December 8, 2019

The Final Act

Dear John Lewis,

       I think the way you refer to the cause of C.T Vivian’s arrest, as well as those who were trying to register with him, as ‘good/ necessary trouble,’ is very effective. It shows that what African Americans fought for back then, was for a just cause and it changes the way I saw the term trouble because it’s usually associated with something negative. Going back to what happens in the story, the march event had already began to take place. Many state reinforcements attempted to stop the march, which resulted in the threat to use violence in order to break away the crowd. Malcom X’s death was announced on the radio days later. I could never even come close to imagining anything tragic as a death of an acquaintance on the day of my birthday. I could see the shock, even after everyone found out Jimmie Lee Jackson was dead as well. The plan for another march was devised from Selma to Montgomery but SNCC believed it wouldn’t do much for them as it would for Martin L. King, but just like you, I thought the opposite. I don’t know what makes this march different from any action that they’ve taken to fight for their rights to vote, as all of them came with that risk factor of confronting violence, but you saw this as reason to speak for yourself and follow what you believed. There is then, a sudden transition to when you met Barack Obama, in which he gave you a card with words of appreciation written on it. I feel like it was, although a weird transition, effective because it’s like you’re looking back on the choices you’ve made to get to where the present has taken us. In the end, the voting act was finally signed despite the pain and shots that were fired many.

                                                                                       Sincerely,

                                                                                               Shela

            

November 18, 2019

The Dining Hall

I am currently a college freshman working a job at Kokee Tea as barista, cashier, and ice blends. Throughout the first four months that I’ve been there, I got to learn a lot about the value of teamwork and being more aware of different styles of work that everyone there had. I’ve witnessed many workers come and go despite how long I’ve been around, either officially being asked to leave through a short email or willingly choosing to quit because of the unfair treatments that they went through at minimum wage. I feel like the acknowledgment of every employee’s efforts is important to create a better space and working environment that eliminates the idea of any possible bias towards certain people. I decided to examine this space because it shows that characteristics of a worker can be seen at any job, in places as simple as this location, and how privileges given to a person of a certain position don’t necessarily reflect a hard worker. 

The outside look of the dining hall.

The outside look of the dining hall.

Before walking through the first set of double doors that any Georgia State University student would come across, one would be confronted by the immediate view, provided by the transparent glass walls, exposing the interior setup of the dining hall. Past the second set of doors, the buzzing sounds from the machines that store food echoes calmly throughout the entire place as voices from those engaging in conversation, specifically those who were working, were muffled in the background. 

On one particular side of the dining hall, the light from the sun is dimmer and void of any windows. It’s the dessert section, located to the left of the entryway. There’s only a few students seated nearby, as it is still early in the morning, and the movement and sounds of the workers preparing food for the day were the only things that were distinctively noticeable. Standing in front of this section, there are two workers: one in a black uniform t-shirt holding a clipboard and another wearing just the Georgia State University’s signature blue color shirt. The one with the clipboard in hand seems as if she’s giving orders to the other worker beside her. They talk for a while before the worker in blue nods and leaves while the other one walks up to the counter of desserts to examine the area. She checks around, taking her time to scribble something down on her paper before proceeding to head in the direction where the worker in blue left. A few minutes later, the woman in black makes another appearance. This time she doesn’t have a clipboard in her hands and instead, grabs a few of the bowls in her hand from the ice cream machine. She calls over a guy in another blue uniform, who looks to be middle eastern, to the ice cream machine and tells him to refill the eating utensils in their holders. After that. she moves onto the breakfast area, perpendicular to the isle of entry and starts to wipe down the tables.

Straight past the desserts, parallel to the main aisle, is another food island that’s a few short steps from the dish dropping area. This time a large male worker, wearing a fresh white chef apparel, glancing around the food with a look of skepticism. He is holding a plate as he contemplates on taking a piece of bread from the counter. He unwraps the bag from the see-through cabinet, takes out a slice of bread, and then shoves the bag back where it was. He proceeds to walk over to the next island that serves mostly fried food. He observes the French fries, puts some on his plate and continues munching on the rest before disappearing to grab some more food on the other side. Minutes after he was last spotted, the chef starts walking towards the dish drop area. Despite his size, he moves in very slow strides and shuffles that seems as if his foot were lazily dragged across the floor. He comes out and stands next to a table of four. His hands are crossed as he stares at the students around him and those who just came in. He sees the woman in the black uniform by the breakfast area and makes his way to her, who is wiping down the tables. He walks up to her, starts up a small conversation, and then helps her pick up a used napkin lying on the table in front of him. He pulls up the trash bag so the trash could stay inside and stands there for a moment. He is looking outside the window, seeming to be lost in his own thoughts. He leaves her and speaks with another worker before shuffling out of the dining hall. 

The lady looks up after he leaves and notices people lined up at the entrance who don’t have their fingerprints in the systems yet. She quickly walked over with a smile, leaving behind the rag that she was holding, and let them in. She tells them to sign a sheet of paper on the counter at the entrance before immediately going back the table she left off to wipe down the table. 

I chose to examine this space to show how hard workers should be acknowledged even if they aren’t given any highly sought positions. In this space, there is a difference between the two workers and the way they work in the dining hall. The woman in the black shirt seems to be in constant motion and actively tries to find things that needs to be cleaned or inspected. The man in the white attire, although assuming a higher position that may only need to oversee that everyone is doing their job, shows a casual side of carrying out his tasks and isn’t really attentive when helping other workers. Business owners who acknowledge employees with good work ethics, and qualities that define a hard worker, would more likely assign people, who are more dedicated and dependable, to take over higher roles or give better payments.

November 4, 2019

A Turn for the Better

Dear John Lewis,

        The amount of funerals I’ve been to in my lifetime, must be nothing compared to the amount funerals one attended back then. As the fight for equality continues, your third book, March, begins giving insight on what’s going on behind the scenes in the White House, starting with the president then, Lyndon B. Johnson. Testimonies from delegates were held and recorded on national television as Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer’s who spoke out on the consequences she received for voting, as well as many other people including Martin Luther King Jr. President Johnson soon found a way to interrupt their testimonies by holding a press conference, but it failed because the testimonies were aired again later that evening. The extreme measures to prevent the Credential Committee from voting in attempt to influence the results of the poll led African Americans stuck on the decision of choosing two delegates. The Democratic Convention was stated as the turning point in the movement because Johnson won for re-election, in the end. Since then, there was a long period of mistrust in the government and the faltering hope that grew to break organizations like the SNCC. Traveling to Africa was able to open up a different experience for you and others during this tough time in which you got to witness a colored person take position as the pilot, as well as the the meetup with Malcom X who wanted to broaden the situation to the United Nations. There were questions revolving around the rise of equality for women that led to further complications in the SNCC. These things eventually led up to the huge event of Dr. Kings March to freedom.

        I felt like everything that’s happened up to this point has definitely taken a serious turn for the better. Even though there is a bit of hope that was crushed at one point, the community nevertheless got together to unite and start this powerful act of marching.

                                                                Sincerely,

                                                                                   Shela

October 10, 2019

Growing Hope

 

Dear John Lewis,

       To continue where the story left off last time, the struggle against racial discrimination occurs yet again. Even if African Americans were given the ability to vote, there was this constant difficulty that others created in order to try and prevent the act of registering. As a response, protest groups started growing in large numbers just as amount of people arrested did too. Mock elections, known as the Freedom Vote, were then held to recreate and give a sense of reality of how it would feel like if African Americans were actually given the chance to vote. The announcement of President Kennedy’s assassination happened not too long afterwards, which shook the whole community because he represented the hope for change and route to equality. Lyndon B. Johnson was next for presidency and was able to pass the civil rights bill but didn’t seem to be fully committed to that idea. Cooperating with the white students and making full use of their publicity to channel messages of civil rights to the president became the main goal of SNCC. Freedom Summer marked the initial attempt to educate volunteers to the issue and rise for the cause, in which President Johnson later on passed the Civil Rights Act to end discrimination and segregation. 

       I feel that through all the events, it is empowering to be able to rise to the occasion and begin working with people who’s race has greatly despised another’s race. Again, the visuals were definitely significant, especially during the process of finding the three missing bodies, in being able to portray emotions and the guide the story to a better understanding. I continued find the pride and passion that never stopped growing and admire the perseverance to try and seek out ways to start small and unite people who were influenced to have like-minds.

                                                                                                             Sincerely,

                                                                                                                     Shela

September 23, 2019

March Response

 

 

Dear John Lewis,

        Based on what I’ve read so far, your story, March, incorporates great details that contributed to the fact that segregation was an ongoing event many were struggling against, including yourself, back in your time. The risk of lives taken and the danger that surrounded the colored community continued to increase, which can be particularly seen when the church in Birmingham was bombed. This resulted in the deaths of the four children and sparked intentions to take action. Members of organizations, like the SNCC, responded to this incident by trying to propose ways to effectively execute justice without violence in order to unify and direct their outrage in ways that it can be heard, starting with the rights to vote.

       While reading this story, I felt profoundly connected with the way the visuals correlated to the narrative. I was able to visualize the situation more clearly and grasp a better understanding of the empathy I felt as the story progressed with the violence that occurred. The introduction of the book with the bombing of the church, I felt, was a great way to start the story since it gives a strong sense to the severeness of the situation and insights to the actions and goals that develops throughout the story. In the case of today’s issues, we as a community should focus more on societal interactions and the discipline to be open-minded to any situation. I feel there isn’t a real general solution to the problems faced today, but I think focusing on interactions in society will influence the way many people interpret things since most of it revolves around the fact that the development of how one perceive things excludes other major factors that should also be considered.

                                                                          Sincerely,

                                                                                      Shela

                                                    

September 16, 2019

a story in time…

An image of the blogger at 8 years old

Shela, 8 years old

I was around eight when I remembered the first few moments of my mom teaching my sister and I how to read a Vietnamese children’s storybook. With the colorful, thin book in her hand, my mom would call for us to sit on the pale, wrinkled couch that made us sink every time we sat down. It is hard for me to recall what exactly the story was about but I do remember it being quite difficult for me to comprehend because of all the words that appeared foreign to me; each page that was read had a new set of vocabulary that seemed to not want to register in my brain. Inevitably, my parents caught onto the fact that English was developing faster in us and therefore didn’t allow any English to be spoken in the house. We were only to listen, watch, and speak in anything relating to Vietnamiese. Now this may sound terrible, which looking back now I would agree as well, but it has helped me catch on to words and tie them to their meanings. My reading gradually improved on the long run and eventually the house rule of the ‘no English deal’ ceased since my sister and I proved ourselves to be able to handle being bilingual, which I came to appreciate later on in life.