Although school is winding down, the stress isn’t. These last few weeks mean freedom is coming, but it also means the finals start and the missing work has to get done. With all the pressure that most students are probably feeling I have decided to write my final blog posts in a more positive way. I am knocking off the ‘I am not’ bit, and instead acknowledging simply what different people are. So welcome to ‘I am’, a series of interviews featuring a few of the important people in my life…with my first official subject being Cassandra Hughes-Cassandra is a special gal…she is the one of the most positive people you will ever meet, and she can put a smile on anyone’s face. I asked her what makes her so happy – “Well a lot of things make me happy but I really like breakfast foods and road trips and Kelby’s Mom’s chocolate chip banana bread. Also dancing makes me happy. Oh, and you can’t forget music, music makes me really happy.” I then asked “What 3 songs deserve a spot on every playlist?” “Hmm that ones hard, I don’t think I can choose 3. Sea of Love by Cat Power, La Vie En Rose by Louis Armstrong, and Island Universe by Feeding People. Also, Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N’ Roses. And you can’t forget Justin Bieber’s album Purpose. See I told you I couldn’t choose 3.”
I followed with a few more questions –
Q- “Who is your biggest influence?”
A-“There is this girl, her name is Ani DiFranco, she is a singer/songwriter and her lyrics are just I don’t know, really special. There is this one line in her song 78% H20, it is kind of long but it goes like this ‘when the joy had left your body, and you were locked in to your own thoughts, you used to love to sit by the water and watch it lapping on the rocks, and every time you put your feet in you’d cry out and pray, but it’s all downhill from here baby so naturally, I can’t stay.’
Q-“What is you’re favorite movie?”
A-“Hmm…I like Dead Poets Society, My Sister’s Keeper, Stand By Me, and Baby Mama.”
I’m switching it up again, this time for a particular reason. My best friend Grace has been dealing with some stuff lately, some stuff that would make most people want to crawl in bed and sleep. Instead Grace smiles and says “it could be worse.” I have realized she is so strong, and that is why I have decided to write this week’s post about her, and how she is simply happy.You can’t control every situation, but you can control how you respond to every one and I watch Grace constantly respond in positive ways. I asked her how she stays so happy, “Hmm, well surrounding yourself with the people you love is extremely important, as well as doing the things you love. I love to swim in the ocean, practice yoga, and cook. All of these things make me happy, so if I’m feeling down it is always healing to head to the beach or make a yummy pasta. Also listening to music is so important to me. There is so much emotion put into a song that if you listen to the right one your whole mood can be turned around.” I then asked what songs cheer her up, “Ahh there are so many, but I would say my top 3 are Naked Kids by The Growlers, Other People by Beach House, and Quarter Past the Hour by Jack + Eliza.”“These photos are actually from one of my happiest days. I had gotten some bad news the night before and needed to clear my head. Bella and I headed to the beach after school, we ate some chips with guacamole and swam in the ocean. After getting out of the water we were planning on just drying off and going home, but decided that we weren’t ready for that. So, we got in the car and drove up Gibraltar. We had all the windows down and the music loud. When we reached the top we parked and climbed up the rock. Looking down at Santa Barbara I realized there is no time to be sad when there is so much good all around us. After sitting up there for a while we climbed to the bottom of the rock, got in the car, and took the long way down the mountain. The sun was setting and once again the music was loud. It was so beautiful…I’ve been up Gibraltar a hundred times but for some reason this was different. I was so happy. It is crazy how much the little moments can change you.”
“I’m tiny but mighty” says Eden…a senior at Santa Barbara High School who is tired of people thinking she’s not as strong, physically and emotionally, because she is small.I asked how she’s experienced the stereotype that being small means being cowardly – “I’ve always been short, I mean I am 18 and only 5’2. My friends and family have always been bigger, even my little sister. People make the misconception that my size has something to do with my character…for example they always go ‘Oh no, you can’t tell Eden that, she is too cute.’ or ‘She’s so tiny, she can’t hear that.’ It happens all the time, and I think that is the most common thing.”“I’ve learned to kind of brush it off, especially in high school. I know I am short but I also know that I can stand up for myself. How big or small I am on the outside has nothing to do with how big or small I am on the inside. I have a huge personality. Size has nothing to do with anything the more I think about it, and this is actually making me notice how annoying and stupid it is. It is just a misconception, that height has anything to do with character.”“Being treated differently because of my height luckily has not made me insecure, mainly because I know how stupid and immature is it to judge someone based on their size, but also because I have taught myself to learn from it. I’ve become stronger from being called weak, and tougher from being called little and cute. I think this kind of thing applies to a lot of different situations…if you’re being made fun of for something, size for example, you can try to look at it the right way and by doing that you can actually start to grow and build character from the whole thing. That isn’t an excuse though, people should not be put down for who they are, especially when it is something they have no control of.”“If I grow, I grow…but if I stay the same height, I stay the same height. I am happy and strong either way.” So, I am small but I am not cowardly.
This week I decided to switch it up a bit…partly because I was struggling to find a subject, but also because I feel like I have made high school out to be a place where no one can be themselves without being labeled which isn’t true. I talked to Garrett Hart, who if you go to Santa Barbara High you have probably seen roller blading around campus.
I started with asking Garrett when and why he started roller blading. “I don’t even know when. Maybe when I was 12 or 13. It was when I started playing roller hockey, but it wasn’t until like 1 or 2 years ago that I started doing what I do around school.” he continued with “I do it because it is different, active, and a lot of fun. You also get this adrenaline rush when you land a trick or get going really fast. It is such a fun experience.” I then asked if there was anything he didn’t like about roller blading, which I noticed is called skating, and was told there wasn’t really anything not to like except maybe the price, “It can get expensive, when you have to spend $60 to change your wheels or $100 to buy a new frame, but it is something I’m passionate about so it is worth it.”I also asked if he has had any injuries while riding. “Well besides the constant knee and shin scraping no not really, nothing serious.” after a short and somewhat awkward silence Garrett added “Oh wait, how could I forget?! One time I was jumping the 11 steps at the stadium here at school and tore a tendon in my foot. It hurt, a lot.” “Sounds painful” I responded, “Anything else you want us to know about roller blading?” “Hmm well the style of roller blading I do is called aggressive inline, I don’t know why but it is a fun fact. Also it is a fun sport, everyone should go outside and try it.”All in all, high school is not a place filled entirely with judgement and stereotypes, and people can do what they love. Whether it is roller blading or something else and whether you are labeled or not you should do what you want to do. So, I am a rollerblader.
Women are put down solely for their gender; especially in high school when sports, popularity, and grades come into play. I know how hard this can be on a growing teenage girl…trust me, I’ve experienced it. This week I talked to Talia and Lauren, two girls who have also experienced it, on the false stereotypes placed on women.
I asked what they thought the stereotypes were that accompany being a woman. “I think a lot of the stereotypes placed on women are that we are weak or not able to live up to the standards that society holds men at” says Talia. “Yeah, people believe that we can’t do what men can do but that’s not true. By saying woman are weaker you are categorizing almost half of the population, it doesn’t make sense. Also these stereotypes aren’t even applicable.”
I then asked why they think these stereotypes are present in society. “I think a lot of it has to do with the patriarchy” says Talia. “Yeah, f*** the patriarchy” says Lauren. Talia laughs adding, “I also think it has to do with the standards that men are held to. Men are supposed to be violent and strong, not vulnerable. So people expect woman to be vulnerable and dependent on men.” “Anything else?” I ask. “Yeah, why is being a women associated with so many negative terms?” asks Lauren, she continues “being too ‘girly’ is a problem…that doesn’t even make any sense. ” “Yeah, or like being a bitch. What does that even mean. What do either of them mean?” Talia said while agreeing with Lauren. “Another thing is ‘man-up’ , what does that one mean? My english teacher said it a few days ago and thankfully she realized what she said and apologized to our class but too many people say it all the time and think nothing of it. Or know what they mean by it but don’t care.” stated Lauren.
To wrap it up they both said “Women are always kind of used as a synonym for weak but we are not. We are strong and we are powerful. We can do anything that a man can do.” So, I am a woman but I am not weak.
This year I took a class I knew nothing about called Social Dialogues with Mr. Jackson. Walking through that door on the first day I could have never of guessed the impact both the class and teacher were about to have on me. Keep reading to find out about the struggles Mr. Jackson faces with stereotypes.
I started with asking him “What stereotypes do you feel are placed on you, and why do you think this?” “I don’t really know. I do know that I am a person who carries a lot of labels though. I just don’t know which ones, because I don’t care what other people falsely think of me. I guess it would be that I’m big, black, and scary but that’s just an excuse. An excuse for being intimidated by how I teach and what I expect of students. It is easier for students to say they are scared of me because of my skin color then it is for them to say they are scared of me because of the amount I expect from them in class.”
From being in Mr. Jackson’s class I know that his method to teaching is not like everyone else’s…so I asked him about it and the labels that might be put on him for teaching in this way. My question was “Do you feel our high school’s curriculum is geared towards a certain perspective? If so, who’s? If you teach outside of this curriculum is there a backlash?” “The perspective is clearly and fundamentally conservative. How and what we learn is not progressive, it does not move us forward. It is more propaganda than education. How am I supposed to teach students to make this world a better place if I am only supposed to teach them to keep it the same? I can’t…so I have to go outside of this fixed curriculum despite the backlash. The repercussion is definitely a white fight. It is from the same people that pretend racism doesn’t exist, or the people who don’t want you to learn about diverse perspectives but instead solely the European view. The curriculum we have now is doing nothing to move us forward which is the same thing as holding us back.”
I guess the main stereotype was harder to determine then expected this week, but I think what I got from the interview was that Jackson is not your every day teacher. So, I am a teacher but I am not an average one.
This week I talked to a few of my friends; Aden, Diego, Grace, and Lauren on the stereotypes that accompany simply being a high school student. They all thought of many different labels put on students but the one they all agreed on was that people often see high school students as disrespectful.
I asked how this stereotype is present throughout day-to-day life. “Adults, with the exception of some really cool ones, expect us to be rude or disobedient” says Aden. Lauren adds “Whether it is waiters at restaurants treating us with bad costumer service or frowns from older people while walking down the street, it feels like we are constantly scrutinized because of our age.” I was told by Grace that “The idea that we are disrespectful just because we are in high school is so stupid and outrageous to me. There are obviously going to be the few teenagers who have a lack of respect for the people around them, but that is just a few out of a lot, and I can guarantee you that there are older people who are just as or if not more disrespectful than most high school students.”
I asked Lauren if she could talk a little bit more about how she has personally experienced this stereotype. “I think one example that most teenagers can relate to is how retail or restaurant employees often treat high school students with worst costumer service than they do normal costumers. If we ask to try on clothes it seems like they have a pre-conceived notion that we aren’t going to buy what we are trying on and they act as if we are a burden on them. The same goes with restaurants, waiters seem to think we are not going to tip or we are going to make a mess, so they treat us poorly.” Everyone agreed, and Diego added “Society needs to take a second look at how they view high school student’s respect levels. They need to see us how we really are, not how they want to think we are.”
So, I am a high school student but I am not disrespectful.
I talked to two of my closest friends, Grace Johnson and Cassandra Hughes, on a topic they are both very passionate about…feminism. We covered a large range of labels put on feminists, but through listening to them talk I think the most apparent stereotype was that feminists hate men. “A lot of people think that we hate men. That we believe women should be superior while men should be inferior, but that’s not true. We believe in no superiority or inferiority, just equality.”
“When people think of feminism they choose to think only of the radical feminists, who might hate men, but thats only a few out of so many people. Most feminists, emphasis on most, are striving to achieve equality between the sexes.” says Cassandra. “I agree. They are categorizing a huge a group of people in a negative way and it just isn’t fair.” adds Grace.
I asked them if anything specific had ever happened that made them realize the magnitude of sexism in our society today, and they were both able to answer quickly. Cassandra talked about her trip to New York when she was 12 years old. “I’ve been going to New York every year with my family for as long as I can remember, but it was when I was about 12 years old that I started being cat called. Every street I would walk down people would whistle, or say things that made no sense to me. I didn’t understand what was happening. I remember feeling so objectified and confused. My dad sat me down and told me I was becoming a woman, but I still didn’t understand. Is it okay for this to happen to a woman? At what age is it ‘fine’ to feel uncomfortable walking down the street? My answers have always been no and never, and that is why I am feminist.” answered Cassandra. Grace realized why feminism is so important through observation. “I listen to the people I go to school with talk and more often than not the conversations lead to them putting woman down. Whether it is through slut-shaming, name calling, or saying men are dominant in sports or school women are constantly discriminated against in such a casual way. High school is already such a vulnerable time in someone’s life, you are growing up and trying new things, and shaming girls only makes this time harder for them. I think the problem of gender inequality is much too present in high schools and because of that I am a feminist.”
“We don’t think women are better, but we also don’t think men are better. We think everyone is equal and deserves to be treated that way” says both Grace and Cassandra. So, I am a feminist but I am not a man-hater.
This week I interviewed my friends Diego and Zach on skating, and the negative stereotypes that are often associated with it. Both of them have been skating for years, and over these years have learned how many pointless labels are put on people who skate. They both talked about how there isn’t just one “main” stereotype put on skaters…but instead a lot.
Zach talked about how he feels other people view skaters, saying that, “It seems like when people imagine a skateboarder they think of someone who goes to the skatepark to smoke weed, someone who skates people’s property just to piss them off, and someone who doesn’t try at anything. Maybe some of the things that people say about skaters apply to a portion of the scene, but that doesn’t make everyone who skates a bad person. I think the people who see us like that are just seeing the bad side of skateboarding and ignoring the positive parts of it. For example, some people skate as an outlet, which is a good thing. When someone has a hard living situation or messed up stuff is happening in their life skating can help them cope, or turn away from drugs and violence. More people need to find the good in skating”
Diego agrees, adding “People think we do all these drugs, just want to cause trouble, and don’t care, but that isn’t true. The truth is that I don’t do drugs, and that I do care. I care about a lot of things. No one will believe that though just because these labels have already been put on us and people don’t want to see through them. It’s hard.”
I asked them one final question, “How do you think we can change the way people view skaters?” They answered similarly. They talked about how we need to publicize the good not the bad. “It’s like if a skater destroys property or gets caught with drugs that is going to be talked about, but if someone is skating for something positive like because they love it or it makes them happy nobody is going to pay attention or say a thing. That needs to change, because there are a lot more good people than bad people who skate.” said both Diego and Zach. So, I am a skater but I am not who you think I am.
Meet my sister Julia, a 13 year old ballerina who has been dancing as long as she can remember. Growing up I’ve been dragged to her performances countless times, always leaving glad I was forced to go. Watching people dance is such an incredible thing, so much emotion and heart is poured into every move they make. With my eyes I’ve been able to see how much ballet means to my sister, but I have never really talked to her about why it it’s such an important thing in her life…therefore this interview taught me not only a lot about the stereotypes put on dancers, but also a lot about my sister.
I learned that there are a lot of labels put on dancers; such as them being anorexic or girly, but the one that is toughest on most girls is that people expect dancers to be self critical. Julia says that “It feels like people expect me to dislike my body just because I do ballet, which isn’t fair. Every teenage girl, probably every teenager, is going to be self critical at some point, and just because I dance doesn’t mean you can blame my lowered self esteem on ballet. If anything, dance boosts my image of myself. Performing on stage in front of people and having control over how my body moves makes me feel more confident.” Although this stereotype doesn’t apply for Julia she can see why some people may think that dancers have a lowered sense of self esteem. “We stand in front of mirrors for hours at a time, with teachers constantly telling us what we are doing wrong and how we could improve…so I could see why people might think dancers are self critical. And I’m not trying to say that no dancers are self critical…because a lot of dancers do struggle with body image, but so does almost every other person out there. If I’m being completely honest I don’t think that dance is what makes dancers often harsh on themselves, but instead the other dancers. You spend so much time in the studio with these other girls and it is hard not to compare yourself to them.”
“I guess what I’m trying to say is that everyone struggles with how they see themselves, and dance doesn’t make every girl insecure…I’m living proof. So why is this stereotype so common? You can be a dancer who loves herself! Have no shame in being proud of who you are and what you look like”