Topic Accessibility

As others begin posting their final capstone sites on social media, sending it in emails and groupchats, I remain hesitant. Posting my project site on Facebook is a very scary thought. Despite my best attempts to make it “conversational,” I anticipate that my capstone on Biraciality will be inaccessible to many people in my close social circles. The biracial experience is incredibly nuanced, even for those who experience it. This was a major source of conflict for me in my writing—I never felt like I was fully doing the topic justice. I eventually learned that I would never achieve that feeling, as no one person could do so.

With that being said, I worry that my readers may not understand this nuance and the individuality that my project represents. I plan on sharing it, but I may need some time first. Time to think, to reflect, and even to continue writing. Being proud of the work you have put in, yet hesitant about reception of the topic, is a difficult place to be in. However, it feels wonderful to be (temporarily) done and to have a product that makes so many of my lifelong experiences something tangible. Sharing is simply the next thing on my “to do” list.

The End?

So… showcase happened. It was a whirlwind to be reunited with friends from Gateway. Hearing about their post-graduation plans, accomplishments they’re achieved over the past year, and newfound aspirations was wonderful. It allowed me space for self-reflection, as well. Though I enrolled in Gateway only one year ago, I feel that I have experienced years of personal and academic growth. Sometimes, being around old friends and being forced to condense one year into a 2-minute catch-up reminds you of this.

Showcase came and went in a blur. As I was leaving North Quad, I felt conflicting emotions that are largely symbolic of the way I have been feeling as a graduating senior: grateful to have been part of such an intelligent community; and sad to see this community go.

As adult life begins, I hope to remain in contact with many of the writers I have met through this program. I am interested in seeing their future work, and know that this community provides honest and open reflections on my work as well. Though my website is technically “finished,” it still feels far from complete. I know that my project will be a working piece for years to come, both internally and tangibly, and I hope that I will be able to say the same of the Minor in Writing community. Leaving the University of Michigan does not need to mean leaving behind our most influential communities.

Post 2: Braving the Storm

After reading over the recent blog posts my classmates have written, I have noticed a common theme: senior year stress. I cannot believe it’s almost April, and it’s comforting to know that others are feeling the same. Classes have been more difficult than anticipated. Couple academic stress with the weight of becoming a “real adult” in one month, and you feel like your head is underwater. All the time.

In the midst of this stress, I have reminded myself to take the time to appreciate Ann Arbor, my friends, and my classes during these final weeks. This applies to my capstone as well. The process is messy, confusing, and daunting- but that is perhaps the most novel characteristic of this course and the Minor in Writing. Writing about biraciality, the identity that I hold closest to me and think about most, has been a difficult process. I have never tried to “unpack” biraciality in the manner that I am now, and at times, this has been an emotionally taxing process. Personal reflection is a difficult thing to do on a timeline.

This semester has been writing-heavy outside of my capstone project as well. I have written upwards of 12 papers already. Going “through the motions” with these papers have helped me to appreciate the longer, more intimate, and more challenging aspects of the capstone. Though the writing is more difficult, it will be a better and more personalized product at the end of this. Positive thoughts ahead!

Capstone Challenge 1: the Start of Something New

Until recently, I was in denial that the time for me to begin my capstone for the minor in Writing had arrived. The sense of relief, completion, and pride that I felt after completing my Gateway course still feels fresh. In moving ahead, I know that Gateway taught me many lessons that will amplify those feelings upon completion of my capstone project. Both of my projects have dealt with race/race relations in some sense. My gateway project explored colorism and my gateway will tackle issues surrounding biraciality. When I was brainstorming ideas for my capstone, I did not intend for it to be an extension of my gateway project (I truly did not intend for them to be related at all). However, I think I could use this relation to my benefit while still finishing the minor in Writing with two autonomous projects. Race is a topic that is difficult to discuss. Being a racially diverse individual does not give you free rein on declaring what the “minority” experience entails, as it differs from person to person. This is a lesson that I learned during the making of my podcast on colorism, and I will carry it with me this semester as I discuss biraciality and create a product that will be on the internet (which is forever). Though I have had experience with this lesson in the past, it will certainly prove difficult to navigate this time around.

The central questions of my capstone are as follows:

  • How do societal and cultural norms impact the ways biracial people identify themselves?
  • What does biraciality mean and what personal implications does it have?
  • How has biraciality remained stagnant over time, and how has it grown or changed?
  • What are the benefits and downfalls of having control over your racial identity, as biracial people uniquely do?

I have long pondered what biracial people “are” or what they “should be” within the broader context of the American melting pot. Throughout my life, I have alternated between identifying myself as “biracial” and “black” more times than I can count. Ultimately, this question is one that extends far beyond personal preference, involving American culture, history, and expectations. I hope to delve into this conflict in my capstone project, using both personal narrative and historical analysis along the way. My main concern in this project is that it is too ambitious. I will need to keep time management (and energy management) in mind as I navigate this semester.

Closing on Tracking an Author

I struggled with this assignment- much of the time, I wasn’t sure if I was doing it right. I started out tracking an author that is no longer producing new work (Joan Didion), which made it hard to get comfortable with the assignment. I wasn’t a fan of it at first, as it was unclear to me what the end goal was and exactly what we were looking for.

Moving to Vinson Cunningham was a step in the right direction. He is published frequently enough in the New Yorker that I always had new content to read. His works often involve sports culture, which is different than what I typically choose to read but still enjoyable to track. I’d like to continue reading his works in the future, especially if he publishes a longer work that would make it easier to familiarize myself with his style. Both style and venue might develop as he gains more seniority at the New Yorker.

Semester Reflections

I was extremely apprehensive when I heard that this was going to be an experimental course with no focus on grades. I think we all were- we have been programmed to create work that will receive satisfactory grades, not to create work that teaches us something new about ourselves. Upon reflection, this was incredibly helpful for my development as a writer.

It would be hard describe this course to someone else because the experience is different for everyone. Even when talking to the other members of my cohort, we completed our projects with completely different timelines and goals in mind. My advice to someone taking the course would be to do your work ahead of time. I often fell behind which caused me to rush. I think that some of my works could have been higher quality had I given myself more time to review and revise.

I’m incredibly happy with my final project and its potential to be a work in progress in the future. Although I don’t know what to expect from it, I’m looking forward to the capstone course because I’ll be able to come in with an open mind and will hopefully take my own advice to get my work done ahead of time.

Moving Ahead With the Minor…

Next semester, I will be taking Academic Argumentation as my next portion of the minor. I am a bit anxious about this, as I haven’t taken a true English class since freshman year Great Books, which was an experience that I hope to forget. I really don’t know what to expect from this class, but I know that after finishing the gateway I will be able to adapt to just about anything. I expect this class to align well with my preferences as a writer. I hope to finish the semester with sharpened organization skills, as this is something that I could really use to my benefit.

Grappling With Tone

Tone has been something on my mind a lot over the past semester. As someone who frequently tends toward academic writing, I had never given it much thought. This became increasingly complicated as I made my podcast. I want to be direct with my listeners and to present formal information without it feeling stiff. In the interview with my guest, the discourse was causal and comfortable. I was unsure how I should parallel these two things. I tried to make my periods of narration short, informative, and light. Additionally, I tried to focus on the meshing of the narration and the interview. I paid a lot of attention to transition. This way, I can have tones that are a bit different but have them contribute to the larger feel of my podcast.

Tracking an Author: Vinson Cunningham

Cunningham seems to tend towards writing sports articles. However, what I appreciate is his ability to do so in a way that isn’t exclusionary to those who don’t watch the NBA (including myself). In many ways, he is a unifying writer- taking something niche and analyzing it in a more accessible light. I wonder if this is solely because he writes for a venue as high-volume as the New Yorker, or because it is truly a stylistic choice.

His most recent work examines the normalization of what NBA players do on a daily basis. Their athleticism, level of performance, and dedication to competition are important to many Americans. Cunningham makes comparisons to classic players and notes that our critiques of these players are probably a bit harsh. Given what they are able to do, we should be revering them all. However, that’s not how Americans or professional basketball works.


The Making of a Podcast

My final project is a podcast. I would never have guessed this had you asked me four months ago. In all honesty, it was difficult for me to create as someone who has never edited audio or video. The staff at the LSA Instructional Support Services were incredibly helpful in lending me the necessary equipment and explaining how to use it. The recorder proved easier to read than I expected. By the end of the recording process, I was extremely comfortable with it.

Next came the uploading and editing of my material. Uploading was easy- though I am not a tech-y person, I do know how to upload files. For editing, I was able to use iMovie, which is pre-loaded onto my computer. However, I regret not researching to find another program. Though the presentation is simple, I found it easy to mix up my audio files. It was difficult to keep them organized. About 30% of the way through editing, all of my clips were rearranged and shortened, which was extremely frustrating. However, I made it! My podcast is completely edited and uploaded onto my gateway website (in two parts because it was too large). Main takeaways have been to resist being intimidated by technology and to do my research ahead of time.