Hi. My name is Dawn. What do I consider myself an expert on?

I am an expert in listening without judgment, giving advice (when asked), and good at “playing the Devil’s Advocate,” meaning “to express an opposing or unpopular view for the sake of argument.”  It helps to clarify one’s position on things that one thinks they stand for and examine if it needs adjusting or updating.   I think being empathetic and nonjudgmental has drawn a lot of people to tell me their stories unprompted, and they leave feeling good, listened to, and maybe even getting a slight adjustment on their perspective, attitude, or focus.  I also like to ask questions and take the time and thought to craft them before speaking because I truly want to know about something.

Honestly, I don’t see myself as an “expert” in anything, hence why I go to school!

There’s always room to learn and grow.

Picture below is mine: I like photography, observing and taking pictures, and get a moment in time and a story — forever!

I am an expert on Tarot Card

I am just a learner in Tarot Card than an expert. I have Learned Tarot Card for nearly half year. At first I just watched the videos posted by Bloggers on YouTube, then this summer I learned it by myself. Why do I learn Tarot Card? It’s a long story. After I met my Twin Flame, I begen to spiritual awaken. In order to communicate with my angels besides me, I meditate and get answers by Tarot card. Here is an example of reading Tarot Card by me.

My question is “ What’s the meaning of our (My twin Flame and I) meeting?” Interesting, Here comes three Ace cards, represents a new beginning, new romantic relationship, new career, new birth, new growth. Angel number 111 also represents spiritual awaken.

1. You need to collaborate with each other, create something much more significant than if you were to undertake the project on your own.

2. You or your TF need to oversome–Although you have many tender feelings, especially a loved one, you might not have the courage to communicate those feelings or put them on display.

3. Learn to trust your heart. If at a new romance, you may be afraid to make the first move beyond simply falling in love. The fear of commitment in you or the person you love could be a barrier that leaves you feeling vaguely unfulfilled. Once you learn to move beyond your defenses, you’ll realize that these are feelings that money can’t buy and time can’t take away from you. In the past, you may have traumatic from lover or family. This has left a poigment mark, making it hard for you to trust. Learn to heal this old wound by opening your heart and allowing a new love energy to enter.

4. Don’t overthinking during the planning stages. Let one change lead naturally to the next. Too much criticism—blame and find fault will undermine a relationship, and your benefit in yourself. Although your meeting is an unexpected event, you are not alone, the two of you are so closely bound.

5. You are determined to defeat adversity. Honestly face yourself! Open a new career.

6. Commitment in a relationship. Reap your reward. The wonderful rewards and happiness that are coming your way. Very soon you shall have enough resources to do and possess whatever you want.

7. A new beginning, new opportunities. Freedom from the past constraints. You have infinite potential, bravely take risks!

8. You may have a negative, controlling, or undermining mother figure in your childhood. So you need to heal this trauma, learn to forgive.

9. Let go of the past! Hold on your past tightly cannot bring happiness to you now! Learn to let go the past, forgive others and yourself!

10. From the card, we can’t predict what will happen in the future, because you make the different decisions now will lead to the different future! So live in your present!


I am an expert on…

Fostering authenticity, passion, and joy in others! I’ve found that it can be difficult to get groups of people to get along and communicate with each other, particularly when discussing topics that require personal vulnerability to join in. When people find it difficult to join a conversation, it can be because of many things. The initial assumption might be that they are standoffish or don’t like the topic (or the speaker, for that matter). A big part of beginning a true dialogue is offering an open-ended question and then listening, really listening to what the person is talking about. Response without judgement is also vital. Chances are, at some point in life, most of us were talking about something we really like or enjoy, and someone shut us down, either verbally or nonverbally. Being shut down can sit in our minds subconsciously for years and inhibit our ability to really be ourselves. I pride myself on being able to put myself out there first to facilitate a space in which others can feel safe to do the same. Encouraging people to talk about the things that bring them joy or fulfillment brings me joy and fulfillment. When I see the light turn on in someone’s eyes as they talk about something they are passionate about, I feel as though I’ve been honored to see this very vulnerable and beautiful part of another human. Too often are we encouraged to not rock the boat or maintain the status quo, but when I am able to help someone else consciously become who they already are, I think the world becomes a better place, one human at a time. It just takes the ability and patience to see past someone’s defense mechanisms, an open mind to changing the course of a conversation and perhaps learn about something new, and the self-esteem and confidence to enter a conversation that has no set agenda. It can take some time to see a markable difference in others, but sometimes the outside messages have shrunk them so much that they are afraid to grow again. By showing outgoing compassion and enthusiasm for connection, I can foster the same in others and allow it to spread from person to person, exponentially improving our ability to connect and demonstrate kinship and community.

CUNY Peer Leader Kick-Off Report

Kick-off agenda for reference.

The cover of the CUNY Peer Leaders 2021-2022 Yearbook created by Sam Ascencio/Haunter Octavius

The CUNY Peer Leaders 2021-2022 cohort held their kick-off community-building meeting on Thursday, August 19, 2021. We began the meeting with welcome messages from Lauren Melendez, Undergraduate Leadership Fellow Director & Administrative Specialist of the Futures Initiative, as well as Cathy Davidson, Founding Director of The Futures Initiative and CUNY Humanities Alliance.  After quick introductions from co-directors Kashema Hutchinson (Co-Director of the Undergraduate Leadership Program for the Futures Initiative) and Kaysi Holman (Director of Programs & Administration for the CUNY Humanities Alliance) and facilitator Chinyere Okafor (CUNY Peer Leaders Program and Doctoral Fellow for the Futures Initiative and Ph.D. Student in Critical Social/Personality and Environmental Psychology at the Graduate Center), the day really kicked-off! 

Three of the continuing CUNY Peer Leaders from last year’s inaugural cohort led sections of the kick-off this year. This began with introductions, which was not merely a round of stating name and school. It was so much more! Our inaugural CUNY Peer Leader, Haunter Octavius, created a CUNY Peer Leaders Yearbook for each of the students to create a profile page to begin the year! Thanks to this fun exercise, we got to know this cohort better and faster than any cohort before them! The next session led by CUNY Peer Leader Malachi Davidson was on Community Agreements, where we had a rich discussion of presentness and safety in communities. The depth of thought and care that informed our community agreements was profound. The community agreements spoke of respecting identities, holding space for boundaries, openness to learning from each other, and the exchange of vulnerability and support. 

Screenshot of the CUNY Peer Leaders 2021-2021 Kick-Off Meeting via Zoom (Not all Leaders featured)

After a lunch break, CUNY Peer Leaders got to hear a bit about the CUNY Humanities Alliance and the Futures Initiative from Katina Rogers, Co-Director of the Futures Initiative and CUNY Humanities Alliance, and Adashima Oyo, Associate Director of the Futures Initiative. They also got a chance to meet the CUNY Humanities Alliance and Futures Initiative Graduate Fellows who will be providing feedback on their creative and social justice work this year. 

Then, we got to our theme for the year! The theme helps bind and guide our work as a group for the year. We approach many social justice and humanities topics from the theme. The theme is also created by the CUNY Peer Leaders. We brainstormed and polled, and finally landed on the theme of “Advocacy and Accountability.” CUNY Peer Leaders worked in small groups to discuss this theme and what it meant to them, then created questions that arose for them around that theme. Following that exercise, we explored the idea of leadership in higher education. Another one of our returning CUNY Peer Leaders, Moses Matos, became a highlighted example of one CUNY student’s journey into leadership through Peer Mentorship programs. Kashema and he discussed his work, as well as his educational and leadership path. They then led the group in a Jam Board exercise on what leadership looks like

Finally, to close out the kick-off, Chinyere led the group in reflecting on quotes about leadership by Audre Lorde. CUNY Peer Leaders discussed these quotes and leaders who they also look up to. They offered their own quotes about leadership that resonated with them: 

  • “We gon’ be alright”-Kendrick Lamar
  • “What is learned out of necessity is inevitably more powerful than the learning that comes easily.” – Malcolm Gladwell
  • “The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” – Neil Gaiman
  • What is it the slightly older people want from the slightly younger people? They want credit for having survived so long, and often imaginatively, under difficult conditions. Slightly younger people are intolerably stingy about giving them credit for that.What is it the slightly younger people want from the slightly older people? More than anything, I think, they want acknowledgement, and without further ado, that they are without question women and men now.” – Kurt Vonnegut
  • “It is through art that we will prevail and we will endure. It lives on after us and defines us as people.” – Rita Moreno, actress, EGOT, activist
  • “If you are tempted to look outside yourself for approval, you have compromised your integrity . If you need a witness, be your own” Epictetus


My name is Ian Fernandez, and I am 19 years old. I’m in my third semester in college, and I am a theatre major. I went to Frank Sinatra School of the Arts for 4 years as a vocal major, and I love to sing and act more than anything else in the world. During my time at Sinatra, I have been involved in different concerts at various famous venues across the city, ranging from the MetLife Building, to Madison Square Garden, to Lincoln Center. I am trying to transfer to Brooklyn or Queens College to double major in both acting and music performance. I am also one of the youngest legally licensed tour guides in New York City, receiving my license back in March at age 18. I hope that this year at CUNY Peer Leaders will be a splendid one, and I am ready to discuss about advocacy and accountability.

La Protagonizade Traumatizada: Tracing Intersectional Queer Truama For Future Heros

La Protagonizade Traumatizada: Tracing Intersectional Queer Truama For Future Heros

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What’s something you think you’re an expert on?

This is a question I’ve been thinking about for a while now. You know, my topics always tend to be queer-centered. I think many of my topics tend to be queer-centered because when we talk about the queer experience when we talk about LGBTQ+ pedagogy and theories and such but I feel like there’s much more that encapsulates what we are actually looking to talk about. recently started learning about feminism and the ways that feminism can be radical and stratified and broken and intersectional and the concepts of slow violence cultural violence and direct violence and how this really relates to our ideas. And I’ve kind of been really reflecting on, you know the things that I think that I know.

I’ve been blessed to just be in the space with scholars and educators and advocates and activists, you know, an active learners, I’ve, I think that I’ve been an advocate, but it took me a really long time to claim the term advocate for myself. I think a lot of people tell me that I have a legacy. I’ve left a legacy but it’s hard to look back and say that I have a legacy when I think that I see all the smaller parts that come together. I think that’s important to recognize. I don’t think that I know very much about the queer experience you know if you had to ask me and if I was being honest I would tell you that I’m, I’m an ally first. I’m trans. Second, I’m queer second I’m gay. Second, I am an ally.And I think that the term ally is a lot of people say it’s a verb, I don’t I don’t think that it’s a verb. I think that it’s an experience. It’s a goal. It’s something you need to achieve, and it’s something you have to recognize and it’s something you have to be educated in.

A side profile of a woman in a russet-colored turtleneck and white bag. She looks up with her eyes closed.

“We are all experts in the trauma that our bodies tell us from the generations of people that we come from. We are experts in that trauma.”

— Haunter/Sam Ascencio

See L020A Sylvia Rivera, “Y’all Better Quiet Down” Original Authorized Video by LoveTapesCollective, 1973 Gay Pride Rally NYC https://vimeo.com/331483480


If I’m looking back on, you know, my experiences are tied to theirs.

The video of Sylvia Rivera at that rally talking about STARS, being booed on stage that’s an experience that I don’t think many of us in this younger generation can say that we have. Why do I want to stop thinking of these individuals is because I don’t want us as minoritized genders and sexualities to be lost in a singular story.

How do we bring these larger experiences into our conversations you know? My experiences are tied to theirs. I think that they have the experience of fighting for their lives of feeling fear of actually putting their lives on the line of standing at a protest, not knowing if they’re going to come home and in many ways that makes them my family. They make me what I am today because they give me the strength to do so. They’re not necessarily speaking to the population they are looking to serve, and this is what I am referring to when I’m an ally. This is why I say that I’m disappointed that I only have so many individuals that I see as the experts on this opinion. These are the authorities to me. My knowledge is generational because of them. My knowledge is on base because of them

This subject is not regarded as in good taste. I would honestly tell you it’s not, it’s not good to be queer.Why because how many individuals do you know with a PhD, specifically in LGBT studies, that are not under, you know, a women’s center banner under gender studies? So, when I reflect on this prompt, what do I consider myself an expert on. I would tell you that I’m an expert only on myself. I used to tell myself, you know, the only person I can as my heroe is my future self because that’s the only person I’m ever going to be. And yes, I can embody the traits of the people that I love, but in no way Will I ever be whatever hero you identify as you are never going to be them. You only be yourself but that doesn’t mean you can’t embody the things you appreciate the most. You are an amalgamation of those that you love and respect. We are all experts in the trauma that our bodies tell us from the generations of people that we come from. We are experts in that trauma.

Shameless Plug!

Hello everyone!

Yesterday’s sneak peek presentations were so well made and very inspiring. I’m beyond ecstatic for the 21st to see everyone’s project and to just enjoy it all. I wanted to share the early episodes of my podcast along with the most recent in case anyone would like to listen. Below I will embed my favorite episodes so far and will provide the link to the actual podcast site.

Website url: https://anchor.fm/keeponrolling

Where Do We Go From Here?

It’s been one year since I’ve seen the Queens College campus. It’s been one year since I walked throughout my college’s library looking for a cozy place to read and complete upcoming assignments. It’s been one year since I’ve walked down the block with my friend Sam hungry for our lunch special at the local Chinese restaurant. It’s been one year since I’ve lived a normal life. This historical moment has changed life for many. Throughout my academic career, I was immersed in the history of past lives. Learning about events such as the Bubonic Plague and even the Spanish Flu, but never did I think I would experience an epidemic nearly as major as the 2 mentioned prior. Although this global pandemic has contributed to a multitude of changes that no one was ready for, I think it has given me the ability to think about life outside of its normal everyday routine. Like most, I followed a set regime. Wake up early in the morning, catch the bus, head to my classes, take a lunch break, resume classes, finish school, hang around after school and go home. I had it set, for 15 years I have had it set. Prior to the onset of Covid-19, spontaneity was a  foreign concept. Doing activities outside of my regimen was very rare to me, however, when the world paused, the routines paused as well. I could no longer fall in line with what I have been doing for years without thought. While Covid-19 has done a lot of harm by taking numerous lives, I appreciate that it has given me the time to burst my bubble. A bubble that I didn’t even know I was in. Routines are not bad as long as there is a blend of spontaneity. I am excited to continue on my journey that incorporates a greater sense of fluidity.

Handmade Compensation

The small clouds of smoke shatter before my face, 
The lights are dim and I barely see them disappear, 
Will I ever find ease? I feel trapped in own thoughts,  
There is a labyrinth of memories that torment and entertain me,  
There is no escape way, there is no end to the remorse 
What ifs invade my self-consolations, what if, I was free? 
I cry my frustration out, I lose the tension that imprisons my temple,  
Each cry has a name attached to it, as if they were conscient and alive,  
I suffer the unavoidable pain of reality,  
I think, I think too much of the past, letting my future melt  
I try to build the perfect world in my head,  
Don’t we all feel we play the main role in our lives’ movie?  
Handmade compensation she says, yes, but it is out of my hands,  
Sadness clings to my soul and I run in circles coming back to... 
You, oh melancholy of my days, I wish I loved you instead  
Sun rays pierce my darkness, my smoke clouds, 
The dim lights of the room seem so natural to me,  
I taste the blood in my mouth and the burning passion  
Consuming my self like time consumes our existence,  
The severe coldness of my thought releases in its fog my sourness  
El Concierto de Aranjuez plays for the second time,  
My tears run down my checks, I can’t stop them this time,  
I am not heartless, you see, I am here, I am present,  
I am happy even during this gloomy discourse,  
My cigarette is a witness, you, my beloved friend, are a reason  
She says “I hold you,” but I am in an endless fall,  
Gravity vanishes when I am imprisoned in hopelessness and hope,  
The universe within my head is healing, I am burning my open wounds with my ashes,  
Maybe is true that we cannot save who does not want to be saved,  
She holds my hand, but I let it go and fall in the infinite void of the abyss  
Dear, this is the cure to my emptiness, to my controversial being,  
We hug death by ourselves, we kiss the poison and swallow it,  
We, my dear, were never supposed to die, but now we  
Waste our breath fighting for a life that is destined to fade away, 
Handmade compensation she says, it is, indeed it is. 

I wrote this poem at a very difficult time in my life. These lines reflect some of the things I felt, that I still feel… When the pandemic started my life changed completely. When I had to slow down my life’s rhythm, I realized that I really was not okay and that I had been like this for a long time. Sometimes with the affairs of our routines, even though we live within ourselves, we don’t pay enough attention to ourselves. Between classes, work, meetings and other things, I didn’t have time to talk to myself, to reflect, to enjoy my own company. When I saw myself at home, trapped, with a little more time to see myself in the mirror, I began to analyze and reflect on who I am, what I want, the state of my soul, among other things. When one becomes vulnerable by shredding the barriers that they have built for themselves and others, seeing the truth hurts. Still, it is important. This poem is significant because I wrote it at a time when I no longer had the strength to stay afloat and when I read it out loud I decided that I had to continue.

Hello there, I hope you are doing well. You matter. You are doing great. You will get through your battle. Please take care. Reach out! And enjoy life as much as possible. 🙂

Dying To Be Competent

Hey everyone!

I hope you all are doing well. In this blog post, we’re going to be discussing Tressie McMillian Cottem’s book Thick. 

Since her book did cover quite a bit we will only be focusing on a few chapters. Enjoy!

To start let’s talk a bit about the chapter “In The Name of Beauty”. In this chapter, she touched on the commodification of beauty and its distinct relations to whiteness. In a capitalistic society, beauty is a type of capital targeted primarily at women. The point she tries to drive through, though, is that beauty being a product of whiteness is upheld at the expense of nonwhite women (and especially black women) to maintain a system of oppression. When Cottem is talking about beauty she isn’t so much as describing physical appearance as she is discussing the systematic ways in which certain ideas are used to maintain prominent social hierarchies. The great lengths taken to convince women that beauty is achievable is sickening but unsurprising given the fact that there’s not much money to be made from telling women they’re ugly without at least proving a solution. She wrote on page 66, “White women need me to believe I can earn beauty, because when I want what I cannot have, what they have becomes even more valuable.” I thought that was such a powerful statement because it truly underscored why ideals of beauty are so important in our society. She talks about the freedom one receives from acknowledging that they are not the standard of beauty and how that recognition exposes the violence of using beauty as a means of social control. To understand your ranking among the standards, according to her, is to be free.

Another chapter that struck a chord in me was “Dying to Be Competent”. This chapter went into the atrocities that black women, specifically expecting mothers, face in the healthcare system. Her experience receiving care as she described it was horrific. Her discomfort and pain were minimized and her concerns invalidated. But what was truly unfortunate was how social position and status were of no use when the nurses and doctors saw her. It didn’t matter that she was a well-learned and accomplished scholar or that she spoke “well”, all they saw was incompetent and she was treated as such. Just imagine if people like her and even Serena Williams can be ignored and dismissed by medical professionals, how much harder must it be for less-privileged, poor black women to navigate the healthcare system. To be viewed as incompetent is to be de-valued, and stripped of any sense of human dignity. Cottem mentioned how the rates of Black mothers that die during childbirth in America are similar to those found in much much poorer countries. It’s insane to have such a high mortality rate in a country that views itself as a “city on a hill”. I think this chapter spoke to my fear of pregnancy but it also spoke to the gross realities of being a black woman in America.

Lastly, let’s talk about the chapter, “Black Girlhood, Interrupted”. In this chapter, she wrote about the perceptions of black girls/ black women and their sexuality. She discussed how the adultification and over-sexualization of black girls are extremely harmful and destructive. Desirability is mentioned for the role it plays in whether a woman is viewed as being a ho or not. This desirability as dictated by men makes them susceptible to immense violence. And as her cousin mentioned in this chapter, once you’re a ho you could never be a victim. Although Cottem didn’t discuss this very much in her book, I think it’s worthwhile to consider how the dynamics of victimhood collide with the way we understand toxic masculinity and the sexual exploitation of black women. This whole convo around victimhood also led me to think about how sex work is viewed and the little protection sex workers are given. We can even consider the way similar ideas manifest themselves in the outburst of violence that has been dealt upon black trans women. 

I think ingrained in all of these chapters is a discussion around value: Who is valued in society? How is that value distributed? And how is it used to perpetuate greater inequalities among groups? All of these are questions that are vital to the way we move throughout this world.

Why Medical Anthropology Works and Why More Countries Should Be Implementing It

For years, most nations have struggled to create an equal and effective healthcare system for its people because of their failure to recognize inequality. Many have instead chosen to fall into a “fee-for-service” system in which the neediest are ignored and the necessitiesof only the rich are met. Therefore, in order to properly understand the disparities found in a community’s experience of disease and its access to health care, “one needs a deep understanding of history and political economy” (Paul Farmer). Now, more than ever, with increasing mortality rates and global dissatisfaction toward the approach of modern medicine, the need to look at a people’s social, political, and economic history in order to properly treat has proven to be crucial. Such a holistic approach is what ultimately stands in the way of universal and effective health care and proper diagnosis of the issues at hand: social and economic inequality.

         Amid the global confusion of how to approach community health disparities and unequal healthcare models, Medical Anthropology suggests that in order to create an efficient healthcare system, social and cultural constructs of society must be understood. From the social origins of illness to the stigma and fear surrounding certain diseases, this perspective turns a critical lens toward our society’s institutions of power that continue to further disease and poor health. For example, in its analysis of industry contribution to pollution and the serious health disadvantages it creates, the Medical Anthropology perspective attributes such lasting calamities to social and economic hierarchies that have prevented the poor from bettering their health.  Thus, it is clear that for healthcare to reach those most in need, a major shift is needed in how we assess and define health. Anthropological discourses, like Medical Anthropology also encourage countries like our own to understand health concerns not only in a medical context but in the context of social, economic, and political inequalities. Implementing such strategies will thus help us hold various institutions of power responsible for their actions, and it will inspire nations, cultures, and communities to re-think and recognize health concerns within their diverse social contexts.  

         As an Anthropology major myself, I think a discourse in which diseases and public health issues are viewed both biologically and socially is crucial for the betterment of our society, both on an individual and community-based level. Although it is a newer perspective, it is also encouraging to see more countries consider social contexts and inequity when studying various diseases and how they affect their people!

Mental Health in South Asian Community

Talk of mental health in the South Asian community is largely nonexistent. Despite assimilation and adoption of a more American lifestyle, many South Asian households encourage the taboo that surrounds depression, suicide, and mental illness. Told to “tough it out”, to “stop showing weakness”, many first generation South Asian children grow up with a warped sense of what mental health is and why it should be prioritized. Young, Indian women especially, have shown to have poorer mental health because of such discrepancies in their upbringing. Although this is a prevalent issue among millions of families both in the U.S. and around the world, there is little research on how familial ignorance of mental health negatively impacts young women. According to an Asian and Pacific Islander American Health Forum report (APIAHF), South Asian Americans have had the lowest rate of utilization of mental health services. This has perpetuated the fear and shame that is experienced by first generation South Asian millennials when they seek treatment, therapy or help. A major reason for this is the intergenerational culture differences that occur in many families. In order to understand why this frequently occurs in South Asian families living in America, it is important to explore how the South Asian community has defined itself within the contexts of mental health, seeking help, and vulnerability.

Tummala- Narra (2018), discusses the numerous challenges experienced by South Asian immigrants and their children, that prevent this group from prioritizing their mental health, especially among South Asian women. Although acculturative stress and trauma exist within this community, it is rarely acknowledged, leading to the universal denial of such mental health outcomes, both in previous immigrant generations, and current ones. It has therefore been recommended that a restructuring our understanding of immigrant mental health is required in order to better define and diagnose the issues of the South Asian American community. 

As a first generation, Indian woman myself, I have witnessed firsthand how destructive the invalidation of mental health in my community has been. As I complete my project on this topic, I hope to investigate how taboos surrounding mental health have been normalized, and why intergenerational stigmas have encouraged poor mental health in young, millennial, Indian women. In order to present how severely stigma functions in American-Indian communities.

Tummala-Narra, P., & Deshpande, A. (2018). Mental health conditions among South Asians in the United States. In M. J. Perera & E. C. Chang (Eds.), Cross-cultural research in health, illness and well-being: Vol. 1. Biopsychosocial approaches to understanding health in South Asian Americans (p. 171–192). Springer International Publishing.

The Lack of Higher Education of Girls in Rural India

Although access to education has been considered a basic right in India since 2009, many girls in rural India are not attending higher education, or are dropping out of school before completing their primary education. In Rajasthan (state in North India), girls are three times more likely to not attend school compared to their male counterparts (UNICEF Report 2019). A UNCRC report submitted in 2000, stated that girls living in rural areas of India, are constantly deprived of adequate access to basic health care, nutrition and education. The report even found that families preferred to educate their male child rather than their female child. Evidence for this claim was supported by the statistic that almost one third of the girls who enter formal education in class I (grade 9) drop out before entering class II (grade 10) (UNICEF Report 2019). 

UNICEF also reported in 2017 that illiterate women in rural areas have especially high rates of young pregnancies, infant and maternal mortality, and overall morbidity. UNICEF’s report states that there are many “barriers to girls’ education, including poverty, child marriage, gender-based violence, and gender biases”(UNICEF Report 2017). Research also suggests that in many rural communities educating girls is looked down on, and assumed to be a useless endeavor, since many girls are married off before they turn 18. 

In its National Plan of Action for Children (2016), India has asserted that its priority areas are health, nutrition, education, water, sanitation and environment. This plan gives special consideration to children in difficult circumstances and aims at providing a framework, within which equal and accessible education for all can/should be implemented. The Indian government has also repeatedly urged all state governments to prepare plans of action for children within their territories, while taking into account the regional and cultural disparities or stigmas that exist there. Although on paper, the Indian government seems to have created multiple ministries and programs (Ministry of Women and Children Development, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan Education Initiative, National Programme for Education of Girls at Elementary Level) to combat the high percentages of elementary and high school dropout rates among girls, there is very little evidence that suggests the country’s efforts are effective. As of 2018, Rajasthan, India’s 7th largest state, still has the lowest literacy rate for women at 46% (rural Rajasthani men- 76%). Despite slight increases to Rajasthan’s literacy rate over the years, research has shown that almost 37% of literate women had dropped out of school before completing 8th grade. 

As dropout rates among rural Rajasthani women continue to increase, serious modifications must be made to India’s approach toward universal education, through both policy change and cultural de-stigmatization. School conditions, house work, the child labor industry, and stigma surrounding menstruation, are just a few of the reasons  rural women are kept from obtaining an education, whether it be elementary or higher education. Therefore, without intervention, these issues will continue to prevent Indian girls, living in rural areas, from obtaining an education and living longer, healthier lives. 

 In terms of effective solutions to the state of girls’ education in rural areas like Rajasthan, the NGO Jolkona suggests that while the “government continues to work on a large scale with little success, NGOs and nonprofits can work at a local scale where a significant difference can be made”. The Veerni Project (a local Rajasthani organization) for example, has played an important role in increasing the number of adolescent girls enrolled in secondary education. By establishing several secondary education centers in Rajasthani villages, and by providing community development programs for the women of these villages, this NGO works to empower young girls to pursue an education and continue their schooling. Thus, “mobilizing communities” in support of girls’ education in rural India and have made substantial improvements in not only educating girls in proper facilities, but also in “educating rural families in the positive impacts of educated daughters”. 

Educating young women not only empowers them, but also improves the quality of life of a woman’s family and her community. Although we consider the right to education a fundamental and basic right in America, it is important to understand why countries like India have been unable to set a similar standard in their urban and rural regions. As the gender gap in education continues to widen in rural India, the social and cultural beliefs and practices, as well as the infrastructural issues that prevent girls from obtaining a proper education must be considered. In order for more rural women to more readily negotiate structures of power, according to the critical feminist perspective, they must be educated. However this is not possible until India and other countries with such education gaps, reassess funding allocations, societal stigmas, and international pressures.

HIV/AIDS and the Disease Experience of Women

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), HIV/AIDS is a major public health issue that has affected millions of lives worldwide (33 million as of 2019). As a virus that attacks the body’s immune system, HIV specifically targets CD4 cells and integrates itself into host DNA via reverse transcription. Although the symptoms of HIV vary, the infection severely weakens the immune system, leaving an infected individual vulnerable to a plethora of infections and complications. AIDS is a later, more advanced stage of HIV infection, which occurs when HIV positive individuals develop “long term clinical manifestations” (cancers, infections). In 2015, the Center for Disease Control stated that those who partake in “risky behaviors” that include having unprotected sex and sharing needles/syringes, or live in communities where many people have HIV infection, are more likely to be at risk for infection themselves. 

Recent research also shows that women are more disproportionately impacted by HIV infections and are typically infected at “rates twice that of young men”. In 2017, it was found that more than 7,000 young women (15-24 years) became HIV positive and that 1 out 5 HIV infections in sub-Saharan Africa impacted young women. In America, 57% of HIV positive individuals were African American women, 21% were white women, and 18% were Latina women. As a public health issue, with undeniable links to politics, socioeconomics, power, and culture, HIV continues to disproportionately affect millions around the world, especially disenfranchised women. However, despite its threatening global presence, discrepancies between public health and biomedical research methods have prevented a thorough understanding of why this group is severely disadvantaged when it comes to HIV infection and transmission.

As a serious public health issue, HIV/AIDS has become a social and cultural phenomenon that is undoubtedly linked to social constructs like power, gender, socioeconomics, race, and politics. However, discrepancies between public health initiatives and biomedical research have prevented a thorough understanding of why certain groups are most at-risk, despite numerous preventative methods. Though disenfranchised women are not part of the traditional risk groups (white men, white, gay men) associated with HIV/AIDS in the U.S., their experience of the disease must be evaluated, in order to further understand and potentially reassess who should be considered high-risk. The relationship between HIV/AIDS and stigma must also be considered when analyzing the disease experiences of such a rapidly infected demographic. 

Although advances in biomedical research and technology has helped us better understand the scientific technicalities of diseases like HIV/AIDS, there are still significant gaps in HIV/AIDS research that can only be filled by humanities-based frameworks. Consequently,  combining biomedical research and the perspectives of social sciences like Anthropology and Sociology, will allow for a better understanding of HIV/AIDS, and how it affects, and is affected by an individual’s race, gender, and class. 

Richardson, E. T., Collins, S. E., Kung, T., Jones, J. H., Hoan Tram, K., Boggiano, V. L., Bekker, L. G., & Zolopa, A. R. (2014). Gender inequality and HIV transmission: a global analysis. Journal of the International AIDS Society, 17(1), 19035.

We’ll Have Beautiful Mixed Babies

You know,
Like how Goldie locks wanted everything
Not too hard, not too soft,
Not too hot, not too cold,
But just right.
Let’s do the same to these here kids.

You know,
Not wanting them too dark
But they can never be too light,
Not wanting hair too hard,
But it can never be too soft,
Just right…..according to who?

You claim it’s just what you like,
Just what you want in an unborn child,
No immediate concern for a safe, healthy delivery
But did your preference deliver the green eyed,
Loose curl,
Non dark eared baby
that wasn’t you as a baby?
If not,
Is it really a mixed baby?
Is it really beautiful if it looks like you?

Because you don’t,
And never will like what you see in the mirror,
Why would you want offspring
That’s just another mirror
You’ve been meaning to genetically toss?

It’s My Preference

To have Her
Is to have the Woman of my dreams
An Ivory Empress
Born in an Ivory tower
Born to an Ivory Emperor
Who’s riches I want to possess.
And I feel in my squalor as a man
That I want to up my roots,
Leave my detestable land,
Dust myself of the soot of blackness
Leave what I see in the mirror behind
To possess Her,
And the Men who I really want to be
But I don’t tell my Empress,
Tell my Emperors that,
But I run to the women who birthed me,
The children I made bastards
And tell them that it’s my preference.
I’ll immobilize ebony and her children
their gears locked in destitution
So they remain silent,
As my resolve is to nest in the bosom,
Shine the cobblestones leading to whiteness,
Because that is what I want to possess.
And I’ll tell you as I shine Ivory shoes,
Jest for an Ivory court,
Raise the mixed conquests with my Ivory Women
That it’s my preference.
Though their Ivory foot will always be on my neck
Though they shoo me to the kitchen,
Though I am the heel they scuff,
I prefer it this way,
My badge of honor.

What do you suppose my Ivory Masters are laughing at?

What Is Misogynoir

It’s when you’re too kinky for the White Women
And too kinky for the Black Men
Who join forces to call your crown kinky, nappy,
Call your features undesirable,
Call your spirit undesirable
Too strong to waver, bow, submit.
It’s when as a Black Woman,
No one sees your femininity
But can undermine you ‘cause ain’t you a woman?
And no one wants to see color
But can still undermine your skin
‘Cause ain’t you Black?
Yes Misogynoir is a double edged sword
Where both sides are sharp
And seek to cut you down a size
For being Black,
For being a Woman,
For being a Black Woman.

May I burn my cape?

College Life

From firsthand experience. [English]

Hello guys! I hope all of you are doing okay. When I started college I was super lost. I remember that if it wasn’t for a group of friends I met at the Borough of Manhattan Community College Learning Academy, I would have been alone and feeling like I didn’t belong. This inspired this project. The podcast focuses on resources, tips, and strategies that will be extremely helpful for you to succeed in college. This is the first episode!!! And my first solo podcast ever! Here, I briefly talk about Choosing Your Major, Academic Advisement, CUNY First, Financial Aid, and Scholarships. In the following episodes, I will discuss time management, stress, taking tests, and much more! There is also a Spanish version of it coming up soon!! Stay tuned!

It is available here: https://anchor.fm/carolina-rosa-martnez

Music credits: Two Feet, Felt Like Playing Guitar And Not Singing. Brian Tyler, Neela Drift.
Not for profit podcast project.

Rose is…Rising

First and foremost, I am so sad I missed Steven’s session in February. Every time I hear him speak, I learn something new or gain a new perspective. We entered Futures Initiative the same year and have been connected ever since. He’s not just doing the work, he’s living the work. I am consistently inspired by him and I know that session was on fire.

For my project, I am most excited about unearthing what life was like for freed and enslaved people in early New York. Since I am writing a fictionalized account of Rose Butler’s life, I need to understand what Black life was like in the 19th century, which hasn’t been an easy feat through the years of my research. Information about Black life in the North is scarce because of the popular narrative that slavery was rare up here. However, New York is a direct product of slave labor involving both Blacks and Natives, which means there has been rich and abundant Black culture here since the 1600’s. I want to delve into that for my project.

I’ve already found a few sources of information directly related to Rose Butler. I first started this project in 2018 with my Media and Production class. We decided to do a “haunted New York” theme for our project, and through our research we found our Washington Square Park used to be some gallows. We then found out a young 19-year-old enslaved woman named Rose Butler was the last person to be hung there and decided to focus on her story. Initially, we could only glean so much information about Rose and her crime. We focused mostly on slavery in early 19thcentury New York and why Rose would have been compelled to try and kill her “masters”. We found a poem written about her, as well as some blog posts here and there which go into the early gentrification of Tribeca and the areas surrounding Washington Square Park.

There is far more information and content out about Rose Butler now, including a short film by an accomplished Black actress and writer. The interdisciplinary project required that we produce our media script, create an advertisement campaign, social media profiles and the like. A lot of our information and sources were compiled online, and it makes me wonder if we inspired this latest interest in Rose Butler’s life.

Her Wikipedia page offers some information in the body, but the sources provide more valuable resources. It brought me to the textbook, In the Shadow of Slavery: African-Americans in New York City, 1626-1863 by Leslie M. Harris, which provides an incredible amount of insight into slavery in post-Colonial New York. I plan on using the information in this textbook to establish the physical, political and social setting surrounding our girl, Rose.

Harris reveals that Butler was said to be a thief. In fact, the catalyst to her crime was a conflict between her and Mrs. Morris about her stealing. A minister who attended to her speculated at her involvement in an underground crime network. I’m not necessarily inclined to believe this minister, simply because free white men could openly and brazenly lie on any Black person at this point in history. At the same time, Rose lived and socialized among free Blacks and could have wanted to taste what she was, in all honesty, entitled to, especially as an unpaid laborer. Either way, I plan on using this information in my characterization of Rose. I think the idea of her stealing adds some depth to the situation, and could be a conduit to explore the sociopolitical reality of New York at the time.

I found the most exciting and salacious information on Newspapers.com. I clipped a few articles about Rose Butler that were primarily in gazette-type publications. In her book, Harris points out that Rose Butler was an impactful figure of her time, a representation of the “dangers” of emancipating New York Blacks too quickly, too soon. However, I was surprised to see the New York Times or any other reputable publication did not cover her crimes or execution. I looked NYT articles from the week of the signing Emancipation Proclamation; no coverage of it was front page, nor did it address the freeing of enslaved peoples. Considering at the lack of coverage of both incredibly newsworthy stories, my tenuous conclusion was that white New Yorkers at the time weren’t willing to confront the reality of slavery in their city, nor were they willing to make any kind of substantial change until they felt comfortable.

The text reads: Case of Rose Butler.
Rose – (a colored woman) was this day brought up before the Supreme Court to receive sentence of death, for the crime of arson. She had previously been tried and convicted by a verdict of the jury at the Oyer and Terminer, held in November last, before chief justice Thompson.It appeared, from her own confession and other proof, that she had set fire to the house in which she lived, late at night, and after the family, consisting of her mistress, two young ladies, a small child who slept with her mistress, a young gentleman and a boy, had retired to bed, and were all asleep in the upper parts of the house. The combustible materials and the fire were placed upon the kitchen stairs by the wench. She then retired to bed in the same room where the boy slept. The fire soon kindled and made considerable crackling and smoke. The boy was alarmed by it, and twice asked Rose if he should go and call up Mr. Morris. She told him to lie till, as the noise he heard was only the cat jumping about[.] AT last he did go. Mr. Morris was awakened, he alarmed the rest. The fire by proper exertions was put out, after consu-[cont.]-ming three steps of the kitchen stairs.

The articles provide much more insight into her crime, the family structure, and her role within the home. In one article, the author writes “We are happy to learn, that coloured people of this city, being convinced of the enormity of the crime, are generally reconciled to the fate of Rose Butler, and it is hoped that no offence of a similar nature will ever again occur.” I wonder how much of that is true. I’m sure many Black people were offended by Rose’s crime and felt she threatened their progression into greater American society. However, I’m also sure many Black people were offended by the institution of slavery itself and felt that Rose made the right choice. Harris mentions that some publications hinted at groups of Black people were sending letters to the Mayor, threatening to repeat Rose’s crime.

Leslie Harris’ textbook, the other sources mentioned in the newspaper articles as well as the sources listed on Wikipedia are strong and provides a roadmap to other sources I would like to look into. My next step is making an appointment at the New-York Historical Society library to look at Rose’s affidavit and some pieces of witness testimony.

March !

Hello everyone and anyone reading this blog post. It means a lot to me. It feels like a long time since I’ve written a post even though it’s been a month or so. 

I am grateful for this opportunity to always have a place to go to read other people’s thoughts on prompts or life and share my own! Man have things been rocky these past couple of weeks. Besides participating in the panel a few weeks ago (one of the top highlights for me this year so far) I have been struggling. Everyone can attest to being drained in this pandemic. I’m no different right now. I have hit a wall this semester for the first time in my academic career that school isn’t a safe haven. Previously in my life, I could lean on the fact that I could see friends or be assigned something that would change my perspective or give me insight into new things. My esteem for learning has shifted into just trying to make it through each day in this Zoom life we find ourselves in.

I recently read a book called Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo + Me by Ellen Forney for my Literary Genres class. I really loved this memoir. Long story short, the author has Bipolar 1 and detailed her journey. After years and years of struggles, she finally found her balance. This was very inspiring for me because that’s something I’ve been struggling with for a year really.


I look back at the post from September and the tone has definitely changed. While I still feel all the sentiments about me having hope and being cheerful, my tank is on E right now and that’s okay. I have been a workhorse all my life and it’s time for me to take graceful strides instead of charging. Didn’t expect a horse metaphor in this post but let’s keep going! I have been recently setting up everything I need for the big project at the end of the year. I plan on doing a podcast. The image for this podcast was very different in October. I envisioned it to be a lot of inspiring content with a focus on being a reminder for people to keep pushing and find inspiration. I have since changed the focus to be an expressive outlet which I can go to like this blog. I wanted to do something to inspire others but not it will be to keep myself inspired. I have hit this wall and want the podcast to be a way to overcome it while also flexing my creativity. Last year my project was an Instagram page where I answered questions with various photos and I really loved it. I want that same energy with this podcast. I want to still be a motivator but also speak on things happening to me at every scale. Hopefully, in the coming weeks, I can refine what I want the message to be and how I will execute it. I think I would love to include anyone on it who is willing and also would love to be on anyone else’s podcast if it’s for a project or etc.

This blog post has been a little bit of everything and I love that. I want to end it by answering our formal prompt for this month “Who is a Woman who inspires you”. For me, it’s three beautiful ladies that have changed my life in so many ways. The three women are my two older sisters and my mother. These three women raised me with love and helped me build my character. My mother instilled in me not only responsibility because I was the only male in the house, but she made sure to still protect me any chance she could. It didn’t matter that I was a six-foot giant, she was still Super Mom for me standing at five foot five. My two older sisters gave me love and many valuable lessons on how to treat people and myself. The three of these women changed my life in so many ways. One of them literally gave me life. They inspire me to be true to myself and continue fighting no matter what. I’m dedicated to always making them proud. If I could pay them for the sacrifices and time spent on me, I wouldn’t have enough money. The way I can pay them is to pay it forward and remember to always tell them they are appreciated.


Thank you for reading this if you got this far,

Thank you for just clicking anyways.

Be safe everyone