Category Archives: Essays

Reflections of My First Quarter at the University of Washington

Regardless of how impossible the achievement of my dreams seems at times I have found that my fears are often not based in reality. The reality is that, yes it is true that, our world is full of hardships and even set-backs, but it is also true that I have been granted everything that I need to overcome those obstacles. The sobering reality lay also in the fact that even though I have been granted everything I need to overcome any and all obstacles that are set before me, that I still forget it from time to time and find myself wallowing in self-doubt, remorse, self-pity and shame as if I, Michael Anthony Moynihan was destined to be a failure. And no matter how much my brain may try to convince me of these things when times get rough and I am faced with hardships, it is simply not the case that I am destined to be a failure because I am meant for greatness and so are all of you.


Quite some time ago I set out to record the experiences I have had while I trudge through the higher education system on my way to earning a Law degree for three reasons: (1) to process what I have been through; (2) so that I have a record of my experiences to refer back to; (3) and most importantly, so that I can share my hardships and successes with all of you who are either going through the same struggle that I am or you are interested in pursuing higher education and want to know what to expect and some tactics to meet with success. In this particular essay I will be analyzing my first quarter at the University of Washington, challenging the assumptions that I held when entering the school, exposing the difficulties that I met during the quarter and how they were overcome.

When I graduated from North Seattle Community College (NSCC) in June of 2013 with my Associate of Arts degree, and was honored as the valedictorian I thought I had this higher education thing figured out. Yet, when I got to the University of Washington (UW) I discovered that I was sadly mistaken. Now although my education at NSCC was and is an invaluable asset, and I definitely had to put every ounce of my being into successfully completing the program, I was not as prepared for the transition to university life as I thought. I had it worked into my head that I was going to carry the same success with the same techniques from community college into the university setting and that I was going to continue to earn the 4.0’s of which I had grown so accustomed. As Sarra Tekola, a seasoned student at the University of Washington in the Environmental Science program and an Audubon scholar, a UW Diversity merit scholar, and a McNair UNCF scholar put it:

“You cannot use the same strategies at the university level that you used at the community college level and expect to meet with the same level of success. You are going to have to adapt and it is not going to be easy, but I have no doubt that you will be able to handle it. Just remember, that if you were to just come to this school and start earning 4.0’s, then the school would not truly be challenging you and it would not be doing you any good. The fact that you are not earning 4.0’s, right now, is proof that you are being challenged so, do not be discouraged, all transfer students go through this their first quarter at the University of Washington, but we all also caught ahold of the ropes. You got this.”

Sarra_Envrionmental Science Major

Sarra said this to me when I came to her for advice halfway through the quarter and I was bashing my head against the wall in disgust at my apparent lack of ability to adapt. Advice that I desperately needed because I was just about ready to throw my hands up and call it quits. I assumed that I would not have to invest any more effort into my education at the UW than I had at NSCC, but that was not the case. Their expectations at the University of Washington are ten-fold what they were at my community college. I was expected to accomplish two to three times as much reading every week, on top of the assignments that were due, and to be able to comprehend the material and synthesize compelling arguments that compared and contrasted all the material covered throughout the quarter. In short, I was expected to have a complete and intimate understanding of all the material covered and to have it stored in memory for quick retrieval in practical application scenarios. I was not prepared for that, and as such, I was caught off guard and I felt unworthy because I was not performing at the level that I expected to be performing at. Miss Tekola’s words of encouragement and reassurance came at just the right time and told me precisely what I needed to hear: the UW is not community college and the same techniques that worked for me there will not work at the university level, but don’t give up because the first quarter is always the hardest, it is the transition period after which you will know what is expected of you and how to accomplish that.

The next major hurtle that I encountered centered primarily on other people’s opinions. It is true that I have just endorsed the opinions of Sarra Tekola, and although it may not be explicitly evident all the time, not everyone’s opinion, or rather not every opinion is of the same value. If it is the case that, you have wisely chosen the direction of your life, then it is not the case that, when you encounter hardships that opinions of encouragement and discouragement are of the same value. First of all, life is full of hardships and earning a degree is no exception to this fact. Second, and perhaps more important, is that opinions of discouragement dissuade us from accomplishing our goals, and if we are dissuaded from our goals then it may be the case that we accomplish nothing. While in contrast, opinions of encouragement will in times of despair, reinforce our own resolve to accomplish those goals. Thus, if the measure of other people’s opinions is measured in terms of whether or not they help us to achieve our goals, then not all opinions are of the same value and when we have justifiable goals, then encouraging opinions are to be valued above discouraging opinions. Tekola’s opinions were of the encouraging sort, so they are to be valued because they have helped me to achieve my goals; that is why I have endorsed her opinions.

However, when I began to have trouble during my first quarter at the University of Washington, in particular with the philosophy course that I was taking and I made mention of it, one of the major opinions I heard in response to my concerns was to “give up on philosophy”. And although I disagreed with this opinion entirely, if nothing has come through more clearly in my first course in philosophy then it is this: before an argument can be rejected, it must first be analyzed and then either one or all of the premises must be questioned and rejected or the reasoning drawn from the premises (the conclusion) must rejected, but it cannot be rejected on solely emotional grounds. The basic reason given for not pursuing a degree in philosophy was that they believed it to be a useless discipline, but I challenge that premise.

Before this quarter began I decided that I was going to major in both history and philosophy because they are two of the primary degrees that people get before going to law school. The history degree will teach me how to do research, which is what precedent law in America is all about, and it will also teach me how to analyze the documents that I uncover through my research, which is precisely what will be necessary to prove any case. The philosophy degree will teach me about moral and ethical frameworks, which are vitally necessary for the organization of humans in society and for the creation and interpretation of that society’s laws. It will also teach me how to analyze and to form arguments, which is an essential skill of a great lawyer. Thus, philosophy is not a useless discipline, at least not for me and my aims, or for anyone who intends to participate in law or politics in any measure.

The second and more troubling premise of the argument that was made for my giving up on philosophy was inherent in their assertions, though implicit in their arguments: if it is tough, and it since is unnecessary, then you should not do it. However, as I have shown philosophy is not an unnecessary discipline already, I will focus on the former portion of the claim, that “if it is tough… you should not do it.” If that assertion were true, then we would not have Olympic gold medalists, and nor would slavery have been abolished, nor would women have been enfranchised with the success of the suffrage movement. The list could go on ad infinitum, but I think that these examples make the point explicitly clear that some pursuit being tough does not justify not doing it.

Which brings us back to the initial assertion in this line of reasoning, “if it is the case that, you have wisely chosen the direction of your life, then it is not the case that, when you encounter hardships that opinions of encouragement and discouragement are of the same value.” I have shown that the reasoning behind my decision to pursue a degree in philosophy was sound, so it was not the case that I selected my classes poorly or that they did not fit within my overall objectives. And since I have also shown that the premises of the assertion that I “should give up on philosophy” are faulty, then it must also be the case that the conclusion is false. Since it is not the case that I should give up on philosophy, then it must be the case that the opinions of discouragement that were offered to me when I expressed dismay in my progress at the University of Washington are to be devalued because they do not help me to achieve my goals.

All of this reasoning has been accomplished in retrospect, but when I was in the middle of my last quarter it was not so clear and based on those opinions which would have derailed my progress, I almost decided to not continue my pursuit. That is the unfortunate outcome of discouragement and it is my belief that we may all be likely to encounter this type of thinking. The way I overcame this was to take more than a few moments of serious thought to discern what and why I was doing it, so I asked myself; “Why am I studying philosophy?” I have shown you the reasoning and the answer that came from that line of inquisition. This was a vital step, and though I did fully question and answer that question prior to my deciding to earn a philosophy degree, I did forget it once I was under the pressure of potentially failing one of my first courses at the University of Washington. Until this question was answered I could not discern which line of opinions, the encouragement or the discouragement was in my best interest and I was just as susceptible to be influenced by both because I could not assign value to either. That is why it is so important to take this step and evaluate why you are doing what you are doing, because we have to be able to evaluate the opinions that will flood our thoughts as we progress through our ambitions and we have to be able to discern which opinions to listen to and which opinions to disregard. To give the people who provided me with those discouraging opinions credit, if it had not been for them then I would not have question my actions for myself and I would not have come to the conclusion that I drew. And it was because I drew the conclusion that it was necessary for me to earn the philosophy degree that I am after that I started to value the encouraging opinions and reinforce my ambition to succeed with resolute determination to do so. This is why I endorsed Sarra Tekola’s opinions at the beginning of this paper and why what she said made such a difference in the outcome of my quarter.


The outcome of the psychological battle that goes on in our own heads can make the difference between winning and losing, between success and failure, between achieving our goals and leaving empty handed. I have just detailed for all of you the primary aspects of the psychological battle that I went through last quarter and how with help, I was able to overcome it. But that was only the beginning. That victory had to be translated into action in order for me to meet with success. I had to reevaluate my approach to learning at the University of Washington and revise the techniques that worked for me at North Seattle Community College and I had to learn a new way to learn.

As I stated earlier: “I was expected to have a complete and intimate understanding of all the material covered and to have it stored in memory for quick retrieval in practical application scenarios.” Before I got to UW, it was sufficient for me to read a chapter once and incorporate 30% or so to memory taking only the key points with me. However, that method was inadequate for me at UW because my courses not only expected memorization, but also a deep comprehension of the material and a synthesis of my own opinions on what I read. Until I got to UW I did not know that there was a difference between rote memorization and comprehension or how important it was to distinguish between the two. For example, there is a big difference between memorizing the rules for how to manipulate an equation in algebra and applying those techniques to a word problem wherein one has to create an equation to solve the problem. Discerning the solution requires an intimate understanding of how the rules function and how they can be manipulated. Just as memorizing a specific equation would be inadequate for solving such a problem, so was just memorizing 30% or so of my philosophy book for synthesizing arguments in support of or against a particular philosopher or ideology. In short, there is a big difference between memorization and learning how to think for ourselves and that is what I was unprepared for when I began classes at the University of Washington.


I quickly found that the method I had of reading through a chapter once was inadequate and in many cases I had to reread a chapter several times and even at times tear them apart line by line to achieve the level of understanding that was expected of me. To accomplish the transition from how I was reading to how I needed to read required an increased investment in the amount of time that I allotted to each chapter and a level of concentration higher than I was unaccustomed to. I cannot stress how important that extra investment has been to my understanding of the material and my ability to think about the things that I am learning. That was the key to success at the University of Washington. The primary difference I made by changing the amount of time I dedicated to each chapter was made to my understanding of each chapter. By spending longer in each chapter it allowed me the time necessary for me to actually think about the things that I was reading. And it was that thought process that allowed me not only to memorize the material I was expected to memorize but to also formulate my own thoughts on what I was reading. We cannot have thoughts about what we read if we do not think about what we read. I know that this may seem like a bit of common sense, but I assure that it was not for me. I had to learn that the hard way. What I have found is that people and particularly at the University of Washington are not as interested in what we read as they are in what we think about what we read. The same is true for society and that includes professional situations like politics. People want us to have an opinion, not simply to be academics who, are on the fence on important issues. In other words, people value our thoughts and it is our thoughts that are valuable.

The last major change to my learning process that I had to enact at the University of Washington was giving up on the concept that I can do everything alone. I do not like to depend on other people and I have avoided it like the plague. However, I have learned that I do not pick up on everything embedded in the material that I read and that some of the things that I miss others pick up on. Furthermore, one of the best ways to improve your understanding of a subject is to debate it. Based on those reasons I started to take part in study groups both throughout the quarter and to prepare for exams. It is so crazy to think that the way America is, it places us in competition with one another and continuously advocates the advantage of being an individual that can do things on their own. But the truth is that we function better as groups. And since we are communal creatures the assertion that we function better as groups only makes sense. As a result of these two major changes to my method of learning, in the space of one quarter, I went from assimilating about 30% of what I read to assimilating more than 70% of what I read and I am now able to wade through the strengths and weaknesses of arguments and apply them to real life scenarios in real time.

I did not walk out of my first quarter at the University of Washington with 4.0’s, and in fact I did not earn one 4.0 at all. The truth is that since I started college, this has turned out to been the worst quarter in terms of grades that I have had so far. I earned a 3.0 in Socio-Linguistics, a 3.1 in Philosophy and a 3.6 in History of the Middle East with a 3.23 cumulative G.P.A. But as Sarra Tekola said, “if you were to just come to this school and start earning 4.0’s, then the school would not truly be challenging you and it would not be doing you any good. The fact that you are not earning 4.0’s, right now, is proof that you are being challenged so, do not be discouraged.” What I learned and earned my first quarter at UW was far more important than a 4.0. I learned that my thoughts are important, that I can rely on other people, that I can synthesize the material I read into a coherent train of thought, and that I am worthy of being a student at the University of Washington. I learned that I have selected the correct degrees for what I want to do with my life and I have a firm grasp of who I am, what and why I am doing it, and how I intend to achieve my goals. Most importantly, I have surrounded myself with people who believe in me and my goals and are willing and able to provide me with the necessary feedback on my thoughts and encouragement to achieve my goals. Most importantly, just as Tekola promised me, I have made the transition from the community college level to the university level and I am prepared to continue my education at the University of Washington because I have caught ahold of the ropes.

I got this.

UW logo

Education: The First Step Toward Equality for Women in Iran

The Women’s Rights Movement of Iran during the first half of the 20th Century was primarily a battle for women to be considered as equals with men. There were many issues that the women of that period in Iran thought needed to be addressed, such as polygamy and suffrage.  However, what was most important to these women was that they had the same access to education as men. It was through education that they would be most able to fulfill roles outside of the home. Becoming educated was one of the only ways for women to participate in the government, because during the first half of the 20th century in Iran, women were viewed as incapable of the higher faculties that men inherently possessed. I will endeavor to reveal some of the difficulties in the struggle of women to earn their rights, some of the reasons why they decided to act as they did, and some of the outcomes of their actions. It is important to note before I begin, that I have found it exceedingly difficult to locate primary source documents written by women in this period, so I shall begin by framing the socio-political environment of Iran.

In the period between 1900 and 1940, Iran experienced many social, economic, political, and educational changes as the country sought to modernize itself, which by most definitions at the time meant to become more like the West. For instance, the Constitutional Revolution of Iran which lasted from approximately 1906 to 1911, sought to limit the authority of the Shah and to create a more democratic government. What is perhaps not well known is the amount of participation that women played in this movement, or the impact it had on them. Leading up to the Constitutional Revolution, Iranian women participated in the Tobacco Boycott of 1890’s, a protest of the Qajar Dynasty granting concessions and granting a monopoly of the tobacco industry to foreign interests. During the Tobacco Boycott, Iranian women engaged in public protests, and even violent attacks of public officials (Paidar, p 50-51). Then, between 1905 and 1910 secret societies were formed that were devoted to the formation of a constitutional government. In these secret societies women played an important role in the dissemination of information and protests (Paidar, 52-53). Many of the women who participated in the Constitutional Revolution were nationalists like their male counterparts. Yet, women, as a group, also began to form their own opinions, through the use of their communication networks and secret societies, about the state of women in Iran and the direction that modernization should take in regard to both women and the nation as a whole (Sanasarian p. 21-23). They were drawn to the call for equality and democracy because at the time, women were barred from most enterprises outside of the home, not allowed an education, not allowed to vote, were by law subjugated under the authority of men, and not granted liberty (Sanasarian, p. 21-23). Under these constraints, the agenda for the emancipation of women was conceptualized and communicated, with much of the primary focus placed on the education of women and girls. Thus, women both participated in the Constitutional Revolution of Iran and were influenced by struggle for a more democratic society.

During the Constitutional Revolution of Iran, Sadiqah Dawlatabadi (spelling varies depending on source) emerges as a major actor in both the development of Iran and was a focal member of the Women’s Movement. When Dawlatabadi was eighteen years old she was one of the founding members of the National Ladies Society in 1910, whose primary goal was the nationalization of Iran. The members also held concerns of the state of women in Iran, though they “blamed [the state of women] on the exploitation of Iran by foreign countries” (Sansarian, p. 35; Paidar, p. 69). Dawlatabadi was also the first female manager of the feminist Iranian newspaper Zaban-e Zanan or Women’s Voice first published in 1919, as well as the Persian representative for the International Advisory Council in 1926. Dawlatabi was an avid advocate for the literacy of girls and women, as is evinced by the pursuits of the Zaban-e Zanan, which “advocated the education and economic independence of women” (Sansarian, p. 32-33).  She did so at much risk to both herself, and the women who worked with her. Many of the women’s inequality issues that Dawlatabadi and many others fought for during the first quarter of the 20th Century came to pass after the Pahlavi dynasty came to power in the mid-1920s.

Thus far, for the framing of the first quarter of the 20th century in Iran I have had to rely on secondary sources, and although I was not able to locate a translated version of one of Dawlatabi’s own works, I have nonetheless located an article written in 1926, by an American woman who met Dawlatabadi in Paris named Mary Winsor. Winsor’s article titled “The Blossoming of a Persian Feminist” was published in the National Women’s Party magazine titled Equal Rights. Winsor’s article was primarily an expository composition, but she does report specific details from Dawlatabadi and some of it is even in Dawlatabadi’s own words. Given the difficulty of locating any works written by Iranian women from Iran during this period, this exposition of Winsor’s is quite valuable.

First and foremost, the existence of Winsor’s article provides evidence that Dawlatabadi did actually in fact live, that she was from Iran, and that she did fight for the rights of women. This is very important because many primary sources and historiographies have omitted the presence and activity of women during this period of history in Iran. For example, Edward G. Brown reconstructed the events that led up to, through and after the Constitutional Revolution in Iran in the book titled The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909 (1910), by piecing together telegrams from Iran to two newspaper companies in England: Times and Reuters. In none of the accounts was there any mention of the involvement of women, either in the revolution or in the telegrams. However, Sir Edward Grey, who was noted to be an active participant or at least an observer in the revolution both by Brown, Eliz Sanasarian, the author of The Women’s Rights Movement in Iran: Mutiny, Appeasement, and Repression from 1900 to Khomeini, and Parvin Paidar the author of Women and the Political Process in Twentieth-Century Iran, all identify women in the revolution. Both Sanasarian and Paidar reported that women were highly active in the revolution and that the London Times published a response of Sir. Edward Grey’s to Iranian women with the Russian intervention in Iran in 1908 (Paidar, p. 58; Sansarian, p. 20-21). The omission of women from this important period in Iranian history not only fails to capture the extent to which the Iranian people had to work together to accomplish their goals, but also fails to recognize the role Iranian women played in shaping Iran’s modernization. The existence of Winsor’s article in which she writes about Dawlatabadi is evidence that Iranian women were politically active during that period of history in Iran and is also further evidence of Dawlatabadi’s actions in Iran during the Constitutional Revolution.

The second function that Winsor’s article serves is to place Dawlatabadi in the mid-1920s as an advocate for women’s rights and it reveals a radical shift in Iranian thoughts about women. Winsor states that she met Dawlatabadi in Paris while “lobbying the International Woman’s Suffrage Alliance”, and they began to share experiences and interests. Winsor learned from Dawlatabadi that the Iranian government had sent her to Paris to get an education so that she could become the “inspector of a girl’s school in Tehran” (Winsor). When the Constitutional Revolution took place and Dawlatabadi helped to found the National Ladies Society in 1910, one of their primary goals was to secure the education of girls and women. Winsor’s observation reveals that in 1926, just over a decade later, the government not only sanctioned Dawlatabadi’s education, but was also promoting the education of girls. Further, Dawlatabadi was not in the “home” but was rather in another country to be trained for work outside of the home. This transformation of policy and social thinking is made more salient when Winsor relates Dawlatabadi’s own education. Winsor reported that Dawlatabadi told her what her father told her regarding the education of girls:

At six years of age her father said to her: “Thou knowest I do not love girls, for I do not think that they can study and acquire knowledge as men do. But the mother was enchanted that thou wert a girl and adores thee. For this reason I will bring up my daughter as I bring up my sons and will provide an education by one of the most eminent professors in Persia for all of you together. If thou studiest well, I will cherish thee as a son, but if not, I shall write in my journal that I do not love girls” (Winsor)

As can be seen in this short passage which are reported to be Dawlatabadi’s own words, education was typically a male occupation, and that in order for her to be educated she would have to be raised as a male. Further, women were typically not thought capable of learning, at least not in the same capacity as men could and she had to be trained privately because there was not a school for her to attend. What is perhaps not easy to gleam from Winsor’s account is that Dawlatabadi’s family was not one of the lower classes. Her father was “a priest of a high rank, holding the position second only to the Grand Priest of Tehran,” which is what allowed him to be able to educate his daughter in the manner in which he did. However, not all families had the capacity to do such, so many girls remained uneducated. Winsor’s article does not trace all of the steps that were taken by women seeking emancipation, or even Dawlatabadi herself. Nonetheless the article reveals that the actions of the women who were seeking emancipation in Iran had already had an effect, as at the time Dawlatabadi was in Paris preparing to be the inspector of the girl’s school in Tehran.

Winsor seems to have been particularly interested in Dawlatabadi’s publication Zaban-e Zana, Women’s Voice because she dedicated a third of her article to it. Winsor notes that Dawlatabadi had to obtain a “license to establish a feminist newspaper” while she was in Tehran. As was noted earlier, Dawlatabadi utilized the publication to promote women’s issues such as economic and educational equality, so the publication was no stranger to going against the grain. Winsor takes notice of a particular question that was published in Zaban-e Zanan about the veiling of women that caught the attention and retaliation of the religious elite. The question the publication asked the priests was: “Why are the peasant women allowed to go about unveiled, and why do they enjoy entire liberty?” (Winsor). The day after the publication her brother, who had assumed the position their father had held, met with Dawlatabadi on behalf of the priests and informed her that she had to give up on the paper. After which, when Dawlatabadi questioned her brother she was told “that it was not for her to ask the reason but to obey” for two reasons: she was under the authority of her brother who had become the head of the family after their father’s death, and that was the social order. However, as was shown in Winsor’s exposition, a male servant was allowed to question his ‘master’ because as Winsor explains “[t]he servant being a man was of course a privileged character” because he was a ‘man’ (Winsor). The response of Dawlatabadi’s brother was a prime example of the social norms she questioned, as she was not free, she was not equal. She wanted to know why but there were no answers to her questions, only opposition. Winsor’s article goes on to show that in order for Dawlatabadi to continue her publication without jeopardizing her brother’s position that she had to disown him and that she in fact did make that sacrifice. She continued both to question and to confront the socially stratified system. In the very next issue of Zaban-e Zanan she wrote an article titled “Long Live the Freedom of the Press”, wherein she blamed traditional thinkers for the death of liberty in Iran (Winsor). After that publication, Zaban-e Zanan published 2,500 copies each Saturday and influenced both women and men for the next two years about the issues that concerned women, in particular education, veiling, familial and economic. Evinced by the fact that Dawlatabadi studying abroad in Paris, her message was both heard and listened to, and the government was working to educate women and girls.

This is not meant to be taken as a complete history of the Women’s Movement, it was only my hope to shed some light on some of the causes, conditions and outcomes of the struggle women in Iran faced in securing their independence. Even with the lack of access to the primary documents written by the women who participated in Women’s Rights Movement during the first half of the 20th Century, there is no doubt that they were both politically active and influential in shaping Iran. Much like in American history, when women became involved in the national struggle for independence and democracy, those concepts conflicted with the reality of the subjugation faced by women. They used what they learned in the struggle for nationalism and applied it to the emancipation of women. One of the primary goals of the women’s movement was securing the education of girls and women, and by the mid-1920s, through perseverance and dedication they had helped the country takes steps toward that end. Those who were fortunate enough to have been educated prior to this transition, like Sadiqah Dawlatabadi, were the vanguards of the Women’s Rights Movement. These activists published many newspapers and periodicals, created secret societies, formed communication networks, taught one another, and risked death to help ‘modernize’ the nation of Iran,  by fighting for liberty and equality for both Iran and women. Mary Winsor’s article in the National Woman’s Party’s magazine Equal Rights helped to confirm much of what I discovered in secondary sources. She provided an insightful glimpse into the mind and the life of a woman who was one of the pioneers of feminism in Iran, and conveyed the message of how far Iran had come toward the emancipation of women, which began with their education.


Atabaki, Touraj, ed. Iran in the 20th Century: Historiography and Political Culture. New York:

I.B Touris & Co Ltd, 2009.

Brown, Edward G. The Persian Revolution of 1905-1909. Cambridge: Cambridge University

Press, 1910

Paidar, Parvin. Women and the Political Process in Twentieth-Century Iran. New York:

Cambridge University Press, 1995.

Sanasarian, Eliz. The Women’s Rights Movement in Iran: Mutiny, Appeasement, and Repression from 1900 to Khomeini. New York: Praeger Publishers, 1982.

Winsor, Mary. “The Blossoming of a Persian Feminist” in Equal Rights, vol. XIII, no. 36 (Oct.

1926). Woman’s World in Qajar Iran Digital Archive. Middle Eastern Division, Widener Library, Harvard Library. (accessed Dec. 11, 2013). 

When Justification Is Not Sufficient

I think it is ironic how people pick and choose what of a religion to honor when it suits them to do so, but ignore the parts that do not fit so well with their perspective. I have studied several cultures who practice several religions and I have repeatedly encountered the sobering fact that regardless of what is written it is interpreted in many ways by many people. Not that I am not arguing that religion is bad, here I am just asserting an observation: If a person looks hard enough, they will find some line or other in a religious text to justify an act; or likewise to un-justify an act.

The point is that there is a difference between practicing a religion and “using” a religion and religion can be highly dangerous when it is used, no matter what religion it is.

For example: It was used to justify slavery, to justify the subjugation women, to justify colonization, to justify witch hunts and burning, and now it is being used to foster hatred of people who choose or are with someone of the same sex. In all of these cases religion has been “used” as a tool to justify some form of oppression which drives a wedge between human beings. To be fair, religion has also been the impetus for much good in the world, but for the sake of this conversation wherein the propagation of hostile views are being justified by religion, I feel that these points bear a lot of weight.

Regardless of the justification for it; hatred is still hatred and oppression is still oppression. Religion, as a moral standard does not give people a blank check for their behaviors, they are still morally responsible for their actions however ‘right’ they believe themselves to be.

To Kill or to Let Die: That is the Question

In this essay I will be comparing and contrasting two ethical frameworks to ascertain both their relevance and effectiveness in deciding how to choose an action in a given situation. The two ethical frameworks being considered are virtue ethics as described by Aristotle and deontology as described by Immanuel Kant, and they will both be used to analyze a moral dilemma concerned with the theme of killing or letting die. However, before evaluating the dilemma it may be prudent to summarize the ethical frameworks first.

Virtue ethics is an agent-centered ethical framework through which its practitioners seek to both determine and to develop the morality of individuals. Whereas an action-centered ethical framework such as Deontology is concerned with the act in which an agent engages, an agent-centered framework is concerned with the character of the agent. According to Rosalind Hursthouse in Normative Virtue Ethics, a virtue is “a character trait that a human needs for eudaimonia, to flourish or live well” (p. 130). Virtues such as wisdom, honesty, compassion, loyalty and justice, when practiced, aim the agent’s actions at achieving this eudomainonia or happiness, which Aristotle believed was the “chief good” and the ultimate end of all pursuits (p. 118). According to Aristotle, a moral person is one who has the ‘habit’ of acting in accordance with virtues or excellences (p. 120), as oppose to their converses which are considered vices and are thus immoral.

The practitioners of deontology on the other hand seek to classify the morality of the decisions and behaviors of an agent. This action-centered ethical framework is neither concerned with the consequences of an action, nor of the character of the individual who acts. Rather, it is concerned with the reasoning that precedes and compels an action.  Immanuel Kant established what he termed the Categorical Imperative in his work titled Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, which is a rubric for evaluating the morality of a given action. According to Kant, an action is only moral if it is done from duty, not concerned with the consequences of the action but a particular maxim (an intention or policy of behavior), and that the action is necessitated out of respect for the law (p. 107). The law, according to Kant, is determined by subjecting each act to the Categorical Imperative; where the universalizability of the act as a law is considered first, and if it can be universalized then it is determined whether the act will use any human as a mere means or also as an end (Woody Lecture Notes, Nov. 14). If the act passes both of these tests then it is considered to be moral.

The moral dilemma that I will consider through both ethical frameworks is as follows:

A group of four friends, all in perfect health and doing well in college, are on a hiking trip when they are overrun and captured by a gang bent on testing the limits of human morality. The gang randomly selects one of the four friends and gives her an ultimatum; either kill one of her friends, and her the other two will be set free, or all four of them will be killed by the gang.

At first glance, from both ethical frameworks, if she chooses to kill one of her friends it will be an immoral decision. The virtue of justice will not permit the violation of a person’s right to life, so it is not moral to kill from the stand point of virtue ethics. The act of killing a friend to save one’s self is using the friend as a mere means so, it is also not moral for her to kill in this instance from a deontological standpoint. At first glance it appears that the only moral option is to omit killing one and to let them all die.

However, if she omits killing one to save her and two friends from being killed, there is also the potential that she is making an immoral decision.  If by omission she violates the virtue of compassion for the two friends who would otherwise be saved by her killing the one, then here the lack of compassion is immoral. This is a potential interpretation of virtue ethics as proposed by Aristotle because a hierarchy of virtues is not provided discerning which virtues take precedence over the others. She also has a duty to help those in need when she has the capacity to do so. By omitting to kill the one she thus lets her and her friends die, she would make the immoral decision of not helping her friends, who have the need to not be killed, that otherwise could avoid being killed, if she were to kill the one. Thus, at a second glance it appears that of either decision she can make that neither is moral from either ethical framework. However, there may be a way to reconcile one or both of the frameworks with the current situation so that a moral decision can be derived.

Both virtue ethics and deontology are situated such that they are capable of addressing the nuances of individual situations, so it may be possible to illuminate a virtue or a universal maxim to derive a solution to this moral dilemma. If, a universal maxim could be derived as such that; if required to kill one to save three, then kill one, if and only if, all four sincerely agree to kill one and the one is agreed upon by all four; then kill one to save three. Wherein neither the one being killed, nor the one killing is being treated as a mere means because each is being respected “as a rational person with his or her own maxims” and they are also “seek[ing] to foster other’s plans and maxims by sharing in their ends” (O’Neill, p.  114), the ends being saving three. The problem with this solution however, is that although it has met with all the conditions for the Categorical Imperative, as it is both universalizable and avoids the treatment of anyone as a mere means, it nonetheless reveals that if this specific of a maxim can be morally permissive just because the situation deems it necessary, then the ethical framework is not restrictive enough to delineate between moral and immoral actions. In other words, it does not seem moral to be able to make up laws for each new situation because if it were the case that this was permissible then anything could potentially be rationalized as a moral act.

The outcome of the analysis of these two ethical frameworks, Virtue Ethics and Deontology when applied to the dilemma of kill or let die, has revealed that there is no decision that is more moral right than another. The point of an ethical framework is to help us humans figure out what we ought to do when we encounter dilemmas and however improbable this situation is to arise in most of our lives, it is nonetheless possible. Furthermore, variants of this scenario wherein a group has to decide between killing a minority of the group to save a majority of the group are perhaps more frequent, and in those situations the constraints of this scenario may still hold. This scenario has revealed that when a group is confronted with a situation like this, where a choice has to be made between killing or letting die there is no simple answer, no quick fix, no easy solution, and there may not be a correct answer. What is important to note, is that while these ethical frameworks have proved to be inadequate at deciphering a more morally right choice in this scenario, they nonetheless show that we are morally responsible for our actions and that decision of this magnitude cannot be made lightly.

Works Cited

Aristotle. “Selections from the Nicomachean Ethics.” The Elements of Philosophy:

Readings from Past to Present. Ed. Tamar Szabo Gendler, et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 114-127. Print.

Kant, Immanuel. “Selections from Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals.” 1785. The

Elements of Philosophy: Readings from Past to Present. Ed. Tamar Szabo Gendler, et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 105-111. Print.

O’Neill, Onora. “A Simplified Account of Kant’s Ethics.” 1980. The Elements of Philosophy:

Readings from Past to Present. Ed. Tamar Szabo Gendler, et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 112-114. Print.

Woody, Andrea. Philosophy 100 Lecture. University of Washington, Seattle, WA, November 14, 2013.  

The Function and Mechanics of the Elegy

Death is perhaps the most common and well known element of human existence, but how we choose to conceive of, deal with and grieve death and the embodiment of loss are not. Many, if not all religions have developed interpretations and explanations of death and what happens after death, and every culture has developed some form of ritual surrounding death. Death is a shapeless form, a depth that seems to have no bottom and though we have sought to understand and interpret its farthest reaches, to penetrate its darkness as if it were a mirror that would reveal to us who we truly are it has remained an enigma. Death has been despised and worshiped, feared and celebrated for millennia. Death has fascinated human beings since we have been able to question our own mortality. And it is our mortality which makes life so precious. Nothing seems to define the boundaries of life more precisely than death. So, it is arguably the void that was left in the wake of death that stimulated society’s desire to seek an understanding of it, and at the heart of this evolution of thought surrounding death have been religions, authors, poets and the elegy. Kelly S. Walsh the author of The Unbearable Openness of Death: Elegies of Rilke and Wolf states that “With absence, death and the finitude of human existence recognized as insuperable facts, the modernist poetics nevertheless possesses an irrepressible compulsion to give some figure to what has been lost” (Walsh 2). According to the Encyclopedia of Death & the Human Experience, the poetic form of the elegy emerged in the ancient Greek civilization and has continued to evolve as it has been assimilated throughout the centuries by different cultures (Dennis). The primary function of an elegy is to process love, loss, longing and grief in lyrical form, but there is also a secondary function; to cultivate these emotions in their audiences. However, for an elegy to achieve its primary and secondary functions there are two conditions which must be met; the author must be captured by the thought of death, and the author must utilize language in such a way as to instill the feelings of love, longing and grief.

Many people and cultures throughout history have held to the ideal that a life is a narrative, and as such the story of one’s life is of vital importance. Humans as a species are relatively young on the evolutionary scale so far as our biological structure is concerned, but the human constructs of culture and society have continued to evolve for millennia. The essence of the story is perhaps the sharpest defining feature of human existence. Without stories, the transmission of what had been learned from one generation to the next would prove nearly impossible, especially given the complexity of human culture. Because we group together for survival, and because we remember the stories of our lives and the lives of those we share our lives with, we have had to develop ways to deal with and process, the loss and longing wrought by death. This is in part both how and why the poetic form of the elegy has evolved over time because paralyzing effect of loss. Through the lamenting process of an elegy poets have sought to find and bring closure to the narrative of one’s life so that grieving can come to fruition and their story can be passed on with meaning.

The shape of this story has evolved to meet the needs of the culture and the times of the poet. A short sampling of authors such as Rainer Maria Rilke, Wilfred Owen, Federico Garcia Lorca, Walt Whitman, Anna Akhmatova, and Virginia Wolf will reveal this to be an accurate assessment. For instance, “Lorca in his Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias” decided that it was better to focus on the story of the individual’s life rather than to convolute it with any imaginary interpretations of what the afterlife—which he rejected—would hold for that individual (Lorca 582-83). While Rilke in “The First Elegy” explored what life would look and feel like for an individual after death as he compared his new life to the life he had lived as a human (Rilke 5-11). And Wilfred Owen in his “Dulce Et Decorum Est” focused on the imagery and emotion felt at the moment of one’s passing into death, not pretty but painful and grotesque (Owen 188-89). The similarity that all these elegies share is the importance of the story. The story helps us to understand the life of an individual or a people, to gain a sense of the times at their death, to remember the trauma of their passing, and to cope with the loss, which all helps to bring closure to their narrative.

Given the necessity of a complete story the reasoning for the elegy makes sense, but the authoring of these stories in elegiac form would not have been possible if the poets were not captured by thoughts of death in the first place. Edmond Burke’s A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, first published in 1759, suggests that the human mind becomes enraptured in “Astonishment” because of what he called the “sublime”, a delight in the terror resulting from the idea of “pain and danger”, which are portends of death (Burke 131-33). Based on Burke’s analysis of these particular moments and using the elegies written by Owen, Lorca and Rilke as a basis for argument, it can be derived that death has captured the minds of these authors. This phenomenon can be evinced with Lorca’s use of repetition language in the opening stanza of “Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias”:

At five in the afternoon.
It was exactly five in the afternoon.
A boy brought the white sheet
at five in the afternoon.
A frail of lime ready prepared
at five in the afternoon.
The rest was death, and death alone
at five in the afternoon. (Lorca 577).

The precise moment Lorca learned of Ignacio’s passing was burned into his mind and subsequently so it is also etched into the mind of the audience as they are brought back to that moment over and over again. Of course this is not exactly what Burke suggested by the idea of death, however, Rilke wrote “fruitful by now? Isn’t it time our loving freed/us from the one we love and we, trembling, endured:/as the arrow endures the string, and in that gathering/momentum/becomes more than itself. Because to stay is to be nowhere.//” showing that the loss of someone else was a death to the one left to mourn (Rilke 8-9). With this interpretation it can be seen that receiving news of a loved one’s passing has the power to astonish and to instill a sense of the sublime and further, that death has captured their consciences.

If, the primary function of the elegy is to help the authors grieve the loss of loved ones and to make sense of death then, the secondary function is to instill in their audience the emotions they feel. In fact, this is what Kelly S. Walsh purports in The Unbearable Openness of Death: Elegies of Rilke and Wolf. While describing the insufficiencies of language to adequately address death and loss, Walsh states “the work of art becomes both the process of reopening the wound—using the pain to make something of death and transience—and the consolation that leaves readers profoundly affected and dissatisfied” (Walsh 3). Wilfred Owen even asked us to take his place and envision death as if we were experiencing the death of a friend:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, (Owen 189).

Thus, catapulting the reader into the carnage that is war, into the incomprehensible, where no words can adequately describe the emotions felt, but emotions are felt nonetheless. At this junction not only is the author caught in a single moment, in astonishment, but so is the reader. According to Burke, the terror of the sublime can only be achieved through the obscurity of a situation and “The proper means of conveying the affections of the mind from one to another, is by words” because they force us to use our own imaginations, thus empathizing with the author and the subject (Burke 134).

The imagery that is employed in an elegy is important because as the result of the inadequacies of language, it is the imagery that the audience assimilates into themselves and relates to with their own emotions. Sigmund Freud wrote a complex analysis of the usage of some specific types of imagery that cause terror in his publication entitled The Uncanny, which will lend itself to understanding how a sense of Burke’s “sublime” can be transmitted from an author to a reader. According to Freud, the “uncanny” is something that was once known (homely), which was then forgotten or repressed (unhomely) and has now reemerged, and it is the reemergence which instills a sense of terror (Freud 134). Further, the “uncanny” emerges in the space where reality and fantasy are blurred, where the author exposes but refrains from completely allowing an image or being the full credence of existence, and is therefore left obscure (Freud 150). To Freud the essence of the uncanny stems from “Infantile” experiences, and can reemerge in the “idea of the ‘double’ (the Doppleganger)” which causes the person to “become unsure of his true self” and the self “may thus be duplicated, divided and interchanged” (Freud 141-42). Sufficient doubles are; mirror images, shadows, guardian spirits, ghosts and the soul. Thus, when we read of Rilke’s “Angelic orders” who are juxtaposed with “Every angel’s terrifying” given Freud’s interpretation it can be seen why the angels are terrifying (Rilke 5). Because of the influence of many of the more popular religions in Western culture, angels are usually thought of as being benevolent, or as messengers and guardian spirits, but here Rilke diverges from that interpretation and immediately brings into question our own fears of death and what those beings in the afterlife intend for the order of the living. Images are highly powerful and emotive because they contain all the thoughts and emotions a reader has ever associated with that image without the author having to voice them for us, thus, we see that there can be tremendous power in the obscurity of words to foster the emotions of audiences.

Once the two conditions—a captured mind and a provocative use of language—are met what is left is grieving and telling the story. The elegies of Rilke, Owen and Lorca bring to light what Walsh stated in her analysis of the elegies of Rilke and Wolf, “the conflict between what one should feel and what one actually feels” as they sought to tell the stories of those they loved and to understand death (Walsh 10). Both Lorca and Rilke notice that the Dead’s stories continue on in the lives of those who loved them. Lorca traces his own responses to the deceased, early on stating “I will not see it!” repeatedly, expressing contempt because if he sees the truth then it means the story has concluded (Lorca 578-79). While Rilke suggest with these lines: “as we outgrow our mother’s breast. But we, who need/such great mysteries, whose source of blessed progress/so often is our sadness—could we exist without them?” that the living need the sorrow provided by mourning the dead in order to remain connected to the living, and thus we assimilate and carry on their stories (Rilke 11). This is the task of the elegy, it is in the writing of the elegy and the retelling of the story in a way that makes sense to the author and the society which transmits the story of our loved ones and thus, grieving is achieved. This interpretation of the elegy is perhaps best evinced in Lorca’s “Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias” lines 213 and 214:

Nobody knows you. No. But I sing for you.
For posterity I sing of your profile and grace. (Lorca 583).

Lorca with his insistence that the story of one’s life without adding to it “Because you have died for ever,” and there can be nothing else added, determines that telling the story of passed loved ones is the highest honor we can bestow (Lorca 583). Each life is a narrative and grieving is as much a part of the human experience as birth because death comes to all those who live so, we must, as culture evolves also transmit the lessons we have learned in how to grieve.

I began this analysis of elegies with three questions: “What is the primary function of an elegy and do the intents differ between authors?” and “What are the implications of the imagery utilized within the elegies and further, what does it represent?” and finally, “to discover how language is used in an elegy and why it is important.” I found that the function of an elegy is to process love, loss, longing and grief in lyrical form, but I also discovered a secondary function; to cultivate these emotions in their audiences. It was the latter function that became most interesting because as Rilke suggested, it is grieving which connects us to the rest of the living so, it seems that we as humans are allowed to grieve only through sharing our sorrow. A painting or a movie as Burke points out is inadequate at transmitting passion because it is only with words that the necessary obscurity is harnessed to instill and excite the human heart to the relevant point of sharing grief. It is ironic that human culture and subsequently our literature and poetry evolved through the oral and written transmission of history—the sum of lessons learned—because now we are dependent on words to fully process life and furthermore, death.


Dennis, Michael Robert. “Elegy.” Encyclopedia of Death & the Human Experience. Ed. Clifton D. Bryant and Dennis L. Peck. Vol. 1. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2009. 401-404. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 3 Mar. 2013.

This encyclopedic entry traces the birth and the evolution of the Elegy. Elegiac form has taken many forms as time has passed and different cultures have absorbed the form into their contemporary writing. Most notably elegies tend to focus on subject matter such as love and longing, but also on loss, suffering and grief over the dead and dying. At different times and in different cultures elegies have employed mythical and religious entities, and sought to make contact with the dead, but mostly they have been used as a means to process loss of people and institutions which were dear to the people who wrote them. The encyclopedic entry is useful for this paper because it helps to identify what the uses of an elegy are and why they have been implemented.

Ed. Ashfield, Andrew, and de Bolla, Peter. The Sublime: A Reader in British Eighteenth-Century Aesthetic Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Print.

Edmond Burke’s “A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful” analyzes the difference between the sublime and beauty, providing a standard for sorting the two. The source of the “sublime” is a feeling of terror, an astonishment that captures the mind and does not let it focus on anything else. Death is the greatest of terrors. The obscurity of death and the afterlife, the fact that for most people it is something that is forced upon us and not readily embraced signifies that it has power over us and that is sublime. However, for something to be truly sublime it must be witnessed from a distance, the kind of distance that sight and words convey to us. Burkes propositions provide a basis for analyzing the language and grammar contained within the obscure stanzas of an elegy, whose intent it seems is more to instill a feeling than an understanding.

Freud, Sigmund. The Uncanny. Trans. David McLintock, and Hugh Haughton. New York:
Penguin Books, 2003. Print.

Sigmund Freud traces the sources of The Uncanny the union of what has been repressed and has resurfaced. The uncanny thus transforms into what Burke identified as the paralyzing terror which captivates the mind. Freud identified several causes of the uncanny: omnipotence of thoughts, instantaneous wish-fulfillment, secret harmful forces and the return of the dead. Freud further suggests that there must be a conflict of judgment between reality and fantasy. Utilizing Freud’s analysis of symbolism and how these symbols spur on the evolution of the uncanny, the terror that leads to Burke’s “astonishment,” it may be possible to derive deeper meaning to the symbolism contained within an elegy.

Lorca, Federico Garcia. Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Majias. 1935. The Norton Anthology:
World Literature. Ed. Peter Simon and Coner Sullivan. 3rd ed. Vol. F. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2012. 577-83. Print.

Rilke, Rainer Maria. Duino Elegies and the Sonnets to Orpheus. Trans. A. Poulin Jr. New York: Houghton Miffin, 2005. Print.
Stallworthy, Jon. The Oxford Book of War Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1984. Print.
Walsh, Kelly S. “The Unbearable Openness of Death: Elegies of Rilke and Woolf.” Journal of Modern Literature 32, no. 4, 2009: 1-21,155-156.

This is a complex analysis of the elegies of both Rainer Maria Rilke and Virginia Wolf, which seeks to divulge the meaning of their elegies by dissecting the literary techniques each has utilized in their writing. Walsh suggests that Wolf and Rilke’s elegies embody the modernism characteristic of insufficiency, and that this insufficiency is the inconsistency of grieving without end (Walsh 2). Further, that it is by embracing loss, absence, death and the unknown half of life that true grieving and healing is possible. Walsh claims that the complexity of their eulogies stems from the shortfall of language, which is inadequate to fully describe loss and absence. Thus, because of this shortfall, ambiguous imagery is utilized to blur the lines between this realm and the next. This analysis with the combination of both Freud’s “Uncanny” and Burke’s “Sublime” a deeper analysis of Rilke’s elegies will reveal deeper meaning to the elegies and to why Rilke was captured with the thought of death and the afterlife.

Identity Development: An Inside Job

A story is not just a story when it is literature because it is filled with themes that connect it to a much broader world and utilizes elements that each fulfill a specific purpose, which ultimately conveys messages that reach beyond its pages. This neither means that stories cannot be enjoyable to read, nor that they should always be read to discover the larger social context from which it derives and or it suggests; it implies that there are often deeper meanings than simply what is contained in the sum of the words on the pages. For example, the title of Sherman Alexie’s novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is ironic because truth is relative and three pages into the story the protagonist Junior admits that, “I am not even writing down this story the way I actually talk, because I’d have to fill it with stutters and lisps, and then you’d be wondering why you’re reading a story written by such a retard” (3-4). It seems that Alexie desired to leave room for ambiguity and interpretation and for the audience to reach through the words to discover the crux of the messages contained within the novel. One such message is the dichotomous yet blending identity of poverty for Spokane Indians and the affluence of White-American-Culture through the eyes of Junior, who challenges the stratification of race and class, and confronts racism and resignation by going to a rich-white school to get a white education. Junior’s struggle to find belonging amidst the competing demands of tradition and education that are stressed further by racial discrimination and feelings of betrayal, ultimately suggests that belonging is not necessarily determined extrinsically, but rather must be determined intrinsically by confronting the either/or thinking that has predominated the perception of Indians, if he is to discover his identity and find his both/and belonging.

Junior’s identity is initially derived from his family, who are in a larger context members of the Spokane Tribe, and on an even larger context are Indians who share the identity of being colonized and forced into poverty. In the beginning of the story when Junior is describing his family and the life of Indians on the Spokane Reservation, he reveals the ugly cycle of poverty and identity determination:

It sucks to be poor, and it sucks to feel that you somehow deserve to be poor. You start believing that you’re poor because you’re stupid and ugly. And then you start believing that you’re stupid and ugly because you’re Indian. And because you’re Indian you start believing you’re destined to be poor. It’s an ugly cycle and there’s nothing you can do about it. (Alexie 11)

For Junior it is not pleasant to be impoverished because the poverty itself is the initiator of the self-loathing, which perpetuates a cycle of powerlessness wherein he associates his—and by association all Indians’—position in society as his fault because he is an Indian. Junior claims that his mother would have been a psychology professor and his father would have been a great jazz musician, if it were not for the phenomenon that, “we reservation Indians don’t get to realize our dreams” (Alexie 12), saturating the deterministic cycle. Junior’s identity was shaped by these convoluted, paralyzing and interdependent beliefs based on the extrinsic reality of Postcolonial Indians, which have culled into a tradition largely based on the fundamental feeling of despair; wherein to be an Indian is to be poor, without hope and guilty for the situation.

Junior later discovers that his identity and the identity of Indians are not just determined by familial and tribal connections and tradition, but by what the editor of Spider Woman’s Granddaughters, Paula Gunn Allen termed “educational warfare” (15). Junior’s discovery begins with an observation about his school and the instructors: “you can’t work at our school if you don’t live in the compound. It was like some kind of prison-work farm for our liberal, white vegetarian do-gooders and conservative, white missionary saviors” (Alexie 28). A compound is an enclosure for prisoners and in this sense it is also a metaphor for how Junior sees the school on the reservation, and the Indians are the prisoners who need to be saved from being Indian by the white missionaries—the teachers. Allen argues that for this warfare to be effective, “you have to have your enemy in captivity” and that the “Indian School System” boiled down to not much “more than concentration camps for young people” where they “are taught to view the world only through Protestant-derived, purist, Anglo-American eyes” (Allen 15). Alexie shows this after Junior threw his book at Mr. P, his geometry teacher, when Mr. P reveals to Junior the truth about the reservation school system and the missionaries’ objective: “We were supposed to make you give up being Indian. Your songs and stories and language and dancing. Everything. We weren’t trying to kill Indian people. We were trying to kill Indian culture” (Alexie 33). Thus, it is revealed to Junior that his and ultimately Indian identity was being determined through postcolonial-cultural-genocide, which was occurring on the reservations, in their neighborhoods, at their schools and by people whom they perceived as saviors.

Junior, because of where he was born automatically belonged to this group of people whose identity was being determined by nationality, tribal associations, family ties and cultural genocide, but when he questioned that system with the decision to attend Reardan, a high school in a “rich, white farm town” (Alexie 43), he violated what Beverly Daniel Tatum termed “oppositional social identity” (Tatum 60). The missionary, Mr. P, during the conversation when he reveals the truth about the reservation also shifts his position when he tells Junior, “you’re a bright and shining star…[y]ou’re the smartest kid in the school. And I don’t want you to fail. I don’t want you to fade away. You deserve better” (Alexie 39). Continuing, Mr. P says, “[i]f you stay on this rez, they’re going to kill you. I’m going to kill you. We’re all going to kill you. You can’t fight us forever” (Alexie 41). In that conversation with Mr. P, Junior discovered that he was not destined to be poor, that he deserved more, and that it wasn’t because he was Indian, but rather because of oppression that he felt stupid. But, Junior was an Indian from the rez, who was expected even by his own people to continue this “ugly cycle”—to be Indian was to be poor, stupid and ugly together—anything else was betrayal and a choice not to belong. Tatum asserts that this oppositional identity stems from “anger and resentment that adolescents feel in response to their growing awareness of the systemic exclusion of [subordinate] people from full participation in U.S. society” and that the “stance both protects one’s identity from the psychological assault of racism and keeps the dominant group at a distance” (Tatum 60). Alexie’s novel reveals this when Junior informs his best friend Rowdy that he will be leaving the reservation school to attend Reardan and Rowdy lambasts him: “I HATE you! You SUCK! You WHITE LOVER!” (Alexie 51). For Junior, like many other subordinate and subjugated people(s) who are not of the dominant class, taking part in the “elite” culture’s practices, such as education, and not resigning oneself to stupidity and poverty is to not belong—as Junior noted: “my best friend had become my worst enemy” (Alexie 51)—to the tribe any longer.

However, Junior discovers that he also does not belong to the Reardan tribe because his identity does not match their expectations either because Indians were either thought in the classical sense as savages or in the modern sense as stupid, ugly and poor Indians from the reservation. One of the first things that Junior notices as he enters Reardan is how he is perceived: “Those white kids could not believe their eyes. They stared at me like I was Bigfoot or a UFO. What was I doing at Reardan, whose mascot was an Indian, thereby making me the only other Indian in town?” (Alexie 53). Alexie reveals the propensity of society to be comfortable as long as everything stays in its place, as long as there is not a mixing of the cultures, of the ideas, of identities, but once that has occurred confusion emerges and social pressure is applied to the outsider to reinforce conformity. This of course is identity being determined by factors external of Junior, but that does not change the way he feels inside: “Reardan was the opposite of the rez. It was the opposite of my family. It was the opposite of me. I didn’t deserve to be there. I knew it; all those kids knew it. Indians don’t deserve shit” (Alexie 55). Junior could not belong at the rich white school until he was renamed, which is one of the primary conditions that Allen asserted in the discussion of compulsory Indian education, Junior became Arnold to assimilate into the white culture at Reardan. Thus, Junior/Arnold discovered a dichotomous identity as he sought to discover himself: “I woke up on the reservation as an Indian and somewhere on the road to Reardan, I became something less than Indian. And once I arrived at Reardan, I became something less than less than Indian” (Alexie 80). Because his identity was being determined by external factors he either had to be Junior on the reservation, or Arnold at Reardan, but not both.
Yet, because of Junior’s resilience not to give in to the social pressure to conform to the conventional perceptions and confronting the either/or thinking that has predominated the perception of Indians, he is able to make friends and discover belonging at Reardan. Chimamanda Adichie, the author of Half of a Yellow Sun, in an speech given on Ted Talks argued that the “Danger of a Single Story” is not that stereotypes are inaccurate, it is that they are only part of the truth. The stereotypes that Junior/Arnold faced and subsequently all Indians in America is the idea that Indians are stupid, ugly and poor and belong on the reservation. However, when Junior confronts his science teacher Mr. Dodge, and asserts that he knows more about “petrified wood” (Alexie 81), he challenges the perception that Indians are stupid. When Junior/Arnold starts dating Penelope, one of the most attractive girls at Reardan, he challenges the perception that Indians are ugly. And when Junior/Arnold makes the varsity squad on the Reardan basketball team and leads them against the reservation team, he establishes that he is not worthless. All three of these things combined assert that Junior/Arnold does not only belong on the reservation. In effect, what Alexie reveals through Junior/Arnold’s resistance and by inserting a subordinate people’s personality into white culture, is a direct challenge to the omission of postcolonial-conquered people in literature that Edward W. Said argued in the essay “Narrative and Social Space”. By challenging the stereotypes and the “single story,” Junior/Arnold effectively replaces the omission with stories of his own. The perception of Indians both for the dominant culture—White America—and the Indians of America was changed because now as the result of Junior/Arnold’s perseverance, a multi-layered story exists to contradict the stereotypes.

The “Part-Time Indian,” Junior on the rez and Arnold at Reardan was a dichotomy forged in essentialism, but the protagonist in Alexie’s novel, belonged in both places, with both peoples and at the same time neither individually. He was both Indian and intelligent. He also was both poor and deserved more, and this did not fit into any rubric they had in either place. Ultimately, Junior’s identity was determined from within himself and not from exterior factors. This of course is antagonistic of what Paula Gunn Allen wrote in the introduction to the anthology Spider Woman’s Granddaughter, concerning mixing: “This rigid need for impermeable classificatory boundaries is reflected in turn in the existence of numerous institutional, psychological, and social barriers designed to prevent mixture from occurring” (3). Alexie challenged this perception with Junior’s both/and position of the reservation and Reardan. Perhaps the best example of this is when Junior and his family are at the graveyard to clean the graves of his grandmother, Eugene, and Mary when he comes to the realization that he did not only belong to one tribe:

I realized that, sure, I was a Spokane Indian. I belonged to that tribe. But I also belonged to the tribe of American immigrants. And to the tribe of basketball player. And to the tribe of bookworms…And the tribe of boys who really missed their best friends. It was a huge realization. (Alexie 210-211)

Through the struggles of loss; feeling like, being called and treated like a traitor; and self-discovery, Junior at last saw himself in a much broader context of belonging that was more than what the exterior could convey, it was an inside job. His identity—his sense of belonging was shaped by what he valued and what he enjoyed doing, by the struggles he shared with others, by loss, and by choice. It was not until Junior got to know himself that he truly felt he deserved to belong, and this is one of the many messages that Sherman Alexie conveyed in the novel, though albeit said, beyond just the words on the pages of The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
<h5 style=”text-align: center;”


Alexie, Sherman and Ellen Forney. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. New
York: Little Brown and Company: Hachette Book Group, 2007. Kindle File.

Allen, Paula Gunn. Introduction to Spider Woman’s Granddaughters: Traditional Tales and
Comtemporary Writing by Native American Women. New York: Random House Publishing Group , 1989. Print.

Said, Edward W. Narrative and Social Spaces. From Critical Theory:A Reader for Literary and
Cultural Studies. Edited by Robert Dale Parker New York: Oxford University Press. Print.

Tatum, Beverly Daniel. Identity Development in Adolescence. From Why are all the Black Kids
Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? New York: Basic Books, 1997. 52-74.

Small fish in a LARGE pond? Make Waves!

It is not easy jumping into a large pond with your dreams in one hand and your concerns in the other while everyone else and their mamma is doing the exact same thing. There is no reason to feel like you are not supposed to feel just the way that you feel because there is nothing wrong with feeling uncomfortable about doing something that is new and is usually, by definition scary. So, just what is the solution to feeling insignificant? What can be done about being caught off guard by unforeseen circumstances while pursuing your dreams?  And how are these two questions and their answers related? I will answer these questions and many more.


I have never experienced anything quite so, humbling as walking onto the campus of University of Washington for the first day of class.  I finally understand the saying; “Small fish in a large pond,” because over 40,000 students converged into a seemingly endless wave flooding Red Square and classes. I just graduated from North Seattle Community College at the end of last spring and when I graduated I do not think that there were many people on the campus who either did not know me, or know of me. Now that may sound pomp, but not only do I tend to stand out like a sore thumb nowadays, but I was also on the student government and a hip hop head on campus. It is difficult not to be noticed when I do the types of things that I used to be terrified to do.


However, I have not always been popular, or as full of courage as I have been these last couple of years. In truth, I used to be a terrified, scrawny, nobody that people could forget just after I walked away. I could not stand up in front of any one and speak, could not speak to girls, and I used to lack the courage to even set goals, let alone to pursue them. I was as afraid of success as I was of failure, it was a true dilemma. There were many things that led to the change that occurred in my life, but I will start with two sayings that I have now fused themselves into my bones:


1)       “I got sick and tired of being sick and tired,” and this was important to me because I finally reached a point in my life that I was fed up with complaining about continuously ending up in the same position.


2)      “When the pain outweighs the pain then we change,” and this was important because it means that when the pain of remaining the same is greater than the pain of doing something different, then it becomes less painful to do something new and we may then begin to change.


These two short and fairly simple sayings were simple enough to get through the fog that was my denial and yet complex enough to provide me with some real benefit. Yet, just being sick and tired of being sick and tired is not quite enough to effect any real change. It is like going onto a diet and jumping back off of it as soon as the weight is lost, only to regain the weight again because none of the long term habits have been revised. For a change to truly take hold and remain consistent, it must not only be sustainable, but it also has to have purpose behind it. That purpose is the direction the goals direct us into.


So, in effect, what I am saying is that for any change to become permanent, there has to be a goal attached to it and further that that goal must not have a completion date to it. I know that this seems counter intuitive, because the usual interpretation of a goal is that it is something to be achieved. However, you may decide to set a goal, like I did many times, actually achieve the goal, and do like I have done over and over again, and revert back to the old behavior once the goal was accomplished. So, the goal must have an achievement date, but for the purposes of manifesting the type of change that we are attempting to make, this needs to be a living goal that never fully comes to an end.


Yet, for a goal to truly take shape, you will have to get down to the roots, the causes and conditions to set a goal that will meet the requirements of what the problem truly is. Otherwise, the goal will answer something that is not the problem, if it answers anything at all. The problem that I had with feeling insignificant was not really that I felt unnoticed, in reality, it was more that I felt lonely. You see the amount of people was not actually that important, it was the quality of the relationships that I had. I will tell you from experience, you can know everyone in a large room and still feel alone. Being a creature, a human being that derives the necessary bonds from being connected with others, that we need the connections formed through relationships. Thus, my goal became to manifest life-long and healthy relationships with people that I was truly invested into their lives.


It is perhaps an ironic occurrence, but one cannot have friends if one is not a friend to others. That is why the essence of my goal was not to earn friends but to actually be a friend to others. It was not until I formed the initial goal, that I truly began to envision why I was so lonely; I had not learned how to be a friend to others. To be a real friend to another human being entails first, listening to them. This is more than just hearing them speak and waiting for your turn to jump in. It requires that you make the time and invest the energy to digest what their opinions, hopes, sorrows and dreams are, to question their assertions and respond to their concerns. Being friends with someone is not just about being heard because relationships are symbiotic in nature consisting of both giving and receiving what we need; each other.


The next component of being a friend, having friends and keeping them is the keeping of your promises. Morals govern our own actions and they also help us to govern our collective actions. And what is requisite for the nurturing of any relationship is that which is the basis of morality; honesty. Honesty entails the honoring of your promises. Without these two conditions being fulfilled, then there can actually be no relationship because without honesty we can never share our true selves or know anyone else’s true self; and without honoring our promises, then what we promise equates to lies and destroys the relationships we have. And without relationships our groups and consequentially all of society with it crumbles and is why honesty is the basis of all morality.


Society is such that we are taught and we learn how to protect that which is most venerable about us. Ironically, we tend to protect that which makes us most human. We protect that which makes us most unique and interesting to others; our idiosyncrasies and nuances, the secret thoughts that reveal our true character, our dreams. And instead of presenting this to the world we learn how to conceal this and put on a cookie-cutter-personality-face so that we can fit in the world and not stick out too much. And while this is a strategy that tends to work to help us survive the tumultuous gauntlet that is public life, it is also insanely difficult to learn how to shut it off. Thus, what tends to happen is that this front, this mask that we put on for the world, we continue to wear for our friends and they do not get to know who we really are because we are afraid to let them into our worlds. Sometimes it gets so bad that we can even forget who we really are. And if we do not know who we are, then how can we share ourselves with someone else? If we cannot share ourselves with someone else, then how can we be a friend? And if we cannot be a friend, then how can we have friends? These are important questions to consider as you think about this mask you wear for the world.


I effect what these masks do for us is to keep the world at a distance. However, therein lies the problem, it keeps the world at a distance and leaves us isolated from the people of the world, which is the opposite of what we truly want. This is the quintessential example of a paradox that we ourselves create whereby, the thing that we want most is also the thing that we are most afraid to allow because we are afraid that we will not be accepted for who we really are. We are afraid that we are not worth loving. I have found though, that when I have taken off my mask and let people know who I really am, that I have not been ostracized, I have not been laughed at, and I have actually been accepted and loved. This is how and when I started to have real relationships, relationships without the masks that I have trained myself to put on for the world so that I can fit in. The crazy part is that the world hates those masks and is just dying for us to take them off because we have been craving for contact with real human beings for so long we have forgotten what it feels like.



By this point you may be asking; “this is all fine and well, but where did you get the courage to approach others from?” And this is an important question because for many of us, and especially me, the act of introducing me to others used to paralyze me. To see me or to know me today, most people, unless they knew me when I was a teenager, would never believe that I was the shiest person you were likely to have ever met. Anyone who has ever witnessed me performing a piece of Spoken Word or a Hip Hop song would blatantly deny that I had ever been shy. However, I used to be terrified to be in front of a crowd of any size and do anything, and that includes walking to class. I used to get so worked up in what I thought other people saw, that I would trip over my own feet attempting to walk a straight line, let alone putting me on a stage to perform something that I had written myself. Nonetheless, that is precisely who I was when I was younger. I was terrified that people would see the chinks in my mask and discover who I truly was, a scared little boy crying out for affection.


Anyone who has ever felt like the all-seeing eye of the public was focused on them, like I did, may think that it is counter intuitive to assert that most people do not focus enough on others to actually notice all of our idiosyncrasies. Psychologists call this the “Spotlight Effect,” whereby we think that others notice all the little minute details about ourselves, but that is just not the case. There is just too many stimuli in the world to them focus on those minute details. For me, this was a true paradox because I felt that nobody noticed me at all and yet, at the same time I was also terrified that they noticed me too much. It is quite comical when I think about it now and I can chuckle, but back then it was the crucible of Hell for me.  What I am getting at, is that I was not the center of the universe no matter how much I wanted to be. Nobody focused on me like they focus on the sun in the morning as it raises above the horizon, no, I was just plain old average Michael.


Being sick and tired of being sick and tired, having the pain outweigh the pain, and dying for some change I let all of my fear go and threw away my masks, all of them. At first, it was weird and horrifying, and was like walking around naked. I was like a hatchling bird poking its head in and out of its shell as I broke though getting a little taste of freedom and then diving back into the complacent warmth. They say that all you need is the faith of a mustard seed. Well, all it took was that first taste of liberation and I was hooked. I was like being woke from the Matrix (I took the green pill) and the world became brand new. For the first time in my life I was able to be myself and I could not go back if I wanted to. And that is when the strangest and most unforeseen result started to happen, when the people I met loved this contact with a real human being that they could relate to, I was accepted on the spot.


So, I started breaking all the rules that I had built up in my head. I used to be terrified to walk up to someone and reach out my hand and say, “hi, my name is Michael. How are you? What is your name?” and it was something so simple, but it may as well have been Jupiter that I was trying to reach before then. People are terrified of it, but they are so dying for a connection with another living, breathing, feeling human being that some will recoil in fear and the rest will jump all over the opportunity to be free as well.


The point that I am attempting to drive home is that most people are just as terrified as you are to make that first contact that they will appreciate your making the first move. When I finally realized that, and I knew that people really did love me for who I was, not what my mask showed the world that I was, it all got real easy. And it also allowed me to set the terms for the engagements, which means that I could make the approaches on my terms. The way I learned how to make the approach to other was I just got off my ass and did it!


This is the shape that the goal I initially made to earn friends took. It started out that I did not feel so ostracized, then turned into a goal to not feel lonely, which inevitably evolved into being a friend to others, and how to be a friend. And the goal finally concluded took its full shape with the dynamic of with how to make friends.  Thus, I had actually developed a life-long plan of how to live and be a true friend, and this plan in turn has earned me the friends that I had always wanted. Today I no longer feel insignificant.


That answers my first question: “just what is the solution to feeling insignificant?” and now I will address the question of dreams. At the beginning of this discussion I mentioned that I had just begun to attend the University of Washington and how little of a blip that I was walking onto the campus. This effect can the subsequent feeling can be felt regardless of the size of the group you have just entered, but I will tell you from experience it is quite sobering to be confronted with 40,000 other students. It is true, that walking onto a campus of this size that one could feel estranged and unimportant. You may be asking yourself what this has to do with achieving a dream. Well, last year I attended a Students of Color conference hosted by several minority groups and several colleges and universities from the state of Washington and one of the primary things that they drove in was how we needed a network to be successful in a four year university.


If you are like me and have come from, or are coming from a small school where it was possible to know just about everyone, then a campus like this is a huge difference. I come from a place that just about any network that I could have desired was just a stone-throw-away from any place that I stood. By network, I mean a Social Network or rather a collection of people who are all engaged in some specific act and have shared goals. Two of the most important characteristics of a social network are the shared experiences that group members have and the experiences that can be shared about how to overcome adversities. People in these networks understand us and we do not have to explain, they just seem to implicitly know because they have either dealt with or are dealing with the same types of issues that we ourselves are going through.


I cannot even begin to try to explain how many times I have attempt to explain to a European American what it is like being an African American attempting to get an education, or the pain that is associated with it.  There are just some things that I have to deal with that group of people are unfamiliar with, but other African Americans know precisely what my struggles are. This is not an attack on any one individual or any group this is simply an observation that has been confirmed repeatedly. And the observation also works in reverse, I am either not aware of all the circumstances that European Americans face or I do not understand them all. Now this is not to say that there are not benefits to forming groups, alliances and friendships with people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, quite the contrary in fact because they can be incalculably valuable. However, when I need help with some specific issue, or I need a confidant that I can express my troubles with it helps to have someone who understands where I am coming from.


Social networks have further importance as well. This is especially true if these social networks are formed around more than just race or ethnicity. Furthermore, there is no rule that states that any person can only be involved in one group. The more groups that we are linked into the more resources become available to us like; job opportunities, scholarship opportunities, events to join in, parties, study groups and the like. And perhaps most important to this discussion is that they gives us groups of people to belong to so that we do not have to feel so alone.


This brings us to the crux of this discussion, which is how not to feel so alone on a campus the size of this the University of Washington. Last week I walked onto the campus and every organization you can imagine that a campus would have; the Hip Hop Student Association, the Black Student Union; the History Honor Society; the Arm Wrestling Club, the Earth Club, and son on were tabling in Red Square and I just went up and got linked in. As I have said, I learned not to have to wear my masks in public any longer, and that people were dying to meet me just as much as I was dying to meet them, so I just walked up to the people that I thought were interesting and introduced myself. That is the purpose of tabling. They were there to meet people, so that is precisely what I did. I found out when they met and I joined in. Now that is not to say that I was not afraid, of course I was afraid, but I was more interested in making those connections and developing the networks that the people at the Students of Color Conference promised me would make all the difference to my success while I attend the university.


For example, I went to the meet and greet hosted by the Black Student Union and although I am of African American descent, sometimes I still feel out of place in a group of all Black people, because I do not speak much slang any longer and I do not do many of the things that (I think) they do, and so I feel as though I stick out. But, I do not have any more masks to wear, so when it came time for me to interact, I only had to choices; run or stay silent, or interact and make the friends that I have always wanted: and I chose to interact and I made those friends. You see, I have learned that who you are is not as important, as it is that you are.


The final component was making friends in class. Now this goes hand-in-hand with social networks because the people in you classes will be going through exactly the same struggles as you are as you are going through them. So, linking up with them will be vitally important to you meeting with success in school because they will have picked out different things as important from the material, will have notes that you missed and can help to make concept clearer for you. Plus, if you have not been to a university lecture hall you are in for a real treat, if you are an undercover nerd like I am because the lecture halls seat a minimum of 200 people. That was quite a shock to me when I walked in because I was used to 30 person classrooms where I could touch my professor. So, having a few friends in the lecture hall will turn that ginormous room into something very manageable for you.


The first thing was that I had to read my books. This may seem like an over simplification and something that need not be said. However, I cannot begin to tell you how many students come to a university and do not read their books. (Why does someone waste the $20,000 + per year on tuition if, they do not want to learn, it makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, but it happens.) The point is to earn your degree so that we can become successful in life and in order for that to be possible, we have to learn the material and that includes reading our books, but I digress and that is a topic for another discussion. The point is, having a meager understanding of the material as I walk into class allows me to be able to have a dialogue with both the other students in the classroom and the professor before, during and after the lecture. So that when the professor asks a question, I can raise my hand and more often than not, I have the answer because I have read the material. I know you may be like, “you are one of those people,” and let me tell you what, there are more people there who want to be successful than not, so those are the people that the rest of the people want to know because if you are that person then people will want to study with you and thus, you attract the people to you.


Second, is that just like with the Black Student Union, I walked into the classroom the very first day, having completed the reading for the week and I started introducing myself to everyone that was in a close vicinity to me. I sit in the front row and that means that I have to get there early enough to get my seat. I do this because I went to a lecture presented by a man named John Vroman, who wrote a book titled; Living College Life in the Front Row, and gave a lecture on how to be successful in college. Basically what he said was that you have to get right up in the mix. The natural tendency for people that are like me, who have traditionally not liked to stick out is to find a place in the back. And this may have its origin in that African Americans were traditionally told to sit in the back, and the theory of Oppisitional Identity, which states that it is not cool for an African American to be intelligent or academically active and engaged. Thus, what I have learned is that in order for me to be successful is to shatter those negative stereotypes, break my negative perceptions of who I think and other think that I am supposed to be, and to sit in the front row. What I have found is that the other people in the front row were just as engaged and determined to meet with success as I was/am.


The result is that now all of my professors and teachers know me on a first name basis and so do many of the students on campus. On a campus of over 40,000 students I am no longer just an outlier and I am set up with some of the most profound and strongest leaders. As such, I am set to meet with success. When you are a small fish in a large pond, do not just wade in and become an outlier feeling insignificant. Jump in with both feet, Cannon Ball that SHIT!!! And make waves.


This realization came hand in hand with the realization that in order for me to have a friend, I first had to be a friend; and that in order for me to meet with success I had to have friends, I could not do it alone. That I had to throw off the bondage of my pride and get rid of the masks I was wearing so that I could truly be myself and make some real connections. And that myself, without the front was worth being both loved and appreciated. Be yourself and makes waves through the lives of the people who are just dying to meet you, the real you, and set yourself on the path to achieving your dreams.

I am a HUSKY

UW logo

I have dreamt my whole life that I would be worthy enough to attend the University of Washington, but I never truly believed it was possible until now. Still, it feels like I am dreaming.  My life took so many twists and turns while I was growing up that I never knew where I was going to end up and I felt powerless to direct my own life, to say the least. Yet, just over two years ago I decided that I was going give everything I had, invest every ounce of energy, and to make every necessary sacrifice in order to accomplish this life-long dream. In one week from today I am going to walk onto the campus for the first time as a student of the University of Washington.

For me, attending the University of Washington is a gateway into a new life. I am not saying that other universities are not as credible or as life-changing. What I am saying is that as a first generation college student this is an evolutionary step into the future of my family. Even as an American in this supposed “land of opportunity,” when I was born I had a limited set of opportunities to pursue.  I am a man of mixed descent; my mother is African-American and my father is Irish-American, and both of my parents are mixed with Native-American, so I am about as light-skinned as we come. That does not overshadow the “One Drop” rule that states, “one drop of African blood and you are considered African—Black,” and the opportunities for Black children were not as forthcoming as they were for White children when I was born.

My maternal grandmother is retired now, but she worked through temporary work agencies for twenty years because she lacked the education necessary to acquire any long-term employment. My maternal grandfather was a mechanic in the United States Air Force in the 1960’s and when he returned to the states he began to work for Metro driving buses. My mother has been a house-keeper for twenty years and has done everything and provided everything that any child could both need and want. However, she has always felt the lack of not having an education. All she ever wanted was for her children to have a better life than she has had and to have opportunities that she never had.  Everyone in my family is well read and very intelligent, but in this credential society that relies on proof of knowledge in the form of a piece of paper, their intelligence has been neither respected, nor accepted.

I wish that I had more to say about my father’s family, but the truth is that my mother, my brother and I, and even my father were disowned because my father married a Black woman and he had mixed children. There has been a long standing feud between Irish immigrants and African-Americans since the 18th and 19th Centuries, because these two groups were pitted against one another in competition for resources and jobs. That feud has been passed down through the generations and it ripped my family apart; racism and oppression is still alive today and all I need to prove this is my own family experience. The point is that, these are the reasons that I do not know much about my paternal family.  My father however, was not very productive because he suffered from alcoholism and a mental illness that fueled a psychosis that caused us to flee him when I was but a child. I have not seen or heard from my father since I was ten years old. My mother has raised my brother and me since then.

If it is not evident already in what I have said, my family was and is economically challenged. Affording college for two sons, let alone some of the things that most Americans consider staples in their lives was not possible. The tuition and expenses of attending the University of Washington is approximately $20,000 a year and the costs were no less bleak when I was eighteen years old. Unless I was able to earn scholarships, my family was not going to be able to send me to college.

However, I did not have the grades to earn those scholarships because when I was fourteen years old I became a member of the neighborhood gang and I dropped out of school. There are many reasons that can be listed for why I made those decisions, and they are all pertinent, but the reality is that those decisions destroyed my hopes of earning scholarships when I was a teenager and with it my dreams of attending the University of Washington.

At this point, I fell into the footsteps of my father and I thus continued the cycle of alcoholism. It is a vile and corrosive enemy that is a paradoxical trickster; on the one hand alcohol and drugs can be imbibed for spirituality or relaxation, but it can also be addicting and destructive. Some say that alcoholism is a disease, and of those that believe that, some also say that it is a family disease. If that is true, and my experience would suggest that it is at least possible, then that would also mean that my children are at risk. It has also been shown that socioeconomic conditions contribute to the use and abuse of alcohol and drugs. If this is true, then not only was that a factor in my life, but it would also be a factor in the lives of my children. If all of this is true, then my not going to college would mean that I could not climb out of the cycle of socioeconomic despair because I would not have the credentials to earn gainful employment and, the cycle of alcoholism would be passed onto my children who could potentially pass it onto their children as well.

By the grace of God, I was able to get away from the drugs and alcohol and even the gang when I was nineteen years old, but by that time the damage was done. I was distrusted by society, I had a criminal record, I had no education and I was struggling just to keep my head above water. What I had going for me was the desire to break the cycles which had plagued my family for generations. So, slowly with the help of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, I began to put the pieces of my life back together and to make reparations for the harm that I had caused to my family and the people of this great society. It took a few years, but I did finally re-earn the trust of society, rebuilt the broken relationships with my family and friends, and I found employment in the service industry.

In 2004, I was given the opportunity to enter into the construction industry. This too, however, was only a step in the right direction because while it did afford me some room for growth, it did not allow me to use my brain. I moved up in the company rather quickly because I was good with my hands and I was good with people, and I started to attend classes to help me with business and construction management, which included project management. Yet, these were only certificate classes, and as I began to excel in them it rewetted my appetite for a real education, at first for construction management, but then for law. There was still the little problem of being able to afford the tuition and expenses, though, and I could not find a way to manage it. I soon came to the harsh realization though that if I did not leave the construction industry I would destroy my body, my chances for a college degree, and I would possibly not break the cycle my family was stuck in. And in 2011, I left my construction career to pursue a law degree by whatever means necessary.

That is when I started to attend North Seattle Community College to earn my Associate of Arts degree. My mother, still a house-keeper took me in so that I could devote all of my energy to my studies and I have lived with her ever since. This was very humbling because since I was nineteen years old, I had been on my own and sought to take care of myself, but there was no way that I was going to be able to do that and succeed in college alone. My mother cared for my living situation and I was able to secure financial aid to afford to pay for classes, book and transportation. Getting approved for and maintaining my financial aid status was not easy, I was constantly having to apply and appeal decisions, but with the help of my mother and the people in the financial aid office at NSCC, I was able to find every cent that I needed to continue my education.

Adjusting to collegiate life was not easy, I had been away from true academic life for many years and I had to relearn how to be a student. When I was seven years old, I suffered from a massive brain injury during a car accident that left me with a very short attention span and migraine headaches. This made reading miserably difficult for me because halfway through a paragraph I might forget everything that I had just read. Yet, I was determined not to be defeated and I invested myself into learning techniques so that I could stay focused.

Professor Gutierrez, my English 102 instructor was incredibly helpful in teaching me how to stay focused. He taught me how to annotate as I read by underlining the important lines, blocking out important sections, and writing in the margin. All of this was vastly different than my experience in high school—when I did attend—because we could not write in our borrowed books and no one taught us how to take notes, and I finally began to have an experience of my own with the books that I was reading. As I began to do this, I found that I could not only remain focused while reading, but that I could actually retain the information better because I had owned it and made it part of myself. He also taught me how to write clearly and precisely and how to provide accurate citations of other people’s work that I assimilated into my own assignments. All of which I carried through into the rest of my classes and helped me to succeed in every one of them.

Beyond all my greatest hopes, dreams, and aspirations I did the unbelievable; I graduated from North Seattle Community College June 14, 2013 with my Associate of Arts degree. And not only did I graduate, but I was also the valedictorian of my graduating class. Even as I write this, I sit in near disbelief that I actually accomplished what I never believed possible, what seemed impossible for so long became a reality and I exceeded what I hoped was possible for a person like me with the history that I have. That very same week I received a letter from the University of Washington stated that I had been accepted for enrollment in the autumn of 2013, my dream was coming true. Yet, there was still one piece of the puzzle that had not been accounted for: tuition and expenses.

I immediately began applying for scholarships and financial aid, but hit just about every roadblock that could emerge. I discovered that I was supposed to have my financial aid request submitted the previous February. Neither my counselors at NSCC, nor anything I read on the UW website prepared me for that. And at that time, the apartment complex that my mother and I were staying at was bought by new owners and for an unspecified reason they evicted us, so we had to fight to find a place to live in a very limited amount of time. My head was not in the game and I barely scraped through the quarter with my grades intact. None of that changed the fact that in being fair to all students, we all need to make the deadlines regardless of the life circumstances are present, or at least so I thought.

As it turned out, the University of Washington also had an appellate process. In the appeal I was allowed to make the true and accurate claim that because I was a first generation college student that I was unaware of how to maneuver through the bureaucratic system. I was also able to establish that I met the need-based-requirements for federal assistance and in late July, my appeal was approved and I was given the money that I needed to attend the University of Washington.

By earning my Associate of Arts degree I have already broken the cycle that my family has been in for generations, but an AA degree does not open many doors however, because in today’s credential society that is nearly equivalent to what a high school diploma was worth thirty years ago. The University of Washington is my gateway into a new life because the degree I will earn will place me in a higher employment bracket and will help me to gain access to the professional degree that I am pursuing. This is a dream come true, but this is only the beginning.

I have several plans for what I want to do with the degrees that I am going to ear at the University of Washington.  The most important of which is that once I graduate I will finally be able to afford to buy my mother a house, get her out of the house-keeping industry and to send her to school to earn the degree that she has always wanted to earn. Besides earning my own degree, I cannot think of a better way to repay her for all that she has invested into me and my development all these years. Next, what I want to do is use the law degree that I will earn is turning that into a mechanism to benefit humanity. Currently, I am working on a project to develop a curriculum utilizing hip hop and poetry to reach other at-risk-youth to instruct them on how to be successful in college. Later, I will be focusing on public policy and the United States government as a means to effect positive change.

For a man like me, all of this is nearly unbelievable and I am beside myself with gratitude. In seven days I will be walking into my first class at the University of Washington and stepping into the first day of the rest of my life.

If I have learned anything through this process, then it is this:

 “All dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”

~Walt Disney

Tips and Tricks to Writing Great

Page of Lyrics

Every great performance or recording begins with a base, and for a Hip Hop song, an R&B song, a piece of Poetry, or a Speech that base is the lyrical or written content of which it is composed.


Every author has a writing voice, and this voice is what distinguishes them from everyone else on the planet. The trick is to find your voice and to set it free. Jay Z and DMX have completely different styles from Tupac. Just imagine the way in which they would all say the line; “haters from the hood to the street,” and you will begin to see the importance of voice. None of them would even write the line the same way and depending on the placement of the punctuation and the inflection, the line will have completely different meanings.


Punctuation is the system of symbols and markings, which separate the components of a line and inform the audience how those components should be interpreted together. The simplest and perhaps the most well known in the English language is the period signifying the end of one complete idea. Without the use of periods, the significance of an idea will most likely to be missed because the concepts of the line will blend together and become convoluted. The next most important punctuation mark is the comma because it is used to distinguish the components of a line and depending on its usage can strengthen or destroy the intended interpretation.


A) Haters, from the hood to the street

B) Haters from the hood, to the street

C) Haters from, the hood to the street

Misplace the comma and the message that was intended to be conveyed will not be understood by the audience, thus it is supremely important to place these marks well.


Inflection is the augmentation of your voice to provide emphasis to different words within a line. Play with each of the three lines, emphasizing different words in each of them. Do you notice how that further changes the meaning of the line?

Word Selection:

Another component of voice is the selection of words. Each individual word is vitally important because each is a concept and an idea within and of itself. A string of concepts together becomes a schema and all of this attaches itself to an emotional response within your audience. Thus, depending which emotions an author wants to evoke, the words they chose to employ become vitally important.

Take for example line (A) from above:

1. Haters, from the hood to the street

2. Punks, from the hood to the street

3. G’s, from the hood to the street

By changing the noun in the lines we have thus, changed the entire noun clause and ultimately the meaning of the line and how people will feel about it. So, word selection is immensely important when crafting a line.


Cadence is the rhythmic flow of the sounds within a line, and each sound is a distinct syllable, which gives a line its character. But, more important than each sound, is each silence that comes between the sounds because it is the silence, which distinguishes a sound and establishes the swing of the line. Much of this swing will be established during the word selection, formation of punctuating your lines, and determining the inflection that you will use. However, this swing will also be measured by the music that you select, if you are creating Hip Hop or R&B.

In regard to Hip Hop, your voice is a percussive instrument and in regard to R&B, you voice is a melodic instrument and as such, given the instrumental selection, there are specific placements for the sounds of your voice to be. Execute this wrong and the song will become convoluted yet, execute this correctly and your audience will love your music.

Being Explicit and to the Point

Great writing actually talks about something it does not just talk about, “talking about something.” It is also precise and to the point, it does not dawdle around its point as if it were searching for the words to make the point it is attempting to make, or worse yet, not know what point it is seeking to make. The worst type of writing does not have a point and it is just aimless words on the page.

Great writing begins in one place and carries the audience through a process to some new understanding or feeling. The audience should have a feeling of satisfaction for having completed reading or listening to the authorship. And each line or sentence should be crafted with the care necessary to accomplish this for their audience.

Being an emcee is much like being a boxer in the ring when every punch counts. Imagine that one of the boxers in a match is dancing around his opponent—not unlike Muhammed Ali—but, this boxer is throwing a barrage of scatted punches that never land on target. Do you think this boxer will win? Of course not, because a boxer must hit their opponent to knock them down.

Writing is no different. An author must select an objective, target it and hit the subject square in the face, over and over again with a few good body shots here and there. Dance around your subject matter and hopefully you may only bore your audience and at worst, you will lose their attention completely.

The content of a piece of writing, which consist not only of the subject matter, but also the quality of each line or sentence and the organization of the minor subjects that comprise the line, verse, song and album. The lines and the way in which they are executed is what will grab the attention of your audience, but it is the content that will hold it. It must be novel enough that it will consume their interest, but familiar enough for your audience to relate to it. This takes skill and a thoughtful mind, but you can master this with a little guidance, dedication and practice.

As you can see, there are several components to voice: the content and the subject, the selection of words, the punctuation of the lines, and the emphasis that is placed on different words as they are spoken. Your voice is the first thing that must be developed if your intention is to disseminate your work into the world because that is what is going to distinguish you as both an author and as an artist.

I have shared quite a bit with you and you should be able to make a good start from these tips and tricks. But if you have the desire to make your writing truly phenomenal, then MusicaDiction can help you to learn how to never waste a word and to make each of your lines count. We can also help you learn how to make your lines stand out, catchy and memorable; how to direct your cadence and accentuate your words with the appropriate inflection to elicit the emotional response that will connect your audience with your authorship. 

Huey Long vs. Herbert Hoover: The Role of Government


            After World War I the United States experienced an era of tremendous economic growth that lasted throughout the 1920’s. In the autumn of 1929, mere months after President Herbert Hoover had taken office, the stock market crashed and the boom came to a halt signifying the beginning of the Great Depression. The 1930’s were a time of widespread unemployment and starvation, of competition and mistrust between groups of people looking for work and the means to feed their families, and of political evolution for a government seeking solutions to the problems facing the United States.  In 1932, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President of the United States and immediately after his inauguration he began implementing a series of policies throughout the 1930’s that were collectively called the New Deal. According to President Roosevelt, the goals of the New Deal were to provide the “work” and the “security” the American people wanted.[1] Roosevelt’s policies thrust the federal government into a more predominant role in both the business and personal lives of Americans, causing contestation from the political left and the political right. Although the organizer of the Share Our Wealth Society, U.S. Senator Huey Long and former President Herbert Hoover, two prominent political personalities prior to the presidential elections of 1936, agreed that the nation was suffering and that the U.S. government had a role to play in the solution to the suffering, they nonetheless disagreed on what the causes of the suffering were and what role the government should assume in coming to that solution.

In a speech presented to the Share Our Wealth Society in 1935, Huey Long argued against the consolidation of wealth into the possession of the few and instead proposed the redistribution of wealth through what he considered a more equitable system than the capitalist system in place. Long seems to have pursued redistribution because he believed “the 600 ruling families of America…have forged chains of slavery around the wrists and ankles of 125,000,000 free-born citizens,” suggesting that a redistribution of wealth would free the citizens of America.[2] Conversely, a year later in 1936, Herbert Hoover during a speech presented while campaigning for the presidency also perceived an infringement of liberties, but his reasoning was different. Hoover believed the policies instituted by President Roosevelt’s New Deal were responsible for the infringement on the individuals and private enterprise. The New Deal policies such as the Agricultural Adjustment Act (1932) and the National Recovery Act (1933) were intended to redistribute wealth through taxation, although not to the extent that Long suggested. The political left argued that there had not been enough redistribution while the political right argued that too much had already occurred. The notable similarity between both Hoover’s and Long’s speeches, is that they both believed the system as it was was designed to infringe upon the liberties of Americans.

Hoover advocated for a “[t]rue liberal government” and stipulated that such a government was dependent upon free citizens.[3] Believing that the New Deal policies infringed upon liberties, he proposed scaling back the “authority in government” to restore those liberties he believed were being lost and thus achieve a liberal government.[4]  To Hoover, a liberal government was one that did not price fix, but rather allowed companies to set their own prices in accordance with what the market would tolerate and avoiding the “economic planning” of the New Deal.[5] Hoover equated the National Recovery Act, which was intended to have fixed codes that would regulate working conditions, set prices, and minimize competition; with “a Roman despot 1,400 years ago,” further stressing the point of the system’s oppressive nature and suggesting that it was antiquated.[6] Hoover believed that a liberal government was averse to Communism and the teachings of Karl Marx, to vast government spending on the public welfare, and to the influence of the new intellectual elite; the Brain Trust who advised President Roosevelt. Ultimately, Hoover proposed that the role of government was to protect the interest of American citizens by depersonalizing the federal government, or in other words, not interfering with business or engaging in economic planning.

Quite contrary to Hoover’s analysis of the role of government, Huey Long propagated an entire overhauling of the 1930’s United States socio-economic system. Although Hoover “proposed” several initiatives in his speech, he neither identified the methods or the means by which they would be achieved, nor a way to measure the success of the initiatives.[7] In contrast, Long’s speech provided specific monetary goals and set limits for the redistribution of the nation’s wealth, which also served as a means of measuring success. Essentially the claim made in Long’s speech was that the “public and private” debt was “$262,000,000,000,” and that debt was made the responsibility of the public, but the average American citizen did not benefit from the taxes collected.[8] Long associated this debt with being a form of slavery further stressing his point that six-hundred families held one-hundred and twenty-five million families in bondage. In response to this Long proposed a mixed capitalist system with elements of a socialist system whereby incomes were capped and each family earning less than the average family would be subsidized by the government. He further proposed regulating the hours of work so that manufacturing and agricultural industries only produce what was needed and make time for the consummation of leisure activities. He supported pensions for people over the age of 60. And, he believed providing “education and training for all children” on an equal basis. All of this, Long believed, could be paid for through taxation, taxation which he already noted was large and not doing the public any good. For Long, the role of the government was to ensure that all American citizens received “a fair chance to life, liberty, and happiness” which meant substantially more economic planning than the New Deal exhibited in the economy, and vastly more than what Hoover proposed.[9]

For more than a hundred years prior to the Great Depression the United States had been experiencing unprecedented amounts of change and population growth: ranging from the end of slavery, to the occupation of the land from coast to coast, the industrial revolution which fostered tycoons and moguls, the agricultural revolution that provided a sustainable food source that allowed the population to balloon, and in the early 1900’s, the expansion of the institution of investment banks. By the 1930’s, there had never been a situation as the people of that time faced, there was no rubric that could be applied to remedy the situation because of the depth and breadth of the circumstances that led up to it, and it took the daring willingness of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to experiment; sometimes failing and sometimes through trial and error figuring out what would work.

Both the Great Depression of the 1930’s and the experimental nature of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” evoked many opinions from all aspects of the political spectrum, claiming to have answers and solutions to the socioeconomic plight of the United States and its citizens. And just as there were normative prescriptions there was also finger pointing and blame casting, however, in reality there was no one person or situation that led to the collapse of the Stock Market in 1929, the issues were systemic, multi-faceted and deeply layered. Furthermore, the United States was not alone in the Great Depression, it was a global calamity. Nonetheless, that does not mean factors which contributed to the collapse cannot be isolated. The Lasissez-Faire prerogative of the United States government toward business during the 1920’s led to the deregulation of business and in particular the commercial and investment banking industry. During the 1920’s the citizens of America were further stratified along the lines of wealth as it continued to consolidate in the possession of the few. So, when the market did crash in 1929 and the bank run commenced causing many banks to collapse because they did not have the prudent reserves to meet the demand, hundreds of thousands of people lost their savings and the system eroded over the next four years into the Great Depression. By 1933, 13 million people were unemployed and the socio-economic conditions were not showing any sign of improvement; this was the state of the nation that President Delano Roosevelt inherited as he came into office and led to the experimentation of the New Deal.[10]             .

During the four years, between 1929 and 1933, Herbert Hoover was the president of the United States and he convinced Congress to pass the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1929 with a budget of “$500 million to buy up agricultural surpluses” and “authorized $420 million for public works projects” to stimulate the economy through employment.[11] Yet, four years later during his speech he argued that President Roosevelt’s initiatives, which by definition did exactly the same thing, save for the fact of who was primarily impacted. During his presidency Herbert Hoover focused on the Trickle-Down economics theorem, whereas, Roosevelt instead distributed government funds more broadly across the nation to a more varied population of citizens. Comparing the facts and what Hoover said in his speech, it appears that the redistribution of wealth was not an infringement of liberties as long as the money was directed at the elite; the wealthy. Hoover’s speech seems to have been more focused on ideology than on rectifying the economic situation in the country. Conversely, after evaluating the evidence, Huey Long’s speech, through the utilization of statistics from both the government and Wall Street, took into account many of the factors and conditions that led to the economic distress of the 1930’s. Thus, by stripping both arguments down to their bare assertions two roles of government can be discerned: Restore the U.S. government to what was clearly identified in the U.S. Constitution and allow the people to suffer; or allow the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution—making amendments as necessary—to evolve so that the people no longer suffer. Two highly contradictory perspectives on the role the U.S. government should assume by two distinct individuals. President Lincoln, in the Gettysburg Address during the American Civil War said that we have a “government of the people, by the people, for the people,” and as such there is too much at stake for any one person to decide the fate of the nation, that is reserved for the people and together the people decide the plan of action and the role of the U.S. government. Those decisions have been made by the people of the United States through listening to and evaluating controversial and contradictory arguments since before the American Revolutionary War; and such was the nature the Democratic Republic when both Herbert Hoover and Huey Long spoke to the American people.


1. “Franklin D. Roosevelt: XXXII President of the United States: 1933-1945: 131-Address

Accepting the Presidential Nomination at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago: July 2, 1932.” The American Presidency Project.

(accessed April 28, 2013).

2. Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (1994). In Historic World Leaders. Gale. Retrieved from

3. Great Depression. (2008). In W. A. Darity, Jr. (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of the SocialSciences (2nd ed., Vol. 3, pp. 367-371). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from

4. Herbert Clark Hoover. (2003). In K. S. Sisung & G.-A. Raffaelle (Eds.), Presidential Administration Profiles for Students. Detroit: Gale Group. Retrieved from

5. Hoover, Herbert and Minnie Hardin. “Document 24-5: Conservatives Criticize the New Deal.” In Reading the American Past: Selected Historical Documents, 5th Edition, edited by Michael P. Johnson, 181-185. New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2012.

6. JEANSONNE, G. (2004). Huey Long. In R. S. McElvaine (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. New York: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from

7. Johnson, Michael P. Reading the American Past: Selected Historical Documents.5th Edition. New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2012.

8. Justinian, I. (1998). In Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from

9. Karl Marx. (1998). In Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale. Retrieved from

10. Long, Huey. “Document 24-3: Huey Long Proposes Redistribution of Wealth.” In Reading the American Past: Selected Historical Document, 5th Edition, edited by Michael P. Johnson, 174-177. New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2012.

11. MAY, D. L. (2004). John Maynard Keynes. In R. S. McElvaine (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Great Depression. New York: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from

12. NAMORATO, M. V. (2004). Brain(s) Trust. In R. S. McElvaine (Ed.), Encyclopedia of the Great Depression (Vol. 1, pp. 115-117). New York: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from

13. Roark, James L., et al. The American Promise: A History of the United States. 5th Edition. New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2012.

14. Roark, James L., et al. The American Promise: A Compact History. 4th Edition. New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2010.

15. “The 1930 Census.” History: 1930 Fast Facts. (accessed April 28, 2013).

16. “The Consequences of the Proposed New Deal: Madison Square Garden, New York: October 21, 1932.” Faculty Research: The New Deal: Herbert Hoover Speeches. (accessed April 28, 2013).

17. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. U.S. National Income and Product Statistics: Born of the Great Depression and World War II. Rosemary D. Marcuss and Richard E. Kane. February 2007.

18. U.S. Department of Commerce. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Survey of Current Business. May 1943.

(accessed April 28, 2013). p. 26.


[1] Roark, James L., et al., “The American Promise: A History of the United States.” 5th Edition. (New York: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2012), 790.

[2] Huey Long, 176.

[3] Herbert Hoover  and Minnie Hardin, 182.

[4]Herbert Hoover and Minnie Hardin,. 182.

[5] Herbert Hoover and Minnie Hardin, 182.

[6] Herbert Hoover and Minnie Hardin, 182.

[7] Herbert Hoover and Minnie Hardin, 183.

[8] Huey Long, 176.

[9] Huey Long, 175.

[10] Roark, James L., et al., ch 23.

[11]Roark, James L., et al., 774.