Analytical Blog Post – “A Harlem Family”

“Norman Jr. Reading in Bed”


During the civil rights movement in the United States in 1967, Gordon Parks published the photo essay titled “A Harlem Family” for LIFE magazine. He documented the life of the Fontenelle family, a black family in Harlem. This photo essay was published to depict the struggles this family must go through due to their poverty. Parks also created this photo essay to exhibit the suffering that this family goes through, which may not usually be in the limelight. The photo “Norman Jr. Reading in Bed” specifically was published to shed light on the subtler consequences of poverty the Fontenelle’s experienced. Through the use of contrast, tone, and symbolism, Parks tries to demonstrate the daily struggles that impoverished black families go through.

The body language is very important in this photo. Norman Jr. is lying down in bed with a blanket and pillow, seemingly quite comfortable. However, this is in contrast to the rest of the photo and this photo essay as a whole. The walls behind Norman Jr. look very rundown and are mostly broken. Furthermore, the book looks in bad condition, and the lighting in his room looks dark. Parks is trying to show that for an act as simple as reading a book in bed, the poverty Norman Jr. lives in surrounds him and is constantly affecting him. Although he looks somewhat comfortable in the photo, his surroundings tell a different story. This photo is also in contrast to many other photos that show the family in visible pain. This again highlights Gordon Park’s message on the subtle effect of poverty in daily life.

Gordon Parks also employs a sorrowful tone in this photo. This is done through lighting and facial expressions. The lighting in this photo is very dim, mainly focusing on the child’s face. His lack of facial expressions while reading the book, in addition to the dark and damaged room, create a disheartened tone. Books usually symbolize knowledge, which is seen as more hopeful, but the lighting in this picture does not focus on the book but rather on the child. This brings me to the final technique.

Parks uses symbolism in this photo through the Norman Jr. and the walls. The walls in this photo are reminiscent of a prison, and Norman Jr. is stuck inside this prison, unable to escape. Children are usually meant to symbolize innocence, which is in contrast to what the walls represent. It’s as if Norman Jr, who is innocent, is being put in prison without reason. The damaged walls surround him, and there is nothing he can do about it. This may be a commentary on the struggle it was for black families to move away from lower-income neighborhoods, and therefore they are just stuck in these types of homes.

Through the use of contrast, tone, and symbolism, Parks is successfully able to demonstrate the seemingly endless and every day struggles the Fontenelle’s and families similar to them must go through living in poverty in Harlem

TOK politics reflection

Do you consider yourself to be “political”? Why or why not? 

I do consider myself political because I try to keep up with politics, especially in America. I am only political in the sense that I know what is happening around me. I think it is important that I know what is happening around me, so I try to make sure I know this. I am more political and have more viewpoints on some topics as opposed to others since subjects I care more about I tend to read more about.


What does it mean to be political? 

I think that being political means trying to gain knowledge or acting on what is happening in politics. I don’t believe that you must be a politician to be political. I think that caring and learning about issues can be enough to make you political.


Is everything political? Why or why not?

I do not believe everything has to be political. Emotions, relationships, and how you may feel about certain things do not need to be political. You can hold opinions on issues that are based on morals and values and not the politics around you. Although politics will always surround you, it does not need to influence your entire life.


How important do you feel it is to be aware of what is going on in politics?

I think being aware of what’s going on in politics is very important. Since politics does have a significant impact on your everyday life, being aware of political issues and what is going on around you is very important. Being unaware or ignorant of issues that may not affect but affects others is selfish. Being knowledgeable about politics and taking some action on it is very important.


What are the political issues that you believe are most important right now, and why?

Right now, I believe the political issues that are the most important issue in the United States right now such as police brutality and the black lives matter movement. This is because this is an issue that impacts so many people in the US and around the world. I also will be living in the United States, so this issue will be around me. Another issue I believe is important is climate change because this will affect and is affecting everyone around the world.


TOK- Semester 1 reflection

  1. During the first semester, we considered knowledge questions related to “Knowledge and the Knower” and “Knowledge and Technology.” Looking back, what learning engagements stand out to you the most and why?

The learning engagements which stood out to me the most were the “is ignorance bliss?” debate and the knowledge and technology group challenge. These stood out to me the most because I felt most engaged while doing these tasks, and I was also able to learn a lot in a fun way, which would help me retain what I have learned.

  1. In what ways, if any, has your perspective shifted as a result of your participation in this course so far?

Especially in the case of technology’s impact on knowing, my perspective has shifted greatly due to this course. I knew technology had an impact on how and what we know, but I always assumed it was mostly positive. During the past semester, I have realized that there are a lot more negative effects technology has on knowledge than I realized.

  1. Looking ahead to the exhibition requirement, what do you want to keep in mind?

I want to make sure when I choose my knowledge question that I will be able to provide objects that I can link well. I also want to make sure that when I link the object to the question that I can provide evidence that makes sense.

  1. Thinking back on the writing you have done so far in the course, what can you do to continue to hone your skills?

I would like to make sure I consider different viewpoints on the subject I am writing about.

Baby IO- Reflection

The global issue I focused on was the causes and the consequences of racism. I chose pages 36-37 as my extract. The authorial choices I highlighted were characterization, symbolism, and tone, all of which relating to both the extract and the work as a whole. I think what went well was that I was able to convey my points in the allotted time, and I was able to remember what I needed to say. What I need to improve on would be being more prepared for the 2-3 minutes of questions at the end of my oral. I also felt like I was repeating myself quite a bit instead of going more in-depth in my analysis, especially for the first two techniques. I went around 20 seconds over the time limit as well. Next time I will make sure to practice my oral some more and prepare for possible questions that may be asked. This would mean understanding the context of the extract a bit better. I will also try and practice my oral in front of other people instead of just by myself.


DAMN-First Impressions

Many of these songs seem to be about the violence that Kendrick Lamar experienced growing up in Compton. He raps about what it was like growing up in areas with a lot of crime and how that affected him. He also raps about the responsibility that he holds as well as other rappers in the position that they are in. Kendrick raps a lot about police brutality and the oppression he and others faced while living in Compton.

These songs are unique because they each are seemed to be made for a purpose. Each song conveys a particular message. He incorporates certain techniques such as sampling recordings either from the news or from his life. He also switches the way in which he raps throughout the album to match with the message he is conveying. He doesn’t carry the same tone or style of rap through each song. He also is able to tell stories throughout his song, making it much more captivating since it seems to have a beginning, middle, and end. His songs are a lot more focused on his lyricism than solely the beat since many of the songs seem to have a lot more of a chill sound.  A lot of his songs are either personal stories or how he feels on a topic.

My favorite song from this album was either ELEMENT or LOYALTY. I liked the way these two songs sounded the most because they were very catchy. I also liked DUCKWORTH even though it was quite a slow song. I liked it because of Kendrick Lamar’s ability to tell a full story about his father in a song which was very captivating.



Cartoon Project

My cartoon:



Part 2:





I created this comic to demonstrate the importance of family. The comic that I made is pretty much a real-life experience that I had. Some of the techniques I used were foreshadowing and close-ups to demonstrate emotions. I used foreshadowing in this comic when I asked my brother if he heard a noise. I also included the bear in the background but did not let the characters in the story see it. This was the use of dramatic irony since the audience knew information that the characters did not. I used this technique mainly to build suspense. I used close-ups of the characters to show the emotion’s that they were feeling. For my character, when he saw the bear, I made him look very scared; however, for my brother, I made him look more determined since, in that situation, he had to make sure I was under control. I also used the contrast between my character and the bear’s size to emphasize the fearful situation that I was in. The bear was breaking out of the comic panel to demonstrate my view of its size. The speech bubbles and font type and size also changed throughout the comic to represent the different tones the dialogue was meant to be interpreted in. For example, when the font was small, that meant that what was spoken was said quietly. If the text bubble was more jagged instead of rounded and smooth, it meant that the characters were scared.

Knowledge interview

 The tools my mom had to use while in school were mainly books. If she wanted to acquire the knowledge, she had to either go to local libraries or use much smaller libraries from their schools. The libraries had a few computers. which were shared but most knowledge was acquired through books. There were TVs but since my parents lived in India they only got their first tv after they were done with school. To produce knowledge my parents had to write using pen and paper

Their experiences in school were a lot less technology based compared to mine. It was much harder to access information when they were in school and there was also a lot less free time after school. I am able to go out much more than my parents used to.  For hobbies my dad used to go out a lot and play sports compared to now where I can talk to my friends while playing video games.

Knowledge while my parents were in school could only be shared through teachers and through books meaning it was much harder to access information back then as compared to now. Now I can access and share information very quickly and broadcast it to many more people due to the impact of social media. It is much easier to access different opinions now and expose yourself to multiple view points

TOK Summative Blog Post – Are some ways of knowing more likely than others to lead to truth?

Are some ways of knowing more likely than others to lead to truth? Yes, some ways of knowing will be more likely to lead to the truth than others. According to the Cambridge dictionary, truth is defined as certain beliefs held to be true by an individual. Therefore, each person will use their individual knowledge and beliefs to help them find the truth or what they believe to be true. Beliefs and truths are reached through different “ways of knowing.” There are eight ways of knowing, helping one figure out how we know what we know. These ways of knowing are language, sense perception, emotion, reason, imagination, intuition, memory, and faith.

Although each way of knowing is much more reliable when using other ways of knowing along with it, the way of knowing that will most likely lead to the truth is reason. I believe that reason will most likely lead you to the truth because it is least dependent on other factors. For example, memory and sense perception are too reliant on how reliable your senses are. If you have a bad memory or cannot rely on your senses, how can you draw reasonable conclusions and truths from them? Reason also has many fewer limitations than other ways of knowing. Scientists have found the existence of atoms even though they have never physically sensed one. They used certain ways of knowing, along with reason, to determine the truth that atoms exist. Without reason, anything that hasn’t been experienced cannot be stated as true.

Others may argue that reason depends on other ways of knowing and cannot exist independently. I agree in part with this statement; however, I believe that most ways of knowing must also need reason to be reliable and lead to the truth. Intuition cannot exist without reason. Intuition, in its definition as a way of knowing, uses reason to come to conclusions. For example, if a doctor is able to diagnose you with an illness without all the information, they would use their intuition to do so. They must also use reason and logic to come to that truth. Each way of knowing can be improved upon by reason and can rarely stand alone.

Since reason is not dependent and is much more reliable than the other ways of knowing, it is the most likely to lead to truths. Reason is the only way to discover new truths and is almost necessary when using other ways of knowing to find and discuss truths.

Is Ignorance Bliss-Debate Reflection

During this debate discussing whether ignorance is or is not bliss, I was arguing for the stance that ignorance is bliss. Our group’s key points were that once something is known, it can not be “unknown” and that ignorance does not only mean bliss but means stable and sustainable bliss. This means that the state of bliss you are experiencing must be long-lasting. Although there was not much evidence our group used, the definitions we talked about were researched.

The key points made by the group arguing that ignorance is not bliss were that one does not start in a stable state of bliss. This means that being ignorant may not necessarily mean that this state of bliss already occurs. They also made the point that ignorance may be blissful for you but not for others. The ignorance of one person may cause others not to have bliss. This group used Brexit as an example for evidence stating how many people voted for Brexit, regretting it later due to the ignorance on this topic.

I believe that the ignorance is bliss side won this debate. This is due to the fact that we changed the definition of ignorance and bliss to help prove our points, and this was allowed to stand by the opposing side and the judges. The change in definition led to a change in what was being argued. This made it much easier for our group to argue for our point.
I personally fall on the side, which states ignorance is not bliss due to a significant point that this side brought up. An issue was mentioned discussing how one person’s ignorance may lead to their bliss but will not lead to other people’s bliss. For example, if a person has a deadly disease, and this person and everyone else was ignorant of this fact, the person with the disease will not be in a state of bliss even though they are ignorant. Since the prompt is quite vague, I believe that it is asking if ignorance of one person or a group of people causes bliss for that same person or other people as well. Since I don’t believe that ignorance of one can cause bliss for others, I think that ignorance is not bliss.

When it comes to acquiring knowledge, I believe it is our responsibility to share this knowledge. If we have new knowledge, which is factual, it is important that it is shared because otherwise, the world can not progress.

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