School, update

School Update

A couple of weeks ago in my Intro to New Media Technologies (COMM 372T) online course, there was an incident in our class Facebook group. The group is run by our instructor as an extension of the classroom. A student posted a photograph that included a person in blackface. I immediately pointed out to the person that the image was incredibly racist and offensive. She replied “I am sorry if I offended you.” I then told her that it was not just offensive to me, but to an entire people group, and that it was an inappropriate picture to share. As an attempt to help her better understand, I also included links explaining why it is considered offensive. She then deleted the post and blocked me.

I emailed our professor, Dr. Kyle Nicholas, about the situation. My email read, “Hello Dr Nicholas,Today on our class discussion (ironically since our topic is cultural appropriation) there was a post that featured a person in blackface. I was floored. That is incredibly offensive. Once I informed Erin that the picture was, in fact, offensive, she removed it and did message me another “apology” and blocked me. I don’t mind that, I just hope that it doesn’t take away from class discussion. I am informing you of the conflict because I know it is touchy and don’t want it to happen in the group again. I will include screen shots in this message of the incident as well. I am definitely still appalled and her non-apology does not sit well with me, but again, I don’t want anything else like this to happen and offend anyone else.”

 

He replied, “I didn’t see this before it came down, Brittany, but I appreciate you bringing it to my attention. I understand your reaction and I’m sorry this happened. I think taking it down quickly is probably the best response. This is the first time in the 5 years we have been using Facebook that something like this has happened…please let me know if you want to discuss this further.”  

His response to me felt dismissive and seemingly brushed the situation under the rug. I responded to his email letting him know that a simple statement to the class including some variation of, “avoid being racist” would be a great way to resolve the situation. I informed him how important it was that racism be specifically addressed to the entire class, especially because the module touched on cultural appropriation. He then posted the following statement in our class Facebook group; I felt it only vaguely addressed the incident. “One of the great things about teaching at ODU for the past 14 years is how much I have learned from students. Our diverse student body brings such a rich variety of perspectives that I often find myself needing to listen, and think, and adjust my own perspective. All learning is growth and growth can sometimes be difficult, but I wouldn’t be an educator if I didn’t believe it was absolutely vital to a life worth living.

I make a couple of assumptions about my students. 1. That everyone is here to put in their best effort, to do their best to make a positive impression as intelligent, intellectually curious and sensitive human beings. And 2. That everyone will work to respect differences in perspective and to resolve issues peacefully and respectfully. When I see conversations veering away from those principles, I feel the need to step in and issue a reminder.

We have had a couple of incidents – both in this forum and in the broader ODU community – that should make each of us pause, and listen, and consider how to best move toward understanding.

Your passions and your principles are absolutely vital to this course, to this university and to our society. Passion married to principle is the very engine of personal and social progress, and I don’t want to do anything to disrupt impassioned conversation. But I do want to remind you all that our FB page is very like an ODU classroom: we conduct ourselves according to the ODU Code of Student Conduct. Among other things, that means that we all take responsibility for our own conduct and uphold the values of “integrity, fairness, respect, community, and responsibility.”

https://www.odu.edu/about/monarchcitizenship/student-conduct

But codes are just words if we don’t let them shine through our actions.

We build the world through our words and deeds. I do believe we are building ‘collective intelligence’ via our conversations on this site. I also believe that we are learning valuable communication skills that go beyond the scope of this course. These are skills that we will need to continuously hone as we travel through life. We are all imperfect. Let us not curb our passions, but let us channel them into respectful conversation in this forum and into compassionate action in our lives.”

 

The announcement completely brushed aside the feelings of those who were offended and catered to the feelings of those who were not affected at all by the incident. This only causes more divisiveness within the class. I admit, I was naive to think that I would be protected from racist things in a school setting, but I feel that the instructor could have made it clear that racism would not be tolerated.

A separate thread was made by a student regarding the blackface incident (as it related somewhat to his curation topic for our course), and the student explained why the post was offensive to people of color. It turned into a lot of victim blaming, and people being offended by us being offended. We continued to stand our ground and defend ourselves as there was no moderation from the instructor. As this thread was going on, a different thread was made by a different student about cultural appropriation. It started off as a good discussion but quickly spiraled into a conversation where someone made snide remarks that trivialized cultural appropriation. It was offensive to another classmate (as well as myself), so I linked an article that explained the difference between cultural exchange and cultural appropriation.

Later that evening, a student made a post that explained why she was taking sides with the student that posted the photograph of a person dressed in blackface. Others in the class then joined in explaining why they, too, were taking sides and defending the post. That in itself made me seriously consider dropping the class since I now feel that it is a place where I cannot speak. It is uncomfortable to be in a class where many defend racism.

At this point Dr. Nicholas and I spoke on the telephone about the entire situation. I explained my point of view and made sure he understood why I felt offended and why I will not sit idly while people make remarks that trivialize the struggle that people of color face every single day. I also explained to him why I felt like he should have stepped into the conversations that were being had. He then asked me what should be done to “just make it all go away.” I told him that, again, making a post about the specific situation and racism would suffice since the module and topic for the class was about to change anyway.

He posted “OK. It really pains me to say this, but I’m going to have to insist that we move on from comments about race in this forum. Starting now, I’ll remove those kinds of comments.

It’s sad, because this is an extremely important topic and we have some intelligent and eloquent people in this course who can teach us all. Racism is wrong. I think we all know that. And I think we can all learn from listening to others’ perspectives and experiences. But I am ultimately responsible for the class environment and it’s clear to me from following group threads and from discussions with numerous students that the conversation around this topic is degrading that environment.

ODU has a simple contact form for those who experience harassment (linked below). As always, you can email me to begin a discussion about this or any other course topic.

I feel that this could have been a great learning experience had Dr. Nicholas been actively involved in the class forum from the beginning. Unfortunately, I now do not feel comfortable participating in the course, specifically in the course facebook group. I know that it will affect my grade since participation is a large part of our grade, but it is hard to be surrounded by people who trivialize a very real struggle that I deal with daily. I’m not sure what action needs to be taken, but I do feel that Dr. Nicholas failed to appropriately express from the beginning that racism, as a whole, will not be tolerated in the classroom.

 

I contacted my university about this incident last week and am currently still waiting on a response from them.

Assignments, breastfeeding, words

The Benefits of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is something that is incredibly near and dear to my heart. I have nursed my daughter for almost 15 months and we have no plans on ending the relationship anytime soon. It is incredible, really. I have provided food for Maxine for over a year. ME! I made it! Sometimes I sit up at night and just think “Wow! The female body is amazing!” Breastfeeding Maxine has helped me slow down and take breaks. I was always busy before I had her. I always had to be doing something. That is only one of many reasons why breastfeeding is so beneficial for me, as well as for babies.

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Nursing at ODU

 

There are many health benefits provided for mothers and babies. Breastfeeding helps mothers recover from childbirth more quickly and easily. Oxytocin is released during breastfeeding and that helps to make the uterus return to its original size quicker and reduces postpartum bleeding (American Academy of Pediatrics). My daughter’s pediatrician also told me that breastfeeding reduces the chance of getting breast and ovarian cancer later in life.  Breastfeeding also burns calories! There are some who admit to breastfeeding only to lose weight faster. That was a perk for me, but the main reason I chose to breastfeed is because it is free! It does not cost a dime to feed your baby straight from the tap. Breast milk provides ideal nutrition for infants and up through childhood. It contains the perfect balance of fat, vitamins, and protein and that is exactly what baby needs to grow (WebMD). Breast milk is free from chemicals as well (Alison Daly). Breast milk also contains antibodies to help your child battle viruses and bacteria. It is great to continue breastfeeding your child while you are sick. I had a terrible cold a few weeks ago where all I could do was sleep, but Maxine continued to nurse the entire time and only got a sniffle! That is the power of breast milk! According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, breastfeeding also plays a role in the prevention of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breastfed infants are also less likely to be overweight according to the AAP as well.

The first six months.
The first six months.

The most important benefit of breastfeeding for me has been the bond it created. Knowing that Maxine needs me makes me feel complete. There have been countless smiles and giggles during nursing sessions. I swear that I suffered from less postpartum depression thanks to the relaxation that breastfeeding allows me to have. I know that one day the nursing relationship that I have with Maxine will end, but for now, I will continue to cherish every single moment.

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Works Cited

Alison Daly, Christina Mary Pollard, Colin William Binns. “Benefits, Barriers and Enablers of Breastfeeding: Factor Analysis of Population Perceptions in Western Australia.” 07 02 2014. PLOSone. 10 12 2014.

American Academy of Pediatrics. “Benefits of Breastfeeding for Mom.” 10 7 2014. HealthyChildren.org. 10 12 2014.

WebMD. “Breastfeeding Overview.” 2005-2014. WebMD. 10 12 2014.

Parenting, School, update

Balancing Life

Last semester, I gave birth to Maxine. I had two classes; both were online. I did my midterms online with her sleeping on my chest. I had her sleeping beside me as I took my finals. I also kept a B average.

So far this semester, I have an A in all three of my classes. Two classes are on campus and one is online. This week is spring break and I finally have a chance to slow down and just breathe.

The number one question that I am asked is “How do you do it?”

I am a 26 year old college student balancing family and school. Luckily I have a large support system. My husband is there to keep encouraging me. When I’m in class early mornings and at night, he’s at home bonding with Maxine. He is an extremely hard worker and I appreciate that he was able to slightly adjust his exhausting work schedule so that I can attend school. My parents are a great help as well. They are always there for us and if I want an uninterrupted nap, I know I can always head over to their house. Any time that I feel overwhelmed, or just need help with school work, I can always call my sister. She is wonderful! I can honestly say that if it were not for the incredible support system that I have, I would not be doing so well at school.

I also have a schedule for everyday. Organization is key! If you do everything spur of the moment, it’s hard to get everything done. Friday is my free day. I wind down and do zero schoolwork on Fridays. My online assignments are due on Thursday, so I try to have them done by Wednesday evening. Saturday and Sunday I do all of my English reading and homework. I have math on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and I complete any homework from that class once I get home. While I’m doing homework Maxine is normally wrapped on my back or in the ergo on my back fast asleep. Babywearing is the reason my homework gets done! Maxine gets cuddles and I have my hands free.

I get adequate rest breaks so I don’t get overwhelmed. I set break times for myself and Maxine gives me breaks too because I have to nurse her.

My life is exhausting and I love every single second of it! I’m am so happy that it is spring break and I’m spending all of my extra time this week with my family.

Next week I will be back to my hectic life. Midterms are next week! Maybe this spring break will have a little studying involved…

image

School

Public Speaking

Public speaking is something I have an incredibly hard time with. If I never had to get up and talk in front of other adults, I wouldn’t!

Public speaking has been challenging for me this semester because I have been working on getting over this fear, not stuttering and slowing down when I talk.

Today, I presented my speech “How-To Make a Tie Blanket” and it went very well!! The teacher emails us after every speech. This is what she said today

Brittany,

You always do such a great job with your speeches.  You remind me of a gifted story-teller.  I think that this is because you pick topics that you know a great deal about and care a great deal about…keep doing this.
You had an excellent sense of credibility and you did a great job previewing your main points.
This was a really fun topic and I don’t think people realized they could make a blanket with a few easy steps.  I heard all of your transitions and they helped guide people through the topic.  I felt like I was in a class with you teaching. This was perfect.
The power point slides added to your topic.  People could see what was going on, step by step.  This helped them gain an understanding of the process.
Your eye contact continues to improve.  You are excelling in this area.  Continue to focus on topics that you enjoy and have visual aids….it made your speech soar.  GREAT WORK.

 

This made me feel wonderful!!! I am very confident for my next speech now.

It is the hardest speech and it is worth 20% of our grade.

It is our persuasive speech. I think that I may either persuade people that pizza is the most amazing and versatile food ever, OR I may persuade people that Disney World is the best place to take a vacation, no matter what your age.

I am not going to do a controversial topic. I want to have fun with this last speech!

Hopefully I will get an “A” on the persuasive speech. Wish me luck!

School

Problem

I have a huge problem.

I need to focus harder on school!!

So far, I have set aside time for homework…that is not always effective…I should be doing homework now but The Big Bang Theory is on.

I have set up tutoring in the Student Success Center on campus…

I have actually been studying…

and the biggest thing, I HAVE BEEN WORKING AHEAD. All of my work due has been done at least the day before it is to be turned in.

I just need to work harder on focusing in class among other things.

Now, Back to my Managerial Economics homework!!

BFF Date Night, Family, Hair, update

A small update

Tonight was wash night. yay…I have a love/hate relationship with that! I love how curly my hair seems. but I don’t know many hairstyles yet! boo. I want to learn how to twist my hair.

Me the other day. I love wearing my fro!!

Me and my best friend in life Samantha!! I love her so much and I have no clue what I would do without a friend like her. This is from one of our date nights earlier this week.

I’ve been doing ok. I’m excited because school started Thursday! Also my birthday is this upcoming Tuesday. The big 2-5. Married life is wonderful. I miss Disney World. I’ve been sick and my fibromyalgia has been terrible. I’ve seen a ton of awesome movies. The Expendables 2 and ParaNorman have been my favorites!  I went to warped tour. Work has been interesting and I lost my “work bff” because she is super paranoid but that is another post in itself.

That is a short little update. I promise a longer one soon!!!