Week One Blog

Dear All

Please post a blog response to either the Rodney King footage or to the first part of Parable of the Sower. Blogs work best if you focus on a specific part of the text or a specific theme. Please post in the comments below.

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17 Responses to Week One Blog

  1. April Pratt says:

    The Rodney King incident was one of the most controversial events in recent history. The officers involved in the beating displayed an extreme act of racism. The LAPD officers used excessive force while striking Rodney more than 50 times with their batons and shocked him multiple time with a taser in reaction to him fleeing instead of pulling over after going 11o mph. What the LAPD officers didn’t know was that it would be viewed worldwide, and would soon become the biggest topic of interest just a few days later. It sparked racial debates among citizens and officials along with creating massive riots throughout downtown LA.
    On February 3, 1992 the first trial began, but shortly ended with the decision that the officers were not guilty for what they did. It was believed that this was the outcome because there weren’t any African Americans amongst the jurors. The trial was then moved to a predominantly white neighborhood due to the uprising of violence. Two hours after the judgement was announced, downtown LA became a war zone. Shockingly, Korean American shop owners were forced to defend their own stores after they became the main target and had no help from the LAPD. Rodney was stunned by the scale of violence in reaction to the trial and went on national television and asked the world why they can’t all just get along. When the riots finally came to an end, there were 55 people dead, 2,000 injured, and $1 billion of property damages.
    The riots finally come to an end and one year later the preparation for the second trial begins. This time is different than the first because now president Bush gets involved and files federal charges against the officers who were involved in the beating of Rodney King. This trial was also different from the first because there were two African Americans in the jury and Rodney King takes the witness stand. The trial finally ended 45 days later and it is decided that two out of the four officers are found guilty; Laurence Powell and Stacy Koon are faced with two years in federal prison. The third and final trial was Rodney’s lawsuit against the city of LA where he won $3.8 million.
    When we were assigned to watch the footage of Rodney King’s beating, I had an idea of the event but wasn’t so clear on what actually happened. After watching the video I was astonished that multiple city officials would violate someone’s civil rights to that extent. I was so intrigued that I had to do further research and after finding out every thing that happened, I was even more disgusted by the LAPD officers involved. In my opinion, they weren’t punished enough and should have all gotten the same punishment.

  2. Jessica Klett says:

    The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler is a novel in which the strength of family bonds is explored. In this post-apocalyptic world, Lauren must come to grips with the idea that those around her who have been spared in some form or another are not on the same page that she is. Lauren believes that there is a chance for a life better than what she has been confronted with. Her goal becomes a heroic one, yet it frightens those around her due to her bluntness. Not only is it the fact that she is very straightforward about the world around them, but she is speaking the truth. Although her father believes her, he, along with the others, are not willing to face the facts just yet.
    Butler’s choice of writing about a post-apocalyptic world reminded me a great deal of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I had read this book over the summer and it too is a story of life after the apocalypse yet McCarthy focuses on the journey of two survivors: a father and son. Although this is significantly different than Butler’s storyline of religious upbringing and the necessity of having walls around each neighborhood, The Road is similar in the sense that the father and son must always rely on each other no matter how frightening or horrific times may get. Lauren and her father have a very special bond, one in which they can always trust in each other despite their differing views.
    The main aspect that appeals to me in The Parable of the Sower is that I cannot yet tell where the storyline is heading. I have no idea yet what will happen to Lauren or her father and I think this is significant in regards to how an apocalyptic world is expected to be: unclear yet it will keep you on your toes.

  3. jennifer slattery says:

    In all the readings, and all of the books I have read, some of the most interesting things I like to read about are subjects that are based on the future of our world and of humanity. Although many of the other books I have read give more of a fantasy take on the post apocalyptic, Parable of the Sower is the first in which I can actually realize that this could be our future.
    What I would like to talk about is how, despite the terrors of this world, there is still a government and how this government is still looking for other ways out of its situation.
    Upon first hearing about the walled in communities, in which there was little to no communication to the outside, my mind first drifted to a world like hunger games. Having recently read it, it was the first thing that I compared this world situation to, comparing that version of America to Butlers. However, as I read the book I realized that these worlds, along with its communities are plagued with terror all around them. The people have lost all the things that we love and take granted for today. However, in this America the country is still trying to preserve itself as a whole. Elections are still run, and the exploration of science continues.
    This leads me to the second topic I would like to talk about, which mainly involves the countries interest, as well as Laurens interest in space. I find it intriguing that despite the economic failure of the country they are still trying to find a way into space. It is as if space will hold the refuge they have destroyed. I find this interesting because ii absolutely hate the idea of space. It scares me, and I do not feel why we should look out there for help, when we live on a perfectly good planet.
    I felt I should talk about these things because I feel that, despite my fears, bring some ray of hope to the novel as you first start reading it. After hearing the harshness and the violence of the world, it is comforting in some way to know that somewhere out there could be hope. Also tHat our government could finally be the salvation to us all. As I continue reading, I hope that it will get better, and maybe Lauren finds her way out of the hell she is living in.

    -jennifer

    Ps -sorry I posted this 2 hours late

  4. Anthony Scattaglia says:

    The Rodney King beating was a watershed moment, not only for race relations, but also for demonstrating technologies capacity to influence and shape society. The appalling actions of the Los Angeles Police Department would have been less tangible, less brutal without video evidence. The absence of video would relegate the LAPD’s actions to a simple allegation and the story probably would have faded away before reaching the front page. Los Angeles probably would not have rioted, would not have looted, would not have committed arson, but rather continued to live in quiet desperation. For years, the people of LA had been crippled by high unemployment, rampant drug abuse, and ostensible racial tensions.The video of King came at the perfect moment for the city; it gave the populace an excuse to revolt. The people made an effort to regain control of their rapidly downward spiraling lives by looting the necessities of life while at the same time creating a power vacuum in which the government that failed them, became powerless for several days. The King beating did not anger only African Americans, it was outrageous to all Americans, Los Angeles citizens in particular. The potency of the issue was directly tied to the institution responsible for the merciless 55 baton strikes – the LAPD. People became incensed that the force tasked with protecting their community would abuse their power in such a barbaric manner. Leading to question of who can we turn to in times of crisis if not the police?
    Over twenty years later, portable cameras have become ubiquitous in our society. Everyone has the capacity to record everything that happens from the mundane to the extraordinary. Nothing escapes the all-seeing glare of the iPhone lens. Being at the right time in the in the right place twenty years ago with a video camera was serendipitous; but now, in 2012, it would be a more remarkable, more unlikely occurrence if an event of this magnitude went unwitnessed and unrecorded. There is apparently a steep learning curve for our society because even after twenty years of portable recording devices, we have largely ignored the potential of being recorded for later Youtube consumption.

  5. Jonathan Ching says:

    The Parable of the Sower is a really interesting book. It not only includes fears which many people have for the future with the knowledge of the depleting oil levels, and how the glaciers in the north are getting harder to take water from. I like how Butler exaggerates the fact that there will be trouble if we continue to live the way we live as organisms that only take the natural resources, but never realize that these type of resources will not be easily reproduced.
    There is also an juxtaposition in belief systems between Lauren and her dad. Lauren continually mentions the fact that she does not have the same faith as her father. There is a correlation between the people faithful in her father’s God and the people that believe that they are content with trying to get life back to the way it was. Lauren’s self created faith, Earthseed, is the epitome of her will for change. In the beginning of every chapter, she makes a new verse for her new religion. Most of these verses have to do with God and change. There is one verse where she says “God is change. Change is God.” This shows how her will to go away from the way she lives now, and not be content with this way is guided by her faith. The fact that she believes in a life better than what she has now, and have never actually lived in times better that she has now, deems her as a visionary, and a lot of times, visionaries scare people. An example would be her best friend, Joanne.

  6. Kristen Loscalzo says:

    The beating of Rodney King was something that I have never seen or even heard about before. Although I was familiar with brutal acts of racism similar to this, this particular case was completely new to me. Most of these acts I am familiar with were pre civil rights movement and were also a lot less common in later years. Learning about a racial act this brutal, that occurred during the decade that I was born, was extremely surprising to me and watching this video elicited many different feelings within me. I felt disgusted, saddened, shocked, and confused among many others to state the least. It saddens me that a country that is capable of making such great progress in the modern world can produce such shallow, inhumane acts on a fellow citizen of their country. It is absurd to assume that the men responsible for the crime believed that they could get away with these acts of hatred. Personally, I also disagree with the verdict they received – in my eyes they were not innocent but guilty and should have served time in prison for the crime they committed. It is unfortunate but realistic to realize that these types of criminal actions occur in the United States and countries around the world even today. But people in our country first need to accept ones who are of a different race than they are and only then can justice be served and all people created equally. That is the first step and it must begin with me and the younger generations. Doing research on this case has opened my eyes to the ignorant racism still within our country and I as a United States citizen will do my best to open other people’s eyes to this case and cases similar to it. Therefore I am grateful to be made aware of this case and I will do my best to expose people to this type of treatment because only then can change come in our country.

  7. Brian Tierney says:

    After watching the beating of Rodney King, I was disgusted. The police officers in the video repeatedly beat him senseless while he laid there hopeless on the ground. The police caught him speeding and attempted to pull him over. King, fearful of his probation being revoked, he attempted to evade the police. He was eventually stopped and the police “attempted” to arrest him. Even if Rodney King was resisting arrest at all before the video, the police had no right to use the force that they did against him. They beat him over and over with their batons, kicked and even stepped on him. Being that this was all caught on video, the police officers shown in the video beating King were arrested and brought up on charges. On April 29, 1992 the jury in the Rodney King beating case found the defendants (officers involved) not guilty somehow. Violence ensued following the decision and so the LA riots began. This was not an isolated incident. Hate crimes allowed by and sometimes committed by officers have occurred for years and being that there was clear evidence against the officers and they were still let go, the public felt that they must fight back. This is a scary thing to learn about since it happened not too long ago. Even more frightening to know that this could have occurred in New York and not Los Angeles. I have the utmost respect for police officers and believe that most cops would never do such a thing, but its incidents like these that really make you think. The officers directly involved in the beating should have been sentenced to prison immediately as well as the other officers who just stood there and watched since they are equally as guilty in my mind. Although I do not agree with the actions taken by thousands of people in Los Angeles with the riots, it did get world wide attention and more action was taken in preventing things like this from happening again. We can only hope that racism, especially to this extreme is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

  8. Nazema Haniff says:

    Parable of the Sower is the type of book I would have probably not read on my own. Despite the fact that it is a grim near-future novel, I have not been able to put it down and have enjoyed reading it.
    In the Parable of the Sower, Octavia Butler exaggerates the real fears of American life in the late 80s and early 90s. She writes about people’s qualms of crime, the growing gap between the rich and poor, rise of drug addiction and even climate change from global warming. The gated or walled communities where the main characters in the book live behind were created in the United States, particularly in California, in fear the rising crime.
    The protagonist, Lauren, describes to us what seems to be a post-apocalyptic world that is full of despair and misery. It is quite disturbing when she describes what she sees outside of the walls and the lifestyle that she has to live. She lives in constant fear of the wall coming down and being attacked by the outside world. However, it is even more disturbing what she experiences as a result of her hyper-empathy. Though she does not find her hyper-empathy to be as much as a problem as her father thinks, I think that she could easily be manipulated into to being hurt. I really take pleasure in Lauren’s drive to live and survive. She knows it is necessary to prepare for the unexpected and makes it her mission to learn about different survival skills that will probably prove to be very useful.
    While reading this book I am forced to reflect on how easy this could become a reality. With the growing gap between the rich and poor, unemployment rates becoming a staple in our daily news and a weakening economy, this could in the United State’s future.

  9. Nadem Choudhury says:

    I was around 5 years old during the LA riots and don’t have much memories of it happening. I was old enough to catch on to and remember discussions of the riots and media coverage on television around my house, but didn’t grasp what really was happening until high school. Just like in this class, we had a discussion about the riots and I was able to put together the little memories I did have of when I was 5. I read articles about how there were enough cops to restrain him and the force taken was excessive. He was tasered twice and most of the time he was against the floor during the beating, so a couple of cops together could have arrested him quickly.

    I never really knew these kinds of acts were happening while I was growing up. In Mike Davis’ article, a person says that this is always happening around but the Rodney King beating was the trigger. King’s beating being filmed was a voice for all those beatings and abuses that happened and is happening in the dark. It opened the eyes of many. I always knew there were racist people around and it is probably impossible to get rid of it, but never thought these kinds of problems were around and be kept in the dark. I didn’t live in the best of neighborhoods because my parent came here as immigrants and didn’t have much to afford a lot. We did have to worry about excessive violence and crime, but nothing to the level of the LA riots. The problems in LA were huge to the point violent gangs that normally would kill each other came together against the problem and especially the Koreans after the death of a 15 year old girl.

    -Nadem

  10. Katelyn Najdek says:

    My birthday is April 29, 1992. As a result, I have always known about the LA riots. I also have listened to the song “ April 29, 1992” by the band Sublime many times, so I have known of these events for a while. My mother always says that as I was being born she thought the world was going to end, because of all the rioting and madness she saw on the television in her hospital room. So growing up I would hear this story every year and was told why this chaos occurred when I was about twelve. I never understood why people were rioting and being young I thought it had something to do with my birth. Then I was finally told it was because of a man named Rodney King. My parents told me a black man had been viciously beaten after a high-speed chase in California. This was because King did not want to be arrested for a DUI while already on parole. Rodney King had been tasered twice, kicked in the head repeatedly, and beaten with batons by three white police officers and one Hispanic officer. The beating had been videotaped and shown across the country. Millions were outraged and disgusted by these policemen. The police officers claimed to the court that King was on PCP at the time to try to not be prosecuted harshly. When the jury acquitted these four police officers, thousands of people in Los Angeles rioted for almost a week. Most people were stealing life’s necessities such as diapers and household items. Damage to property reached about a billion dollars and thousands were hurt. This case opened up a can of worms, but also opened America’s eyes to how police officers felt entitled to do whatever they want, because they thought they could get away with anything. Thankfully, in 1993, two of the four officers were brought to justice and found guilty. However the other two were acquitted, but were eventually fired from the LAPD.

  11. Kristen Noy says:

    Being born in 1993, I’m not very familiar with what happened in the 1990’s; I had no idea about the LA riots and Rodney King. It was intriguing to find out that such things occurred in the 90’s. I thought that racist’s feelings towards one another weren’t that serious after the Civil Right’s Movement in the 60s, which brought an end to segregation. After watching the cruel beating of Rodney King, I still didn’t quite understand why he was beaten fifty-six times by police officer’s batons, after he was tasered twice. I had to look it up to see what was the police office’s reason for doing such a thing. After reading that he was speeding because he didn’t want to get a DUI because he was on parole, I still didn’t believe that the officer’s handled the situation in a right way. At no point, was Rodney King getting violent with the police officers. The officers had no reason to be violent with him, they could have just attained him and given him a DUI instead of a brutal beating. When I read about the LA riots, it was weird to see that people said Rodney King wasn’t the reason they were rioting, because their friends get beaten in such a way everyday by the police. It is crazy to think that police officers got away for their behavior. Catching the Rodney King beating did make a difference, because it showed the world what officers were doing and that they were getting away for such actions.
    -Kristen N.

  12. Samantha Casaburi says:

    When we were told to watch the Rodney King beatings and read about the L.A. riots, I really did not know anything about these events. I was surprised to see that these events a year before i was born. I was under the impression that during the 90’s racism did not exist among black and whites.
    I really have enjoyed reading Parable of the Sower so far because it is interesting to read a book about the future that is so extreme. I could not imagine a world where there is so much violence and poverty within a closed in community surrounded by walls. One thing I really thought was weird about the community is with all of the violence and stealing going on within the community there is never a police force to protect the community. Lauren’s family is living within the middle class and they do not have enough money to pay the police force to come protect them. If the police force are not protecting the community then what is the job of the police?
    Another thing I thought to be very strange was how much the children are allowed to do in the community. I could never imagine being twelve and going to a shooting range with my friends and family to practice shooting a gun. Also Lauren said that she started watching children at age one. Lauren has a lot of responsibilities that I could not even imagine a 12 year old having to do. There is not time for Lauren to act like a child in this community due to all of her duties. She is to grown up for her age.

    Samantha Casaburi

  13. Elana Gross says:

    Octavia Butler’s “Parable of the Sower” begins by introducing the readers to Lauren Olamina, a fifteen-year-old girl stuck in a hellish world in an apocalyptic 2024. Lauren dreams of breaking out of her impoverished, ‘gated community’, and venturing to find a better life for her and the ones she loves. She lives her life day-to-day, hoping her family will be able to sustain itself and keep safe amongst the criminals, drug addicts, thieves, and murderers that lurk beyond her community wall. As I began to think of Lauren’s situation, I wondered if I would be courageous enough to do what Lauren yearns to do- leave her community behind, in search of a better life.
    I thought about the pros and cons that attempt to outweigh each other. Although it is technically quite unsafe, her community is her ‘safe zone’, and the only place she has ever called home. Her friends and loved ones are in Robledo. She knows she has some type of stability in her community, despite the despair and anguish she faces everyday. These would be categorized as the cons. However, her neighborhood is ravaged by hunger, death, and the idea that things will only get worse. It is because of these reasons that she desperately desires to leave her life behind to find a better one somewhere else in the pillaged country that was once glorious America. She faces a tough and unimaginable decision, but when it comes down to saving herself and leading a better existence, she courageously decides to leave everything she knows and loves behind. The strength and Lauren exhibits in the first few chapters only foreshadows her bravery and daring throughout the remainder of the book.

    -Elana

  14. Jaclyn Zauderer says:

    As I read through the first few chapters of Octavia Butlers book, I felt a strong understanding and closeness to Lauren. She expresses herself so clearly and every bit of information she includes about how she is feeling to how she describes what is going on around her, makes me feel as if I am going through it all as well. I feel sad for her as I feel frustrated at the same time. She wants the poverty, the high rate of crimes, drug addiction, the drought, and all of the other hardships going on to disappear. She does not want to live in a walled city or to be terrified to wander beyond where she feels most protected.
    It seems to me as if Lauren is the only one that is actually facing the reality of what is going on. She speaks to her friend Joanne and her father and they both seem to brush off her concerns. Everyone is aware of what is happening and how unsafe their lives are, but Lauren seems to be the one who it is affecting the most. When she comes up with an idea to create emergency packs of supplies incase they have to leave, her friend and father don’t acknowledge her plan in the way she hoped. Everything is taking such a toll on her life and she seems to be having a string of emotions.
    I feel hopeless for Lauren since everybody who she has does not seem to be on the exact page as her with what is going on. She is facing the situation head first while others around her (yes, are still being affected) are not dealing with it as actively. The idea of change is important to Lauren. She feels that everything in the universe changes and that it is the one constant in life. She hopes to change her life and the lives of her family and friends. She is constantly striving for a better way to live and to no long be in this poor and gloomy lifestyle. The people around her all need to be as forceful and active to CHANGE the way and what they having been living amongst.

  15. Amanda Deokinanan says:

    While I was reading Parable of the Sower, by Octavia Butler I began to see how corrupted the United States actually is. United States, which I thought was all about people coming together and being one is merely fictitious. I then realized with what the United States is going through today, for example, the crimes rates are rapidly increasing and unemployment rates are skyrocketing. It wouldn’t surprise me if our future turns out to be similar to what Lauren is going through and experiencing. It amazes me how a fifteen-year-old girl, wants to be independent and prepare for the worse while the rest of her community is in denial.
    In Brooklyn, where I used to live I could see a parallel with Lauren’s community and the community I used to live in. The violence is getting out of control and everyday people are dying for no reason. Like on January 28th, a carjacker was shot and killed by the police on Hemlock Street. This reminds me of how an innocent child like Amy gets shot and killed. Another connection I can make is when Lauren walks on the street and sees a naked woman who seemed to be on drugs and has no reaction but to wonder how can people let their life come to that. In comparison, when I was younger a drunk woman who was also high on cocaine with nothing but a tee shirt on ran into my yard trying to escape from the police. Lauren is right when she argues the world out the gated area is a dangerous world and that is something I also experienced. Violence in United States is getting worse and worse and we need to take action now before things get even worse. Octavia Butler’s book was definitely an eye opener for me and should indeed be an eye opener for other people as well.
    -Amanda

  16. Ebenhaezer Alwi says:

    Ben’s Blog #1

    After reading Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower, what is most alarming is what Lauren encounters every single day. How this fifteen year old girl is able to brush off what she sees and is able to continue to live her life, shows off her strong personality. What I wanted to focus on was not about Lauren specifically, but about poverty. If Octavia Butler’s novel does come true, how the United States deals with the wealth gap now is crucial. Since the 1970’s social mobility in the United States has declined and the rich continues to become richer. Shifting away from a manufacturing country to a service based country; the United States is making social mobility much more difficult due to the fact that many uneducated people who rely on hard labor are not given the opportunity to make more money. Referring back to the book, Lauren deals with a community where wondering around naked and dirty is the normal thing to do. It is depressing to see how life can take its toll and begin to back fire if people are not able to keep up with the rest of the world. Octavia Butler’s novel is an extreme version of the United States of America. A gated community does exist, communities where people are somewhat naked do exist, and violence does exist! The United States needs to fix the wealth gap and the top 1% needs to stop being greedy! Politicians needs to open up their eyes if not, they should read Octavia Butler’s book, maybe that will help.

    -Ebenhaezer Alwi (Ben)

  17. Alon Aharonof says:

    Blog 1:

    It is quite frightening to think about the future. It is more frightening to think about the unknown. Are we really going to live in a future as Octavia Butler describes in much details in her book Parable of the Sower? And if so, is there anything we can do to prevent it from happening? Do we live in her future sight right now? And if not is her prophecy really going to come true? One thing is for sure, these questions are really hard to answer on.
    As an optimistic person I always tend to believe that the world is brighter than we sometimes describe or see it. I think that this world has so many things to change to make it a better place to live for us and our children; however, I don’t believe that we in Butler’s future or any place near it. I do believe that certain things have to turn on the light, but we are not there and uncertainly if we will get there. I don’t believe that we won’t have water to turn off a fire or that we will walk around with guns, especially when we are fifteen years old. Empathy is a very good virtue; however, to a certain point when people take advantage on it.
    A strong point of this book is that in order to have better future, we need to make a change. This change won’t take a day or two and might last years or decades, but we gradually inspire toward a better world. In my belief poverty and crime which go along has to be diminished immediately. In order to solve these problems I believe that we, as a society, need to concentrate in education of our little kids to be better citizens from infancy. Nevertheless, Education on its own is not sufficient. The government has to encourage young people to work and finance their family and to help people live better life than they currently. We made this society within this world; therefore, we can defiantly improve it.

    Alon

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