Avery Monroe 2fer Revision

Death is inevitable, but it can happen in many different ways. Those who cause death, are often sentenced to death as a punishment. When convicted of murder, there is always a consequence. When someone is given the death penalty it is because they have been found guilty of a certain crime, there is a small list of crimes that would make the death penalty a possibility. There are currently 32 states that still practice the death penalty. Not only is the death penalty a cruel and unusual punishment but also, it can be extremely expensive and devastating to the prison and state system. Experts say, sentencing a prisoner to death on average costs about three times as much compared to sentencing them to life in prison. The Death Penalty should be banned in every state, because it is a financial burden that will eventually cause major problems to the prison and state system.

If the person is not given the death penalty the alternative is usually life in prison. Although the price that the prison system has to pay varies from state to state, it is pretty similar. According to Amnesty USA, “Death penalty case costs were counted through to execution (median cost $1.26 million). Non-death penalty case costs were counted through to the end of incarceration (median cost $740,000).” Criminals have committed a crime that is not only constitutional in our governments eyes, but also have committed such an inhumane act of foul behavior. It is difficult to believe that states spend millions of dollars to allow the death penalty to continue. Instead of creating a cycle of death, the state should abolish the death penalty and replace it with a more suitable consequence. It costs so much more to kill somebody than to just give them time in prison. Since there are sometimes large numbers of people on Death Row, this will cause a default in the money that the government has.

To be on Death Row, there must be a deplorable crime that has been committed. It is up to the judge of the court to decide if the crime was horrendous enough to give the criminal the death penalty. Mario M. Cuomo, the previous Governor of New York, stated that “That law is a stain on our conscience... The 46 executions in the United States in 2008 were, I believe, an abomination. People have a right to demand a civilized level of law and peace.” Not only was Mario Cuomo a respected governor, he raises a fair point on the matter. As stated before, the cost of having criminals on death row creates a staggering cost due after the senseless “consequence” they completed. According to information gathered previously and the information from Mario M. Cuomo, those 46 executions in 2008 would have been a grand total of over 58 million dollars. While on the other hand they could have spent a more manageable portion of money. Yet still expensive, the cost for the 46 inmates sentenced to life without parole would have been closer to $35 million. Spending this much more money, over time, will mean the states have to take money from other resources and will eventually will end up causing bankruptcy to the state. It is much more of a financial burden to the states to continue the death penalty.

When a state spends so much money executing inmates, they do not have to money to do other things that are very necessary, such as reducing available resources. Again, Amnestyusa states, ” Reducing the resources available for crime prevention, mental health treatment, education and rehabilitation, meaningful victims' services, and drug treatment programs.” When spending money to put people on Death Row, the state prison system is not only at risk of going into bankruptcy, but also at risk of reducing, or eliminating other state needs. One of the resources that will be diminished is “crime prevention”. Using this money for crime prevention will reduce Capital and violent crimes that they are being put on death row for. What sense does it make for the states to take the money to kill people when they could be taking the money to stop crime in the first place? So many of these resources are vastly important and useful to everybody.


The Death Penalty should be banned in every state, because it is a financial burden that will eventually cause major problems to the prison and state system. If the state stopped to think about it, they would realize that The Death Penalty is does not just affect the money in the state, but the children as well. There is a lot of money that gets spent on the prison system every year. A lof of this money could, instead, go to children in the school districts. It is effecting the children, and could start a cycle of people who do not go to school ending up in prison. It costs a lot more for the prisons and states to continue with the death penalty law, rather than to imprison the criminals. Keeping the death penalty drains the financial needs for other major resources. It would be much more efficient to discontinue the law of sentencing people to death.





Works Cited:


  1. Slobodzian, Joseph A. "Rarely Used, Pennsylvania's Death Penalty Remains a Headache on Both Sides of the Debate." Philly.com. N.p., 15 May 2011. Web. 03 Oct. 2014.

  2. "Death Penalty Cost." Amnesty International USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Oct. 2014.

  3. "Death Penalty Fast Facts." CNN. Cable News Network, 01 Jan. 1970. Web. 06 Oct. 2014.

  4. Cuomo, Mario M. "Death Penalty Is Dead Wrong: It's Time to Outlaw Capital Punishment in America - Completely." NY Daily News. N.p., 2 Oct. 2011. Web. 05 Oct. 2014.

Russian Ban on American Adoptions

Carolyn Borock

Air Stream

The issue of international adoptions took a major turn in early 2013, when Russia, which had been a very popular country for American adoptions, passed a law which barred Americans from adopting Russian orphans. Russia’s giant plan was to “poke” the American population by using Russian children as pawns in an international game. The Russian government wanted to retaliate against the US for passing the Magnitsky Act, a US law that was created in response to the investigation into corruption, tax fraud and human rights abuses by Russian officials.

The circumstances which led to the ban on American-Russian adoptions began in 2008 with claims of corruption and tax fraud filed against an American-Russian investment firm. Sergei Magnitsky was a Russian lawyer who worked for the investment firm, and in defending against the corruption claim uncovered the wrong-doing against  Russian officials. Instead of charges being filed against the officials, Magnitsky’s investigation and testimony resulted in his own arrest for tax evasion and eventually, his death in prison while waiting for trial. Although officially a “heart attack”, it was clear that Magnitsky was subject to what amounted to torture for his refusal to back down from the corruption allegations and died as a result of being denied medical care in prison. In response to pressure from the American citizens whose firm Magnitsky worked for, the US in 2012 passed the Magnitsky Act. The Act allowed the US to freeze the assets of and hold responsible the individual officials involved in the corruption scandal and human rights abuses, rather than institute sanctions against Russia itself. (Washington Post article)

Several months later, the Anti-American Adoption bill became Russian law. Why did the Russians choose to ban Americans from adopting Russian children. why not something else?

The “Anti-American Adoption Bill” is a heartless way to get the attention of many Americans by hitting them emotionally. The action could affect hundreds of U.S. families seeking to adopt, not to mention the Russian orphans, who now must languish in orphanages rather than be adopted into a loving home. Americans adopted close to 1,000 Russian children in 2012, according to U.S. State Department figures, The most innocent and vulnerable of Russian citizens – its orphaned children – are being punished to protect corrupt Russian officials so they can line their pockets, while depriving Americans of the opportunity to provide a loving home for a child or children. How can Russia get away with that?

According to the Guardian.com, the uncomfortable truth is that underneath the posturing, Vladimir Putin has a point. “The international adoption trade is a shady business – about 25,000 babies are adopted across borders every year; with half of them going to the US. However loving the prospective parents, in many nations there exists, according to the children's rights charity Terre des Hommes, "an industry around adoption in which profit, rather than the best interests of the child, takes centre stage".

Unfortunately, there have been several well-publicized incidents where orphans adopted from Russia by Americans did not end well. In 2008 Dima Yakovlev, a Russian toddler adopted by Americans, died after being left in a sweltering car for hours. His adoptive parents were found not guilty of involuntary manslaughter.“  The Russian Anti-Adoption bill is named for him.

Unfortunately, however, the Yakovlev case was not the only famous case that gave the Russian government an excuse to ban Americans from adopting. In 2010, a seven-year old boy adopted from a Russian orphanage by a Tennessee woman was returned to Russia by himself on an airplane, with a note that he was being returned because he was violent and had psychological problems. At that time, the Russian government threatened to suspend the American adoption program. It was also noted that there had been several failed adoptions, including three in which the children died. (http://www.nbcnews.com/id/36322282/ns/world_news-europe/t/boy-sent-back-russia-adoption-ban-urged/#.VCiP0xaFmAE)

All of this provided a “valid basis” for Putin and Russia to create a bill which “protects” Russian orphans from Americans, the same way that the intent of the Magitsky law is to punish human rights violations.  However, the Yakovlev bill was not passed by the Russian government until four years after Dima Yakovlev passed away, and two years after the boy was returned on the plane, and pushed through very quickly after the Magnitsky bill was passed. It seems obvious that the Anti-adoption bill was created in retaliation, using the orphans for an excuse.

The US knew that the Russian government wanted to retaliate against the US. Why did the Russian government  choose to retaliate by banning Americans from adopting Russian children, why not something else, like trade? Russia makes a lot of money from the adoption process and they treat the children like an item. These are children not items.

In conclusion, Russia is using the children of their own country to hurt the Americans that fell in love with them, and hurts the Russian children who need loving homes; this is a situation in which neither side wins.




Works Cited :

(Washington Post article):

"Russia's Ban on American Adoptions Won't Go into Effect until next Year." Washington Post. The Washington Post, n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.

Guardian.com,:

Penny, Laurie. "Russia's Ban on US Adoption Isn't about Children's Rights." N.p., n.d. Web.


"Boy Sent Back to Russia; Adoption Ban Urged." Msnbc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.



Sounding Like Home

“Hi. My name is Michaela. I’m thirteen years old, and I’m from Philly,” I said to the group of girls around me. It was a standard summer camp icebreaker. We came from all over the country to spend a week here in Newport, singing. Since we were spending the week together, we were all introducing ourselves, telling each other our names and homes.

“Have you always lived in Philly?” one of the girls asked.

“Yeah. Born ‘n raised,” I responded with a shrug.

“Huh. You don’t sound like you’re from Philly,” she said in an off-hand manner.

I just gave her a tight smile and shrugged, not letting her see how annoyed I was.

“You don’t sound like you’re from Philly.” I can’t tell you the number of times people have told me that. And whenever I ask them where I think I am from, their response is almost always: “I don’t know, just not Philly.” Has anyone told you that don’t sound like you’re from the place you call home? It hurts. The worst part is when they want you to prove it. The number of times I’ve taken the ‘water test’, as I’ve dubbed it, is horrible. Someone will ask me to say the word ‘water’. They expect me to say something along the lines of “wooda”, since they think that’s what everyone from Philly says. They’re almost disappointed when I say “wadar”. Often I’ll just smile, and explain that the “Philly” accent that they are expecting is a South Philly accent. And, yes, there are people who say “wooda”, but the majority of the people I know don’t say it like that.

A lot of people would say that I should be happy that I don’t sound like I’m from Philly. That way, it’ll be easier for me to get a job down the road. The thing is, I do sound like I’m from Philly. I slur my words and elongate the ‘s’, sometimes even adding an ‘h’, like almost everyone else from Philly. People just associate a “Philly” accent with the voice of Sylvester Stallone. And I’m not the only one who has to deal with this issue. This is a problem people all over the world face. We assume all people from a certain area speak like the people in movies. We think everybody from Boston says “Pak the ca,” (Park the car) or the that everybody down south speaks slowly and almost slurs a little. And nobody is immune to it.

A great example of this would be the time I met one of my closest friends, who lives right outside of Boston. Alyssa acts like your typical Bostonian (she loves the Red Sox, can’t wake up without a cup of coffee from Dunkin’, and can be a bit abrasive at times), but she doesn’t sound like one. Or, at least, she doesn’t have the accent most people associate with people from Boston. The first time we met, we both immediately started judging each other’s accents. She had said I didn’t sound like I was from Philly, and I snarkily replied, “Yeah, well, you don’t exactly have a Boston accent, either.” And before you judge, I am completely aware of the hypocrite I was being in that moment. But that’s just something humans do. We judge people on what they sound like, and try to figure out their story from the moment they open their mouths. Another great example of this lies in The Hunger Games series. In every book, Katniss talks about how strangely people from the Capitol speak. She even goes so far as to mock them, even after she has met several people from there, and knows they aren’t all that bad. Their accent is vastly different from hers, so her instinct is to distance herself from it and make fun of it. We do the same. I still have the impression that all people from Boston say “Pak the ca”, even though I know people from that area who don’t.

And, like I said before, those thoughts hurt. The place you call home is a key part of your identity. It’s one of the first things you tell people when you meet them. So, when people tell you that you don’t sound like you are from the place you call home, it’s almost like they are ripping away a piece of your identity. However, what’s worse, is when people tell you that you’re accent is undesirable. When people make fun of your accent, they make fun of the place you call home. They aren’t taking away a piece of your identity, they are telling you that an important piece of you is undesirable, that you should hide it. At least when people take away a piece of your identity, other’s can replace it. But some wounds aren’t so easily fixed, especially when they are supported by popular culture.

Gloria Anzaldua addresses this issue in her essay How To Tame a Wild Tongue. She says, “Because we internalize how our own language has been used against us by the dominant culture, we use our language differences against each other.” She was talking about actual languages, but this quote can be related to accents as well. An example of this would be what Alyssa and I did. She told me I didn’t sound like I was from Philly, so, I retaliated. Neither of us has the “standard” accent of our homes. So, we used those differences against each other, which starts a chain reaction. Once we feel inferior, we want to make others feel inferior, at least on a subconscious level. We deem any and all accents that differ from our own inferior, creating the urge to reach “the voice from nowhere”. Sometimes, we even denounce people with our own accent, because we think that it is shameful. Yet, if we do eventually get to “the voice from nowhere” , aren’t we just putting ourselves back at square one? If we have “the voice from nowhere”, people will still tell us that we don’t sound like we are from our homes.

The idea of “the voice from nowhere” or a “superior” accent is ridiculous. Everyone has an accent, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Not only do these accents relay where we are from, they are a part of our identity, which is why making fun of them, or denying their existence, hurts. I know that we can’t just stop thinking the way we do, or change our misconceptions over night, but we can start to making changes. We can stop laughing whenever we hear a “funny” accent. We can stop voicing our thoughts about where we think people are from, or not from. And we can definitely stop trying to make others feel inferior because their accents differ from our own. No matter what we do, we will still make assumptions about people based on their accents. But maybe someday, those assumptions will come to include the less popular accents from a certain area. After all, don’t you want to sound like home?

Different People, Different Voices

I have no interest in this topic seeing as I have no accent, I’ve never been against other people’s accents, and never been affected by a family member/ friends accent. I’ve always heard strong accents, and maybe I have judged or poked fun, but they’ve never really affected me personally. But, this is not just about accents it’s really just about your speech in general, so I guess I will talk about what i’ve noticed with my voice, particularly how I talk to people depending on who they are. Even though I have a defining personality that stays with me everywhere sometimes I change a little depending on the person I’m with.

I walk to the cafeteria filled with loud noises, and rushing feet,. I come to the table closest to the lunch line where I find my friend Amanda eating what the school district calls “food”. I set my backpack down on the table, rush to put my frozen chicken masala in the microwave and find a seat next to her.

“Hey.”

“Hi” Amanda says.

“How has your day been going”?” I say somewhat sarcastically.  

She takes a deep breath and starts shaking her head.

“Oh god, I just can’t anymore with these teachers. They’re drawin’. I mean Mr. Abbott has a test and a benchmark due in the same week. And guess what! I have to do this asshole’s homework too! We laugh. “I just can’t anymore.’

“Well I’ve got two fuckin’ benchmarks due in the same week. Mr. Chase has one due this Wednesday, and Mrs. Jeffreys is due this Friday. Thank god she changed the date or it would’ve been due on Thursday, I would’ve been fucked!” I say in one breath.

We laugh again, and attempt to eat our lunch in this chaotic cafeteria. Eric walks over to our table and stares and Amanda’s lunch.

“Hey” We say.

“That shit looks like cat food. That’s disgusting.” He says pointing at it, laughter.

“More like cat vomit. “ I say. More laughter.

“No it looks like sweat. Like fucking sweat!” He says. Even more laughter.

“I don’t even know if I want to eat it anymore.” Amanda says.

“ I wouldn’t.” I say. Eric nods his head in agreement. Amanda throws out her food looking hungry and tired.

“Can I have some of your’s?” She says eyeing my food. I give into her puppy eyes and let her have some of my chicken masala.


When i’m with my friends I obviously talk how ever I want to. I curse, talk trash, and am overall incredibly vulgar. And so are my friends. It’s not a bad thing, everyone does it, but you only do it in front of the appropriate people. If I were to talk this way in front of an adult, I probably wouldn’t get a positive response. And, in my case wouldn’t, which is why I talk much differently with adults, particularly my dad.

I sit down at the kitchen table, waiting for my food to be served. My dad scoops up some mac and cheese into my bowl. After giving himself a serving he sits down. We start eating, at first in silence with jazz in the background, and then  my dad starts to talk.

“How was your day at school today?” He asks. He asks this a lot. I guess all parents do.

“Good.” I say.

“Well what did you do?” He asks.

“Nothing much.” I answer. “Just went to classes, talked to friends and stuff.”

“Oh. Well what do you have for homework?” He says.

“I have this history project…” I say.

“About what?” He says.

“Um, well it’s like this project where you have like a fake wikipedia page, and the topic is religion, and everyone does something different on religion. I'm doing art and religion.” I say.

“That sounds cool.” He says.

“Yeah the religion’s I’m doing are Islam and buddhism so I have to do some research on that…” And that’s when a billion other questions come in, and his knowledge on art, religion, buddhism, islam, and pretty much everything else that has ever existed. He also asks me if he can see some photos of this religious art that I have found. I of course have none, so I have to look up some google images.Then after realizing I already finished my meal I clear my plate and ask to be excused.

“Thanks for the dinner dad. It was really good.” I say.

“Your welcome. Make sure to show me those pictures!” He says.

“I will.” I say.

My voice changes when I talk to certain people. I am louder, more vulgar, and more revealing with my friends, while I don’t really know what to say with my dad or most adults in general. I don’t feel like I have to act a certain way in front them, or I have to say certain things to please them. There is no pressure, no worry with them, and I can say mostly what I want. I don’t know if this how your life works, maybe you feel the opposite way, or at least have more freedom to speak towards your parents/ adults. But, I think one thing we can all agree on is we don’t talk or act exactly the same with everyone.


Slideshow

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1xRmA8tvZMAoXgIjB2hMCKs0wBiPE37tbrjf3ZvfWIPk/edit?usp=sharing
My art was made with a very broad meaning, being straightforward yet beautiful. The reason that I created these pieces were because they had a very close mean to me. The art that I enjoyed making the most was in weeks five through six. I re-created a piece of art that was included on Kanye West album graduation. His music holds a very strong and close meeting to my hear and I think molded me into the person I am today. Music in my opinion a form of art, and just like the drawing it can be colorful and vibrant. 
The messages that I am trying to give as a person is that the things that shape you mold you into the person that you are, and that is depicted in the art. Although I would not consider myself an artist, I can convey a strong message through project. That is what I attempted to do here. I used Various colors that were very bright and both weeks two through three and five through six. The reason I picked these drawings are because of being a cartoon is affiliated with being a kid. The message is that being yourself is alright , and in my case I feel like I will always be young kid, with the young mine. The bright colors brought out a very active and I'll be feeling to the painting.
Week 2:sketches for ceiling tile collaboration
IMG_0040
IMG_0040
Week 3-4:collaborate with a with a “middle” to create a ceiling tile
IMG_0011 (1)
IMG_0011 (1)
Week 5-6: Choose your own drawling
IMG_0332
IMG_0332
Week 7-8:make three bats (the animal) out of construction paper
IMG_0337
IMG_0337
Week 9-10:self portrait any medium on copy paper
IMG_0346 (1)
IMG_0346 (1)

Second Languages are Another Set of Eyes, Ears and Mouth

“A, B, C, D, E…” “Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro, Cinco…” Is basically how I started speaking Spanish back in kindergarten. When I was 5, I was enrolled in Independence Charter School, where you can start taking many classes at a young age in English or Spanish. See Both my parents were born in Nicaragua, my mother’s parents are from Pennsylvania so when she was a baby they returned to New York State. My father on the other hand, lived in Nicaragua until he was a grown man. My dad since he grew up in a more open cultured place, he learned many languages like English, Spanish and a few other native languages. My mother only knows English. So my parents wanted Luke and I to have a bilingual way of learning. We continued through kindergarten with the baby steps. “A,B,C,D,E...” “Uno, Dos, Tres, Cuatro, Cinco…”


Luke and I started learning a second language at the young age of 5, my older brother was not put in the Spanish classes. My mother learned that it would be very hard for him, as learning a language comes easier as a child. I started really learning my Spanish because every class was taken in Spanish. I had “matemáticas” y “ciencias.” The teachers spoke to us in Spanish. “Aaron; nos vamos a la escuela, va a llover.” I understood them. Even when I never speak or practice Spanish outside of when I “need” to. We were told we could only speak Spanish in class as well. We were given “pases” for one time you can speak English every class. If you exceeded them the teacher would make you stay after to speak Spanish with them. “Me voy a verte durante su almuerzo.” “Si maestro.” Is what I would reply. They would push you early to ensure you learn and sustain skills in English and Spanish.


I learned Spanish but never got one of those “expected” accents. You hear the Spanish accents on TV. They like to make sure to show of their rolling R’s when unnecessary. People might say “Oh yeah, well you don’t sound like you’re Spanish.” Well then how do I know if you speak “English.” Stereotyping is a problem for Spanish speakers and many languages around the world suffer as they are supposed to fit the description of the languages “native speaker.” I am Latino and White but I look and you could say “sound” white. Many like me have had issues with stereotypes, with the American gringo look. I believe it’s because our physical look are viewed as people who can’t speak Spanish the “right” way. I am happy that I have this second language skill no matter what others think of what Spanish really is.


A struggle I have had was transitioning from learning from Spanish to English. Up until middle school every class I had was in Spanish, even music. We ended that in 6th grade. It was hard to learn the terms in math go from “pulgada to inch.” I would get things wrong on tests because of myself not knowing these words. I felt like Richard Rodriguez in math class, he said “ I remember to start with that day in Sacramento- a California now nearly thirty years past- when I entered a classroom able to understand some fifty stray words in English.” That might be a bit of an exaggeration as well as the second half only relating to myself. I felt I had to learn math twice all the time, the way I knew it and the way it was expected to be done. This was a burden on me but I overcame it. I overcame my transition from Spanish learning to English with practice, learning new things in classes in another way. I was happy that I learned my classes in Spanish as well, otherwise I could have lost my Spanish forever.


At SLA, I have gained a different way of learning Spanish, where working together rather than yourself is how we learn. I thought I should’ve started in a higher Spanish, but in Spanish 2 as a freshman with Don Marcos we often worked together to learn and show our projects to improve our Spanish. But at ICS it was more individualized and I’d say competitive. What I learned in Spanish 2, I learned in 5th grade at ICS. At ICS we had books to read constantly, long tests, projects and papers due often. ICS had a much larger commitment to Spanish, where I’d take the class seven times a week. The differences are astronomic between how I’ve been learning Spanish, and how I was originally taught. I can’t imagine not having taken Spanish classes in my life, they have been enriching to my speech in situations and how I look at cultures.


Mom: “Aaron Come help me out, I’m talking to one of my students and I can’t understand him, can you help?

Aaron: “Alright, cool.”

Student: “Que fue la tarea de la noche pasada?

Aaron: “Mom, what was the homework from the other night?

Mom: “The homework was to read the text then write a connection to yourself, and the world with the reading.”

Aaron: “La tarea fue a leer y después escribir conexiones de su mismo y el mundo del libro.”

Student: “Gracias, Ms. Sharer.”

Aaron: “Mom he said thanks.”

Mom: “Aaron yeah I know that one.”

(Mom types in de nada)

Mom: “Thanks.”

Learning Spanish hasn't just helped me but others around me. My mother does not speak much Spanish, she knows what would be called “un poquito.” She currently works at the school district building but previously worked at Furness High School. Furness housed many immigrant students from around the world. A chunk of them from Latin America. She would try to help them out of class by trying to talk in Spanish with them online. She had a hard time so when I was available, she’d ask for my help. I would be a translator for her so her students could learn and improve in class. Helping my mother goes a long way as it helps the student for the long run. My mother thanks me every time  help her out and using a skill of mine for the good of others is a great way a second language helps in the real world.



This essay makes me think about being thankful. Not for upbringing or material possessions but the gift of opportunities I’ve had to gain skills like Spanish. Things like skills are things to be more thankful of than those pair of shoes you bought last week. The language skill lasts longer and has a price tag that can’t be set. You can’t put a price tag on knowledge but you can on just about everything else. That’s why Spanish has relevance to me and it’s influence on myself and people close to me. Your language never goes away, so hold onto it and take advantage of it.

I Can't Understand You

“Say it again!”

“ Wanzie”, my mom said.

“I thought it was onesie.” I said laughing.

“That’s what I said, wanzie.”

Another round of laughter came from my sister and I. My mom was thinking of gifts for her friends baby shower and the idea of a “wanzie” came up. We had never heard my mom say that word before. We thought my mom talked without an accent. All my life I thought my mom sounded like any other American, but friends and strangers would ask where my mom was from.  The rest of her family had strong accents that even made it hard for me to understand sometimes. I could never understand how she sounded different. Until that day.


My mom is Guyanese. She was born and raised in Guyana with all of her family. At the age of sixteen, she and my grandmother came to America. In high school, people couldn’t understand what she said. They made mean jokes and stereotypes about where she was from. In college, my mom wanted to go  into Communications. She wanted to be “the next Oprah”, but she knew she had to lose the accent. She didn’t end up being the next Oprah but she did get a job at our church being the Events Coordinator. This job meant she would always be on the phone and communicating with people. Her new voice was beautiful. So beautiful that she became the voice on the answering machine. But why was it good enough there but not good enough in college?

When I was younger, I never noticed my mom had an accent. People say I have lived with her so long that I wouldn’t notice. I thought my mom was like every other American mom, except for the fact that she made curry and other Guyanese foods. Whenever people asked where she was from I thought it was her appearance. Maybe Guyanese people looked differently that other Americans? But then they would say to her “Oh your accent gave it away.” “What accent,” I would think, “ she didn’t have an accent.” Sometimes, after I would hear my grandma or someone with a strong Guyanese accent speak, I would ask my mom to talk with her accent. I would say she’s “americanized” and tell her she’s lost her Guyanese roots, all jokingly of course. All along not knowing she never lost it.


My mother’s side of the family has always been strict on speaking properly. My grandmother doesn’t accept slang or incorrect pronunciation of words. “Mac and cheese” is changed to “macaroni and cheese” and “You went over her house? Like flew over it?” is asked if  “went over her house” isn’t  changed to “went to her house”. Proper speaking is a must. New slang words are the types of things she gets mad at us for saying. Because I am black, people will automatically think I speak improperly. My mom installs in my sister and I that our language is everything. People will judge you by how you speak and she doesn’t want that to happen. “Open your mouth and pronunciate,” is a line I hear a lot,”you want people to understand you.” She learned that the hard way.

In class, we read a passage by James Baldwin. In the passage, a quote stuck out to me and I felt that it would fit perfectly into my essay. The quote says “It goes without saying, then, that language is also a political instrument, means, and proof of power.” This quote relates to me because I think if my mom didn’t have an accent then she would have had a better chance at achieving her goal. I’m not saying that that is the only reason because their are many other factors, but I believe that it would have helped dramatically. If my mom didn’t have her accent, she would have had a better shot at having a job in the area she went to school for. A better job would result to a higher salary. Her accent determines what types of jobs she will get. Just like in the passage, “means” are a result of her language. She could be the smartest person in the world, but her language will counteract that. Society wants us to speak a certain way and if we don’t we are looked down upon and not given the same opportunities as everybody else.


I have had experiences where I have been told I talk “white”. This means that I speak like a “white person” would talk. I don’t think I talk like I’m “white”. I believe I talk properly when I’m around certain people. I speak differently when I’m around professionals because I know that the way I speak will determine how they view me. The way they view me determines if I get the job or the opportunity I want. My skin color already creates stereotypes so my language has to change that.  My mom tells me to always speak properly because she knows how important it is. She doesn’t want me to have limited opportunities because of the way I speak.


I don’t agree with the way the world treats people who speak differently than how they thinks they are supposed to speak. I believe that everyone should be treated equally, no matter how they speak. Not everyone can speak “white”. It’s unfair to withhold opportunities from people because they don’t fit the language criteria that society has. Sadly, we don’t live in a time like that. I now understand why my mom pushes for a great education for my sister and I and for us to speak clearly and properly. She does not want us to be cut out from opportunities that we can be given because of our language. My mom had to work hard to change her language to fit in with society. Now that we don’t have to work as hard, she doesn’t want us to take our language for granted and mess it up. She just wants the best for us.

Pleeeeeease?

“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:


http://netsecurity.about.com/od/securityadvisorie1/fl/5-Common-Mistakes-That-Might-Get-You-Hacked.htm


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


http://miami.cbslocal.com/2014/09/23/how-hackers-are-using-free-wi-fi-to-hack-your-phone/


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.


http://www.tinhat.com/hackers/hacking.html


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


http://blogs.gwhatchet.com/newsroom/2014/09/30/how-to-avoid-hackers-from-cyber-security-experts-on-campus/


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:

1. http://www.tolerance.org/magazine/number-40-fall-2011/feature/straight-talk-about-n-word

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

(HMC)



2. http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cge.asp

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

(MAB)


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.

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...how 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

“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.


Works Cited:





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?

Good

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?


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,”

“Alright,”

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.


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.

Works Cited:

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

http://www.wyomingnews.com/articles/2010/12/26/news/01top_12-26-10.txt#.VBrbCRZiEzY


Employers don't have to allow self-expression, but most do. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://north.ops.org/news/InDepth/tabid/1019/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/219/Employers-dont-have-to-allow-self-expression-but-most-do.aspx


INK WELL: AMERICA’S TATTOO HISTORY. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://digboston.com/boston-news-opinions/2012/02/ink-well-americas-tattoo-history/


Professional. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/professional


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 http://www.natlawreview.com/article/regulating-appearance-workplace-employer-s-guide-to-avoid-employment-discrimination-



Runza® | Job Application Introduction. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2014, from https://www.runza.com/jobs/application_intro


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

http://www.nyunews.com/2013/01/21/rashid/


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. <http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/09/charles-barkley-adrian-peterson-video-ray-rice-cbs-nfl-today>.

"Child Abuse Law." - HG.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Oct. 2014. <http://www.hg.org/child-abuse.html>.

"Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect." Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Oct. 2014. <https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/define.cfm>.

Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect. S.l.: Bibliogov, 2013. Child Welfare. Web. 2 Oct. 2014. <https://www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/define.pdf>.


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.


Silenced

“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.