8th Blog Post: making it pretty

While the funnest part of any e-portfolio or writing project I’ve done has been hands down the process of adding cool colors, dynamic templates, and signature font, this ‘making it pretty’ statement is needless to say, the easiest part. Okay, okay, I know that’s hard to believe, but it’s true! The easiest part of my eportfolio and/or writing projects (tailoring specifically to my capstone project) is making my website pretty. I add nice pictures, beautiful colors that play on the soft tones of who I am, as well as make sure my audience gets a tight grasp on who I am as a person, in addition to my writing.

Capstone E-Portfolio

The bad thing about this fun task is that I take too much time trying to make my page look “pretty” and too less time on incorporating depth in the mission statement and investment of my project in general. This happened with my Remediating Project III for Writing 220, and low and behold, is happening with my Capstone Project for Writing 400. I find myself working harder on my Capstone E-portfolio that I do with the actual visual of my Capstone Project. Interesting thing is that I have way more in-depth info for my project than I do for my portfolio. Any realities of relate-ability here?

In addition, I’m most excited about diving into my capstone project non-stop now. I’m ready to hash out the hard work I put into it via my research and express it in a way where a variety of audiences can understand. I’m really ready to be done with it too! I’m still struggling with how to organize it in a way that’s visually accessible for not only non-deaf people, but for Deaf people as well. I want to make my wix site accessible to people of all target audiences and think I can do this effectively once a little crunch time persists and I’m literally forced to make a great project.

Capstone Project via wix.com

Can you WIX?

For my multimedia project I thought long and hard about the great things the MIW Program has taught me and how much of those things I want to share with the world. Yes, I said it, the world. Thinking and Pondering Sunday caused me to realize that the fantasy of me knowing all about multimedia aspects was just something of pure desire. And that however, within those fantasies, the realities of what I really did know came to mind. Working with the Wix website last night while researching more for my Capstone Project, I found out a lot about myself, or rather a lot about the six website instead.

Screenshot 2014-03-09 19.42.03

For my multimedia project, I’ve decided to use the six website as my portal of visual information for my capstone project. This website will be a learning experience in itself, will help me understand how to make a real weskit, and will allow my creative abilities to be exposed to a broader audience. These things are all very important and have been things I’ve been a little hesitant to complete in the past. (1) I’ve recently wanted to know how to make a six website because so many student organizations and individuals do it. (2) It seems pretty cool and has tons of templates and varieties to choose from. (3) Who’s going to stop me? (no, but really?). I know that my multimedia project will consist of lots of changes to the ‘modern photography’ template I chose, but I’m open to the challenges and techniques I’m learning and will soon learn about this nat website. I think it’ll be a great addition to what my project has to offer and hope that it expresses myself and my project wholeheartedly.


Oyster Knives: Writing at this point


At this point in my life my writing is based around the books I read. I mean this in the most literal and metaphorical way possible (if this doesn’t make sense to some of you, that’s completely understandable; you may ask, “how can something be both literal and metaphorical?”) . To say the least, I read as much as I write and I honestly enjoy both! I love to read because it’s something I’ve enjoyed since a small child (small as in size, 6 to be exact. My mom used to punish me by taking my books away and letting me watch tv instead). I’ve also enjoyed writing as a small child (even smaller in size, 3 to be exact. I used to write letters to my previously incarcerated father; well I would scribble letters until my grandmother dotted sentences for me to trace until about the age of 6). I say these things to describe my process and interest as a writer and reader: the enjoyment of learning  both subjects still inspire and interest me. They pull me in, teaching me things that I didn’t once know, and allowing me to be the person I am growing to be in these new stages of my life.


One of my favorite writers, Zora Neale Hurston’s birthday passed a few weeks ago (January 7, 1891; she would’ve been 123 years old this year;-0 ). (You may have seen/read on of her books, Thier Eye’s Were Watching God). And amongst the many things she taught me through her books and plays during the Post-Reconstruction period, she also taught me the importance of appreciating and acknowledging my race as an African American female. Appreciating as in the act of understanding that there is something to appreciate. Acknowledging as in the act of acknowledging the great aspects of my race instead of the tragically depressing aspects that some can think of while being African American. She taught me that while being an African American or colored woman, we can be artistically and creatively expressive through forms of writing, plays, readings, and sassy-ness (something I can relate to completely, *wink wink).

oneITEM-2To say the least, this excites me about my writing at this point in my life. To know that there are amazing African American female writers that I can gain insight from, that I can learn from, and that I can ultimately connect with on levels and topics that took place during pre/post Reconstruction period. These levels take me into realms of poetry, fiction, and self-reflective writing as well. Okay, being honest, I just love looking at Zora’s pictures, imagining I knew her as an author and woman, and I fantasize about the conversation we would have about love, understanding, and oyster knives.



The Black ASL Project

HTbigBeing that Black American Sign Language  is something that not only pertains to me as a student and member of the Deaf community, but also as someone who knows that she doesn’t know everything about the topic, I hope to find valuable information that can be added to my Writer’s Evolution Essay. While briefly conversing with my mentor and previous Sign Language professor, Paula Berwanger, the name Ceil Lucas came up. Paula inquired on if his name popped into any of my early works of research. I, excited that she even responded to my email after an extended time, answered no. Paula mentioned that Ceil Lucas was a retired professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University. She, along with Professor Carolyn McCaskill (mentioned in previous blogs of mine) spearheaded The Black ASL Project collectively. I thought it rather interesting that her name came up soon after my mentor inquired of this.

The main thing however, that will help my evolution essay will be the history and structure of Black ASL. Black ASL’s foundation was caused from the separation of Black and White deaf children due to racial segregation. This separation (the first White Deaf School in America being founded in 1817, and the first Black Deaf School being founded in the mid 1850’s)provided the development of the distinct varieties of ASL. These are things I’ll add to my evolution essay, as well as annotated bibliographies to further explain my resources. I also found this cool educational video  from Dr. Joseph Hill of The Black ASL Project; he signs about the varieties of sign language, race, and historical structure. Don’t worry, there are subtitles!

Storytelling Cafe

storytelling hereI often visit medium.com, a website full of individual stories and manifestos from a wide range of people. Journalists have graced the screen with 4 minutes reads while college grads have mustered up a 2 minute spill on “how to remain happy at all costs”. Either way, no matter who writes these stories, I take interest in reading most of them; they’re really inspirational, quirky, and open up a chester-drawer of ideas. Those ideas pull me in, those ideas keep me in the space that they’ve pulled me in, and those ideas give me information that I can share with others (myself included) and take into my writing. Those ideas remind me of small, petite places where I can purchase little snacks and hot drinks. I like to think of it as the storytelling cafe.

The piece I read today was called “Story About Storytelling” by Miloš Raičević . Milos broke down all of the great things about story telling and how to effectively tell a great story. He claimed that the purpose of a great story wasn’t the stories’ originality (because nothing in this life is original; everything has been repeated and altered, tweaked even in the smallest sense) but,the story tellers own, personal story. The personal way we as people tell stories is more unique, more authentic, and more “storytelling-ish”. It was also important when working on stories to tell other people about those stories (the art of storytelling?), and that this would also make your story. That was what makes it interesting. In writing a story, one has to ask them self questions: Who Am I? What Am I Trying to Be? How Would I Like to Present Myself? These questions tailor not only to the writer but also to the audience. The characters or “customers” in the story make the story, not just the writer. We as writers are indeed utilizing others (characters and consumers) to make a great story; one of variety, diversity, and slight difference in this “original” world we’re living in.


This article relates to my current/future career as a writer because it helps me learn to write on a broader thinking level; the idea that my stories are not really about me but about the people I tell my stories to and tell my stories about, is intriguing. As I work on my capstone project, I will try to tell people about my project, hopefully helping them spread the word about my project to other people. This will ultimately help broaden my audience

“You could have great products in your portfolio, but if there is no one to spread a word about how good they are, it is the same as you do not exist at all” – MR

I could go in depth into detail when it comes to this amazing article but what would that do? I would be telling whomever is reading this blog a great story that this story teller basically told me but would that be as beneficial as you, the reader, going to the website and reading it from your perspective? Yes, it would! That’s the point of it all honestly, spreading great stories, carrying them on the bus, talking about them with their clients, and ultimately telling those stories, that’s whats important!


Pass Down the Signs


Now I know before I threw a bunch of ideas out into the wide world of web-community that seemed specific to some of you, but were extremely broad and generalized to me. I knew what I wanted to study and I also think I knew the reason why, but honestly, I was sifting through my thoughts as I answered some of my peers questions, responded to their comments, and revised my project proposal. Lord thank the heavens that while researching for a more specific project topic, I ran across this amazing research study done by Dr. Carolyn McCaskill (woman from my previous post) and her research team about the Black ASL Project.


Their project went over a a 4 year time span (began in 2007 and continued as recently as 2011). The Black ASL Project was started to focus on two main things:

  1. Films of Black ASL as it is used in the South; the South is where the most regional and radical segregation occurred in the education of Black signers. The South is also the foundation of segregation in our country (my project pertaining to ASL), and evolved ASL into a separate language variety for Black signers.
  2. Provide linguistic features that introduce ASL in the Black community and make those features recognizable, as well as show the history and education of Black Deaf children.


These two things are exactly what my project needs! The birth is the South, finding Black ASL more prominent (though I’m quite certain there was Black ASL in the North before and after Reconstruction, as well as in France where Sign Language was first “founded”) amongst the distinctions between Black and White signers. The nurturing and caring however, is in the education of black Deaf children and how their  introduction to Black ASL was relatively different from ASL introduced to White children. This project also gives tons of extensive research on the socio-hostorical foundation, cultural variation, ASL overview in Black signs, and Black signing space. These ideas will be placed creatively throughout my project to give some examples of the WHAT that is different in Black signers, as well as some historical context, and socializations throughout the years.


I’m really excited to dive into this research and hope that my project not only interests my peers and broader community of students, but teaches them something about my second language.







Put your SIGNS aside

w-BlackASL b

Strolling through information via online sources (I use the word strolling instead of scrolling because I feel like I’m literally strolling down web pages to find information), I luckily rolled over some pretty cool images of two deaf signers. Besides the fact that both were very attractive and seemed to have the most “attitude” in their signing body language (a good thing in the signing world), the only noticeable difference between their gender was that one was White and the other was Black. The male (White) signed in a more closed space, used one hand gestures, and seemed to not move his mouth as much through his oral communication. The woman on the other hand (Black) signed in a more open space, used both hands rather than one, and showed a lot more facial expressions through her oral communication.

Being a bilingual student of American Sign Language, I find these facts intriguing. The pictures jumped off of the screen and into my bedroom as I watched two very different signers communicate in very different ways. The woman (whose name is Carol, she is also a professor at The Galludet School for the Deaf) explained how she became bilingual at a young age by attending a White school for the Deaf in Alabama. As a black woman, Carol didn’t understand any of the signs the White students used and found herself literally stuck when it came to communicating. She mentions in the article that after a while her Black counterparts and herself had to “catch on” to the White signs while teaching their peers their Black signs. Some may think this is fact of having White & Black vernacular in sign language weird, while  others may care less. I on the other hand found this interesting.

I wasn’t surprised only because as a black signer, I use signs that are different from other races. I also take longer to sign a simple phrase or sentence. I find the signs that Black signers use seem more theatrical and long-winded. These may tie into how black signers differ from White signers and how races differ from one another in general. What I will do is study this more in my Capstone Project. What I won’t do is give you all of the information you think you want to know about American Sign Language.

Any questions? You’d have to try your hardest to ask me through sign language! This is of course a joke; even I have the ability to take a deep breathe, repress my deaf-ness and put my signs aside.


Out with the old


I like to think of my writing as soul-tied experience in which I’m reinventing my old self while being introduced to the new self. Sounds easy, however, it is a very difficult realization. I once (once as in a long long time ago; only a year back, oh the lovely ideas of imagination) use to look at myself as a very stupendous writer. I thought I understood the complexities of writing a final draft, not personalizing the red marks on my papers from peers, and being able to draft a quick assignment in a  heartbeat. I was not only cocky as a writer, I was close-minded to any things anew. I disliked the ideas of seriously critiquing my papers and held on to the sentences that brought me to those 5 page papers to begin with. I think that’s what it was, the clutter of the pages was what I loved so much. And honestly after so much priming and drafting, I now can look back on my writing and notice how much of my drafts I didn’t really change back then; I was a writer hoarder. Taken in by textures of poetry, fiction, and characterization, I didn’t want to let go of anything, every word mattered. Every situation mattered as well; from the long lost eboard positions that I had to learn to master, to the hot days of Summer that charmed Markley’s fire alarm catastrophe, I wanted to tell the surface-levels of everything. Without these, these words of meaningless approval from myself (my reader didn’t matter at that moment), my writing was less of nothing. My writing was a mere poof of existence in which no one could possibly understand my words without every single word that my brain pushed out. Oh the perils of Writer Hoarders!


My Writing 220 and English 325 course changed that around thankfully. Not only was I introduced to a gang-load of amazing writers from different genres that critiqued my essays tremendously, I was also introduced to another writer afraid of correction, vulnerability, confusion, and mishaps. This particular writer disliked critiques, didn’t understand the purpose of authenticity, and took over the role of a “great writer that needs no help from anyone else syndrome”. Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit, but you get my drift. This writer was me, and after weeks of new projects, revisions, peer critiques, deleted words, and run on sentences, this writer infamously known as myself became a little more aware of the type of writer she not only was, but the writer she was destined to be. The inner core of my writing was so close to my soul that I didn’t want to share my experiences with any of my readers. I wanted to showcase how great of a writer I was, without mentioning my life experiences to get there. I was lost in a sphere of thinking I knew where I was and once I found myself (naked page, blinking cursor, easy prompt), I realized that in order to be a great writer, I had to dig deep. I had to open myself up, trust my feelings as they were placed onto paper, and appreciate my readers for understanding the crazy that is me. I like to think of this new-found self writer as someone who has layers of texture; crunchy, sweet, dense, savory, tasty, complex, and simple. Some say, “out with the old, in with the new”. I say, “my progress as a writer reminds me of a fried Oreo; the textures correspond to whatever taste I want”. Delicious.


When I eat a bagel I like to take things slowly. Sometimes I want cream cheese, other days, I don’t. Sometimes I want it toasted, other days I don’t. Sometimes I even want a sweet cinnamon swirl bagel, other days I (you guessed it!)…want a plain one. The main question here is: Are all bagels edible? Are they literal pieces of food consumed with coffe or yogurt, OR, can they be used in different contexts, still consumed just in a different aspect?

Considering this wednesday word, I could go the all natural route and tell you all about the ever-so popularly discreet Free Bagel Wednesday at the Alumni Center. But I digress. I’ll instead tell you about my faboulous Saturday evening at UMMA (U of M Musuem of Art).

Spriit of Detroit was performed by the students of RCHums 390 in which Kate Mendeloff was the director.  This play, similar to my consumtion of a bagel, took many routes. Instead of me stuffing my face with information, I chose to take this bagel slow, chew every piece, and swallow with a taste of hope in my mouth, awaiting another chunck. A handful of directors and designers took the responsibility of the play and with tremendous help from the students, the play consisted over a 2-day period (beginning Saturday, March 23-Sunday, March 24).

Taking place in the late 50’s to more recent 2007, Sprit of Detroit followed experiences by two childhood friends, Anthony and Lucy. Being seperated as children because of their race, fate placed them side by side during the 1967 riots in Detroit, Michigan. The play goes through life changes between both character’s childhood, future, and present times. They were both put through a lot of emotional and physical stress during this time in their lives, but managed to come together and make sure each other was safe and sound towards the end of the riots.


Though this play is far from over due to the lingering emotions and knowledge learned through its viewing, it is still very beneficial to understand. Before Saturday, I’d give tours about a building on campus (Fleming Administration) that was riot-proof because of the politically active era of the 1960’s. I never knew or even thought that this reason was because of a specific riot here in Michigan. To my surprise, the 12th Street Riot and the Algiers Motel Incident seem to be two prominent riots and civil disrurbances back in 1967. The riot lasted for 5 days caused by a police raid in an after-hours, unlicensed bar. 43 deaths, over 400 injuries, and approximately 7,000 arrestes occured because of this outburst. One of the most interesting parts of this whole ordeal is that my great-grandmother has lived on 12th street and Virginia Park for more than 50 years. (I wonder if she was around during the riots because THAT would be something to write about).

This play took not only an inspirational note, but a historical, metaphorical, and spritual note as well. Sometimes that’s what a bagel will do to you, it’ll start with one purpose, and finish with another.