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MadHat11D6
J.R.
Artist | Literature
United States
I suppose I should be writing something here. I'll get back to you.
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August 31, 2014 - Black and White


With the appearance of social unrest tearing through cultures all over the world, it is important to explore different perspectives to paint the truest picture of the situation. The pieces featured here explore race, specifically looking at relations between black people and white people.  

Poetry



Identity"White reflects all colors on the light spectrum,"
                                    my teacher once said.
I wondered why it took a scientist to discover
a lesson that history has already taught us.
White doesn't carry home its dead
                                   with
                                   the
                          

Identity by TurboTracks

"I live with dispersed hues that run at the sight of me
because my science-history says it must be so."

This poem takes a white perspective on this issue, exploring the guilt of history as well as the daunting dream of cohesion. What makes this interesting is the rarely-explored idea of hope for white people - that this state of oneness can be possible despite history.

OvercomeOvercome
It is a moment without metaphor,
without the elegance of ambiguity.
What happens does not signify anything,
does not borrow the body of what it is
to create the soul of what it is;
it does not lend itself out to betoken
other things. These are seconds
without such generosity.
It is not a moment of young onions
grown tender for the harvest, or persimmons
frosted over by the sugars of age. There are
no solemn rail cars rusting into poignancy.
There is only a young black man
who is only a young black man
bullied by the sting of insult and indignity
too great, his proud mouth burnt by wrath
as he careens down the sidewalk
toward bedlam.
There is only a loose-tongued white man
who is only a loose-tongued white man,
older and leaning heavily on a cane as he turns,
a bag of something in his free hand, fretfully
silent now as he looks into the face
his epithets have spoken to life –
one ugliness begets another.
Cups of coffee leave the parking lot
behind me, where presumably all
 
Overcome by b1gfan

"It is not a moment of young onions
grown tender for the harvest, or persimmons
frosted over by the sugars of age. There are
no solemn rail cars rusting into poignancy."

Taking the perspective of an onlooker, the impact of this piece comes from it's blatant style. It is not layered with emotion or impression, rather, it presents the scene as it is. Whether intentional or not, the situation described in this poem speaks to a deeper issue; a black man, angry enough to be moved to violence from the words of a white man. There is something to overcome. 


Prose



colour blind.She saw him at the park once. He was the colour of dirt; with bird eyes and white, mapped palms. Her little forehead lined as she felt the bile force its way up until her saliva was acid. She counted her toes and bit the inside of her cheek, should she run? Are they fast runners? She figured this one must be if he kept himself out of jail. The dark man flashed a mouthful of pebbles and held out his hand- which would have swallowed hers.
'Don't touch me.'
Her hands were all knuckles and her baby eyes tore into his. He faltered and stepped away, a half mouthed sorry. He looked upset, a grin spread like fire between her dimples.
Suddenly she imagined force-feeding him barbed wire and then tearing it back out- the way a clown pulls coloured cloth from his sleeve. She imagined tying the left of his limbs to a heavy tree trunk and the right to a truck. Dragging and pulling until his joints sang high with dislocation and his arms snapped like twigs. The way she likes the crackle of dea

colour blind. by Pretty-As-A-Picture

"The bruised black boy sat two seats behind her one year. She'd hold her nose to stop the apocryphal smell as she tried instead to fill her lungs with the air that lingered under her shirt, at her chest."

This story is written from the perspective of a young girl raised to hate black people, not realizing the blackness that is a part of her. It presents the stark injustice of discrimination, at the same time dealing with identity and white passing. Both interesting and haunting (and at times difficult to read), this story is a quietly important addition to the racial dialogue. 

Black and WhiteI met him in the sandbox.
It sits just past the streetlight mamma tells me is old fashioned because it looks more like candy than a stoplight. I don't agree, but I'd never tell her. (she only insults it in this manner after she forgets to look for it and runs a red light)
I was not building sandcastles, or playing house, or pretending to be princess of anything. I was building roadways and mountains and intersections for my little yellow jeep to purr its way over; ignorant of all traffic laws. (Did you know that if you purse your lips and blow, you can grrr just like one?)
He had green eyes to match his green tractor, and we built farms and dug trenches until our little arms were sore and then we planted pebbles while we chanted grow corn grow.
.
I think I remember her skirts, and the red of her hair, and the twisted rouge of her lips as she yanked him stumbling to his feet and sneered.
She had his green eyes.
I do remember what she said, Don’t play with her Michael. She

Black and White by TheAfterWhys

"I do remember what she said, Don’t play with her Michael. She’s dirty. I didn't know then, that the word dirty had nothing to do with hygiene."

This piece takes the perspective of a young black girl told she cannot play with a white boy. What makes this interesting is, unlike many stories within this point of view, the mother is unable to teach racism to her child. This creates the effect of highlighting the ridiculousness of the mother's ideals, but does this without taking away from the pain felt by the black girl and her mother. 

All of these pieces are interesting and thought provoking. Each of them provides a unique perspective on the relationship between black and white, each adding something to this important dialogue about race.   

Activity


So sorry it took me so long to take a look at this one!

Some grammar:
"I to have a tail" should be "I, too, have a tail"

That was the only thing, though. Great job with grammar. =] On to the ratings!

Vision

I give you the same rating at last time, and I have the same basic critiques. There doesn't appear to be one overreaching idea to this story. That being said, I do see some improvement as you push through just a bit more with the 'claimed by the sea' idea. And I did like what you did about her hair color toward the end. Giving it significance, I mean. This is an improvement from the last version of this piece, but overall still lacking. This is also somewhere where your personal style comes into play. Some people like to hit you over the head with ideas. Some people prefer something more understated. Understated definitely works in the style you have for this piece. But it still needs that final push. And by that, I mean key phrases. Have you ever read a book or a poem and you get to a line and it just jumps out at you and you're not 100% sure why? More often than not, this is a key phrase, this is a big moment of thematic development, and it's there on purpose. In short pieces like this, you don't want those lines to jump out so much as glow a bit, so to speak. Find those moments that glow, and the piece will have much more grounding to it.

Originality

I gave you a higher rating here than last time. I really like you're solution to the red headed princess thing. Though the idea of a physical attribute showing a special gift is by no means original, within the context of this story it's very interesting. Much more so than it being just a princess. Well done.

My critique here comes in the immediate reverence he has for this gifted mermaid. Sure, she helped him become a mermaid. And yes, it's good that he continues to to wonder about her. But why does he hope she's proud of him? The end seems oddly reflective for how short the piece is, and it brings it fairly new ideas that you have yet to fully explore. Work the the ending a bit. I think there's a way to improve that.

Technique

You also improved in this area. Last time, I critiqued you on showing rather than telling. You did a better job. I think the level you achieved is just right for the context of this piece. It's understated and it worked quite well. There was a major stumble at the beginning, however. You wrote "i just am in shock" but nothing in the story proves this. He doesn't appear to be struggling with anything. I don't think you would need that line even if he were.

Last time, in this section, I also talked about character building. The mermaid stood out to me just a bit more in this piece. She seems playful but mysterious. Work with that. For example, when she tells the protag to look in a certain direction you could have her instead grab his head and physically turn it to look where she wants him to. Stuff like that. That kind of stuff will also create tension, which I will talk about in a second.

The protag came alive in certain moments. A lot of it was very robotic and clunky, particularly in the first two paragraphs where every single sentence starts with 'I'. Avoid that. But the third paragraph was very well done, and the emotions and questions come alive at certain moments throughout the piece. Unfortunately, the thing I remember about this piece is that I think the protag is kind of a jerk. "I wonder for a moment if her temper is as explosive as surface dwelling red heads are." What a jerk. If you don't want him to be a jerk, I would suggest cutting those kinds of lines. Also, he says his tail is more masculine. I have never ascribed femininity or masculinity to a fish tail before, so I do not know what that means. If this is the type of character who observes things as being masculine or feminine, then I would lead with the description and then have him observe it was masculine. This isn't a huge issue, just a small suggestion because i didn't really know what you meant by masculine.

Despite the improvements and clear effort you have made here, the flow is still pretty clunky. Especially in the beginning, which is the worst place to have clunk. The beginning is a simple fix. Only start a couple of your sentences with 'I' and reorder and reword the other sentences. That will probably help a lot.

Impact

The story itself does not particularly stand out more than it did before, but I can tell your lead character has more of a personality. However, what stood out was he's rude to redheads and seems to assume that he matters enough to random strangers to make them proud. Which can be good or bad, depending on if that's what you were going for. In addition to that, you don't create much tension in this piece. Tension can be created by characters interacting, showing character anxiety, describing something that inspires awe. That kind of stuff. For the next step in your writing, based on the piece I've read, i would say start working on tension.

That being said, your emotional pacing improved considerably. There were a few moments as I was reading where I felt very good reading it and just thought 'yes. this is lovely'.

This piece has it's own problems, but it has noticeably improved from the last version. It is clear you care and it is clear you're working on it. Well done. =D
They say they lost their lives
How many boys need to die
Before they’ll see it?
Chalk outlines on the pavement
Drawn around black bodies
And they paint us white
As we spill onto the pavement
Hollow
We are past it
We are past it
They say they lost their lives.
Countless
Unarmed
Black boys
Lost
Their
Lives.
I reject
The idea that their lives were lost
Like a sock in the dryer
Like a toy under the bed
Like a gun to his head
His life was taken.
On the darkened streets walking to home to his mother
His life was taken
When he called the police to stop a robbery
His life was taken
In his home his life was taken
In his home
His life was taken.
They say it’s not about race.
Because he has a gun.
Because he is attacking.
Hands held above his head
He does not run
He cannot move
But he has the face of the devil
“Don’t shoot”
He is a chalk outline on the pavement
“Don’t shoot”
We are chalk outlines on the pavement.
And they tell us it’s not about race.
We are past it
We must be past it –
It was a tragedy
And they didn’t mean for it to happen –
So tell me why
A fifteen year old black boy with a social disability and a pen knife
Is shot and killed in his home
Tell me why
A white man walks into a theater with a gun
Kills twelve people
And lives to tell the tale
Do not tell me
It’s not about race.
Eyes closed to your own hate
As you hang us from it
They’ll never listen if we’re screaming
We are past it
We are past it –
Listen.
We have reached the chorus
Of broken hearts
Centuries of our screaming
Coalescing
In the names of the fallen
And we hold them high
We will get past it.
But I will not live
By the politics of respectability.
The story is not over
After the march.
And one speech does not
Silence our voices.
Do not tell me this is over.
Do not tell me
This is not about race
When my race has become a victim
To this society.
Do not tell me
We cherish this victimhood
Do not tell me
That that valuing black lives
Is hating white lives.
Let me tell you something about hate.
Hate is the look in his eyes when he shot that black boy.
Hate is the look in their eyes when he shot that black boy.
Hate is the currency of our society.
We are all chalk outlines
In the ruins of brotherhood.
Chanting the verses they’ve taught us to speak
Lowering our faces and declaring
The war is over!
Racism is dead
Racism is dead –
We will not take it.
We will not let you tell us
These boys lost their lives.
Because their lives were taken from them.
The moment they came out of their mamas wombs
Singing into this society that hates them
Their lives were taken from them.
We want them back.
Racism is Dead
An updated version of a poem written in August of 2014 of the same title. This one was finished February 2015. Alternate title: Chalk Outlines
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Hello there! First and foremost, I've got to talk about grammar and formatting.

There is not enough space in this piece. When I see a piece that is just a long block of text, I don't want to read it because it's a huge strain on my eyes. In addition to that, it messes up the pacing of your piece by making it seem squished and quick. Novels have the advantage of the 'tab' key, as well as more space on the pages (dA space is about 1.15, you're average novel will be about 1.5) so what you have to do is create space. Space out each paragraph and each line of dialogue so there is space between - like I have formatted this critique - and your piece will be much more attractive and easier to read. It's a very important part of writing, and many writers forget it.

Second: I believe I've said this before, you like to take a rather liberal approach to commas and general punctuation and if makes your pieces awkward to read. For example:

"They forgot why they came here in the first place, all they wanted, is to try out everything and see what the magicians are capable of." There is intrigue here, but you lost it with a run on sentence. Try something more like:

"They forgot why they came here in the first place. All they wanted was to try out everything and see what the magicians were capable of."

This leads me to my next point: You get your tense confused pretty early on in this piece, and you use just a few words incorrectly. You start the piece in the past tense, but by the second sentence you're switching back and forth between past and present. Pick just one that you're comfortable with, and make sure it stays consistent throughout the story.

Finally, your dialogue. In the first little chunk you use "" and then throughout the story you use dashes. You've got to pick one. I don't like dashes, but I'm getting used to them. If you want them, be careful how you use dashed throughout your writing. You may want to switch to commas or parenthesis, as not to confuse readers.

Now. For the actual content of the piece. It has a very whimsical and intriguing tone that makes it an enjoyable read. I would only really be careful about a couple of things:

1) Your descriptions are, at times, wonderful and they set the tone and make me happy. Other times, they seem lazy. You can give us just a bit more in some places. For example, "Dressed in traditional Chinese clothes." That does not paint a picture of this character. It's too vague, because traditional Chinese could mean any prominent fashion within thousands of years of Chinese history. I key in on this specifically as a cultural anthropology student who has spent some time in China - but as a writer it is your job to have some sense of what you're talking about. Research the kind of outfit you're thinking about, make sure you get some research in about the context in which that outfit would be worn, and then give some description of the outfit. Some of your readers won't know that 'traditional Chinese' doesn't describe one style, but others will. And those are the ones you're concerned about. Little details are more important than a lot of people think.

You should also work on given each character their own distinct voice. They're dialogue just sort of blends together to the point that it's hard to tell who's talking without the 'he said' 'she said' add ins. You did a very good job setting the scene and drawing me in, but there was trouble in holding my attention. So much of this is dialogue, and so much of the dialogue is not distinct. I recommend just sitting down and working with your characters a bit, and it will start to come naturally.

All in all, this is a good piece. It's intriguing and I'm interested in more. But you've got to work more on consistency in your writing. You've got the hook, you've just got to keep my attention. And do some research. Good work so far.
Hi. This was pretty fun to read, but it does have a few problems.

First and foremost, it's hard to read. You should really think about how to break up your paragraphs to add space to this piece. Normally, when I see a piece spaced out like you've space this piece out, I move on without reading it. Especially in the format of dA, there should be a full empty space between each paragraph. In addition to that, dialogue almost always starts a new paragraph. For example, part of your piece would look like:

'Mary appreciated the gesture sometimes, though she suspected it was more of a survival instinct rather than an act of good will.

"Mary. That action is detrimental to your health, and I need you alive to accomplish my mission."

If ever there was an appropriate time to roll her eyes...'

See how that works out? When you don't space it out like that, not only is is difficult to read, it totally destroys the pacing of the piece, making it awkwardly quick with each idea running right into another. I want to savor pieces like this.

Vision and Originality

This is a really interesting idea and execution. It's not something I can say I've seen before. The absurd narrator is nothing new, but in the context of the story it stands out. This is a strong and unique idea, and i really appreciate the creativity that had to have gone into it.

Technique

The general execution of the piece is not as strong as the idea. You do some things very well, such as reminding the reader what time frame Mary is from. I really like the part where she seems embarrassed seeing all the exposed legs, and it's cute when she wanders into the colonial museum. However, throughout the piece you lose my suspension of disbelief.

This is an absurd piece. Its success pretty much depends on my willingness to believe what you're telling me is true in the context of the story. When pacing and tension aren't functioning at full capacity, as a reader I begin to lose my willingness to believe. Thus, as a writer, you've lost my suspension of disbelieve. For me, a big part of it was Mary in the museum. If she's looking at a display, it wouldn't be dusty. And if anyone where watching, even if they believed she worked there, she would be stopped from going onto the display. Where are the other people who worked there? Is it closed? You either have to make these things clear, or make me believe that Mary would be allowed to walk on a dusty display in a very poorly staffed museum. To make me believe that, you've got to use pacing to create some kind of tension. It doesn't have to be the sort of tension where you're on the edge of your seat, just a feeling that we're leading to something.

Impact

You lose a lot of impact where you lose my suspension of disbelieve. However, the museum could have been forgiven is you played with the absurdity a bit more, perhaps even made me laugh. This would come primarily from the characters.

John Doe has cheesy dialogue. He seems like the kind of guy who doesn't have anything particularly clever to say, but there is a distinct difference between fun cheesy and distracting cheesy. Within the context of the story, the light tone of the narrator and all that, John's swearing seems totally out of context in a way that doesn't work. Because this story is so creative, it stands out as something that is lazy. You can express frustration without swearing. In a piece like this, it would be more amusing and raise the general impact of the story. It would bring a sort of cohesion that would make everything work just a bit more effectively.

And, of course, the narrator. A lot of the narrator's thoughts seem awkward and out of place, and some of them are funny and right where they should be. It gets the most awkward when you have one section that starts third person limited on Mary (i.e. focusing on what Mary is thinking or doing) and ends 1st person omnipotent with the narrator. It doesn't feel right. Again, this story is absurd. I think you can actually play with the narrator a bit more. But you've got to really consider it and how it fits within the pacing and the context of the story. Take it one step further without making it too cheesy, and it might just take your piece to the next level.

Overall, this is a pretty good piece. You've just really got to focus on your pacing and how you frame the characters to make it an excellent piece.

Critique from
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Comments


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:iconmintchocolate188:
MintChocolate188 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2015  Student General Artist
Oh my dear, I miss you so much. How has life been treating you?
Reply
:iconmadhat11d6:
MadHat11D6 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2015   Writer
Good. I miss you too! =] I have an internship at king's books right now, which is fun. How are things going for you?
Reply
:iconmintchocolate188:
MintChocolate188 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2015  Student General Artist
:D an internship? Awesome! is king's that antique book shop downtown?

I'm good. guitar lessons, snowboarding lessons, book/guitar club, and my online life with my bf are kinda hectic, but i'm managing~ I was nominated for the sweetheart dance princess, so that's... interesting...

But I miss sota so much! like, i can't go downtown without remembering so much and getting all teary T.T
Reply
:iconmadhat11d6:
MadHat11D6 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2015   Writer
It's on St. Helens, right down the street from Stadium. Used and new books. =]

Wow, that's a lot. What in the holy hell is a sweetheart dance princess?

sota misses you to, dearie. =] I'm starting to get antsy because this is my last semester them I'm out in August. Then I'll be in Vermont for at least the next four years, likely the next six. So that's happening.  
Reply
(1 Reply)
:icondelta-13:
Delta-13 Featured By Owner Jan 18, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I can't believe we weren't already watching each other. Anyway, thanks for the watch. Hug 
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