April 29, 2022
Beauty in the Philippines: Materialized Oppression
by Bernadine Cortina
The Racial Injustice of Police Brutality
by April Foley
Social Stigma & Poverty
by Kathy Mai
Billy’s Birthday Cake
by Jay Paine
Editor’s Introduction to Issue 11.2
The projects in Issue 11.2 of the JUMP+ address four important, pressing social issues: oppressive perceptions of beauty embedded in and around Filipino culture and media (Bernadine Cortina), racism and violence linked to police brutality (April Foley), conceptualizations of and responses to poverty (Kathy Mai), and our relationships to trash and consumerism (Jay Paine). Watching and reading these four projects will take you without and within, as the authors ask us to examine harmful and damaging forces in the world around us and inside of ourselves, and then challenge us to respond in ways that fight against harm.
In response to the issues raised by Cortina, Foley, Mai, and Paine, a chorus of undergraduate voices speaks across Issue 11.2 through eleven multimodal responses. These responses, which include videos, audio pieces, images, webpages, and more, were composed by students taking WRT 4908: Digital Publishing at Oakland University in winter 2022 with Crystal VanKooten, JUMP+ co-managing editor. As part of the course, students studied theories of digital rhetoric and multimodality; learned from JUMP+ editors, interns, and archives; and applied this knowledge as they read and responded to various versions of Cortina’s, Foley’s, Mai’s, and Paine’s work. Many thanks go out to the students in WRT 4908 for being so willing to share their own reactions to the compositions of Cortina, Foley, Mai, and Paine. In a semester filled with so much darkness–global sickness, death, anxiety, fear, and political and social strife–the voices of the authors and respondents in this issue bring light and hope.
In the first project, Bernadine Cortina asks us to look at and listen to histories of oppression related to Filipino ideals of beauty through her timeline project, “Beauty in the Philippines: Materialized Oppression.” Cortina describes how whiteness and Eurocentrism have shaped perceptions of Filipino beauty over time, and she speaks to us in prose and verse in both English and Filipino. The timeline format takes us back through centuries to examine how whiteness and Western features have “a long history of materialization, gaining rhetorical power and momentum through oppression” (Cortina). Courtney Jarema responds to Cortina with a collage on colorism, Lauren Karmo reflects via video on highlights from the timeline and her own racial identities, and Isabelle Lundin responds to Cortina’s striking opening poem with her own beautiful spoken poetry.
Next, April Foley leads us to learn about and experience the havoc wreaked on people of color at the hands of police. Her website, “The Racial Injustice of Police Brutality,” presents us with images and videos that focus on victims of police brutality, and she arranges these media elements alongside historical information and her own survey results about racial injustice in society. Foley urges readers to “continue the fight for justice and equality” by becoming informed about this issue, and she calls for change “that is long overdue” (Foley). In response, Katlynn Wheatley mirrors Foley’s website format with her own website that further dialogues with Foley’s examples; Joey Colby discusses the blue wall of silence and calls for law enforcement reform in a visual response essay; and Jacob McGinley reflects orally on his own identity, privilege, and responsibility to help prevent further racial violence.
Kathy Mai’s website and video essay, “Social Stigma and Poverty,” remind us that one single story of poverty or simplistic perceptions of the poor can have harmful effects. Through words, images, and sequences, she encourages us to look beyond the social stigma placed upon the poor and take action: “accept[ing] that our views have been tainted with prejudice or put[ting] our efforts towards helping the poor” (Mai). Bria May responds to Mai through a website and word collage, and Joey Colby tells his own story of poverty and addiction in a visual response essay.
Finally, Jay Paine plays with the grotesque as he asks us to ponder our consumerism in the video poem “Billy’s Birthday Cake.” Using flashing lights, horror music, and unappealing images of pinky mice baked into a cake, Paine disturbs the viewer through unexpected juxtapositions, and he points us back to ourselves as beings who “consume, consume, consume” with little thought of the consequences (Paine). Antonio Verrelli then maps out connections between concepts in Paine’s video in a visual map, and Jaden Sauvola and Ashley Mason-Troutman respond via video, remixing Paine’s images anew and describing their experiences interacting with Paine’s work.
We hope the pieces and responses here cause you to pause and consider your own response to these important social issues. How might you consider and fight against colorism, racial violence, poverty, and consumerism in your life and community? What possibilities do digital media writing and multimodal composition present for working toward a more whole and just world? The works in this issue provide one starting place.