The Finkelstein Five

The story is about the murder of five black children, dubbed the ‘Finkelstein Five’, who are killed by a chainsaw welding white man who uses the laws concerning self-defence in the United States to get off his murder charge. The outrage at the news of his acquittal sparks a number of murders of white people by blacks, who do so to avenge the death of a certain member of the slain children. Emmanuel, a boy conscious of his ‘Blackness’ in public, eventually gangs up with some of his friends to do the same to avenge the death of the youngest member of the Finkelstein Five, but has second thoughts before going on with the killing. In the end, he is shot dead by the police arriving at the scene.

The main character’s experiences of identity are suggested to be synonymous with the everyday life of African Americans. He is conscious of how ‘black’ he appears in public and creates a ‘Blackness scale’ as a result, with the aim of keeping it as low as possible when in public. He believes that he is at a disadvantage in society with the colour of his skin, and that people of other ethnicities use stereotypes to judge him and make accusations at him. However, he seems aware that he may never be able to hide his blackness completely, and so does not attempt to change the minds of people who see him this way, instead trying to make himself less ‘black’. He tries to get rid of clothes that are associated with black people, and instead purchases smart, formal wear that he deems to be ‘white’ enough. When the murders of white people start, ‘The Namers’ as they are dubbed by the press are caught wearing similar garments, indicating that they have similar experiences to Emmanuel and his friend Boogie.

The societal and cultural values and attitudes challenged in this story are parallel to the idea of pressure being placed on black people until they can no longer take it lying down. The story mentions stereotypes associated with black people, such as baggy jeans, gangs, shoplifting and a tendency to be violent, as well as the ways Emmanuel uses them to reduce the score of his Blackness scale. The story seems to suggest that repeatedly making black people feel that they do these things will eventually drive them to act. One of the main ideas of the story seems to be that black people are tired of being seen as lesser beings and do not want to take the abuse any more.

PSE Reflection

I feel that this term, I have been able to settle down somewhat in my new classes. I’ve found myself eventually enjoying some of the work that I thought to be difficult. Outside of class, I’ve been relaxing a lot and my mental health has been quite stable.

I wish that I had spoken up more in class. I aim to do this more going forward. I think that I also need to speak up more outside of class and to my classmates. I feel that my relationship with my peers and teachers in certain classes could be improved. I also think that I need to focus more on time management and my organisation skills, as I felt that I was overwhelmed by the amount of homework and content I was learning.

In PSE, I have learned about some of my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to aspects of people with strong emotional intelligence. I have learned about different ways of understanding people, such as empathy.

Mother tongue

“Malayalam sansarikkua?”

“No.”

I could have been witty. I could have said ‘illa’. I know how that’s pronounced, when it’s used. But then that might incorrectly translate into the opposite. “Ah, nyan sansarikku”. Ah, because to the best of my (limited) knowledge, there’s no word that directly means ‘yes’. 

I’ll never learn to read it at this point. There’s a character or two for every sound. The words will never flow naturally into each other. Maybe if I try hard enough, I’ll be able to pick some letters out of a text. Not enough to cut and paste into a sentence, but enough to spell my name. 

It’s not always an alienating device. When I hear the familiar accent, not as thick as Tamil, not as tongue-twisting as Telugu, on the bus or in a classroom, I feel a sense of pride, a sweetness of belonging, that I’m possibly the only other one in the room who understands. 

My church alternates between Malayalam and English every Sunday. Standing on the right side, the women’s side, I would always be in awe of how they seemed to know every word of the seemingly endless songs and prayers, without glancing at the little maroon prayer books. The books had the lyrics inscribed in Malayalam, in traditional and romanised characters, but the romanised Malayalam was as foreign to me as it would be to a German. I preferred to grab the words from the warmth of the memories of my Amma singing us to sleep, helped with the grace of God’s songs. Mother’s tongue.

I don’t need to learn it. I could live my life without learning it. I don’t plan to live in India, and even if I did, I could get around with English. If I absolutely had to, I would learn Hindi. 45 million speakers may sound like an abundance, but when they’re scattered in all the corners of the Earth, it’s not a necessity. I would have liked to be fluent. Able to have two tongues, able to switch between them. I would have liked to have a community.

That’s my relationship with Malayalam. My friend and enemy. Whom I can understand, but who can’t understand me and yet remembers me as a child, knows things about me that I never could have imagined. Who can isolate me, with words I can’t grasp the meaning of, and who comforts me with the way their voice rises and falls, like the ripples on the backwaters they rose from.

What is Loneliness?

Dear Lily,

Loneliness is being half-complete, being able to do what seemingly everyone can do – walk, talk, breathe, eat and sleep – and yet having your feet nailed to the ground in the middle of a sea of people, watching everyone around you basking in a soft warmth, a low hum of pleasant voices buzzing around you. Seeds of jealousy and hatred blossom inside you, their thorns squeezing your heart, compressing it, making you feel smaller and meaner. Loneliness is imprisonment. Loneliness, in essence, is having nothing and no one.

Sometimes loneliness is used as a punishment. The biggest threats to society are put in ‘self-isolation’ in prison. The excuse of ‘they’ll hurt someone’ or ‘they’ll be hurt by someone’ is used to justify this choice of torture. They’re told to ‘reflect’ on their behavior, but often times, the ringing sound silence makes in their ears 24 hours a day makes them even more dangerous than they were before.

Some will try to convince themselves that their loneliness is a gift, that they have time to focus on work and the ‘things that matter’. That they can push limits and bask solely in all the glory. Yet, for all of them, there is a strange emptiness, deep down, an itching to be loved and cared for, and to love and care in return. Others will try to fill this empty void, perhaps with a pet or a potted plant, a little something to take up space and care for. 

It’s not easy to break free from the chains of loneliness. But it’s possible. Not by finding the weak links in the chains, but finding the hidden strengths you have. Perhaps a unique talent, a special skill or your distinctive personality. Developing more strengths incites confidence, admiration and other feelings that slowly erase the pain.

Elizabeth

Final Reflection – CREST Project

I think my project was successful to a degree. I achieved my main goal of addressing the differences between COVID-19 and the seasonal flu. I was able to go over most of the points that I wanted to address. However, I think that some points may have not been explained very well for people unfamiliar with virology or biology.

I was able to learn about the topic of virology. I only went over a small section of this area in science but I found that I had learned a lot about it and I hope to look more into it in the future. I also learned about the valuable skill of time management. I learned how to create a schedule for myself and a basic outline of what to go over in order to complete my project and presentation.

I started this project to address the fake news and misinformation spread by some politicians, who downplayed COVID-19 by comparing it to the seasonal flu. This is a dangerous move as people know that the seasonal flu comes and goes each year without much harm, which may lead to them seeing COVID-19 as an insignificant threat when, in fact, it has a higher fatality rate than the seasonal flu and is particularly dangerous for seniors. I think that my project achieved distinguishing them as two different diseases.

I wish I had answered the question in more detail and given some more differences. I also wish that I’d dedicated a paragraph to the similarities of the two diseases. I decided against looking into similarities because my project was focused on differences but I think it could have helped with understanding the diseases and why people were confusing them in the first place. I think it could have been simplified a bit more to reach a wider audience.

In the future, I’d like to address the similarities between them as well, to help people understand why they were being mistaken in the first place. I’d also like to write some areas, such as the symptoms and prevention, in more detail as I feel that I only lightly brushed over these topics.

CREST Project Reflection #1

After much deliberation, I finally submitted my project outline for the STEM Project. I’m still not 100% sure about my format but I think it should be okay (I initially planned to do a research report but I’m wondering about changing it to a magazine article).

I have a keen interest in all the sciences, but I chose to explore a topic that’s on everyone’s mind now – COVID-19. In particular, the difference between COVID-19 and the seasonal flu. I recalled hearing world leaders trying to calm the panic by likening the coronavirus to the flu – for example, Donald Trump comparing the two in the early stages of the outbreak and Jair Bolsonaro calling the virus ‘little flu’. While these people may have been under stress to take action, it demonstrates the problems we have with distinguishing and understanding the two.

When looking through the different formats I could pick, I felt overwhelmed as there were so many. I even had the option of writing a children’s book! Ultimately, I went the traditional route and chose to stick to a writing format as I feel that I am someone who is able to express their ideas better through writing than through recording.

Researching in DT Coursework

One skill that I was able to develop extensively during the course of the DT Project was researching. My product type wasn’t an easy one to find information on, as it is something that is usually manufactured by large corporations and not an IGCSE student.

Inspiration was a valuable piece of research for the development of my product. In the early stages of my planning process, I would look up existing products and note features that I thought could work with what I had in mind. They were often manufactured out of material I couldn’t get my hands on in a DT workshop and had crazy technical specifications, not to mention how too much inspiration can be plagiarism. But overall, the research I found helped teach me more about a product that I had little knowledge on beforehand.

I also had to make sure I had credible information on the types of material I could potentially use for my product. I needed to ensure that they worked with my specifications. In particular, I need to be sure that the material the product would be constructed out of would be non-toxic, as the product could not pose any threat to the safety of my sister. Research also proved to be useful for understanding the workshop processes for putting together my product.

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis assesses an individual’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a given situation. This particular SWOT analysis is me going through these four points and how they apply to me before I start working on my STEM Project.

Strengths:

Teamwork – Although I tend to be a shy person, I can work well in teams, particularly because I tend to not prefer working with certain people and I can be with just about anybody. I feel that being put into a team helps me develop a bond with members even if they’re not necessarily my friends.

Communication – I value communication or feedback from team members or other people as I feel that it can help to make the work the best it can be. I usually respond to communication in any form.

Decision Making: I can usually pick hard choices when people working with me do not want to. I don’t have preferences for most things but I try to assess all my options with before picking what I believe is best suited to me.

Weaknesses:

Organization – I don’t usually set reminders for myself or set out a timetable. This is something I need to work to improve, particularly for the upcoming IB course.

Time Management – I can sometimes be late to deadlines and I tend to procrastinate a lot. This is also a skill that will be critical for the IB course.

Problem Solving – I don’t consider myself someone who is able to solve problems easily. I usually leave this task up to other people to do. I hope I can develop myself to do this solely on my own in the future.

Opportunities:

Leadership – Even if I am not appointed leader of any group, I think that there are opportunities for me to manage decisions and encourage people to do more if their contributions are lacking.

Self – Confidence – During my recent skills audit, I noticed that I put a lot of ‘rarely’s in categories that dealt with confidence issues. This is something that I hope can improve throughout this project.

Time Management – I put this in my weaknesses category, but I also hope that this project will provide chances for me to develop time management skills such as meeting deadlines.

Threats:

Inability to communicate efficiently – The ongoing circuit breaker has me worried that communication may not be efficient enough to get feedback from my peers or teachers through digital means. I find face-to-face communication far more worthwhile but I’m sure those mentioned above will do their best.

Shyness – As I mentioned earlier, this is a major problem in my life. I’ll need to make sure that throughout this project, I won’t be afraid to ask for help or feedback to make my project the best it can be.

Evaluation and testing in DT Coursework

After my product was completed, I made sure to evaluate it to see what was good about it and what could be improved. I mainly used my specifications and client feedback to do this, as well as adding my own judgement.

When evaluating, one has to make sure that they are able to point out positive aspects of their work, even if they are disappointed with the outcome, as well as being able to assess it critically if they are happy with the way it looks. I leaned towards the latter, as I liked the way it turned out. I thought it looked very similar to my original vision and had improved upon it in some aspects. However, there are many things about it that I wish I could have changed and there were parts that didn’t meet my specification points. One of these was how it was too big to be stored as the stem was longer than intended. I came to this conclusion by testing it in its intended storage area.

Testing the product in its intended environment.

Testing the product in its intended environment.

Something else I would have liked to change was the brightness of the LEDs. When I tested the product in its intended environment, as shown, I felt that the lights were too bright and could potentially be a disturbance. I plan to change this in the future by changing the battery to one of a lower voltage.

Testing helped me to decide whether the final product met certain criteria, for example, if it weighed the desired weight. I was able to test this on the weighing scale. Much of testing also relied on how it appeared visually and twisting or turning certain parts, for example, the looseness of the microphone component.

 

Analysing a political cartoon

References the video calling app, Zoom. The grid view, similar to Zoom’s video call view, may suggest that the patient has been repeatedly on Zoom calls, calling attention to how much more people are working in comparison to before the pandemic or how work life has changed drastically. It may also suggest that doctors and healthcare workers are so overworked that they have not taken the time to understand the changes in other people’s lives. The doctor is bald and has wrinkles, showing that he is elderly and may not understand modern technology.

The caption is a play on words of the phrase “the early bird catches the worm” suggesting that those who do things at the earliest opportunity will reap the benefits. The author of this cartoon is calling for the opposite. The bird may be a protester calling for the US economy to reopen. The healthcare worker is suggesting that the premature reopening may have caused the bird to contract the virus, as workplaces may not allow efficient enough social distancing measures to safely contain the virus. The tired expression on the workers’ faces may suggest that they will now be bearing the cost of the reopening of the economy by having to work longer hours to treat potential new patients. 

 

 

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