By: Emma Igoe

For my found poem, I chose to focus on drunk driving. I chose this topic because drunk driving endangers the lives of many innocent people, all due to only one person’s foolish decision. Drunk driving is a topic that personally angers me because in most cases, everyone involved in the accident is either injured or killed, except the one person who has made the incident occur.

This poem was made from snippets of an article I have seen a few months ago which angered me, written by Jeffrey Braxton. Within this article, he talks about drunk drivers driving on the wrong side of the road and the effect this has on innocent people and families. As I read this article, I cut out the words that have impacted me the most and what I thought would convey the message clearly. Within my poem, I wanted to use repetition for the phrase “You’re Going the Wrong Way” to reiterate how intoxicated someone can be to not realize they are driving on the wrong side of the road. Operating a vehicle under this condition is extremely dangerous and can be easily avoided, especially with the technology we have today. I believe many people are aware of the effects of drunk driving and know to make the smart decision to not participate in doing so, but not enough people considering many fatal accidents still occur to this day.

No Longer a Bystander

By Emma Igoe 

Claudia Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric, is a very unique piece of literature not only because of the way it was written, but also because of the given effect this story has upon the reader. This book encourages the reader to think critically about racism and the subtle racial comments that occur every single day, which go unnoticed at times. By Rankine writing about these different stories, she is bringing situations to light that are very relevant and should be more widely known. She is helping those who are unaccustomed to become more familiar with the everyday struggles of others by making it easy to place yourself in someone else’s shoes. 

My main focus in this blog post is how Rankine is so effortlessly able to insert the reader into each and every story, whether it’s as the victim or as a witness. Rankine shares stories that formulate a lot of different emotions from the readers, which is what makes this book so successful and relevant. Whether you have personally been victimized because of the color of your skin, or you are just a bystander watching this negative behavior occur, reading this book makes the reader want to put a stop to these degrading comments. As a reader, I did not want to be a bystander anymore considering any small action might be the start of stopping this unnecessary language. Although comments and actions made can either be large or super small, any comment at all has the ability to affect someone. This can take an immense toll on a person’s mental and physical health in more ways than we know, especially when belittling comments are made every day.

The story Rankine shares of a couple going to see the film The House We Live In is a story that was able to develop strong feelings for me personally. Ironically, this is the first film about race to focus not on individual attitudes and behavior, but on the ways our institutions and policies advantage some groups at the expense of others. While this couple is out, they arrange a friend to pick up their child from school. They get a call from their neighbor who says there is a “menacing black guy casing both your homes”. (20) The couple proceeds to tell their neighbor this is a friend who is babysitting whom he has met before, but the neighbor says “No, it’s not him. He’s met your friend and this isn’t that nice young man. Anyway, he wants you to know, he’s called the police.” (20) When the couple calls their friend to ask if there is a man outside, he says if anyone was outside he would see because that’s where he is at that very moment. When the couple arrives home, the neighbor and friend are speaking and the four cop cars that the neighbor was responsible for have left the scene. This entire situation could have been avoided if the couple’s neighbor set his pride aside and approached the friend in a reasonable manner. The neighbor was very ignorant toward this harmless man babysitting his friend’s child which angered me because this all occurred based on a stereotypical thought.

Another example of when Rankine makes the reader feel all these certain levels of discomfort is in a very short story given to us about a man, with the intention of being kind to a woman but it does not exactly end this way. Some of the time, a person does not intentionally make a racial comment to hurt someone else, which is exactly the problem. It has become normalized to not think twice about saying something so little because you think it will have no effect on someone, but when these comments build up each and every day, they begin to weigh down the individual. In this story, a man shows a picture of his wife who is African American to another African American woman. She continues to say she is beautiful and he says, “beautiful and black, like you.” Although this comment made by this man is so small, there is such power carried behind his words. This man is marginalizing this woman and basically treating her as an object, as a color, and not as a person. 

In conclusion, this book pressures the reader to encompass all of the emotions that Rankine feels on a daily basis. As a reader, you cannot ignore such strong messages being told to you as clearly as Rankine makes them in Citizen: An American Lyric. When being told these personal stories of innocent people being belittled, it makes the reader want to do everything to stop this unnecessary behavior and to no longer be a bystander in the crowd watching things happen.

Discussion Questions:

  1. During which part of the book have you felt the largest urge to want to help the victim of these microaggressions made so often? 
  2.  What are some examples of a time when you have been victimized for anything at all, and how did you feel at that exact moment? 

Works Cited

Rankine, Claudia, 1963- author. Citizen: An American Lyric. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2014.

Excerpt From: Claudia Rankine. “Citizen.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/citizen/id908342605

Adelman, Larry. “RACE- The Power of an Illusion.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, www.pbs.org/race/000_About/002_04-about-03.htm.

Toni Morrison’s Influential Life

On Thursday of this past week, I was able to attend the Toni Morrison event. I am not only glad I have attended to learn more about such an influential woman, but I was glad and surprised to see the entire lounge was filled as well. During this event, professors from different fields of education including the English department, Africana Studies department, Health department, Women’s studies, and others were all able to come together to express how Toni Morrison has influenced each of their own lives.

Before I attended this event, I was not too familiar with the works of Toni Morrison; but after attending this event and listening to the panel of professors speaking on behalf of her accomplishments, I have been inspired by all she has done and by all of those whom she has influenced. For those of you who are unsure, Toni Morrison was an American novelist, book editor, essayist, and a college professor. She was the winner of several prizes including the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. One key moment that I was able to take away from this event was when Mr. James Felton spoke on how Toni Morrison was able to shape him to his core. She was a woman to fully embrace and understand the culture and history behind her heritage. She taught him the importance of staying in touch with where you come from, which he has now brought to his own classroom to teach his students.

Overall, I am extremely happy that I was able to attend the Toni Morrison event because I left with inspiration to continue my own life as she did hers. She has made such a large impact on the lives of so many, which motivates me to always put 100% effort into everything I am able to accomplish.

Hi, my name is Emma!

Hi Everyone, I am a sophomore transfer student here at SUNY Cortland from Quinnipiac University. I am from Long Island, NY and I am majoring in Criminology. I have an older brother and an older sister and I have played 3 sports my entire life. During my free time, I love to spend time with my friends and listen to music. I am really looking forward to this class and I am excited to see what this semester will bring!!