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You and the World: Bullying in the USA

In this post I wanted to not talk about the dynamics of bullying but stories from my classmates and my personal story. My story does include bullying but also circles around depression and why it started for me.
The worst of my bullying started in third grade I know third grade doesn’t sound like it could be bad and it was nothing compared to what I would have to deal with in the next few years. Four girls invited me to play with them, I had a blast. The next day when I expected them to play with me again they didn’t. They said that I wasn’t cool enough to play with them, and I was devastated, because I had no friends. That day I had no one to sit with at lunch, so I sat with the girl no one else would sit with because she was a “loser”. She ended up leaving the school after that year because girls were so mean to her, but to this day we are still great friends. I couldn’t believe they had driven away my only true friend.  I felt so alone and sad and in fourth grade my depression began.  In fifth grade I made new friends, they were the best friends I could ask for, they were, kind, thoughtful, and they listened to my problems. It was getting better for me and I was happier. One day after the school play I was walking out  after I had performed when I saw my parents standing by the door, they stopped me and told me I was switching schools next year, to a school that I dreaded.
The next year as soon as we pulled up in the car I said the words I always said “welcome to prison” that year went by and I only had three friends. These girls lived in big houses weren’t very smart and well to say the least they were the complete opposite of me, and by the next year I fell deeper into my depression. That year though, I made some amazing friends, and for the first time in two years I felt happy again, that happiness continued. I was friends with everyone in the school they all knew my name and on top of that I was getting straight A’s.
When eighth grade came around I was flying high out of my dark hole, until the night of October 26th.  That night my dad died. Almost at once I fell back into depression, One day after it happened I went to school. It felt nice to have all my friends hugging me and telling me how much they loved me, but it seemed like there was a black hole inside of me sucking up all the happiness in my life and turning it into depression.  For two weeks I stayed home with my mom, and when I got back to school I was suddenly an outsider. My friends stayed by my side but only about ten stayed as true friends. I feel terrible about it now, but I was pushing away my oldest friends in that school. I was being mean to them, and telling them to leave me alone. I didn't want them in my life, they didn’t understand. I thought my bullying was over, not quite yet. It began again in February when we went on a school trip to Wyoming. It was along the lines of embarrassing me, making fun of my body and continued until the end of the year. It was done by one girl, Hallel Raphael. She tormented me that year, not physical bullying at all but it was very discrete and sometimes it was over the facebook. By the end of that year I was so excited to be leaving, I had amazing times there but also too many bad bad memories.
Bullying is a huge teenage issue that needs to be addressed as a more serious issue across the US. Twenty-two states out of fifty states only have one law passed for either cyber bullying, or cyber harassment.
According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) 4,400 people a year kill themselves due to bullying. Over 14% of high school students have considered suicide and 7% have attempted suicide. According to studies done by Yale University victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide than non-victims. Girls from ages 10-14 are more likely to commit suicide due from bullying in their schools. 30% of kids of students are either a bully, or a victim, and 160,000 students are staying home from school from fear of bullies.
If it’s gotten to the fact where students don’t want to go to school, get an education, and have a successful future, they would rather kill themselves. It needs to stop, from me being someone who was bullied and know other girls and boys who are bullied, it’s painful, and everyday more kids are sinking into that black hole of depression.
Some people expect parents to jump in and help, but some kids don’t feel comfortable telling their parents because they are so afraid. Kids need to know that when they are at home they are safe, and if they are being cyber-bullied, tell your parents! They can try and stop the kids who are being cruel, and help their child from killing themselves. If parents don’t know what to do then to start they could remove any violent weapons from their home, and if their child has been cyberbullied then a parent can remove computers from their childs room, or put on passwords and website locks to ensure their safety.
I conducted an interview with Angelica Owens because she has become public about her middle school bullying experience.
Interview with Angelica Owens

When did your bullying start?-
My bullying started at pre-K.
Did it have an effect on you?-
It affected me a lot and made me have low self esteem

Do you have any idea why you were bullied?-
I don’t know why i was bullied. they never really told me why
How long did your bullying continue?-
it continued until 7th grade
Are you still haunted by it?-
I am still very haunted by it
How did you get bullied?-
I got bullied by getting dragged across the floor, kicking, punching, called names, and emotionally
Can you describe your self harm?-
My self harm made me feel like i was bigger then the world and I would cut myself with a sharp edge with my nail clipper but it would never bleed through.

Click here for my annotated bibliography

You and the World: Internet Privacy

I'm Toby, and this is my second blog post for my you and the world project. Since I last posted, the ITU meeting happened. Many of the governments present refused to sign the treaty, and the conference ended at a standstill. So for the moment, the internet will stay as we're used to. A petition has also been listed on to defund the ITU. I suggest you sign it.

Since the ITU meeting is over, I'm changing the focus of my project to privacy on the internet. According to Wired, the FBI is pushing for legislation for requiring devices to be easier to wiretap. Not only could this cause privacy concerns, it could also make it easier for criminals to listen in because of the backdoor that the FBI put in in the first place! In happier internet privacy news, Michigan recently passed a law that would give citizens the right to withhold their social networking username or password from an employer or parent who requests it.

I've also done some original research, creating a survey that people at SLA took. It asked questions about how anxious people were about internet privacy, what sites they were worried on, and why. A total of 40 people took the survey. Most people rated their level of anxiety at about 4 or 5, as seen here.


The site most people were worried about their privacy on was Facebook by a vast majority of 65%. 30% of people said they were not worried about their privacy on the internet.


For the last question (If you have ever been worried about your privacy on the internet, why were you?), responses varied. A number of people expressed concerns about colleges and future employers seeing their posts on social networks, while others were worried about stalkers. Other people were worried about people they don't know finding out their identities or seeing them in the wrong way. One parent (and IT professional) said they were concerned about SLA's SLATE blog being too open. They did not like the fact that student's identities and images (although there is no default profile picture and most students leave it blank) and said it should be on an intranet (private computer network) behind a firewall. Additionally, if you are not signed in as a student, you can only see the name of the instructor when looking at the public feed for a class. However, the names can be seen as the author of a blog post, even when signed out.

What I can conclude from this research is that most people are not too concerned about internet privacy, but many of the people that are concerned are especially concerned, worrying about their privacy even when their content is private. This correlates with the news article mentioned earlier about the FBI pushing for devices that are easier to wiretap. People that said they are worried about what colleges and future employers can see can rest a little bit easier because of the law Michigan passed mentioned above. Hopefully more states will follow suit.

I think that the FBI's suggestion for devices that are easier to wiretap is not a good idea. As Wired says, backdoors open the path to hackers. On the other hand, I do think that Michigan passing a law that gives citizens the right to withhold their username or password is a good thing, as it makes social networks a bit more private than their current state. Based on my survey, I think that Facebook's privacy policy should be changed, as it would explain why most of the people surveyed were worried about privacy on Facebook. Facebook's privacy policy states that Facebook may collect data about you while you are browsing in order to give you more relevant information, including your location. You should be given the option to turn this off. Also, since most people may not read the privacy policy, the fact that Facebook collects this information should be displayed in short form somewhere conspicuous. Another way to solve the problem would be to show a condensed version of the privacy policy when users sign up. This is because Facebook's privacy policy says that they will not collect information without telling you about it first, such as in the privacy policy. The privacy policy is linked to on the sign-up page, but just like license agreements, only a few people will ever actually read it. Not just Facebook should do this, but any digital service that requires you to read a long agreement.

Another concern expressed about Facebook in the survey was hacked accounts. Facebook has a feature, similar to Valve's Steam Guard, that would require you to enter a verification code when logging in from a unrecognized browser. This means that if a hacker managed to guess your password, they could not get into your account unless they entered the verification code sent to your mobile phone. Instructions on how to turn it on follow.

1)Mouse over the gear and then click Account Settings or Privacy Settings.


2)Click Security.


3)Find the setting that says Login Approvals. Click it. Check the box and click Save Changes.settings

4)Click Set Up Now and follow the instructions onscreen.
set up login approvals
This is a good feature, and should be enabled by default. However, mobile phone may not be the best way to deliver the security code. Phones can be lost or stolen. A better way to do it would be to send the security code to the user's email, in the style of Steam Guard.

After all my research, I'm left wondering why the people who are worried about internet privacy tend to be unnecessarily paranoid about it. For my agent of change post, I am thinking of presenting to advisories about my issue. You can view my annotated bibliography here. Thanks for reading!


Homelessness Rates

blog #2 Bibliography:

Writing about a topic like homelessness can be fairly tricky, it is hard for a student to get solid first hand information. This may just be because I am not that talented at talking to people, let alone strangers. The difficult part is differentiating the people who have just been exposed to series of unfortunate events and are still hurting, or the people who have sunk into their own failure and ended up victims of their own collapse.
Much of what makes these victims fall into this spiral is based on how people think of them. There are many people who will judge a person on the street at first glance. This may be unjust due to the fact that there are many homeless people that could potentially be dangerous or mentally unsound. Four thousand, that may not seem like an amount to warrant any infatuation, this is the number (approximately) of people who do not legally have homes. This is a number that should be lowered, drastically. One way to help is, instead of giving charity and walking away feeling like a great person as many people seem to have done,,) going to a shelter to help out. The shelters need assistance to stay sustained, most of the shelters seem to close during the summer causing many homeless people to relinquish their constant source of nourishment, shelter, and home. Going to a shelter is not a thing that everyone is obliged to partake in, there are many other ways to try and mend this cause. Many local establishments offer food drives, sandwich making, and other things that can really help. Homelessness has been on a steady rise in cities like Philadelphia, much of this is due to the scarcity of reasonable health plans. Many people who need health care plans will run out of money on insurance that should ease worrying, not cause more. In the past year the rate of homelessness has been up and down; generally falling steadily, there is no way of predicting where we will be in a few years.
Good ways to help out include, helping shelters with supplies or even making food to send on the weekends. I have seen many schools and other public locations offer food drives and things of that nature, and frankly these things are exactly what we need more of in this city (Philadelphia).
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"Little Lady with a Southern Voice"

Donesha Lee


“Say Good morning the way you do?”

“Gud Monninnnnng, SugaFoot!”

“Why do you finish everything with a cute nickname?”

“Force of nature buttercup.”

“That is to funny, you’re so Southern.”

I growled at my friend as he walked to his class, the smile disappearing from my face. According to everyone I have seem to come into contact with has explained that I carry an "undercover Southern accent" within my voice.I marched to my class just saying “Hey” to everyone else that day.

The sound of someone applying the “Southern tongue” to my voice annoys me to my highest level. It is not something I have been proud to take pride in, because most kids seem to make fun of my undertone.I try and defend myself as though I don't know that it is there,but it seems that I have been lying to the world for hiding who I truly am. Although it is safe to say that I am not the only one such as myself that has this internal conflict. My friend Leah just happened to get her retainer on the other day right after I did the week before, and she is having the same trouble as me. I had saw her and told her to “Ophen upppp luv!”She opened her mouth so I could see her pearly whites.“It feeeels fonny in my mooouth. She said.”I laughed and told her “Eht feeeelsa like tere iss soo mucha schpit in ya mouf luv.”She cracked a smile and said “You schound fonny! she began to laugh.”I told her she didn’t sound much better, entering our classroom, which made her laugh even harder because apparently I  sounded like I said “Yoou dhooon’t schnound mushh beffer.”We walked in the class and I stayed quiet for most of the class period.

The society we now live in has constantly put a pressure on us to have the what I guess people call a "sophisticated accent" that was forced upon everyone to learn.According to The Women Warrior, also known as Tongue Tied by Marine Hong Kingston what stats that, “-I have never come into contact with a black person who doesn't want to speak.”After I heard that from the story I can say that I am now a little bit older and have a lot of self confidence in myself.I am an “African-American” who speaks a lot because I like to hear myself give words to this world. I can now say that "I am happy the way I speak. No one can take that away from because it represents me in my unique way. No!I don't sound very proper all the time. No!I don't care that the hidden Southern accent comes from my grandmother, who's from down south. No!I will not give my peers the satisfaction of hearing me try to speak like someone I'm not.This is me, and I speak my way.” It just sucks that people now don’t just pick on my little “southern tone”, but a lisp that was forced on me by my dentist too.

It seems as though it has just been so much easier in life to just speak the way I originally have throughout life. Which means, I don’t try to use big fancy words, I don’t try to change my voice, and I don’t try and speak all “proper”. It just comes out that way sometimes. It seems as thought the way I ten to reflect myself is just as a Southern Speaker , but it is mostly because of my grandmother. I don’t mean to sound as though I blame her for my way of speaking. Although, I just truly believe she is the one that has most of the persuasion toward it. I will always remember the day when I went to my grandmothers and sat down in one of her chairs in her house. She said 

“How ye doin donesha?”

“i’m guud.” I replied.

She then asked “How ye doin in school?”

But at that exact moment when I wanted to reply back, it was as if something jumped inside my throat and made me speak the way I did.I wasn’t able to make out to what I wanted to say because what I actually said shook me up a lot. Instead of saying “I’m doing fine.” I soon found myself saying

 “i’m doin quit well thank ya ma’m.”

 It scared me so much that I didn’t want to say anything the rest of my stay there. It felt as thought someone had officially slapped the fact that I as a person born in the North, raised in the North, and proclaimed to be a Northerner was forced to sound as a complete Southerner. So now it has just come to my attention that I carry a Southern accent. It may not be the best thing to some people, but it truly reflects who I am as a character or person. People still will always point out my little Southern tone, especially around my grandmother, but I wouldn’t want to have it any other way. It completes me, and now that I am older I actually tend to get a little upset if someone doesn't point out when I first meet them. As a person I have utterly seemed to shock a lot of people with mu confidence in the language I speak, but if it wasn’t for that little Southern sound who is to say that that little undertone is not the help that caused me to get into a good school, or get a great job. No one. So on that note I will portray my Southern accent confident and fulfilling. I would not have it any other way. Now, that I have  come to realized this and have successfully understood my language, I  must say that I can honestly speak well with others, and portray the “little lady with a Southern voice” as my grandmother might say.

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Alienation of the Elderly Pt. 2

For this second blog post, I gathered information based off of the real world. I looked at a care facility near me. I was able to gather data in how well people outside our monitored. I think there are grounds for concern that relate to my issue to be found here. In the past there have been some incidents and trouble caused by some of the people there. (Urination in incorrect places, trespassing etc.) There are many people there who are perfectly sane and fine, however there are others who have been reported to cause trouble due to some mental issues. This is no fault of those living there, but in fact fault those who should be monitoring people who need supervision.

I did some observation on how many staff there were versus how many clients outside of the building at certain given time periods of the day. I was not surprised and found it quite fathomable that someone without the best grip on reality could wander off and put themselves or other people in danger. This is somewhat disheartening. 

I did less overall research in this round of researching. I tried to focus more on what the average care facility looks like. I wanted to be able to relate my research to the actual life scenario that I had seen. In order to say that something doesn't look right, you need to have a pretty good idea of what that thing is meant to look like in its best form. The research that I did from looking online and reading books, of a personal care facility in its best state, did not seem to describe the one that I monitored when doing my real world research. This means that there have been things going wrong on one side of the research, and I place a fair amount of faith in those who are choosing what the standard for personal care should look like.

Obviously this is an issue that requires some addressing, otherwise I would not have chosen this topic. To me, it really is something that takes priority over some of the other issues. It seems all too likely that someone will accidentally prematurely end their own life due to them not being looked after well enough by people who's job it is to do this. The issue now becomes what we can possibly do to remedy this issue. To find that, we need to know the specifics of the problem. There are a few possibilities on why some personal care facilities have issues like this. I am sure that the root of the issue differs throughout each facility, and that is one of the things that makes issues like this difficult to solve with one thorough strike. Some issues need to be addressed on a very individual and personal basis in order to ensure the best results and lack of waste in resources. This issue is most certainly one of the above. 

I still wonder about ways that this issue can be addressed. I also wonder what it would be like to live in one of these places. I think that for my third blog post I want to do something that provides entertainment for people in a home. I am thinking about  playing music for people in a home. Whatever I end up doing, I hope that I can make a difference in some way.

CLICK ME for a bibliography.

Media Manipulation, continued

Media Manipulation: A Growing Threat to National Safety Part 2

When I ended last time, the conclusion I came to was that we have to find alternate sources of information that aren’t controlled by biased corporations, which led us to the internet. Internet news was our next big problem. When you look online, you have large amounts of inaccurate sources to choose from.
As previously stated, the cause of this inaccuracy is open content. The media and information generated online is created by a limitless number of individuals. I conducted a survey asking students from my school if they had ever received and used incorrect information that they found on the web. 67% of the 27 polled responded yes. Of that 18, seven said that they used answer sites like and yahooanswers or wikipedia. These are all sites where the content is user generated.
On the other side of the argument, other large information sites have been becoming more incorrect over the years. As you can see in this 2009 graph from the Pew Research Center for People and Press, people are becoming more and more critical of the accuracy of large corporate news sources.
You can find the entire article here.
Finding information is up to you. You want to find unbiased sources when doing your research, from respectable organizations. Some good examples of information sites to use are PBS and BBC. According to, the ways you can look for unbiased information include looking for the amount of corporate ownership of the organisations, the diversity, whether it is ethnic, gender, or cultural, and to observe who the information is coming from.You can read the entire article here.

The way I see it, we as a population have a responsibility to do one of three things. We need to report the raw facts, without trying to defend our ratings or image, if we are in a position where it is of the concern. We need to have unbiased and accurate information if we are trying to spread knowledge. Fair is a website actively supporting accuracy and unbiasedness on the internet. Finally, it is our personal duty to know how to detect fraud on the internet. I plan on creating a video documenting and providing help with internet research. Thank you for your time and interest, and I hope this article has been helpful.

For my entire annotated bibliography, look here.

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Litter: Part 2

By Zack Hersh
“Travel and Leisure” recently named Philadelphia the sixth dirtiest city in the United States in 2012. While this is progress since being named the second dirtiest city in 2011, our city still has a long way to go.

Since my last blog post, a lot of new information on the topic of litter has emerged. Some of it confirms that we are starting to move in the right direction, but some also shows us that litter is still an ever present problem at a local and national level.

Plastic bags are a terrible form of litter. Animals may mistake them for food and eat them. They fly everywhere, get stuck in trees, and you never know where they could end up. In an attempt to reduce the number of littered plastic bags, many cities and countries, including San Francisco, Mexico City, and Ireland have put a ban on the distribution of plastic bags in some way. This may be a tax on plastic bags, or a regulation on how many plastic bags shopping centers may be allowed to have or distribute. This should help to reduce the amount of littered plastic bags or plastic bags in general, and deter people from using them. Most people are supportive of a ban.

To get a more personal level on the issue of litter, I conducted a survey as original research. This also justified that while litter is still a big problem, we are starting to move in the right direction.

Out of the 52 people that took the survey, only 31% of them have never littered in some way. And only 33% of the people that took the survey said that they never litter! While this isn’t good, if you know that you litter, you can try to stop. Nobody said that they litter all of the time, but 9 people admitted to littering sometimes or often. However, what was really astounding is that only 10 of the people that took the survey didn’t know somebody who litters.  That means that 42 of 52 people know at least one person who litters! Of those, 8 people know a teacher who litters! Teachers are supposed to be our role models, and if they are littering, then we have a real problem.

Probably the most important question I asked on this survey was what people thought should be done to fight against this problem. The number one response was “put in more trash cans and recycling bins”, over “organize pickups” and “raise awareness”,

and I can relate to this on a personal level. On a walk to the Franklin from SLA one day, I had a piece of trash in my pocket and I was looking for a trash ca to throw it out, and for the entire walk, I saw only 1 trash can, and it was right outside the Franklin. I definitely agree that adding more trash cans and recycling bins could reduce the amount of litter in our city.

After this survey, I still don’t understand people’s motives for littering. On my survey, 12 people said they thought that raising awareness was the best way to help with the problem, and I agree here also. I think if poeple who litter knew how bad it was, they would think twice befor littering.

As for my agent of change, I have many ideas for things that I could do. I’m thinking of doing a litter pickup, but I also think that raising awareness, or raising money for organizations, or for the city could be equally effective.

But you can also do your part. Talk to people you know that litter. Pick up litter when you see it. But most importantly, don’t litter in the first place.

For my bibliography, click here.

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Food Deserts: Part 2


            In my previous blog I talked about the concept and impact of food deserts, but now I feel the need to affirm that there is hope that this problem can be solved.  And even better, I can report that several sustainable and innovative solutions are now being explored.  Communities all over America that can be classified as food deserts are taking a proactive attitude toward this problem and are currently experimenting with possible solutions to ensure that everyone gets the needed nutrients.  This can take many forms, from community gardens to grocery stands outside of McDonald’s.  Let me describe a few of these efforts before I discuss the survey that I conducted about food deserts.

            New Orleans had the problem of getting good, nutritious food to its poorer citizens for such a long time that some were ready to give up on solving it.  Hurricane Katrina wrecked the fabric of the city so badly that New Orleans was considered a hopeless case, but they haven’t given up and are coming up with their own unique response to the problem. Their solution is pretty simple and sustainable for their community. They are growing vegetables in urban gardens, or as they call them, “urban farms”. In many ways this is even more convenient than the common grocery store, because everything that is being grown in these urban farms is there because of a real need. Another positive thing about this system is that it is not just about growing food, but it is also about educating others about horticulture so that people could grow their own food.  It is not easy for the people to adjust to cooking from scratch.  It is much simpler sticking to the fast food even though it may be unhealthful, because it fills them up quickly and is cheap.  What this misses is the whole purpose of eating food - to retrieve nutrients. This truly is an essential skill that is in danger of being lost in our society and yet is one of the simplest solutions to a tiresome problem.

​community garden in New Orleans

New York and Philadelphia have also come up with creative ideas about how to get inexpensive, nutritious food to its poorer citizens. In New York they have something called “green carts,” which are just a large food stands that sells the food that the neighborhood is lacking.  This works well because the food is cheaper, the lines are shorter, and they have more variety than many of grocery stores in these areas.   Many people prefer these green carts to the average inner city grocery store because they are more convenient in addition to being less expensive. It is a good system because it brings attention to the low-income local farmers who benefit from reaching more nearby costumers.  And the system also provides a health benefit to the community as it motivates everyone to eat fresh. In Philadelphia we have a lot of small grocery stores in these neighborhoods that provide the community of what they are lacking and adapt to their needs.

Screen Shot 2013-01-21 at 8.44.39 AM
​fruits from a green cart in New York

Earlier this month I conducted a survey on my topic of research to get data I could use for my blogs. I asked five questions: would you consider food deserts to be a pressing issue in America, do you know anyone with low access to nutritious food, how do you obtain your food on a daily basis, do you live in an urban or rural setting, and what can we do to help our community with this issue. It was instructive to learn that, while over 3 out of 4 people surveyed thought of food deserts to be a prominent issue, most didn’t know anyone who had low access to nutritious food and that most in this survey group could get their food at grocery stores.  Clearly, my survey group is not the group most affected by an ability get good food whether because of where they live or income status, and they, like most Americans, view this problems second hand.  Now that I know that our first step must be to educate the American public as a whole and that we cannot take action before we do so.

blog #2

For more information on food deserts click here for my annotated bibliography.

If you would like to see my previous post click here

To access a food dessert locator click here


By: Penelope Deoliveira

Dove stai andando?”  I whispered to my sister. She shrugged, and turned her gaze to our grandmother’s kitchen.
“Probably in there... sono affamata.
I looked at the kitchen door too, wondering what delicious food waited inside. My grandmother, who at the time was showing off another piece of antique furniture, made it clear that we couldn’t eat yet. Her guests were consuming every second of time she had, so she hadn’t bothered even setting the table yet.

“Yeah, I’m hungry too,” I said. “I wish these irritante, antipatico, gente would leave....think we should just go and get some food?”

We stared longingly at the kitchen, then at our grandmother. She wouldn’t stand for any nonsense, no, especially when her guest were around. We didn’t dare try; instead, we’d have to wait another hour for her to finish up her conversations.

My grandmother, or as my sister and I call her, Ema, was a black woman who took grammar and speech very seriously. I could tell it made her feel proud and important whenever she added a point in an intellectual (though, in this instance, inconvenient) conversation. She always spoke to me and my sister with fancy words like “hence” or “therefore”- even if the discussion was about potty training. One of the most annoying instances where every time I would say “Hey, that’s mines!” She’d scold me, and give me a half hour lesson on grammar. “It’s mine, not mines. You don’t work in the mines, child.”

So we sat, trying to entertain ourselves, while the adults talked about investments, politics, and everything else they thought was fancy and grown-up. Sophia and I had stopped trying to understand them ages ago...words flew into our ears, but no clear understanding appeared into our young minds. Half of the conversation we could just barely make out; we spoke the same language- standard english, but we didn’t know much. Of course, english was my first language, italian not appearing until years after. But there were words I just couldn’t make out. Maybe they talked too fast? Or maybe I was just slow?

“Mom, ho fame!” I whined. My mother sternly shushed me quiet, and I shrunk back further into my chair. My mother and my sister were the only others in the room who could speak italian. My grandmother  (on my mothers side) knew a little, and my grandfather knew none. It was my grandparents on my father’s side. They hail from italy, speak it well, and taught their grandchildren enough to understand a little.

Over time, my sister and I developed a mini-language between us. Half english, half italian became the norm, and only when we were at school or around strangers did we tuck the italian half away into our minds. When we we grew older, my cousin taught us a few curse-words that the grown-ups might not catch. Words that could have two meanings, or depended on what sentence it was used in, became our secret code. We became so accustomed to the way we spoke, between just the two of us, that eventually it sounded neither like english or italian.

In middle school, the italian part slowly faded from my speech until only a small taste was left clinging to my tongue.

“Ha-ha, and I told her to succhiare il cazzo,”
I told my sister, as we walked down the halls to our next class. Our friends were beside us; when they managed to hear the quick sprinkling of italian onto the main english course, well, they were shocked. “What? Was that english or gibberish?” One rudely asked. My cheeks always turned a crimson red when someone said something like this. I learned quickly that many didn’t like it when I spoke it, even to myself, so I reserved it for home and home only. That was the only way to spare myself from embarrassment.

For the few that didn’t care, they assumed I spoke it fluently, which is not the case. They’d point out things, and ask me to translate them to english; I’d try my best, but sometimes I could provide no answer.

“Ha, okay, okay, now...what’s that?” A boy pointed at a tree. I paused, thinking, the word on the tip of my tongue. Switching back and forth was becoming harder for me, since I had started using italian much less. I had become rusty, compared to my old speed- spitting out words faster than I could think of them.  

“uh.....albero? I think...” I stuttered. The crowd was not satisfied, and pushed further in inquiring more about my knowledge in the italian language. A girl in the group pulled out her phone, and held it close to my face. “What’s this?”

“A cell phone? I....I don’t know.” I answered. She smirked, tucked her phone back into her pocket, and started to walk away. “ I thought you knew all the words,” I heard her say.

Language is a funny thing- it’s associated with race, culture, who you are, yet it’s an entire thing in it itself. Language shows who you identify with, where your family was from, and most importantly who you think you are. English to me is like a life preserver in the vast sea of mixed words, racing through my mind. Confusion often fogs over my thoughts when I try to  think- italian and english both come to me at the same time, and sometimes I slip up. English is something to which I can cling to when I’m around others. You could say it’s my more developed language.

The italian language isn’t so much the words to me as it is the memories that come along with it-
loud meals and loose guests, delicious food, garlic and tomato scents drifting outside to the back porch. My house smells like a italian restaurant almost every day; you’d think chicken fettuccine and broccoli alfredo were all my mom knows how to cook. The stories my grandfather tells me comes to mind every time I think of italian; it’s a happy place amongst stressful situations. I often find that when I’m over-emotional, italian will leak out. I guess that makes italian my more reserved, but just as valuable language, saved for special situations.

As Gloria Anzaldua said: “We needed a language with which we could communicate with ourselves, a secret language.” Although this language...this, ‘engtalian’ is spoken by many italian americans, it’s unique. It lets one  communicate in an americanized yet somewhat traditional way, by blending both languages, and cultures. In other words, it’s a code- the small bits of italian confuses the english speakers, and the english confuses the italian speakers. Language is a way to show individuality, express feelings, and communicate with others. It’s affected by surroundings, backgrounds, and memories. In this case, it’s created my prefered language- Engtalian.

YATW Blog Post #2 (Gay Rights)

Hey, guys! I'm back for a second blog post. Can you guess what the topic is? Yep, Gay Rights yet again. There's so much to talk about this topic that I don't think I'd be able to fit it all within this blog post alone. Of course, if you're new to my blog post and are lost, here's a link to my first blog post on the subject. Click here to view blog post #1. 
Now, hopefully you've read blog post #1 because I'm about to dive into some new information. It's been about a month since my last post and boy there are tons and tons of new things I want to share with you! First off, we're having the first ever transgender women to compete in the Miss California USA Pageant! The name by which she goes by is Kylan Wenzel. This is a big step forward for many in regards to gay rights. Some of you may be wondering "How can that happen? I thought they didn't allow transgenders to compete." It is now allowable since the man Donald Trump has banished the rule of having the contestants be natural born females. 
To add to my research I've found a some meaty news I bet you would love to hear about! Have you heard of Pastor Dave Buehner by any chance? Some of you may know him and some of you may not. The thing is that he made a statement on January 8, 2013 that our nation's "embrace of homosexuality" will destroy everything. He says it will destroy society, lives, and families. Absurd isn't it? He has even went so far as to relate gay marriage to mass shootings across the country. He mentioned the Connecticut incident which happened last month. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Connecticut incident please click here for more information.) To me, I think he's just making a desperate attempt to try and strengthen the opinion of anti-gay organizations and change the minds of people considering supporting gay rights.
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    ​Picture of Pastor Dave Buehner's statement about Gay Marriage and mass shootings.   

Pastor Dave Buehner
Pastor Dave Buehner

I've conducted my own research at my school by sending out a survey to my fellow classmates and advisories. I had a total of 36 responses. The results were absolutely astonishing! Out of the 36, 31 participants responded that they were straight when asked their sexual orientation. The next question was in regards to whether they supported gay rights or not. We had a whopping 33 participants that said they supported gay rights. The question after that dealt with if those people actively supported gay rights. This one was rather surprising, but at the same time I expected it. The results were that 15 people actively supported gay rights, while the other 21 didn't. I mean don't take this the wrong way; I'm appalled that this many people actually did support gay rights actively. It's basically about 50% of all the participants, way more than I expected. 

Now, you're probably wondering what the final question was and let me tell you this was the most disappointing one. The final question was: "Do you think the government is handling the topic of Gay Rights as good as they can?" The results were that 82% of the participants said "no". This is disappointing to me because if you're own countrymen/women can notice that your not handling it well and they're pointing it out to you, why can't you do something about it? The government always says that their handling it to the best of their ability, but have we really seen any changes? I think the government doesn't want to make any "hasty" decisions in fear of losing trust from certain groups in the public. For an example, if the government decided to support gay rights, it's quite possible they'll receive much hate from certain groups such as extreme Catholics. As you may know having any sexual interactions with one of the same sex is frowned upon in the Catholic society. They've even have gone as far as to say you'll "burn in hell" for the "sins" you've committed towards god. I'm not saying Catholics are bad people it's just that there are some people who are extreme Catholics that happen to go against this concept because it says it's a sin in the Bible. I'm not here to judge. My job is to educate you on the matter at hand. This world is forever changing and we must keep up with it. There's absolutely no way that you're going to be able to ban same-sex marriages or rights, so why not just go along with it? That's just my opinion. 
Since the responses were sent back from my survey, I was able to get an idea of how my classmates and advisories think about this topic. I was able to understand that not everyone is going to agree with my topic, especially since it's a pretty big and sometimes an emotional thing to talk about. I understand that this topic is pretty well balanced on both sides, each side having strong valid arguments. I know I'm supposed to be in favor of gay rights, but I'm not going to ignore reality. What I can say is that we need to fight harder for what we deserve.  
My personal opinions are still the same even after I've found new information and conducted my own research, you're sexuality shouldn't matter, you should still have your rights. Think of it this way. You're born and you're given all the rights obtainable; then years later when you announce you're gay, those rights are stripped from you. How does that work exactly? I still don't understand some of the things our government does. 
I know this may seem a little pessimistic, but will our government ever change to benefit its people? We've been playing this game far too long. How much longer till we reach equality for all? I'm hoping through my agent of change part that I'll make some sort of an impact. My thoughts were to volunteer or help out in some way with organizations that deal with these matter such as the HRC (Human Rights Campaign). If I'm not able to do that then I'll probably go to other schools and have a talk with them about the topic if it's allowed. Those are only two of the many ideas I have for this project.  

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HRC's Logo

Click here to view my annotated bibliography!


Hello all, it had been a while. In this time I have been looking over my last blog and finding more information that I can share with you on fracking. This time around I figured I would give you some pros and cons about fracking. Although fracking is incredibly bad for the environment, there are some good aspects. Fracking requires people to run the drills, and transport the sand, chemicals and water, because of this fracking makes jods. Another pro is that there are plenty of shale wells in the U.S., so, we don't have to be dependant on foreign countries, here is a map of the shale wells if you would like a visual.

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The only other pro is that natural gas is the cleanest burning gas, but seeing how it puts out more emissions than coal, it is not that big of a pro.

The list of cons seems to be fairly endless, hydraulic fracturing uses tons of water, potatoes tons of water, and the companies don’t even have to tell us what they put in the water. People have also have claimed that it creates earthquakes, but it has not been confirmed scientifically, so it is not the strongest point. I focused on cons a lot in my first blog, and I don’t think you want to read the same thing twice, so let me show you a video one of the shale companies made.
I would like to point out how they point out all the protective casing that they use to protect any chemicals from escaping and getting into the water, but the vertical part of the process is not the problem. The horizontal part of the drilling is the issue. The cracks made in the shale rock to extract the natural gas is the cause for the chemicals to get into the water. You don’t want to put casing into them, because that will block the natural gas from getting out. They also use sand to prop it open the cracks, so that gas can flow out, but they don't point out how easily chemicals flow out and into peoples drinking water.
Now I must admit that the video is very convincing. after seeing it I was curious to know if people were educated about fracking, and how they felt about it. to find this out I made a survey. if you would like to answer my three easy questions click here. Everyone who has taken my survey have heard of hydraulic fracturing, and are against it. This is good, and I can't wait to see what your opinion is!
The next part of my project is to find something I myself can do to help prevent fracking or  raise awareness. Having as many people as possible take the survey will be of extreme help to me, because it will give me a sense, of what I have accomplished from my blogs, and what steps I still need to take. I am still brainstorming for what I will do for my third, and final post, but luckily, I have plenty of time, but I know that this time will fly buy. I only hope that my project can truly make a difference, and that fracking can become a thing of the past.

To see my annotated bibliography, click here
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Athletes and Eating Disorders

Hi again, it’s me Naomi. If you are reading this it means you are reading my You and the World second blog post. The first one was a general background about the You and the World project and my topic, which is Athletes and the toll it takes on their mental state about their body image. If you would like to view it click here. It will give you the background on my topic along with visuals and some links to websites I think are very helpful, in understanding more about my topic.

For some first hand research I sent a survey out to Friends and Family, on both the school network and Facebook. The results I got were extremely helpful and I thank anyone that took part. In the survey I asked a series of questions about Athletes and what goes on inside their minds. With the results I realized that quite a few people that while being an athlete have had encounters with body image troubles. Some have only thought it themselves but others have actually been told by a coach (or coach figure) that they had the wrong body image for the sport. To see the results to my survey click here.

I also ask a few of the coach figures at my school. To see the results click here. I wanted to learn if they had an opinion on the topic. The athletes are the ones that are going through this but it is the coaches that have the power to change it. They are the ones that can reassure the teen that they are perfect exactly the way they are. Of course they are also the ones that have already been the athlete so they know what it feels like to be in that position, and should know how to treat the situation.

From the responses I got I realized that people in my own school have gone through this. I knew when I started this project that this was a real world topic, obviously that’s why I chose it, but I didn’t think it would be so close to me. The responses I got from the teachers reassured me that people were getting the help they needed. I think the way the second teacher handled the situation might have been the best way to handle it. When you think something may be going on confront them. There isn’t really any other way for an adult to respond to a situation like that. If it had gone any differently I don’t think I would have agreed.

When someone has an eating disordered no matter if it is due to sports or not there are always common thoughts.

(This is just something I think speaks to anyone who has ever doubted themselves.)

Even after learning all of this I would still like to know how it has shaped these people’s lives. I think the thing people forget about when making surveys and reading them that these people are responding to the survey that they have experienced these they actually went through this. I think the way I want to make an impact on this topic is to make a presentation to my advisory about this issue. I plan to make a keynote presentation to them, I think it would consist of all the research I have gathered and  my opinion. I think other people should also go out and be an agent of change for the issue.

Thank you for reading my second blog post the third is soon to come. To read my annotated bibliography click here.


"Proper" or "Ghetto"

“Proper” and “Ghetto”

Let’s be honest here, we all know that the way we talk in front of our friends is way different from the way we talk around our parents, teachers and other authorities. I know mine is. When I’m talking or texting my friends our conversations sound more like this.

“Yo whatchu doing today?”

“I don’t know, what you trynna do?”

Oh yeahh, that’s the language. This may look very familiar to some people. But we all know once we start talking to our mother’s, the conversation has to change to something a little more like this:

“Hey mom, what are you doing today?

“I’m not sure, what do you want to do today”

The difference is very easy to see. Why we do this, is very clear. It’s not that they don’t know what were saying, it all comes down to who you are. But why not talk the same way to everyone? When it comes to language, age, race and gender has everything to do with it. For some reason, when it comes down to speaking, everything changes.

Since I’m a teen, female and African American from Philly, people tend to think that my sentences should sound more like this:

“Hey, you know whatchu doing on the jawn.”

From my point of view, this can be seen as a stereotype but to others, it could just be the way they grew up and heard a person of these characteristics speak, which to them can be seen as normal. Now when others tend to see a person of the same characteristics speak more like this, especially to another peer, it could leave many shocked faces:

“Excuse me, do you fully understand what you are doing on this?”

This statement doesn’t say much but, it seems way better than the first sentence and it shows that this person may have more of an “educated” side to them, this too is a stereotype. By both speaking in different ways, someone could put the label on that the first statement is “ghetto” and the other sounds more “white”, when realistically they just have different ways of speaking. Now that they have both shown their speaking styles, their colors no longer matter, leaving them to now be judged off of their language. 

            As we all know, there are two categories of speech in this world. “Proper” and “Ghetto”. It doesn’t matter what language we speak, every language has these two categories. That’s just the thing, both of these things we’re not invented to be a type of speech, especially ghetto. “Ghetto” truly means a part of a city, a slum area, occupied by a minority group or groups. Not once did it say anything about language, so where did we get this from and why do we mostly use it to signify African Americans? The answer lies within the same reason people signify the term “That’s so gay” as a way of saying something isn’t cool or normal to them. Just as people don’t like that term, well black people don’t always like to be called ghetto. It’s all about the way people address things.

            When it comes to my speaking, I like to mix them all together. I don’t really have a particular language when it comes down to speaking to other people, I guess it all depends on the person and the kind of conversation we’re having.

Neighborhood friends:

“Yo, what time you coming out?”

“I’m not sure yet, what time you gonna be out

 I like to talk the way I talk but that can only happen when I feel comfortable, as of everyone. No one should have to change the way speak because their scared that someone will judge them by the way they talk. This is why I feel as though the way I speak is one of my identities., this is everyone’s identity when they take the time to think realize it. 

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Slow and Steady

“But I can’t just carry all those bags back and have enough time left -- and I’m not going to try! So you can go and make that long walk there and back  by yourself, come with me and actually help me do it, or find another way to get us some dinner.” This was the first of the conversation I heard as I gradually came into earshot from upstairs. Dustin and Ron were arguing again. This time, it was about who was going to get the stuff for dinner tonight.

“I told  you already, Ronald, I have to clean up the living room before Felicia gets here. I don’t have time to walk you to the market, come back here, clean up the entire family room, and make sure the kitchen’s all set up for Uncle Ronnie and Aunt Nelly .” I’d forgotten they were coming. I’d meant to start gift-wrapping their presents from Christmas. In the half of a second it took Ron to respond, I already knew what would be coming next.

“There you go again with your smart little tone. I told you not to talk to me like that. I’m not dumb, hard of hearing or slow. So I could REALLY do without all the crap you put into your tone. And besides, it’s not like you’re the only one who has a lot to do. I have to wash the car and go get everyone’s dry cleaning for the play tomorrow. Do-”

“Guys”, I calmly interrupted. “What are you two arguing about again?”. “Oh nothing”, Dustin replied more to Ron than to me.

“Ronnie just doesn’t quite grasp the concept of time vs. amount of work to be completed.”

“Actually, I get that just fine. Dustin’s just too lazy walk to the store and get the food for dinner himself.”, Ron snapped back.

I could tell by the way they’d been going on and on before I heard the noise and came downstairs that they were getting no closer to a solution; the only way this would be resolved was by my intervention.

“I know that you have to wash the car and go pick up our clothes, and you have to clean up the living room and set up the kitchen for dinne-

“Yes, so obviously, it would make the most sense for Ron to go and get the food for dinner. Thank you. Okay, Ron, you do that while I get started.”

“Wait”, I objected, “Ron has a lot to do too. Maybe you could just help him carry the bags back - wait, why would you have trouble carrying the bags back, Ron?”

“Because we need so much more food than usual. Aunt n’ Uncle are bringing Rob, David, Tracy and Morgan. So we need a lot.”

“Oh I see”, I said, realizing. Alright. I’ll go with you to get the dinner stuff, come back, help you finish up the living room, then help you finish washing the car. How’s that? Oh yeah, the uh, dry cleaners. I’ll go do that. Ron, you can stay here and help Dustin while I get the dry cleaners.”

“Wow, that’s a lot to do. You sure?”, Ron asked me.

“Trust me, not a problem. I have a lot of time. We should all get started though.”

“Alright, let’s go”.

Growing up, my siblings argued a lot. It wasn’t always so bad, but still, sometimes it would be completely taken out of proportion. Something that started out as a simple “why don’t you do this?” could turn into something a lot bigger, when the resolution was clear. I’ve never liked seeing people argue.  In my opinion, it’s pointless. Especially when you’re talking about a matter of physical things or something that’s either a fact or false. But sometimes they’d let their emotions cloud their judgement, and get into an argument that led them to nowhere. That’s when I would decide to intervene. Most of the time, like in this scene, I would calm whoever was arguing down, and my solution would work. If it didn’t the first time, we’d always eventually work something out. But an argument isn’t resolved by just walking into a room and telling people to calm down and do what you say. Trying to solve something by  doing that would only lead to an even greater conflict. One that would take a lot more to resolve.  The way I’ve always done it is by remaining calm throughout the entire process, analyzing the origin of the conflict, and coming up with a solution or compromise that makes everyone happy. Sometimes, not everyone could be happy in a situation, and if so, they would just have to accept that fact that the reality of the situation cannot be changed. Over the years, I’ve realized that the key to getting into and getting out of an argument is emotion. Getting into one is usually the product of a lack of control over one’s emotions. To get out of one peacefully requires great control over one’s emotions, and this control must be exercised whenever possible.

While reading the essay “If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?”, by James Baldwin, I came across a quote that quite stood out to me. It reads, “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.)”P1. This quote says a few things, in my opinion. It says that the reason people evolve a language in the first place is to have the ability to communicate all their emotions to someone else. To be able to control what happens in the situation they’ve been placed in by expressing their emotion through their language. I think it’s also saying that when a person cannot “articulate their circumstances”, they are really submerged in a reality, and they don’t like it, because they’re stuck in a world they have no control over anymore, and the basic human need for compassion and communication is not being met. I imagine it would be similar to not knowing a single word of Portuguese, and being dropped out of a plane over Portugal with a parachute, and trying to find your way back home. It would be extremely difficult, unless someone who spoke your language and who was willing to help you did something about it. You would be helpless and miserable.

In my opinion, a person’s language is one of their most important tools. It is one of the only ways for people to communicate. I say “one of the only ways” because someone might consider an email, text message or letter another form of communication. But, even when you get into those, it all comes back to your language. They way you word things, the way you structure the message overall, these are all personal to every different person. In addition to the possibility of influencing the outcome of a conversation, and thus an event, in person by using the right language, tone, and body language, it is also within the realm of possibility to do exactly the same thing when writing a message to someone else. This can be tricky, considering the person on the other side can’t really see you, and might mistake a genuinely kind sentence for an attack. Usually when people are expressing anger or frustration online, they use exclamation points, capital letters and such, in the same way that people use a lot of angry facial expressions and hand movements in person when expressing anger or agitation. If an argument does erupt on an online site, it’s always better to get off of it, and then discuss the matter in person.

All in all, there is  a way to control the outcome of any conflict, and all you need is your language. Control the way you speak. Listen to what others are saying and how they’re saying it, and let your tone reflect that in a positive way. I’ve learned this very important lesson over the course of years and years. I’m not that old, but my point is that it’s taken a very long time. I hope this essay is inspiring in that it prompts the feeling to take this into consideration and apply it to everyday life. In the long run, that’s the best way to go.

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Language or Lack There of

Language, in general, has never been a huge part of my life. I never considered myself to have an accent, unless I’m around someone whose speech is drastically different from mine. Learning a new language has never come easily to me, seeing as how I’ve been trying to learn Spanish for the past nine years. When you speak a language you’re thinking in that language, I think you become less aware of the different languages around you. There’s only certain times when I can relate language in my life, and that’s usually either in a comfortable environment, with friends and family, or a professional environment which is generally school. Although, there are those occasions where people will judge my speech because they consider it to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from where they think I am, race wise. 

“Oh, well I think that the when humans are put into environments where they are forced to activate their survival skills, they become desensitized.” 

“Nicely put, but what does that have to do with Katniss’ love life.” She gazed at me with a perplexed expression. 

“Nothing at all.” I responded underwhelmed. 

The only time I’ve ever used language to my advantage is when manipulating them to the best of my abilities. Although others might view me as pretentious, I think it gives you the ability to feel professional or powerful. As though you have a chance in the “real world”. This is can be seen in the essay “I Just Wanna be Average” by Mike Ross, represented through the quote “He also loved words, enjoyed picking up big ones like salubrious and equivocal and using them in our conversations-laughing at himself as the word hit a chuckhole rolling off his tongue.” This quote shows how words and language can be articulated and used in a particular way to illustrate your dexterity. Although, just because you have a wide span vocabulary doesn’t necessarily mean you are a master of speech. 

Unfortunately, language has the potential to make someone feel unintuitive, but despite this, it doesn’t always have to be a bad thing.

People may think that when students don’t strive to be the best they can be, that it shows signs of a slacker, but some kids are just more aware of the fact that they’re not all going to be president. They don’t all have access to their intelligence because of the institutions that they attend, therefore they will not all be presented with the best opportunities. This, however, sits better with some students then it does with others. This is shown through a quote in the essay “I Just Wanna be Average” by Mike Ross, “Reject the confusion and frustration by openly defining yourself as the common joe.” This quote conveys how you are able to escape or avoid all of the nonsense of trying to be a perfect human being and achieving everything that you’ve ever wanted to do by accepting the fact that not everyone is going to make a massive, positive impact on the world with their actions. Although, not only is it the words that you use that come into play, but the way you pronounce it as well. 

“Hi, I’m Jaime. I guess I like gymnastics.”

“Why you keep talkin’ like you white or somethin’?” 

“Because I am.” 

Well I thought that question was only slightly ignorant. My first day at Masterman was certainly one to be remembered. I had never been in such a diverse environment before, though it didn’t make a great first impression. I thought I was supposed to benefit from this, not be judged immediately when I first opened my mouth. I thought all of these kids were supposed to be accepting and open minded, thats why I began going here in the first place. I had never considered why I “talked white”, but it had also never been brought to my attention before. As I thought about it more, I realized it just the surroundings I grew up in. Seeing as how the neighborhood and the school that I attended in elementary school were both predominately white, I could see how that would have had an affect on me. As the school year progressed, people continued to ask me the same questions, constantly. I began to just say what I knew they wanted to hear. 

“It’s because I went to private school” or “It’s because I grew up around white people.” 

It seemed like the simplest solution. They would bring up the topic so much I would start to believe it. If they pushed further and asked if I was mixed, I would say something along the lines of “Oh, its because I’m Indian.” I hated these questions, because I felt almost ashamed to be African American. I always cringe when people use the word “Black” to describe the race because it never seemed natural. It sounded almost hateful. 

What I’ve learned from my experiences there, about myself and this topic in general is that, you can’t act a certain color, period. In my opinion, every race was assigned a sort of quota by society that helps people associate and group others together. This doesn’t always have to be bad, but rarely is it a good thing. If you’re in the wrong setting, or you say something that doesn’t agree with the people there, then the situation could become very dangerous, which is something that I have also learned through personal history. 

I’ve learned more about myself through writing this essay. When I first began it, I was hell bent against the fact that I had any personal experiences with language, accents, labels or identities, but now I realize that its something that literally everyone has a unique background with. I thought that I only spoke one language and my accent was the same as everyone else’s around me, which I realize now is not true. The language I speak with my parents is completely different from the language I speak with my friends; and with those different languages, comes different accents and personas. This has allowed me to create various different diverse friendships that I am proud to have. 

Language_Essay_Video Jchristmas
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Everyone Deserves Better

You would never know

Since my first blog I decided to go back to past to where it all started.  I went back to talk to my old advisory teacher from my middle school.  She had our class do a Need and Deed based off of animal abuse.  During the process we connected the dots between animal abuse and child abuse.  This made me go back to interview her about how she felt about the whole topic. I never got to hear how she felt in the six grade now It’s her turn. I did interview some of my friends  with different questions. I wanted to know how they felt about this topic, because some people take it serious and some don’t  Unfortunately the interview did not save correctly but I did get a interview with a animal lover   . (insert link to interview)

After interviewing my teacher I wanted to do a little bit more research. How are animal and child abuse related? It’s simple actually, By abusing a living being that cannot defend themselves or speak out, the abuser shows its power and control. Abuse is abuse no matter how you see it. In clip you should see the women at the end says “If someone could let a dog get into that position what else would they do?” It’s sad how someone could not take care of a simple animal. In the clip the abuser has a child of his own.  If you couldn’t take care of a little animal why buy one? Yes times are tough... but just leaving a puppy to die is like leaving a baby in the streets alone. I think if you can’t afford to take care of the animal take it to the shelter. Just like with a child if you feel you can’t be responsible for it take it to a adoption center or a home. It’s the right thing to do.

The following pie charts show the shocking truth behind animal and child abuse.  The most popular way abusers, abuse animals and babies, is simple neglect.  Which just means not feeding or bathing the animal/child. The scariest thing to me was seeing the ways people abuse animals. I could never ever burn a animal with fire or fireworks. It’s like what kind of craziness!!! Everybody and everything deserves a peaceful death. Not being beaten to death or blown up to pieces.

The new research I did was really depressing. It was sad reading about abuse just in general.  It really got me thinking this is a huge issue.  There has always been abuse but the amount of cases grew in the past year. It’s getting worse by the minute. I think if we don’t put a stop to this all the shelter in Philly will be too crowded and won’t be able to help save the helpless animals. I wonder what would happen if the helpless would never get help? Would there still be dead bodies all over? Will strays stay stray and die alone? It’s the sad truth.  For my next blog I want to give back to the animals. I want to find them a nice home where people will love, not hurt them.

For my bibliography click here


Blog post 2 Global Warming



For this blog I learned that most of the people that I know will  not  give up  their  electronics  

since their electronics revolves around their lives, I did some research on this by making
a survey were all my friends answered questions about global warming and they all said that
they used lots of technology every day because they already got attached to it and they can do
things quick and easier with them.


Some research that I did for this project was to look more information about global warming and also ask questions about this world problem to my engineering teacher Mr. VK ; from his point of view of the global warming I learned that this was

a big thing now than it was before also I learned that some people is doing little things about
this but it’s not enough to actually help because the United States is scared that if they
pay for this to make things that we use daily more efficient and less damageable to the earths
Ozone layer, What I think of this is that the United States should at least try on making a little
more improvement on this big problem that the United States and the world is dealing with.Also
what I wonder is why is this problem was building up from years ago why didn’t the world make
an action on this problem right when it was happening.

For  my next blog i will research deeply in this problem and  answer some of my questions that i still wonder about global warming and what is going to happened if we don’t take action on this

This are the answers that Mr. VK about global warming 

Is global warming unprecedented? we know its happening there is no debate outside the people that have a financial gain and outside of what’s happening.

Is global warming catastrophic? its getting there and i think if we change our ways of living on time we can
help it to stop but if not then it will get a lot worst
Is global warming occurring? yes
Have the forecasts of global warming been confirmed by actual measurements? yes. and actually the measurments are showing that is much worse that the what the models predicted.

Are carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels the primary cause of climate change? they are the largest but they are other important factors including from burning foils fuels and other gases from our production of fertelizers.
Can the Earth's temperature be expected to rise between 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit in this century as has been reported? I think it will be lucky if it didn’t rise to 5 because temperatures at the ecuador have been the same and temperature at the north pole has been from 6-9 degrees.

Would a modest increase in the temperature of the planet necessarily be bad? The overval effects would be negative the increase of the temperatures and the water also there are reports the of new diseases and animals and we believe there is about 4 more decades worth of more fishes in the ocean.
Are there any potential benefits? If you live along the coast in an arctic region you would have a longer period of soil.
Is there scientific consensus that global warming is underway?  yes.
If so, how was this consensus determined? theres no data that does not support that the global warming is not occurring zero all the data shows that it is occurring one simple and important piece and is that the earth
would be at -4 degrees which means that there wouldn’t be any global warming and we know that if there is something that traps heat and it doesn’t then that is false because there’s is heat in the air.

Are we facing 20-foot sea level rise because of global warming? there is a decimal error its only 2 foot there increase in water it would be about a 5 not 20.
In your professional opinion what is biggest preventive measure that we could take  against global warming? driving less or higher efficiency cars and buying fewer items from china if we could just fix broken things
What has the  U.S. done so far? nothing  And is this enough? no.

"How Philly Changed Me"

I came to Philadelphia around the age of six from Puerto Rico. At that time my first language was Spanish. So when I walked into kindergarten for the first time the voices around me sounded like “jibber jabber”. “Que es tu nombre?” my American teacher would lean down to ask me very slowly as if I were a child of special needs. She didn`t know much Spanish, but I would try to speak to her as much as I could. She was my only friend. This was because she was the only person I could communicate with all day. I found myself saying little words like “baño” when I would have to use the bathroom. Every time I would say that out loud, the other students would turn around, look at me, and laugh. This was not really a bother to me, until I became more accustomed to standard english. Then I understood why my classmates were laughing at me.

My experience resembled the story told in “Hunger of memories” by Richard Rodriguez. In this short story Mr. Rodriguez speaks about his family living in the United States. Rodriguez is hispanic, and he had to get used to being looked at funny because he did not know much English. Something that really struck me was when he spoke of his first day of kindergarten. “When I first entered a classroom, I was able to understand fifty stray English words” Rodriguez said. It immediately sent me back to my first day of kindergarten. At that point I felt a very strong connection with the author. Being pointed out for not being American was difficult to deal with.

In middle school, it just got worse for me. I already knew English, but since the teacher`s were well aware that I came from Puerto Rico, they though I needed more assistance than the other students. “Edgar, Christian, Cynthia, and Karoline” the esol teacher called out to the students at the doorway of the classroom for our study session.  Esol was a program that helped students from other countries adjust to the American language and the different type of education that we were learning. Once a week she would come to get us and every time I would try to hide from her. The embarrassment never got old, at times I would sit in the back to see if she would not notice me, or would go out to the bathroom around the time I knew she would come. “She`s back there” Mr. Collins would reply to Miss Nelson or “She`ll be here in a minute”. When I would attempt  to skip class. In the study sessions we would practice the meanings of words. For instance, I remember learning “perro is dog” and “libro is book”, things that I already knew. Other students thought we were pretty lucky to miss out on class for an hour or two, but to me it was just a waste of time. “I already know English Miss Nelson” I would try to explain to her as we walked down the hallway to the library. She would respond in Spanish in a loud tone and that would embarrass me even more. “Tienes que practicar todos los dias” she would say in a sarcastic voice. Telling me that I needed to still practice pronunciations. 

In high school,I was more ashamed than embarrassed. However, my moment of realization came in when I started to learn information on NHI. “The following students head to the college office for the National Hispanic Institute” said Mr. Lehman through the loud speaker. “Do I have to go?” I asked Mr. Best my Bio Chemistry teacher, blushing because I had been singled out with these group of students. After he persuaded to me that it was important, I went straight to the college office. When I arrived, we had a meeting on the accomplishments this program created for hispanic students, and all the opportunities available to us. It even offered many scholarships to the students that completed this program. 

After learning about The National Hispanic Institute, it hit me that Spanish was once my first language and technically still is my first language. I`d been so caught up in my new life style that I had forgotten where I came from. Not only did it make me who I am but it also made my family who they are. Our traditions, beliefs, the food we eat, and  the music we listen to all originated in Puerto Rico. Ever since I came to Philadelphia, I become so accustomed to the American culture that I became embarrassed of my own. However, as time goes by I have come to the realization that just because your culture isn`t the same as where you live in currently is not a bad thing. In fact, you stand out from the rest for doing things that are a little different. I`ve gone from embarrassed, to ashamed, and then taking these feelings and becoming proud of where I came from. 

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Code-switching at its best.

    I’ve been told that my language, and body language reminds people of a rap. That makes a lot of sense because I love to rap. It is my passion, and I am constantly rapping. Language for everyone is different, so mines sounds like a rap or song. To me i think my language is based off of code switching. I can switch between a rapper, a ball player, and a person who needs to sound professional.

“You know you speak as if you bout to spit some bars” she said.

I laughed and said “yoo you too funny.”

“Im serious” she says, “you talk like a real rapper.”

I constantly hear that, I heard it from a teacher, from friends, and from associates. My language is only for me, and makes me who I am. I like to rap, and my movement relates to it. My common slang words are “jawn”, “yeah”, “yoo” “outcheaa”, and there are a lot more slang words. Like when playing basketball with friends.

“Yoo pass the ball, you bout to get trapped in the corner” I say.

“Ardd come get it bro” Zach says.

“ Throw the damn ball.” I say.

He passes it, and i go to the basket and score. After I score, and finish the game the people we are playing talk to us.

“ Good game yall” They say.

“We in return say “Yeah, that was a good game, we’ll see yall later. So we can fry yall again”

They say “Ardd watever, yall niggas is slight.”  

     I have lots of things I say, on different occasions. Sometimes I talk like that, but other times you wouldn’t even think those word could come out of my mouth. I know how to talk when I go for jobs and interviews, and I code switch when it calls for code switching. If you compare my basketball language, and my professional side, no words would be similar. I know how I need speak when going for something that calls to be a little more polite, and chill. Like my high school interview. 

“Hello, how do you pronounce your name?”

“You can call me Jaaz, but it’s pronounced as Jaazaniah.”

“Well you would academically benefit this school, but what other things could we look for from you?”

“Well I am a diverse individual, I like to help others, and I am very energetic.”

     Throughout the interview I answered questions. At the end they say “Thank you for coming today.” I say “It was a pleasure to have an interview, and thank you for the opportunity.” That is a form of code switching between a ball player, a rapper and talking for a purpose. 

     I code switch for a reason. I code switch because it is easy you get my point across. It helps me adapt to situations. Like when I rap, i need to use words that would rhyme with each other, and slang words are easy to rhyme. I code switch for basketball, because it is important to be confident. I code switch for interviews because if I came in speaking slang, then I wouldn’t be fitting the part of sounding professional. Code switching can be effective if you use it right.    

     In the story How to tame a wild tongue by Giona Anzaldua, a quote that I relate to is “ My home tongues are the languages I speak with my sister, brothers and friends.” I relate to that quote because it is basically saying that the author code switches when he gets around his friends and family, but when he is at other places he doesn’t use his home language.

     I like the way I talk, and I like the way I code switch effectively. I think that my rap language is appropriate for having fun with friends and things of that sort. I like the way my basketball language is good when I am doing something competitive. I understand that I need to have a way too slow it down, and sound professional. I like the way I speak, and code switching goes along with my language.

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Blog post #2 Gun violence


Hello again. My name is Soledad Alfaro-Allah for english class we have to become agents of change in the world. We had to find a world issue and try to help raise awareness for that issue. If you have been following my blog you will know that my issue is gun violence. I have conducted an interview with my Four year old, 13 year old and 12 year old brothers, and also my 10 year old sister. I talked to them about their daily lives and how they feel about v


iolence, how they handle violence and how they think it should be dealt with.  Urban dictionaries idea of violence says otherwise. The reason I decided to look up the urban dictionary is because even though it is perceived as a sort of satire of how we think it is also true to an extent. While interviewing my siblings they had brought up some very interesting points. Such as I asked my four year old brother “what do you do if you see/experience violence, and he simply told me “I tell the teacher, if she’s not there I put up my hand and say please stop hurting me.” This is his solution to all the troubles of violence. When I asked him about guns he said “Only people with responsibilities should have them” I was shocked to hear this from my four year old brother who can barely spell the word responsibility. I asked him why and he said “because they can keep us safe”. I then proceeded to ask him, who do you think should have this responsibility?

He said “Nice people.” Nice people. It was as simple as that. We should give them to nice people with responsibility. But who do we classify as competent to handle such a hardcore burden? Officers? People who have been trained already? Or should we train new people, like teachers and parents. Or does no one get them all together? These are questions that carry the burden of even bigger questions on top of one another. Obama has recently signed into law 23 which will make it harder to get bullets and limit the number of bullets per clip, and are talking about universal background checks. The biggest obstacle is the opposing views of the massive amounts of republicans that are pro guns in congress. Something that has stuck with me through listening to the radio show was when obama says “ we can only make change if the american people demand it.” and when he said this he was speaking on the fact that we cannot depend on a select number of people to solve our problems for us, and when things don’t turn up our way blame it on the government, because in the end we will end up producing chaos. Many opinion pieces have been launched about this topic. Gun violence is being compared and connected to several issues. Such as health care. In the most recent shooting all the subjects have been established as “mentally ill”. Another popular reasoning in congress for gun violence is depression. Particularly teen depression. Apparently there is an increasing amount of teen suicides and homicides involving firearms. We are looking for something to blame. Personally, I think that we are the ones to blame and the reason for that is we are in denial and fearful of this topic that we choose to ignore the trouble that it is causing in the daily lives of many. We are putting our own comfort selfishly over the necessary closure of dozens of families, and victims.

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The Change Up

​The Change Up

“You need to go get buckets! It’s all about buckets!” I yelled at Jaaz.

“Haneef I get buckets.” Jaaz replied.

“Yea Yea that’s what they all say, I’ll believe it when I see it.” I responded.

 My friends and I create different meanings to words and use slang, to us what we’re saying makes sense, but to a person who doesn’t know the lingo they’ll probably be confused. This is one of my many “languages”. I speak basketball. There are times when knowing different languages is beneficial, like when trying to understand people different people and there also times where this language is not necessary like in the business world or when speaking to adults where this informal language would not be accepted. Being around a language long enough, it’ll begin to become something you’re accustomed to. Outsiders to any language, like people around you may begin to understand the language and maybe begin to use it themselves. My little sister proved this to me. One day when I waked in the house after one of my basketball games my little sister approached me and she said,


“Were you frying today??”

 “Pause, do you even know what frying is?” I responded

“No Haneef.” She said in a sarcastic tone and smirk on her face

“Don’t get smart with me little girl!” I yelled “ And how do you even know what frying is? Where did you learn this, because I know I didn’t teach it to you.”

“I may be six, but I not slow. I heard you nd your friends say it so many times that I jus figured it out.” She said.

“Ehhh whatever I’m going to my room.”

In the book, From the Borderlands, by Glona Anzonldína it was said that,

“Some of the languages we speak are:

1. Standard English

2. Working class and slang English

3. Standard Spanish

4. Standard Mexican Spanish

5. North Mexican Spanish dialect

6. Chicano Spanish (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California have regional variations)

7. Tex Mex

8. Pachuco (called caló)”

 All of the languages mentioned in the small passage above were learned by first being around them due to the family’s constant movement. Each language learned was the norm of that environment and was imperative to learn in order to succeed in that environment. One of my many languages is the one I use when with my friends. This language sounds completely different than with my parents or at a job interview. It’s code switching. This code switching is necessary in order to be respectful, succeed in the business world, and to hold a good reputation with elders; i.e. teachers and other adults. When speaking with my friends I don’t tend to use “proper English”, mostly because I don’t have to and also because different environments require different things in order to be successful.

A perfect example of this is probably is in the person reading this essay, just think. When with your parents think about how you act compared to when you’re with your friends, and then compare both of those to the you act when with your coworkers or classmates and boss or any figure authority. Slang is something that I grew up around, and so it came naturally. Now that I’m older, in different situations I am able to talk “proper” in order to do what society thinks it the right. Whereas in an informal environment it’s the complete opposite, I can speak “improper” without any consequences.  

Everybody is raised in a different environment than the next. I’m proud of the way I was raised. The area I grew up in may have effect my “language”. But due to societies need for perfection, my language or what society would call a flaw is hidden under the mask of the persona I use in order to succeed in this world. This is Code switching. Everyone does it; whether it’s to try to succeed in this world by doing what society say is good. Or in interest of being respectful to elders because maybe the way you interact with your friends is not acceptable around adults. Either way, code switching is necessary for any person who believes they want to succeed in more than one environment during their adolescent and adult lives. But when code switching the world will never see the real you. So the choice is for you to make. Either code switch to have a chance to make something of your life in this world, or be yourself in every environment, rebel against the norms of society with the risk of not becoming successful in life.

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“What are you doing after school tomorrow? Walk me to Liberty Place, please?” I asked my friend one time over video chat.

“Nothing really, but that’s a hike... why?” she answered.

“I know but I need something from there. Pleeeaaasseee? I love you.”

“Nigga... whatchu gotta get?”

“I dunno but I need a gift for my cousin.”

“We don’t got time for that...”

“We do! You just said you weren’t freakin’ doing anything! We can take the trolley.”

“I gueeesssss,” she said, shifting a little.

Right after that, my dad knocked on my door and opened it without me even saying he could come in. When he smiled, I could already tell what he was about to say. It was the typical small talk we had every day.

“Hi Nia,” he said.

“Hey Dad.”

“How was your day?” he asked.


“How are you?”


“You sure?”


“Well, okay then.” He left my room, and I could then finish talking to my friend.

“Ard, I kinda gotta go, stuff to do...”

“Okay, bye,” she smiled and ended the chat.

It was never as easy as that to code switch like that until I hit high school. Filtering curse words and slang just clicks with me now. Quite frankly, being able to talk with other people in what seems to be the most comfortable way for them provides lots of opportunity for me. Before high school in seventh and eighth grade, I went to Friends Select, a private school where mostly everyone was white. Going there straight from a 99.8 percent black school was like putting a drop of oil into a tub of water. I had a quick and easy adjustment, because I never had a very “thick black” accent. By this, I mean I knew what times were appropriate to let all the slang out in the world, and then when to say “like” more than five times in a six-word sentence.

What I did not know was that my tone and usage of words drastically changed in my seventh and eighth grade years. Family noticed, and even told me on the spot that I was “starting to sound like a lil’ white girl.” I’m still told to this day that my cousin and I “just aren’t black.” We usually rolled with it, and took it as a term of endearment that we were, and are, a little different. People at camp told me that I “talked so proper” and I responded with something along the lines of “that’s just how I speak.” But, for me, my newly developed “language” brought more than just words, it brought more conversations. 

“Hey!” one of my friends said.

“Hey, how’s it going? How’s life?” I asked them.

“Tis good, you?”.

“Pretty okay, as usual. What’d you do this weekend?”

“Nothing really, sleep and some homework... you?”

“Same, nothing special... Fuck, I need a life.”

Even when it is not talking with parents and then friends, my use of words still tends to change between people I speak with. In a way, I believe that happens with everyone, to a certain extent. For example, because one person and their friend have spent more time with each other than that person and another friend have spent, the first pair might converse with more ease and flow than the second pair, because there is more to talk about—family, life, old memories, inside jokes, and all that. For me, there is a mixture of length of friendship and also the person’s personality, if I know their personality. Usually it takes a conversation or two to click with the words and tone of voice I want to use with a specific associate, friend, or group of friends. 

When I talk to someone for the very first time, I almost want them to make all the conversation and I just listen. Sometimes, silence can be the best language to go with, because it communicates signals as much as words are able to. However, when trying to make a new friend or just cheer up someone and most of the talking belongs to me, it was best to just go with my gut on a more “standard English plus a bit of slang” tone, and develop the chat with more important things that might want that person to talk to me again. 

It will take more than one time to find that conversation zen, and when it is found, it is marvelous. It all depends on the person and your own personality. However, efforts to make conversation zen happen continue if I decide to talk to that person again, which is almost definite I will. Sometimes a choice of words makes or breaks any talk. Something happens, whether it be a miscommunication or vocabulary differences. And so, there are those times where a discussion does not go so well for me. In a group of friends that was not mine, I felt like Maxine Hong Kingston did in her passage, “Tongue Tied”. She said, “It spoils my day with self-disgust when I hear my broken voice come skittering out into the open. It makes people wince to hear it.” Perhaps my struggles with finding the right words to say did not go as far as people wincing to hear it, but there definitely have been awkward moments when I’ve said something wrong and it just did not have a place to be justified. In those moments I may feel like quitting at a social life altogether. But, the important part was actually to keep trying at it, because sometimes a lack of knowledge of a certain language can make someone feel uncomfortable. It might not even be you, it could always be the person you are speaking with instead. Learn their language and way of words instead sometimes.

For me, doing just that has created so much social gain. Learning and using the languages and dialects of others widens the gates of communication for anyone. Being able to switch from tongue to tongue without getting “tongue tied” gets more of your ideas to more people, and if you have big ideas for the world, being able to code switch and use totally different languages altogether is very beneficial. For me, my social life continues to develop more than it has in middle school. Since then I have gained confidence and comfort with my speech. It’s a gift to be “cool” with everyone, even if it was just a single word or thought.

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Animal Cruelty (Blog #2)

      Recently many of you have read my first blog that I posted portioning to my interest and need to help animals who are abused and mistreated. I believe in rights for all animals, no matter the size or the species; they are all living creatures of this world just like us, with no voice needing someone to speak up for them. Since my last blog post, I have expanded my research creating new things to examine how people think and view animal cruelty.

I have created a survey containing questions and suggestions on animal cruelty and how I can impact the lives of many animals. A few of the questions were: do you think animals should have rights? If you saw a sick, beaten up animal would you help, and etc. I have received many interesting results; almost 100% of the people who took the survey said that they do care about animal cruelty. 80% percent said that they think animals should have rights, 15% were unsure. 

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A screen shot of the Animal Cruelty Survey.

It was very interesting to see that 50% of the people were unsure when they were asked if they thought humans are better then animals, 20% said they were better then animals and 30% said they weren't. I then asked if they saw someone abusing an animal would they say or do something and why? 67% said yes and majority of the people said “some animals don’t have the ability to defend themselves against human beings” and then compared them to humans in a similar situation. I also asked if they think animal abuse was wrong, one response really stuck out to me it said “Depends upon the circumstances. For example say you’re trying to teach your cat not to climb on the table by smacking it whenever it climbs up on the table. Obviously thats aggressive but thats how psychological reinforcement works.” 
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A screen shot of the Animal Cruelty Results.

I found this statement to shine a light on a new issue, it’s may be a draw-back  to my whole argument but it’s a topic that's not addressed when animal cruelty is approached. When we think of animal abuse do we think of abuse that is used to train our animals? Many Americans think it’s just a traditional way to raise our animals to behave in a proper manner. To get a better understanding, I would like many of you to weigh in: Do you think that physical aggressiveness used to raise our domestic pets is consider to be animal abuse? I have read an article examining wether it’s effective to hit your dog or not.

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A photo how a pet owner hitting his cat to stop her from climbing up on things.

Most people believe that physical dominance techniques are the best possibility for dog’s with aggressive behavior because dogs are pack animals. By the dog’s having a leader in their packs they best respond to a dominate figure. So the question is “does physical force inflicted on your dog work ?” The article’s response to it was “ it depends on what you mean by work.” Sometimes by hitting your dog it can discontinue aggressive behavior when applied in the proper manner, however it can cause a large amounts of serious injuries, increase stress and in most cases increase the dog’s aggressive behavior. Majority of people claim that these techniques are more effective because we the human become the leader to our dog(s). However just because dogs are pack animals it does not lead to the conclusion that that is the only way that your dog can understand what’s wrong or right. Also that’s not the only way that they can be taught, there are other techniques such as saying “no” and demonstrating the right behavior and rewarding them when they do the correct thing. 

A photo of a pet owner waving a rolled up news paper at his dog to teach him a lesson for misbehaving.

In a way that can be considered animal abuse and it may also be an effective way of training your animal, but one thing for sure  beating, aggressively kicking, stabbing and many other things is in fact animal abuse and it should not be permitted by any means necessarily. This world should be aware that animals are living creatures on the earth just like us. They have emotions and can feel physical pain; it’s time to treat animals with respect and most of all love. Let’s start a movement and END ANIMAL CRUELTY TODAY!!! 

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A photo of three civilians beating a dog in the middle of the street with sticks. 
​Here in a link to my Annotative Bibliography.

Stay tune for my next and finally blog post containing my "Agent of Change"; it will be something worth waiting for. Thank you!
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Sweet Talk'n

I sit uncomfortably, my ankles crossed beneath the table, the silk napkin placed carefully over my lap. I keep my legs close together, being sure to tuck the hem of my dress over my knee. 

“Pass the suga’, da’lin.” I hear a sweet coo in my right ear, and turn to smile at my great-aunt. Keeping my lips pressed shut, I reached over and slid the sugar towards her. All around me were the echoes of ‘sweetie’, ‘my gracious!’, and ‘pardon?’. My skin feels hot, and I hear another question aimed in my direction. Passing over the butter this time, I gratefully busy myself with taking sips of my tea. The brightly colored walls are a shock to my system, as are the friendly people sitting at the table next to ours, calling out greetings to complete strangers. The words swirl around me, and I become suddenly aware of how I don’t often call people “darling”, and how I do talk rather quickly. 

“Emalyn, didn’t you go there this summer?” My Nana’s voice is interrupting my sudden realization, and I startle a little bit. But, remembering my formal setting, settle down. 

“Oh, um, yeah. Yes. Yes ma’am.” I stutter, tripping over the words as they come out in a flood of miscommunication. Flustered, I choke up a laugh, ducking my head. “Yes ma’am, I did.” I try again, and the southern ladies around the table nodded. It’s never easy to be the only one in a room that’s different, and it’s even harder when you are distinctly aware that those around you know exactly what makes you different. 

Sitting around the table at a tea room is not something that I often do in my daily routine. However, when I did, I became aware of small things that made me irreversibly different than the women surrounding me. When I responded to their questions, my voice sounded brash, my words sounded rude, in comparison to the slow, drawn out language of Northern Georgia. No matter how many times I go down South, I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to being the only one in the room who is decidedly Northern. I will also not get used to having to wait patiently as my questions get answered, in a typical drawn out fashion, or being the subject of so many terms of endearment. 

I may have felt out of place in a southern tea room, but feeling different because of an accent is not limited to Northerners going South. My Grandparents come up to visit once a year, around Christmas. Although they would never come out and say it, they are incredibly uncomfortable speaking in front of people, and tend to keep to themselves when faced with the opportunity. Their accents are heavy, and the southern drawl sets them apart from everyone they’re surrounded with. With every word they say, people scrunch up their noses, ask them to repeat themselves, or look mildly amused. It’s disconcerting, to say the least, when people are listening intently to your every word, trying to decipher what you’re saying. 

James Baldwin says this about language in his essay ‘If Black English Isn’t A Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?’: “It reveals the private identity and connects one with, or divorces one from, the large, public, or communal identity.” In this case, I think that language isolates those who are different, and calls them out on those differences. 

More than once, I have heard people talking about Southern accents in a negative light. People have said that they can’t take them seriously, or that they just sound foolish when they speak. To me, the ones saying those things are more foolish simply for saying that. To judge someone’s intelligence based on how they sound, and not on what they say, shows an extreme lack of character. It is absolutely unacceptable for people to say that someone is inferior to them because of race or gender in today’s society, so why is accent any different? Just like gender and race, accents alienate one person from another, and focus on differences, instead of similarities. 

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