Reflection:

 

      My favorite subject since middle school has and probably always will be English. It’s something that I find I’m really good at when I’m putting my all in. Needless to say however, since COVID and starting college I just haven’t been inspired to do my work like I used to and this can be seen in my final for Unit 1. It was so bad to the point where what I wrote about was completely off topic, and school was just not the first thing on my mind. I’ve recently been through a lot and improving my writing wasn’t in the forefront of my priorities and so a half assed final was my first impression going into this new semester of English. I wasn’t inspired to do that assignment, especially with something that didn’t peak my interest. One thing this has made me realize about myself is that I usually do better writing about what interests me, opposed to assignments in general. 

 

      This can especially be seen in unit 2 where my grade was exponentially better due to the fact that I liked what I was writing about, and I was passionate about it as well. It was important that I properly wrote about Transgender women and their struggles because that’s just not something you can half ass. I wanted it to be perfect, and so with that determination wrote a paper that deservingly earned a better grade. I feel like the most interesting unit this semester was most definitely unit 2. I find activism for minorities to be so important and essential for social growth. I enjoyed learning more about the transgender community and educating myself on things i initially thought i understood. While writing this unit I wanted to make sure I got everything right, and correct not only because misinformation is harmful but also because I want people to be as educated as they can be on issues within the community.

 

Upon going back to my unit 1 assignment however and reworking it for this final portfolio, I was able to come across a topic I definitely found more interesting and all in all it helped me write a way better paper that better fits the standard and Criteria. 

 

      This brings me to my next point which is I’ve learned that if you aren’t interested in what you’re writing, then maybe you should take that power back. For example, I wasn’t interested in the unit one topic personally because at first it did not peak my interest. And because of this I wasn’t interested in writing an interesting and or good paper. However, upon going back on it and realizing that I could make this topic interesting so long as what I wrote was engaging it made me have a new outlook on writing in general, and made me eager to write regardless of how little the topic initially peaked me. If I could compare my work from then to now, I would definitely tell people that your work is only as interesting as you are interested!

 

      Furthermore this can be seen in my unit 3 assignment as well. I felt as though writing about life in quarantine just wasn’t an interesting assignment for me. I however took control of that and made it interesting by making a comic. The comic not only kept me engaged, but I knew it would be engaging to my audience because it’s such an enticing medium and many people would love to read something like that. I think the fact that this work is online is also such a different experience for me because had we been in school and were tasked with the unit 3 assignment i probably would’ve just done a paper. This is because in my bedroom at home I feel more creative and prone to doing something I like, opposed to school being in person in which I feel like my work would have to be serious and extremely professional. 

 

In conclusion I wouldn’t say the most I got out of this unit was a strategy or new form of writing but a mindset that will better motivate me to work. If something is uninteresting, make it interesting and put in the needed work to receive a good grade. I realize that writing a long essay isn’t enough, and people can tell when you aren’t confident in your work or know what you talk about. However, by keeping the mistakes I’ve made in unit one In mind, I’ve been able to utilize it in units two and three. Hopefully this does stick with me throughout college, and i Canute it to better my writing and get my creative juices flowing. I do believe I’m a talented writer, but it’s only as good as I allow myself to make it.

      

Unit 1:

A discourse community is a group of people that come together with a shared goal in mind and an attempt to accomplish the same thing. However not every community is a discourse community and can’t be classified as such, an agreed upon set of values and goals must be shared. Oftentimes discourse communities have sayings or actions that are specifically for that community and also stem from that community, used as a form of inter communication between its members.

 

       Growing up in a West Indian household, not only did my family speak patois around us (which is essentially just broken English used in Jamaica) but they also spoke gypsy. Gypsy was a made up language that was made in Jamaica so adults could talk about stuff around kids without the kids understanding what it means. Needless to say my family used this often and other kids at my school’s parents also used it around them. When I reached my senior year of high school my family decided to teach me Gypsy and how to use it and understand it in everyday conversation. For the sake of this paper, I’ll explain what Gypsy is and let you in on a West Indian secret. Essentially how it works is you replace the first letter of every word with millip and add an A at the end. So for example if i were to ask you “what’s the weather like outside”, in Gypsy it would be said as “miliphatsa milliphea millipeathera millipikea millipoutsideq”. Written out it can obviously be deciphered if you know what to look for, however using it out loud in a fast conversation definitely would catch a lot of people off guard as it did many of us growing up. This became a language my Jamaican classmates and I would use often, to the point where people thought we weren’t actually communicating and just made random sounds whilst pretending we were speaking another language. I even got to teach some of my other Jamaica classmates how to use Gypsy, and soon enough they started speaking it fluently.

 

     There was some unspoken communication between all of us that we would never teach anyone outside of our culture and community how to use Gypsy, one because it wouldn’t be personal to us anymore and two because if everyone learned how to speak it then we would have no use for it at all. And between the few of us (about 7 or 8 other kids), this was our best way to communicate with each other out loud without others budding in. I recall this one time i was in my theater class close to  around Christmas break and due to the fact that it was our last period everyone was drained especially our drama teacher who was nitrous for having a bad attitude even with the energy she lacked today. We were about 15 minutes into a lecture on Greek theater and Thespis when a group of 5 students walked into class late with no late pass and no excuse as to why they showed up at the time they did. I’m close friends with one of the kids and i turn to her and ask her a whispered voice why she was late in Gypsy and we had an a tire conversation about the fact they had went to the cafeteria to get snacks and stuff from the vending machines and that they didn’t want to come to class but had to because they couldn’t stay in the staircase that was usually known for being a hangout spot for students.

 

      Oftentimes teachers would catch us speaking it and tell us to stop, or “speak English” in situations where we were allowed to speak. This would feel like a punch in the gut, and like we were being silenced for the simple fact that we were speaking a language they couldn’t understand. People who speak Spanish, Chinese, or other languages also get told this a lot because the first thing that usually comes to people’s minds when they don’t understand a language is that they are being discussed. Oftentimes that wasn’t the case, usually we would be having personal conversations that we felt didn’t need to be understood by anyone else but us. Outside of school also this language was important to us because we knew that now we were at the age where our parents trusted us enough to teach it to us, and we could now join in on conversations the adults in our family would have. For many it felt like a right of passage and now we would find any opportunity to use it on one another. Gypsy is to most West Indians (specifically Jamaicans) what AAVE is to most black communities. 

 

In conclusion, Gypsy is more than a made up language that we use to communicate but it’s also a way of staying in touch with our roots. It’s a way of knowing we’re getting older, and that we can now teach this to other people in our community. it’s a special language that holds a special place in our hearts, and a lot of my memories right before COVID include it in some way, shape, or form. It made us Jamaican kids feel like a part of a secret community, a discourse community if you will and that community will always have a special place in our hearts.

 

Unit 2:

 

        Growing up, do you remember your parents or other family members talking about transgender individuals? If so, this is the paper for you! Now ask yourself, were these conversations ever positive ones? Most likely not, as the stigma surrounding transgender/ gender non conforming individuals is usually negatively received. Which is why this paper is even more imperative for the parents and family in question; it’s essentially a guide on how to be a decent human being and respect others who might just so happens to be different from you. As of 2021 the Trans community is one of the most endangered groups of people in America, more specifically Trans woman of color. So much so that the average life expectancy for a Trans Woman in the US is at an all time low from in between 2020-2021, while hate crimes are at an all time high. Hearing of such cruelties, has led Cis gendered individuals to wonder how they can make good allies and what they need to do in order to insight positive change.

I’m one of those many people who did not grow up in a tolerant household when it came to the topic of being transgender. My family (more specifically my older family) would often say stuff like “i’m okay with gay people, but changing your gender is going too far”. Luckily these conversations and view points never settled on my brain, so often times i would find myself questioning why it was such a big deal or any of their business. Now that i’m older and more aware of the world, i realized that these hateful conversations held in my house and amongst family members were the least of any Transgendered individuals issues and that their very lives were on the line.

 

        Hate crimes against Transgender individuals isn’t anything new, however unlike most hate crimes that decrease with time, these hate crimes seem to only have increased over the years. It has even more so affected Trans women of color, and these crimes do not seem to be slowing down anytime soon. According to the article Fatal violence against the transgender and gender non conforming community in 2020 by The human Rights Campaign “ Sadly, 2020 has already seen at least 44 transgender or gender non conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means, the majority of which were Black and Latino transgender women”. By October 2020, 44 Trans women were murdered by violent means with the majority of which being women of color, they then go on to state “Since HRC began tracking this data in 2013, advocates have never seen such a high number at this point in the year”. This tells us that within the past 7-8 years more Trans women have been killed in 2020 than each year individually. However harassment and bigotry has been affecting the the Transgender community for a very long time.

 

         In August of 2020, a video circulated of three Trans women that were attacked and harassed in Hollywood(with two of them being Trans women of color). ABC news covered the topic and included a clip of these women sharing their experience, and how traumatizing the whole ordeal was; One of the women goes on to state “Because we are Trans, nobody cares”. ABC news states that in 2017 there were 119 reported crimes against Trans women, and 168 reported hate crimes in 2018. This means that hate crimes increased 42% in only one year, and these numbers have only climbed from them until 2021. What makes this situation all the more troubling is that bystanders either just watched or edged on the assailants and seemingly were in support of these three women being attacked. The transphobia was even seen through social media as many bigots voiced their opinions in the comment section under the video. Furthermore no one provided any aid when one of the women was laid out in the street after being hit in the head with a glass bottle by the alleged assailant. In moments like these it would have benefited those women to have strong allies, not only to stand up for them but to help educate individuals and denote bigotry against transgender/ gender nonconrming individuals. However a lot of people don’t know how to be a good ally, nor do they know how to educate themselves on the Transgender community.

 

        There are many ways to become a better ally to the Transgender community, however it is important to note that there is no such thing as being the perfect ally. Each transgender or gender non conforming individual has had different experiences, which means they will all have different needs and accommodations. Thus meaning that each individual situation could and most likely will have to be handled differently. According to the text Supporting the transgender people in your life: a guide to being a good ally By The national center for transgender equality, one good way to be an ally would be to interact with transgender people. It is important that you learn how to interact with a transgender individual. This could mean learning about and how to ask for their pronouns, being aware of the questions you ask, respecting their privacy, and trying to avoid stereotypes.

        I luckily have the blessing of having multiple transgender friends, and hearing their experiences and stories were always really eye opening. Though i was always in support of them stepping into their true identity (as i am in the LGBT community as well), i believe it’s also really important to learn new things and take notice to things you wouldn’t have before. Not only did this make me a better ally, but it made me a better person and a better friend.

        Furthermore you can also be a good ally by being outspoken, according to the text you help when you “speak out in support of transgender people and transgender rights”. In doing so you can kindly correct other is they use the wrong pronouns for a Transgender individual, or deadname them (essentially meaning calling them by their pre transition name). You can also speak up against injustice in person and on social media, especially if the issue is as physical as the example given in the first paragraph. 

 

        One more way to be a good ally would be to remember the basics, as these can help to not only make you comfortable but them also. According to the aforementioned text it is important to remember “You don’t have to understand someone’s identity to respect it….you can’t always tell if someone is transgender by looking at them….there is no one right way to be transgender…” and to “continue to educate yourself”. That last point is very important because not only can you educate yourself by speaking to Transgender individuals but you can also go out and do your own individual research. The most important thing to remember when educating yourself is that you’ll be better educated when you listen to an actual transgender person opposed to a cis individual speaking on their behalf.

         One of the best ways to ensure that there is a definite positive future for Trans youth would be to educate our kids from an early age. In How to teach your kid what Transgender means by Emily Gerson, she states that educating the youth all begins with you. You must be aware of your attitude and biases, along with educating yourself too. “If you (the parent) express that being trans is wrong or something to be ashamed of, even through verbal cues, they’ll notice”. This means that educating the future leaders and adults of the world, begins with educating ourselves and relearning what it truly means to be an ally.

 

        Though we are still a ways away from being the perfect ally, it is important that we take notice of the issues that the Trans community goes through as it affects us all. The more we educate ourselves and help by defending them against bigotry and hate, the more lives we not only protect but save. Maybe then we can start seeing a decrease in hate crimes against Trans woman and the Trans community as a whole, it all begins with us.

 

Sources:

https://www.hrc.org/resources/violence-against-the-trans-and-gender-non-conforming-community-in-2020

 

ABC News

11.4M subscribers

Transgender women attacked in Hollywood

 

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https://transequality.org/issues/resources/supporting-the-transgender-people-in-your-life-a-guide-to-being-a-good-ally

 

(i attempted putting my three sources into MLA format, however enough information was not provided for me to do so).

 

Unit 3:

https://openlab.citytech.cuny.edu/hall2021spring/2021/05/11/unit-3-4/