The rituals surrounding death in American society are different when regarding race and social class. I learned this while speaking to a woman named Nicole. She was white and upper middle class of Italian background and one of her close family friends had passed away. We spoke about how death affected her and how it affected me. In reality the death of my friend Roy had pushed me to value all the friendships that have been cultivated over the years with people and how they have changed since we have grown older. Nicole told me that when she went to the funeral she felt it was horrifying to see a body lying in a box and that she was unprepared for the reality of a dead body sitting in a room while people talked about it, when less than a week before the person was alive and kicking. We had three things that stuck out in my mind as following the order of magic, ritual, and taboo.
My experience on the other hand was one of acceptance of Roy’s death. During the ritual we celebrated his life. We talked about the immense sneaker collection he had and his educational accomplishments. Nicole’s experience was of fear of death because the notion of death is presented to white American society as one of revulsion, but to groups in the United States such as African Americans, which Roy was, it was seen as the natural end state of life. Nicole said that my acceptance was disturbing to her; it was taboo to accept that Roy’s life ended so quickly and sadly for a young person. On the other hand, her friend had lived a life complete with the luxuries of family, friends and money. Yet Nicole found it hard to accept her passing even though her children were with her....
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...at was given was halfhearted. The Vice president himself said that some people are known for doing nothing and others for doing something we all received questions and answers in such a fashion but the question and answers did not denote rank we asked something about.
In both situations we saw informal rank with the question and answer period, and then after, we saw people come together and lose all semblance of rank. Because people were asking the HR manager who was one of the vice presidents in charge of Hiring how come they had not been promoted even though they had worked at the college for years, which normally is not permitted? This period of question and answer along with the whole process of convocation was one in which we let go of our formal titles and were inducted into the LaGuardia community and then go back to having no title at the end of the night.
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