Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Millennial Entitlement: Meet Reality, Old People

I am so sick and tired of people calling my generation entitled.
You know what, I am entitled.
  • I don't think that people should be fired (or worse killed) because they aren't sufficiently subservient to power.
  • I do think that if you work hard, you should have enough money and stability to live comfortably.
Interviews with Border Patrol Agents - Chet Wilson and Jim Runyan
Interviews with Border Patrol Agents - Chet Wilson and Jim Runyan
These are not big things to feel entitled to: these are the foundations of the America that was preached to me for the 20 years I grew up. And who was preaching it to me? The same people who now what to call me entitled for believing their words about a meritocracy. These aren't new expectations:
For an America of vision that sees tomorrow's dreams in the learning and hard work we do today; (Reagan Presidential speach 1985)
I don't expect to be handed something for nothing. Like most young people, I simply think that hard work and honesty should be rewarded.
We can help teenagers, who have the highest unemployment rate, find summer jobs, so they can know the pride of work and have confidence in their futures. (Reagan Presidential speach 1985)
I did my unpaid summer internship, which even Reagan would have expected to be a paid job. I did this unpaid work after putting in the academic work+luck of getting into a premiere university. Even this  recognition was devalued as "affirmative action."
I've even given up the dream of home ownership after reading about the increasing price of homes in Cambridge, Boston, New York, Portland, D.C. and most major cities that could employ me. I mean, even Reagan thought that home ownership wasn't too far an opportunity to dream of, but I've taken the millennial hit and given it up.
It's time that all public housing residents have that opportunity of ownership. (Reagan Presidential speach 1985)
So what are the entitlements of my generation?
  1. Job
  2. Job
  3. Job that covers expenses
  4. Job
  5. Job stability???
IMG_2253Like, literally that it: Millennials want to be able to get a job after spending an average of $35,000 to get a college degree (WSJ blog). We'd like that job to pay for our basic expenses, an apartment shared with roommates, groceries with the occasional trip to a farmer's market, not even cable just Netflix.
Even adjusted for inflation, that’s still more than twice the amount borrowers had to pay back two decades earlier. [...] “It’s unfortunate that college costs are going up and the student aid, the grants, are not going up at the same rate on a per student basis,” Mr. Kantrowitz said. “College is becoming less and less affordable, though it’s still just as necessary.” (WSJ blog)
Here's the real kicker about being called entitled:
The person who is calling me entitled probably received their wealth, stability, and success because of the racist history of the building of suburbia and white wealth.
Wealth is not just about luxury. It plays a significant role in shaping a family's life chances and creating opportunities - in ways we often don't notice. [...]
Government housing programs and policies helped generate much of the wealth that so many white American families enjoy today. By lowering down payment requirements and extending the term of home loans from 5 to 30 years, revolutionary New Deal programs like the Federal Housing Administration made it possible for millions of average Americans to own a home for the first time.
But the government also set up a national neighborhood appraisal system that explicitly tied mortgage eligibility to race. Integrated and minority communities were ipso facto deemed a financial risk and made ineligible for low-cost home loans, a policy known today as "redlining." Between 1934 and 1962, the federal government backed $120 billion of home loans. More than 98% went to white homebuyers. (PBS - RACE the power of an illusion)
Conversely, the same person telling me, a foster care alumni and mulatto who has paid her own way through college, that I'm entitled since I expect a job once I graduate, is probably not voicing this same message to a white kid who's an Ivy league legacy with a stable family background that doesn't qualify for federal aid.
See, I know that every generation thinks that the next generation is full of deadbeats and utopianists.
Photo on 12-10-14 at 12.55 PM
But there's something particularly virulent about the discourse in the mainstream about Millennial entitlement.
I think that a lot of the bite of this discourse is that we are now talking about a large group of minority youth who feel emboldened to flex their due rights.
  • Black and Latin@ people expecting their slice of the American pie!
  • Young kids who speak languages, C++, Java, HTML, even chatspeak, along with the Spanish, Korean, Chinese, and more that older generations haven't bothered to learn!
  • Affluent white kids who have tattoos, gauges, piercings and who expect to be taken seriously despite having markers that older generations associate with poor minorities!
  • Black "entitlement" to life, due process, and a view of the American dream without the obscuring violence of the Confederate flag!
All of these entitlements challenge fundamental assumptions about who deserves what, who can claim an American identity and the rights that come with it.

Saturday, August 22, 2015


My biological mother passed away.

Although my relationship with her is complicated, I'm going to miss her. She was my link to my grand parents who loved me dearly.

My mother gave me a lot, a strong sense of justice and a desire to understand the complex patterns that make up the world.

Well, that and a love of cats!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Blogging Update

I've realized that there are a lot of blogging features that I don't use.
And that's stupid.
Really what I do is create good content that interests me. It's pretty narrowly focused; I think I do have something of an established type or style of post here. 
The content is good and I put a lot of work into this blog.
But somehow no one is reading it. 
I guess I've always known that there's more information on the internet than one person can really sort through. Finding good content is like finding a needle in a haystack. Harder still if the content is unpromoted. Maybe it's more like trying to find a needle in a haystack while someone keep suggesting you look in the manure pile. Unless you have adblock.
So I want to try to figure out a way tor really promote and earn from the content I put out. I've put in a lot of time, at this point, I've been blogging for several years with decent consistency. 

I'm also changing that brand of content a little bit. I'm trying to focus on showing my progress in more fields: I want to give specific examples of how I've improved academically and professionally. 
As always, I'm working to produce and display more of my art work. I've been making decent progress about taking more photographs. I'm really glad to say that I've made records of more happy memories since starting this blog. Also, I want to show the art work that I'm producing, including each step of the production process. I think that this is helpful to me because I'm reminded to be conscious of my choices. And it's helpful to you, dear reader, because you can literally see the progress I am making and use those techniques (or mistakes) to edify yourself. 

Friday, August 7, 2015

Colorful Sketch Dump

IMG_2427 IMG_2431 IMG_2433 IMG_2442
I've been trying to sketch more. These are from one of my larger sketch books. I also really want to work on capturing people's forms and liveliness more. I always wish I could capture the particular essence of a person. But I do find these bust sketches to be quite beautiful themselves.
Working from images, be they paintings or photographs, is a way that I've been honing my skills. I find that I'm starting to see the nuances of layered colors that can really make a painting seem better than my sketches. I've also worked to begin to stretch myself to layer colors, to take risks while coloring an image.
I've been working a lot with Copic markers. I want to do a few colored pencil drawings of skin tones. I find that creating a flat field of color can be quite difficult for me. That's both a technical skill and an issue of the media that I use (both paper and pencil). Still, I know that I need to really try new things.
I also think that I may try to paint one or more of these portraits. I've realized that preparatory work can make a real difference in the quality of the final piece. Practice makes perfect.
As you can see on the last sketch and the notes I made, I have been trying to work out those things that I need to work on and study.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Rhetorically Speaking

There are certain subjects where the facts don't rhetorically matter.
The rhetoric that we produce, our discourse within a specific culture, shapes the way that we perceive things to be. Discourse, especially normative and dominant, leads us to perceive the world as unchangeable. Discourse and the standards of normative behavior and relationships produces measurable effects.

The facts of the matter

A fact is simply one such measurable effect. A fact is a type of knowledge that we privilege because it engages with scientific or objective standards of measurement. A fact must be known, recognized and validated by particular institutions of power - such as a scientist, researcher, or census taker. 
In the early medieval period, it was a fact that flies came out of nothing. That was common knowledge, among both the educated and peasant classes. Natural philosophers were the institutional group of knowledge holders who verified this fact. Today, we readily accept that "spontaneous fly production" is not a fact, but we tend to ignore the historic reality that it once was. The material reality hasn't changed: flies still need to lay eggs in meat in order to have larva hatch and grow out of putrid meat. But our perception of that reality has changed significantly. In turn, the way that we store and cook meat has changed significantly.

Politically speaking

Coming to the practical effects: Some facts are loaded with political ramifications.  Flies aren't a major part of our society, but people are. The facts that we hold true about people, especially marginalized people, can have a large effect on how we organize our society and treat these people.
I feel that this example is pretty obvious. A clear ramification of the fact is that women shouldn't bike. After all, it's not safe for them! But this fact obscures a political purpose for the effect. Women were discouraged from biking because bikes gave women increased access to social and economic roles. Men did not want to have women infringing on their monopoly on these types of capital nor abandoning women's roles as providers of domestic labor. The popularly cited reason for discouragement was a "simple" fact not the implicit political goal of limiting women's capital.
The political ramifications of presumptions can be delimiting. Delimiting refers to limitations on what people can imagine as possibilities. Our culture constantly determines for us the ways that we imagine and act; these determinations can be helpful or hurtful. For example, if we believe that women will be harmed by biking in this way, we would might never imagine women inventing a new bike technology since this is an inaccessible form of technology harmful to women. We might be unable to imagine women working as mechanics or competing as athletes. We might instead imagine new bike technologies that are more specifically geared towards men: longer reaches to the pedals, seats designed for smaller hips, expectations of greater arm strength for handle bars. 
Other ramifications could be social control. Facts can be paired with labels, social identities, and roles.  Facts can be used to justify stigma or correction. For example, even if women wish to be bikers, they may be frightened of being labeled as a pervert or physically damaged. 
Let's return again to the simple facts of how flies get into meat.
In the medieval period a related fact was that most meat had flies in it. Meat wasn't stored in air tight sealed containers since what was the point if flies could spontaneously emerge?
Now that our facts have changed, we find far less maggots in our steak. We expend considerable effort to store our meat in sealed containers, cooking meat quickly after keeping it refrigerated. Many slaugher houses may even take precautions in the way the animals are slaughtered and packed on site to prevent flies from getting into their food. Further, our expectations about the number of acceptable flies in meat have changed drastically since the middle ages. We have FDA, which carefully regulates our food. Expiration dates make sure that moldy or bug infested meat doesn't end up on the consumer's table.
All of these are prescriptive effects of a changed factWe, human beings in a particular cultural setting, changed our behavior. (We store and prepare our meat differently) That changed behavior then affected norms. (It's no longer acceptable to have flies in meat.)
Most importantly, politically loaded facts can be used to produce and reify certain behaviors and outcomes. Stigmatized roles can become self producing. Normalized roles can become entrenched and reifying.

What's the point?

When rhetorically speaking, we don't have to limit ourselves to the facts handed to us by the current social structure. If we are trying to imagine a new world, we must also imagine the new rules and facts of that world rather than limiting ourselves to those of the old.
my arrogance
Politically, we must decry some facts. In order to create an internally consistent ideology, some facts cannot be accepted. And we must acknowledge that some facts have been created and perpetrated to support the existing power structure as part of the dominant ideology.