ugh, I have soooo much homework, it’s unbearable.” I whine.

“Stop kvetching about it, and just get it done.” My mom replies. “There is no use in talking about it.”

Kvetch - (k-FET-ch): Verb

Definition: to complain, to whine.

My great grandma, my great great grandparents’ daughter, was born in the US, and was educated in English despite her parents’ heritage. Since her parents did not know much English, they spoke Yiddish in their home. However, she had to know how to speak English to communicate with people outside of her family. While raising children, my great grandmother used Yiddish to speak to her husband so that her daughters (including my grandmother) wouldn’t understand. She forbid her daughters from learning Yiddish because she wanted them to be more American. That very quickly shaved down the Yiddish vocabulary that was passed on in my family.

“I really don’t want to go to this barbeque.” I told my Mom.

“We will only be there for a little bit. We can eat a little, schmooze a little, and then we can go.”

“Okay, but you always talk to people for FOREVER.”

“I’ll keep it short.” She promised.

Schmooze - (sh-MOOZ): Verb

Definition: to chat, talk.

My grandmother used Yiddish, but certainly not as much as her grandparents did. Since her mother did not let her learn Yiddish, she only picked up a few phrases here and there. She used these phrases while speaking to her Jewish friends or her family. She said them around the house, casually, as if you could hear them in any house on the block. The truth is, you probably could hear them in most houses on her block because she lived in a Jewish neighborhood. Yiddish has this funny way of connecting Jewish people. It is kind of like a secret language that everyone has the opportunity and resources to learn; but only the people who don’t have the choice of learning it, know it. As a writing piece by Bell Hooks says, “words impose themselves, take root in our memory against our will.” I will never be able to forget the Yiddish words that have taken root in my brain. They are a part of me.

“What happened to my coat?” Our family friend asks, confused.

“I hung it up on the coat rack. Is that okay? I can get it for you if you want.” I reply, concerned that I did the wrong thing.

“Oh, what a mensch! Thank you sweetheart.”

Mensch - (MEN-ch): Noun

Definition: a person of integrity, honor, or responsibility.

The Yiddish vocabulary quickly dwindled as it was passed down through generations in my family. But, I have tried my hardest to make sure it is still a prominent part of my life. My mom learned all the Yiddish she knows from her mom, and a little bit from her grandfather. The little Yiddish that I use, I learned from my mom. I have also picked up phrases and words just by being a part of a Jewish community. Sunday school and camp are two places that I have learned some Yiddish. However, it is hard to be a Jewish teen in the modern world, and not know some Yiddish. You might be surprised how much movies, that have a character that is a stereotypical  Jewish grandmother or a Jewish New York native, can teach you about your own culture. Most people do not realize how much you can learn from stereotypes in a movie. I feel a deeper connection to the Yiddish language because it ties me to my history. It is my job to rebuild the Yiddish vocabulary in my family and my community.

“How are you today?” I ask the airline flight attendant. I see his yamaka, he sees my Star of David necklace. We have a common bond.

“I’m good. Long flight. How are you bubala?” He knows I will understand.

“I’m alright I guess. A little restless,” I admit.

Bubala - (BUH-buh-luh): Noun

Definition: (term of endearment) sweetie, darling. Traditionally used by grandmothers, refering to children.

Over time, the Yiddish language, used by my great great grandparents, became sentences. Those sentences became phrases, and those phrases became words. And eventually those words were etched into my brain. It was as if each of my ancestors shaped the vocabulary that came before them, to make it fit their life. Now it is my turn to change the Yiddish language so that it fits with my life. All of my ancestors have passed down a set of words that has now become a part of me. I grew up with those words. I identify with them. I understand them. I appreciate them. I have shaped the words, just as they have shaped me.

That’s the whole megillah, folks.

Megillah - (ma-GIL-uh): Noun

Definition: a long, detailed story.

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2fer Revision: Ukrainian Linguistic Identity

Ukrainian Linguistic Identity

Over the past year, there has been civil unrest in the former Soviet Republic country of Ukraine, which recently went through a semi-violent change in government. The coup was sparked by the governments move to work with Russia, rather than the European Union. As a result, a bloody civil war has began in the Russian speaking eastern regions, with Russian backed separatists taking control of the region. Ukraine is made of many nationalities, with ethnic Russians being the second largest population in the country, and Russian is still a very popular language, being the main language in most of east Ukraine. The ethnic population there would like to keep their ties to Russia and their language, which is threatened by the attempts to mandate Ukrainian in the country. Despite the current ceasefire and granting of special administrative status to said regions, ethnic tension, as well as the divide between Russian speakers and Ukrainian speakers, will remain, as they always have. The divided ethnolinguistic identity and the instability of Ukraine does not just involve the Ukrainian leadership wanting to combat Russian influence, but the unresolved tensions between Russia and the West from the cold war.

The population of Ukraine currently have Ukrainian as their main language, with Russian being an official regional language in the areas of Luhansk, Donetsk, and the Crimean peninsula, which was recently lost to Russia. The most recent statistics stand at Ukrainian (official) 67%, Russian (regional language) 24%, other (includes small Romanian-, Polish-, and Hungarian-speaking minorities) 9% [CIA]. Russian is a major minority language within Ukraine, and around 24 percent or more Ukrainians speak Russian as their main language. Meanwhile, 17.3 percent of Ukraine’s population identified as ethnic Russian in 2001. [CIA]. Said population is mostly centered around Donetsk and Crimea. Not surprisingly, they are the territories currently contested in the bloody conflict, and have a history of being Pro-Yanukovych and Pro-Russia.

Russia and Ukraine have a long, complicated history. During most of the past thousand years, most of the area that we call Ukraine today has been under Russian rule, either during tsarist times, or as a soviet socialist republic. Of course, the rulers attempted to russify the population. There is an example from Soviet times, where a man who moved to Ukraine from Russia as a child gives his experience: “I am also from Russia... Then we moved here with my parents [to Udy, Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine,]... Our village, they were Ukrainians there, a Ukrainian speaking population.... But the school was in Russian... It was discrimination by the teachers, they always accused us of speaking Ukrainian outside the school...”[Borderlands into Bordered Lands] This example, of a village with a Russian School in a Ukrainian village, would attract settlers from Russia. The Russian-Soviet authorities would thus ensure that the village would be “Russified” and maintain a Russian identity. Thus, Russian authorities would homogenize the population of Ukraine, which they called “new russia”, and expand their own claims to it’s land in order to strengthen it’s borders. This strategy was rather common, the most famous example would be the “iron curtain” / “Soviet Bloc” of Europe, established to cushion Russia’s borders against the NATO powers.

One of the big questions when Ukraine finally regained independence was language. Would Ukrainian become the standard, or would the country stick with the ever popular Russian? Laada Bilaniuk, a Ukrainian-American researcher into the topic stated on the matter that: “When people name a language, and describe it as mixed or pure, language becomes the site of struggle over identity, social values, and.... a certain type of ‘cultural correctness’“ [Contested Tongues] We can see the struggle right now, in the form of the current civil war between two worlds, two cultures, that were united in the last moments of the dying empire that created them. Russian social values, which were pushed to expand influence, seem to be doing a good job of that by causing the chaos needed for Russia to expand; push it’s way west, even by a couple hundred miles; and restore it’s “importance” in international politics.

Russian influence, as a result of tensions with the west over the course of Ukraine’s history has caused an ethno-linguistic divide within the country that current events have ripped apart even more and turned said divide into an all out civil war. Although the Ukrainian civil war and ethnolinguistic divide may only seem important to Ukraine and possibly it's neighbors, it should in fact concern anyone who cares about the well being of the world's economy and stability. Both NATO and Russia have made moves to influence Ukraine, with Russia annexing part of the country, and sending proxy troops into other unstable parts. NATO and the European Union wish to have Ukraine join as a member, however Russia does not want either organization to get any closer to it's borders. As such, the conflict between Russia and the Western world can only intensify, thus effecting the entire world.

Works Cited

Bilaniuk, Laada. Contested Tongues: Language Politics and Cultural Correction in Ukraine. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2005. Print.

"World Factbook Ukraine." Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2014.

Zhurzhenko, Tatʹi︠a︡na. Borderlands into Bordered Lands: Geopolitics of Identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine. Stuttgart: Ibidem-Verlag, 2010. Print.
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Trying To Sound Smart

Sit up straight. Stay focused. This is important. Remember to pronounce water like “wah-er” instead of “wooder”. Remind yourself to put emphasis on the letter ‘s’ in the word ‘ask’ so you won’t sound like you are saying ‘ax’.

“May I assssk a question about relating themes in different religions?”

“Would you like some wah-ter?”

I feel like in order to impress a certain group of people, or in order to ‘sound smart’, you have to pronounce words in a “correct” way. Meaning, loose any trace of an accent you have and get rid of that hometown dialect; it won’t be helpful when you’re trying to impress people of importance.

“Mah, could I get a glass of wooder?”

“Did you see that jawn yesterday?”

“Do you know where the manguera is?”

Be relaxed. Don’t care about the words that fall out of your mouth; don’t pay any mind to the way you pronounce them either. You are with the people you know and spend most of your time with. They don’t care about your Philly-bound slang, or your disheveled ‘Spanglish’, they do the same that you do. I feel a bit more at at ease when I am around the people who grew up with the same dialect as I did. It is comforting to know that you don’t have to impress someone when they do not care about the way you are speaking. Needless to say, I still feel like there are times where I should speak “proper” even though I am in a more “judge free setting”.

Stay focused on the way you pronounce words - wait no, they don’t care - then again you care. Now I am confused. Though I use my Philly dialect when I am in a more comfortable zone, I still feel like I have to speak “proper” English.  If I end up speaking that way, then I feel like I am being judged.

“Why do you speak like that?”

“Speak like what?”

“Using big words and stuff, why are you trying to show off?”

“I’m not, I just like big words, and I like saying them the right way.”

“So are you saying that you say stuff better than me?”

“No… Not at all.”

Being said, that conversation with my friend ended badly; but after that I noticed a trend. The more big words I used and the more I enunciated, the more I was getting judged. They would say that I am ‘uppity’ or that I am trying to be better than the rest of them. But in reality, I am not. I surround myself with books, dictionaries, and other places of where bigger vocabulary roams, and I indulge myself in them. I just love vocabulary, yet people don’t seem to understand how much I enjoy it.

“You’re just trying to sound smart.”

That phrase haunts me. My relatives have told me that, my friends have told me that, and people I don’t even know have told me that. I am not attempting to “sound smart” at every chance I get. It does get offensive sometimes as well. I feel as if I have to restrain myself when I am supposed to be comfortable. It is like I have to be locked in some sort of cage to restrain or censor myself from sounding ‘smart’ just to avoid conflict. But by doing so, I no longer feel as if I am accepting myself. The way I speak and the language and dialect I use reflects on me. Using slang and big words are apart of my everyday life, but when I have to hold myself back, then I no longer feel true to myself.

Thinking about this reminds me of the 8th grade. I, along with 8 other students got put into an advanced English class. Instead of reading books and doing tests about them, we read Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, and Edgar Allan Poe and ripped their texts to streads (meaning we learned their vocab and tried to decipher the meanings behind their writings). Our English class loved learning new words that were supposed to be beyond our grade level. But when we got back to our normal class, there would be a separation between the Advanced English students and the standard English class. They would always say “they’re showing off” and “they think they’re smarter than the rest of us”. We never felt like we were smarter nor did we think ourselves higher than the rest of the students; we just felt lucky that we got the opportunity to be in Advanced English since there were limited spots.

“...Language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power. It is the most vivid and crucial key to identify: It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity” - James Baldwin. I now realize that the vocabulary that I possess is seen as power, that the more vocab I know, the more control I will have in certain situations; but personally I doubt that to be true. There are plenty of people in this world who do not have an extensive vocabulary, and have more power than I possibly ever will. I also realized how language and dialect separates and brings together certain groups. Like in the 8th grade, language separated my class in two. Or how with some of my friends who speak a bit of Spanish like I do, feel separated from the rest of our friends when we end up saying a few words in Spanish. But it brings us together when we all know the same language and dialect, i.e people from Philadelphia have words that only we know of.

I also realized how language and dialect is a key component to my identity. It partially shows where I come from and mostly shows who I am. But when I feel separated from people due to the language I use, I end up silent. Instead of being heard and being judged, I sit with my mouth shut and listen to those around me. It feels uncomfortable to stay silent or to censor myself, but I find it better than hearing the question “Why are you trying to sound smart?”

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The Entertainment Industry and Racism

Since the turn of the last century, the American entertainment industry has had an influx of non-white characters in film, tv, movies and literature. This is evident in films by director Tyler Perry, networks like ABC who have one of the most diverse television series lineups in all of television, and authors like Nancy Farmer, whose most famed book (The House of Scorpion) features an all brown and black cast. However, the lack of diversity does not reflect what America looks like today. The reasoning behind this is simple; the entertainment industry values white characters more than non-white because the entertainment industry is inherently racist.

It's not hard to observe that the majority of characters in mainstream movies, whether main or side, are almost always white. This fact has taken the interest of Dr. Stacy L. Smith of University of South Carolina who has proven that this isn't fiction, but fact.  Smith created a five year long examination of all top grossing movies for its corresponding year and presented the racial demographics. “Prevalence. Across 100 top-grossing films of 2012, only 10.8% of speaking characters are Black, 4.2%are Hispanic, 5% are Asian, and 3.6% are from other (or mixed race)ethnicities. Just over three-quarters of all speaking characters are white (76.3%)”.  This is in comparison to the racial demographics of the US in 2013. 77.7% of Americans are white, 13.2% are black, 5.3% are asian, and 17.1% are hispanic. These statistics might almost parallel one another, but based on a 2012 study by Roderick Harrison, white people will be the minority in America by 2040, as the asian and hispanic population is growing rapidly (white population growth has stayed flat since last year and asian and hispanics has increased by 2.2%). Just in 2012 alone, it is clear that despite there being non-white characters, the overwhelming majority of characters being given the most important roles are white. Out of the top 100 movies of 2012, less than 24% of them include people of color being given important roles as opposed to the 76% of whites. An “important role” is usually the role as a main character. The act of writing roles that specifically target white actors and blatantly excludes people of color is an act of racism. Even if the majority of America is white, it is racist to only include white people when writing a film. Since the 2040 census projects that white will be the minority, then by 2040, the entertainment industry should be filled with movies that project black and brown faces instead of white. If this does not happen then it will go on to prove that the entertainment industry is even more racist than it already is.

In 2013, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC) gave their recent statistics to the New York Times, showing the racial demographics of their books given. “ Nearly half of the books were fiction, both middle grade and young adult. As of July 11, we had received 1,509 trade books published in 2013. I found that 1,183(78.3 percent) were about human beings. And just 124 of those (10.5 percent)featured a person of color. And that also means that 1,059 of the books about humankind (89.5 percent) are about white people.” As seen, literature is even worse when it comes to diversity. These are children’s books, and even in this day and age, it would make sense for there to be more people of color in literature. But for some reason, they're aren't according to the statistics. The reason that the top best selling books do not feature non-white characters is because the writer subconsciously knows that white characters are ideal in literature. All of the books that are considered classics (Peter Pan, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Brothers Grimm) feature entire white casts. These books were written and published during the 20th and 19th century, when racism was prevalent in reality and fiction. The authors who write children’s books of today most likely were born and grew up during these time periods (19th-20th century)and quickly learned that white is the ideal from classic books like these. Thus creating a neverending cycle of white characters in literature and the exclusion of people of color. Only representing the white part of the population in literature is purposefully excluding young children of color and perpetuating that it is okay to be unrepresented. Even young teens and children of color are being taught that they are unvalued in America. Thus perpetuating that white is the dominant and most important factor when it comes to characters in the entertainment industry.

The lack of diversity within film is not surprising when explored through a historical context. The depictions and views of black people during the 20th century were made clear. In director D.W Griffith’s film made in 1915, “The Birth of a Nation”, the main premise of the movie was that the fall of society would occur if blacks were equal to whites. The actors in the film were not black, but white people in blackface and the portrayals were horrid caricatures that enticed more brutalization of black people. The budget for this film was a mere $112,000, but the box office earnings were a large $60,000,000. Movies like this continued to be made throughout the 20th century;  the only views of black and other people of color were stereotypes (these were the only roles provided for them). For example, Stepin Fetchit was a black actor who made millions from starring in movie “Hearts of Dixie (1927)”. His character was the stereotypical “dumb, lazy, negro” of that time period, which American seemed to love (as he was even “awarded” the name “The Laziest Man in World”). Another film, The “Song of the South (1947) came from the beloved Disney franchise and was aimed at children. One of the characters, a black old man named “Uncle Remus”, was shown as someone who loved his master and loved being a slave. With box offices like that of “The Birth of a Nation” and racist white directors being in charge of Hollywood, the only representation of people of color were what white people wanted the audience to see. The aftermath of this is what is seen in today’s entertainment industry. Such as the “token black friend”.  In recent films, such as the Percy Jackson series, the main characters best friend, is (not surprisingly) black). His character neither adds nor takes away from the story line and seems to only be there for comedy relief. For a majority of the first movie, he spends most of his role as clueless and lost. Not only is this type of character present in film series, but in television. The Degrassi television franchise is famed for depicting “real teen life”. But they do not seem to want to include blacks or non-whites in this claim. One of the sole black actresses in all of the Degrassi series, Andrea Lewis, expressed her experience as black the token black character “Degrassi had an issue with my race. They told me how the writers and producers had no intentions of developing the story lines of my character unless it was to enhance the story of one of their other white characters. They had some plans for some of the other black characters on the show but their ideas were only to cover the usual stereotypes that we see of people of color on television teen pregnancy, petty theft, basketball, broken family homes etc and he usually had to fight with them to think out of the box with those characters to not have them go down the road of the usual cliches.” The hesitance to involve people of color in television has even caught the eye of the beloved animated show, South Park. The creators of the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone decided to poke fun at the lack of black characters in television by making a single black character on the show named “Token Black”.  As shown, the feelings about people of color in the entertainment industry have not changed as a result of it’s founding fathers. Little to no non-white characters, and stereotypes where applicable.

The lack of non-white characters in entertainment all has to do with the entertainment valuing whiteness above all else. Unless there is an interest in telling the story of people of color, fictional or not, the entertainment industry will most likely never be an option for aspiring non-white actors and actresses, or even non-white fictional characters. Representation in all aspects is very important, but the lack of it in mainstream media will only perpetuate that white people are valued above all others.

Works Cited:

Blair, Elizabeth. "As Demographics Shift, Kids' Books Stay Stubbornly White." NPR. NPR, n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

FOx. "Minorities Now Surpass Whites in US Births, Census Shows." Fox News. FOX News Network, 17 May 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

Lewis, Andrea. "(New Post) A REAL Conversation about Degrassi....#tbt."MISS ANDREA LEWIS. N.p., 23 Mar. 2013. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

Smith, Stacy L., Marc Choueiti, and Katherine Piper. Race/Ethnicity in 500 Popular Films: Is the Key to Diversifying Cinematic Content Held in the Hand of the Black Director? N.p.: Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism, 2013. PDF.

Thegrio. "Slideshow: 15 Films That Hurt Black America." TheGrio. TheGrio, 25 Feb. 2012. Web. 09 Nov. 2014.

"The Worst Thing About “Birth of a Nation” Is How Good It Is - The New Yorker." The New Yorker. N.p., 01 Feb. 2013. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

"United States Census Bureau." USA QuickFacts from the US Census Bureau. US Census Bureau, 2013. Web. 08 Nov. 2014.


The Conflict Within the Voice

“What did you say?”

“Did you say something?”

“Who said that?”

These phrases are what I hear most often when i’m not at home. I’m the quiet guy, the one who doesn’t speak up.  My voice was given to me by my ancestors-- before the  slave trade, before America. In America Africans were forced to forget their native languages and learn this new one. I can’t make this language my own because of what was done to my people before it became mine. This language I have inherited is helpful only in making me forget what was once rightfully mine. My voice is the only thing that connects me to my memories.

When i’m at home, I use the voice I developed as I grew up with my parents. The voice I use outside helps me blend in with the crowd and seem ”normal”  It also sets me apart from other kids who might “look” like me but speak a different language. Most people say they want to stand out when in reality most people want to blend in. Why? because our whole lives, we have had our voices preened for the singular purpose of one thing: survival. It is hard to survive if you can’t speak the language.

My  outside voice is quiet because that is the socially acceptable norm. Nothing about my voice sticks out, it is just as low and smooth as any other boy my age.  My voice has changed many times.  Before this year, my voice was lighter, and happier. When my father died, it became darker and unpredictable. I can’t say the things I want to say, the way I want to say them.

One specific time was when I forgot my trailpass on the train. I was late for an appointment so I had to run for the train. On my way to the train station I somehow dropped my pass and hadn’t noticed. I got on the train and the conductor started walking over

“All tickets and passes please” yelled the conductor.

I reached into my pocket to get my wallet and my pass , but the pass wasn’t there. I got angry, I got frustrated at myself for not having the pass and ashamed for not noticing sooner. I wanted to express to the train conductor my own feelings, my depression, my anger, my self hatred. My voice had other plans.

“Ticket please” the conductor said.

“I’m sorry but I forgot my pass. Could you please let me ride for today? I swear I had it,” I replied.

“What? I’m sorry I couldn’t hear you. Could you please repeat that?” says the conductor

“Never mind” I reply.

So I paid the train conductor 5 dollars that I never should’ve given him in the first place. I’m ashamed to say that this particular event happened to me more than once. I happened to do the same thing 3 weeks later.

This time my trailpass and $25 was stolen by someone whose identity i’ve yet to discover.  I decided to take the subway to the bus to get home so I could save money. I bought a transfer to catch the bus with minimal money. I made sure to button my coat so I wouldn’t lose the transfer, but somewhere between the subway station and the bus platform I dropped my transfer. If you’ve had a week as shitty as mine,then you’d know this was just the icing on the cake. I was angry that I’d cost my mother so much money in a week, that yet again i’d let her down. I knew some of this anger was about my father, but I didn’t know what to be angry at him for. I couldn’t yell at him , so my anger had nowhere to go but inside. I got on the bus feeling like the slime on the bottom of someone’s shoe and went up to the busdriver. I was ready to explain to him what had happened, I’d had the plan all setup in my mind, but I just couldn’t turn my thoughts into language. My voice disappeared .

Instead, I gave him 5$ for a transfer I wouldn’t even use.

“That was a one right?” asked the driver.

“No, it was a five” I replied.

“What? Don’t ever do that again son, ever. Next time i’ll spot you, but please don’t ever do that again”. said the driver

“Okay,” I said.

Out in the cold, unforgiving world my frustration and anger is not always obvious. I  express my anger in subtle ways. I am sarcastic, people have to ask me to repeat myself which I know is annoying but sometimes that gets their attention. At home, where I am  comfortable, my anger is not subtle,my voice is not quiet.  I am loud and everything that is on my mind spills out, like a waterfall of molten lava, my words incinerating or cremating everything in its path. One incident in particular caused my mother great pain and I resolved that day to reign in my tongue, to format my way of speech. I was getting up for school, trying to get out of the house on time to catch the bus. My mother was doing her usual, checking to see if I had everything I needed for school.

“Did you brush your teeth?”


“Did you deodorize?”

“Yes, mom.”

“Did you eat?”

“No, i’ll just bring my food with me.”

“Did you take your meds?”

“Yes mom, I really have to go.”

“But you didn’t feed the cats.”

“I did.”

“You don’t have your squash bag stuff together though.”

“Maybe it would’ve been together if you hadn’t made me go to the doctors yesterday.”

“I’m doing the fucking best I can! I bust my ass going out there in the world applying for new jobs because of you! Whenever I buy something or send you to the doctor, its for your own good! I don’t know what else you want! I can’t do anything else! What else do you want!”

“Thanks. Now i’m late for school.”

My mother left the room and sat down in the living room. I immediately regretted what I said and went over to comfort her. We stayed there for a few minutes, and then she pushed me out the door.

“I love you Duke”

“I love you too, mom”

In James Baldwin’s essay “If black English isn’t a language then I don’t know what is” he says: “Language is formed out of brutal necessity”  Daddy and I shared a deep connection through music. That was our language.  Daddy sang all the time and we sang together. My voice was already changing before daddy died. He used to tease me when we were singing a song and  I couldn’t hit the high notes anymore.  Sometimes it felt like it was the other way around, like my voice changed to match my feelings inside. Daddies voice had a power that made you want to listen, it could lift you up or make you angry but you could always hear him. I am afraid that one day I will forget what his voice sounds like and all I will have are his photographs, the songs he wrote and the notes he left for me in our notebook. Maybe this means I will have to find a different language for this new sadness.  I will have to alter this voice to be more compatible with the world the way it is now. In this language I will have to accept the fact that daddy is not coming back. As I move away from this hard time in my life, my language now stripped of any grandeur or confidence will change again.  I believe that just like my feelings dictate my facial expressions , my voice will tell a new story. Hopefully, the new story will be a better one.


Osman's 2Fer Draft

Online social networks reduces the amount of face-to-face conversations that people use to have back in the twentieth century. A social network is an outlet where people can chat, make new friends, share experiences, bond, and meet together- all at the same time. Common websites like Facebook and Twitter, more intensely Facebook, fit the description perfectly, when describing a niche for social interactions. Although they are an easy gateway to gratification, they diminish the quintessence of real human interaction.

              Back in the old days, typically the mid to late 1900s, people did not have all these fancy virtual websites so often there would be personal conversations. But now, it is becoming a problem for us to be able to approach and speak to people or make a phone call, without seeing it as awkward or a hassle. According to the article Why can't we all just stop texting and have an actual face-to-face conversation for once?, by news editor David Thomas, people are starting to consider things like ‘’What? TALK to someone? Who does anything as old-fashioned as that any more?” Now a days people text, tweet, and make Facebook post. Although these modes of communication are certainly convenient and easy-to-use, they are definitely not as effective as a legitimate phone call. In the article, Social media is Transforming the Way We Communicate, by Sukhraj Beasla, a blogger on, this was her reaction of phone contacting: “I stare longingly at the phone missing out on hearing a dial tone, the butterflies I get when it connects through and the person on the other end picks up and I hear their sweet voice.” Obviously by her reaction, it is reasonable to say that the feeling of a phone call, in comparison to a text message, is much more intimate. It also says that old ways of communicating via phone call, face-to-face conversations are more real and feel a lot more human because they trigger emotions like jitter and nervousness.        


              The biggest problem of social networking sites is anonymous intimacy. This is when people spend countless hours on Facebook and Twitter and start to develop a false sense of actually knowing and befriending people who they communicate with. According to Rachna Jain, a clinical psychologist specializing in couple and marital therapy, this poses problems because considering what really makes an intimate relationship: “shared experiences, shared time together — like doing things together — and it relies on a shared history.” Being on Facebook or Twitter does provide some form of shared experience, since there is involvement in the same spectrum of imparted information; however, there is still a digital divide. There

is a big difference in feelings when you are in the presence of a person as opposed to being accompanied by people online. In person, there are facial expressions, body language, and voices are heard. They are a lot more resilient indicators of someone’s feelings toward a person than online because none of those characteristics are present; feelings are always mislead online and can never always be able to be estimated well, so it can’t really be told when someone really considers a person to be friend or not. That is why communicating online is more effective in making friends.              

               Considering what anonymous intimacy does on social networks, It gives off a fake feeling of engagement and makes it seem a user has thousands of friends, when really the numbers are quite shorter. The infographic: Is social media making us socially awkward?, given by Sam Laird, a Mashable reporter, states that “despite the ease of connecting online, only 50% of Facebook users have 100 or more “friends.” This means that only half of all Facebook users have actual and real relationships with other people, not 1000 or 3,000, which is blown way out of proportion. The friend list is what keeps people tuned in and gives the false idea that someone has all of those friends, but they really don’t. This is because instead of going out and making actual friends, people would rather add or follow random people on Facebook and consider them a friend when they really aren’t. The statistics don’t lie, in the article Is Social Media Destroying Real-World Relationships?, it says that “20% actually prefer communicating online or via text message to face to face conversation, while a third said they're more likely to approach someone new online than off.” This shows that people are endeavoring more to make these “fake” friends/followers on Facebook and twitter rather than developing real relationships and friends through personal communication, in the 21st century.

                The sheer fact that the preference of online chatting is more prevalent than face to face conversations shows that people don’t talk as much personally. As a result of this, there will be less intimate relationships if these trends continue to rise, because people will prefer the more artificial feeling of communicating online (less personal bonding), rather than in person.

Works Cited:

  1. Laird, Sam. "Is Social Media Destroying Real-World Relationships? [INFOGRAPHIC]." Mashable., 14 June 2012. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <>.

  2. Morgan, Mandy. "Social Media Impacts Real Relationships." DeseretNews, 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. <>.

  3. Beasla, Sukhraj. "Social Media Is Transforming the Way We Communicate." Viralheat Social Media Is Transforming the Way We Communicate Comments. Viralheat, 15 Jan. 2013. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. <>.

  4. Bates, Chelsea. "The Dangers of Social Networking Sites | Commonplace."The Dangers of Social Networking Sites | Commonplace. McGraw Hill, 2009. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. <>.

  5. Goessl, Leigh. "How Does Social Networking Affect Socialization." Sciences 360. Sciences 360, 21 Sept. 2010. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <>.

  6. Thomas, David. "Why Can't We All Just Stop Texting and Have an Actual Face-to-face Conversation for Once?" Mail Online. Associated Newspapers, 18 July 2012. Web. 08 Oct. 2014. <>.
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Inside out Oreo

The air rushed out of our palms created a popping sound. The language of a handshake.

“Wassup yo.” I said.

“Wassup. You good?” Said Will. We were standing in a hundred foot hallway packed with kids waiting for classes to start. The walls were blue and yellow.

“Yeah, I’m chilling, tired.” I replied.

“True I got like three hours.”

“Bo’ you a nut cuz that history jawn due.” The bell rings and the slow crowd yawned and moved down the hallway as a mob. Then the hallway filled with lockers slaming, songs being sung, basketballs bouncing, students yelling, and teachers yelling. I move towards the door of my home room. A forty year old man in a button up shirt and khakis stands tall greeting students.

“ How you doing, Luke?” He asks.

“Morning, Mr.Schere, I’m pretty good.” I move into the room with more blue walls and a brown carpet covering the floor.

“Nigga luke” A voice calls out from across the room. A skinny girl with bright orange sneakers and short hair is sitting in one of the chairs arranged in a circle.

“Wassup Ki” I took a seat in the circle and shook the person next to me’s hand. 

"You know my manz Luke an inside out Oreo." She joked. The mood was light and humorous. From the other side of the circle I hear a angry voice at a loud tone.

“I’m just trying to be out, like, teachers trippin.”

“Right Cort, imma boobop the ish out them.” A laugh rippled around the room.

Later in class I raise my hand to answer the question my teacher asked; Why was the industrial revolution the perfect time to put new ideas into practice?

“Yes, Luke?” The teacher called on me.

“Well, the industrial revolution was a time where there was a lot of innovation. Because of this the acceptance for new creations was very high, anything was possible if you could sell it to the public.”

“That’s good, Luke.” He moved on, placing white papers on everyone's desks.

That night at my cousin’s house my aunt asked me about my day.

“Well, it was pretty good. I have a project and some homework to do. But I like my classes and teachers and today was fun.” With that I wiped the side of my mouth with my napkin.

Those were examples of how dialect or language changes given who I’m talking to. My school was all black. Plus me. I came from a middle class white family. All my classmates were middle class or working class black. So, when I got placed in Wissahickon Charter school in kindergarten, I had no idea that over the next nine years of my life I would undergo ignorance, culture shock, resentment, and then adaptation in that general order.

When I started noticing differences it was later than my peers.  I realized I was white at the ripe age of 8. I had already been affected and shaped by black culture but in more subtle ways. Emerging from ignorance I noticed the differences. I started noticing black culture versus white culture. From there I became resentful. I hated that my parent sent me to this school, that we lived in this house, that we had this lifestyle. But I was brought up with values of justice and right versus wrong. So that I saw the beauty and necessity of how we lived. Throughout it all I was learning how to be black with white skin. The most important part of this was probably the language. How black people talk is very different from how I talk to my family, how I talk to family friends, and how I talk to extended family.

Language, in this sense, is just how you talk. The way you say your words and what words you use is language. This holds much more weight that we normally give it.

James Baldwin addressed this in his article “If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me, What It Is?” In this article he’s defining language and arguing that “Black English” meets its criteria. “It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power… It reveals the private identity, and connects one with, or divorces one from, the larger, public, or communal identity. … in such a way that one's antecedents are revealed” This quote shows how much language affects perception of your identity. Language shows where you came from (accents/slang) and that area has some sort of stigma towards it. For instance, if I said I was from Philadelphia people would, without knowing Philadelphia, associate me with a urban stereotype they’ve made up. Language reveals how you were raised, who you are, and how you view the world with the same process. All of these judgements are subconscious and in each one of us there is a small part that analyzes every word people say.

This quote comes from  a bell hooks’ article titled “This Is The Oppressor’s Language / Yet I Need It To Talk To You.” In this article she talks about how African slaves had to learn this English language (which was the language of the oppressor) and how this language was shaped by oppression to be a new black English. She tells the story of black English and how we relate to it today. “The very sound of English had to terrify. I think of black people meeting one another in a space away from the diverse cultures and languages that distinguished them from one another, compelled by circumstance to find ways to speak with one another in a ‘new world’.” People always look at the new world slavery system and say the color of skin was all they needed to define your level of power in the system. But really, it was also language that was a definer of who you were.

She goes on to talk about how blacks have created a dialect of their own, continuing the different  two languages or dialects (black and white). Language is a definer of African Americans in this country. And yet the “Oppressors’ language” and “fear” talked about in this quote still exists. White english. White English has as much slang and as many sayings but is held up as how the actors of movies and the media talk. It is basically held up as the “right” way to talk. This is because white culture has been, since the beginning of America, the dominant culture. When Europeans discovered America there was a mindset that western culture was the best. This resulted in the construction of a white society where skin color spoke the loudest. A clearly defining feature of this system and culture was language. This form of cultural racism (language being a part of that) means to be successful and not white means you have to “act white”, or assume the culture.

My situation was pretty unique especially given my skin color. Many white people will come into contact with at least two cultural dialects, but one is much more dominate. But, I was getting such large portions of two cultures (middle class white liberal and black working class teen) everyday that I needed to adapt to survive. So over time I learned black speech. Then I was aware of codeswitching saw how useful it was in different situations. I saw and see how easily I can change my dialogue to match others or connect with others.

But, I graduated in 2013. I could have dropped the codeswitching. “Survival” was no longer necessary. But codeswitching is something that allows connection. It allows people to view you in the most positive light. It feels wrong in some ways to put on a front, but different language is just a part of the diversity of the human race. Code switching lets other feel comfortable around me and allows me to feel comfortable around others. Because, unlike other white people, I know how to code switch, I can be friends with a more diverse group of people. So I will never “talk how I talk”, never “just be me”, but I’m ok with that if it also helps me to strengthen bonds with people, lets me relate to more people, be the best I can be to people, and make people comfortable. So I will build bridges and reach out to all with how I use my voice.




One day I was in Chinatown with my parents. We were waiting for a table at a restaurant called Penang which serves really good Asian food. As we were waiting, an Asian man and white woman came in after us, their name was taken by the hostess for their table. They would be waiting with us.

There was an awkward silence in the waiting area. My mother, Jennifer, opened her mouth. I cringed. She always does this. We call it “public talking.” It’s when someone feels that they need to start a conversation with some random person they see in public. My mom’s mouth was flapping away at lightning speed talking about “The great egg noodles” and how “Downtown Philly is really busy on Friday nights. . .” and making sure to not leave out that her son sings in a choir that travels the world. That’s when she said something that really stood out to me.

“Yeah, we love coming here, the food is amazing and mainly locals eat here, so it’s not full of tourists like us.”

At which point the man said

“Oh, where are you all from?”

I was just standing there internally face palming, laughing and screaming all at the same time. I knew what would come next. She then said,

“Oh, heh, no. We’re from Philly, just ya know.”

At which point I leaned over to my other mom, Angela, and whispered,

“We’re from Philly… ya know, the eh, white part.”

Angela chuckled then made her usual annoyed face. The man looked confused. The woman still had the mannequin-esque smiling face she had when I first saw her. The man responded slowly with,

“Well, we are from Washington state.” said the man.

“I’m from Quebec.” This was the only thing the woman said before my mom went back to workin’ her jaw. When the couple was seated the waiting area became quiet again until I said,

“Yeah, we love going here, the food is amazing and mainly ASIAN PEOPLE go here so it’s not full of WHITE PEOPLE like us.” Angela started to laugh louder now and Jen, realizing what she said chuckled and looked a bit embarrassed.  

I don’t like to take myself too seriously. I usually try to come up with ways to get my point across or carry on conversations with humor whenever I can. Sometimes this “humor” is snarky, sarcastic, or ironic. In the case of “The Great Penang Incident”, I used sarcasm to point out to my mom that she was being an annoying public talker, and saying something that could be mistaken for racist. If I had been too blunt or too serious in pointing out the problem with what Jen said, she might have gotten too focused on me being  “too critical.”  By using humor, I was able to get my point across in a less threatening way which ended up opening up more dialogue in the end. If I had bluntly said exactly what I was thinking it might have been something more like, “Hey mom, you're embarrassing me and yourself and I think that your comment could be taken as racist.”  This sentence might have hurt my mom’s feelings and lead to an argument. I am pretty sure that softening it with the use of humor was a better way to go.

A couple of years ago I saw my friend Elogio at a friend’s 16th birthday party. We  see each other only occasionally since we both graduated from our old school in 8th grade but we still do things together from time to time. Elogio is still a good friend of mine for over 5 years now. We’re both pretty chill with each other but one thing we both enjoy doing is saying stupid stuff to each other. When he saw me, he walked over to me and said,

“Hey Jake, wow, you’ve gotten taller.” It would make sense that the guy who hardly ever grows would notice my height. Elogio, when I first met him in 5th grade, might have been 4’ 5” and I was maybe 5’ 1”. Going into 9th grade he was probably 4’ 11” or 5’ with me at 5’ and 8”. He was the shortest person my age that I knew. I responded to him in a cheerful tone,

“Yea, I guess so. I wish I could say the same about you.” Then I let out a cheesy laugh that would make Mike Brady cringe. One might think that after knowing the guy for so many years I would have laid off the short jokes. The Mayor of Munchkinland looked at me disapprovingly, I just stared back with a smug grin on my face. A grin twice as smug but not as yellow then formed on Elogio’s face, and he said.

“I guess the lack of oxygen up there is already starting to do damage to the brain cells.” There was a second of silence and then we laughed, we were probably over laughing. I then grabbed his shoulder and gave him a sideways bro-hug. I held my nose in the air, and in the most pompous voice I could muster said,

“I don’t take too kindly to that sir.” We chuckled a bit and then caught each other up on how life was going after graduating from our old school.

It was by jokingly insulting each other with sarcasm and campy dialogue that we were able to connect as friends.  Most of our conversations are through jokes, but we are still able to remain friends and talk about a lot of different things.

Of course, not all people take too kindly to snarky comments. Some people can’t tell the difference between something being said sarcastically and something that’s said out of genuine resentment. When people misunderstand my attempts at being a jokester, it isn't exactly good for me - even when their reaction is priceless. My use of humor can be risky and sometimes backfires.  I see the world as a funny place. I include humorous comments in my daily language as a way to share with others that the world is a strange, ironic and entertaining place.

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