The Rise of Birtherism

Written by Ariama Long

Our country has created some interesting and unassuming neologisms, most notably the addition of words like ‘hashtag‘ or ‘favorited‘ to link and save the latest social media phenomenon. However, not every new word we cultivate as a society is as safe and trendy. Recently, the new term Birtherism has taken on a life of its own.

This phrase is generally attributed to none other than business mogul, Donald Trump, when he savagely went after current President of The United States (P.O.T.U.S) Barack Obama in his second term run against Mitt Romney. Trump thrust himself into the limelight claiming that Obama had no right to run for presidency because he was not a natural born citizen, after which dominated a large percentage of the news coverage that year.

According to James Taranto, in his article published in the American Spectator, “That same week, Donald Trump’s revival of citizenship questions accounted for much of the attention directly on the Obama administration, at 4% of the newshole in PEJ (Project for Excellence in Journalism) reports.”

Briefly fueled by the media, Trump is slinging the same accusations against a new opponent, namely Ted Cruz. Birtherism thus takes a gruesome pirouette in the spotlight in a year where refugees, immigrants, racism, and religious outcasts are always sure to be the topic of conversation for any candidate. Considering that I’m not a huge fan of politics, I’d rather briefly discuss the emergence of this word and the societal attitude that bore it than rant on about Trump and his inveigling tactics.

As President Obama stated in his last State of The Union address:

 

 

Have an opinion? Leave a comment.

African-American Student Opens Case Against Alma Mater

This country is in a state of ‘turmoil,’ finding itself talking about race more often than not. Our society throws terms, like ‘turmoil’ or ‘justice’ or ‘race’, around like fists of shredded paper towels, too scared to stand beneath them. I’d like to take a moment from writing poetry to say that our country is not in a state of ‘turmoil,’ it is turmoil. Our country was born from struggle. There has always been an us, the Americans, and a them, the British; a North and South; and unfortunately a man-made separation between black and white.

It is this last point that is most evident in the Trayvon Martin case, the Ferguson riots, the recent developments on the University of Missouri’s campus; and, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) findings against Chestnut Hill College in the case of Allan Michael Meads. A model African-American student, director, actor, and volunteer was expelled on unfair grounds and harshly escorted off the premises with only weeks until his graduation in 2012 after his production of ‘A Raisin In The Sun’ debuted on campus due to an alleged misappropriation of funds. Today, November 23rd, after fighting an uphill legal battle for the past couple of years, his case is finally gaining some traction.

Allan Michael Meads (left) in his starring role of the production of 'Fiddler on the Roof' at Chestnut Hill College.

Allan Michael Meads (left) in his starring role of the production of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ at Chestnut Hill College.

As a member of the cast for ‘A Raisin In The Sun,’ I honestly didn’t think that a play about race relations would have such an impact on the director’s life in the very same way. Through auditions and rehearsals, building sets and finding wardrobe and props, it became clear, at least to me, that as the first all African American production at Chestnut Hill College (CHC) our play would always be more.

Mead, the cast, and the African Awareness Society on campus poured ourselves into putting on the best performance we could because of the unspoken expectations of us. For every student who had struggled with a feeling of discrimination at CHC, it was a big deal if it failed in any way.

After successfully coming together to entertain and simultaneously educate hundreds of people, Mead deserved to enjoy his accomplishment. Instead he, as well as the cast, were scrupulously questioned in regards to the proceeds of the play and procedures. The PHRC found that

“There was no written contract or agreement between Complainant [Mead] and Respondent [Chestnut Hill College] detailing the obligations of conducting a student performance.”

Nor was there a faculty adviser provided to inform us beforehand of how these things should be handled.

Now, for people who may speak about this occurrence in the future with terms like ‘race baiter’ or ‘black card,’ I’d like to address you. Not every battle over race is bloody. Sometimes an event is devoid of riots and violence. Sometimes its the pain of the everyday, persistence with lawyers and meetings that makes a difference. There are many within the minority of CHC’s community, and the country for that matter, that attend a predominantly ‘white’ school (PWS) thinking that an unseen hammer is always hanging above them, ready to strike down at the smallest slight.

In some instances we can regard this feeling as paranoia, and others are too obvious to ignore. When “100% of the African-American students charged with a violation were either expelled or suspended,” compared to the overwhelming amount of ‘white’ students found guilty of the exact same infractions or more severe offenses, received suspension or alternate correction only after multiple cases, we can not ignore the facts.

These findings in no way reflect the amazing professors, faculty, cooking staff, and security guards employed by CHC that work tirelessly to treat all of us, black, white, or in between, as students and friends. But, even so, I have had moments on campus where a comment or disdainful judgement has made me feel uncomfortable to say the least. Hopefully, our Alma mater will learn to grow from this experience in accordance to their mission, and help transform the school for future generations of graduates.

Even though the college refused to cooperate with Allan Michael Mead and the PHRC initially, they are currently in the pre-hearing stages as of today. I for one would like to see a peaceful resolution reached, but if the case does make it to trial, I’d stand in full support against what was an egregious mistake.

I welcome all questions, comments, or concerns on this topic, if you’d like to contact me directly. If you’d like to learn more about the case, please click on the link below:

Open Letter on Behalf of the CHC Alumni of the Color Collective

–Written by Ariama Long, Creator of The Poetry Corner, Member of CHC Color Collective

5 Ways To Get Past Your Poetic Writer’s Block

By Ty Jacoby

As poets and writers we all know that it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been writing poetry, how great you are at creating long and intricate pieces, or even how many stories and experiences you have to tell…we all get writer’s block sometimes.

Writer’s block is defined in the dictionary as a “temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of any work”. Sounds about right, sometimes it seems like there’s a literal block inside your brain preventing your ideas from communicating themselves with first you and then your pen.Often times this will stop you from being able to write for days and sometimes weeks on end. Trust me it’s not fun, especially when you have deadlines to make.

So how exactly do you overcome your poetic block? Well, in just a few simple steps you will be on your way to beating writer’s block in no time.

Think of a topic that you’re passionate about

What gets you fired up? What topics make you feel 10 different emotions all at once? Whatever it is, identify it immediately. It could be anything that you have an opinion on, want to tell a story about, or have a unique interest in. The faster you pinpoint what you want your piece to be about, the better. Try not to spend more than 10-20 minutes thinking of a topic, not only is it a waste of your writing time but poets go wrong when they spend days trying to find the best topic to write about. The best thing is whatever hits you the most.

Start Writing Down Key Ideas

Grab a piece of paper and pen or pencil of your choice…no, do not write anything down in the notes of your smartphone…and start jotting down words and phrases that come to your mind when you think of this topic. It gives you almost a list of things that can be used once you actually start to write your piece. Writing things down on paper also makes you think more critically and it helps you remember your ideas better. Things you write down could be anything! Even rhyming phrases. For example sometimes when I write songs, one line of the verse or chorus could come to my head and I just think to myself, “I should write that down”. Next thing you know by the time I go to the write the song I’ve got all my best lines down on paper for me to just organize into a flow of lyrics.

Write and Don’t Think

Don’t worry, you’ll have plenty of time to think later. One of the worst things about writer’s block is that feeling of being stuck because everything you think to put down on paper doesn’t “sound right” to you. It prevents you from getting the pen going, and once you get the pen going it gets easier to keep writing. Therefore the most important thing is to just start writing and don’t worry so much about the technicalities until you’re done and you’re ready to revise. That’s what revision is for, so you can think, but when originally writing a piece you want your freshest and most raw thoughts to be on paper first and foremost, so that you’re not contemplating the perfect first line for hours.

Look For Inspiration in Things

Having a hard time finding inspiration? Watch a movie, read a book or talk to some fellow poets. Sometimes when I’m stumped on what to write my poem on, I’ll watch slam poetry on YouTube to get me inspired. A lot of times I’ll just watch some of  my favorite poets perform and it somehow loosens up my brain a little bit so that I can start writing. Reading short poems or poetry books usually can help too.

Take a Break

You know how they say if you can’t figure out a puzzle you’re trying to solve, put it down and come back to it later? Sometimes we tend to focus too much to the point where we’re frustrated and not seeing any more answers or clues. However upon returning later, you find things you didn’t see before and it’s easier to think now that you’ve unloaded all that pressure. It’s actually pretty true, and the same can be so when you’re writing a poem.  So putting down a poem and coming back to it later is never bad. You may even think of some other great lines you could put in there while you’re away for a while.

All in all writers block is a very common thing, even in poetry and can be overcome by taking these small steps. Happy Writing!

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