The Deal A Magazine Dedicated to Youth Who Create From Everyday Life Volume I
The Politics of “THE DEAL”
riting is an act of bravery. Reading is an act of editing. But as readers, we can be brave too. We can understand not only the “correct” version of a narrative, a sentence, a word, but also the potential in each for a revolutionary insight that there is more than one truth from which to choose—and that often the truth we choose silences. In this magazine, I can read the word “once” and know that it is spelled correctly. I can read it in a sentence that reads “In our society, everyone once the ‘American dream’, and only some of us get it.” I can edit out or ignore that word “once” knowing it is not the “right” word to convey a particular meaning. Or I can listen to the deeper structure of the written moment. I can read the sentence as a profound indigment against the inequalities that cause only some of us to get the American dream that is promised to all. So, dear reader, read ethically for you are entering into a deal with American youth who have written bravely and created courageous art that in both substance and style remind us of what we edit out when we fail to edit for truth.
As the editor of this ﬁrst edition of The Deal, I attempted to hold myself to such a standard. I edited for length alone. You will see spelling mistakes, errors of grammar and ideas that are great but still in process and whose contributors therefore deserve not only respect but also admiration. Those contributors are the winners from the past ten years of Scenarios USA “What’s the REAL DEAL?” contests who participated in a Leadership Conference in the summer of 2008. The call for submissions was also open to the most recent “masculinity cohort” whether they were able to attend the Conference or not, whether they won the contest or not. It is my hope that many more young people will be able to add their voices to this magazine in the future—and that many more magazines with the same political commitment to language and voice are started in communities everywhere. Naela El-Hinnawy Youth and Community Development Manager
Table of Contents Short Fiction For Love/Country by Earlaina Kemp (Page 3)
Opinion The Dangers of Being Trite by Whitnae Peters (Page 4) The Intersection of Different Worlds by Cleveland McKinney (Page 5)
A Page from My Journal Performing Masculinity at School by James Ford (Page 6) Performing Femininity at Work by Caroline Boon (Page 7)
Poetry The Slums by Jermaine Wall (Page 8) Tiger Tears by Minkiai Burgos (Page 10) Questioning Yourself at the Intersection of Race/Gender/Class by Phillesia McKenzie (Page 17)
Questions? Comments? Post-It Notes by Participants of 2008 Scenarios USA Youth Conference (Pages 12-13)
Essays on Self and Society My Community by Ravyn Sweringer (Page 9) My Music by Nicole Zepeda (Page 14) You, Me, and Everyone We Know and Don’t by Verena Faden (Page 15) Why I Am the Way I Am by James Ford (Page 16) In Some Ways... by Tiauna Clark (Page 17) The Study of Human Behavior by Caroline Boon (Page 18) Am I Right? by Amina Felder (Page 18)
Art and Photography Garden of Eden by Mariella Zavala (Front Cover) Souljah by Jermaine Wall (Page 8) My Drawing by Mariella Zavala “La Tierra, Madre y Virgen” by Mariella Zavala (Page 19) Waiting by Mariella Zavala (Page 20) Marionette by Mariella Zavala (Page 21)
How to Build a Masculinity Wall MoCADA “I Am a Man” Exhibit Masculinity Wall (Back Cover)
For Love/Country By Earlaina Kemp, Age 18 Cleveland, Ohio “So how has your week been going”? I have been hearing this persons voice for the last month. That person was my shrink. Well, she doesn’t like that term. My emotional advisor she likes to call herself. What type of crap is that? “Hello? Travis, are you listening”? I liked to pretend that I wasn’t because I enjoyed listening to her little lectures on how she’s not going to force me to talk. “I know you have a lot of thoughts that are still processing but you are here and it is safe. You should always feel safe with me Travis”. If she only knew that this was the one thing I looked forward to each week. Back at my house was just a prison. Just me trapped inside my mind with my memories. “Are we done”? “Well, we didn’t talk. Do you think we’re done”? “I’m paying you for 1 hour. The little hand is now on the 4 and the big hand is on the 12. I came in at 3:00. I think we’re done”. I grabbed my notepad and walked out of the office.
the cab driver is playing some terrible stuff. Barry Mannilow I think. I scroll down to “Unbreakable” by Alicia Keys. She has a beautiful voice. The music reminds me of her. I decide to turn. It makes me a little bummed. I turn on some Outkast. It picks me up a little. Andre’ 3000 is a freaking genius. I notice that I have reached my destination. I turn my iPod off and check the meter. Wow $30.50! I decided to help the guy out on gas so I threw in an extra 10 bucks. I got out of the car before he tried to give me my change. “Thank you sir”. I guessed I made him happy.
I hear the voices. They tell me to run. Not from the enemy but who I have become. Or rather the person I am becoming. They say “Keep it up Travie and you’ll be alone”. I still can’t figure out the reason why I am this way here. My so-called home.
I walk up to a tree. I try to remember if this is the right row. I see the glare of the tombstone. I walk over to it, look down and freeze. Her face is so beautiful smiling back at me. I always loved her smile from the first time I met her. I think back on our first encounter. She was so clumsy. I decide to talk to her a bit. If she was here she would not tolerate my silence. I can hear her saying “Hello? Is anybody home”?
“So how was your day honey”? I looked up from my plate of sushi. It was the California rolls, my favorite. My aunt was one of the only people that I’ve felt comfortable around since have been back in the states. She understands the pain that I’ve been feeling. So, she doesn’t get irritated if I don’t answer her questions. She knows if I’m having a good day or not. I’m trying to finish my food. Chopsticks are stupid. I wonder who invented them. I wanted to find a fork. She handed me one. “I can see you’re struggling a bit”. “Thanks. I have to go”. I got up from the table. I then realized it would be nice if I gave her a hug. I walked up to her. I hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. I noticed a familiar fragrance. I backed away from her and rushed out of the door. I often wonder how did God organize things. What made him say “Okay this person is going to born unto this couple in France. Then this person is going to die in Austria”. If I ever get the chance to meet him I’m going to ask “Why her? Why so soon”?
“Where to”? I noticed an accent. Why does it seem that all cab drivers are foreigners? It must take them a long time to learn routes and everything in a new country. “Highland Heights Cemetery”. I put my iPod headphones on because
Soldiers don’t cry. They can’t feel anything. We are trained to have no emotion. It never bothered me to not show any. But, I couldn’t help it. She was my everything. What did they expect me to be a robot? I still replay that day in my head over and over everyday. God, if only I could’ve done something.
“Hey. Umm. How are you? I hope you’re fine. I was just thinking about you. My aunt Kiki had on the Clinque’ stuff. The kind that smells like fruit. I always liked that on you. You might not have known this or maybe you did but, when I visited you for viewing I sprayed a little bit on you. I hope that you didn’t mind. You always said that a person will be remembered by their scent. Whoever came to see you should remember that smell. I don’t know if I told you but, I apologize for not being at the service. I couldn’t handle it. Your parents were gonna make me talk too. I didn’t want to talk about how much I was going to miss you. Or how much you meant to me. You still mean a lot to me baby cakes. I’m still trying to deal with it. Why did you have to go? Why did that fool think you were the enemy? Everything is still blurry. I’m still struggling to get over this. Well, I have to go. I love you babe”.
I look down at her tombstone. Sadie Michelle Brooks Loving Daughter & Devoted U.S Soldier I always wished that wife could’ve been engraved on there. It might as well have been. It would’ve been better than giving the government the satisfaction that they have had another young person risk their neck for their country.
The Dangers of Being Trite By Whitnae Peters, Age 19 Tallahassee, Florida I feel that as a group, boys have fallen into the same trap so many other societal groups have stumbled into. The identities they have taken on, in typicality, rely on the vilifying and shining negative light on other societal groups in order to point out the positivity in their own. This process of elimination identity search is just as dangerous to boys as it is to girls, who often decide to
Men’s sexual health is something completely neglected as far as American sexual education is concerned. chide others who don’t fit into gender norms, or as it is to racial groups who chide their peers for not fitting into cultural or class norms. With boys, this negativity enforces cliché and harmful behaviors about showing emotions, as well as choosing unsafe sexual health practices. I was recently talking to a friend of mine about Public Health Clinics. He was telling me how unfriendly it seemed. He’d gone in to a clinic to be tested, because he’d had unprotected sex. Immediately upon walking into the clinic he said he’d felt uncomfortable. Every poster, every pamphlet in the room was directed at female health. “It was about 10 minutes in my wait that I started to feel Closter phobic, like all the pictures of vaginas on the walls were clawing at me and I began to ask myself what I was doing there. It kind of felt like I’d walked into the girl’s bathroom.” His discomfort continued from one waiting room to the next, to the point where when he actually met with a doctor and got his testes done, he felt completely uncomfortable asking her about anything regarding his penis at the end of his session. His questions about penile health went unanswered. If you think about it, men really have no reason to go to the doctor to talk about sexual health unless they’re
getting tested for STDs, or getting a vasectomy later in life. Men’s sexual health is something completely neglected as far as American sexual education is concerned. Male issues in general are highly neglected within American education. It’s dangerous to make things cliché when it comes to teenagers. There are some that will embrace the cliché, like many boys do, and Poster from IMDB. Film: Helga -- Vom Werden des menschlichen Lebens, 1967, Germany chose to identify themselves as the untouchable pillars of violence that feminist theory often paints them to be. Then there are other that will tune you out at the first mention of the phrase, “peer pressure.” It’s hard to decide who you want to be when you’re in high school. It doesn’t help that modern stereotypes and societal pressures limit personal growth. Just that factor of growing up is hard enough without authority figures coming in on a young person’s life with an arsenal of cliché advice. Most adults don’t even consider an open two way dialogue when it comes to the issues younger people face, particularly when it comes to sexual health. The bottom line is that sexual health is a two way street, and if only one sex is being educated about their part in it, how do we expect couples to make educated decisions about sexual health?
It’s dangerous to make things cliché when it comes to teenagers.
An Intersection of Different Worlds By Cleveland McKinney, Age 16 Cleveland, Ohio
“A Might Heart” stars Angelina Jolie
who plays Mariane Pearl whose husband
named Daniel, a Wall Street Journal reporter
who happens to get kidnapped and killed by
Islamic extremists is Pakistan in 2002. When
talk spreaded about Angelina Jolie playing
the role while changing her appearance to
suit the role a lot of women, black women to
w h i t e
be exact, were upset about this. Because how
a white woman could play as a Afro-Cuban
okay and it’s different. And that’s what black
Dutch ancestry, then at that, change her hair
men want when dating a white woman, which
as a nappy stylizing look and things like that.
is the difference of interracial relationships. It’s
But in real life Mariane Pearl appearance is
being with the opposite sex that is not your
an afro-wearing person with a light-skinned
Photo from The London Evening Standard
complexion-plus Angelina Jolie and Mariane
We’re all are curious about the opposite
Pearl are best of friends and they look slight
sex and the different cultures and how they
similar if you think about. So Jolie was a best
cooperate in life, but what we tend to do is not
candidate for this role, but not to the black
say what’s on are minds because we’re afraid
women, they thought that she was trying to be
that that person would think I’m a racist when
stereotypic which she wasn’t.
I’m just plain ol’ curious that’s all. I sometimes
Why can’t we have an intersection of
thought of what the white culture does on the
different worlds, huh? Why? When a black man
occasional basics but I’m also afraid to ask them
is seen with a white woman-black women trip.
a question what’s on my mind, because I don’t
You hear it all the time; how black women can’t
want to seem like I’m intruding. And I know
stand they sight of a black brotha with a white
white people might feel the same.
A Page from
Performing Masculinity at School By James Ford, Age 17 Cleveland, OH
Performing Femininity at Work By Caroline Boon, Age 19 Austin, TX
The Slums by Jermaine Wall, Age 24, Tampa, Florida
Among the slums and the poverty I find peace in struggle. A piece of time waiting within street corners of eternity. Pieces of souls sold by broken women who know not what the slums can do for them but what they can do for money. A peace sign contradicts the violence bred like high schools breed dreams. Amongst the slums and the poverty I find life in reality. Here people don’t hide behind DuBois-like veils, no smile that ain’t a smile. Life is etched on souls bare, naked, uncovered by hardship and pain. The slums keeps me focused through front page headlines and 6o’clock news. It is here I find peace in knowing I’ve escaped hell.
by Jermaine Wall, Age 24, Tampa, Florida
My Community By Ravyn Sweringer, Age 18, New York, New York
am a young African American female
and senior men about overcoming peer pressure,
who has been born and raised in Harlem
putting pride aside and masculinity.
New York. My community isnâ€™t the safest,
Misunderstood allowed us to breakdown the
cleanest or the nicest place to live but I
stigmas attached to being a man. I feel like once
appreciate where I come from and who I am
our movie is watched our male audience will feel
for multiple reasons. Growing up in a rough
differently about how a man must act or how
neighborhood filled with many different
a man should act. Our female audience might
races and cultures gave me the opportunity
feel differently about their choice of guys or all
How can someone learn from or respect someone else if people arenâ€™t given the opportunity to show who they are and what they have to offer? to see that in some ways I am like all people.
male figures in their lives. Misunderstood is just
In some ways, I am like some people and in
one movie touching one topic that opened my
some ways I am like no one else. The people
eyes to other topics that should be discussed.
in my neighborhood all have a story to tell
Misunderstood has and will make plenty of
about struggles and prejudice, but the people
change. Scenarios helped enhance my leadership
in my neighborhood need to know that
qualities which ignited my passion to make a
change is possible-that obtaining happiness
positive change. I want to unlock stereotypes in
is possible. I feel like I can be the person to
order to communicate with others in a respectful
remind the people in my neighborhood that
manner. How can someone learn from or
change is very much needed and is very much
respect someone else if people arenâ€™t given the
possible. Misunderstood (the film I made
opportunity to show who they are and what they
with Scenarios USA) gave my peers and I
have to offer? We can learn from one another.
the chance to speak to young, middle aged
Tiger Tears Reflections on Masculinity and Urbanism By Minkiai Burgos, Age 19 New York, New York
Strong Tuff Nice & Mean But Do They Cry Show No Fear Shed No Tear But Why As I Look Around this city structured for my demise I Wonder If Tiger Cries The Tiger On The Corner The Tiger In The Street Tiger Runs On Its padded Feet Tiger wants/needs respect an loyalty Tiger attacks an kills uncontrollably Tiger roams alone yet he’s part of the pack Considered inhumane so the hunters attack Tiger escapes he’s not new to the game He’s one tiger the ppl will not tame Maybe your stripes were tainted or maybe painted on Maybe your powerful beyond measure Or mindset way to strong But for some odd reason the hunters want you gone Yet you succeed past what they thought were your limitations There aggravation begins Determined to bring you to an end They toy with your image One big scrimmage Tiger out on the prowl Hunters emerge tryna bring him down Supposedly he cant do nothing now An still you rise Come claim your prize Your throne Your title Your earth Your Skies As He Looks around This city Structured For his Demise I Wonder If Tiger Cries
By Mariella Zavala, Age 16 Pharr, Texas
Questions? Comments? Questions? Comments?
Questions? Comments? Questions? Comments?
In the summer of 2008, Scenarios USA asked thirteen Alumni ages 15 to 25 to submit essays analyzing the ways they are like all people, like some people, and like no one else. Scenarios USA has always asked young people to explore the ways that a personal story complicates and is complicated by the larger stories our society tells about why things are the way they are. With these essays, alumni were asked to remember that in American society, the intersections of race, gender, and class provide avenues for both self and social analysis and to keep in mind that the abilities to summon nuance and to embrace complexity are essential components of leadership. Here is what some of them had to say...
My Music By Nicole Zepeda, Age 23 Los Angeles, California person and I smile. Teach others how to take the steps It’s hard for me to write about how I am like all people. I they need to achieve their dreams... I become speechless. see myself as being so different. I have a body. I breathe. I have arms and legs... thank God eyes, ears and a nose I have cried many times in the past few years. My losses too, but I am me. Each of us has our own purpose. We have been great, but I’ve learned that no win can come all have dreams which we hope to achieve. unless you choose to learn from your “losses.” Change I am striving to achieve my goals and I am finding isn’t easy, but the hardest things in life are normally the my purpose, but like everyone else I am growing and ones worth going for. I am my changing every day. Each father’s strong daughter and my new daybreak brings about “I have curly, dark hair that momma’s kind heart. I am an new adventures resulting in new challenges. can be changed with the artist. I am an actress. I am a storyteller. More magic use of a flat iron and importantly though, I am a I have learned that in order to grow, one must I have dark, brown eyes that creator. In that knowledge lies my strength. face those challenges head bare hints of crystal green on and strive to achieve their impossible. The only when I’m glowing and hazy, So, at a very experienced 23 years old, I am proud to say that I do walls standing in our way stale grey when I’m sad.” feel as though I’ve lived many are those which we build lives and I have accomplished or choose not to break goals that many have closed their down. eyes to in fear of failing. There is no greater feeling than accomplishment and you can only I am me. I love to Sing! I love to dance! I have a fail if you never try. I am not done in this world. I have beautiful, curvy body that makes me proud to be too many stories left to tell and too many lives left to help Latina! I have curly, dark hair that can be changed with change. The sun rises and sets every day. I will continue the magic use of a flat iron and I have dark, brown eyes breathing and as long as I have a brain and a heart, I will that bare hints of crystal green when I’m glowing and never stop creating. Everything happens for a reason. I hazy, stale grey when I’m sad. The eyes are the windows am me... and I kind of rock. I really do :) to the soul. My soul is beautiful. This I know. Give me a compliment and I blush. Help me become a better
You, Me and Everyone We Know, and Don’t By Verena Faden, Age 25 New York, New York I am like all people in that I have basic human needs, like food, water and health. I am like all people in that I must find a reason to get up in the morning or that reason finds me. Like all people having a community of those to reinforce the meaning of your existence, a family, friends, loved ones. All people must find a piece, a job a contribution to the proverbial puzzle. Something to pass the years of their lives, hobbies, and hard work.
My mother stayed home with me until I was ready for school because she felt it would help me develop better. I like some people have grown disappointed by the idealism I was once infused with. I like some people like to break stereotypes though I have a way of still using them.
I have eyes that will not let me desensitize and a memory that does not let me forget. I am angry about injustices in this world almost on a weekly basis. I use my perception I am like some people in that I have radical ideals about the that is mine alone to recreate accurate performances in world. I am like some people who are almost powerless live film. I absorb and analyze the way humans interact or deemed so by those in power. I am part of a middle around me in my own way. I see myself caring more class, first generation college graduate race to nowhere. about myself, minding my own business and turning a An educated dead end. I am in between poverty and cheek. In the words of Roger Waters “I have become power, the sleeping giant. Statistics say I may always comfortably numb.” I go above and beyond for those I remain in this class. I feel education is a tool that can care about, in my own way though it is maybe not when they need. alleviate many of the world’s “I am like some people who are miscommunications. I like some people make judgements almost powerless or deemed so I expect too much and am disappointed often. I’m loyal about others because of my upbringing and often fear by those in power. I am part of and honest and I have a sense compromising my own ideals a middle class, first generation of humor. I’m very good at manipulating words though as a result of accepting theirs. I am like some people who want college graduate race to nowhere. this essay may not be evidence to go out and get hammered An educated dead end. I am in of that. When I set out to do something I think the words and forget about things I have between poverty and power, the I cant are unacceptable and I little control over. find a way to negotiate the best sleeping giant.” possible result. I’m resilient I am like some people in that I and though I haven’t had any want to see changes happen in my lifetime that are more than mobile phone technology, personal tragedies I have taken challenges and worked my and cosmetic surgery, real change for the betterment of way passed them. I’m not afraid of my personal truths or society. Changes in the systems and bureaucracy and who I am. I have witnessed myself attaining unachievable values of this nation. I want to see people get up and do goals and broken stereotypes just by being who I am. something and yet I understand why they can’t and won’t. I have an incredible imagination and because of it I I am like some who wants to see things happen not explore the world with a careful eye as to what I imagined because they are profitable but because it is what is best it to be and what it in reality truly is. In turn, I desire for future generations. I like some, respect religion as for my sense of self to spread like a wild fire infecting the a tool that gives some people hope while I choose not young people I teach, though the forest is thick, all I have to participate in it. I have grown up in suburbia where is a match. All I have is my life and some uncertainty my parents struggled to make ends meet and provide a as to what to do with it. The clock is ticking and I wish middle class lifestyle on a lower middle class budget. I there was a timeout. never realized my race and class until I met Scenarios.
Why I Am the Way I Am By James Ford, Age 17 Cleveland, Ohio “In some ways, I am like all people. In some ways, stand, there are those who do. Living where I live has I am like some people. In some ways, I am line no made me see that those I view as “ignorant” because one else.” This sounds likes something I’ve said in less of what they do have others who share their views. or more words, and something that tends to come And for them, it’s switched. This shows that there are to mind. This quote allows me to think of the inner many others who can relate to another person. workings of my own mind, think about my own actions, and question the person that is myself. What And “in some ways, I am like no one else.” Means this does is make me think of the person I am now, that while we share the same beliefs and do the same was, and will be. Through this essay, I want to tell things. Our reasons will always differ in some way. what this quote means to my perspective. I think this One of the many things that makes us individuals could allow others to I believe is that we know a little bit more all have our own about me and maybe reasons to what we “From caring for our loved one and why I am the way I do what ever we do. feeling happiness to being selfish and am. Many people fail to realize that I have lying, we’ve all done this at some point I say “In some ways, motives behind evin our lives and will continue on in till I am like all people.” erything I say or For me means that do, despite it being the day we die. And though there are I’m only human. out of the norm. some things that I’ve done and said Watching others, I’ve This is something that I’m not proud of, this rule also seen people do many I learned long ago, different things aceveryone usually includes me.” cording to that spehas a reason for docific person, but they ing something. This always do certain is something that things that everyone others must learn else does that makes us the same. From caring for about me, that I have motive behind my own madour loved one and feeling happiness to being selfness. ish and lying, we’ve all done this at some point in our lives and will continue on in till the day we die. To sum this up, this quote for me just talks about beAnd though there are some things that I’ve done and ing a person. I’m like everyone because of any human said that I’m not proud of, this rule also includes me. instincts, I’m like some people because I can relate What must be remembered is that this is all just ‘huto others the way some can’t, and I’m like no other man nature’. because of my own motives. There are somethings I’ve said, thought or done that naturally everyone “In some ways, I am like some people” means for me has at one point done or will do. And while I have that while were all human, most have different views those natural impulses, some can be questionable to than others. Many of my peers have questioned, riditheirs as theirs is to me and others like me. And even culed and scorned my thoughts, actions and way of thought there are other like me, we all have different living because they do not share them. And while reasons for doing the same thing. some may think they understand or will never under-
In Some Ways... By Tiauna Clark, Age 19 New York, New York “In some ways [we are] like all people…” we smile, we laugh, we get angry and we sometimes cry. So why is there such a narrow path to accomplish what you desire? If humans were all built differently, meaning some person had a nose and the other person had only one eye, then our species would never exist. Right? This tells me we need each other, to exist to make the world better. Until we understand that we; mind as well say humans don’t exist. I never realized how much I was like my boyfriend until we let our immature side rest and let our mature Questioning Yourself at the Intersection of Race/Gender/Class side cultivate us as we spoke. He mentioned by Phillesia McKenzie, Age 19 to me things of his past that was personal and Brooklyn, New York I thought I was reading a biography of myself. I am what I think I am It was amazing! It hadn’t done on me that I am Or what I Say I am not the only one in my Scenario and “all people,” Or what I think people think I am have a story to share to make our world grow I am what I live in as one. We just have to recognize that to move Or who I live around forward. “In some ways [we are] like some people…” some of us get pregnant at a young age, other get abused, and other make it rich and become big stars. So why is there a discrepancy on the fact that some of us have things in common and yet we are so caught up on should’ve, could’ve, would’ve but we didn’t. In the society that we live in, everyone once the “American dream”, and only some of us get it. Why is it fair that a bum sleeps in the street while others travel in private jets to Moscow? These intersections of race, gender, and class provide avenues for people that are alike. I wish we could open our minds and have empathy for those who have the short end of the stick because like my self I am like my peers some of us want to succeed in life so why is that so hard?
I am who I’ve been with or who I’ve consent to I am the color I am or to the parents I belong to I am the sex I was born or I am what you believe I should be I am your lover, I am your friend I am the person that is here to the end I am what you made I am what you break I am the believer, I am of little faith I am the leader and yet I am the follower to I am the individual that still confirms to you I am the risk taker, I am the one who holds back I am unknown and I am a fact I am what I make And what I believe to be true I am imperfect and I can never be compared to you I am or should or I will never be Is the same questions I have for only me I am the action that will take force now To bring forth change now I am my destiny the light that shines with in I am the words that flow from out my pen I am all things and more I am what you call an open door, or a open think er Here to help you in to only see I am what I am but the question is what are you to me
“In some ways [we are] like no one else…” I myself can vouch for this one. You can call me an opportunist. When I see something I can gain from I try to go the distance to obtain it. Why not? If you want to get ahead in life and no one around you is willing then you have to do it on your own. We are like no one else because we don’t have the same body sprit and mind as others do and that’s what makes us unique creatures. Because we can survive on our own we have that to be proud of. Who said we couldn’t have our own opinion as long as we agree to disagree. People hate different because it is not easy and very complex. People prefer we all stay the same. That is good yes, but its quite boring if we all thought the same spoke the same and act the same. Wouldn’t you agree?
The Study of Human Behavior By Caroline Boon Austin, Texas For the last month or so, I have been extremely So what does this constant inner tug-of-war between the interested in analyzing humans from a scientific point desire to belong and the freedom of independence mean of view. From watching the 1986 BBC documentary to the average person? More specifically, what does it series “The Human Ape” to the current book I’m mean to ME? My natural need to feel connect to a whole reading, “Selling God: How Christianity Went from group can be seen when I sport my school colors, or use in Your Heart to in Your Face” I have been saturating slang like “cool” and “like.” It’s in my myspace page and myself in the study of human behavior. Here are some designer sneakers. The unconscious desire to belong is of the things I have learned from reading other people’s what bonds me to everyone else that watches Top Chef or places their hand over their heart work: We have a herd mentality. during the pledge of allegiance. Humans like to socialize, connect “So what does this constant It’s how I am like everyone else. with each other, and feel like they belong to a group. It’s a survival inner tug-of-war between My smaller group, my “village,” if you will, helps me identify tactic, as we all know from the parable of the single stick versus the desire to belong and the myself with a certain type a whole bundle: there’s power in freedom of independence of people. By calling myself a woman, an Austinite, or a numbers. It’s the sheep syndrome. At the same time, we cannot allow mean to the average person? member of the “When I was a this group to be too large, as that More specifically, what does kid, Pluto was a planet” group on facebook, I am separating might mean there are not enough it mean to ME?” myself from other people, and resources to go around. So we yet connecting with others. This protect ourselves by ostracizing is how I am like certain peopleothers. Out of this innate human other members of my village. behavior comes families and cliques. As a contradiction, the people also all struggle for independence. From the time And yet in all of that, I still retain my sense of self. I am still we are children, humans as a whole insist on breaking Caroline Eve-Marie Boon, lover of ice cream, cats, and The away from their parents and creating an identity for Flaming Lips. No one else will ever write my words in my themselves. We naturally don’t like to be controlled, and journal or think my thoughts. That- along with the groups are at our happiest when we can “express” ourselves. This I belong to and the cliques I form- is what makes me like paradox creates a lot of tension, and also is part of the no one else. intricate pattern that molds us into the people we are.
Am I Right? by Amina Felder, Age 18 Queens, New York When asked to analyze myself I draw a blank. What makes me the way I am? I was asked to determine what makes me similar to some people and all people. Also, what makes me stand apart from everyone else. To me, I am like all people only when speaking of “my” people. No matter what I wear or what I do; how I speak or anything I choose, I will still be African-American.
There is no escaping it. So when asked in some ways how am I like all people, I have to respond that, someone on the outside looking in does not see my uniqueness but they see another black girl. Am I right? In my lifetime I plan to make a difference, big or small. I love to be around people who share the same views, thoughts, ideas and aspirations as me. It makes me feel less of an outcast to know that there are others, young and old, that are willing and ready to make a change in the world (at least the society we live in). When it comes to my need to live in a better society I am like a great many people. Everyone claims to think outside the box. What makes me so different from them you ask? Not only do I look outside the box but I look inside the box. I assess what I’ve learned and I build a new box.
By Mariella Zavala, Age 16 Pharr, Texas
Photos to left and right by Mariella Zavala Age 16 Pharr, Texas
“What’s the REAL DEAL about Masculinity?”
DO YOU KNOW what a “real” man is? CAN A WOMAN be masculine? IS THERE ONLY ONE real deal about masculinity? Learn what your community thinks by setting up your very own “Masculinity Wall.” Tape large pieces of blank paper to a wall (or write on a blackboard) and write the question: “What’s the real deal about masculinity?” Provide black markers and have people write down words or phrases they use to define masculinity or manhood. Give everyone about 10 minutes to write on the wall and then have them watch the three Scenarios USA films about masculinity: Misunderstood, Bitter Memories, and MANchild. After they watch the films, provide a different color of marker (red, blue, green) and give everyone 10 minutes to write down their thoughts about masculinity again. Did anything change?