Joelle McKenzie


Blog #7

Posted by Joelle McKenzie on

I have decided to do an analytical research piece on Tobe Nwigwe’s song ‘Hella Black’, featuring The New Respects. I chose this song because it focuses on music, how it is the common language spoken by everyone, and most importantly, Black representation in society of both the past and present. The articles I chose to aid with this analysis are Mia M. Kirby’s ‘Tell It Like It Is: Black Power Era Music And The Construction Of The Strong Black Woman Archetype’, and Ronald Radano’s ‘The Sound of Racial Feeling’. Unfortunately, after a relentless search using the library resources, I was not able to find a third article that best suited the basis of my research paper.

Mia M. Kirby’s ‘Tell It Like It Is: Black Power Era Music And The Construction Of The Strong Black Woman Archetype’, in summary, embodies the struggle the Black women of the African American community along with the diaspora at large have encountered through the years. The article makes mention of how music was utilized during the Black Power era in order to change the narrative of how Black women were portrayed and perceived. Moving away from the idea that Black women were only to be seen as a mammy, matriarch, Jezebel, and so on. The author also did her own analysis of various songs from the Black Power era to make more positive sense of who a real strong, Black woman is and how she ought to be represented.

From Ronald Radano’s standpoint in his article ‘The Sound of Racial Feeling’, to summarize, he dealt with the matter of the different genres of music and the Black influence that was present in each genre. He highlights that in every arena of music that was blessed by the hand of the black, one would be able to feel the racial impact it left, be it in the sound of the instruments or the lyrics, especially if there is to be a visual display. He summed it up to say in music, everyone was able to share a piece in a Black experience.

These articles are relevant to my research paper because they help to shed more light on the current influences Black pop culture and music has in the continued movements of today.


Blog #6

Posted by Joelle McKenzie on

One of my favorite songs of this era is ‘Hella Black’ by Tobe Nwigwe featuring The New Respects. I will use the content of his lyrics along with a sample of the short speech he made in his live performance of the song during his Ivory tour in Atlanta. This song preaches of black representation in America, that of which will be the main focus of my analytical research paper.

In respect of the thesis, I will seek to argue how being black has been an unnecessary offense to the larger community. To show that black people are more than just who they are when they are born. Fully embracing the black self unashamed and unapologetically, regardless of how they are perceived to the rest of mankind. This essay will also aim to emphasize the relevance of black representation in the present and for future generations to come.

I take this stance because as a human being first, no race ought to be fighting this long and this hard to be accepted or to be struggling to find one’s place in their societal home. Black representation is quite vital because it portrays the community in all its diversity and dynamic roles in a world that has demonized and dehumanized it. In saying so, what I hope to accomplish in this research paper is to highlight the brilliance of what it truly means to be black and the importance of black presence in the American society. Hence, the main inspiration behind this paper is due to the fact that on a personal level, I have never had to encounter the issues associated with racism this much until I migrated to this country. Just being black has never been this difficult for me before because I grew up on an island where 95% of us are black. So my question to America is, why? Why does the color of my skin offend you? I fail to fathom how the color of my skin can mean that I am not worthy of exercising basic human rights, achieving desired goals, and being afforded other rites of passage.

I generated the thesis statement in hoping to use my research to unearth the reasoning behind the offense the black presence evokes as well as to show that being black is no threat or hindrance to another race because we are all here to serve our purpose in this grand design called life. Thus, by deciphering the lyrics of Tobe Nwigwe’s song ‘Hella Black’ and going in search of articles in regards to black representation, I will use these tools to embark on information that will help me to fully develop this research.



Blog # 5 – The Good Immigrant Student

Posted by Joelle McKenzie on

I can understand when Bich Nguyen says she would like to make a broad, accurate statement about immigrant children in schools, to speak on their behalf, but cannot. I mean, how could she possibly?
In seeing her point of view, it can be agreed that immigrant children across America suffer at the hands of scrutiny as well as being separated and set apart from who the typical All-American model student ought to be. No matter how brilliant and accomplished you are in school one just never seems to measure up. As much as Nguyen would like to be an advocate on behalf of immigrant children in schools she can’t, simply because each immigrant child has a different, painstaking story to tell.
What a Vietnamese student may have to endure may not be exactly what a Mexican student has to deal with, but it is all still discriminatory and oppressive the same. To be considered as less than, not good enough, or ‘up to standard’ because one is from a foreign country, English not being one’s first language, and not having the skin color of the ‘golden’ American child. Immigrant do tend to suffer the same fate, share a common struggle yet varying experiences in the sense that some were tougher both physically and emotionally (or one or the other). The other set may have chosen to rebel against the system if it didn’t work for them. Some children would go as far as not accepting or recognizing their heritage and identity. While others, just like Nguyen, only wanted to disappear into the scene, going unnoticed so as to avoid being placed under a microscope just to be marginalized and scrutinized.


Blog #4

Posted by Joelle McKenzie on


It is quite honorable and admirable that both presidents, Lincoln and Kennedy, stood on the grounds of freedom and racial equality in their speeches. These men have made us to believe that the great nation of America upholds the principles of such because it ought to be the only way forward so as to strengthen the bonds of the people. Forging the path to seeing each other as equals and to be afforded the same great quality of life, as is our right, for this has been the cause being fought for in centuries past.

As according to Abraham Lincoln when he spoke at the Gettysburg Address, he said, “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead have not died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” In comparison, John F. Kennedy made mention of freedom in his inaugural address saying, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge – and more.” Strong, solid words from both presidents, but it also brings forth the contrast in their speeches and thickens the plot for America’s historical storyline.

In Lincoln’s speech he spoke of the great civil war fought in order to attain freedom for the enslaved and oppressed, whereas in Kennedy’s spoken word he made references to the still raging war of racial inequality, oppression, lack of human rights, and the continued fight against such. This nation has come quite a long way in trying to establish statutes of liberty, justice, peace, and equality, ensuring opportunity for all, but has it truly lived up to its true potential of what all those things really mean? Yes, there is no dispute that this country has made progress in identifying and attempting to resolve racial injustices and inequalities but it yet still has a rather long journey ahead in order to totally eradicate these problems. People of this nation, labeled as ‘minorities’, are still faced with the pressures of systemic oppression, not always given a fair chance as their counterparts due to one’s skin color and ethnicity. It can be argued that America has a lot more bases to cover before we can all truly say we are living in a complete liberal utopia.


Blog #3 – Literacy Behind Bars

Posted by Joelle McKenzie on

I feel I understand Malcolm X’s sense of freedom though being on lock down. I say this to highlight the moments in time when I’d often hear someone say reading and becoming engulfed  in a book is like a great escape to a whole new world and into the mind of somebody else. There is also the common saying that goes, “Reading maketh a full man,” and in perusing this excerpt, proves that Malcolm X spared no effort and ensured to exhaust all his resources and avenues. In regards to freedom, Malcolm saw the potential benefit of being incarcerated because during this time he sought the opportunity to teach himself how to write, using the dictionary to learn new words, which ultimately lead him to become quite the excelled reader as well as scholar though having no formal education as such.

Malcolm spent hours upon hours reading, edifying himself, forever craving more knowledge, and it was in this period of his life he found true freedom in his literacy. He thought it a gift to be imprisoned because he felt that if he had been granted the rite of passage of going to college then he may have been sidetracked by getting caught up in the distractions of what the college lifestyle had to offer. Prison was possibly Malcolm X’s  greatest blessing in disguise. He said, “I don’t think anybody got more out of going to prison than I did. In fact, prison enabled me to study far more intensively than I would have if my life had gone differently and I had attended some college.” He further went on to say, “Where else but in a prison would I have attacked my ignorance by being able to study intensely sometimes as much as fifteen hours a day.” What I gather is that Malcolm, although faced with adversities, used his unfortunate circumstances to his advantage thus elevating himself in spite of. The real meaning of rising above and beyond.


Blog #2

Posted by Joelle McKenzie on

Growing up in a Chinese household in an American society, language played quite an integral role in Amy Tan’s life. This is evident, because she mentioned that at home the English language was used rather differently than the structure of the English language she learnt in school. As Amy herself said, “It suddenly seemed to me, with nominalized forms, past perfect tenses, conditional phrases, all the forms of standard English that I had learned in school and through books, the forms of English I did not use at home with my mother.” Because of this language deficit, Amy struggled with mastering English tests, not that she failed, but there were concepts of the language that she didn’t perceive in the way expected of her to understand. She stated,” While my English skills were never judged as poor, compared to Math, English could not be considered my strong suit.” She went on to say,”For me at least, the answers on English tests were always a judgment call, a matter of opinion and personal experience.”

Amy considered the English of her mother’s tongue to be ‘broken’ in comparison to the standard English used by English speakers. Because of this gap, along with others telling Amy that ‘she was not the greatest English speaker’, as well as her own perceptions of her English language capability, she used these bricks thrown at her to build her own castle. Amy enrolled in college as an English major and clearly excelled at it. She used her ‘limitations’ as motivation to succeed. Amy shaped her language competency by utilizing all the Englishes she grew up with as well as the ones she adopted. “Language is the tool of my trade. And I use them all – all the Englishes I grew up with.” – Amy Tan

Miss Tan came to realize her language biases on a few occasions. One occurrence was upon giving a talk to a group of people, a forum in which her mother was in attendance. Amy was in front of her audience giving the speech of a lifetime using the structure of ‘perfect’ English, and on seeing her mother it dawned on her that she was using the kind of language she never uses with her mother at home. She was made aware of the vast differences there were to what some people may comprehend and what others may not. To clarify, Amy said, “The talk was going along well enough, until I remembered one major difference that made the whole talk sound wrong. My mother was in the room.” Another instance in which Amy noticed her biases, was when she found that she would become embarrassed by her mother’s use of the English language. Because of this, Amy held the notion that her mother’s thought processes of English were imperfect which didn’t allow her to express herself well enough, seeing it as a limitation. Tan herself said, “My mother’s ‘limited’ English limited my perception of her.”

Over time, Tan also noticed the bias of others towards her mother because of the way she spoke. There were times, as a teen, she would have to pretend to be her mother in order to handle a business transaction or be the one to take care of her mother’s medical appointments. Due to her mother’s lack of finesse in the arts of the English language, in different arenas of day to day life, people would often not take her seriously and had a lack of consideration for her all because they were never able to fully understand what she tried to say or explain to them which made her dependent on her daughter’s language skills.

I do believe that people who learn English as a second language are constantly aware  of the way language is used around them, given that a language barrier may often cause misunderstandings and miscommunication. It forces them to create comparisons between their native tongue and the English language along with the challenges of how, when, and where to use certain words to make a complete, coherent sentence.

I am for sure aware of how the English language is used around me. I grew up in an environment where Patois is the most commonly used lingo but English is the dominant language factor. Hence, in speech, I automatically recognize when something said or written is considered to be grammatically incorrect, although, I myself is prone to making such errors.


Class Introduction

Posted by Joelle McKenzie on

And in true Jamaican fashion (cause wi extra bad!). Wah gwaan everybody?! My name is Joelle McKenzie, I am a 3rd year student with a major in Exercise Science and a minor in Pre-Physical Therapy. I look forward to working with everyone so as to achieve at our highest and greatest potentials.

In going through the syllabus, as expected, because this is an English Composition course, I duly noted the amount of reading required. As a child, I was an avid reader, I enjoyed reading a book from cover to cover along with learning new things, and I brought that sense of curiosity with me into adulthood, so I am excited to see what literary adventure this class will bring me.

With regards to what I may be anxious about, as much as I loved reading, formulating compositions was not exactly my strongest suit. I do hope this course will help me to develop that skill set.

I believe qualities of good writing has to do with the development of sensible structure, coherent ideas, intrigue, expressionism, as well as a sense of correctness. To be a good writer, one has to attest to the attributes of the qualities of good writing and let it shine in one’s works. It is important to be able to write well so as to ensure the readers can comprehend fully what the writer is trying to convey to his/her audience.

The easiest part of writing for me is introducing a subject matter. The hardest part is in developing and conceptualizing the idea (s) due to a fear of repetition. What I need to work on most is composition development and progression with a purpose.

The genres that will be expected most of me in my career field are descriptive, objective, and subjective writing when making notes. Given that my future profession is in the arena of Physical Therapy, being an effective writer will require me to focus mainly on  the patient’s progress and therapeutic development, so it is expected that I will have to prepare and provide documented information with clarity and concise precision.

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