Danielle Cano-Garraway: What’s Your Penn Story – Part 2

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Photography and Text by Danielle Cano-Garraway

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The subjects of my project are all black students currently enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania. During a time where black lives aren’t being heard as loud as they should be, I thought it was important to find a way for their voices and stories to be heard. I, too, have faced a plethora of obstacles as a black student at a predominantly white institution. These obstacles go beyond the uproar of horrendous events that are broadcasted on the news and through social media. These are obstacles that People of Color face on a daily basis through micro-aggressions, prejudice actions, and blatant racism and discrimination on campus – a place that is meant to make every student feel safe.

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Each person in this series has had a very different experience on campus and the stories they shared serve as a reflection of that. I hoped to capture what being a black student at Penn meant to each person with each shot. I have decided against sharing a written description of each person in hopes that the pictures will share their story for them. I will, however,  share that despite how different each story was, there was a strong common theme throughout each person’s story.

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When taking the shots, I gave very little instruction about how they should pose, look, or move. I simply asked them to reflect on what being a black student at Penn meant to them and then proceeded with the shoot. As photographer, I wanted to capture genuine emotions by not interfering too much as the subjects took on this task. I told them that there was no right or wrong was to approach this task. Each session was different for everyone, but it was clear how there wasn’t just a single emotion that depicted their experience at Penn as a student of color.

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Although this a time that has brought many people together to fight for what they believe in, I have no group shots. The reason I did this is because during a time when there is group is fighting for the same cause it becomes easy for people to become categorized and clumped into a box. “The Protesters” “ The Black Lives Matters Activists” “ The Black Students on Campus” “The People of Color” “Those People” “Them” I wanted to remove the notion of placing everyone into a single category. This, however, is not meant to discredit the power and importance of being surrounded by people that uplift you, share your experiences and are fighting for something that you are strongly passionate about. For the purposes of this project I wanted to focus more on the stories of the individuals. After looking at each section, the viewer then has the power to then see how the pieces of something much larger than just a single person fit together.

 

Photography and Text by Danielle Cano-Garraway, Copyright 2016

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About The Author: Danielle Cano-Garraway is a Junior majoring in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2017. To read Part One of this article, go to the search bar at the bottom of the page, type in author’s name: click the search icon.

Danielle Cano-Garraway: What’s Your Penn Story

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Photography and Text by Danielle Cano-Garraway

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What’s Your Penn Story

Everyone’s Penn experience is different for various reasons. Our backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, ethnicities, values, passions, religious beliefs and visions play an essential role in shaping our college experience.

The one factor that has greatly influenced Sarah’s* experience is being a black student at a prominently white institution (PWI).  There have been many times where Sarah has felt lost and unwelcomed in a place that is supposed to be a “home away from home”.  It feels like she has to fight ten times harder to prove herself.

Everyone’s Penn experience is different for various reasons. Our backgrounds, socio-economic statuses, ethnicities, values, passions, religious beliefs and visions play an essential role in shaping our college experience.   The one factor that has greatly influenced Sarah’s* experience is being a black student at a prominently white institution (PWI).  There have been many times where Sarah has felt lost and unwelcomed in a place that is supposed to be a “home away from home”.  It feels like she has to fight ten times harder to prove herself.   Like many students here at Penn, Sarah has a clear vision of what she plans on doing after college, yet she has had to overcome obstacles that many of her peers will never run into. While wearing Penn gear Sarah has had people come up to her ask, “ do you know someone who goes to Penn? ” not even considering the fact that she might indeed be student at Penn.   The emotional baggage that has built up trying to navigate the PWI system as a black woman has been a difficult journey. Protest after protest Sarah and her peers have to remind those around them that they do belong, that black lives matter and that the injustice found across the country is disgusting and that they are demanding change.   Sarah has found different groups and organizations that have helped her cope with all of the obstacles that she faces. Sarah will continue to fight for change and will stand in solidarity with those who are going through a similar experience.  When will it all end? When will the pain stop?   * Names have  been changed to protected individual’s identity

Like many students here at Penn, Sarah has a clear vision of what she plans on doing after college, yet she has had to overcome obstacles that many of her peers will never run into. While wearing Penn gear Sarah has had people come up to her ask, “ do you know someone who goes to Penn? ” not even considering the fact that she might indeed be student at Penn.

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The emotional baggage that has built up trying to navigate the PWI system as a black woman has been a difficult journey. Protest after protest Sarah and her peers have to remind those around them that they do belong, that black lives matter and that the injustice found across the country is disgusting and that they are demanding change.

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Sarah has found different groups and organizations that have helped her cope with all of the obstacles that she faces. Sarah will continue to fight for change and will stand in solidarity with those who are going through a similar experience.  When will it all end? When will the pain stop?

* Names have  been changed to protected individual’s identity

 

Photography and Text by Danielle Cano-Garraway, Copyright 2015.

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About The Author: Danielle Cano-Garraway is a Junior majoring in Cognitive Science at the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2017.

Aija Butane: Penitentiary

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Posted on May 30, 2015 by Aija Butane

Penitentiary is an institution of retributive justice. It’s that kind of justice that concentrates on prosecution and punishment. It’s opposite to transitional justice that rebuilds societies after human right’s violations. One condemns the perpetrator, the other focuses on healing the victim. There are various ways to perform justice. One might feel that in order to achieve justice, a prison sentence is necessary. I want to question that. I’m not sure if the dark prison cells with stale air, peeling paint, and collapsed floor will turn the guilt into remorse. In my vision the goal is for the wrongdoers to confess and rediscover their humanity. In that case the sentence to this house of correction, or rather coercion, might be a mixed signal. If we want them to change, why lock them in this horrific cage that builds up their hate and indifference?

I want to make it clear that I’m not advocating for blank amnesties and impunity. I’m trying to find a better way to restore justice and reconcile. A justice that would promote remembrance and forgiveness and give the victim a voice. Penitentiary is a place where the justice is supposed to be executed and yet it is concentrated on the perpetrator and leaves the victim neglected. Maybe the penitentiary is a sign of miscarriage of justice after all?

About the Author: Aija Butane is a foreign exchange student, enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania.  She recently returned to her homeland, Latvia, where she plans to continue her studies specializing in human rights.

Greg Lewis: “I Simply Can’t Imagine”

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Posted on May 27, 2015 by Greg Lewis

Martese Johnson…Michael Brown…Eric Gardner… these names evoke specific emotions and images to many. Specifically the fear of not being able to walk freely in a country that not only promises freedom but was in fact that was founded on freedom. The anger of being denied what the founders of this country described as, “certain inalienable rights”. And ultimately, the sadness, of realizing that after years of hard work there are still those who hold on to prejudices, biases and animosity which should have no place in our society or our world.

Often when someone is arraigned you’ll find that certain ethnicities, especially Black Males, tend to have “mug shots” released to the media. Whereas others have high school or college photos,which are used to acquaint said persons with the general populace. There is a stark contrast of opinions formed between the two. You associate one set of photos with very negative actions. The other with college education, careers as nurses or physicians, or maybe even dancers or business persons.

As you observe the following photographs I challenge you to take note of the thoughts or assumptions that you yourself make. At the end ask yourself whether after observing all the photos if your original assumptions have truly changed concerning the first photo you observed of the persons.

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Photography and Text by Greg Lewis, Copyright 2015

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About the Author: Gregory Lewis is majoring in Nursing, enrolled in the Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2015.