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Insight

February 2007


Insight

Welcome

february 2007

to the 15th edition of Insight Magazine! Insight, born from the University of Michigan’s FOKUS student organization, comes from parents who believed art could unite this campus. By creating a space for diverse voices to be heard, they believed that we could bridge the divides that separate us, not by negating our differences but by bringing us together and celebrating that which makes us eclectic and beautiful. They committed to the creation of a diverse community, and while today, Michigan sits, sidelined by the passage of Proposal 2, we, the next generation, will take up our parents’ fight. Our university may have been sidelined, but we have not been silenced because we know that before we are cultures, colors, genders, or sexual orientations, we are human. In this edition, we recommit to what our parents began:

connecting not only the arts but the people since day one. photo by kristine keller

Editor: Marja Lankinen Founders: Atiba Edwards Alma Davila-Toro


Insight Contributors: Cover Photo by Rodney Brown Back Cover Photo by Kristine Keller

Coert Ambrosino, poetry, “proposal accepted” Kristin Schroeder, photography Hanna Ketai, poetry, “Shed” T. Reeves, photography OyamO, poetry, “Dot Something” Sean Dwyer, photography Chadwich Gibson, poetry, “Limbic Flutter” Rodney Brown, photography Adam Falkner, article, “Race Relations and the Dynamic of Whiteness” Marja Lankinen, poetry, “bloom” President Mary Sue Coleman, interview, “Beyond Ideas” Atiba Edwards, cd review, “Hellogoodbye”

proposal accepted 11-8-2006 today we sit in our sog black and white ash smearing our clothing damp and dirty from a day in which the rain fell like decisions from above only this day it is us guilty for the gloom today we are quiet we have missed our chance to speak we have spoken today michigan sits soggy divided like sandwich wedges left in the rain last night ann arbor waited in fog yesterday there was hope and denial and detachment as there will be tomorrow but today it is impossible to ignore the cold smoke from our silent mouths charred tongues tired from talking, or apathied from lack of practice today we overt our eyes and wait for winter long for the days when we cloak our faces plug our ears speakered strap on boots to trudge through tattered scraps of propaganda and ash creeping into every stone nook and cranny of the university


today we are conflicted unsure whether or not to retrace car window words washed away in the storm whether to wipe ash from our raincoats and ghostly faces or leave them as dilapidated reminders of past glory scars from fights that ruined birthdays and graduations detroit’s hallow train station, once bustling standing alone forgotten today we cringe at the things that feel normal as classrooms go back to being places where you are talked at instead of listened to police stations dismantle booths bibles replace ballots in community churches we come up with excuses inside our minds pray that the cause was misunderstanding instead of faith plot ourselves outliers paint ourselves martyrs victims to a world, to a state foreign antiquated distant different than us today the word homogeny drips from my dictionary the ink runs down the drywall, ruins the white carpet synonymous with equality in a world unequal today some celebrate victory in a game they have never lost u.s. sports claiming world championships while all other countries are excluded from competition

today we have offended ended no get up stand up left to be had we have stood for what we believe in equality just as long as the in comes first and that’s the part of the crowd we be today it is too early to act it is too late coal cannot be turned back to wood today i am a white man as i was yesterday as i will be tomorrow today i am white man though my finger is stained red as proof of my participation i cannot stop thinking it is blood on my hands today we are not proud of our allegiance today we whisper the name of our birthplace curse the countryside imagine setting fires not tamed by rain extinguishable only by the depths of blue bordering this mitten a hand raised in salute to the uniform flesh singed and falling off bone smoldering like history coert ambrosino


Shed Like the trees in autumn I'm shedding my leavestoo heavy for these shoulders of mine. Every now and then I must drop the extra weight that I choose to no longer hold inside my womb my joints, my head. Hanna Ketai

photo by kristin schroeder


Dot Something

photo by t. reeves

What a beard world Concealed in the eternally beating, Pulsating cave Flowing through darkness, itself a Still liquid That paints the boundries That separates all the separates. Bruce Lee inspired kings Of tiny personal kingdoms, Best selling grotesquery, Unaware undercoverism, Not unemployed though. Gittin' paid, dog, dawg, mah dawg, "You ain't nothing but a Found dawg" Howling all the time: Feed me, pay me, praise me At last! I may be a pomo coon But, poverty, I escaped fast From untouchable cast On a role Slathered with organic sass For the guilty Who yet control my black ass. OyamO Associate Prof. of theatre at U of M


Limbic Flutter A flutter by my window yesterday sent me into traveling limbics. Shuttering ruffs of wind brushed my stare and rapid echoes domino-crawled and burrowed thru moist box hair. Chest chickells chirped into spasmodic smirks in lastic flaunt of tastic fluirks then teems of down laid me lounge lust before time made its mounds. Chadwick Gibson

photo by Sean Dwyer


Race Relations and the Dynamic of Whiteness Adam Falkner PERSONAL EXPERIENCE Episode 1: I am in the fourth grade and slowly starting to separate reality from an inflated playground ego. My neighborhood school bus stops at a convenience store where several classmates and I share daily sodas like teenage girls pass lipstick before going our separate ways. One spring afternoon, three of us are browsing through the refrigerators in the back of the store. After making a rather impulsively quick selection, I shuffle outside, anxiously uncap what cottonmouth killer I’ve been anticipating since recess, and wait for the rest of my crew. No sooner does my youthful level of impatience begin to grow even thinner, when a store clerk joins me on the sidewalk, promptly asks that I re-enter the store and hand him my drink. The lunchroom tater-tots settled in my stomach curdle in fear as I walk back in the store. To my confusion, two employees are already inside scolding my friend (who happens to be black), demanding that he pin his hands and chest to the counter and spread his legs for a body search. I am told to do the same. We are frisked, three ten year old boys, in the front of a store with customers watching intently as if window-shopping our humiliation. After all is said and done, a manager explains their recent problem with shoplifting and I am the only one to receive a genuine apology.

photo by Rodney Brown

Episode 2: As a freshman in college, I am just starting to acclimate to the social differences between my Ann Arbor high school and the University of Michigan. Late one October evening, I am walking down the sidewalk with one of my best friends. Our conversation screeches to a halt when from a passing group of white kids, a racial slur slips into the air as carelessly as cigarette smoke invades a neighboring table in a crowded dinner restaurant. Without thinking twice, my friend stops and calls out surprisingly politely for clarification on what he thought he’d overheard. The student promptly separates himself from the group, walks back several steps and abrasively


bloom repeats “nigger” in my best friends face as though he is property to be spit upon. My heart sinks as quickly as I can feel my muscles tighten. He briefly glances in my direction and grabs hold of my stare long enough for me to recognize his unconscious and premature apology for what is about to take place. The unexpected crack of a jaw line breaking is a dissonance worse the shrill of a radio station suddenly stuck between signals. The collision of knuckle at warp speed on teeth is hollow as if thumping the base of an oak tree with a bat. The word on its own is ugly, but compared to the blender-battered hand of my best friend as I watch it release the rage of a million caged animals into the side of a wealthy white face, it seems as harmless and detached as a rap lyric on the radio. After a few minutes, with every ounce of my body pushed into his, I calmly tell him, as if I have any idea, “That’s enough kid, that’s enough. Look at him…” Screaming over my shoulder like an infant separated from its mother after birth, his tears are foreign to those of a teenage breakup or a toddlers impatience and both ours shirts are soaked in blood that is not our own. His shouts between choking sobs shatter my ear drums like crystal dropped on concrete: “You have no idea what that means!” From an experiential perspective, there are several common threads that link these personal incidents together. Each, in its own way, forced upon me an awkward awareness of my own sense of self as a white person. Each episode also helped me to both recognize and confront the unearned position of privilege that my status as a member of the white race afforded me. Through many personal experiences similar to these, it has become evident to me that white folks wake up each morning and have the freedom to choose the extent to which they will be aware of their racial identity. In fact, that freedom, more often than not, is so automatic, so flagrant, that it becomes unconscious in such a way that Caucasians develop an instinctual sense of entitlement. In contrast, people of color never have that option – they are always irrevocably aware and conscious of their identity. It is never taken innocently for granted.

i’ve felt discrimination before. in my lungs my hands on white skin, the pallid powder if hatred descends like ashes falling on Aushwitz, burning the skin i’m in i say, i’ve felt discrimination. in my bones, i’ve felt it climbing up the dairy white heights of five feet six inches from white feet to brown follicle i feel it curving in and out the arteries misaligning the perplexities of our ... of our ... of One multi-colored humanity i tell you, i’ve felt discrimination. world, the shouting, you’re shouting and cursing, you’re piercing the dream of one race: “pick one, pick one! and you better pick the right one cuz we’re not one another but One or the Other so you better choose your color!”


i’m silent to your words cuz i’m not blue but green like colored daffodil leaves in your garden, your ghetto, your picket white yard and i don’t care the difference between the two because i’m blue too. but when i sit on picket fence, eating white bread cucumber sandwiches, with brown rows of cornrows, you look at me like i’m crazy you look at me like i’m the category you made me but i’m not i’m not just your lily white vision of purity purely persecuting the masses in disastrous fashion, scratching buildings with slurs, the words of the cursed souls infesting the beauty of your city, running idly through your gallery with scissors cutting your body, your opportunity, you. and discrimination, to you, is the daily dose of a world tipped on its side one color above the other, forcing shades to subside, submit to the few, the blue, and you cannot believe that lily white heights can feel discrimination, too but it’s true, i do.

so what do we do when you and i decide that color is another shade, another hue of the same race that eats ice cream on sundays drains coke cans, eats sandwiches lives in suburb, urban city, city sidewalks, on country roads raising children, growing gardens, growing love growing love we’re getting loved. i say, i’ve felt discrimination before but you and i can stop it, halt the schism of one-on-one division separating beautiful blue from green because i have never seen any shade more beautiful than you and i on white picket fence, with yellow sun soaking multi-colored skin. it’s beautiful, i tell you we are beautiful in the skin that we’re in loving the skin of our kin, of one race, one hymn sung top the lungs of one world, “discrimination is through!” i know you can see it too cuz green and blue will rise again in every color, we bloom. marja lankinen


Beyond Ideas

An interview with University of Michigan President, Mary Sue Coleman After the passage of Proposal 2, President Mary Sue Coleman sent out a mass email to students affirming that diversity would remain at Michigan. Since the election, many students have voiced their opinions in support or opposition to Proposal 2, and while some have relinquished the fight, our president has not. The university continues to stand by creating a diverse campus-culture, and we wanted to hear why Mary Sue Coleman, not only as president but as person, continues the fight. President Coleman, why do you personally support affirmative action? I believe that diversity is critical to educational excellence. Let me share an example from my own experience: I was working on my doctorate at the University of North Carolina in the 1960s, shortly after the violent civil rights protests of that time. The protests at Chapel Hill were bitter and divisive. There were few African American students there, virtually no African American faculty, and the African American staff were concentrated in lower-level positions. Twenty years later, when I returned to Chapel Hill to teach, I found a university that was much more diverse—and it was a far better institution as a result. The quality of academic discourse was vastly improved with the growth of racial diversity. It’s more vibrant and intellectually alive, in great part because of the many different voices there today. What are the thoughts, feelings, and perspectives of affirmative action by your peers? What are the people you talk to saying? My colleagues here and around the nation are united in our dedication to creating welcoming and inclusive campus communities. Here at U-M, we are also focused on supporting the success of our students. The University’s Expect Respect initiative is a reminder of the importance we place on respect for every individual.

Are there personal stories from students, faculty, or peers, that have affected your perspective on the issue? Yes, I have heard many, many important personal stories on this topic over the years, and I have seen so many lives shaped by opportunity and by lack of opportunity. But let me share my own with you: After high school, I went to Grinnell College, an activist Iowa campus with an ethic of social responsibility. While Grinnell was a predominantly white college, we had an exchange program with the traditionally Black school, LeMoyne College of Tennessee. That was an eye-opening experience for me. It really opened my eyes to learn what is was like, to go to a movie theater, for instance, and not know if you could sit where you wanted to, that something that trivial might be denied to you because of racism. As a female student who aspired to be a scientist, I know the feeling of looking at your professors and not see any who look like you. As a woman scientist, I know that, if I had not had people who were willing to give me a chance, then I would not have had the career that I have enjoyed. What do you think the ban on affirmative action will mean to the state of Michigan as well as the university? In the state of Michigan, we are undergoing a difficult economic transition, one in which the education and preparation of our citizens for a new economy will be more important than ever before. We must tap all available talent if we are to prosper in the future. The impact of Proposal 2 increases this challenge. If our public universities— particularly selective schools like Michigan and Berkeley, schools known for preparing tomorrow’s doctors, scientists and policymakers—if these universities do not produce graduates of all backgrounds, our nation and our state will stumble. Where the use of affirmative action has been restricted, we must find other means to achieve diversity and to extend educational opportunities to all students. What final words would you like to give to this campus on the issue of affirmative action and diversity within the community? Diversity is a core value of the University of Michigan, and I stand firmly behind that commitment. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said it well, “The road ahead is not altogether a smooth one. There are no broad highways that lead us easily and inevitably to quick solutions.” An open, tolerant society requires institutions that lead. Our university is known as a national leader for diversity in higher education, and we will not hesitate to fulfill that role.


under the needle

hellogoodbye released their debut album, Zombies! Aliens! Vampires! Dinosaurs! in August 2006, and it debuted at #1 on both the independent and internet album charts. It is a solid debut album that features fun, summery, and bright music. If you managed to hear the EP Hellogoodbye, the debut album’s tones resemble the song “Dear Jamie…Sincerely Me.” Many of the songs can be used to tell the story of a crush and the cycle of love it will go through (more good times than not). My favorite two tracks are “Here” and “Stuck To You.” Other solid tracks include “I saw It On Your Keyboard,” “Homewrecker,” and “Baby, It’s Fact.” The album features a few revamped songs that have not been released previously. hellogoodbye is currently composed of 4 members: Marcus Cole (bass), Forrest Kline (vocals and guitar), Jesse Kurvink (keys), Chris Profeta (drums), and one past member, Aaron Flora (drums). If you want to hear a drastically different version of hgb, listen to “Jesse Buy Nothing…Got to Prom Anyways” from their EP Hellogoodbye. You can’t be close enough unless I’m feeling your heartbeat ~”All Your Love” by Atiba Edwards


INSIGHT Vol. I Issue 15