Sunday, 26 February 2012

Nickel and Dimed Critique

In this critique I have found on Nickel and Dimmed taken from the New York Post a very popular source for reviews in America, in the first few sentences I have realised that this woman is a very powerful person, someone who would make something out of nothing with the very little she had. The title of the review is, appropriately called 'Making Ends Meet'.

She was earning no more than £7-8 an hour which was considered not a living wage.

The review states that Ehrenreich, even though she had very little, what ever she did she said she is just doing what any other person would do: find work, do the job and get paid for it. She was a divorced homemaker making ends meet.

She describes what her co- workers living conditions were like, with four co-workers living in a two- bedroom flat. She says she had to travel a 45 minute journey to work everyday on the highway. This to me shows that she was determined to work hard for things in life, no matter what.

In the review she gives what seems to be tips on how to survive on a low budget- especially focusing on how and where to eat.

She refers to the surrounding living conditions as difficult and an actual misery. Her hours are eventually cut down at her job s she decides to get a second job which now means she is working a 14 hour day.

What I like about this review is that the writer thanks the author of the book for giving readers an isight to her life and how she coped in such poor conditions and gave advice on how to survive.

Nickel and Dimed

The review which i found from ‘Brothers Judd’ is very critical on Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed. The review firstly states “we find out much about Barbara Ehrenreich, fairly little about the difficult lives of people she worked with, and nearly nothing about what she would suggest we do to make their lives easier.” This i believe to be true, as despite a few short stories about Ehrereich’s co-workers we fail to gain any in depth insight into the lives of those actually living this lifestyle. I feel the novel would have been enhanced if she had more of a focus on the life’s of the people living in these conditions, if she had become more involved out of the work environment she could have gained further perspective on low-wage USA.

Brothers Judd criticise Ehrenreich as she enters in to her experiment alone this as the review says “makes her character in the book completely unrealistic and leaves her to spend all her time fixating on herself.” If Ehrenreich was to actually live this life she is forgetting that the majority of people in this situation have others to care for and provide for so her experiment is flawed in this sense.

The review would seem to take a religious slant on events, Ehrereich’s dismissal of religion and the church ‘At one point she actually goes to a revival meeting, but it turns out she's only there to make fun of the service’ there is another occasion when the church is offered as a point of refuge and help, but Ehrenreich never acts on this. The idea of religion being a way out, comments on society in the sense that assistance and help is given to those that choose God and religion. On the other hand it could merely be that it is part of their religious beliefs to help others so it is no surprise that help is given through the church.

Another review like the Brothers Judd criticizes Ehrenreich’s experiment. they look to question who the book is aimed at, the review states “You had to read a book about some rich white lady’s experience to learn that some people end up staying in motel rooms that cost twice as much as an apartment, because they can’t scrape together the money for a deposit?” this questioning peoples lack of knowledge and understanding shows American societies failure to address these issues.

The review does defend Ehrenreich in saying that the “book does not mimic what it is actually like to live in poverty” and Ehrenreich stated this from the beginning. However if this is the case what is the point in the experiment if only for Ehrenreich to know that she can live this way! Despite not forming any strong attachment to the people with whom she worked with, she did however as the review says learn how “various employers screw over their employees”

Overall the novel did perform a critical commentary on American society, and how it has failed to recognise many of the housing issues that people working low wage jobs find. The book however like the reviews say was to largely centred around Barbara Ehrenreich making her the centre when the actual people in this situation could give a better insight.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Nickel and Dimed Critique Analysis

I quite enjoyed the book Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich, which encouraged me to compare my thoughts with contrasting ones. The review I found, located at seemed like the perfect source to do this. The review is extremely opinionated, which I would usually criticise, but the writer of this particular piece does a fantastic job of justifying his largely negative responses to the themes and ideas presented in Nickel and Dimed. Although the criticism is well justified and thought out, the political bias is so strong that it occasionally drifts form the point and becomes an attack at left wing Politics. For example, after presenting an intelligent set of ideas concerning the self-indulgent nature of Ehrenreich, which I will come on to, the writer irrelevantly states how 'this is really the key understanding to why both Marxism and Welfare failed'. This leads us to believe that the writer may be more interested in exposes the problems of left wing Politics than analysing the book. This is particularly recognisable in the last three sections of the review where the writer rants about Politics and even offers his own 4 step plan to solve the economic problems! This arguably leads to the views losing their substance.

As I have previously mentioned, the self-indulgent nature of Ehrenreich narrative is frequently addressed by the writer. Before reading the review I hadn't identified this, but after reading it I don't understand how I didn't. It is explained that, in the text, 'all we are left with is Ehrenreich. Ehrenreich at work or Ehrenreich in a hotel room. The rest of the working poor are merely a backdrop.' This idea is extended and backed up when the writer continues, pointing out that, in reference to the poor in America, Ehrenreich 'doesn't participate in their lives, neither individually by visiting their homes or having them over, nor communally by doing the types of things they do in their off hours'. This suggests that we are presented, by reading the both, with an incomplete interpretation of working class life in various areas of the USA. It isn't centered around the people Ehrenreich is working with. Instead it centers around her experience, meaning that perhaps we don't gain a true first hand view of the situation, as a result of a lack of deep interaction with those around her on Ehrenreich's behalf.

Another real flaw that is pointed out by the writer is the lack of opportunities taken by or referenced by Ehrenreich. This is first highlighted in the review by the reference of her ignorance during the one time she spends any real off-the-clock time with anyone. The writer explains how the outstanding piece of advice given to Ehrenreich, "Always find a Church", by the woman, who has actually experienced life in the American working class with children and a bad string of jobs, is ignorantly ignored. The one time she does attend a church revival service 'she's only there to make fun of the service'. These points lead us to believe that Ehrenreich's complaints about the lack of opportunities for the poor are unjustified. It also, once again, brings up the idea that perhaps Ehrenreich isn't getting the accurate experience of working class life that she claims. This can be supported by the fact that, in the introduction of the book, she spends a page talking about all of the things she won't be taking part in, which could enhance her experience.

It isn't fair for us to label Ehrenreich's efforts as fruitless or unsubstantial, as her work gives us a real insight into the working class situation broadly. However, in order to obtain an in-depth, personal idea of what it was like, Ehrenreich should have spent less time talking about her money struggles and her difficulties with work load, and more time speaking to those people that have had to deal with the situations she is facing every day. With this in mind, it is evident that the explorative journalistic method Ehrenreich had in mind, something she made clear as early as the first and second pages, hasn't been fully achieved.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Nickel and Dimed Critique’s review of Nickel and Dimed mirrored my own thoughts on the book. The review starts: “I no longer see motels the same way since reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s new book, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.”, something that I particularly agreed with. Socially and generally, motels are associated with “a place to rest your head between bouts of driving”, like the review says, as well as with horror films such as Psycho; they are not typically seen as places where people stay for more than “two nights”, let alone actually live.

Interestingly, talks about the things that the middle class “take for granted”, such as: “housing, food, gas”; and while this may be true, I felt as though the critic thought that all middle class people existed in a vacuum, where in reality, these middle class people probably went to college (university) getting an education that would allow for them to have higher paid jobs, and the advantage of taking some things, like food, for granted. This was another point I found interesting about Nickel and Dimed. Barbara Ehrenreich, never explicated explained the reasons for her co-workers, or people in low paid labour jobs, having those jobs in the first place. Something that struck me when reading, was in ‘Scrubbing in Maine’, when Ehrenreich was working for the maid service she mentions how Holly usually asks for the spelling of words like; “carry” and “weighed”, suggesting that Holly did not get an education, and so to some extent it could be argued that it’s her fault for having the job that she has. This is further supported by Ehrenreich saying that she would not include any of her qualifications, suggesting that the types of people, who work in low paid labour jobs, do not have qualifications. I also think that the fact that employers are having to ask questions such as; “It's sometimes okay to come to work high” and that they have become “routine” also suggest the kinds of people that are having these kinds of jobs.

However, it is unsurprising that would have taken an interest in Nickel and Dimed and found it “thought provoking”. This is because, firstly, the name of the website implies a left-wing, equal opportunity approach; and secondly, because at the side there is an icon saying: “TOP TEN CONSERVATIVE IDIOTS” and it could be inferred that they perhaps blame the poor conditions of the people that Ehrenreich had to work with, on them [the conservatives], or at least feel like the conservatives are not helping to increase standard of living.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Native American Task

For this blog task I chose the Native American Tribe called the Cherokees. This is their official website:

The Cherokees are best associated with The Trail Of Tears (1836-1839) which is now widely seen by modern historians as a massacre of the Cherokee people and it is hard to excuse the actions of the US government. The Cherokee had been living in the area now called Georgia, with their own laws and customs, but in 1828, when gold was discovered on Cherokee lands, the treaties that existed between the US state and the Cherokee nation were ruled null and void, making the Cherokee claim to the land worthless. This was contested by the Cherokee as far as the Supreme Court in the case of Worchester V Georgia, but Chief Justice John Marshall ruled against them and they lost the case. The Cherokee were forced to sign the Treaty of New Echota as part of the Indian Removal Act. Encouraged by President Jackson, the people of Georgia drove the Cherokee at gunpoint on a thousand-mile trek across the Mississippi. A quarter of them died on a journey that has become known as the “Trail of Tears”. This was not just an act of the US government but all the white population. It appeared no-one truly cared about the well-being of the Native Americans because, for the colonists, the end justified the means. Jackson had felt done the right thing. “The philanthropist …. will rejoice that the remnant of that ill-fated race has been at length placed beyond the reach of injury and oppression, and that the paternal care of the general government will hereafter watch over them and protect them.” (The Mammoth Book of Native Americans) He thought that, by moving the tribes away from white settlers, it would be better for both whites and Native Americans in the long run. Forced expulsions were a common feature of the treatment of Native American tribes by US authorities in the 18th and 19th century.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Sioux Tribe Aka The Lakota Tribe and Sitting Bull

In this blog I chose to write about the Sioux tribe aka the Lakota Tribe, whose chief or leader is known to many of us as Sitting bull.

The name Sioux, signifies 'snake,' 'adder,' and, by metaphor, 'enemy.' The Hunkpapa formed in the 1700s after a battle in the south. They were the last tribe to go to the reservations. Sitting Bull was a Lakota Sioux.

Sitting Bull was killed Dec.15th 1890 by Indian agency Police,The tribe later lost their identity and stopped being known as the Hunkpapa as they were so few of them and were just know as Lakota Sioux.

Unfortunately due to the tribe slowly disintegrating now there is not much information on the Hunkpapa Tribe so I will talk about their chief, Sitting Bull and the Lakota Tribe.

Lakota Tribe
The Lakota Tribe is situated in the North par of the United States.

Today there are only 70,000 Lakota Indians located now. The majority of Lakota Indians reside in one of five reservations situated in the Dakota's.
The Lakota Indians are governed by their own set of laws. The tribal group has a separate political system and education system.

Sitting Bull

Sitting Bull was born in 1831 in south Dakota, he is best known as The Lakota chief who beat General Custer at Little Bighorn

As mentioned before Sitting bull was killed on December 15th 1890 by Indian Agency police.

Sitting Bull, the Lakota Medicine Man and Chief was considered the last Sioux to surrender to the U.S. Government. He was considered a very powerful man to his tribe. To other they were considered the enemy and to them selves the were "the Lakota".

Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa

The website which I chose is devoted to the heritage of The Red Cliff. The website explains how “the Red Cliff Reservation was created through a series of treaties between the U.S. Government and the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians (Red Cliff Band), the most recent being the treaty of 1854.” The reservation on which the Native Americans of the Red Cliff Band are located at is “Bayfield Peninsula, on the shores of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin.” The population size of the reservation is around 924 of primarily naive Americans.

The history of the Red cliff band is that in 1854 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs wanted the Chippewa Indians to give up their titles on their land on Lake Superior, this called for a treaty in which several Ojibwe chiefs, from which the Red Cliff band derives from were involved in the signing of it. Despite mentioning the treaty the website fails to go in to any great detail, so after further research I discovered the agreements of the Treaty of La Pointe the map clearly shows the “land cession area” despite seding their land tribes still retain hunting, fishing and gathering rights on for this region.

Through the establishment of a tribe council theses rights and well being of the tribe are protected. Their mission statement is to “promote, plan and provide for the health, welfare, education, environmental protection, cultural preservation and economic well being of Tribal Members and to protect Treaty Rights now and in the future." The origins and history of the Red Cliff Tribal Council are explained, this idea of a council shows the tribes conformity to US government regulations and like the cession of their land the control of the US over Native American tribes is shown.

The Red cliff tribe are seen to have strong values on education as shown on the website. Within the website there is a direct link to Bayfield School which is named “best small school in Wisconsin.” Within the constitution and bylaws of the government it states that “We the members of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians in the State of Wisconsin, in order to re-establish our tribal organization; to conserve our tribal property; to develop our common resources; to promote the welfare of ourselves and our descendants; to form business and other organizations; to enjoy certain rights of home rule; and to provide for our people education in vocational and trade schools and institutions of higher learning, do ordain and establish this constitution and by-laws.” This showing that they are going against many of the stereotypes that Native Americans posses and are prosperous and despite maintaining their tradition heritage they want to embrace Americas strong values on work and education.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Native American Tribe - Seminole

The Federally recognised Seminole Tribe is based in Florida, and is thought to have been established up to 12,000 years ago according to Historians. I have used the Seminole Tribe's
official website to explore areas such as their history, culture and beliefs. The segregated nature of the Tribe is immediately identifiable when you visit the site. You
are welcomed by links to the likes of a media production company, a library system and a police service entirely devoted to the Seminole Tribe. These examples show the Tribe's detachment from the rest of America in areas such as entertainment, education and the law. I quickly realised that this sense of independence didn't stop at the homepage, because, in the 'History' section, the true spirit of the Tribe's independence is applauded. It is explained that, in the 1840s, as a result of 'military actions against the Seminoles, over $20 million had been spent, 1500 American soldiers had died and still no formal peace treaty had been signed.' This information is placed under the sub-heading of "No Surrender" showing how the Seminole's were truly proud of their resilience and their independence from America.

As well as talking about the history of the Seminole Tribe, the site also makes frequent references to the way in which they stand today on topics such as Culture, the Economy and Politics. Through this we see how the Tribe has grown since their early years in these areas. The site explains that although in recent years 'The Seminole Tribe of Florida has matured both politically and financially', they are facing the 'challenge of maintaining the unique Seminole culture while operating in the mainstream economy'. This is very interesting as it reveals, on one hand, how the Tribe struggles to retain their traditional ideas and beliefs whilst operating in mainstream America, but on the other their ability to satisfy and identify their values whilst modernising and almost Americanising areas within their own community. This evidence, in relation to the previous point about the importance of independence to the Seminoles, entirely supports and justifies their desire for it. The way in which this information was available under 'The Future' headline shows the forward thinking and aspirational nature of the Seminole Indians. They believe they can crack the issues the mainstream economy poses.

The idea of the Seminoles struggling economically is not something particularly surprising. Although some stereotypes incorrectly suggest that all Native Americans are unemployed and lazy, unemployment is an area that affects Native Americans more than any other racial or ethnic group in the USA. This element of struggle is unsurprisingly not highlighted particularly explicitly, as a result of the Seminoles wanting to make themselves look to the reader as content as possible, but a small section named 'employment' within the 'Government' section is available. The written information within this section is not what caught my attention however; it was instead what the weak and limited advertisements represented. 5 adverts, 4 of which are for jobs in casinos, are used to represent the end of unemployment, as well as the apparently endless opportunities available for Seminole Indians. Even more depressingly, these adverts are accompanied by a warning note stating "Due to the volume of applications received we will only contact candidates selected for interviews." This note epitomises the poor economic situation facing the Tribe, exposing how there really aren't enough job opportunities for them.

The website has a very informative tone. It aims to inform those who aren't part of the Tribe about its Culture, History and Politics, as well as offering help and opportunities to those who are part of the Tribe. There is no real evidence of the Seminole Indians trying to find new people to join the Tribe or even take part in events that they hold. Although they aren't secret about where the reservations are located and what happens in each one, they are far from welcoming. This in many ways relates to their independence from America, but you would imagine like, with many other tribes, the willingness the bring people with Seminole blood into the Tribe and out of mainstream America would be apparent. However, there is little or no indication of this on the site.

Overall I think despite some downfalls the site is quite a good representation of the Seminole Indians. It is extremely informative about the history of the Tribe as well as the way it functions today. It displays their values and ideas succinctly and clearly, and makes you want to learn more about the Seminole Tribe.

Friday, 17 February 2012

Native America- The Crow Tribe

The Crow Tribe is located in south central Montana and is part of the Apsáalooke Nation. There are over 11 000 members of the tribe, making it the largest of seven Indian reservations, surrounded by three major mountain ranges: Big Horn Mountains, Big Wolf Mountains and Pryor Mountains. As well as this, their land is fertile which allows them to live off the land. Their idyllic description of their locations advertises their reservation as the place to live as it has over three million acres.

The Crow Tribe act as their own individual nation with their own constitution and by-laws, and they act as a democracy, as shown by the vote of a proposed constitution of 670-449. They appear to follow the same legal system of the US government, as seen in the top right hand corner; “executive, legislative and judicial”. Their laws include articles such as “membership criteria” which demands a blood quantum of a quarter Crow blood to become a member and prohibits dual membership with other tribes. This also shows the Crows to be exclusive as outsiders are not allowed to become citizens of the tribe, but at the same time it shows that they want their culture and traditions to live on for future generations and a way of ensuring it is to limit the people allowed into the tribe.

Although they are exclusive in who can join the tribe, there is a section titled “Learn to speak Crow” which shows that they still want to share some of their culture with outsiders and each other people. Another way in which they share their culture with people from outside of the tribe is their explanation of the flag, which educates and informs everyone about how their flag came to be and what it represents. This also shows they are proud of themselves and want to share it with not only their own people, but with people from around the world; especially as their flag features two feathered headdresses and a smoking pipe, both of which are synonymous to the Indian American culture.

The Crow reservations “undisturbed character and dramatic features” provide recreational activities such as “hunting, fishing, boating, camping, picnicking, hiking and backpacking”, and particularly amongst the younger members of the tribe, these activities would help to keep them in tune with their heritage of being outdoors, as well as hopefully reducing juvenile behaviour by keeping them busy. These activities also help to instil a sense of hard work and prevent them from turning to alcohol and drugs like how the stereotypical Indian Americans are portrayed. As well as this, because these activities are primarily group based ones, it promotes a sense of community and working together, as well as family.

As most of their population are under the age of eighteen, it is unsurprising that the Crow Tribe endorse education. Their community college has over 300 full time students and employs over 50 staff members showing how the tribe is very community based and use people from their reservation. The Crow Tribe also work to ensure that most members are in employment, and through federal programs and the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs) up to 3 000 members of the tribe are in some form of employment. However, this still shows that a vast number of the Crow Tribe are unemployed and does mirror the statistic of unemployment amongst Indian Americans as a whole. It also shows that unlike some tribes, such as the Pequot’s, who are self-sufficient, the Crow’s rely on the government.

Interestingly, their website does not mention anything negative, which is to be expected. However while only highlight the positive community and educational aspects of the tribe, the website fails to mention the tribes past $2.1 million budget deficit and the cutting back to the tribes workforce to 32 hours a week.

Overall, the Crow Tribe website promotes the positives of the tribe, such as group activities, education, the workforce, and is proud of itself.

NB. The Crow Tribe are divided into three separate groups who only come together for common defence. These are: Ashalaho (Mountain Crow), Binnéessiippeele (River Crow), and Eelalapito (Mountain Crow).

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Push Blog

For the Push blog I chose this website:

I chose this site as it is a review by a normal woman, called Renee Martin, who has read the book so thought she would have a similar viewpoint from myself. She is also a black women so she is the key target audience for the book so was interested in what she would think of it.

She starts of by stating how hard the book was to read, which I very much agree with. I often found myself having to stop reading it because it was so graphic. Renee states "The scenes in which Clarice writes about the sexual abuse are absolutely shocking and horrifyingly real". She then gives a general plot overview with a few comments, summarising that the book is an example of how people of authority have let Precious down, something I again agree with. Renee also mentions Farrahkhan and how she was very worried about how he was such a role model to Precious in the novel as she dose not agree with his views and was relived when the character Miss Rain introduces her to other inspirational African Americans. She also worries about Precious homophobia and that if it weren't for the positive lesbians in the novel she wouldn't of changed her opinion on the matter. I think Renee is perhaps reading into it a bit too much here and I think in the grand scheme of things it is a minor point of contention to consider in a book filled with much worse things.

Renee summaries her review up with this: "Essentially, Push is about seeing those whom we have chosen to create as invisible in order to actively oppress and exploit". I think she makes a very good point but I also think Push is about more then this. I think it is about the African-American community as a whole and how as an ethnic group they have so many problems they need to overcome.

Push By Sapphire

My feelings towards this novel are closely mirrored in this review from ‘A Novel Review’ the novel itself is not something in which I would initially look at when choosing a book but I feel since reading it, it is a very emotive novel, and like the reviewer I too sign on ‘team Precious’. The novel casts a great sympathy upon the heroine precious, yet as a character who is the victim to such terrible abuse, she still is able to maintain a sense of strength and determination, as she continues with her live despite such travesties. One of the comments in response to the review is that “I started to care for Precious and she is a great girl trying to better her life.” Although Precious is seen to better her life in reality her life, even at its best is far from the ideas of the American dream. The novel shows that the American dream isn’t always achievable, despite hard work it is through no fault of her own, but she will never have the true sense of the saying. The ending to Push is one filled with not only happiness but a great sense of sorrow as despite her gaining a sense of freedom through education and the support of others she is diagnosed with HIV. Despite this being such a tragic outcome it is in fitting with the book and thus the life of Precious.

This second review like the first one rates Push quite highly. Like the previous review it draws on comparisons of Push to the novel The Colour Purple. Within the first review it is pointed out “when The Colour Purple turned up on Precious' reading list for the alternative school. She even said she felt like Celie at one point.” Having done some research surrounding the links between Push And The Colour Purple I came across this review although the review is centred on the film, the novel and the film are closely linked and the film can seen to stay true to the novel. The article examines why Push hasn’t been received so negatively as The Colour Purple “unlike the favourable reception that has greeted Precious, The Colour Purple sparked great controversy about its negative portrayals of African-American families, and, in particular, African-American men.” It is through the use of African American culture and the harrowing events that link the two novels so closely. However as stated in the review one of the reasons why Push may not have been so critically viewed in terms of negative portrayal of African-American men is the fact that throughout the novel there is a distinct lack of the male presence, only with Precious father referred to and not deeply introduced as a character. The strong characters throughout the novel are women, and despite her father causing her the abuse it is her story of how she over comes such events, with the help of her female teacher.

The idea of cultural identity and what is like to be an African-American is questioned in the ‘Reading Group Guide’ on the Barnes and noble review. Being an African-American for Precious has confined her to Harlem and to a low level of education, in which no one cares whether she succeeds, she is merely a number in a system of thousands of people. The review questions “What does this story tell us about the inadequacy of ordinary schools to deal with students' problems and with their resulting learning handicaps?” for Precious she is passed on given a higher grade so that the teachers don’t have to deal with her directly, "I got A in English and never say nuffin', do nuffin'" this showing the lack of dedication to their pupils and willingness for them to actually succeed. It isn’t until she attends her new classes with Ms Rain that she is listened to and hope is restored. The very negative cultural aspects are brought up as "Miz Rain say we is a nation of raped children, that the black man in America today is the product of rape" this metaphor shows the cycle in which those that are doing the act of rape are those that have experienced it themselves. It gives the impression that nothing can be done to fix the initial act of rape, it is only through learning to overcome it that a change may be brought.

The majority of the reviews and comments given on reviews of the novel are very positive. The novel is not only one of learning to overcome tragic events and that of African-American culture and schooling, but Push isA book everyone must read if one is to understand the human condition, particularly the female human condition in the US today.”

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Push by Sapphire Critique

Unfortunately this critique that I have found is a little short, but does raise some very good issues in the story.

First if all this book is considered triumphant and poetic.
In the first line it says that the main character, Precious sees her self as some one who is worth a lot and is proud of the person they are. This immediately tells you that the main character is going to be someone that is strong and can stand up for them self throughout the story.

Further on it describes her as illiterate and overweight with abusive parents.

Then into the book we can read that it she describes her life and personality as something completely different: She is now a white girl with blond hair and has a fair skinned boyfriend. This is only so she can feel an escape from reality.

This critique compares the process of childbirth to that of Her suffering in everyday life experience: something she has to push through in order to 'run away' from it.

The critique quotes " This moment becomes synonymous with what Precious has to do throughout her life in order to survive and escape the chain that is her mother."

Finally she meets her new school teacher and explains that the teacher gives her the encouragement and power to be able to do the things in life that she wants such as read and write.

On this website their is trailer for the film that was also made, it does show in more depth what kind of life this young girl is living. I think the film trailer, even though short, does give viewers more of an insight in her life and her feelings

The reason I chose to post is because I feel that the book doesn't necessarily let us imagine where she lives and what her surroundings are, or what kind of people she and her mother are

So, the video gives us a more detailed perspective of her life.
Critique+ Trailer:

Friday, 10 February 2012

Push Critique

I chose review of Push because it was positive, even describing the novel as ‘pure poetry’, and was different from my own opinions. I also used and felt that the novel being written in the vernacular helped the story telling and ‘did not breed contempt’ whereas I felt that this style just portrayed Precious as a typical poor, uneducated African American girl living in “the ghetto”, Harlem. I felt that Precious’ character was quite extreme and did not like how one person could have so many problems in their life, however, upon further research I did find out that the story was based on a real one; but I still felt the novel portrayed such a typical stereotype of African Americans. They also praised the language uses as ‘melodious, memorable and outlandish’, which is very true of the novel, but fails to take into account the shock value of the language and metaphors used. Surely the fact that Precious is only sixteen and using expletives such as ‘fuck’, ‘coon fool’ would be shocking and something that would unexpected for someone so young. However, her circumstances do allow for her to use these terms.

The review however, does focus on Precious’ abuse and fantasy escape, something that I did not particularly appreciate when I was reading the novel. Through this it does show that Precious is a survivor, something the review mentioned, but it also shows that she is strong enough to carry on and push, to make something of her life. The review mentions: ‘in her [Precious] dreams she is milky white, cute and has long hair that makes her lovable…’, however the review failed to see that this showed Precious’ dislike for herself, and while the review briefly says that Precious is a victim, it predominantly portrays Precious as a strong, courageous girl, who bounced back from abuse at the hands of her parents, who learnt to read and write; neglecting the personal struggle to accept herself, something that I don’t think she is able to do until the end of the book when she writes: ‘in his beauty I see my own’.

I felt that read Push on face value and picked up on some of the more obvious points, whereas another review I looked at,, saw Precious a little deeper, and while I still disagreed with the review, I could agree with their points. For example it says Precious is ‘self-sufficient’, but unlike who saw this self-sufficiency in terms of being able to escape into fantasy from the abuse, saw this by the way Precious went about ‘taking the change from food stamps to purchase a notebook for class’ and ‘sells bottles and cans to repay a 50-cent loan to a classmate for potato chips’. I feel this is a better portrayal of Precious as it shows her as more than a victim and more than a ‘survivor’, but as a dedicated hard worker.

A last thing I found interesting was on another review for Push that mirrored slightly with my own opinions. It raised an interesting point; ‘if Sapphire wasn’t black, we’d call this novel tendentious (bias), if not racist’. This is interesting because it does raise the question as to how the novel would have been interpreted had there been a few minor changes to it; as well as questioning why the two other reviews I looked at, enjoyed the book so much. It also implies that if Push had been written by a white man it would not have had the same impact on the reader.

PUSH Critique

For this blog post, instead of just analysing one internet review source, I have decided to look at
two, in order to obtain more than just one view on Push, and to see a critique on different aspects of the novel. The first review I have decided to analyse is located at The reason this particular critique drew my attention was its informal and very personal nature. This is identifiable as early as the second sentence, where Lana explains casually how 'I must admit, I am a sucker for off beat, alternative types of subject matter, and figured Push would be uplifting and empowering .' The relaxed nature of her writing on one hand immediately eases you into the review and gives you a clear, personal interpretation of the novel. On the other hand, this technique does leave you with a very one-dimensional and simplistic insight, ignoring some of the wider themes and consequences of the novel and Sapphire's writing itself.

The second critique I chose to focus on, located at,
on the other hand, has a very different style of writing to the previous source. In contrast with Lana's relaxed, personal approach, Lisa gives us a wider, more socially and culturally relevant response to Push. This on one hand is extremely useful, as it highlights the influence of the book outside of the literary world, and searches for the deeper meanings in the writing. However, this method of writing means that you don't receive a genuine, emotional response to the book like you do with Lana's critique. This is evident through frequent examples of the writer refusing to give a personal response to the work, instead thinking very methodologically. For example 'I’ll make no judgment about the quality of the story or the writing as they're both so unconventional I have no basis for comparison'. This example among others means that in this critique we are unable to grasp a pure, human reaction to Push.

Sapphire's writing is interpreted differently by each writer, particularly in the way they tackle some of the more controversial topics. Either review makes explicit reference to arguably the most controversial topic in the book, the sexual abuse suffered by Precious. The wiredmamas critique illustrates quite an intense reaction to the abuse. Lana explains how 'as open minded as I feel that I am, I found myself horrified through most of this book. I’ve read about abuse, neglect, addictions, ect. But the author went a step further with this one'. This reaction shows a certain lack of professionalism and exposes the critique as being possibly less serious. It is however clearly very honest. It shows how, to many people, the way Precious was treated outshines the meanings behind the portrayal of abuse. This could suggest a flaw in Sapphire's writing. Lisa from the BookBook link however looks at the situation of abuse in a far more deconstructive way. She explains how 'The protagonist in Push and both of her children, the products of incestuous rape are completely unequipped to function as productive and self-supporting members of society, through no fault of their own. Some of us believe that our society owes something to these children.' This more literary and socially conscious approach reaches the deeper meanings in the abuse as opposed to the almost childish response given by Lana.

They way in which they response to the book as a whole is explored by both reviews. Lisa's review presents a balanced response to Push, looking at how people might interpret the story positively and negatively, which is unsurprising as the evidence so far has shown that it is a more esteemed, less opinion based source. The balanced nature of the review is evident when we consider how Lisa explains that on one hand 'The story represents the truth of thousands of people of all races', but is also 'an uncomfortable, painful reading experience.' This references the compromise you have to make with the difficult language at hand in Push. If this is achieved however, Lisa reveals that the power of the themes is distinguishable. Despite the relaxed, arguably unprofessional nature of Lana's critique, the final section actually does draw resemblances to Lisa's review, and shows an awareness of the wider issues in Push. She explains how 'In summary, I believe Sapphire chose the dark theme of this book to give us a glimpse into a world unknown to most, yet does exist in our society'. This highlights, like in the other review, how the book has real social awareness, revealing the plights facing African-Americans in the 1980s.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

And here's another ethnic and immigrant issue of debate in Southwest USA


Who are they and what are the  problems?
See you Monday,
Good wishes,

Latin American Immigration - PRO/ANTI

The site I have chosen which presents a positive view on Latin American immiration to the US is I decided to chose this site to analyse after reading the aims of the NCLR organisation. They expalin how the NCLR 'builds on America's identity as a nation of immigrants by promoting fairness in the law and advancing a number of ways to help immigrants fully enter the mainstream of American life.' This drew my attention as it showed the organisation's willingness to comprimise with American society by promoting the full intergration of Latin Americans into American society.

The issues surrounding immigration are addressed by the NCLR through seven catagories. You come to the first of these when you are linked to the immigration section of the sight. The political nature of the section is clear immediately, with references to Obama's view on immigration being made. It is explained how Obama's most recent policy on immigration 'does not grant legal status or work permits' and is 'not an amnesty'. This immediately shows a negative stance away from Obama's treatment of immigraiton. This idea of the importance of 'work permits' is further explored in the section "AgJobs". This section focuses specifically on the way Latino workers in agriculture are treated. This is clear when the NCLR explain how they 'promote fairness and equity for the nation’s farmworkers'.

This section, unlike the political one where they seem more interested in criticising Obama than actively helping the Latin community, shows clear signs of a genuine regard for these people. The level of their desire to change circumstances for Latin American agricultural workers is evident through AgJobs, which is an act which aims to negotiate with agricultural unions. The ideas presented in this section support the arguments they make in the first section, showing how the NCLR are successfully identifying and actively working against the areas they disagree with. This mentality resonates throughout the successive sections.

The Anti Latin american immigration site I have decided to look at is When searching for American Anti-immigration organisations, NumbersUSA were frequently discussed as one of the particularly extreme groups. This immediately drew my attention, and although NumbersUSA doesn't isolate just the Latin American community in its dislike of immigration, I found a page which showed clear evidence anti-Latino immigration, with an interestingly different way of looking at the issues when comparing the site with my previous source.

The section I looked at is named "Protect our Borders", immediately identifying Latin America as a perpetrator. Although the aggressive, proactive nature of the previous source resonates in this NumbersUSA section, the sense of negotiation and comprimise is entirely absent in this site. It is replaced by very demanding, one-dimentional demands. They confidently state 'Recent congressional actions have taken aim at these weak areas, but more still needs to be done', offering their own set of ideas that must be incorporated. These ideas primarily involve further guarding of the border, the increased length of the border and the increased height of the border. This seems to be the only real recent opinion on Latin American immigration, and its lack of vision and substance, unlike the previous source, shows how they have in many ways failed to properly address and offer solutions to the problems of immigration.

One thing that this section does do well is show clear knowledge of the immigration situation itself. Although it doesn't do a particularly good job of giving ideas to solve the problems, the problems themselves are very aware to NumbersUSA, in a sense showing that they are addressing the issues. Facts and figures such as 'The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 authorized the hiring of an additional 10,000 border agents by 2010' do back up their demands, with this particular example being followed by 'has not been fully funded'. This shows how despite their naivety and lack of solutions, the organisation does understand the immgration system and does address the issues.

Latio Immigration


This website; is seen to be pro immigration. The organisation is set up with the aim in ‘fighting hate and bigotry, and to seek justice for the most vulnerable members of society.’ The southern poverty law centre track the activities of hate groups and act against them, for the injustice of those victimized. One of their top priorities is ‘immigrant justice’ not only are they working against the immigrant inequality in the work place, their ‘intelligence report’ highlights the ‘hate crimes against latinos.’ They go on to explain that ’immigration is growing uglier by the day.’ Immigrants from Mexico and Central America are been perceived as "invaders," "criminal aliens" and "cockroaches." The level of extremity towards them has increased as it is no longer just ‘hard-core white supremacists and a handful of border-state extremists’ that are acting and in some cases causing bloodshed, but many ‘supposedly mainstream anti-immigration activists, radio hosts and politicians,’ have joined in. The website offers examples of when immigrants have been unfairly treated, although some of the cases have been resolved and the attackers have been dealt with, many cases go without notice and immigrants cases never get sent to court.

The website offers a ‘stand strong against hate’ map this allowing people to show their support for immigrants. The map however also shows ‘hate groups’ the map offers a visual representation of their idea that ‘As the ranks of hate swell, people of goodwill must stand up and be counted

ANTI - This second website is very anti immigration. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) their purpose is to try and reform immigration policies’ as a case of ‘the national interest.’ The websites aim is to make people aware of the figures of immigration and to discourage it. The website is able to gain a sense of closeness to the person who reads it by putting them in the situation, as the heading ‘immigration in your backyard’ suggests that they are being personally effect by the growing immigration levels.

FAIR don’t out rightly state that they don’t want immigration, but they do however put it in terms that reform policies are need as a national necessity. The website covers all aspects of immigration, in looking at the section regarding border patrol; there use of the word alien to describe people who cross the border, enhance the idea that these people are unwanted to America.

The organisations aims are not however just to cut illegal immigration, but to discourage immigration as a whole. They state in ‘Our Principles’ that they aim to set the ‘lowest feasible levels consistent with the national security, economic, demographic, environmental and socio-cultural interests of the present and future.’ Despite them not saying they want to eradicate immigration the information that they give on their website is that the ‘economic, demographic, environmental and socio-cultural interests of the present and future,’ are already at a high so therefore immigration for them is not an option.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Immigration Task

The website I have found for anti-immigration in the south-west of America is:

It is a blog site site written by a man called Waldo Benavidez, which focuses on the negative effect of immigration in the state of Colorado. One of his main arguments is the effect immigration has had on the "working poor" of the USA. I think he makes a few fair points and claims he has not set up the website to, as he puts it, be an "immigrant basher" but near the end of his blog he tries to argue that their have been a huge number of murders in and around the border of Mexico which have gone unsolved and that this is a reflection of how little regard Mexicans have for their own people which frankly is a ridiculous point. This site also provides a link to a website for CAIR (Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform) which is a non-profit organisation which is "seriously concerned with Americas rapid population growth"

The website I have found for pro-immigration in the south-west is:

Immigration Works USA is a national organisation which aims to help immigration reform to benefit all Americans. The organisation is present in 25 states in the US. There were a few states to chose from in terms of the south-west of America but I chose this one:

This site is Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy. I wanted to pick a site that wasn't Latino run as I thought it might be to bias so thought this was a good site as it is Texan, which is arguably the biggest republican state, who are of course most related with anti-immigration policies. I like it because it is a fairly balanced site. It states that illegal immigration needs to be stopped as it has got out of controls but they are simple and fair measures which can be taken to help achieve this.

Pro and Anti Latino Immigration

The first website I have found is a petition website and there is a very anti Latino Immigration petition that was set up in 2006, a section is titled "Kick the dirty Mexicans out of the US!" The petition page was created in 2002, but the founder is unknown.
This website isnt just an informative site, it is a petition based website to get Mexicans out of the US and to stop them taking America's jobs. This particular petition has 100 signatures, so its goes to show how strongly people feel about Mexicans being in the country.

Some of the comments are very aggressive and, i think, offensive. One comment said that "Mexicans are dirty, stinky garbage".

Overall, this website poses as a good anti latino immigration site because they describe, in this case, mexican with very negative words. It zero's in on a particular minority that people know are very likely to take our worst jobs.....

This now brings the blog into an opposite direction with a pro Latino Immigration website, this site is more of descriptive piece on pro latino immigration, written by an individual who discusses immigration as a big topic in America today he says that Latino's have done America a huge favor to help the economy by doing the jobs that no other American would ever do! He also says the that America has been 'letting' immigrants into the US with out them even having to consider crossing the border:

"The truth of this is that you do not need to sneak across the boarder to get into the United States. Every year the United States is letting more and more immigrants into the United States. In 2005 1,122,373 immigrants were allowed into the country."

Halfway through his statement it seems that he takes either an opposite side to the argument or he is 'on the fence', because he says: "Immigrants have almost every right that any citizen in the United States has but illegal immigrants have no right to be living in the United States. Why should illegal immigrants be allowed into the United States and take the jobs of those who came to the United States and worked hard to get their citizenship. Illegal immigrants are hurting everyone whether they realize it or not. "Illegal immigrant's first act in this country was to break the law." (Ian de Silva, 2) By coming into the United States illegally they are already breaking a law and should not be allowed into the United States unless they do it legally and properly."

To me this says that everyone has a right to enter into the country as long a you do it the right way and you cannot be judged for it or criticized.

Overall, the two websites are very different the Anti Immigration one is very opinionated with people expressing only their views while the other is more factual with information to backup his theories on the subject.

Friday, 3 February 2012

PRO and ANTI Latino Immigration

Alterna, set up in 2006, is a Christian non-governmental organization that works with people who cross the borders into America: “…is an experiment in Christian missional living, welcoming the stranger and offering hospitality to Jesus who often visits us as an unauthorized immigrant from Latin America.” Their slogan is: “Love Crosses Borders”. They are based in the state of Georgia and are in correspondence with Guatemala.

Alterna enforces the idea of immigration and heavily supports (almost to the point of promoting) immigration particularly amongst illegal immigrants; “…relocation means living a life of simplicity and solidarity with migrants particularly undocumented…” and by their speaking in both English and Spanish they are welcoming to Latino immigrants from Latin America. Their Christian message also acts as their reasoning to want to help Latino immigrants.

MinutemenHQ, first made famous by Shawna Forde (after the murders of Raul and Brisenia Flores) act as the “National Citizens Neighbourhood Watch- Securing the American Border” and their mission is to: “secure United States borders and coastal boundaries against unlawful and unauthorised entry of all individuals, contraband and foreign military”. In the top left hand corner there is a picture of a man with binoculars, and this reiterates their message of acting as a kind of neighbourhood watch.

Whilst Alterna acts to welcome Latino immigration, MinutemenHQ are strongly against it and portray immigrants as dangerous. This is enforced by the counter on the side which estimates the number of “illegal aliens”. As well as this, there is a picture of someone’s eye (representing America) and two flags which look to represent tears, showing that Latino immigration is not good for America. Further down the page, the use of words such as “brutal”, “armed illegals” and “launched Mexico-style attacks” implies to how dangerous immigrants are to America. These particular words spread panic and fear amongst locals, and so encourages people to be against Latino immigration as they think they could be subject to violence. This is very different to the message of love that Alterna tries to promote.

MinutemenHQ think that a majority of people in America agree with their argument and in their “about us” section they write: “You are reading this because you believe that you can actively participate in one of the most important […] movements for justice since the civil rights movement of the 1960s”. I think that the fact they can compare Latino immigration to the civil rights movement (one of the most prolific times in American history) shows just how severe they feel the situation is, and at the same time showing their insensitivity to what happened all those years ago. They go on to almost force the reader to join their cause by using words like “you are considering joining” and “you feel your government owes the citizens of the United States protection from people who wish to take advantage of a free society”; in some way brainwashing Americans to follow them [MinutemenHQ].

The most obvious between Alterna and MinutemenHQ is how they set up their message and present it to the world and other Americans. Whereas Alterna is welcoming, using easy font, large lettering, warm welcoming colours and personal photos, and an easily navigated website; MinutemenHQ’s website appears cold, distant, unwelcoming, very factual based with their news headlines, small fonts and lack of pictures. Even from these different set ups, it can be seen how each side perceive Latino immigrations.