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“immigrants, poor people, queer people of color, disabled folks, women (esp trans women of color) and gender-nonconforming folks if you are in academia and you don't feel smart enough, remember that you are in the playground and training grounds of the elite. academia was not designed to include you. you are surviving something that has been systemically designed to exclude you in order to keep power in the hands of white, middle class, able bodied cis-men. knowing this, don't let academia train you to believe that elitism is the right way to make it through school. you can learn shit, hold the knowledge of your people in your heart, discard shame for your humble beginnings and/or marginalized identities. move through this experience knowing that the changes it offers you don't have to include accepting academic elitism, inaccessible language or superiority. you can can simultaneously own the privilege that comes with being college educated and connections to your roots. academia does not have to kill your spirit. ”—fabian romero- indigenous immigrant queer boi writer, facilitator and community organizer
“I don't take it personally, it's just where they put me - they're not attacking me or my family. They're attacking a celebrity. My major issue with these things, they forget that hurtful things do hurt, we are human, and as a species, actors are emotional. Unfortunately sometimes these things sneak in and it's like ow, I thought I was protected against this, where did that come from? Some days are harder than others, and some days the real Jared is having a hard day and it's like ow, and then sometimes I'm fine, and I remember who my parents want me to be and who I am and it's like that's ok, whatever, I'm not taking offense. This is what they need and want and as an entertainer I'm putting myself out there for that. If the negative about living my life and being an entertainer and getting paid for what I'm passionate about is that some people say some negative things about me, who cares.”—Jared Padalecki, interview in Fandom at the Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships, by Lynn Zubernis and Katherine Larsen, pp. 205-206.
“Racism is what happens to Black men. Sexism is what happens to white women. When public discourse occurs about race, gender, sexuality, class, or whether the speed limit should be raised to sixty-five, Black women's opinions generally are not sought.”—Barbara Smith, “The Truth That Never Hurts: Writing on Race, Gender and Freedom”
“I love my job and I can’t imagine doing anything else, but doing it here at the University of Chicago has been one of the most emotionally and physically damaging experiences of my life. I return every day to rooms in which I’ve been hurt to learn from people who look nothing like me and to teach people who look nothing like me about whole theoretical worlds in which I do not exist. I sit, shoulders tensed, in classrooms as each racist, sexist, and homophobic word from the mouths of my colleagues hits me like a blow to the chest. Some of them, I imagine, actually leave the classroom feeling full of life and intellectual energy. The structural violence of this institution makes it unlikely I will ever know how that feels. I don’t know how much stronger and braver I might feel if the professor were black, or latino, or gay. I don’t know how much more capable I would feel if I could see a world I recognized in the texts we read. And as I walk home every evening past countless University of Chicago police officers and my shoulders knot even tighter, I wonder if you realize that they don’t make everyone feel more safe...Sexism, racism, and homophobia thrive on this campus and it is not a problem of dialogue, it is a problem of institutional violence...I don’t need you to implement programming to “raise awareness” about my very existence, and I don’t have the strength left to lend my energies to the project of documenting my worth.”—
as most grad students of color know, Kaya Williams is not alone in feeling this way. this is a persistent problem on university campuses nationwide.
at Washington State University, for example, where a Native faculty member was recently brutally beaten within an inch of his life and three Asian undergraduate women were sexually harassed in racially targeted violence in the same weekend, the university has responded poorly at best; they never issued an emergency alert to students in the wake of the attacks, it took several days for administration to even acknowledge the events, and the only concrete thing they’ve promised is yet another inquiry & commission on the matter. these actions obviously don’t make a dent in patterns of violence on campus, considering the same response was given a few years ago when a Black student had his teeth kicked in, a trans student was severely beaten, & neo-Nazi propaganda was posted all over campus—no changes in campus climate have occurred. the university’s disappointing response to this violence isn’t all that surprising when you remember that they have terrible enrollment and retention rates for underrepresented students of color, an even worse rate of recruitment of faculty of color, no substantive requirements for curricula that addresses issues of race, and have recently consolidated their Women Studies, Queer Studies, & Ethnic Studies programs into one “minority studies” department (which is headed by a cis-hetero white male). moreover, there is a serious problem with sexual harassment and assault on campus, that’s occurring even at the faculty level.
is it any surprise so many students of color drop out, go on extended leave, and/or take way longer to earn their degrees? these universities are unsafe on every level, and things need to change.
Got a paper due? Tips for lazy writers!
In light of this post that’s been going around, I thought I’d share some paper-writing tips that are useful for when you’re feeling lazy or uninspired, or you’ve got writer’s block, or you procrastinated too much and just don’t have the time to write ten whole pages on agency and causality in Anna Karenina, or whatever. They won’t get the job done quite as quickly as a cut-and-paste operation will, but on the other hand, you won’t get expelled for doing any of these things either.
1. Use JSTOR. JSTOR can be a real lifesaver when you are doing last minute source-hunting. JSTOR is basically an online database of articles from reputable academic journals about almost any topic imaginable. Basically, if you are writing about a topic or book that is relatively popular or well-known, JSTOR alone can provide you enough sources to write a twenty-page paper. If you are a college student, your institution should provide you with JSTOR access. If you are a high school student, make friends with a college student!
2. Use book reviews. If you are using an academic book as one of your sources but can’t be bothered to actually read it, read the reviews instead. Academic reviews are usually three pages long at most (many are not even a page) and offer not only a helpful and concise summary of the contents of the book, but also a sense of how the book fits into conversations that have happened or are happening in the scholarship of its field… and, of course, what the reviewer, an academic and often a professor, thought of it. Book reviews are like SparkNotes for grad students. JSTOR is the best place to get good reviews from reputable journals and scholars.
Nota bene: do not plagiarize book reviews. You can quote and cite book reviews if that is useful to you, or if you want to increase your word count by discussing both the book and the reviews of it.
3. Use a lot of quotations. You might be surprised at how much space quotations can take up in a paper that makes responsible use of them—I’ve written papers where quotations (from both primary and secondary sources) took up almost half the word count. Of course, if you use them clumsily, it might come off as a transparent attempt to take up space, but if you use good, relevant quotations that support your argument, you look like a thorough, meticulous scholar.
Remember, if your quotation takes up more than four lines, you need to use a block quotation. In proper MLA format, a block quotation is indented one inch and retains the same font size and spacing as the rest of the text—which takes up tons of space, but if you have a sense of shame, like I did, it looks just a little bit too space-waste-y. But hey, that’s what the handbook says to do!
Be more sparing with block quotations in shorter papers and more generous with them in longer papers. Writing about anything in verse (poetry, Shakespeare, etc.) is a good excuse for lots of block quotations!
4. Use footnotes instead of parenthetical citation. This is actually something I whole-heartedly recommend, if you have the option (you might not). Not only do Chicago-style footnotes take up tons of space on the page, Chicago citation is more useful, more flexible, and more professional-looking than MLA. The higher up you go in academia in the humanities, the more people you will see using Chicago and using footnotes. Just make sure you format the citations properly, because the format for footnotes is a little different than for bibliographical entries.
5. Paraphrase and summarize. Okay, so we were all told to analyze, not summarize, but sometimes you just need to fill space to make your ten pages. And you might be surprised at how much summarizing you can do before your paper actually starts to sound bad, and at how much summarizing academics often consider necessary in their papers. If you paraphrase something AND quote it, it takes up tons of space. And if you are summarizing an argument from one of your sources, it can be useful and sometimes even necessary—it often reads not as summary but as synthesis (because you need to understand the argument to summarize it and boil it down for the reader to understand), especially if it is an idea that’s fundamental to your own argument. You can also summarize different arguments other people have made about the topic you’re writing about, to give the reader a sense of the conversation you’re entering into. Summarizing what other people have said is a lot easier than saying stuff yourself; just remember that even when you put other people’s ideas into your own words, you still have to cite them to give them proper attribution for those ideas.
5. Mention the names of the authors and sources you cite. Instead of just quoting or paraphrasing your sources and adding the citation, include the names of authors and sources in your text, e.g., “Historian R. I. Moore, in his 1987 book The Formation of a Persecuting Society inwhich he discusses the sudden explosion of persecutory activity against marginalized communities starting in the eleventh century, argues that…”
6. Quote sources from other languages. Then include a translation into English (or whatever language you’re writing in) either in the text of the paper or in a footnote. This takes up tons of space and makes you look really smart. Make sure you say where you got the translation from—you can cite a published English translation with attribution, or you can translate the quotation yourself and add a note that you did so. This is a tip for the multilingual only—DON’T quote anything you can’t read, even if you have a translation of it. (Of course, you can just quote the translation by itself.)
7. Some “your mileage may vary” tips. Everyone is a different kind of writer, so other people might not find these as useful, but these are strategies that have worked for me. Before you start writing, gather all your quotations and arrange them in the order you plan to use them; then write the paper around them—voila! A lot quicker than an outline, and saves a lot of time flipping through books and articles and searching for quotes as you go. Don’t get stuck on one part of your paper; if you can bear to write non-sequentially, skip to a section you are in the “mood” to write about instead—keeps you from wasting time dawdling because you don’t know what to say or how to phrase something. Do all your bibliographical entries and citations at once (at what point in the writing process you do it is up to you)—this prevents you from having to look up the citation format multiple times. If you need bibliographical info for a book you no longer have access to, Amazon or any university library search catalogue is a good source for that information.
8. And some “basic” tips of the margin-fudging, 2.2-spacing variety. Hit the space bar twice after a full stop (you might be surprised at how much space that takes up). Use Cambria,* Microsoft Word’s new default font, instead of Times New Roman (if you have the option—it’s significantly bigger.) Remember that a greater number of shorter paragraphs takes up more space than a smaller number of longer paragraphs. Divide your paper into sections with their own title headings. If your teacher is picky about margin size, fudge only the right and bottom margins. (You can fudge the bottom margin the most, because Word is often idiosyncratic about where it breaks a page, depending on the paragraphs involved.) 2.1 or 2.2 spacing is a thing you can do if you play around with the paragraph settings, and it’s not obvious unless you have a teacher who’s on the lookout for that sort of thing. Some people double space their header info (name, date, class, professor’s name), but personally, I think that looks ugly.
Hopefully, this is useful and might save some poor souls from the desperation and ignominy of plagiarism. Feel free to chime in if you find these helpful (and what you found helpful or not helpful), or if you have any tips of your own! I will add more as I think of them!
*Because someone mentioned it: MS Word’s new default font is Calibri in some editions and Cambria in others. Calibri is the default for Word 2007 and 2010 for Windows, I believe (I don’t own any computers running Windows, so this is just what I’ve observed from using other computers), but I believe Cambria is the default for new versions of Word for Mac. It is definitely the default for Word 2011 for Mac, which is what I use. At any rate, I wouldn’t recommend using Calibri. To my eye, it looks much less professional than Cambria. I’ve seen plenty of grad students and professors using Cambria in their papers, articles, handouts, dissertation chapters, etc. I’ve never seen anyone use Calibri. I would generally say no to academic use of sans serif fonts, although that might be the personal bias of someone who has way too many feelings about fonts.
“Occasionally, I’d notice that I had become a peculiar creature to many people, and even a few friends, who had assumed that being Palestinian was the equivalent of something mythological like a unicorn or a hopelessly odd variation of a human being. A Boston psychologist who specialised in conflict resolution, and whom I had met at several seminars involving Palestinians and Israelis, once rang me from Greenwich Village and asked if she could come uptown to pay me a visit. When she arrived, she walked in, looked incredulously at my piano – ‘Ah, you actually play the piano,’ she said, with a trace of disbelief in her voice – and then turned around and began to walk out. When I asked her whether she would have a cup of tea before leaving (after all, I said, you have come a long way for such a short visit) she said she didn’t have time. ‘I only came to see how you lived,’ she said without a hint of irony. Another time a publisher in another city refused to sign my contract until I had lunch with him. When I asked his assistant what was so important about having a meal with me, I was told that the great man wanted to see how I handled myself at the table.”—
Edward Said, Between Worlds: a memoir
Great commentary on how academics, scholars, etc. that write/research about certain ethnicity or community of people often treat them as such, a study, a research topic, a “a peculiar creature” as Said points out, people that need help with gaining a voice, someone who needs assistance. This kind of narcissistic mentality where the savior complex of these people is in full force is not only toxic and demeaning to people they “study” but it’s disrespectful the issue at hand, because at the end of the day what might be a paper topic, a book that needs to be published, an article for these so called scholars is a real ongoing issue for people they study. Writing, studying, researching certain issues, people, and communities does not automatically excuse you from being considered racist unless you actively work against that racism already in place.
“Across the diaspora, black women often begin in girlhood to center their sexuality by performing with their backsides. Whether in the African-American ring game, "Little Sally Walker," where young girls are encouraged to "shake it to the east, shake it to the west," or in the similar Afro-Caribbean "Brown Girl in the Ring," who is urged to "show me your motion," these circles of black girls provide a female-centered space for affirmation and pleasure in their bodies, even as these scripts prepare them later for the male gaze. As adult women, this display becomes not only more sexualized but racialized as well, as black women find their bodies subject to misinterpretation and mislabeling by the dominant culture. Not only that, but these bodies no longer respond to self-motivated desires and expressions but to the requests of others—whether to black male desires in such hip-hop shouts as "shake what your Mama gave ya" and such [End Page 102] soca-calypso demands as "wine yuh waist," or to other black women's policing call to "tuck it in." We may need to recreate that circle of women—first enacted in childhood—who reaffirm that our bodies are fine, normal, capable, and beautiful. We may also need to enlarge that circle to include men, who can challenge their own objectifying gazes, and non-blacks, who can overcome the equation of blackness with deviance. Most of all, black women, who have been unmirrored for so long, must confront the prevailing imagery of grotesque derrières and black female hypersexuality to distinguish the myths and lies from our own truths and the ways in which we wish to represent ourselves.”—The “Batty” Politic: Toward an Aesthetic of the Black Female Body by Janell Hobson
my summer in cape town: or, i am sorry for using you
They will ask you
Whether your project can inflict ‘harm’
And you will respond: “minor discomfort” to expedite the review process
Her name is Cym,
And the arc of her smile mirrors her painted eyebrows,
On Mondays she asks you what you did over the weekend.
You do not tell her. You are guilty of the conversion rate, how you can afford a club, a skin, a language that she never will.
She wants to know what it feels like to live in America
If you have a handsome boyfriend there who will buy you dinner sometimes
In your field research class they will teach you about the importance of obtaining consent.
Cym cannot sign your form
So she communicates with the earnestness of hazel eyes
Smiles, tells you how she used to let heroine and men
Inside of her and sometimes couldn’t tell the difference,
Tells you how the cops would beat her in men’s prisons
In the international research workshop they will tell you not to get involved in your subjects’ personal life.
Your palms are sweaty, do not let them smear the ink. Keep writing as she laughs and encourages you to ask more questions
An aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. When the size of an aneurysm increases, there is a significant risk of rupture, often resulting in death.
A researcher is an ambitious distraction at the back of the room. When the amount of information increases, there is a significant risk of an epiphany, often resulting in a published paper.
She will die suddenly nine months after your interview. You can still remember the scent her smile
Dear Cym: In America I am learning how to think that I am better than you.
In fact, I am majoring in you. Don’t worry, they don’t use your name, keep it confidential
I am turning your body into a new theory
Academics work like Johns sometimes don’t worry,
Don’t worry they will pay me to use you,
I will cut you some of the profit in my acknowledgements.
My thesis will be in English,
In the accent you heard on re-runs of friends, Cym I’m sorry we weren’t friends, but I wanted to keep it professional
I promise I will print it on the whitest paper I can find,
So they can see the black in your words
I will bury you in a library,
I hope you will find home there
In this haunted house of quotations
Hanging on the shelves like skeletons
Listen to the recorded transcript on repeat,
Feel her laughter crawl into you,
Watch it spark the timber wood of your bones,
And burn your paper in the flames
And cry because we refuse to let people inside of us in fear of imploding
And cry because you have the story of a woman nested in the back of your throat and you do not deserve it.
What I really meant to ask is:
What theory did you use to stay warm at night?
Is, Can you teach me?
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