3690: A Journal of First-Year Student Research Writing

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Overview: No justice, no peace. We have all heard this phrase by now; whether you have seen it on the news, on signs and posters, on your favorite professional athletes’ shirt, or have heard it shouted by thousands marching the streets. People are sick and tired of being sick and tired of waiting for justice (depending on what justice means) that seemingly will never come. The cries for justice of those oppressed, long falling on deaf ears for those who choose to plead ignorance, are growing louder and louder, reaching a fever pitch that demands to be heard. The fight is gaining momentum, with more conversations happening about societal issues like hate, racism, and social injustice. Although we are a very long way from complete equality, and racism and hate will unfortunately continue to live like a virus inside of the uneducated and ignorant people, the work being done today is trending in the right direction. Change needs to happen, actual change. Performative activism, frivolous gestures, and empty promises and sentiments mean nothing. The pressure of the people needs to continue to force the hands of those in charge to address racial inequality and social injustice. Change will not come overnight. It relies on those that do not even have a strong idea of what any of these issues are. The next generation is always the most important one. They will keep up the fight. They will keep shouting for justice and equality. They will be the change.

Author's reflection: My name is Jake Antinelli and I am currently a sophomore here at St. John Fisher majoring in biology. In my second semester as a freshman, I took a research-based writing class with the topic of young adult literature. My professor, Mrs. Barry, encouraged me to use my writing skills to talk about issues that were important to me, and which I thought other people should be aware of. This is what brought me to write this paper about racial inequality. Throughout the course, we talked about the argument about whether or not young adult literature novels should be included in the curriculum of schools. We read several novels which included themes of and experiences with racial inequality in coming-of-age stories. These novels got me thinking about how the younger generations can learn so much from reading the stories of characters their age, and think deeper about the importance and prevalence of racial issues. I was able to use the research skills taught to me to further my inquiry to this topic, and combine my research skills with the writing skills I had gathered to write an effective argument.

Another key idea that prompted my research was how if racism and discrimination was going to start to improve in our society, it would have to come from the younger generation. As kids, our minds and opinions are waiting to be molded by influences around us. If all we are taught is the opinions of our parents, this can lead to close-mindedness, and continue the trends of hate. This is what makes young adult literature so important. It can be an avenue to exposing the younger generations to new perspectives that they otherwise may never encounter. Growing up in a white household, I was privileged to not have to worry about the racial issues of discrimination or police brutality, and my parents never had to have those conversations with me. Now, I’ve been lucky enough to grow up around other cultures which have allowed me to work to understand other perspectives. Not everyone shares this experience, and this is where young adult literature can come in, providing kids with the ability to read about the stories of diverse characters. This is why I say that young adult literature can be a major player in the younger generation making strides towards change.

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