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Richmond, VA Skyline in Lights

(Photo credit: Will Fisher)

Richmond, VA is one of the oldest cities in America and is famous for being the capital of the confederacy. Today, Richmond is a thriving, metropolitan city with much to do and see in the day and night. Richmond is home to many colleges and universities, including Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Richmond, and Virginia Union. There are also several community colleges in the area, including J. Sargeant Reynolds and John Tyler Community College, as well as vocational colleges like ECPI College of Technology and ITT Technical Institute.

Arts and culture in Richmond are thriving. The city is home to the VA Historical Society and the VA Museum of Fine Arts, as well as the Science Museum of VA, the Children’s Museum of Richmond, and the VA Center for Architecture. Other interesting historical sights include the Edgar Allen Poe House and Museum, the John Marshall House and Hollywood Cemetery. Monument Avenue is well-known for it’s confederate statues commemorating soldiers such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Performing arts flourish in Richmond.  The Landmark Theater, Carpenter Center, Barksdale Theater and Empire Theater are notable venues for formal performances. For music, the Richmond Folk Festival is a multi-day event that hosts folk, bluegrass and country music every summer.

(Video source: Alex Shtam)

Many smaller theaters and venues throughout the city are home to live music on a daily or weekly basis as well. Finally, the Richmond Mural Project and the RVA Street Art Festival have facilitated the production of murals by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists throughout the city.  According to Shane Pomajambo, owner of the Art Whino Gallery and sponsor of the Richmond Mural Project, the murals that were produced during 2014 “continue to build Richmond’s reputation as a go to destination” that invites “exploration of the city.” In addition, this project has beautified many less than beautiful or simply plain areas in Richmond.

Research Blog Assignment # 8

Durham, Aisha, Brittney C. Cooper, and Susana M. Morris. “The Stage Hip-Hop Feminism Built: A New Directions Essay.” Signs.38.3 (2013): 721-37. JSTOR. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.

Durham, Cooper and Morris provide a brilliant insight into the multi-facet existence of hip-hop feminism in The Stage Hip-Hop Feminism Built: A New Directions Essay by mapping the current terrain of hip-hop feminist studies through identifying challenges and tensions, reviewing current literature/engaging the issues and highlighting emerging areas for further development in the field. They define hip-hop feminism as “a generationally specific articulation of feminist consciousness, epistemology, and politics rooted in the pioneering work of multiple generations of black feminists based in the United States” (722). Specifically, focusing in on questions/issues that sprout from the aesthetic/political prerogatives of hip-hop culture. (722) Another angle these authors provide is describing ‘percussive feminism’ as hip-hop feminism. Percussive feminism is “the striking of one body with or against another with some degree of force, so as to give a shock; impact; a stroke, blow, knock” (724) as well as the creativity that is manifested from placing modes/objects of inquiry together that aren’t traditionally cohesive. (724) The most obvious example at hand…hip-hop and feminism.

The challenges and tensions identified, boil down to the ways “black and brown bodies have been historically configured as excessive”(725).  It describes the excess and pathology that has severely limited the black and brown sexualities, specifically when identifying the representations of women of color as either “ladies and queens or as bitches and whores” (725). Perpetuating these labels, is the over-exploitation, hyper-sexualization, policing of sexuality and bodies of young women of color. One umbrella example given: the instructional ‘make it rain dance’…which projects for these young people how to perform sexuality and imagine desire; not solely for the young women but for the men as well. It activates controlling images and power-laden stereotypes such as the label of ‘video girl’, whom invests in appearance and is doused in this mindset: in order to gain fame-one must shape into the relevancy of a gold digger (729). A following example of exploitation, to women of color in the music industry, discusses the push for the field of the heterosexual African American performer. Placing the spotlight on Nicki Manaj, when she announced to the public of her bi-sexuality, the accumulated back-lash received led to her jumping into a different persona and marketing ‘no homo’ and ‘strictly dickly’. (725)  What hip-hop feminism also aims to create is “more of an elastic way of talking about gender relations”, provide an awareness lens that shows the continual reliance on normative notions and discuss the “compulsory heterosexuality within the music and the culture at large.” (728)

Found within the section In Search Of New Horizons, is the emergence of areas that catalyze progressive development within hip-hop feminism. “Hip-hop happens through the body when they dance, walk down the street, or recite favorite rhymes. ” (727) It takes place in schools, homes, community centers and performance facilites-these girls use self-critiquing “keeping it real” language from the hip-hop culture, to challenge misogyny, engage in social activism and issues such as gender stereotypes, body image and love. (728) With the help from renowned female poets/MC’s, these women assist in amplifying teen girls stories. They assist with imagining (while creating)…how hip-hop can engender community. So as, by providing these girls with skills to revolutionize how we see, and talk about black women in hip-hop.

Lastly, is the introduction of the term of ‘Afrofuturism’ which is the “African-American culture’s appropriation of technology and imagery, which can be understood as epistemology. Both examine the current problems faced by blacks (and people of color more generally) and critiques interpretations of the past and the future. “(733) Examples from the music industry feature: Janelle Monae, Outkast and Erykah Badu. These artists are connected by their commitment to portraying the histories of people of color as well as analyzing the dominant systems of power. They offer futurist solutions on transgressive ethos and provide the vibrancy of the larger framework of Afrofuturism, while simultaneously reframing hip-hop feminism. (733)


-“Hip-hop feminism’s evolving digital presence is not only evidence of the movement’s relevance and strength but also reflects its continued interest in democratizing the creation and dissemination of knowledge as well as promoting open dialogues about issues important to communities of color. It is hip-hop feminism that is uniquely able to move women from the sidelines of the stages we built, and from the cheering section of audiences that our public pedagogies have made space for, to claim an unapologetic place at the center as knowledge makers and culture creators.” (734)

-the blogosphere has become the digital public forum for feminist consciousness-raising, and social media platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook have morphed into virtual command centers to mobilize coalitions for grassroots activism. Take the We Are the 44% coalition, for instance. (731)

-…..hip-hop feminism’s continued investment in being in but not of the academy has made social media attractive because it provides an opportunity to practice public pedagogy among nonacademic audiences….. (731)









Research Blog Assignment # 7

Peoples, Whitney A. “Under Construction”: Identifying Foundations of Hip-Hop Feminism and Exploring Bridges between Black Second-Wave and Hip-Hop Feminisms.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 8.1 (2008): 19-52. EBSCO Host. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

“Under Construction”: Identifying Foundations of Hip-Hop Feminism and Exploring Bridges between Black Second-Wave and Hip-Hop Feminisms by Whitney Peoples explores the sociopolitical objectives of hip-hop feminism by understanding the sociopolitical platform of hip-hop feminists. In accordance to Peoples, hip-hop feminism is the reclaiming of young Black women in the U.S. who are trying to create space for themselves between whiteness and the academically sanitized versions of university-based feminism…while confronting the maleness of hip-hop. (Peoples, 26) 

The sociopolitical agenda of  a percentage of hip-hop feminists is to uplift segments of the population which consume the genre: young African-American women and girls. (Peoples, 28)  This portion of hip-hop feminists stresses that uplifting these young women and girls is to be done through self-actualization and “through the dissemination of political education and efforts at institution-building” (Peoples, 28). Another means of this section, is to create another angle of view to the term ‘feminism’. To see this word, this meaning, as a mode of analysis through which to critique the social, political and economic structures that govern their lives-rather than a label of women associated with a particular social movement. (Peoples, 30) And also, provide young black women with the tools necessary to critique negative messages they are receiving from the lyrics and visual expressions of rap music. (Peoples, 30)

The current political agenda of hip-hop feminists is molding a contemporary manifestation of consciousness-raising. (Peoples, 30) Consciousness-raising encourages personal change, political transformation and action to be taken where possible. For this population…political education and communal institutions must be the cohesive factor in forging the socio-political agenda. (Peoples, 31)


-“We need to create a space in which young women can critique these harsh realities and rap music’s glamorization of them”

-“Hip-hop gave me language that made my black womanhood coherent to myself & the world.”

-“African-American women writing between the worlds of hip-hop & feminism & within the points of their convergence recognize that black men and women need forums and other spaces in which to have crucial conversations between and among themselves.”

Research Blog Assignment # 6.

Mowatt, Rasul A., Bryana H. French, and Dominique A. Malbranche. “Black/Female/Body Hypervisibility and Invisibility: A Black Feminist Augmentation of Feminist Leisure Research.”Journal of Leisure Research 45.5 (2013): 644-60. EBSCO Host. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

From the Journal of Leisure Research, this piece on “Black/Female/Body Hypervisibilty and Invisibility: A Black Feminist Augmentation of Feminist Leisure Research” by Mowatt, French, Malbranche, proposes two concepts for Black feminist analysis of visibility and hypervisbility; with hypervisibilty in body politics, black women are represented in stereotyped and commodified ways through-out leisure spaces and scholarship. (Mowatt, French, Malbranche, 645) The main focus of this assignment is centered around “Hypervisibility-The Body Politics of Black Women”. It provides the reader with explanations of stereotypical images that constrict Black womanhood alongside psychosocial implications of these stereotypical representations.

Beginning the explanation of  the section: “Context of Black Women’s Bodies” with reference to Sara Baartman, a South African woman who lived in the 1800’s, who was placed on display throughout London and Paris to expose the black female body, this became the pinpoint of historical context for Black Women’s bodies as “hypersexualized spectacles for consumption”. (Mowatt, French, Malbranche, 650) With reference to this historical representation, the authors then go onto highlight the three main stereotypes of black women in literature.

The first stereotype is Jezebel.  The hypersexualized, manipulative, animalistic, promiscuous black woman, who cannot be controlled. This representation includes light skin, long hair, shapely body who’s sexuality revolves to attain attention, love and material goods. (Mowatt, French, Malbranche, 650) This stereotype is used to “justify rape and sexual exploitation” and that she is always looking for, wanting and ready for sex. This also introduces the term (Commercialized Sexual Exploitation/CSE)…a pervasive form of sexual violence and exploitation for the black woman experience. (Mowatt, French, Malbranche, 650) CSE, promotes the racial-sexualization and stereotyping of black women, through the mainstream media as over-sexed and available for prostitution.

The second stereotype is The Mammy. Depicted as dark-skinned, large framed, asexual Black woman as a domestic servant for white slave owners/employers of the post-emancipation era. (Mowatt, French, Malbranche, 650) She is barely recognized as a woman, seen as non-threatening and always places the needs of others first before herself. This section also brings to the discussion of the body image self-identification of black women versus white women. That black women, with higher BMI are shown to have lower body satisfaction but greater satisfaction with particular body parts. (Mowatt, French, Malbranche, 651)

The third stereotype is The Angry Black Woman/ Sapphire. Depicted as unintelligent, aggressive, domineering, emasculating, behaving in loud and offensive ways. (Mowatt, French, Malbranche, 652) When this stereotype of a black woman voices their opinion about issues, these women are seen as trouble makers.

The projections and explanations of these three stereotypes is seen on a mass-scale of societal internalization for black women. Leading to lower levels of self-esteem and negative validation of their image.  Alongside, contributing to many anxiety-filled reactions towards the self. (Mowatt, French, Malbranche, 652)



Research Blog Assignment # 5.

 Gupta-Carlson, Himanee. “Planet B-Girl: Community Building and Feminism in Hip-Hop.” New Political Science 32.4 (2010): 515-29.EBSCO Host. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

Himanee Gupta-Carlson, in this descriptive journal of “Planet B-Girl: Community Building and Feminism in Hip-Hop” shares how ‘Planet-B Girl’ created by women, allows sustainability as independent artists and uses hip-hop to enact people who are not recognized in political processes to agitate for change.  She also expresses how the women who become more aware of their marginalization within the genre, utilize the environment by generating audience responses to call attention to the gendering of hip-hop spaces.

Ranging from the Bronx, NY in the 1970’s to a garage in Seattle, WA in 2013, a core of people believe in the practice and perpetuation of hip-hop will continue to generate political change. To strive for this means- the usage of dialogue to convey messages and initiate change. “Because women hear this history, they become aware that despite the race and class disparities that hip-hop addresses, the story is sexist. But since they support the mission of social justice, they are drawn to hip-hop even as they see their role as limited. This awareness opens up spaces within locally defined hip-hop communities for feminists (male and female) to connect with each other and create dialogues that form shared experiences. ” (Gupta-Carlson).

Specifically, the women that Gupta-Carlson came into contact with, the key to using their personal stories is to project their experiences as a b-girl…to connect with the experiences of other b-girls, women, people who have experienced the same frustration/oppression in their lives, with the intention to channel those emotions into work for a positive-growth/change. Thus means- come about in spoken-word poetry, dance, music and visual art. “Women, not only claim space within “planet hip-hop” but also call attention to the gendering practices that have masked their contributions to the creation and perpetuation of that universe. Women in hip-hop, identify as b-girls, as a way of defining themselves as women who are strong and not easily intimidated.” (Gupta-Carlson) The over-all ‘Planet B-Girl’, in order to stand on one’s two-feet, summons dedication, affiliation and sacrifice.


Research Blog Assignment # 4.

Stallen Mirre, Carsten K.W. De Dreu, Shaul Shalv, Ale Smidts, Alan G. Sanfey. “The Herding Hormone: Oxytocin Stimulates In-Group Conformity.Psychological Science 23.11 (2012): 1288-1292. Sage Journals. Web. 17 Oct. 2014.

The compilation of evidence in “The Herding Hormone:Oxytocin Stimulates In-Group Conformity” between the five authors: Mirre, De Dreu, Shalv, Smidts and Sanfey reflect that”…the administration of oxytocin (a nueropeptide implicated in social behavior) can influence subjective preferences, and they support the view that oxytocin’s effects on social behavior are context dependent.”  (Mirre, De Dreu ,Shalv, Smidts, Sanfey) The results showed in-group and out-group ratings were incongruent; participants given oxytocin conformed to in-group but not of out-group ratings. The importance to keep in mind is individual and situation factors critically moderate the effects of oxytocin on prosocial behavior.

The tests’ conducted, measures the possibility…by assessing whether “oxytocin stimulates conformity and induces in-group conformity in particular.”(Mirre, De Dreu ,Shalv, Smidts, Sanfey) This design was approved by the University of Amsterdam’s ethics committee and the guidelines of the American Psychological Association. “74 males were recruited for a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled between-subjects design. There was administration of oxytocin to 37 participants and a placebo to the other 37 participants. To avoid pharmacological effects other than those caused by oxytocin, we used a placebo that contained all active ingredients except for the neuropeptide. Participants were told that they would be asked to rate a series of symbols, using a scale ranging from 1 (not attractive at all) to 11 (very attractive).” (Mirre, De Dreu ,Shalv, Smidts, Sanfey) While viewing the symbols, participants also saw the ratings for each symbol from the members of their own team as well as from the members of the other team.  “On some trials, no ratings were provided; on other trials, either one or two ratings were given so we could examine whether the number of ratings affected the strength of the conformity bias.” (Mirre, De Dreu ,Shalv, Smidts, Sanfey)

The results found that participants gave induced ratings when in-group and out-group members liked the symbol and lower ratings when in-group and out-group members disliked the symbol. This confirms the tendency to conform to other’s judgements. So, oxytocin’s effects on the in-group shows related preference while those given the placebo, did not.  Conclusively, oxytocin stimulates conformity by enhancing in-group identification processes and also, results in blatant effects on human/social judgment.

Key Quotes:

-“In-group conformity is stronger when individuals engage in face-to-face interactions and when responses are made public and not in minimal group settings with anonymous private reporting.”

-“People given a placebo are more cooperative toward in-group members than toward out-group members and are less willing to sacrifice in-group than out-group members when presented with hypothetical moral-choice dilemmas.”


Research Blog Assignment # 3.

Scheff, Thomas J. “Shame and Conformity: The Deference-Emotion System”. American Sociological Review, Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jun., 1988), pp. 395-406. JSTOR. Web. 7 Oct. 2014

In the published work, “Shame and Conformity: The Deference-Emotion System” compiled by Thomas J. Scheff, the main idea revolves around the force of social influence- it’s experienced by individuals as exterior and constraining. Also, that conformity is encouraged by a system of  sanctions-so that when we conform, we expect reward and when we do not conform, we are punished. The remainder of the journal is broken down into sections: Shame and Conformity, The Sources of Shame and The Cooley-Scheff Conjecture.

Shame and Conformity: With the exposure to Goffman’s treatment of interaction ritual, he exclaims that “the emotions of embarrassment or anticipation of embarrassment plays a prominent role in every social encounter.” (Scheff, 396) Also, the type of deference/ emotions of pride and shame create a subtle and pervasive system of social sanctions.  Though, Goffman continues to explain that the deference-emotion system is invisible and instantaneous to each human being. The deference-emotion system occurs between and within human beings interacting.  When rejection is present on one or both sides, this spurs a chain-reaction of shame and anger between those persons interacting.  Goffman then summarizes the section ” One becomes ashamed that the other  is ashamed, who in turn becomes ashamed,  which increases the first person’s shame, and  so on-an interpersonal feeling trap. In H.B. Lewis’s analysis, one becomes ashamed that one is ashamed, an inner loop which feeds on itself-an intrapersonal trap. ” (Scheff, 396)

The Sources of Shame: This section provides oversight and a hybrid of threads of ideas, regarding shame. Darwin’s idea of blushing and it’s relation to shame from his 1872 (The Expressions of Emotions in Men and Animals) discusses that “blushing  may be caused by perceptions of other people’s evaluation of the self, whether positive or negative.” (Scheff, 398) William MacDougall’s insight about the crucial emotion of shame points to the emotion itself as possibly the most important of emotions though in adults is considerably more elaborate and complex.

The Cooley-Scheff Conjecture: This section provides follow-up of MacDougall’s insight, specifically pertaining to Cooley’s consideration that society rests on a foundation of pride and shame. The social nature of the self and his outlook on it is summarized into two propositions: that social monitoring of self is virtually continuous, even in solitude and social monitoring always has an evaluative component, and gives rise, therefore, to either pride or shame.

Key Quotes: 

“…when there is a real and/or imagined rejection on one or both sides (withdrawal, criticism, insult, defeat, etc.) the deference-emotion system may show a malign form, a chain reaction of shame and anger between and within the interactants.”

“…in the sequence of honor, insult and revenge-may decide fate not only of individuals but of nations, civilizations, of all life on earth.”

“As is the case with other feelings, we do not
think much of it (that is, of social self-feeling)
so long as it is moderately and regularly
gratified. Many people of balanced mind and
congenial activity scarcely know that they care
what others think of them, and will deny,
perhaps with indignation, that such care is an
important factor in what they are and do. But
this is illusion. If failure or disgrace arrives, if
one suddenly finds that the faces of men show
coldness or contempt instead of the kindliness
and deference that he is used to, he will perceive
from the shock, the fear, the sense of being
outcast and helpless, that he was living in the
minds of others without knowing it, just as we
daily walk the solid ground without thinking
how it bears us up. (p. 208) COOLEY”

Research Blog Assignment #2.

Bond, Rod, and Peter B. Smith. “Culture and Conformity: A Meta-Analysis of Studies Using Asch’s (1952b, 1956) Line Judgment Task,.” Ed. Robert J. Steinberg. Psychological Bulletin 119.1 (1996): 111-37.ProQuest. Web. 7 Oct. 2014.

McLeod, Saul A. “Asch Experiment.” Simply Psychology. N.p., 2008. Web. 07 Oct. 2014. <http://www.simplypsychology.org/asch-conformity.html>.

In the psychological journal, copyright by the American Psychological Association- Culture and Conformity: A Meta-Analysis of Studies Using Asch’s (1952b, 1956) Line Judgment Task, by Rod Bond and Peter B. Smith determines that countries labeled as collectivist, show higher levels of conformity than individualistic countries and conformity research must focus more on the cultural variables that are involved in social influence. The concentrated focus of the sections read deal with Comparisons Across Cultures, Comparisons Within a Culture at Different Periods in Its History and Individual-Collectivism.

First and foremost, to understand the underpinnings of this journal, the explanation of Asch’s Line Judgement Task is as follows (factors increasing conformity). Size of Group, Difficulty of Task and Status of Majority Group are all increasing factors of conformity-according to Asch (1952,1956). “Conformity tends to increase as the size of the group increases”, when uncertainty is present-we look to others for confirmation…with the more severity of the task leads to greater the conformity and the higher status of the group (boss or managerial positions-more influence) people will conform their opinions more. (McLeod, Asch Experiment, 2008)

With the evidence provided, the attention now turns to Bond and Smith’s compilation. Comparisons Across Culture’s section projects that high food-accumulating societies (pastoral/agricultural societies example: Temne of Sierra Leone) rendered around obedience and responsibility where as low food-accumulating societies ( hunting and fishing peoples example: Eskimo of Baffin Island/Canada) rendered around independence and individual achievement. When comparing these societies to one’s of greater exposure to Western Society, “exposure to Western values leads to a weakening of traditional norms and to less cross-cultural variation in conformity.” (Bond & Smith, 112)

Comparisons Within a Culture at Different Periods in Its History explains that advocating for individuality and questioning of status quo in universities in American society show greater results in the 1980s versus the 1950s. In 1988, conformity had declined again, reflecting the increase in protest activities. Though, vast importance weighs on the relation of conformity levels to measures of cultural values, which in turn will mediate responses to group pressure. (Bond & Smith, 112)

Individual-Collectivism gives the over-view that in individualist cultures, majority of social behavior is largely determined by personal goals/the self is conceived as separate from society and in collectivist cultures, social behavior is determined by goals shared with a collective of persons and emotional dependence on organizations and institutions. (Bond & Smith, 114)


-“He felt that conformity can “pollute” the social process and that it is important for a society to foster values of independence in its citizens.”

-“Iscoe, Williams, and Harvey (1964) found less conformity among Black women compared with White women.”

– “exposure to Western values leads to a weakening of traditional norms and to less cross-cultural variation in conformity.”

Source List.

–> Out Da Box TV-Erykah Badu Interview (7:39-11:07) August 25, 2011–Did you ever consider, that people might overlook the message you intended, due to the nudity in Window Seat?

—>”Collaboration is the hottest buzzword in buiz. today…too bad it doesn’t work.David H. Freedman. September 1st, 2006. INC Magazine. Volume 28. Issue 9. Page 61-62.

—>“Listening to Popular Music” David Reisman. American Quarterly. Volume 2. Number 4. 1950. Published: John Hopkins University Press.

—> “Classification as Culture: Types and Trajectories of Music Genres” Jennifer C. Lena. Richard A. Peterson. Vanderbilt University. American Sociological Review 2008 73: 697.

—>“The impact of guilt and type of compliance-gaining message on compliance.” Boster FJ, Mitchell MM, Lapinski MK, Cooper H, Orrego VO, Rienke R. 1999. Commun. Monogr. 66:168–77.

—> “Studies of independence and conformity: a minority of one against a unanimous majority.” Asch SE. 1956. Psychol. Monogr.70:(9) Whole No. 416.