ENG1141 Sears FA2021

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  • Participation Activity, Session 4: Talking Back to Poetry
  • #74826

    Stephany Pena

    “Takes me 19 years to learn how to pronounce my own name in public” is a line from Mohamed Hassan’s spoken word poem (un)LEARNING MY NAME. This line makes me wonder why did it take 19 years? Did the poet ever challenge his family when they said his name as he went through school? Names are a big part of someone’s identity. Every year in public education, my English class would want us to write about our identity and one year was about our names. His poem really resonated with me as he felt his name challenged his place in the world he was in. His appearance is what gave him a sense of relief until it was challenged when he had to be named because then he wouldn’t be seen as white.

    This poem reminds me of how I feel about my name sometimes. Although it was more to my heritage, I felt ashamed of my name because it didn’t fit in. My family couldn’t pronounce my name and would end up adding an “e” or changing the ending to “nia” and sometimes a mix of both so as to not interrupt their flow of speaking. My classmates would ask why did my family call me a different name or mispronounce my name. I said it was easier for them to do that. They then asked why they would choose a name they couldn’t speak well. Compared to the poet, my name did help me to pass off as someone who looked white but it also locked me out of a different community, one that I identify more strongly with. So my final question would be what event inspired him to take back his name, to learn how to pronounce his name the way it was intended?


    Nathaly Morocho

    The quote I got it from “January Morning,” written by William Carlos Williams


    Tanjim Ali

    “The poet Ariana Brown describes her experience with language, that English is not my native tongue. The language I speak is bursting with blood, but they are all I have,” from “Dear White Girls in My Spanish Class” by Brown, Ariana. I chose this line because I feel she is not just talking to the girls in the Spanish class, she is trying to talk about her feelings as she is speaking, how she feels and the power of the language. She talks about laugeage how her grandmother is afraid of speaking Spanish with other people. When Brown speaking about foren language, for some people may not feel the way she feel or maybe the line does not sound so big deal for some people, but she was able to speak with passionate effects.

    Every county has a different language, in the United States there are so many different people and they speak with different languages. When I came to the United States, I didn’t know how to speak English. I always try to talk to the people and learn from them. I was afraid to talk to the other people but I keep trying and now I know how to speak. Ariana and her audience are mainly drawn to the white girls in her Spanish class. She is trying to tell people that even though some people are born in the USA, everyone still has their own native language. So no matter who you are and what color you are, everyone should respect other people’s language.



    “Takes me 19 years to pronounce my own name in public
    The first time I say it the way my mother did when she named me.
    Feels like I have stolen something… back”

    Names are often a significant part of one’s identity; giving others origin, history, representation- just from a single introduction. It seems like the speaker, Mohamad Hasan, from the spoken word (un)Learning My Name, struggled with not only his identity, but perhaps “unlearning” to assimilate his western ideals and appreciate his origins. For example, it took him 19 years to “steal” his name back, or adapt to making his name easier for people to pronounce and giving his name its origin back. It seems like Mohamad wanted to have a sense of belonging. So, over the years would hide behind the facade of his blue eyes- perhaps the most “western” thing about him- by neglecting his Arab background.

    My own name, Tania (Tan-nee-yuh), was given to me by my brother when I was born and although people sometimes pronounce it wrong, it was never difficult for me to tell them how it is usually pronounced. Yet, growing up I struggled more with appreciating my culture because I was born in America whereas my older siblings were born in Bangladesh and moved here. However, I never really felt like I belonged because I never really fit into certain demographics. Growing up I thought, “if I am too American to be Bengali and too Bengali to be American, where is my place?” It seems like “middle ground” or the compromise between western and other cultures is not just given to any individual. However, my mother taught me and always reminded me to not neglect my origins because after all, that is where my family came from and chose to come to America for a better life. Though I am still learning to embrace my Bengali culture, western ideals do not overwhelm my point of view on my identity; instead they make me appreciate the new life my parents gave me.


    Alexander Lumbres

    “my first white teacher said it the way she corrected me in front of the classroom until I learned her stumble over my identity the way she did to strip away parts of myself” by Mohamed Hassan illustrated a poetic speech in regards to the people’s names that are their own. Why might a teacher correct someone else’s name that isn’t their own? Was it because he was young? or because he’s uneducated about the origin of his name, while the teacher was? The speaker’s brought up a great point of understanding people just by their name alone. The people who are in charge of the names that were given or chose are for themselves. We do not bring ourselves in correcting their pronunciation when it isn’t our own. Classroom brings upon numbers of names that are unprecedented in people’s experiences and would instead give them a name that fit their vocals. It is disrespectful in the least and should be corrected.
    This poem brought up a reason to care for the little things that are a big impact to other people’s lives. This poem represents your origin and not the beliefs of others. The people are not to tell you how to pronounce your own name, you are given a name by your parents and how it is pronounced is completely based on how the parents intended it or how you intended it. The poet brought up a point of identity that is not given from those who aren’t responsible for you but simply by yourself.


    Isaiah Ortiz

    1. “What’s it like to be a tourist in the halls of my shame? To not be expected to speak better than you do”?
    -Dear White Girls by Ariana Brown

    2. One question I’d like to ask Ariana would be what’s the overall message she wants to send? She speaks very emotionally about how her language, the little connection she has to her culture is mistreated, and the overall value is missed by those who have no blood ties to it. By bringing up the question “Why are you here”? Does it allow the people to look at themselves and others without the little micro judgments while at the same time giving them a chance to really think about the meaning behind whatever is front of them?

    Right now in the 21st Century, we’d like to say that we’re connected now more than ever before. But, hearing Ariana’s story and the pain in her voice only shows us that we couldn’t be further from the truth. As she implied in her poem others would believe that her English wouldn’t be up to par as everyone else because of her Latin/Hispanic heritage and that she and her family would suffer because they sounded different. Her tone illustrates how sometimes we don’t understand that the little things that make up who we are, and how its value isn’t seen until it’s being disrespected by others who wouldn’t know its importance. So, what is the reason that she wrote her poem? Does she want to present her pain to make those White Girls feel bad for their actions? Or is she trying to have others keep an open mind when facing unfamiliar to them?



    “Since Spanish is what poor people speak, not something you have to try to understand.. Not fancy, not sophisticated, not like French, the language you love..”
    – I can understand where this poet comes from. Being Spanish we’re automatically assumed to be lower class, to not really be like someone who would be of high class status. The comparison to the language French; I completely understand why she would go that route, because French would be a language more people would probably care into learning vs trying to understand the Spanish culture. Our ancestors were slaves, our ancestors come from different backgrounds, Spanish comes from a different type of struggle.. My only question to this Poet is if she went through this all in one scenario or multiple times.


    Ahsham Nasir

    The quote I am choosing is from Mohamed Hassan-(un)LEARNING MY NAME where he states, “ I’m asked what my name is and I flinch. The jig is up, I am caught in a lie. Mohammed familiarity faith a little flicker behind the eyes isn’t lit for me anymore”

    The video shows the hardships and uneasy he felt being asked his name and the comfort he felt being confused as a white man. also shows how his looks confuse people when he tells them his name and they say “you don’t look Arab” this shows how we as people have started to associate some traits of people to curtain ethnicities. Hassan also talks about how we come under peoples pressure and change ourselves, and let people define who we are.

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