Life Update and a Personal Take on “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (An American Slave)”

Hi everyone, Joseph here:

How are y’all doing? It’s been a hectic start to the beginning of the year here @ Berkeley and finding time to write, like always, is a challenging undertaking. However, I have neglected the blog for far too long and I appreciate Ryann (Shoutout to Ryann Madden – AWESOME undergrad advisor at the College of Natural Resources) for checking in on me and assessing the state of the blog.

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Figure 1: I love the advisors here at CNR. 🙂 Ricky Vides also always keeps me sane in the midst of school!

It goes to show you the quality and the calibre of the relationships that advisors at the College of Natural Resources here at Berkeley go out of their way to foster. They truly promote undergraduate success, in many conventional ways, but also in many other, like checking up on you in their free time.

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Figure 2: It’s the small goals that count… I think… I made the logo and the cover picture!

I’ve been busy juggling my classes (17 units!!) after the MCAT, (trying to catch up on my missed lectures) while piecing together the beginnings of a new club. I’m still making videos daily as well – but they’re not to the quality that I would love to have time to make them. It turns out that it’s really difficult to put out well-informed, concisely edited YouTube videos. However, I’m really proud that the channel is about to hit 1,000 views (A stark contrast to those channels hitting 1,000 subscribers) because that means that some people, somewhere, have derived some benefit from watching the videos.

I’ve recently finished Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (An American Slave), by Frederick Douglass, and I love his prose, his control of language, but most of all, his unwavering moral arguments for the abolition of slavery. 200 years later, with recent concerning news of “pulling back” from DACA, Douglass’s words continue to remain relevant in the civil rights struggle that underpins the framework of the United States.

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Figure 3: I readily admit that I’m still using SparkNotes… in college!

For example, Douglass takes up ship calking for a brief time, working alongside free black men and poor white workers for a short time. The poor white workers are alarmed and angered by his presence – as his work threatens their livelihoods. Douglass, who compellingly demarcates the attitudes of different groups within society, contextualizes the attitudes of many workers. While a careful mind would be cognizant of a readiness to stereotype, Douglass’s autobiography does so to make a strong argument for the abolition of slavery.

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Figure 4: An absolute stud. My friend Chase Rivera used to use the term, so I’ll just co-opt it myself to describe this wonderful human being.

Moreover, if you’re like me, and feel the absence of a clear role model at a given time, I’ve felt that taking to literature has filled the void sufficiently where I can say that I am pleasantly satisfied with examples of leadership as it stands. Frederick Douglass, an orator so talented and hardworking, that fellow white abolitionists could not help but speculate that he never was a slave, argued for the emancipation of slavery, the right for black soldiers to enlist in the civil war, and the advocacy of women’s rights is more than enough of a inspiration for someone like me.

Furthermore, it is clear in the humility that his writing conveys, that he thinks of himself as but a single man, advocating for the helpless masses and picked due to God’s providence alone. It is this sense of humbleness that makes his writing enchantingly beautiful and moving. I am excited to tackle Emerson in the coming week, but Douglass has left quite the impression on my mind and I’m sure, will continue to do so in my studies here at Berkeley.

So I hope you are all well, and I will catch y’all later!

Your friend,

Joseph Maa


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