Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Day 3: "Always Feel Powerful"

I feel that I have learned more in the past three days than I ever could have imagined possible. This is an aspect that so far I am loving in my class. The ability to walk into class each day with the preconceived knowledge that you will learn something entirely new and impacting is unfathomable to me.

For our morning session, we once again began with our physical exercises in order to clear our minds and to stimulate our creativity. The focus for today was "power" and how it could have immense sociological effects on an individual. The motions were meant to empower us to believe that we were powerful within and that we could accomplish anything. Following our, formal pre-class custom, we were introduced to our first guest speaker, Bishop Dwayne Droyster, who was the executive director for an organization known as POWER ( Philadelphians Organized to Witness Empower and Rebuild). He began by introducing what the program was all about. It was composed of 40+ congregations united for the betterment of society, meaning the organization was multi-religious. It was framed around a system of egalitarianism, in that each individual had a say in the direction the organization would take. A quote from this introduction that really resonated with me was "People who change the world, do not do it by accident". I found myself agreeing with this statement in that, everyone who makes change accomplishes it because they are driven and motivated to do so. Everyone, regardless of age, race, background etc., can make a change as long as they set their mind to it. He began going over various social issues that his organization worked hard to combat and to seek reform in. Among these were the issues with the quality of the academic system in colored communities and the struggles people face in terms of economic stability within Philadelphia. A statement that really made think was that "in order to have dignity in work, you need to have a decent wage". This concept not only is applicable within Philadelphian community but also across the nation. Everyday many struggle to provide for their families, even though the may work two full time jobs, or they struggle to provide their children with a quality education because of an inability to do so. This made me think, what if I was in this position many children face in the U.S and across the world. What if I was the young teenager who was intellectually capable, but financially unable to pursue further education that would allow me to achieve a better life. In addition, he also mentioned the dominant narrative in society, in that it has been framed to feel inferiority towards minorities. The most valuable and most impacting statement made by Bishop Droysster was, "if you put on hope, people will give you their hopelessness." I found this statement to be influential in my eyes because it is realistic. In many occasions, society focuses deterring those who have hope as they are incapable to feel that same belief within themselves.

Our next guest speaker, offered a more relatable experience in my eyes. His name was Fabricio and he was a prominent "organizer" in the Philadelphia community. He began by reiterating the belief that everyone was powerful within and that regular individuals were the master of their future. In order to emphasize this he began telling us the story of how he decided to become an organizer. In his senior year, he decided to drop out of school and began working as an underground miner. When his father was transferred to a private mine called Greens Creek Mine, in Alaska, Fabricio was also invited along. There, the boss (Boomer) took an immediate disliking towards Fabricio's father because he was undocumented. The boss was a natural bully and aggressive in how he spoke. One day his father was told he could not eat his lunch during work hours, although many agreed that this was unjust. In order to combat the persistent injustices, Fabricio's father decided to take a stand and attempted to rally co-workers to eat lunch in front of the bosses door in order to anger him. However, when the time came, on he and his father presented themselves to eat their lunch. This inspired Fabricio to decide to become an organizer; the conviction and dedication his father showed to his cause influenced him dramatically. Out of his entire presentation, one comment resonated profoundly within me, "at the table of Justice, there are no reserved seats". In other words, justice is something that must be fought for. As Americans, the rights illustrated in the Constitution are existent only when we use them and therefore are unrealistic as words written on paper.
Philadelphia night life!

The afternoon session was more of a reflection period from the previous lecture. Many began analyzing the concepts of what were wrong with society and how to possibly amend the issue. However, the topic that sparked the most controversy in the classroom was the debate over "social mobility" based on the presentation we had been given the night before by the Untouchables. Even in America where there is much freedom and supposed fluidity between poor and rich, social classes still exist. The question proposed, revolved around ones ability to rise the social ladder. Across the room, students were chiming in, each presenting their own opinions and ideas which made the discussion a lot more interactive and interesting to listen to.
A unique and incredible film

As part of the evening session, we were once again treated to a special treat by our professor, Andy. As an optional field trip, those interested would head down to a local theatre to watch a movie that was relevant to social justice. The movie was a recent release known as, "Snowpiercer". The plot line revolved around a post-apocalyptical scenario in which human attempts to stop global warming have induced an ice age that has wiped out all living life except for those on board a global-spanning super train, capable of being self-sustaining. As the story progressed, social classes develop and are manifested in the form of location onboard. The so-called elites are closer to the engine at the front of the train, while the lower class remained in the final car at the back. The movie modeled various of the concepts we have been studying in class and applied them to a visual and comprehendible scenario. Instead of discussing the basic ideas, we were given the opportunity to see them applied in a hypothetical scenario. After the movie, I exited the room completely speechless. I was so taken aback by the message it conveyed and how, although a very... unique movie, portrayed aspects of society that are existent in the world today.  

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