Category Archives: Discussion

Harvey and Bezio

Both Bezio and Harvey’s reading addressed aspects of leadership in question like what it means to be a leader truly and what can the pop culture of a time period reveal about leadership. I thought that Harvey’s article was a more analytical, to the point interpretation of leadership that similarly mirrored what we learned in leadership 101. The questions he proposed on determining who are leaders are in relation to our needs as a society were very similar to what I remember learning in Kaufman’s class. When he asks “who are we?”, “where are we?”, “how are we doing?”, “why do we care?” and etc, this presents a great opportunity to reflect on what our leaders are bringing to us and how they are catering to the current needs of our society and how our leaders are going about accomplishing them. These are necessary questions to review in reflection of our leaders so that we as a society can grasp at how our leaders are making us better or making us worse and to be able to go from there and fully critique our leaders.

Not only do these questions reflect a self-realization of what we ourselves seek from our leaders but it helps us put into perspective what other members within and outside our society need. This in-group out-group reflection is important in terms of world conflict. For example, most recently, the U.S air forces struck Syria’s chemical weapon facilities because it was apparent that the Syrian government was using chemical gases on its people. The biggest part of this news is that the Trump administration was not certain that the chemical gases were even used against the citizens. The plays out the problem of in-group out-group communication. It’s easy for the Trump administration to paint the Syrian government as evil and capable of these attacks on their citizens (which I’m not saying didn’t happen), therefore it’s easy to jump to conclusions and use military force without full disclosure on the incident. It would be necessary for the Trump administration to fully understand what is occurring there and answer those questions Harvey presented us about leadership to better asses the situation.

I really liked Bezio’s comparison of Shakespeare and the Brexit situation. It’s so apparent now that our pop culture reflects what our leadership is doing and has ties to current events. While Bezio is referring to looking at history and the different contexts famous leaders were placed in, the pop culture of those time periods can reflect critiques of those leaders like Shakespeare’s plays did. It’s so important to review history and the time period to assess the qualities and accomplishments of leaders. For example, after reading Zinn in the other class, we are able to recognize with more contextual history that Christopher Columbus wasn’t really a good leader and his successes were marked with rape of Native American women, the killings of Native Americans, the enslavement of Native Americans and bringing diseases to the Americas that wiped out entire populations of natives.

Zinn Reading Response

Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” does much more than the average history textbook, and it serves to tell the more complicated side of American history. Textbook production in the United States is monopolized by the textbook industry in Texas, and for that, most textbooks that circulate around the country are whitewashed, uncomplicated, and partial versions of history. This book would add a lot to the American history that high schoolers learn in school. In textbooks, minority histories are written in the sidebars. On the other hand, some histories solely tell the stories of the victims or the oppressed and fail to mention the larger political and cultural narrative of history. Zinn strikes a balance between these two ways of addressing history. He writes, “my point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners…in the long run, the oppressor is also the victim” (10). Along the same vein, Zinn’s outlook on studying history aims to look at “the past’s fugitive moments of compassion rather than in its solid centuries of warfare.” This is a unique perspective on history, for the discipline of history disproportionately focuses on the blood, wars, death and the oppressed.

Zinn criticizes the metaphor that is frequently made about America as a family with a complicated past. He writes, “nations are not communities and have never been. The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and works, dominators and dominated in race and sex” (10). This critique is epitomized in the the way that the history of lynching in the South has been ignored and covered up, just as family would cover up the complicated aspects of the past. However, the “covering up” is solely committed by the Southern whites. The “family” in the metaphor represents the whites, while blacks have no place in this family metaphor. Zinn’s critique of American history as the history of a family is relevant. Americans would benefit from recognizing the flaws in this narrative, and instead work towards trying to uncover the repressed stories of the past. Overall, Zinn raised some crucial points about the flaws in the popular narrative of history, and the average Americans’ take on history would improve in fundamental ways if they were taught Zinn’s more holistic version of the past.

Take Back the Night

This was my first year attending Take Back the Night. I know that this is event is hosted each year on our campus, as well as around the country. Even though I am a junior, I had yet to attend the event because of how solemn and serious it is. I guess I was always afraid to attend, afraid to hear the stories, afraid to know the reality of the situation on our campus. This year I decided it was important for me to at least attend out of respect.

I went to the event, but I will admit I could not stay the entire time. Each time a person got up to share their story my heart sunk a little deeper into my stomach. It truly hurt to hear their experiences, to think about how they must be feeling, and to know that this happens every day. With all the media attention around sexual assaults and misconduct recently I almost felt that I had become desensitized to the issue. The issue was bigger than me and bigger than the UR Campus. Going to Take Back the Night made me realize that this problem is not bigger than me. It is not bigger than the UR Campus. I was deeply saddened by the amount of people at our school who went up and spoke at the mic, some of whom I see walking around and honestly never thought twice.

This event was special, in that it gives a voice to each person who has felt silenced by their abuser. It is a really well done and powerful event. I recommend that everyone attend a Take Back the Night at least once during their time at UR. Attending this event was very special, and I am so glad that I did.

Event Post #1

The power of art with regards to social justice is a force that is sometimes overlooked. Unavoidable proof of this is the “Bought and Sold” art exhibit standing in students’ class routes outside of Jepson and Ryland. As an Art History major I have always been intrigued about the force of an artistic visual representation and its capability to capture social justice through various mediums be that in this case photography. Focusing on human trafficking is an issue I have heard about but to what extent it affected areas, within proximities I find unimaginable, left the audience shocked. Kay Chernush opened the discussion describing how she came to this exhibit and the interactions she has had with human trafficking. Chernush took into account not just the immediate thought of human trafficking that being sex workers but to the cheap shrimp which you see at the grocery store, from labor workers.

The wooden dim room of the Brown Alley Room suddenly seemed to shrink when Chernush uttered the words of this problem being in plain sight yet remains to be invisible to us because we are ignorant because we choose to be. Then when shifted to Monti Datta this wave of guilt became stronger as the assumption many in the room held still stood to be true, the fact that so many of us assume for this problem to happen in uncivilised places. I myself can admit that prior to this discussion I did not know the breadth to which human trafficking reached, to even U.S. truck stops. For Bonnie Price the Forensic Nurse stated that through her training at Bon Secour Hospital, amidst the training held to decipher if one has been human trafficked (specifically sex-workers), it is hard to tell especially because many of them remain unaware that they were trafficked. She said of the 112 that came in the average age was 13.

From this exhibit and discussion the impression was that merely acknowledging this issue and being apart of the understanding is a solution in its own. Although the discussion was incredibly eye opening I felt like it was left somewhat open-ended. Possibly because of the difficulty to combat an issue, which is so stereotyped in the modern day and age through technological perceptions as occurring in strictly impoverished far away areas when in reality it is within hands reach. I think the uproar or shock in itself was the powering push behind the discussion.


Failure is important because it forces us to recognizes our mistakes. If we never fail, we cannot see the things that may be problems for the future. When starting a business, for example, almost every company experiences some sort of failure at first. The chances of running a successful company go way up after running a failed company. This is because the initial failure teaches a lot about things that do not work. Even if we constantly try to avoid all failure, the chances of succeeding in doing that are low because there are things we never know we are missing simply because we haven’t thought about them before. Failure teaches us what things NOT to do, just as success teaches us what things we SHOULD do.

Failure is significant because it teaches us that we aren’t meant to be perfect. There is chaos everywhere, and sometimes it is inevitable. Without failure, expectations will be unrealistically high. If there is someone who never experiences failure, that is definitely an aberration. I think it is important for everyone to experience some sort of failure because it teaches us how to recover. Failure comes in all sorts of forms, from test grades to businesses to health. Failure is simply a part of life, and if we don’t experience it, then we won’t understand how to help others. It helps shape our worldview and character, and helps us have empathy for others. Success is important because it rewards us and ensures us that you can  accomplish things.

Lastly, failure is essential to overall success because it encourages us to try harder. We want to succeed, so failure works as the opposite of an incentive. If we do happen to experience failure, we’re going to work harder to lessen the chances of us experiencing it again. We know that if we do experience failure, we can recover. The success that comes after failure reassures the notion that failure can be beneficial. Failure does not have to be an end in itself, but rather it can be a step in the process towards success.

Value of Failure

Personally, I think failure can teach us even more than success, but only if we are willing to accept it. Of course, accepting failure is easier said than done. It is a skill that we must develop over time because it often does not come naturally. Think about it: when you are in 6th grade and lose a soccer game, you probably are not going to want to learn from it. When you are younger, failure feels like sadness and anger. But, as we grow up, we learn to deal with our emotions and in turn understand the value of failure. I think that this was something that really became clear to me in high school, and was especially true in college. As we get older, failure becomes less taboo and more of a commonality. In the college process, I was deferred from my top school when my heart was set on it. With that experience I learned the importance of making the most of your options and a situation. I decided to apply to Richmond, was accepted, and could not be happier. From failure, I learned that sometimes it can open the door to an even better path. Looking back, there is no question in my mind that failing to get into my first choice school was the best thing that could have happened to me.

We often think that failure is automatically bad. But, failure can be inherently linked to success; it just might not come in that exact moment. Every success story most likely involved failure along they. This can be true with so many parts of life: sometimes, it takes a long time and a lot of wasted effort to find friends that you truly click with. You could be applying for countless internship after internship and get rejected from all but one- or all! But, with this failure comes an opportunity to learn. It allows us to value the times that we do succeed. Part of what makes success so rewarding is the obstacles we must overcome to reach it. If we did not experience the bad times, we we would not appreciate the good times. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true. Failure is truly what we make of it, and I believe we have a responsibility to learn from it even when we do not want to.

Dorner and Forsyth Respsonse

We live in such a complex and modern world that we sometimes think we are good for failure. But, in the readings for Dorner and Forsyth, we can see that human beings are nowhere close to perfect. Dorner starts by giving a few examples on cases where human beings were wrong. He talks about an environmentally conscious town that seeks to reduce emissions by lowering the speed limit. The entire town decides this is a group project, and so they carry it out. But, it is a complete failure and actual makes the problem worse. This actually made me think about a concept I learned about in my FYS class with Dr. Forsyth. Groupthink encourages us to convince ourselves to do something irrational because the members convince each other it is the right thing to do. Usually, it involves a cohesive group with set leaders who people trust. This applies in the case of the town hall, but it can also be found in countless other examples. One of the clearest examples of it was in the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster where 12 people died. They were not able to clearly communicate or voice conflicting opinions ultimately resulting in catastrophe and failure.

Dorner Also gives us the story of the Moro tribe. Their group is struggling because of tsetse flies, high infant mortality, and a lack of clean water. A psychologist and economist come together and see all that western society can do to help them. So, they get involved. They help them with the fly problem, give them access to better healthcare, and more. Yet, their actions again result in failure. They make the problem better at first but much worse in the long run. This example made me think of Doing Good Better and the play pump example. Dorner points out that we often try to involve ourselves in problems where we have no first hand experience. We, as western and industrialized people, have a tendency to want to fix all problems. But, it is really hard for our brains to comprehend a problem we cannot see so when we try to help tribes or create the Play Pump we are often on the road to failure. Interestingly, you can seemingly do everything right but still fail. It somehow reminds me of how we prove a logic problem invalid: if the conclusion is false and both premises are true, it is invalid. It is still possible to take all the seemingly correct actions and still come out with a false outcome in terms of what we expected to happen.

What really intrigued me from Dorner and Forsyth’s readings was the idea of good intentions. When we set out to do something, we almost always think in a way that is positive. We want to help the situations and we often convince ourselves that we can. In Forsyth’s experiment, it would have been impermissible and unethical to treat students in a way that seemingly would hurt them. But, by boosting their self-esteem which on its own seems like a good thing, they received much worse grades. Failure can be hard to accept and easy to find because we often convince ourselves that intentions matter not outcomes. This is an idea that is becoming more prominent in our “everyone is a winner culture.”

Prescription Drugs and the Immigration Issue

In both of our readings for today, I really enjoyed seeing how strong arguments can change your perspective on a topic. They served as a good model for my own work and helped me to understand many of the tools that we are learning about in class. Flanigan starts her argument by presenting the idea that we should not have prescription drugs and explaining the DIC (doctrine of informed consent). She makes the point that this doctrine allows people, among other things, to make decisions about what medical care they receive; essentially, it gives them the authority to say they do not want medical treatment. By allowing patients to refuse treatment, it acknowledges that patients have the right to think about their “overall well-being” not just their “medical well-being.” She then explains that “current restrictions on pharmaceuticals are designed to promote patients’ health, but not their overall well-being. For this reason, a prescription drug system is incompatible with this justification for informed consent” (Flanigan 582). She is able to show hypocrisy within our doctrines of medicine and uses this to prove her point.

While I found her proposal extremely interesting, I personally had trouble accepting it. In particular, it was thought-provoking to read her point about Adderall on college campuses. Medically speaking, there are some people that need it more than others because of various disorders. However, there is definitely a stigma in society today that adderall and similar drugs are overprescribed and how this can have negative benefits. People who take adderall and do not need to can have various bad symptoms such as: sleeping problems, anxiety, weight loss and many more. Yes, there is no question that they can help all students in the moment. But, to say that they are simply good because they can be of temporary help neglects looking at the big picture. Personally, I believe that if adderall was legalized, it would make it extremely more common and create an even greater dependance by a larger amount of students. This would inherently violate Flanigan’s wish to create a greater “overall well-being.”

After reading Hidalgo’s piece, I really started to think about some of our class discussions. One of the points we have talked about a lot is that if people cannot agree on a value theory (moral belief), then it will be hard to even have the argument. I think this is extremely important for understanding his work. He  starts by talking about the “value of freedom of movement”. If people have different moral expectations, then it is really hard to make progress. Morals can sometimes be inherent because of who we are, and it makes arguments like his extremely divisive. In my mind, much of his argument rests on the idea of doing as little harm as possible. But, in every situation, there are going to be people who are harmed at the expense of others. He urges the public that it should be permissible to disobey laws if it means stopping harm (by helping immigrants). At the same time, we have laws in place to hopefully create good and help society to be fair. Relying on value theories means people can easily disagree, and it may be hard to change their minds.

While I was not completely convinced by either argument, it made me understand how complicated it can be to make such vast claims. Moral arguments are tricky, but are relevant to countless problems that exist in the world today. I think that both authors do a great job in connecting their ideas. Both were able to make me question some of my previous thoughts which actually can be extremely powerful.

IAT Response

My results for the IAT did not come as a surprise to me at all. The test that I chose to take was about religion, and had me associate words and symbols from Christianity and Judaism with positive and negative words to determine whether or not I had an automatic preference towards a certain religion. My results said that I had a strong automatic preference towards Christianity, which I figured would happen since I come from a very Catholic family. It’s no surprise that my religious upbringing would influence the way that I compare Christianity to other religions.

However, I found that the way in which the test was set up was not the best way in determining the results. In a way I kind of knew what my results would be going into the test, but the same could not be said for someone who was raised without religion, for example. The main part of the test had me first correctly associate positive adjectives with Christian words and symbols and associate negative adjectives with Jewish words and symbols. After several rounds of that and having that pattern in my mind, it was hard for me to immediately switch and switch the associations between religions and adjectives. I don’t think that I had trouble associating Jewish words and symbols with positive adjectives because I subconsciously am prejudiced against Judaism; I think I had trouble with it because I was so used to associating Christian words with positive adjectives, and my brain couldn’t break the pattern. Therefore, I think that the setup of this specific IAT could be improved upon in order to get a better understanding of people’s implicit biases in terms of religion.

Equal Justice Initiative Sources

Reports: Equal Justice Initiative. (2018). Retrieved from

This source is a website published by the Equal Justice Initiative that details a series of case studies and reports that the EJI has published. These reports explain the type of work the EJI does as well as in-depth examples that build off of those discussed in Just Mercy. They include reports on judicial misconduct, lynching, and children being sentenced to life in prison. Each page has a summary as well as a link to a longer report. These reports, while likely not peer reviewed, do have good data as well as citations, providing clear explanations of the different issues. Not only will these reports help to further explain what the EJI does, but they are good evidence of both the transparency and good sources of the publications of the charity that can be analyzed.


(2012, March). Bryan Stevenson: We Need to talk about an injustice. [Video file]. Retrieved from

This link is to a TED talk given by Bryan Stevenson. The TED talk both provides more information on Stevenson and the leadership role he serves, but is also good evidence of how the Equal Justice Initiative works to get their mission into the public eye. In the TED talk, Stevenson discusses issues such as mass incarceration and the history of these types of issues. This source will provide good background information, as well as evidence to analyze the leadership of the organization.


Equal Justice Initiative Annual Report 2017 [PDF]. (2018). Retrieved from

The 2017 Annual Report for the Equal Justice Initiative summarizes the mission, goals, and implementation of the Equal Justice Initiative. It details the work they do on lynching research, education, advocating for both children and for those on death row, and inhumane prison conditions. The report also includes the staff and some of the events they sponsored in 2017, as well as pictures that illustrate the type of work they do. This report will be helpful in analyzing the organizational identity. It clearly lays out what they plan to do, how they have or will accomplish it, and any results they have achieved. It is also a good example of both the transparency of the organization and the type of publications they produce.


Toobin, J. (2016, August 22). The Legacy of Lynching, On Death Row. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Jeffrey Toobin’s article describes the efforts the Equal Justice Initiative has made with death room inmates as well as with their work on lynching memorials. This in-depth profile will help to further provide history into the Equal Justice Initiative and what they do. The article focuses on both Bryan Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative, which will be useful for both the organizational identity and leadership sections of the paper.


The Innocence Project. (2018). Retrieved from

The website for The Innocence Project will be helpful as it is a similar charity that will be able to be compared to the Equal Justice Initiative. The Innocence Project is similar to the Equal Justice Initiative in that it was founded by lawyers and works to reform the criminal justice system. This organization focuses on the use of DNA evidence to overturn wrongful convictions. The similarities between the two organizations will help to evaluate the effectiveness and overall organizational identity of the Equal Justice Initiative.