Chidiogo Igboekwe is a sophomore at the University at Albany double majoring in Communication and Criminal Justice. One of her interest lies in studying the ways in which the media shape our reality and create our perspectives on how we view people different from us.

 

Favorite Writers: Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Tori Morrison, Teju Cole

 

Favorite Poets: Maya Angelou, Jacqueline Woodson, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ariana Brown

 

Books that I'll keep forever: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, Becoming by Michelle Obama

 

One day Chidiogo hopes to transform the lives of others through, social justice initiatives, ethnic inclusivity, and self-awareness. 

Cultivation of the mind through literature

By Chidiogo Igboekwe

People oftentimes undermine the importance of reading due to how tedious it can be. However, without books we would have no knowledge of what previous cultures and civilizations were like at all.

 

We also would not have any insight on how to improve our future based on events that occurred in our past. Reading serves as a way for me to tap into the minds of others and enhance my cultural awareness through all the diverse works of art that I read. I am given the chance to see something from someone else’s perspective that may have been from a very different walk of life than I am.

 

When I read, I am essentially reading a part of someone’s culture, so when I’m reading a novel and I put myself in the main character’s shoes, I am seeing their experience and thoughts in a way that reflects their culture and background. Reading allows me the opportunity to experience the pains and pleasures of others that I have never experienced for myself, which engenders a feeling of compassion and understanding of the characters I temporarily live through.

Cassie Andrusz-Ho Ching

Through reading, I am able to see life through multiple perspectives and it has sparked in me the fervent desire to seek knowledge outside the bounds of my everyday life. Reading is also a way for me to develop my own image and cultivate my mind and imagination. Additionally, my social perception and critical thinking skills also strengthen as a result of reading. If it were not for reading, my creativity and the way I express myself would be extremely lackluster.

 

To me, reading and writing go hand in hand in the sense that they are complementary. The more I read, the more I see my writing skills improve through vocabulary expansion. After all, it is no coincidence that the key to becoming a better writer is to become a better reader. Writing in its very nature is a revolutionary act and a form of empowerment.

 

Through writing, I get to hold the pen and control and create my own narrative. It is a very inclusive way of expressing oneself because there’s not really a right way to do it. Often serving as a therapeutic way for me to release my emotions, writing helps me address the emotions that I have been suppressing both consciously and subconsciously.

 

I write to understand myself and to receive clarity on my innermost thoughts. Multifaceted by nature, words really have the power to help or harm. I see words as sources of energy so when I write, I like to “write” the things I want to see happen in my life into existence. This is usually manifested through affirmations or simple inspirational quotes that I like to write down and meditate on.

 

Poetry is one of the many forms of literature that have been influential in my thinking about the world; especially poems relating to identity and social justice issues. Poems by influential people such as Maya Angelou or even Ariana Brown have shaped the way I view the word and have even been a way for me to express my own thoughts that I sometimes cannot. Films have also played a substantial role in not only how I think about the word we live in, but how I see myself.

 

There’s something fundamental about seeing yourself positively portrayed in literature or any work of work of art. It changes your outlook on life because it enables yourself to perceive yourself in a different light which furthermore expands your horizons in the sense that you can actually see yourself obtaining those positive positions or roles in real life.

 

An obvious example is none other than The Black Panther, where people who looked like me were in positions of power and authority compared to other films where they typically don’t have such elevated positions and roles. All these works of art ultimately help to shape one’s identity and outlook on life.

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