Monday, March 17, 2014

"Paginas en Blanco": Whitewashed History

Douglas Hale, Secrets (2014)
Recently we've been reading the Junot Diaz novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, a novel that is profoundly concerned with storytelling and history. In describing the absences in both family and national history, Diaz uses the phrase "paginas en blanco" which he describes as a "blank be filled in with the truth" (90).

This year we, too, have been thinking about the relationship between national history and family history. So, we borrowed the model from the Post Secret project and invited the students in our class to each offer up a single pagina en blanco from their own families. We wanted to explore the secrets that remained hidden or the truths that were never talked about openly within family history in a project we call "Paginas en Blanco de Mi Familia". The rules were simple: a single sentence of text and evidence of thought in the graphic presentation of the "secret." Please check out the finished compilation below.

Páginas en Blanco de Mi Familia from Spiro Bolos on Vimeo.

Now it's your turn! We'd like to invite readers of to contribute their own "pagina en blanco" -- a story from your family history that has been whitewashed or silenced, or one that may simply lurk unexpressed. Do NOT include your name or other identifying information. Instead, just upload the annotated image by using the dropbox in the right-hand column of this blog. When we get enough submissions, we will publish the results here.


Jack O said...

OC, I think this project exposed a lot of storys, experiences, and feelings that certainley shocked me. It made me realized that even in a community like the North Shore, there are still problems. It just further proves that money is not the key to happiness, and it certainly does not buy you accpetance. A lot of these Paginas en Blancos were about people who were rejected in society, and that rejection came with some sort of consequence. I am really happy you and Bolos put together this presentation. It reminded me to watch the kinds of things I might say that could offend people, even if you would not expect it to offend someone.

ec w said...
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Lisi Weilandt said...

Mr. O'Connor,
I've been thinking about how our past few units have linked and looking back on the "Paginas en Blanco" project I am starting to realize the ways that social class might connect to these whitewashed events in our histories. Along with being in a higher class comes power because of the way you are perceived by those within both your class those below. In order to be in power, I believe that one must be respected. In order to gain respect from those around us we sometimes want to create the illusion that our lives have no real flaws. I thought that might be the motivation behind some of these parts of our histories to be concealed. To try and reach the standards of a "higher class." Jack even mentioned similar idea in the comment above when he said "even in a community like the North Shore, there are still problems," and "(Money) certainly does not buy you acceptance." People fit into a certain class for more than just how much money they have. Reputation and power also are factors and can affect the way we present our personal histories.