Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Geeking Out and Ignoring Gender Roles for a Day

Posted by Ruby Allen, ATLANTA, GA – The Anime weekend convention provides folks with the opportunity to geek out for a few days a year – mostly by becoming characters in their favorite television cartoons and series, as well as movies. I went to Anime last fall for the first time recently and there were three girls dressed up like characters from CATS (the Broadway musical) and another group dressed up like the human gang from TV cartoon Scooby-Doo.  I was disappointed that I didn’t see Scooby himself, real dog or human imitation. Nevertheless, I felt right at home even though I didn’t know anyone because I was surrounded by people playing characters from the shows I love.

It wasn’t odd for normal gender roles to be broken. For example, someone was dressed up and playing Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit. Thorin is a male character but a woman was behind this exceptional costume. I loved how this was just a normal thing at Anime. I also ran into three women and three men dressed as The Powerpuff Girls along with a woman dressed up as Powerpuff’s famed Professor Oak. Just think if these men and women were dressed up in these opposite gender outfits in their real everyday worlds of work and college. People would give them quizzical looks, or perhaps even get a quick photo on their cell phone to upload to places like Facebook or Twitter for a laugh.  I think Geeking out and ignoring normative gender roles for a day or two is great fun.

Ruby Allen is a student at Georgia College and State University majoring in Psychology. She can be contacted at ruby.allen@bobcats.gcsu.edu.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Where Jaywalking Seems Normal

Posted by Asia Lawrence, ATLANTA, GA – Georgia State University (GSU) is literally located in the heart of downtown Atlanta.  So with close to 33,000 students traversing the campus going and coming to class either walking or on bicycles, downtown traffic, and an integrated campus-city building density to rival New York City, there’s a lot of jaywalking going on. Jaywalking is any pedestrian crossing the street either against the crossing light or outside of a crosswalk. Technically it’s against the law.  

Yet, I have observed jaywalking among students, faculty, staff and other downtown pedestrians such as business folks, state employees, and tourists. There appears to be some kind of perception of ‘crowd safety’. In other words, if you’re walking across the street against the light in a crowd there’s no way a car will hit you, nor a law enforcement agent giving you a ticket. There has only been one pedestrian fatality on the GSU campus in the last five years, and that individual wasn’t jaywalking. Likewise, despite both GSU and Atlanta law enforcement regularly traversing the area, I haven’t even heard of anyone getting a jaywalking ticket. 

It’s been like this since I got to GSU almost four years ago, but with an ever increasing student population, and with more and more students living on campus, I’m beginning to fear for people’s safety. No, nothing has happened yet but with the campus growing, it might. The GSU has been putting in new lighted crosswalks so there are high traffic areas where people do heed stops lights. However this is far from comprehensive.

The good news is that GSU does have a master plan for the future of the campus that includes designated pedestrian-only spaces through which students, faculty and staff will be able to traverse the campus without going on main thoroughfares. This plan would maintain the GSU campus as being “a part of the city, not apart from the city” while at the same time cutting down on street pedestrian traffic.

Asia Lawrence is a graduating senior with a major in Sociology with an emphasis in African American Studies at Georgia State University. He can be contacted at alawrence24@student.gsu.edu.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Homelessness and Graffiti

Posted by Kevin Barnes, ATLANTA, GA – In large cities around the country it seems like being homeless or seeing homeless people have become a normal part of urban everyday life. And yet while being homeless may not be illegal some of the activities they engage in the get by are against the law like panhandling and loitering, even though both activities are relatively harmless. Instead of penalizing people who are homeless perhaps cities should do a better job finding solutions – like affordable housing instead of shelters that are more like jails. Graffiti is another common urban issue that some think of as a crime and others as art. Graffiti is writing or drawings that have been scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place. Graffiti ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings, and it has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Egypt. However, like panhandling and loitering there are laws against partaking in graffiti and if you are caught you could do jail time.  

Atlanta is a graffiti art-filled city. Yes, most of it is Art, and the city allows graffiti in some areas like the Krog Street tunnel and this is where I met Larry, a talented graffiti artist who has also been homeless. Now he does graffiti art for a living. An organization called Living Walls hires Graffiti artists to create street murals around the city. The project is about a creative Atlanta where the city walls speak. 

At the same time there long legal battle over graffiti in Atlanta. One such case is the city against Douglas Grantham Jones (age 19) and Christopher Erik Smith (age 29) each charged with multiple counts of violating the city’s graffiti abatement ordinance on graffiti and destruction of property. Jones and Smith are talented graffiti artists. Jones uses the tag "Beav," police say, while Smith uses the tag "Vomet.” The two men may face six months in jail and / or $1,000 fine per violation. However both have pled not guilty and the legal case seems to be moving very slowly.  

Most of the graffiti in Atlanta is striking, good art, and gives the city a unique character just like most of the homeless people here are harmless and simply need housing.

Kevin Barnes is Sociology major at Georgia State University. He is also a photographer. He can be contacted at kbarnes15@student.gsu.edu