The one idea of this piece that stood out to me was the idea of oral history as a transformational process relating to both real events and the witnesses that experienced them. I think that this transformational process happens all of the time. One way I see the product of this process is through the news. Every time a news station reports a story, the real event has to be processed by a direct witness, who will then relay the story to the news station, who will then decide how they want to present the story. In this way, we receive a watered-down version of the real event because it has already been diluted by witnesses and others who pass on the information. This makes it hard to keep a real event ‘real’. To maintain the realness of an event for yourself, you have to witness it firsthand, and even then you may have a skewed interpretation depending on how well you were able to pay attention or how many of the details you caught. The same diluting of a real event happens when you here your friend tell you a story. What you’re hearing is not the real event, but your friend’s interpretation of the event or the way your friend wishes to present it. For example, if your friend got into a conflict with another person and he/she wants you to take his/her side, he/she will most likely skew the details and facts so that it sounds like he/she is in the right. Also, the “grapevine” is a dangerous way to get information, because there’s no telling how many times the real event has been reinterpreted before it is presented to you. Unfortunately, it is impossible to maintain realness of events in history, since those who experienced it firsthand will eventually die. It has to be passed on somehow. Since there is no way to experience all (or even most) important events for yourself, you just have to trust that the sources have interpreted and presented the event in a way that best maintains accuracy.
I found Boal’s idea of giving the people the means of production to be most interesting. In the photography experiment, he suggested that giving the people pictures to choose from as opposed to letting them take the pictures themselves would be a form of oppression. This really caught my attention, because I participated in an activity where I had to choose from a given set of pictures to illustrate my answers to certain questions, but I never got the feeling that I was being oppressed. This made me think of oppression in a different manner; perhaps it is nothing more than being deprived of power or choice in some form, making them a “passive being.” We as citizens are often forced to take a passive role at some point; for instance, in making decisions about laws and policies in the government. These decisions are handled mostly by politicians, who get to make executive decisions by which we all have to live by. However, there are some instances where the people can vote on these things. While we have some say in these decisions, we do not have say in what these decisions are. For example, an additional amendment to the state constitution may be put to a vote, but the amendment is given to us the same way those photographs would have been given to the people. In being a passive being, there is a sense of powerlessness that comes with it. Perhaps it is this unwanted sense of powerlessness that drives movements such as the American Revolution, the Civil Rights Movement, and this “Occupy” movement. However, society seems to depend on this uneven distribution of power. Is there a such thing as a happy medium in this situation?
Statement: “An empowered mind can free an oppressed body.”
Occupying: Birmingham, AL
Rationale: A law was passed recently banning immigrants from working in the state of Alabama.
The Organizing for Social Change reading was insightful. I found myself reflecting on different systems of oppression in history, and how those oppressed by the system overcame it. All of those individuals came together as a unified whole; an organization. They had to organize all their actions; everyone had to follow the guidelines of the movement, and if one individual went against the grain, it could compromise the entire movement.
While I’ve never really been a part of any “movement,” this goes double for any organization I’ve ever been a part of. Whether it’s General Shelton Leadership Challenge, Alpha Phi Omega Community Service Fraternity, or a high school musical, we are working toward a common goal. Any discord affects the overall mood and efficacy of the group. In order for us to be successful, everyone had to be committed. It was not important just to participate; everyone had to identify with the goal we were working toward. In this sense, it is not just the quantity of individuals in a group but the mentality as a whole that will determine their success in organizing for social change, counseling youth, planning and implementing a service project, or simply putting on a show.
In one paragraph, the author mentions how one individual has little power to change their own life conditions, but how a group can accomplish a great deal when they organize collectively. This was most prevalent for me when I went to see The Parchman Hour at my job last night. The Parchman Hour is a play about the Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights Movement and their struggles. I saw this as organizing for social change at its finest, and it also gave me insight to the inner conflict that the group had among themselves. In one scene, the riders were arguing from their jail cells about organizing a hunger strike to improve conditions in the jail. They stressed that “if we do this, it can’t just be some; it has to be all of us.” The group understood the power of the collective as opposed to the power of the individual. They understood the lack of commitment of one person could be the difference between achieving their goal and falling short. More importantly, they understood the importance of nonviolence in the larger movement that they were fighting for, and there was also conflict between them about whether it was acceptable for one person to stray from this practice. Even though all was not fair and righteous in the U.S. by the end of the play, all of them were willing to stay committed to the movement, and it is presumed that this mentality led to their eventual success in achieving equality.
I’m going to do the “Voices” stanza and start with “Life has written with the pen of centuries”
After examining the way the author views the significance of modern day education, I have to say that I disagree. Yes, education is very similar to “narration”, as the author says. But I don’t agree with his implication that it is an altogether ineffective way to educate students. I think that the best way to learn is through experience, but narration can be helpful in preparing for that experience. It’s the same concept as going through training at a job before actually being put on the job. Narration cannot adequately prepare you for everything that could ever happen, but it can give you an overview so that you have some knowledge of what to do before actually having to do it.
Also, take first-generation college students for example. I believe the reason that so much emphasis is placed on being a first-generation as opposed to having parents that went to college is because first-generations didn’t have any prior narration before going off to school. Those with parents who attended university know what it’s like, and can tell their kids all the tips & tricks that they need to know before they arrive on campus. I know my parents did. And of course there were some things that I did not fully understand until I was at UNC for a few weeks, but there were certain things that I already knew, thanks to the narration given to me by my parents. I think the author should reevaluate his stance on education and give this process called “narration” some credit.