The prompt for this essay, a very short reflection, was rather vague. It basically asked us to talk about ourselves and our families in the context of immigration. If that didn't apply, we were told to discuss how our citizenship is formed. I decided to analyze why it is that my white family doesn't care about who we are or even utilize our citizenship status that much and yet when it comes to others, my family really polices these things.
Family Essay: Gatekeeping citizens and American exceptionalism
When it comes to my family, our roots are hard to discern. We’re very split up: Every person who was married or together in my family has been divorced or split. Some of these divorces resulted in a very divided family, from which I don't learn much about my family members. I did learn, however, that my Mom’s side definitely has Irish blood. But that’s all we know. We don’t have any context about when or if we had Irish immigrants come to America who would soon make up my family lineage. My father’s father was never in the picture, and I know nothing about my my grandma's history, so the information pretty much stops at my Dad.
The reasoning behind my family’s lack of background however, is simple: privilege. At no point have we, to my knowledge, been questioned about who we are. We’ve never been asked to prove that we belong. There is no reason for us to be actively conscious about who we are in our everyday lives, or even if we travel. We are white, we don’t have a religion that plays into how we dress, and we don’t have an accent. This oblivion to personhood is reinforced by our interactions with police, with paperwork at the Department of Licensing, with our ability to get jobs. Family members have been pulled over, and the worse that has ever happened is a speeding ticket or some time for a DUI. I was pulled over once and they just told me to slow down and sent me on my way. We have never been asked about who we are, or questioned when we showed insurance, IDs or papers.
This was a polisci/LSJ class in which I got to have Erin Adams as a professor, who I am still in contact with today. She is truly a great individual with intricate understandings of how the law impacts everyday people. The following is my final essay for her class in which asked us to analyze Robert Covert's "Neither legal interpretation nor the violence it occasions may be properly understood apart from another" quote. We were asked if legal violence is different from other types of violence outside, against, or above the law and how. We were also asked what makes the law's violence/coercion legitimate and if it, in practice, lives up to its own codes or ideals.
We were asked to do short essays for some readings as midterm papers in my Law & Society class taught by Jonathan Wender — another favorite professor. He was so interesting because he retired from being a cop and then went on to go teach in LSJ, but all the while acknowledging issues within the system. He used real world examples so frequently, which kept the class relevant and engaging. We really analyzed how law, as a mechanism, functions throughout the quarter.
This was the very first class at the UW that opened up my mind to the intricacies of identities and systemic wrongs. This class, this TA [Chandan Reddy] teaching for a single quarter, gave me the language I always felt but never knew how to artiulate. I will never forget Chandan. This class was created by Chandan after Eric Garner's killer wasn't indicted in December of 2014. This class was a product of protest, the analysis of the state's and activists' decisions throughout history. It made me cry more than once.
We were given the following prompt:
"At the start of this Quarter, I situated our class within the context of numerous marches and social protests across the U.S. against anti-black racism triggered by the unjust deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Gardner. I suggested that we think of these marches and protests as a form of 'speech.' That is, I suggested that people protest or march when they want to 'address' their fellow citizens/members of society. In this regard, we could say that these protests and marches are addressed to us as students and as persons defined by our race, gender, class and sexuality. Remember I said that I hope the course enables you to imagine what is being said to or asked of you? And I hoped it would help you imagine what kind of 'response' you might offer. For this essay, using the image above, can you describe what you imagine as the 'address' of the protesters to you? That is, if this is a demand upon us to 'see,' to 'keep one’s eyes open longer,' and/or to imagine oneself being 'seen' through the eyes of the unjust dead, what do you think you are being asked to 'see' or to see newly, differently or with longer attention? What concepts, readings, or essays from this quarter have helped you to answer this demand to 'see' and/or to imagine yourself as being 'seen' by marginalized eyes? What have you learned by the imperative to think critically, imaginatively and politically about 'seeing?' Finally, what for you has been the most eye opening?" (-TA professor, Chandan Reddy)
Although this class was a Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies class that I managed to make count for my Law, Societies, and Justice minor, it had some striking features that really showed me how journalism informs the public and can play an active hand in perpetuating issues.
The prompt was to choose a thinker we'd read during the second half of the quarter that we felt enabled us to understand the visual artifact (depicted below) in a way that we hadn't understood it before. I looked up the guy's account, and he works for CNN [now a nightly television newsperson for NBC Nightly New in D.C.].
THE STATE NARRATIVE: