Monday, February 19, 2018

Continuing Evolution

Prompt: Write an essay that clearly argues your position on the extent to which racial prejudice has affected the American government over time.

      From a young age, it is natural for humans to develop opinions based on their surroundings. Ideas often stem from the people they surround themselves with and the environment in which they grow up in. Unfortunately, a variety of these ideas turn into over generalized misconceptions that impact the way one views the people around them. Stereotyping is very prevalent in modern day society, especially in the form of racism. Racial prejudice has played a major role in how the American government has been shaped, and transformed. As a result of preconceived racial prejudices, the American government system has limited the rights of specific groups of people, passed laws primarily based on race related concerns and discriminated against people based on their ethnic background. Therefore, racial prejudices have affected the American government system to a large extent.
     Because of generalizations about various minorities, the American Justice System often limits their basic human rights. Since the start of slavery, African Americans have experienced racial discrimination. After total abolition, legal discrimination became prevalent in American society. African Americans are often seen as violent because of generalized prejudices. As a result of these stereotypes, racial profiling can often lead to the death of African Americans. During routine traffic stops, police officers have felt threatened by the African American driver, even if they have done nothing wrong. Racial based fear has caused a variety of African Americans to be shot by police officers through out history. Angie Thomas explores this idea in The Hate U Give. The main character, Starr witnessed her childhood best friend, Khalil get shot after being pulled over. The officer was threatened by a black hair brush, that he thought was a gun. His uneasiness when approaching the situation ultimately caused Khalil's death. While many people argue that the officer could've felt threatened, the on going pattern of African Americans being killed by police proves otherwise. In the end, the officer who shot Khalil for a traffic violation was not accused of any form of misconduct. In many of these cases the officer does not face any consequences for murdering someone because of their pre existing fears. In the 21st century, racial based police brutality is easily documented. Similarly to Khalil in The Hate U Give, Philando Castile was shot by an officer after having a broken tail light. He showed no threat to the officer, but underlying racial stereotypes invoked unnecessary fear in the officer, ultimately leading to Castile's death. The American Justice System allows racist opinions to prevail in the minds of the officers who are supposed to protect society. Rather than protecting everyone, minorities are losing their lives to careless profiling. America's system of punishment often allows murderous officers to go back to their normal lifestyle, while the families of the deceased never receive justice for the race related death. Court rulings dealing with police brutality have caused the American government to shift their bias to those who are not minorities.
     The presence of racial injustice has be prevalent for many years. White American interactions with Native Americans have led to the passage of laws primarily based on race related concerns. Native interactions have previously shaped the American government to a large extent. During the late 19th century, Native Americans in the West were pushed off of their land by white business men. Native Americans showed resistance on several occasions, but after their biggest win during the Battle of Little Bighorn, they were depicted as savages. As a result of the Sioux tribe's retaliation, an entire group of people were visualized as being uncivilized. This stereotypical mindset of savagery infiltrated the minds of politicians during the court case of Lone Wolf vs Hitchcock. The final verdict allowed any previous Native American treaties to be broken. At this point in history, white Americans could legally force Natives off of their land without a truly justified reason. America's political system allowed generalizations to dictate the discriminatory laws created. As a result of one group's actions, and entire race was given a label that dictated their social, and political life. A large portion of the structure of America's government was shaped by a racially inaccurate generalization.
     Racially driven politics are unfortunately relevant in the creation of laws in modern day America. America is currently dealing with immigration issues. As the result of immigrant related resentment, immigration laws are currently discriminating against people based on their ethnic background. Thus, the structure of America's government is largely altered by racially based predjudices. America is commonly visualized as a nation of opportunities. Overtime these commonly praised opportunities have become only available to some people. In terms of immigration politics, racism is prevalent. According to President Donald Trump, there are too many immigrants from "shithole countries", and not enough immigrants from white, European countries. President Trump refered to predominantly black countries as being "shitholes", but openly accepted predominantly white countries. When discussing modern immigration policies, many people share Trump's prejudice against non-whtie immigrants. Unfortunately, politicians frequently accuse immigrants of being criminals, and job thiefs, except for when they come from European nations. While a politician will rarely announce that they are racially biased, their underlying prejudices are reveled through a variety of instances, including immigration politics. Overall, racist biases have infiltrated into the government, and transformed the structure of it.
     Society has taken major leaps in terms of racial equality, but as a result of biased politics, America is far from true equality. From a larger point of view, American society has evolved, however, much more evolution needs to occur. In order to promote equality, racial prejudices must be broken, starting with underlying political biases. The government has been shaped by racism, but as time progresses, there is hope that the biased walls of the government will be rebuilt with foundations of equality.

Thomas, Angie. The Hate U Give, HarperCollins, 2017. MLA Citation

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Defining Numbers

      Welcome back to Storytime with Mya! Since the last time that I have written, I have successfully finished two novels. I completed the Kite Runner, which ended up being one of my favorite books. After completing that book, I read It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, which will be the topic of this blog. Even amongst all of my school stress, I have found time to read. Typically, I binge read, which can be slightly less beneficial, so my overall goal for the future is to read on a regular basis. It's Kind of A Funny Story focuses on how mental health can effect others in many different ways. After reading the Kite Runner, I really wanted to go back to my old habits by reading another Young Adult Fiction novel because they are the most entertaining in my opinion! The overall genre drew my attention because I am very comfortable with my old habits. However, my interest in understanding and becoming more aware about mental health also caused me to choose this novel. It's Kind of A Funny Story successfully depicts the life of a teenager who struggles with depression in a positive light rather than with a negative connotation that it is often given. This novel has a total of 464 pages which I read over the course of two weeks. The vocabulary and syntax of this novel was very simple, but I think that the topic of mental health made this novel challenging. Having to wrap my brain around an unfamiliar concept is extremely difficult for me. This depiction of mental illness truly opened my eyes in a way that I would've never expected. Mental health truly impacts people, and it is nearly impossible for outsiders to understand what they go through. Experiencing an entirely new point of view forced me to understand an unfamiliar topic.
      It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini features the life of Craig Gilner and how he adapts to a life full of depression. Craig struggles with basic tasks, like eating, because of his mental illness. Craig spent his entire childhood trying to get into a highly sophisticated high school, but once he completes his goal, Craig feels lost in his life. A constant feeling of uncertainty leads Craig down a terrible path. As time progresses, he comes very close to committing suicide. Instead of going through with it, Craig checks himself into a mental hospital. As his stay at the mental hospital continues, Craig realizes that he " staked everything on that stupid test " (259). He then begins to question himself by asking "What else am I good at?"(259). Craig spent the majority of his childhood focusing on a singular test. He desperately wanted to get into the high school of his choice. Unfortunately, he risked all of the joys of his life in order to focus on academics. Putting constant pressure on himself destined Craig to a future of depression and anxiety. As the novel progresses, the constant pressure about school lessens, but it is definitely still prominent. One night, Craig's principal calls Craig to check on his well-being, but Craig's initial instinct is to hang up on him. Immediately after hanging up, Craig tries to reason his behavior by saying, "I had a 93 average and I was holding my head above water...My principal just called me and I hung up on him and didn't call back. I'm finished. I'm expelled. I'm finished" (302). In reality, his principal was only concerned about how Craig was feeling. Craig instantly reverted back to his old habits of being constantly stressed about school. He gives himself a hard time about having a very high average because he doesn't feel good enough. This issue is prominent in modern day society. School has become one humongous competition. Students have started defining themselves by ranks, grades and GPA's. Having competition should make students strive for greatness, but not at the expense of their well being. While school is detrimental to one's future, it is not the only think that teenagers should worry about. There is more to life than just the numbers that define you as a student. Constantly applying pressure to yourself over grades is severely unhealthy. One 'B' is not the end of the world! It is necessary for the youth of modern society to realized that numbers do not define a person.
      Unfortunately, situations similar to Ned's occur very frequently in modern day society. Stress and Depression are extremely evident in children because of school related issues. According to ABC News, Australia, The Australian school system is failing because students and teachers want students to strive for high scores, and ranks rather than pursuing new knowledge. Australia's problems are evident in schools across the nation. School has become a dreaded competition rather than an enlightening experience. At any given moment, students compare themselves to others, and get caught up in the act of winning. Constant competition distracts children from the true meaning of school. Striving for a number rather than striving to gain new information puts unnecessary stress on students. If students feel inclined to focus on beating their peers, a heavy amount of pressure is added to the students. Not only does excessive competition created stress, but it has the tendency to lead to lower academic performance. The Finland school system is much more successful than both Australian and American school systems because "they value the whole child, not just academic part of the child". Finland schools allow students to minimize their focus of test scores. While no school system is perfect, Finland succeeds in focusing on the overall success of the child. A more stress free environment is the result of having a system that focuses on more than just ranks and scores. Students often work themselves to death over assignments that will mean nothing. It's so easy to get caught up in the competitiveness, yet it is so hard to get rid of the habits once they are acquired. The pressure that kids put on themselves along with the pressure that adults apply can push children to a breaking point. What truly seems important at one moment, may not be important in the future, yet many people continue to get caught up in the present. Every assignment, test, grade and GPA will become less and less relevant. Children of modern day society have wasted their youth by focusing on an assortment of numbers and scores, rather than actually living a life that could be gone in the blink of an eye.

Gleeson, Hayley. "How the education system is making kids stressed and
     sick." Last modified July 16, 2016. accessed November 7,
     education-making-kids-sick/7589084  Chicago Citation

Vizzini, Ned. It's Kind of a Funny Story,  Hyperion, 2006.  MLA Citation

Thursday, September 28, 2017

True Colors

      Welcome back to Storytime with Mya! It surely has been a while, but my blog is up and running again. Last year, I was an avid reader, but my reading habits have been destroyed. Reading is such an enjoyable way of passing time, but sometimes I do not have any time that I can intentionally pass. My schedule is flooded this year, but I am determined to find time for reading. As of now, I am 220 pages into reading The Kite Runner. I chose this novel because it was an AP Novel that focused on a cultural background that perplexed me. The history of the Middle East is very new to me, so I hope that this novel enlightens me on the way of life in Afghanistan. I truly am enjoying this novel, but I haven't been reading as much of it as I would like. This novel is not extremely difficult, but sometimes the dialect can be confusing. Because this novel takes place in Afghanistan, some of the text is in a non-english language. This aspect of the book can be very distracting. The Kite Runner is 371 pages, which isn't too long, but I am reading this slower than I usually do. My current novel is realistic fiction, but I definitely want to adventure into the land of science fiction. This year, I am determined to use reading as a way of expanding my mindset, and my point of view. I really want to dedicate at least 20 minutes of my day to reading. Finding this time will be a challenge, but with a little hard work and determination, my goal can be met! This year, I truly challenged myself academically, and having to stretch my time out across three different AP classes makes it seem like there is never enough time in every day. 

      In The Kite Runner, the main character, Amir has many internal struggles. He wants to care for the people around him, but he always ends up focusing on himself. In general, a large amount of people would celebrate someone who gives hope to the less fortunate, but this is not the case for Amir. His father has a soft spot in his heart for his youngest servant, Hasaan. Through out the novel, Amir's father treats his servant like a son rather than an employee. Amir struggles to accept the idea of sharing the spotlight wit someone that he sees as inferior. His jealousy can be strongly exemplified when reflects upon his desire for more attention from his father by contemplating that "If I changed my mind and asked for a bigger and fancier kite, Baba would buy it for me - but then he'd buy it for Hasaan too. Sometimes I wished he wouldn't do that. Wished he'd let me be the favorite" (51). Overtime, Amir continues to search for his father's favoritism. After wrongfully framing Hasaan for a crime, Hasaan and his father quit their jobs as servants. As they were leaving Amir's home, Amir knew that "this was the part where I'd run outside, my bare feet splashing rainwater. I'd chase the car, screaming for it to stop. I'd pull Hassan out of the backseat and tell him I was sorry, so sorry, my tears mixing with rain water... I was sorry, but I didn't cry and I didn't chase the car. I watched Baba's car pull away from the curb, taking with it the person whose first spoken word had been my name" (109).   His selfish acts clouded his rightful judgement. Amir knew how to correct his mistakes for the sake of his long-time family friend, but his desire for attention exceeded his desire to advocate for others. While Amir's mindset may seem cruel, his way of thinking is not uncommon in modern day society. I believe that humans have the natural instinct to put ourselves over others. Being selfless is a trait that can be ridiculously hard to develop. Even when people know what the right thing to do is, personal obstacles can hold them back. Greed, jealousy and self preservation often prevent people from determining right from wrong, and good from bad.

      Attitudes similar to Amir's can be seen at large in the political and economic aspect of modern day America. The debate over affordable health care is thickening. Obamacare provided healthcare of lower costs to lower class citizens. In theory, Obamacare is fantastic, but upper class citizens dislike the idea because their tax money is being given to other people. In an article titled, "Why do people still hate ObamaCare? Probably because they still don't know much about", the Los Angeles Times explains that since the affordable health care act went into effect, taxes have increased, but more importantly, a large amount lower class people were given a second chance at life. According to the Los Angeles Times, "Obamacare has reduced the ranks of the medically uninsured to an all-time low". Obamacare usually only benefits part of the population, but richer people should not be enraged at the idea of using money for the betterment of other people. It is evident that the upper class is so focused on their money and profits, that the moral concept of Obamacare has been ignored. In reality, affordable health care saves lives, but the judgement of the upper class is clouded by their personal desires. The line between selfishness and selflessness causes heavy debates in modern day society, because the natural instinct of many humans is to fend for themselves. Through events, such as the health care debates, it is obvious that many humans struggle to separate their personal desires from the improvement of large amounts of people. Sadly, many people share one Amir's major flaws. This flaw continues to reveal people's true colors in the worst possible way.

Hosseini, Khaled. The Kite Runner, Riverhead Books, 2003. Print.

Michael Hiltsik, "Why do people still hate Obamacare? Probably because        they still don't know much    
     about it". Los Angeles Times. Last modified October 12, 2017.    

Monday, January 9, 2017

Endless Possibilities

      Welcome back to Storytime with Mya, I hope everyone had an amazing holiday season! After a long winter break, I am finally here to update you on my reading developments. Since my previous entry, I have completed my 10th and 11th novel. I am currently moving on to my 12th book. My reading rate has been slightly inconsistent, but I'm not too disappointed. I hoped to read more over winter break, but I procrastinated quite a bit. I'm really hoping to finish my current novel, before the semester is over, but it is a little longer than some of the other novels that I have read. I am currently reading I'll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson, and I recently finished 37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order) by Kekla Magoon, which happens to be the topic of my final entry.
      37 Things I Love (In No Particular Order) features the chaotic life of a sophomore named Ellis. One day, Ellis' father was involved in a construction accident that put him into a coma. Ellis very frequently went to visit her father in the hospital, but everything changed when  her mother wanted to put her father to rest.  Ellis dealt with an excessive amount of mental pain, but not being able to talk to her best friend made everything worse. Saying that her life is messed up is definitely an understatement.
      At the very end of the novel, Ellis finally faces her demons. I can't exactly state what happens because no one likes a spoiler, but I can tell you that Ellis realizes that "maybe I don't have to hold on so tight. Maybe it's okay to let go a bit. I'm ready to leap...If I fall, it won't be that far"(Magoon 223). Ellis had to let go of the things that held her back. Rather than continuing to dwell on the past, she knew that she had to launch herself into the future. In life, it tends to be very easy to allow the past define you because the past is the only thing that we are one hundred percent sure of. Focusing on the future is one of the hardest things to do because it is so unpredictable. Life is easier when we stick to what we know, but easier isn't always better. Sometimes taking risks can go wrong, but one bad event doesn't mean that we can't get back on our feet. Instead of holding onto every memory, making new ones should be our goal. No one truly knows what the future holds until each event actually happens. The future has so many endless possibilities while the past cannot be changed. One may be able to change the way they view the past, but the only thing that can be altered is the future. Ellis' hardships exemplify that the future has way more to offer than the past. Holding on to things of the past can only hurt your future. Even if you mess up in the future, there will always be a way to overcome your mistakes if try your hardest.

Friday, December 16, 2016

The World's Favorite Facades

      Welcome back to Storytime with Mya! As the weather has gotten colder, and the nights have gotten longer, my motivation to read has increased significantly. At the beginning of the year, I thought that I would read twelve books before the end of the entire school year. Surprisingly, I finished my ninth book, and I am nearly done with my tenth! As the year has gone on, I have taken advantage of independent reading time. Thanks to Ms. Mayo's reading suggestions, I have truly found joy in reading. Reading used to feel like a chore, but now it is one of my favorite activities. I read right before bed, and it really is the best way to fall asleep. During this year, a lot has changed for me, and reading has been one of my only escapes. In a time that feels like forever ago, I struggled to read a novel in under two weeks. If you have the time to read one of my old entries (specifically, Easier isn't Always Better), you'll get a glimpse of my old habits. Since my previous entry, I have read a total of four books, including the topic of this entry, The Color Purple by Alice Walker. 
     The Color Purple focuses on the life of Celie, and how the world around her affects it. Celie starts off as a very broken. Physical, and emotional abuse made Celie's early life nearly unbearable. Through Celie's letters to god and her sister, she transforms from a lost girl to an independent woman. Celie's character reminds the world that our past doesn't define our future. 
     In the novel, Celie is not treated fairly by many people, including her husband and her step-father. After being sexually assaulted by her step-father,  Celie has two children named Adam and Olivia. Both of her children get adopted because of her abusive husband's requests. Eventually, Adam and Olivia move to Africa with Nettie, Celie's sister, by their side. During their time in Africa, Adam marries an Olinka village girl named Tashi. Because Tashi lived in the early 20th century, "it was very clear to her that black people did not truly admire black skinned black people like herself, and especially did not admire black skinned black women. They bleach their faces... They fry their hair" (128). Tashi went through several procedures to make herself seem less black because she didn't think that she was good enough. She let the her appearance determine her identity. Even in our modern society, people believe that our outside figure defines who we are. The hair on our heads, the pigment in our skin, and the weight of our bodies are all facades that cover up who we really are. We can hide behind our exterior shells, but in reality, we are all only human. Whether it is 1932, 1781, or 2016, the genuine kindness of a person makes them who they are! No one is too dark or too pale, too short or too tall, or too thin or too large. We are all made to be ourselves. It is easy to forget that the things on the exterior of our bodies do not count for very much. Someone would appreciate a kindhearted person way more than a person who tries to appear perfect. To be brutally honest, perfection is boring. We are all different for a reason. Trying to defy the odds of our uniqueness isn't going to benefit anyone. If you're not accepted by your peers because of your looks, you're hanging out with the wrong people. There will always be critics who have opinions about your appearance, but in the end, their opinion is not as valuable as yours. By changing your appearance you'll just be wearing another one of the world's favorite facades.
     I realize that self identity can be hard to find and very hard to accept. Everyday, I work on accepting myself because loving myself, makes me more confident and happier. If you're ever feeling down, The Skin I'm Inby Sharon G. Flake will remind you that, YOU are truly important!!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Easier isn't Always Better

      Long time no see! Welcome back to Storytime with Mya, I hope you're ready to hear another failed reading goal. I originally promised that I would finish my novel in less the two weeks, but that promise was sadly broken. After nearly THREE weeks, I finished The Year We Disappeared by Cylin and John Busby. My reading pace significantly decreased, but it can only go up from here. Reading a non-fiction novel was a totally new experience for me, and I surprisingly enjoyed it. My consistency of reading was definitely hindered because I originally dreaded reading a non-fiction novel. As of now, I have started the notorious novel,  Lord of The Flies. I have read every night so far, and I'm even a little surprised by myself. I hope to be done with the novel by October 11! I'm starting to ramble on a bit, so let's dive right into my reflection of The Year We Disappeared.

      In The Year We Disappeared, John Busby, the father of Cylin, gets shot in his face while driving his car. John Busby suffers from severe facial deformities, and extreme health issues. Cylin, her two brothers and her mother supported John through his recovery, but during the process, the family was under twenty-four hour surveillance. Eventually, the Busby family was unwanted by their own home town. They became fed up with constant supervision, so they essentially disappeared.  Even though John physically healed, his persona remained broken. Cylin explains how "He didn't seem to notice when we were around, or when we weren't. I felt like he didn't even like to look at me anymore" (185). John was very self absorbed after the accident because he feared for his safety. It got to a point where John almost forgot that other people even existed. Similar to John, our modern day society is very selfish.
      Today's society is filled with individuals that are extremely concerned about themselves. Their road blocks in life blind them from the ones they love. Sadly, our society neglects each other, and the only time that we decide to pay attention to others is when something extremely negative occurs. Being constantly concerned about makeup, hair, fitness, skin and a plethora of other physical things has caused us to forget the important things in life. Instead of worrying about what's on the outside, we can't focus on who people really are. It feels as if we are blinded by all of our physical. Society hides behind a mask. While we can see people, we aren't seeing them for who they are. We aren't physically blind, but we don't really know who anyone is. People have gotten so caught up in their own lives that they aren't themselves. Plenty of us feel neglected, so we do things for attention. This eventually has a ripple effect that causes even more self absorption. Similarly to John Busby, our society doesn't notice when people are around, or when they aren't. Life is so much easier when we only have to worry about one person, but easier is not always better. If there was a way to unblind our society, everyone would be open to new things, but we have reached the point of no return.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

And in that moment, I swear we were infinite

     If you haven't already guessed it, I just finished reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, and I have nothing but positive opinions about the novel. Reading a novel that was in the form of letters was very enjoyable, but I didn't like that I only got Charlie's point of view. My biggest regret is not spending enough time outside of class reading the novel.  Reading a single book in two weeks is a little too slow for my liking, but this made me realized that I can definitely push myself way further on my next novel.  My pace of reading was undesirable in my opinions because the book was not very long. The next book that I want to start is The Year We Disappeared  by Cylin Busby, I am definitely going to try to read twenty pages per night even if I have homework!
     Personally, The Perks of Being a Wallflower touched my heart in a way that I didn't think was possible. Every time that someone talks to me about the novel, somehow the topic of infinity comes up in conversation. While riding in the back of a truck with his friends, Charlie expresses that " in this moment, I swear we were infinite"(42). This rather common quote, has a much deeper meaning to me. With school, and tennis, I have struggled to take any pressure off of myself. Typically, I am a very stressed out, but I have finally came to a realization. Sometimes, it is okay to live in the moment because some moments may never happen again. Instead of worrying about my future, I need to enjoy the small things while I can. Everyday my life changes, but of the 5,574 days that I have been alive, I have never truly felt infinite. I struggle to let loose, and truly have fun because there are always thoughts running through the back of my mind. I continuously worry about not being good enough and plenty of other things, trust me, the list goes on and on. As long as I am happy with who I am, I have the power to enhance my life to its fullest extent. Maybe one day I will feel infinite. It may not be today, and it definitely won't be tomorrow, but the day that I do, will be a day that I will cherish for eternity. Charlie's life wasn't alway plethora of happiness, but witnessing his character let loose, inspired me to do the same!