Four upcoming events merit particular attention, and so I’ll award two extra credit points for your attendance at each (I’ll only award four total per student, but please consider attending all four). These are all great opportunities to see topics in Just Mercy at work in our local community. To receive extra credit, you will need to give me proof of attendance (I will attend all these events, so check in with me there–I’m attending the 10:30 a.m. session of the Forum) and to write a brief blog post (150-250 words) connecting the event to Just Mercy–the work is extensive because these two points will be added to your final grade.
- “Why Trust the Cops?”Tuesday, October 4th, 7-9 p.m. Commonwealth Ballroom A, Student Commons: Police officer or officer of the peace? Come hear VCU Police Chief John Venuti, along with members of other law enforcement agencies, talk about policing with a purpose, building trust, and community-engaged policing.
- Thursday, October 13th: The President’s Forum on Social Justice:As we seek to improve shared efforts around diversity and inclusion, we now are working in a number of areas to move from conversation to action. In that spirit, I am pleased to invite you to join in the President’s Forum on SocialJustice, October 13, in the Commonwealth Ballrooms. All are welcome to attend any of the three 2-hour sessions:
· 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.· 1:30-3:30 p.m.· 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Please note that this date is different than the one previously announced.
The President’s Forum on Social Justice continues conversations held in the spring and offers faculty, staff, and students another chance to share their voices on critically important issues for our community. Forum participants will engage in moderated tabletop conversations to raise concerns related to social justice at VCU and in our nation and world, and then work together to offer solutions. This is at the heart of this forum: bringing issues forward and focusing on action.
Please click here to RSVP for one of the 2-hour time blocks and to propose tabletop discussion topics.
- Tuesday, October 18th: “Meet Me in the Bottom”
5:30-7:30 pm Harris Hall Auditorium (Room 101); Attend a screening of VCU professor and documentarian Shawn Utsey’s 2009 film, “Meet Me in the Bottom: The Struggle to Reclaim Richmond’s African Burial Ground,” followed by a panel discussion and Q&A session.
- Wednesday, November 2nd: Healing in a Broken System: Memoirs from Jail; 6pm – 8pm, Larrick Court End Ballroom B
Attend a panel presentation and discussion with the co-authors of “Writing Our Way Out: Memoirs from Jail,” as they discuss life, death, and health issues surrounding addiction, violence, and mental health as factors leading to crime, and explore the healing power of writing.
Co-sponsored with International/Inner City/Rural Preceptorship program (I2CRP) and the American Medical Student Association at VCU School of Medicine. Refreshments will be provided.
Your Essay One document should now contain your 750-1000 word paper and your 250 word memo. You will upload this document onto Blackboard before class on Friday, September 30th. When you have a final draft, log in to Blackboard and click on the link for our class (UNIV 111). Then click on the “Assignments” tab on the left side of your page. In the assignments page, you’ll see a link to Essay One. Click on that link, which will prompt you for either a “text submission” or to “attach file.” Next to “attach file,” click on “browse my computer,” which will show you the documents available for upload. Select your Essay One paper. Once your document is available, click “Submit” in the lower left part of your screen. A preview of your document will then load—make sure you’ve submitted the right material before logging off. If you’ve selected the wrong document, choose “Start New” to repeat the submission process.
Once you’ve submitted the document, you still have one final step–don’t forget to bring your peer review sheet to class on Friday for submission!
Here’s a message from Brian McTague, director of the VCU writing center (just in time for Essay One!):
“I wanted to let you know that the new scheduling system we’ve been transitioning to is now up and running. Students may click here vcu.campus.eab.com to make appointments. Of course, they can always call us, as well (804-828-4851). Currently, this link is not yet available on our web site (I’m hoping it will be later this week).”
Instead of visiting the library for a scheduled tour, go on your own time using the virtual tour for your phone; keep in mind that you will still need to write a paragraph about a library resource for your participation portfolio. You can screenshot the final page of the tour to prove you’ve completed it.
For homework this weekend, you’ll be using your reading and our discussion of Beverly Daniel Tatum’s “The Complexity of Identity: Who am I?” to describe a specific individual’s identity. This homework is due by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, September 11th (please note that Rampages is undergoing scheduled maintenance Saturday night, so plan your posting accordingly).
- Visit the Seattle Times project “Under Our Skin” and select the “Participants” link on the upper right of the page. (We’ll be using this resource again during the semester, so feel free to look around now–you could start with the introduction or explore some of the terminology). In the “Participants” section, choose either Autumn Bennett, Varisha Khan, Marci Owens, or Lucas Nydam (no video is more than two or three minutes, so please watch two to three before you make your decision).
- While watching the video you’ve selected, take notes about the way your individual describes their identity. Consider using the categories Tatum details to trace the discussion. Notice if the individual spends more time talking about particular elements of their identity (like race or gender) and less time discussing others. Don’t forget to notice “dominant” identity groups (i.e. if someone identifies as male but does not discuss his male identity), or identity aspects that might not be covered by Tatum’s list. You may need to watch your video a few times to gather all the information you need.
- Using the information from your video and the Tatum reading, write a 300 word blog post assessing your individual’s identity. You should plan to answer the following questions: How does your individual describe their identity? What aspects of their identity seem most important to them and why? Are you surprised that they focus or choose not to focus on a particular aspect of their identity? Do they describe moments where their understanding of identity does not match the perception of others? Finally, conclude your post with a brief reflection on this activity; how did working with your video change or add to your understanding of the Tatum essay? What categories might you add or change in Tatum’s work? Were any categories underrepresented in your watching? Please note that “assessing identity” does not ask you to offer an opinion about how your speaker identifies–your task is to describe rather than evaluate, so please refrain from using language that suggests you agree or disagree with a speaker’s perspective. Currently, you are an observer.
A Note on Sensitivity
We’ve done a crash course on identity politics today–many classes take an entire semester to discuss the vocabulary and terms you’ve seen, and we’ll continue to return to them. It’s okay to be uncomfortable and unfamiliar with some of this language; the important things are to ask questions, to keep learning, and to be respectful of the stories you encounter during this assignment. In order to accomplish this, please avoid making assessments of your video based on your own perceptions (i.e. this person looks or seems to fall into a certain identity category). Focus on how your individual IDENTIFIES (that is, what they express directly about themselves). When possible, quote the language they use to describe their identity (that is, a black participant may choose to identify as “black,” “African American,” or a “person of color”–follow the speaker’s lead when describing their identity). If you have any questions about terminology, feel free to email me before or class or raise the question in your blog post.
This weekend, you’re going to be an observer and archiver. Using Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Acting French” to get you started, you’ll curate a Rampages gallery of approximately 5 images and then write a separate 300 word blog post. You will be sharing this material in class on Wednesday, September 7th.
The Content: As you think about Coates’s experience learning French and the “culture of scholastic achievement” that he describes, collect 5 images (or more) that speak to the essay in some way. You can obtain these images in one of two ways: either do some new photographing on VCU’s campus OR collect photos from your own life. Each photo needs a caption; select a quotation from “Acting French” that you think describes or is in conversation with the photo (make sure to cite the page number at the end of the caption).
The Follow Up: Once you’ve curated your gallery (see the “How To” below), start a second post on Rampages. In 300 words, describe the experience of creating your gallery. What was the experience of photographing, collecting, or archiving like? What kinds of interactions did you have with other people while you were working? Did you make an interesting discovery or learn something new about “Acting French,” VCU, or yourself? You do not need to answer all these questions; they are just meant to get you started!
The How To: On your Rampages site, choose to start a new post. Title it “My Gallery,” or something more creative! Above the text box, select “Add Media.” Media will ask you to include an image from your “media library” or to upload images from your computer. Select the image you want to use; an “attachment details” box will come up on the right. Insert your “Acting French” quote (with a page number!) into the caption box. Then hit “insert into post.” Once your first image and caption appear in the text box, repeat the process with your next images. Feel free to use my gallery as an example.
After the Gallery: You’ll see many images in class on Wednesday, but I want to encourage you to remain in conversation with the amazing images and work your classmates have put together. With that in mind, your homework for Friday requires you to comment on at least two classmates’ galleries (you can certainly do more if you wish!). Using the linked names on your section page, browse your classmates’ work. You can choose to respond to any gallery–you may pick one you didn’t get to see in class, or you might continue a class conversation. Click “Leave a comment” on their post, and write your response to their work. This response should be at least 100 words; it can ask a question, remark on something that you think is especially cool or thought provoking, or share an insight based on your own viewing of the images. Once you’ve commented on at least two galleries, fill out this Google form telling me which galleries you accessed (this step will help me locate your comments more quickly). Make your comments before class on Friday, please!