Love and Equality for All Men!

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http://www.niftyatheist.com/2013/01/remembering-martin-luther-king-jr.html

       There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love, 1 John 4:18. Martin Luther King Jr is such an admirable man, a man who stood the test of time on many different occasions for equality and justice for all people, especially for African Americans, who at the time had been under oppression for more than 340 years. In the book “Practical Argument”, there is a letter from the Birmingham jail dated April 16, 1963, to 8 clergymen who questioned the methods Dr. King was trying to use in order to stop segregation and bring about justice and equality of all people, based on what the American constitution is about. Martin Luther had fought a good fight, to the point where he was imprisoned for what was right and just, but deemed unjust in the eyes of white supremacy.

       When things are done the right way all people should rejoice irrespective of one’s race, class, or skin color. “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly”. These are some of the most profound statements found in the letter to the clergymen.  Dr. King wrote of the unjust treatment that black people in Birmingham Alabama were facing and just how segregated things were.  It is such a shame to think of how mean and ugly some people can be. How could this be? We are all created by God; he is the maker of us all. In the U.S Declaration of Independence it says that, “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men.” If this is true African Americans should not have been treated with such unjust and cruel treatment like they were.

       The letter spoke of a 6 year old girl who questioned why she couldn’t simply go to the amusement park, all that she could do was watch it being advertized on television, while another 5 year old boy asked his dad, why do white people treat colored people so mean?  An “unjust law is no law at all”. The Supreme Court in 1954 broke the laws of segregation in public schools, which enabled whites and blacks to be together under one umbrella in the school system. Regardless of what a white or black person might think, segregation was evil and distasteful; it was a shameful and ungodly act. Let peace and love reign in our hearts, so that we can learn and appreciate all people the way that we would want others to appreciate us.

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Being Black in America: What does it really mean?

Throughout the years racial relations have transformed significantly. Martin Luther king Jr was a very influential man. I grew up being told whatever I wanted to do and be out in life is possible if I try, and that was because of him. He worked to end racial equality. This letter was written in 1963 and still 30 something years later we had the Rodney King Racial beating. Some people may feel that things were never going to change after this situation. In some ways they will always be right. Still to this very day racism is still going on. There is nothing anyone can do about. Certain individuals will never accept African Americans as there equals.

There’s a line in this letter saying “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. This line is still effective today. I say this because when the Trayvon Martin shooting happened certain individuals felt the man that shot him had that right because of the
“Stand your ground law”. This shooting change the entire world because many people felt the very opposite and were not happy with the way this case was going. One horrible encounter has the power to affect the entire universe. However I believe because of this letter things started to change drastically, but things got a lot worse before they improved.

Martin Luther King Jr paved the way for people like Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Coretta Scott King, and Betty X so they could continue their fight to help change the way they were being treated back then, even after his death.

Where we are, where we’ve been, and where we should be.

When I was in fourth grade I was asked to write a story about my hero, and I could pick any one in the world; I wrote about Martin Luther King Jr. Today I find myself writing about my long lost hero once again after reading his “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. In this letter King is sitting in a jail cell after protesting against segregation. I found so many things in this letter inspiring to me; I feel that this letter brought me back to what it was like at that day in age.

In the 14th paragraph of this article after being told his timing was not right for this protest he wrote why exactly timing is not of importance when you are being treated unfairly. As he described many things that happened to African Americans, and the things that he was trying to help put to a halt, it made me think about how far we have come. I think that we as a society forget that we have come so far, and that people sat in jails, were beaten, and even killed fighting so that we have the kind of freedom we are all able to have today. I say that we forget about how far we’ve come because there is still racism and hatred everywhere.

On page 701 King states how as an African America your first name becomes “nigger” for the whites; yet to this day you still hear people (all races including African American) calling each other such names even though that was something that they fought so hard to come up out of, and now it seems it is a part of most young kids/teens/young adults vocabulary. It also caught my eye when he was bringing their attention to other faults of justice. King stated that what Hitler did in Germany to the Jewish was declared “legal” at the time. Showing that all things that are legal are just and all things that are illegal are unjust; such as segregation.

Surprisingly I have never read this letter by King before but how he wrote with such passion as well as kindness was amazing. If it was me writing in that situation I don’t feel I could be as kind to the ‘clergymen’ as King was. So many things in this letter showed me why that little fourth grade girl I use to be was so inspired by Martin Luther King, Jr. I think it is good to read things like these so that we are always reminded of how far we have come in society.

“Injustice Anywhere, Is a Threat to Justice Everywhere”

While reading Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter From Birmingham Jail” I came across the immortalized words for which this post is named. In the fourth paragraph of his letter, King draws attention to the fact that although he was safe from extreme persecution, he was unable to rest with peace of mind knowing that there were plenty of others in towns like Birmingham that were suffering. King was proactive in a matter that he didn’t necessarily have to get involved in, which got me thinking about our responsibility when it comes to the matters of others.

The sect of moral thinking called deontological ethics, will say that when we have the opportunity to act right it is our duty to do so. King was so moved by his goal that he felt it was his duty to fight for civil rights for those who were unable to fight themselves. Do we always have a responsibility to fend for those who can’t fight their own battles? It’s an idea that is easier to think about than act upon. I know that I wouldn’t be quick to jail myself for the benefit of others regardless of how involved I was with any movement.

In his letter King not only makes it clear that it was not only his choice to fight for civil rights in Birmingham, but writes as if to say it was obligatory. He casually states that he is in Birmingham, “…because injustice is here.” He took up his cause with such passion and commitment that the negative consequences became irrelevant in his stand for the greater good. King felt the need to fight for others when he was able, and so many times today it’s comforting to know that he is not alone.

Comics as a tool of teaching

I have never truly been a book lover nor have I ever had any interest in comics. Before I began reading “The Complete Persepolis”, I was pretty worried that I would not be very interested in the book, and that it might take me a long time to finish reading it just like most books. I was shocked. I found myself just ten minutes into the book, and already I had flipped through more than twenty pages. I was pleasantly surprised how quickly I became intrigued with the storyline and was able to concentrate without losing focus or getting tired.

The author, Marjane Satrapi, has used comics in such a creative way to describe her autobiography. The use of facial expressions, setting, and mood really helped the reader to better understand and picture what Satrapi went through as a child. Even though Satrapi did a wonderful job portraying very small details in her life, I personally got to a point where I became confused with all of the different characters listed in the book. I understand why the author wanted to include all of the many people in her life to help explain how they affected her childhood, but I feel that by doing so, the reader, like me, might have a difficult time connecting to and remembering all of the characters.

As an “English as a Second Language” (ESL) student, I discovered that comics could become a useful tool for new students who just moved in to the United States and don’t speak much English. It’s difficult for a first year ESL student to read an entire book filled with words he or she might not even understand. By providing ESL students with comic books, the students can use the visual images as a reference to understand the storyline and connect the words with the meaning.  I think this would be a fun and educational way for new foreign students to learn quickly and enjoy their reading.

More than Loose Change

One idea I found to be quite prominent in Persepolis is motion, or rather, the idea of moving forward. Throughout the comic autobiography, it is obvious that Satrapi had the courage and endurance to relocate herself numerous times, constantly surrounding herself with different groups of people. Perhaps it was just her coping mechanism. She readjusted in response to the many negative aspects of her life while growing up, rather than submitting to what she felt was unbearable. She exposes her vulnerability and naivety as both a child and adult using honesty and humor. Though oftentimes crude, she was able to portray herself as a character for readers to relate to. I found it difficult, though, to keep in mind that the majority of political events in the novel were taking place during her childhood and that her greatest transformations in ideology and character took place during her adolescence while she was away from home. It is intriguing how she came to accept both herself and her cultural background, and her independence throughout her journey should be noted. It is admirable in the way she found such strength, especially at such a young age and with so many catastrophic events going on. This reoccurring idea creates an optimism throughout the work. There is a valuable lesson to be learned here. As Satrapi stated, “It was time to look finish with the past… and to look forward with the future” (249).

This idea of change, more specifically, change towards modernism, conflicts with the traditions of the Iranian people who have stressed the importance of conservatism. Pressures of society and its norms sometimes control people better than threat of arrest and execution. It is clear that Marjane Satrapi was on a search for her identity right from the beginning of Persepolis. Even though Satrapi often viewed herself as a rebel, remaining “in the margins,”she ends up conforming to society when she chooses to marry at a traditionally young age (Satrapi 317). Her choice is not difficult to understand given that she had faced loneliness all throughout her life, especially upon moving to Austria and returning back home; acceptance is what she truly needed.

Although I find the illustrations in graphic novels to be somewhat distracting, I feel that Satrapi achieved some purpose with her use of comics to illustrate her autobiography, literally. Even as a reader who prefers written novels over graphic novels, I found that the use of images made her story more compelling than what the text could have done alone. Because the comic strip is able to depict her life so vividly, it allows the reader to pick up the emotions she had experienced during the events before, during, and after the Iranian Revolution, making her appeal to emotion undoubtedly effective. I think her style in drawing the comics the way that she did had its own purpose. The simplistic, black and white, illustrations help to create contrast between the very different worlds of Austria and Iran, between her childhood self and adult self, and between the people whom she encountered and herself. The novel, not only clarified what the Iranian Revolution was, but it allowed me to gain perspective from someone who has lived through the event.

Withstanding the Test of Time

“stuck in between a rock and a hard place” Photo Credit: http://tracycrossley.com/2012/12/20/stuck-between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place/

Having read the second half of Persepolis, I have realized just how respectable Marjane is throughout the entirety of the book. Despite all of the radical changes that she had gone through, she was always able to get back to her roots. The idea of having to live in Austria and being seen as an outsider due to her unconventional customs and returning to Iran only to be seen as an outsider due to her “foreign decadence” is really confounding. It was not hard to understand why there were several instances throughout her comic autobiography where she showed a lot of ambivalence. Her lack of conviction was due to her isolation and her inability to find refuge in anyone who could really understand her. This was especially evident when she moved back to Iran after things in Austria did not work out for her. To be constantly moving from household to household, only to find hostility each time, Marjane exemplified a lot of courage and firm resolve. This was an especially admirable trait of Marjane that always stood the test of time; she never gave up on her ideals not matter how bleak the ordeal.

The prominence of this autobiography revolves around the moral of a girl who was once lost but then found her way to realizing her potential through faith in her abilities. This particular scenario actually reminded me a lot of the Disney movie, Mulan. This movie illustrates the story of a girl who was only meant to become a presentable bribe for marriage but ends up saving the whole Han Dynasty from the Huns. In both of these illustrations, the heroine has a hard time being accepted in both worlds; for Mulan, she was seen as an inept bride back at home and an unfit woman to serve as a solider in the war, while Marjorie was seen as an unrefined foreigner in Austria and a profane blasphemer in Iran. I found Persepolis to be especially enjoyable to read because of this recurring motif- often found in a lot of Disney movies!

The simple illustrations throughout the comic also made the read a lot easier for me. Personally, reading dull, monotonous texts can be really hard to do sometimes and this was a nice change of pace for me. Marjane Satrapi did an excellent job of portraying the characters in her comic. Whether she intended for the characters to look this simple or she had limited artistic abilities, Marjane was able to create accommodating caricatures for the people in her life. This autobiography actually opened my eyes to the prevalent issues that existed throughout the ‘90s in Iran and makes me appreciate just how good we really have it. I don’t know how I would be able to truly live life having to fear getting prosecuted and whipped on a daily basis. The graphics for these situations, although really rudimentary, were actually intuitive. Overall, reading this book was an enriching experience for me and certainly gave me the chance to reflect upon my own life.