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I saw this picture this morning before I got into the classroom; coincidentally as Dr. D made a remark about objectifying and solidifying the already created obstruction of the marginalized population we are working with in Baltimore, this picture immediately flashed into my head. *Break the barrier ……don’t add more blocks to it*
'Emotions are a big part of this field even to encourage diversity'! But what if emotions become the focal point of diversity? Or is it used as an excuse to encourage diversity and without it diversity can't take place? What exactly does social activism mean when one says it is “not as horizontal as it seems”?
Righteous Dopefiend: The word ‘visceral’ was used quite too frequently in class today in affiliation to this book which I found quite interesting because as an anthropologist although emotions are a big part of this field i.e. it led to the relationships which we have forged with our ambassadors; we should have a balance as part of being reflexive but how far is required to be emotionally involved. The use of the word visceral reaction stems from the subconscious thoughts due to lumpen abuse which leads to reconceptualizing the community and moral economy. An example is of an employer exploiting a user at a wage that can be used to supplement a user’s need for a ‘fix’….visceral emotions comes to play here because the proletariat has no choice but to do what he/she is being told to do.
How would we go about representing our ambassadors in a non-utilitarian way? Would we solidify the already built negativity towards this marginalized population or instead or evoke a paradigm shift in the way the society looks at this particular population taking into context the information given to us by our collaborators confidentially to share with the world? How reflexive do we have to be in order to send our message through the media without getting lost in the aesthetic aspect of the research? Does this mean we are now social activists? To what extent? Are the messages being accelerated horizontally or vertically and to whom? These are questions to keep in mind and we would face when putting our final presentation together and hopefully some of the answers would arise in our research one way or the other.
Most intriguing aspect of the tour? It was basically discovering that a good idea could yield bad results such as taking care of your lawn could lead to increase in tax value on a house or keeping a community garden well. During our tour of the garden, we were told that the neighbors do not care for the garden despite the fact that the initiator of this idea tries to engage as well as encourage the neighbors to keep the surroundings clean.
One has to wonder when hearing this, is it because they are not interested? They do not want people in their yard? or because there are just not enough people to come together to maintain the environment. Being a man who sees something good coming out of the environment, he chose not to give up despite the fact that the neighbors refuse to pick up their trash, hang floor carpets on the fence and not pick up the broken bottles; he notices that children still come when opportuned to sit down and read and that is the idea of having a community garden…..or at least one of it. It brings people together. Another is providing food… healthy food that is not pumped with hormones. But the people in that environment might look at it from the perpective of keeping a garden therefore increasing the value of the ‘healthy food’. This goes both ways. Another observation I made is the location of where the garden is hinders people from accessing it. As a student of Coppin State, I have heard of professor Klugh making mention of this garden a few semesters back but I had no idea of its location, if I knew as well as most of the students at Coppin or even those who took Anthropology that summer, they could have been intrested in going over to look at it. In other words, lack of signs pointing people to where it’s located is a hindrance; therefore the more people who take notice of the place and observe that it could yield something beneficial for the society as people would take interest in requesting for a library, the more the environment would be more habitable for the students and the community.
City Uprising: Bitter Sweet
I started off the day arriving at Jacques surprised that it is a neighborhood that I am familiar with. Walking into St. Matthew’s church, the atmosphere was already energized in the sense that all the volunteers were greeting, introducing themselves, asking questions about what task would be assigned to them, and what they are sure to expect. The nervousness lingering around could be similar to an individual deciding to get tested and waiting for their results. The prayers were said, the tasks were assigned and then the day began.
The interviews conducted were bitter sweet. I spoke to a lot of people, went to the neighborhoods and canvassed taking in the abandoned houses that were described by my ambassador as a thriving neighborhood a week ago and the next week, it was condemned. I also did shadowing with Amaka who explained the whole process of how city uprising worked out and how successful it has been to both the community and Jacques. A particular interview that was peculiar to me was with a gentleman whom I found out was getting tested standing outside waiting on his number to be called because he does not like being around people or talking to people. He told me, the reason he was there was for $0.75 cents. He usually comes from time to time to volunteer at that church and do whatever he can to help the pastor whenever the pastor needs assistance but all he wanted was to get the $0.75 cents and get tested and leave. At a point in time during the interview, I felt a tension in the air that could be sliced with a knife like melted butter because I was intrigued by what made him distrustful of people as well as willing to be there that day to collect that money and tolerate waiting for the $0.75 cents.
Overall, the marginalization of the volunteers even from other churches and the individuals they were trying to provide service to was clear in more than one ways. This could be looked at from the structure at which the sites were picked and the people placed in a particular site to volunteer.
Who Nu? Yes, Who Knew? (Inspiration of the Week)
Who knew Magic Johnson could make a man take a stand? I mean there are people who love basket ball and would quote Magic Johnson’s biography from the beginning to the end because they are into basketball or they consider him their role model, a mentor, friend, brother, uncle, etc. Who knew he could make a man say I don’t care how the world treats me, I am going to stop hiding and be myself and not cower in denial because of the society? Before HIV/AIDS became recognized as a disease that is not limited to just homosexuals, people thought it was a "gay man’s disease" and this of course can be tied in to moral panics and how Dr. D. told us of his experience with people who were gay in the South (Texas) and were ostracized from the society. Most of them either turned to drugs, committed suicide or lived through it but for the most part, the society were thinking it could be contacted in the in the slightest way and with that. Furthermore, the media insisting and informing people it was a"gay man’s disease" marginalized them. My ambassador narrated to me why he cowered in defense through denial because of this disease because he knew he was not gay. This was until he saw Magic Johnson’s confession about his HIV/AIDS status……. from then on, he felt the burden of the secret strip away.
Overall, although I had the opportunity to spend time with my ambassador today, interview his close friend, visit the neighborhood he grew up and some of the people he grew up with here and even visit his home. As event-FULL as it was, my favorite part was actually when we found ourselves at Medstar Harbor Hospital previously known as Harbor General by the river and I could hear Mr. E. speak with emotion about when he first discovered he had HIV/AIDS. He had a tree there that was his space where he sought and found solace/peace in thinking about everything happening to him and how his future would be. He was moved to discover it was still there even over fifteen years and he loved to fish there. He told me about his family and how they received the news about his HIV/AIDS status and how some of them inspired him, while some of them made him cautious but that had not stopped him from proving people wrong…..this is my inspiration of the week.
Scrutinizing Fells Point
Beep! Beep! Beep! rang the truck as it paused in the middle of the narrow cobble-stoned alleyway in the early day trying to reverse into a parallel parking space by its left. The light smell of coffee wafted the air as I walked past the street and wiped the drooping sweat off my forehead staring around me with a whole new lens. As I veered off the main street on to the waterfront, the smell of bread from an unknown source hit me really hard causing me to gulp and my stomach rumble like thunder making its presence known in the sky; I could see the street vendor trying to make food for his late afternoon customers. At the distance, a bell rang from a distance at 11am and it was already over 90 degrees persuading people to seek refuge from the furious heat. On my way to the waterfront, I noticed that every lamp post had a new American flag on it.
I dazedly dragged myself to the waterfront under the high-rise building seeking shade but after a few minutes of inwardly collapsing, I found myself rising again like a phoenix in the midst of the ashes searching for clues that would allow me to see beyond the frustrating weather. To my greatest surprise, to the right of the building stood a waist-high sculpture of Frederick Douglas. As I walked closer to inspect this sculpture, I was taken aback because it looked disfigured and standing beside it just made it look scary, it was made of copper with green-blue shades at the bottom and it felt cool to the touch despite the weather yet rough to feel. At the back, it laid opened and looked like a giant mask and if it was thunked, it made a hollow sound.
The weather! 100 degrees is enough to make a lame man walk in order to look for shade from the sweltering heat.
Ever remember the moment you saw something out of order i.e. the house being messy and you cleaned it up? An old lady crossing the street and you cross over to help her? Or an animal stuck somewhere and you just couldn’t leave the animal there, you had to rescue it?
Well, I know of one man who still practices this today despite his challenges, Mr. E.N. He is described by his manager as someone who stands out because of his attitude, perserverance and the desire to advocate for the people in his community and despite their relapses he never gives up on them. He is a medium between the case managers and the people in the community who face substance abuse issues, mental issues, HIV/AIDS and any other illness that they are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. As easy as this sounds, it is very difficult for him but Mr. E.N. still loves to be the ‘silent ambassador’/advocate for his community because he feels no matter what, he hasn’t been given up on yet and he is a living proof of what would happen to anyone who desires to ask for help. Based on what Rennisse (a case manager) told us, most people cannot come out and request or get help from the society for their illness because of discrimination, stigma and marginalization attached to the issue of blacks having HIV/AIDS in Baltimore. Also, they could lose their family, their social lives could go down the drain and they would be shunned.
Today, despite the distracting weather was inspiring and we (Asim and I) cannot wait to go back to interview and learn more about our ambassador.
Transcribing, Coding & Lectures
Transcribing: The ART of interpreting what you see what you hear and see through visual media into texts. Coding in my own terms coming up with thematic sentences or key words i.e. tags that relate primarily to your research work. The way it was explained by Nathalie in class after the lecture was really easy to understand coding particularly and she suggested doing that on our Tumblr posts with our tags. I especially find that more easy to understand and would practice it everyday.
Also, yesterday we learnt how to add songs to our audio and adujst them in order not to let them stand out on our audio presentations but could be used as transitions from one chapter to the other. Reaper has so many qualities that I found interesting to learn about when it comes to putting an audio clip together but it cannot be reaper doing all the work, one has to learn what can be used for what on reaper. The greatest quality of reaper is that no matter how messed up you do on your editing, there is always the original copy there waiting to go back to.
Three keys to making a great Tumblr post: Context, somthing unique that stood out during your day and analyzing it using ‘Anthropology terms’ i.e. criticizing it from an anthropologist’s point of view while trying to be reflexive in the process.
My weekend: African weddings are a representation of their culture e.g. their attire. I love it!!
If you thought you had heard it all about Baltimore based on the books and archival history then you probably haven’t heard it from a historian himself who lived through a particular era that is still revered in South Baltimore-Mr. Gillard. The walking tour through Sharp Leaden Hall exposed a great deal of information and knowledge through imaginations, stories, descriptions and visual effects of how Baltimore looked like before displacement, and gentrification took place. The churches are the oldest historical social and religious institutions still standing especially Leaden Hall Church.
Leaden Hall Baptist Church was first called Leaden Hall Street Baptist Church before it became Providence Church but Providence church later branched out and is located elsewhere in Maryland while Leaden Hall Baptist Church remained. It was written that the church started as far back as 1875 but based on sources not dated, the church started way before this date and originated from a blacksmith’s shop. The first baptist church pastor married into the church in 1878. The churches at that time served the community. It was also a social institution that brought people from neighboring states as well as within Maryland together. There are currently 800 members of the church so if compared to that of how it was before the environment changed, they probably housed over a hundred members every sunday.
The Mutual Benefit Society emerged from this church. Also, across the street from the Leaden Hall Baptist Church stood the Solo Gibbs park which was put up to commemorate the death of a neighborhood activist who played a role in the lives of the people who lived in that neighborhood. Solo Gibbs was born on West Street which was known as ‘Out Lembrick’ which no one knew the meaning of what that stood for. The Galilean Fishermen started also on peach street which was the street parallel to the leadenhall street. The Mildred Moon Memorial bridge was built in memorial of the woman who started the protest against houses being torn down on Sharp Leaden Hall. Where the Camden Yard is currently located, there was a church that rested there known as St. Monica’s Church. Cab Calloway’s maternal family were raised and were members of the Leaden Hall Baptist Church.
Allegorizing B-more through Dr. Hyatt’s Research
Middletown Redux: This visual ethnography is about the lives of African Americans who lived in Munse, Indiana. The people in these town had lost most of their history because there were no records of how they lived, how the society was back then so the source which people could hear about their history is through the older generation. Also, the issue of segregated history as it was written about Middletown in the past and trying to make it an integrated history. The young generation vs. the Old generation is another part to be taken into consideration. There’s an adage that says ‘Youth is wasted on the young’. The research gave the older generation into the lives of the young generation which made them view them as the adage not being true. In order words, there are some young people out there who are trying to be productive and make a change in their society especially amongst the African American community. Furthermore, racial homogeneity is different from class homogeneity. While one pertains to the color of one’s skin, ethnic group, and cultural background; the other pertains to certain socio-economic status that creates a barrier for people of another class to partake in….i.e. people living in the surburbs not allowing blacks to move in to their neighborhood despite their status but it could be because of their skin color.
The chapters through the documentary emphasized how the researchers worked together either by reviewing their work or going out into the community to talk to their participants. One of the researchers in particular captured my attention because of the challenges he faced when it comes to the field notes because although he knew he had a creative style of writing and had been complimented on writing, but that wasn’t the style needed to complete the research. At some point, he felt like giving up because he was at war with himself…..by either trying to not let his ego be crushed or work together with his peers to get his research done. This reminds me of one of the challenges I am facing in this research.
Also, the research done about Temple University could also be compared to the work of Harvey on the University of Maryland downtown and how they are structured in the society. It showed how TU was constructed in an environment where thriving neighborhoods located as we see with down town Baltimore where the schools are now located. In other words, using universities as important economic factors that have major impact on communities in which they’re located. ‘A university-community partnership must be based on an equal relationship from the very beginning of collaboration’. The archival work in TU is similar to that of John Hopkins and will be very useful for this research which will be helpful in finding out more about the history of South Baltimore.
Also, the research carried out by Samantha in ‘Crooked Creek’ Indiana was very detailed and shocking that South of where this research is done is the surburbs and since the city was designed to be a car city, they would have taken into consideration the lower classes that do not have cars but would walk from one end to the other. The presentation also featured the amount of banks in Crooked Creek which is 2 and a handful number of pay lenders. In terms of the finnancial institutions available, Baltimore has banks on every corner and sidewalks available for the low income neighborhoods and access to bus….. but not the ’free buses’.
"To designate a neighborhood as ‘blighted’, it often obscures the deep history of the community and the meaning for its people who have lived there for many generations including underestimating the significance of long-standing social networks among the residents"- This is true because as new generations emerge and they are not able to learn the factual reality of what happened there before ‘change’ came about, they would be living on the view of another man and not the truth itself and this applies to Baltimore and its residents despite the racial difference. ‘There is never one any one community in any single locality’ even in Bolton Hill, as much as the community strives to work together there are other communitities neighboring it that can categorize themselves as being part of Bolton Hill even if it’s across Eutaw or the neighboring streets surrounding it.
Finally, the research was interesting and educational in more than one ways by helping us compare and contrast Baltimore to Indiana and TU in Pennsylvania to show us more about how this research can work together in terms of expanding our research outside Baltimore and comparing it to neighboring states.
Interview Methods & More Tech Savvy_ness
In spending some time in class today learning more about visual anthropology and how it is contextualized in working with our co-participants at Jacques Cafe, I learnt more about how to begin interviewing my participants. How to asess the environment and figure out the best lighting which will work to our advantage as well as try NOT to get lost in the aesthetic aspect of the video and forget the information we are trying to send to our audience. There is a difference between narcissism and reflexivity. Narcissim is an action that the interviewer transmits into talking about them selves and not about the interviewee while reflexivity is the reaction that occurs without too much attention focused on the interviewer but the interviewee. An example of this is looking at Narcissism on a scale at one end and reflexivity at the other. On that scale, the video making should lean towards the reflexivity part because although we are out to make a great video with the shot at several angles, good lighting, nice background, the information should be the most important.
Another important lesson learnt today was about consent ‘DENIED’. This was quite strange because when we were challenged by our technology professor to go out and ask for consent before filming a person intentionally, I did not know how many people would object to doing so. I had heard of Dr. Collins and Dr. Durington stetching about this particular topic in class but being out there at the forefront and denied twice really surprised me but no teacher can get more credit for this than experience. This has really thought me to be prepared for what is to come if at any time we face our participants and they change their mind at any point in time.
The key to this interview method is listed above…..RELATIONSHIPS.
Rapport building is more like trying to get to know someone like we all did the first week of starting this intership together. It’s also kinda like a ‘Chameleon Effect’. This basically means letting them see theirselves through your eyes by mimicking, their actions and words. It is also known as active listening.
Also, practicing more with our partners has given us strategies as well as ideas on how to formulate our questions keeping the semi-structured approach in mind and not trying to speak over our interviewees but let them say whatever they want to say without interruptions because we might lose important information in the process.
Interview Methods & Tech Savvy_ness
When we got to class today, we talked mostly about how our day went over at Bolton Hill and that today marked the beginning of our technology session with Brian Plow. Brian Plow is an Urban anthropologist from my point of view because of the way he was able to explain how ethics is related to anthropology in a detailed way. The people we interview during our field work are the owners originally of the stories we tell but how we chose to convey the story to the world and attach another name to it is very complicated because we end up wrestling with our conscience.
I found this interesting because during the video he showed of ‘Janet’s Return’, I could feel nothing but pain, sorrow and nostalgia emtting from the ethnographic video he did and that was the message he was trying to convey. I hope to be able to speak for my ambassadors also because I want to be able to advocate, inform, enlighten, and educate the world about a side of Baltimore that most people do not get to see.
Also, I found the ‘Zoom Cameras’ to be the most interesting peice of technology so far that I have handled. I found them very easy to use and they were able to pick up a lot of sounds around me when I did the practice video which is what I aim to do some more before I start interviewing my participants. The tripods were easy to carry around which is very good for students who are not able to lift heavy equipments around daily when they are going out.
Also, we talked about structured observation which basically means how one could use spatial arrangements to conversate nonverbally i.e. body language, eye contact (although this varies based on culture); analyzing the components of large and complelx natural behavioral settings, describing shifts in group size and composition. This is usually a detailed and more time consuming method because it involves the date, time, participants, description of participants and many other specific information about the research. It is definitely not recommended for this project because of the time span. In semi-structured interviews, the interviewer has a list of questions to ask in a particular order, but follows them flexibly according to what seems appropriate, following up on interesting responses from the interviewee. Likewise, the wording of the questions can change. If you are working with a team in which more than one person will be conducting interviews, it may be helpful to use semi-structured interviews in order to ensure that all of the topics of interest are covered in an agreed-upon way. This is probably more favorable than all methods of interviews we have discusssed in class so far.
Finally, with these said the semi-structured is the best method recommended for us which we would practice with next week and see how it works out.