Digitally Giving Women Writers of the Harlem Renaissance the Credit and Respect They Deserve

The Harlem Renaissance was an African American movement of the early twentieth century which began in Harlem, New York, after World War I. The movement had a huge impact on their culture as they reemerge their African American roots to construct a new sense of creativity. Both men and women chose to manifest their creativity of African American culture through literature and music. By incorporating originality and culture into the arts, they hoped to generate equal amounts of respect and freedom in which the upper white classes had only received at the time. 

If you haven’t already noticed, throughout our years of history and english classes, most of the figures that we learn about from the Harlem Renaissance were all men, such as Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois and many more. So, we start to question…What about the women? Why didn’t we learn more about the creative women figures of the movement as well? 

Amardeep Singh’s creation of the digital project, “Women of the Early Harlem Renaissance: African American women writers 1900-1922” revolves around a belief in the “technology of recovery,” which is a vital part in resurfacing African American literature through digital sources. Singh chose to build this project due to the lack of digital information found on the women writers of the Harlem Renaissance. The websites that seemed to provide the information tended to either be restricted, or were in a PDF page format that contained an insufficiency of background information. Without contextual background information about the writer or their piece, the reader wouldn’t comprehend what they are exactly looking at. 

Since there is a lack of digital accessibility in the amount of information offered about the women writers of the Harlem Renaissance, Singh strives to make his project available to everyone, especially groups who want to strengthen their knowledge on the subject. He hopes that researchers, teachers, and students can all benefit from his archive as it lays out his own original style; which introduces, as well as presents African American women through comprehensive and biographical data that is accessible for all. 

Amardeep Singh created the project using a website called, Scalar, which was designed by the University of Southern California to let individuals showcase their research/projects. In order to use the website, Singh completed Scalar’s five-day workshop to learn in-depth skills from their advanced team, becoming certified to begin the archive. Since Singh is an English Professor at Lehigh University, he chose to use Scalar and its benefits to spread his collections of studies and research on the African American women of the Harlem Renaissance, making it available for others as well. Within the introduction of his digital project, he makes a point of being interested in the exploration of thematic relationships through the literary works of these women. As a new poem is added to the website, it is tagged with “a range of terms, such as “slavery,” “motherhood,” “racism,” “Christianity,” etc.” Singh choses to tackle these thematic relationships in a creative way, while using a visualization to display the ways in which literary content is linked to his work. The color coded display incorporates a key to help the website user to navigate through the visual, and develop a better understanding of its purpose in showing the patterns and relationships of these literary figures. 

Also, creating a digitally accessible platform for people to gather valid information from is very significant in today’s age. This brings me back to Cathy Davidson’s book, The New Education, and the central idea that education should improve alongside new technologies and we should start to push the traditional ways of learning out and look towards technology to find more efficient and effective ways to teach in the classroom. As technology advances, the traditional act of reading and gathering information from a physical book will eventually be driven out. The recent and upcoming generations who grow up using technological devices become accustomed to reading and typing everything into search engines to gather information. For example, if a students (or anyone) needs to gather information about the women writers of the Harlem Renaissance for an assignment, they would much rather use the internet to search for this information, instead of looking through a bunch of lengthy books. So, when they come across a website like Singh’s, they have full access to important information about the women that might not have been featured in books or other websites. A digital archive such an Singh’s can assist an individual to receive the most data as he reemerges the stories of these African American women with the full context and credit they deserve. 

  • Gabby

The Sickening Truths Behind Manufacturing The Chip

Without the mass production of the chip, our world wouldn’t be nearly as digitally advanced as it is in today’s age. Why is that? Because there is a tiny chip found in every single piece of technology that we utilize on a daily basis, continuously helping to improve our electronically dependent world one day at a time. To keep up with our world’s constant manufacturing of technology, there is an immense demand for these chips, as they are the source of power for every single technological device made today. So, how exactly are manufacturers keeping up with such high production demands of the chip?

Les Levidow’s eye opening article, “Women Who Make The Chips,” reveal the studies of three Malaysian women who share their experiences of tolerating overpowering authority and the frequent harassment in the workplace. Whether the production of the chips were occurring in the wealthy area of Silicon Valley, California, or in the poor Malaysian state of Penang, Levidow makes it apparent that most of these chip makers are immigrant women who are poorly paid for their back-breaking efforts. These poor, hard-working immigrants are taken advantage of as they “are prime targets for each firm’s attempts to minimize its labour costs in a highly competitive market.” This uncovers industries’ true colors of selfish and money-hungry attitudes as “they bear a great human cost that remains hidden to all who use microelectronic devices,” manipulating workers and the outside world to conceal what really lies behind closed doors, just for their gain of success (Levidow, 103). For example, in Penang, a National Semiconductor building is purposely located by an airport, hoping to lure new and incoming immigrants who are looking for work opportunities. Ironically, the building displays “the slogan, ‘Heart, Soul and Microelectronics,’” which conveys the industrious work that these firms expect from their workers while “offer[ing] little compensation for rapidly exhausting the hearts, souls and bodies of their workforce” (Levidow, 105).

Levidow discloses electronic industries’ claims, admitting to the preference of hiring more women than men “because they are naturally suited to the routinized work of the electronics assembly line: nimble fingers, acute eyesight, greater patience.” While the British Industrial Revolution was occurring, factory authorities also stated similar reasonings behind “why they replaced well-paid, skilled male workers with women and children” (106). Also, one of the authoritative staff at Intel confessed, “‘We hire girls because they have less energy, are more disciplined and are easier to control’” (106). These revealing statements unfortunately show the “transparent” reasoning to hiring women over men in their electronic workplaces, eventually learning how to manipulate them both mentally and physically.

With translation help from Bala, who is a member of Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM, or Friends of the Earth Malaysia), Les Levidow begins his study by meeting with three Malaysian women: Rachel, Jane, and Aziza. As he continues to interview these women microelectronic workers, he comes to the realization that there is a huge problem surrounding their lives inside and outside the workplace. The “tensions” the women undergo in their work environments “invade” their own individuality (112). Aziza reveals that as soon as a woman starts the job, she automatically develops psychological problems, due to the high demands for each worker to reach an almost impossible quota. If the worker can’t meet the demanded quota, “she goes to work with a in-built fear. People can’t stand it, they scream, fall down, then get taken to the nurse.” This psychological effect is called ‘hysteria,’ stemming from the overbearing working conditions these women would encounter on a daily basis; this was more common to occur in the past, but has decreased “because now the workers are used to working conditions.” The firms would try to manipulate the workers into believing that these poor conditions were ‘normal’ in the workplace by telling them: “‘The die attachment department must be kept hot for the production process, so management reduces the air-conditioning there,” making the almost unbearable heat seem as if it is a necessary step in production (111). The ‘hysteria’ these women faced were considered a “spirit possession,” which relates back to their Malaysian culture and reveals that it correlates with a struggle of “moral violation” as they are “subjected both to factory discipline and to the sexual attentions of male supervisors, particularly non-Islamic ones.” The women would develop these psychological episodes when they began to refuse or reject their workplace’s poor conditions, which take on the appearance of a spiritual possession, believed to be caused by the “datuk, the male ancestor” (113). Being that their episodes of ‘hysteria’ were believed to be caused by a feared male figure, this clearly displays how their poor treatments in the workplace created a feeling of uneasiness toward powerful men, such as the firm’s authoritative figures who control the women. Bala also backs up the women’s claims “of sexual harassment, with supervisors using their authority to demand the girls” and If the worker requests to have time off, “its not granted, and then the supervisor uses threats and backmail with her.” The authoritative power that the firms hold over these working women have taken a toll on their sexuality as these men “directly and indirectly manipulate” their moral values (122).

These microelectronic working women continue to undergo cycles of psychological strain in the workplace as they are put through dangerous situations of sexual harassment and physical harm. The dominant power that these officials hold over these women “haunt” them, as they manipulate them both socially and sexually. The higher standpoints of these men carry an immense power over the working women, controlling their thoughts, as well as preventing their defenses with utilizing the idea of fear. 
– Gabby

Discussion Questions:

  1. If you had the opportunity to speak up for these women, what would you like to say to these powerful authoritative men who have control over these poor working environments?
  2. Can you relate this article to something you might have learned in school? What events throughout history does this remind you of? How so?

Works Cited:

Levidow, Les. “The Women Who Make the Chips.” Free Association Books, 1991, pp. 103–124.

Hi, my name is Gabby.

Hi everyone! My name is Gabby and I am currently a senior at SUNY Cortland. I am majoring in English and minoring in professional writing. I was born and raised in Suffolk County, Long Island. After I graduate, I would love to move closer to home and eventually go for my masters in teaching. I hope to get to know all of you and i’m looking forward to this semester!

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