Week 11 Session One Monday, March 30, 2020 9pm

1. How does Ned Weeks compare as a leader to Lysistrata and Ida B. Wells?

Ned Weeks is very similar to both Lysistrata and Ida B. Wells. All three leaders are people that are bold in their approach to pleading their causes. None of them believe in “ass kissing” as Ned Weeks would put it. They believed their colleagues were not doing enough and they themselves tried to spearhead their efforts. They all had to work with others that viewed their methods as ‘extreme’. They each get into trouble with their mouths and their inability to remain politically correct. All three leaders called for immediate change and did not believe in taking the long road to correcting the problems at hand. They each risked a great deal to fight for their respective causes. Lysistrata risked the wrath of the men, Ida B. Wells faced death threats, and Ned Weeks faced being ousted from the organization that he started.

2. In particular how effective is he as a leader who “calls out bad behavior”?

Ned is not very effective as a leader who calls out bad behavior. Although he is good at recognizing it, he is not so good with his delivery. Ned is a hothead and likes to argue. In fact, he says so himself that he loves to argue. He is not very agreeable. The way he calls out bad behavior is ineffective and polarizing.

3. What are Ned’s motives as a leader? Do his motives help or hinder his leadership?

Ned’s motives are to raise awareness for HIV/AIDS. He wants to save his community by getting them to refrain from having sex. His motives to raise awareness help his leadership because he gains a following however, his request to get the men to refrain from sex hinders his leadership because they say that is a violation of their civil rights.

4. What alternatives to Ned’s leadership appear in The Normal Heart? Who are the alternative leaders and how do they compare to Ned?

The alternatives to Ned’s leadership are Bruce, The Mayor, and Ben. Bruce is the elected president of the organization that Ned started to fight the AIDS epidemic. Bruce is in the closet and he fears making the fight too political. However, Ned argues that it has to be political and that they need to fight by making a lot of noise. The mayor is supposedly gay but will not give the organization the support it needs. Ben is Ned’s brother who gives minimal help in the form of legal support. He believes that he is different from Ned because he is straight. He gives support in the only way he knows how. He does not like to make a lot of noise either.

5. What qualities and behaviors of a mentor (think of Athena in the Odyssey) does Dr. Emma Brookner exhibit?

Dr. Emma Brookner delivers a kind of paedeia for Ned Weeks. She educates him on the disease and urges him to spread awareness and demand that gay men stop having sex.

In the interview Larry Kramer said that Barbara Streisand bought the rights to the play but she was uncomfortable with gay sex. She found artwork of men making love ‘distasteful’. Kramer’s storytelling stems from personal experience. He said that while he loves being gay and is proud of what the community has accomplished so far, he is ‘discouraged’ by what has not yet been achieved. He says that the community has come far but have not come far enough.

Week 11 Session Two Wednesday April 1, 2020, 7pm

I watched the documentary 13th several years ago. I learned that with the passing of the 13th amendment, slavery was abolished EXCEPT as a punishment for a crime. The documentary discusses how black people have essentially been enslaved in the United States since the founding of the country. While most people believe slavery ended after the Civil War, 13th reveals a harsh reality of the Unites States and the prison industrial complex. Black people have been enslaved in prison by the millions. The documentary explores the laws that have made it possible for this to happen. 13th explores the harsh reality that this country exploits black men and women by imposing crazy punishments on them for things that white counterparts get much more relaxed sentences. For example, there was a man on the Stanford swim team named Brock Turner who was convicted of rape but only sentenced to six months in jail. But in the 90s, five young black men were accused of rape with no real evidence to convict them, yet they were wrongfully convicted and spent years in some of the worst prisons in the United States. This for me is infuriating. As a black woman, this outrage makes it hard to perform the leadership behavior of managing your emotional states and responses. It is extremely difficult to respond in an “appropriate way” when people from your own community are being treated as less than human, as a labor force to be exploited, for their lives to be discarded as such. James Baldwin once said (paraphrased) “to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage”. The more you learn the more angry you get and the more you want to speak out. However, it is difficult to speak out in a controlled manner when the injustice is so dehumanizing and ridiculous. This is where people get ignored. As a leader, especially a black leader, it has been proven that to get on the side of the government, you have to be agreeable, and even that might not work. Take Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for example. King was agreeable in most ways. His policy of non violence is something that the textbooks just eat up. People LOVE quoting Dr. King. We honor him now, he has a holiday, and even a monument in the capital city. We do not talk about how even though King is celebrated today, his tactics of nonviolence were still punished and he was beaten and thrown in prison and targeted by the FBI. It is hard to imagine how difficult it must have been for him to control his emotions all those years. He controlled himself and was still punished.

Another contemporary problem that causes me to be outraged is the fight to take away a woman’s right to choose for her own body. It is odd to me why people care so much as to what a woman does with an organism that is inside her own body. It will forever baffle me that old men think that they have the right to regulate how a woman deals with herself, especially when these are the same men who call these women “welfare queens” and refuse to help these women when they are unable to properly care for the child they were forced to have.

I hold issue with the government holding people in cages because they came to this country to seek a better life. It is inhumane and extremely hypocritical. This country prides itself on being a ‘melting pot’ and a land of freedom yet at every chance it has to be that, the governing body puts out racist and restrictive laws, disrupting people’s ability to vote and to pursue happiness as is a constitutional right.

Outrage has hindered by leadership because I am a hothead. I typically stay cool when left alone, however, if someone of something tries to interfere with me or even worse, my loved ones, I fly off the hinges. I will not stand for unfair treatment. It makes my blood boil. I think too much of myself and of the people I love to stand still. I get offended and all bets are off. I think this can hinder me because sometimes people do not hear what I have to say if my tone is angry or irritated. It can also enhance my leadership because I am able to get people behind me by making a lot of noise. In this way, I am similar to Ned Weeks. Ned’s leadership was hindered because he was not agreeable. He liked to argue. I bet he was a Gemini. Let’s just say he is. As a gemini, we have this need for intellectual stimulation. Arguing is a part of that. We are passionate and and unyielding in most cases. This can enhance our leadership because we are the ones that speak out when no one else will, but it can also hinder us because people can be scared to talk to us. Like Ned, I have also been told that people find me intimidating because in most settings, beside the workplace (as an intern) I rarely remain silent on what I feel. I always speak up, which sometimes gets me in trouble. But I am always respected. Standing my ground always earns that. People may not like me or think I am the best person to be the face of something because I am not always agreeable, but like Ned, I can still be a force driving an operation. Although I will probably never lose that need for intellectual stimulation that often comes in the form of arguing a point, I do want to learn how to pick my battles wisely. I want to learn how to better assess the room before opening my mouth.

Leadership Group

Me:

This week I worked on my skills outside of what I normally focus on. I tried to develop my taste in art and music. I ordered a painting kit and started going outside and listening to different music while I was painting. I am going outside to keep my sanity and feel connected with the earth. I talked to a friend of mine that I haven’t really connected with in awhile. We sat in the grass outside in our neighborhood and discussed how our lives had been bad bounced ideas off one another. I also reached out to my old supervisors to thank them for their help during my internship and in doing so I asked for mentorship. Next week I want to work on personal development by researching things I have always wanted to learn but have never taken the time to do. I want to order some books on ancient healing rituals and religious practices. I found some books on the subject matter in Howard’s bookstore a few months back . However, I waited to buy them because I thought I had time. This pandemic has taught me that anything can happen and that I should do things in the moment because everything is on God’s time and we do not have as much control as we think.

Ella:

This week Ella started cooking like pastries/breads. So far she’s only made banana bread, but getting to share with her family made me happy. Since we’re on shelter and stay orders she can only basically exercise so she has been going on runs. She goes to meet up with her friend at a park and they run together (6 feet apart ). They have kind of been on and off because she have to work around my online classes and so does her friend. She also went on a walk with my family because they needed to get out the house.

Junior PR Major, African American Studies Minor