Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Introspective Pigeonholing, or Why Can't an Asian Study Whitey Too?

Everyone knows the various stereotypes within academia; for example, the math, science, and engineering departments are all filled with Asians and Indians.

However, you can find similar pigeonholing within academic disciplines. For example, a black person is supposed to be teaching something about African or African-American history, while an Asian person is supposed to be teaching Asian history.

I can understand it if its the case, but what if you simply don't care to study it? I've come across people who can't get over the fact that their advisers simply try to shepherd them into the "appropriate" minority field of study. I remember coming across a woman who faced the same frustrations. Apparently because she was a woman, the expectation was that she would study women's history, which was not the case.

Some people try to dress it up as "knowing the subject of study well" and "knowing the audience" but what they fail to realize is that some people would rather just study old dead white dudes. Sometimes old dead white dudes with guns.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Graduation Report

So even though I technically could've participated, I chose not to wear a funny hat and mumu and walk across a stage to shake hands with some dude for photo opportunities. Instead, I sat with the supporters in the cheap seats.

The day started out how it usually does: I didn't want to get up. I woke up initially at ten in a failed attempt to "beat the traffic," which wound up being an effort to sleep in until 11:30 AM, at which point I called my friend (codename: the Rock) to give me a ride. He picked me up shortly after, and we made our way to Charm City.

Well, it wasn't that easy. There was various piles of traffic littering the road. Apparently there's a lot to do in Charm City on a weekday during the middle of the workday. Who knows. There was an accident, so that would explain part of it. We watched the clock as we tried to make it in time to find halfway decent seats.

After finally making it into the city, me and the Rock were now on the quest to find parking and also the venue. It was quite an adventure, filled with wrong turns, expletives, and wondering where in the lord's green earth we'd wandered into. We eventually found parking at a ritzy hotel that would cost us whatever money we had left on our person, shoved in pocket corners and the bottoms of our shoes. Thankfully, this hotel was right across the street from the venue.

After making the perilous journey across the street (don't laugh until you've crossed some city streets) we made it inside. We discovered that apparently we weren't the only people who cared enough to come to this graduation. Apparently the people at our school have relatives who care and possibly some friends. We weren't the only one. After examining the situation, the Rock and I decide to go into the stands and watch from the back center. Centered, but afar. Story of my life.

We managed to get most of the "procession," i.e. the marching of students. Then the whole pre-show stuff started, with the national anthem and other such necessities. The one thing interesting about the whole thing was the fact that there was a sad attempt to do the Baltimore "O" during the anthem. Look it up. It's an actual thing they do. Weirdos.

So that was done and over with and the college president spoke. He's a charismatic fellow, so if he read a shopping list, most people would think "OH HELL YEAH BOLOGNA!!!" After that, the valedictorian spoke. I have never heard something more generic and dull since I read my last shopping list. It was probably the most generic statement one could have made about college. Thankfully, the speech lasted only 7 minutes, a period of time that probably wasn't useful to me anyway, so I wasn't too irritated by the loss.

There were a few of the "stand if you do [x] and let's give 'em a hand" moments. Apparently the entirety of the history department (save a certain reporter, who was in the stands) stood up when the President wanted to honor the future teachers. Tough economic times.

Honorary degrees were given to people who've "achieved things." This must make the Ph.Ds who slaved away at their degrees very jealous of these folks who are just handed the degree.

Then eventually we got to the people walking across the stage deal. We waited for our friend (alias "Mr. Too Big for Society") to walk across the stage. However, since the majors were listed alphabetically, he was stuck somewhere towards the end of the pack. I sat around and watched and waited for some of my other compatriots to let them know how much I really cared about them.

When Mr. Too Big for Society finally walked across the stage, I finally used all the energy I had been building up and using those vocal chords I'd been warming up for this moment. Cue the Michael Jordan intro music. I shouted "hard wood" as loud as I could. So the exact moment can be summarized by the following

"HARD WOOD!!!!!"

Yep. Screamed that out loud in public. Probably should've checked for children, pregnant women, and priests in the area, but it was too late. They just saw some maniac freak out and scream "hard wood" in public. It was great.

After that, it wound down. I increasingly got bored, thirsty, and hungry at the same time. I took a few breaks. The rest is a blur.

So that is the commencement that I did not participate in but nevertheless attended to at least make someone's day just a little bit more uncomfortable.