Thursday, February 28, 2013

Black History Month

      Recently a friend of mine and I had a conversation about the relevance of Black History month. While trying to explain that in my opinion BHm is helpful to reinforce the teaching of Black History in schools, he then asked if we should have a White History month. I laughed pretty hard at that. As a historian I've never been shy of my opinion of "white" history; be it the misrepresentation of history through white historians or the prevalence of white history at the expense of the histories of other groups and races. Technically, every other month of the year is White History month so why publicize it by actually assigning it to only one? I'm not saying I agree with White History being so prevalent in American schools and still dominant in what history is being explored and currently published. I think that every voice throughout history should be heard without bias and without restriction. It's amazing that we consider women's history, Mexican-American history, and Native American history as being "new-ish" areas of historic exploration. These groups have been around since the beginning of "white history" but their accomplishments and events have been overshadowed by "the man." As this Black History month comes to a close, I think it's important to reflect on both what Black History month means and how much further historians must come to explore and expose the histories of groups other than white men.

     Here's some tidbits about Black History month from Wikipedia for those of you who are interested:
     Black History Month, also known as African-American History Month in America, is an annual observance in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. It is celebrated annually in the United States[1] and Canada[2] in February and the United Kingdom[3] in October.
     Black History Month was created in 1926 in the United States, when historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History announced the second week of February to be "Negro History Week". This week was chosen because it marked the birthday of both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. Woodson created the holiday with the hope that it eventually be eliminated when black history became fundamental to American history.
     In 1976, the federal government acknowledged the expansion of Black History Week to Black History Month by the leaders of the Black United Students at Kent State University in February of 1969. The first celebration of Black History Month occurred at Kent State in February of 1970. Six years later during the bicentennial, the expansion of Negro History Week to Black History Month was recognized by the U.S. government. Gerald Ford spoke in regards to this, urging Americans to "seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history."
     Lastly, some people complain that Black History month attempts to separate Black history from American history but I disagree. I think that each February we are reminded to explore one facet of American history that is overshadowed the rest of the year. In a perfect world we wouldn't have to be reminded, but since that's not our reality I would rather be reminded than to let the rich history of this group of Americans be ignored.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Story Boarding

So while working on my current novel (which I'm co-writing with my friend Andrew (yes, that Andrew)), I've come to find that there's a bit of an order of events issue, or continuity issue. We plotted it out pretty thoroughly before we started writing but once you divide bits and work on them separately, things might pop up in the wrong order. So I sat down on Saturday and started plotting the order of events like this:

While I originally wanted to just read through the text and re-organize, my attempt to do that left me looking at all the edits I want to make and was ultimately too overwhelming. Making a list on Word or in a notebook was still not working for me (it was way too long and also overwhelming to look at). Finally I settled down with a folder and sticky notes and I wrote essential plot points down and put them in order. This way I can easily see what's what (instead of reading through a whole list) and I can easily re-organize when necessary. What I've got in the picture above isn't even the entire book, so I've got more to add but I feel like it won't be as overwhelming to look at as my other two options. Just figured I'd share it with other writers in case they get caught wanting to move scenes around but feel overwhelmed with long lists or reading through 20-30 pages of text.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Just Some Thoughts

Examining our internet culture one comes to believe that Validation is the main motivator and desire of most humans. The validation monster is not lost on writers. I've known a lot of talented individuals who gave up on their writing dreams because they did not receive the validation they desired. But why do we care so much what others think? Why do we spend so much of our time seeking someone to approve of what we do, someone to make us feel like what we do is awesome and that we are important? And in many cases it's not just one someone but many someones. I don't have any answers for this. In my own experience I oscillate between being confident in myself and my abilities and wondering if my successes/awesomeness is fake since it often goes unwitnessed/unvalidated by others. I see any shake in my confidence as a shallow response to a world consumed by the need for validation; but maybe it's truly part of the human condition. Does the chimpanzee feel less if he makes a tool and no one witnesses it, probably not. So why do humans have to put their life on display in the hopes of getting a positive response from individuals they've never met? Maybe it's because of how rare it is to get positive responses from individuals we know. Everyone is so consumed with their own issues they don't reach out and support one another, they don't notice one another, they don't validate one another. I know those that surround me try their best to support me and I hope I return the favor but maybe I'm so caught up in my own issues that I don't. If only we spent as much time looking to one another and building the confidence of our friends and loved ones as we spend pining away in silence wishing strangers would notice us and boost us up. I know people aren't born with deep and unaltered pools of confidence, it's something we learn to build or spend a lifetime looking for. I also know that so many writers and other creative types have given up because of the lack of validation they perceived from strangers. Rejection is hard, but your dreams are worth fighting for. Even if it means fighting against the voices in your head that tell you you're no good without the validation of strangers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Murderous Fiends

I wake up from a nap and this is what I see:

And people try to tell me that these two aren't plotting my imminent death.