My Growth as a Writer

Amani Nassar

English 1121

Dr. Hall

May 21, 2019

My Growth

Before I had even entered the classroom for English 1101, I knew from the start that I was going to hate it. I had already had a terrible experience with this same English class at a previous college and it affected my gpa so negatively that I knew this experience would probably be no different. I felt so pressured to get an A because I want to be a nurse and an A grade is basically the only way in there. When assigned my first paper I had no idea what I was going to write about, I didn’t understand the reading nor the terms it used, I knew I was in trouble. To my surprise though, with a lot of rereading, asking questions, and listening to my classmates thoughts, I wrote a pretty decent essay. It was decent enough that my professor (you Dr.Hall!) used my essay as an example for the class, I couldn’t have been more proud of my writing than I was that day. In English 1101, I feel like I had the most growth as a writer, but it did however continue into English 1121.

From the very beginning of this semester I knew all of my essay needed to have “more of me” in them. I’ve always struggled adding my personality and personal thoughts into my writing for the simple fact that I always got bashed for doing so in high school. My teachers use to just want the answers to the prompt and nothing more, but now in college I finally had the chance to add my own style to my writing. Because of teachers like the ones I had, I hated to write and I never thought that I could write a good essay, but the real problem was that I was never writing about something I was interested in and I never had a teacher who wanted more than just the basics of the prompt.

I find that I’m most driven to write when I have opportunity to give my opinion, when I can explain my life experiences or when I’m passionate about a topic like the community. I like to write for any audience of individuals that are open minded and are willing to debate or give feedback. One of my strengths that I learned as a writer this semester was being able to go more in depth with my writing giving my readers more detail. In one of my very first essay about education I said “being that I live with my Puerto Rican side of the family, I felt as though I was missing out on the experiences my other culture could offer me,” but there was not much to follow up on this quote. When I revised this essay I was able to add more details that could help my readers better understand my cultures by giving them scenes like when I said “I remember when I was younger I would walk into the room sometimes and see my father on the floor praying and would walk right up next to him pretending to pray just like him.” In this quote my readers can now have more of an insight on how I still got to experience my Palestinian culture as I grew up seeing my father practice Islam even though I lived in a Puerto Rican household.

Another strength I acquired this semester is being able to better organizing my writing so that my ideas flow without any disruption. In my gentrification memo I was able to end my paragraphs and follow them up in the following paragraph. For example I ended my first paragraph by asking my readers “why is Brooklyn being so gentrified?” I then followed this question up by saying “I don’t think there is one real explanation for why people come to live in Brooklyn and gentrify it to their liking. There are so many factors that contribute to the gentrification of what was once Brooklyn.” Here I am able to give my readers some food for thought as I question what they may feel and then give them some facts that can add to or change their view.

My strengths have become writing techniques that I will need to keep enhancing to better my writing because with each assignment comes a different mindset and skills needed to complete it. Although I have grown this semester I still have some weak aspects that I will continue to work on. A lot of the times before I start my writing I overthink it, I take a simple assignment and turn it into something so stressful that it makes it harder for me to focus on what it is that I have to do.

My growth as a writer began at the beginning of the semester and will continue to grow outside of the classroom. As I said in my education essay “everyday is a new learning experience for me” and that entails not only my life experiences, but also the skills I learn in class. This is just the start to me becoming a better writer, the best is yet to come. I want to be remembered as a writer who once wrote mediocre essay that didn’t make it out of the hands of the teacher to then becoming a writer who is constantly improving with each writing.

Unit 4 proposal

Amani Nassar

For this unit I want to change the form of my Unit 2 essay. I previously wrote a critique/analysis of the song “Alright.” This time I want to create a photo essay in which I pay more attention to the visual aspect of the music video. Often times music videos go underrated or dismissed because people do not take the time to understand the artistic intent behind them. I’m not quite sure who I want my audience to be, but I do know that I want my audience to walk away knowing and having more of an appreciation for the visuals/meanings behind music videos especially a video like this one. Within my photo essay I want to have side by side photographs between the music video and the representation it has on the outside world.

Education Essay (Revised)

Amani Nassar

English 1121

Dr. Hall

April 30, 2019

The Palestinian Boricua

Coming from such a diverse background of being Palestinian and Puerto Rican, I have gotten a lot of mixed reactions from people when I tell them about my background. Some would be shocked and ask “how did that happen?” Others would say something like “wow, that’s an amazing combination” and occasionally I get a “you foreign Amani” from my friends. One reaction in particular that I never liked getting was when people would ask if I was a Muslim or a Catholic.

Religion can be a sensitive topic to discuss for some people, and for me this question made me feel rather uncomfortable for the simple fact that I felt as though I had to choose one religion over the other because that’s what most people would expect to hear. If I were to say I was a Muslim people would question why I never wore a hijab. If I were to say I was a Catholic, people would ask why I did not attend church regularly or ask me something about the Bible, all of which I would not have a clear answer for. I had never put much thought into my religious nature or upbringing because in my household, religion was never really a huge topic of discussion, no one was judged for believing in what they believed in or how they chose to believe. My parents never forced religion on me, but rather left it up to me to choose any religion I wanted to practice or even no religion at all.

My mother was brought up as a Catholic from a young age, attending church every now and then. My father was a devoted Muslim, born and raised in Israel, later coming to the United States. Typically, most Palestinian men have children with women within their religion, but since my mother is a Catholic my father was actually able to marry my mother and later have children together. Even without knowing much about religion, one could assume that being a Muslim is quite different from being a Catholic. They have different places of worship, different names for their God, different scriptures, different ways of praying, and holistically many different practices for fulfilling their religious duty. I felt like I had a confliction of religions that seemed to be more different than alike.

I grew up in my Puerto Rican household with my mom, brother, abuela, and my father once upon a time. All my life I only knew about my Puerto Rican roots, the food, the music, the Spanish language, and of course the people. All of my family functions consisted of the boricuas (another name for Puerto Ricans) on my mother’s side. Any birthday I ever had, was attended by only my Puerto Rican family. I celebrated, and still do celebrate holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, which Muslims do not celebrate. I never fasted or celebrated Eid and I do not pray 5 times a day as a typical Muslim would, but one practice I do follow is to not eat pork. A lot of my Puerto Rican family members tend to forget that I do not eat pork and offer me foods like pernil (roasted pork) at our parties. Pernil is such a Puerto Rican delicacy and is at basically every celebration you can think of. You may assume it’s hard to resist such delicious, but I do my best to follow my sole duty as a not so typical Palestinian to not eat pork.

Although I’m Palestinian and may be expected to be a Muslim, I unfortunately do not follow many of the Islamic practices but my brother on the other hand, who is fully Puerto Rican, actually adopted to the practices of Islam and converted to become a Muslim a few years ago. I remember when my brother first became a Muslim he gave me my first copy of the Quran which I still have to this day. It was so amazing to me to see his interest and liking of the religion grow fonder each day and being able to make the decision to convert in order to better himself through religion was a great thing.

My name often times grabs many people’s attention. Amani is an Arabic inspired name meaning desire or wishes. Nassar is also an Arabic name meaning helper, protector or victory. I’ve had people who are from a middle eastern descent ask if I was to0 because they heard what my name was where  we would then sit and talk about my name and family background, it’s always a good conversation starter. There has even been instances where my teachers would ask me where I was from after reading my name off of the attendance sheet or seeing what I looked like.

Growing up in a multicultural household is an experience I will cherish forever, I had the best of both worlds. I remember when I was younger I would walk into the room sometimes and see my father on the floor praying and would walk right up next to him pretending to pray just like him. I had no idea what I was doing, but seeing my father pray made me want join in, even if I was doing it wrong. Some late nights my father would go to our favorite Hala restaurant and get some of our favorite foods, fried rice with half chicken and this amazing garlic sauce they had, it was our special sauce that no one else knew about. Now my abuela, she’s the chef of the house, she would rather cook a five course meal at home any given day than go out to eat anywhere. Up until this day I run into the kitchen and help her cook some of our favorite Puerto Rican foods like tostones (fried green plantains) and pollo guisao (chicken stew). One day without any sort of explanation, around the age of 14, I had this feeling that my two cultures could coexist and they have all my life, it was almost as if I was in two different countries right in my own home. Now that I was getting older and could appreciate my cultures more than ever before it all just felt right, my better halves made me who I am today and who I will become later on.

Everyday is a new learning experience for me when it comes to my cultures. From my first semester of English class, I have learned new things about the Muslim beliefs from classmates writings and discussions of practices. My brother even talks to me about Islam and the meaning behind certain things in the religion like the people and the names of parts of Israel. Being mixed is something that I have always embraced and will continue to embrace. I love everything my cultures have offered me from my curly hair to thick eyebrows and even my effortless Spanish tongue. Although I do not know much about my Palestinian culture or family, it is something I plan to indulge in as time progresses. One day soon I want to learn Arabic and find out more about my Palestinian family, I even want to read the Quran from cover to cover.


On My Block Update

So far my group and I have a set outline for our article. We’re still trying to organize it better and decide what exactly we want our audience to know. We have done some research about gentrification and how it has changed Brooklyn, but for the most part I believe that we will probably speak more from our experiences. We also plan on including some images that show the change in the neighborhoods we live in to hopefully have more of a lasting impact on our readers though visuals.

Gentrification Memo

Amani Nassar

English 1121

Dr. Hall

April 4, 2019


Brooklyn has changed drastically over the past few decades. Our low income neighbors are being displaced as newer, richer people take over. Starbucks are taking over our local bodegas, family owned businesses are closing, and rents are going up, Brooklyn is becoming the next Manhattan. But why is Brooklyn being so gentrified?

I don’t think there is one real explanation for why people come to live in Brooklyn and gentrify it to their liking. There are so many factors that contribute to the gentrification of what was once Brooklyn. For one, Brooklyn is pretty close to Manhattan allowing easy movement of people from borough to borough whether it’s through a car or train. Brooklyn is also in high demand of bigger businesses coming in, who can afford the higher rents such as the Chipotle’s we see. Money rules our world, wherever the money is, is where the people will follow. The rich can afford to buy property, drive up rent prices, making the neighborhood less minority filled and bringing in more high rise luxury apartments that most of us can’t afford.

According to the New York Post “escalating housing costs — spurred by gentrification — have driven lower-income Hispanics out of once the predominantly Latino neighborhoods.” Due to higher rents, low-income families are forced to leave their neighborhoods and move to other boroughs like the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, which are more affordable for them.

The true culprit that started gentrification was the “rezoning of parts of Downtown Brooklyn in 2004 to allow for denser residential growth, the area has seen the development of new condominium towers, townhouses, and office conversions, which all have spurred population growth,” according to James Dinsdale who was a student at John Jay College. The rezoning has allowed more retail shops to come into Brooklyn, more offices, and of course more people. It’s shocking, yet amazing to see how the heart of Downtown Brooklyn is being modernized and filled with shops while just a few blocks away we have affordable housing projects with many low-income families struggling. Rezoning is the action or process of assigning land or property to a different category of restrictions on use and development allowing developers to build higher buildings, and so on.

According to Jillian Steinhauer’s article “development companies are given huge subsidies to build condos, and new residents receive deals that allow them to not pay property taxes for the next 10 years!” This article is from 2013, which means the 10 years these developers were given have not finished yet, we can see more changes coming to Downtown Brooklyn and other neighborhoods in Brooklyn. 

I currently live in Park Slope, Brooklyn which has become one of the most gentrified neighborhoods in Brooklyn. My mom was born and raised in Park Slope and has seen it changed throughout her life. While we walk the streets she would tell me things like “wow, I remember when this was an empty lot where we would all play,” Today we see see expensive supermarkets or high rise condos in placement of those empty lots. When I asked her when she noticed Park Slope was changing she told me it was back in the early 2000’s. Park Slope used to be filled with minorities, burned down buildings, corner stores and empty lots all over but now it’s the new mini Manhattan.




We Gon’ Be Alright

Amani Nassar

English 1121

Dr. Hall

March 12, 2019

We Gon’ Be Alright

Music has become the most expressive form of power in times of struggle. The Compton born, Kendrick Lamar has been making history all throughout his time in the music industry with one of his most groundbreaking album “To Pimp A Butterfly.” The multi Grammy winning album speaks on many problems people of color face from police brutality to mental health issues in songs like “King Kunta”, “The Blacker the Berry,” “U”, and one of the most influential songs of our time “Alright.” This notable hip hop/rap song and almost the entire album, pulls a rally of emotions from its listeners to call for a push for change in the world we all live in. Who would have known the tremendous impact this song would have on our generation?

I’ve always loved Kendrick Lamar from the very beginning of his career. He is such a diamond in the rough standing out in crowd of rappers who only rap about sex, drugs or money. His music hits you like no other, you can feel the pain, the sadness, the hopefulness and so much more in his songs. Lamar is able to take his tragic life experiences from times of depression to the struggles of growing up as a black man in Compton and turn it all into something so beautiful that the world can relate to. I remember when I first heard Kendrick was coming out with a new album back in 2015, I couldn’t wait to hear what he was about to release. At the time though, I felt that Kendrick Lamar was so underrated because no one commended him for the work he was doing and the difference he was making in the world of rap. I bonded over Kendrick’s music with some of my friends, constantly listening to his songs saying that he will make it big one day as soon as people started listening more closely and appreciating the music he made. We spoke it into existence. He has become the poet of the hip-hop world.

The song “Alright” has reached many platforms from people chanting “we gon’ be alright” at rallies for protest during Black Lives Matter events to even protest at presidential campaign when Trump was running for office. The chants have become so symbolic as the people look for a reason to keep hoping for change. Past acts of oppression and current acts have inspired songs like “Alright” where artists like Kendrick are able to create music that resonates with so many people, helping them get through their own tragedies that they may face on a daily basis. Lamar brings a sense of unity in the song as he creates a reflection that there are better days ahead for those in the black community and it all starts with change within themselves as they persevere through tough times.

Throughout the song, Lamar alludes and makes reference to God quite a few times. The most obvious reference are in some of the opening lines where Kendrick says

Nazareth, I’m fucked up

Homie, you fucked up

But if God got us then we gon’ be alright

From these lines I feel as though Lamar addresses God as the main one who can bring change to anything. With real faith, nothing can harm him or anyone else who truly believes that God will make sure that they will be okay despite their circumstances. The reference to Nazareth, on the other hand, has more of a deeper meaning in the song. Nazareth is said to be the place where Jesus grew up, the city was thought to be a foul place which resulted in Jesus being shun by those who did not like the city. The allusion given to Nazareth can be looked at through the eyes of Kendrick as a comparison to the struggles he faced in Compton being looked down upon as a young black man.  

But homicide be looking at you from the face down

And we hate the po-po

Wanna kill us dead in the street fo sho’

In these lines, although they are not in this particular order in the song, all make reference to the constant killings of innocent African Americans by police. The hip-hop world has always made music that reflects the hatred felt towards the officers that should protect us, but rather kill us. “We gon’ be alright” is repeated several times throughout the track to give the people hope that they can survive through all the pain and suffering they face. The injustices the people face will only make them stronger in the long run, so no matter what we go through rest assure “we gon’ be alright.”

The music video starts off with a monologue where Kendrick talks about his journey growing up as a young black man, fighting for himself and those he loved in a society that despises him. Throughout most of the video Lamar is floating in the air, which I found very interesting. I think having Lamar flying in the air is a metaphor for him being a butterfly, watching over those he cares about, alluding back to the album title “To Pimp A Butterfly.” Acts of police brutality are clear within the video as in the song. There are scenes where police officers are shooting at innocent men who solely resisted arrest. In the very last scene of the video, Lamar is standing on top of a lamp post and was shot at by only the fingers of an officer and not a real gun. I believe that this is one of the most symbolic scenes throughout the whole video because to me it meant that black men are being killed by more than just guns.

There are several visuals that Kendrick Lamar uses as metaphors to allude to the black community being able to rise against oppression and police violence. One scene in particular that really caught my attention was when we were showed 4 white police officers carrying a car in which Lamar and his friends sat in. The symbolism behind this scene is so important because it signifies that the black community can and will be alright despite the hardships they face. There are other scenes in which we see singers and dancers on top of police cars acting almost as if there was nothing bad going on around them. This seems to bring a hopeful feel and reassurance to the video that together we are strong and we can get through anything.

“Alright” is an anthem that encourages positivity to influence change, it’s a call for protest. Lamar speaks for so many people in the world who feel like their voices aren’t being heard. We need more artist like Kendrick Lamar who can influence the next generations to come for the better.


Music Video:


Mentor Article

Amani Nassar

English 1121

Dr. Hall

Although my mentor article was quite short, there were somethings within the article that I could use in my own writing, just with more detail. The opening of the article is what made me want to continue reading. By grabbing the readers attention from the beginning they’re more likely to continue reading and can develop the same thoughts as the writer. The details the writer of mentor article used were brief and straight to the point, but they were pretty good.  Just like the writer I want to discuss the artist in great detail about things like where they come from and how their music helps other people. The song will be my main focus since it is very important to discuss and I would like to pay particular attention to how the song “Alright” was used during many protest. The video for “Alright” is very deep in meaning and has had a great impact in which I would like to dig in more too in order to have my reader look at the song with a better understanding.  A publication like MTV has a heavy presence of people who want to know more about entertainment like TV and of course music. My intended audience will range from teenagers to young adults that go through the struggle of being categorized as a statistics when they can offer the world so much more than others may assume. Minorities in particular face a lot of police brutality, mental health issue and so on. The song “Alright” is just one of the platforms that make a  call for an urgent change in our world.