Each week, choose ONE prompt to address in your journal.
No Journal Prompt
Reflect on Alice Walker’s essay “In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens,” and complete ONE of the below journal prompts:
1 – Plant (or bury) something on BC’s campus that you wish to leave for some student or students to come. Your item should be small enough that you can make a fist around it. You may choose to plant an actual seed, but your object does not need to be an actual seed. You might plant (or bury) a note or a bead from a broken necklace. You also do not need to dig an actual hole. You might cover your object with leaves, stones, or a handful of mulch. (Note: Ideally pick something that is biodegradable. You should not pick an item that is actively harmful to the environment like a battery or any type of electronics for example.) Whatever you choose, you should be intentional about the object and the place and time you choose to bury/plant it. In your journal reflect on the experience. Make sure you describe your object and the place and time and manner that you planted/buried. Explain why you made the choices you did, and describe how ideally you’d like someone in the future to come across this item. What do you hope the person who finds the object will receive? What do you hope their finding the object might express (about you, BC, the world, etc.)?
2 – Find a neighborhood map, visitor map, and/or a tourist map of a place that you call home. Print out TWO copies of the map. Examine the map. What stories, ideas, and/or beliefs does this map suggest about this place you call home? Some things to consider: What does the map locate as the center? What kind of information does the map foreground? What kind of information does it downplay or exclude? How does the map make use of color, lines, contrasts, and symbols? And to what ends? Who do you imagine is the author this map? Who do you think their intended audience is (and be more specific than neighborhood folk, tourist, or visitors)? What might the author of this map want their intended audience to do, know, think, and/or imagine? Are you and/or your communities a part o f the map’s intended audience? Now spend some time using pencils, pens, markers, crayons, stickers, string, whatever in order to alter the image of one of the printed out maps. The goal is to alter the content and/or presentation of the content of the map in such a way that your altered version corrects, emphasizes, and/or reimagines the original map in order to illustrate something you think is integral to this place you call home. Spend some time in your journal reflecting on the choices you made and why. Be sure to include both the revised map and the unaltered printout in your journal.
3 – Reviewing your notes on the essay “What does Africa Mean to Me?”, think about the epistemological and phenomenological disruption that the emergence of Europe as a continent required and imposed upon the peoples and cultures inhabiting what we now think of as Asia and Africa. Imagining the interruption of culture, kinship structures, and geographic relations are already hard to imagine for many of us, but what does it mean to find one self not just dislocated or mislocated but lost to location altogether (not just geographic location, but social, cultural, spiritual, ontological location)? The question is heavy in part because it is in may ways impossible to imagine because our imaginations, however robust they may be, are nevertheless structured by the grammars and vocabularies of our current ways of knowing and beliefs about the world, the divine, and our relative place in it. In this prompt, I want you to think about how we might endeavor to do the impossible. Generate two-three detailed exercises designed to help you and at least one close friend or loved one endeavor to imagine the experience of being in what is nothing short of the end of the world as you know it. Not an apocalyptic end of brimstone and fire or alien invasion (though these things may also take place). I want you to think about how we can imagine an apocalypses in which everything looks pretty much he same. The weather is the same. The people still walk on two feet and the river is where you’ve always known it to be, but everything you know is nothing, mere gibberish. And everyone with even the slightest bit of power calls you, your home, your people, the sky, God, by different words and relates to you, your home, your people, the sky, God, and everything you know in a manner that makes no sense, is sometimes silly, often profane or foolish, though also occasionally interesting and clever. Design two exercises meant to help you and at least one other person you care about try to imagine this scenario as it would have been for a (very slowly aging) young adult in the northern part of Africa as Europe became Europe and Africa became Africa. Record these two exercises in your journal. Be sure to explain your exercises, the choices you make, why you make them, and how you imagine this exercise playing out with your friend and/or loved one.
Go back to week two’s journal prompt options. Either continue to develop a journal prompt that you wish to develop further OR choose a different prompt for this week’s journaling.
Thinking about June Jordan’s discussion of black language use and black vernacular English, choose one of the two following exercises to complete in your journal:
- Write a poem, prose poem, or brief narrative sketch of an person, place, or thing that is unique and significant to “where you come from”. Your poem though must be written in a vernacular specific to that “where.” To do this task you should: A) Come up with a limited vocabulary that is rooted in “where you’re from” (ex. Maybe I might limit my vocabulary to different types of soil and dirt related language if I want to emphasize coming from a migrant farming background). B) Identify three grammatical “rules” or defining characteristics of your particular vernacular. (For example perhaps your vernacular language never uses definitive articles or causal conjunctions because the place where you come from is defined by a certain embrace of indeterminacy. Or perhaps your vernacular only describes places in terms of what happens at that place. So the bedroom might be a sleepdress or restdream rather than a bedroom.) C) Once you’ve identified your specific vocabulary and grammatical features of your vernacular, you will wire a poem, prose poem, or brief sketch about a person, place, or thing that is unique and significant to where you come from. D) Make sure you leave time to reflect on the choices you make and why you make them in your journal.
- Revisit a blog post, thesis proposal, essay presentation, analysis paper, or some other written work that you’ve completed for your AADS major or minor. Reread what you wrote. Now read it again, but this time read it outload. Choose 1.5 – 2 pages of the writing that you find most compelling to you now. Translate this 1.5 – 2 pages into “Black English” using the rules and guidelines described in Jordan’s essay. Leave time to reflect in your journal on your selection of writing to translate (what you wrote and why you chose to revisit and translate this work); how you experienced the process of translating the piece into Black English (what were the challenges? what did you enjoy); and what effect translating your writing into Black English has on your understanding of what you were communicating, what it signifies, who it’s for, and the impact it might have in a particular space, group, and/or conversation.
Go back to week four’s journal prompt options. Either continue to develop a journal prompt that you wish to develop further OR choose a different prompt for this week’s journaling.
No journal. Enjoy spring break.
PROMPT OPTION ONE: Studying the text as a blueprint.
For this prompt you will study the form and content of the Combahee River Collective Statement, brainstorm ideas for a statement for a meaningful collective in your life, and draft an initial version of this collective’s statement. To help you, I’ve outlined steps for each of the three components of this prompt.
Component 1) Revisit the Combahee River Collective Statement. On paper or using a digital notation tools, annotate this text, paying careful attention to its:
- use of place
- sense of audience
- engagement with history
- framing of the present
- articulation of future action and possibilities. historical, the present, and the possible.
Component Two) Reflecting on what you’ve observed about the Combahee River Collective Statement’s form and content, brainstorm in your journal ideas for collective statement in your own life. As part of this brainstorming you should:
A – Form a Group
- Your group should consist of at least three people including yourself.
- Your group must consist of real people with whom you have a meaningful relationship. (Meaningful does not necessarily mean long, intimate, or even amicable.)
- At least half of the people in your group should be people with whom you’ve been in active communication in the last four to six years (i.e. the collective can’t be composed of only your kindergarten besties who you lost touch with when you moved in middle school.
- Ideally the folks in your collective have some connection (even if it’s a loose or mediated connection) to one another.
- However your “collective” does not need to be a group of folks who’ve consciously organized around a specific set of aims. Nor do the folks in your group necessarily have to define or understand themselves as “a group” in real life.
B – Define a Collective
- Describe the shared points of identity between members of this group
- List at least two key values this group holds in commons.
- Articulate at least two key concerns this group shares.
- Outline at least two aims or goals to which this group plans to dedicate some portion of their energy and resources.
- Identify a culturally and/or historically meaningful geographic with which the group can identify itself.
Component Three) – In your journal, compose an initial draft of your collective’s statement. Your statement does not need to be as long as the Combahee River Collective’s statement, though it can be. You should think about your statement being at least one page if it were typed and single spaced with 12 point Times New Roman font and 1 inch margins.
Go back to week seven’s journal prompt options. Either continue to develop a journal prompt that you wish to develop further OR choose a different prompt for this week’s journaling.
Attend the Meredith Clark New Directions Lecture (or listen to the recording circulated via email after the event). Choose one of the following prompts to reflect on in your journal:
OPTION ONE: Reflecting and Detecting
- A) Reflect on each of what Dr. Clark refers to as the seven dark spirits (or “demons”) of white dominance in here life. As you think about each of these seven demons, consider which ones seem more or less resonant in your life and why.
- B) Based on what you’ve observed about Dr. Clark’s seven dark spirits and your own life, identify in your own words the seven dark spirits of white dominance most operative in your own own life. While some of your list may be similar to Dr. Clark’s list, you may only directly quote Dr. Clark in identifying and describing two of your seven dark spirits. Meaning if you identify “codified antiblackness” and “fatigue” as two of your demons, you cannot also identify “comfort and complacency” as a demon (though you may identify a demon that is very similar to “comfort and complacency).
OPTION TWO: Assessing & Strategizing
- A) Following Dr. Clark’s encouragement to do so, identify and define the seven dark spirits of white supremacy most operative in your own own life. While some of your list may be similar to Dr. Clark’s list, you may only directly quote Dr. Clark in identifying and describing two of your seven dark spirits. Meaning if you identify “codified antiblackness” and “fatigue” as two of your demons, you cannot also identify “comfort and complacency” as a demon (though you may identify a demon that is very similar to “comfort and complacency).
- B) For each of the seven demons you identify in your life, come up with two self-examination questions: The first question should help you assess the degree to which this particular spirit is presently effecting your life. The second question, following Dr. Clark’s model, should help you assess how you can ward off and/or prevent this particular demon’s life sucking presence in your life.
Go back to week nine’s journal prompt options. Either continue to develop a journal prompt that you wish to develop further OR choose a different prompt for this week’s journaling
No Prompt. Happy Birthday, Annabel & Prof. Curseen.
No Prompt. Have a good Easter/Passover weekend break.
OPTION ONE: Share & Teach
Pick one of the supplementary readings from the syllabus. Identify someone in your life who you think would benefit from one of the supplementary readings on the syllabus. (The supplementary readings include any of the course readings other than Sassafrass, Cypress, & Indigo.) Identify one of the core argument points of this text that you want someone else in your life to know. You should choose someone who you believe would benefit from this part of the essay in their personal life OR someone who you need to think about this point in the text in order to heal, improve, and/or deepen your relationship with this person. In your journal, write a letter to this person in which you share the insights of this text that you wish to share with this person. Be sure to explain the context, the point, and why you’re sharing this information with the person.
OPTION TWO: An Intimate Creation
Pick one of the recipes (cooking or healing) incorporated in Shange’s novel. To the best of your ability, follow the recipes (making thoughtful substitutes where absolutely necessary). In your journal spend some time describing and reflecting on the experience of completing this recipe. What did you notice in the process of gathering materials and setting up the recipes? What did you know in the process of making (or performing) the steps? What was difficult? What was generative? What was surprising?
Go back to week thirteen’s journal prompt options. Either continue to develop a journal prompt that you wish to develop further OR choose a different prompt for this week’s journaling