Dec

13

From the Issue: Campus Character Emilie Rosenblatt

Written by

The December issue is getting printed somewhere, and meanwhile, a little feature to
emilie keep your spirits up. 

Emilie Rosenblatt, CC’ 08, is of average height and build, unassumingly pretty with straight brown hair and fair skin. In her daily uniform of jeans, a hoodie, and a tank top, at first glance she could be in the admissions brochure of any East Coast private college. But those jeans? They’re Baby Phat. And the tank top says “Latina is Beautiful” in rhinestones. When she opens her mouth, it is clearer still that she doesn’t fit the mold: she uses a distinctly urban dialect—sounding more like a hip-hop artist than an Ivy League academic—readily admitting that she’s not too concerned with colloquial grammar.

And then there’s her resume. At one point during our interview, Rosenblatt used the word “myselves.” Though it was an accident and she laughed and corrected herself, it was a fitting Freudian slip: her incredibly busy schedule requires a few extra limbs, if not personalities. As an English and African-American Studies double major, Rosenblatt balances an ambitious course load—last semester she took 24 credits. As if that weren’t enough to keep her occupied, at only 21 she’s already held more jobs than most retirees. As a first-year she worked full-time at Duane Reade—the four P.M. to midnight shift—to compensate for “lousy” financial aid. She’s held countless internships, including stints at Grove Atlantic Press, Crotona Park in the Bronx, the Working Families Party and Sean John, and she used to copy-edit for an economics professor specializing in contract law.

She also participates in America Reads, takes dance classes at Barnard “just for fun,” and performs with the Black Theater Ensemble. She played a major role in a production of Ntozake Shange’s (BC’ 70) For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, which was written for an all-black cast. “I called and said, ‘I’m white, is it OK if I show up?’” As a resident of the Intercultural Resource Center, she helped found Freedom School, a program designed as an “answer” to the Core Curriculum: a recent alternative-Art Hum field trip took students to 5 Pointz, a graffiti mecca in Queens. She’s devoted past spring breaks to working for social justice in Nicaragua (with Hillel) and New Orleans (with the Office of Multicultural Affairs). “I’m indecisive to the point of, well, I’ll just do everything,” she said.  

And then there’s her life story, which she is hesitant to share and careful about relaying. She was born into a Jewish family on the Southside of Chicago—a specific I had to coax out of her because she is wary of being pegged as the token white kid from a poor black neighborhood. That said, she is something of anomaly, though she moved to Minneapolis by the time she entered (a mostly white) high school. The environment of her early years, coupled with her activist-type father, might help explain the particular bent of her resume, her reasons for participating in last month’s hunger strike, and why she is “often the only white person in the room.”

It wouldn’t be fair to accuse Rosenblatt of denying the fact that she is white. She maintains a connection to Judaism, attending Temple on the High Holy Days and Passover—though she doesn’t quite see eye-to-eye with one of her older brothers, who is Hasidic and has seven children. And she considers criticism of her lifestyle to be valid, explaining that a lot of white people appropriate black and Latino culture in a manner that is not respectful. “There’s a tendency to go into it ignorantly,” she said. “I’m not saying that I don’t, but I try to do it in a way that’s conscious of power and race and privilege.”

In the end, Rosenblatt isn’t too preoccupied with defining herself—any of her selves—and she shrugs off the question of her own identity. Said one of her friends: “After years of failed attempts to place her into a category, I’ve decided that she’s just Emilie: a sum of different experiences, different social groups, different ideals. She throws her entire self in every situation of importance to her.  She’s so real, and I admire her for being that.”

– Hannah Goldfield

 

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40 Comments

  1. takeoutbox  

    eh. nothing that exiciting

  2. Bronxite  

    It's Crotona park, not Cortona, how could you make that mistake Bwog?

  3. bwogphile

    this was a really great piece.

  4. wow  

    this is a really boring campus characters. wow, sometimes people come from a background that you wouldn't expect! i'm sure there's much more to this person than that.

  5. jake  

    OK, does a lot, takes mad credits a semester...does she have a life? Does she have personality? Social skills?

  6. man  

    This is a nice piece. I wish commenters weren't so negative all of the time.

  7. Follow up?

    A follow up to a comment is not talking to yourself, or are you in GS as well?

  8. Meh  

    I heard her articulate her reasons for hunger-striking. She had no idea what she was talking about.

  9. she sounds  

    like a great person. shut up all of you.

    • Why?

      Because she's poor? because she's a dumb pest obsessed with drawing attention to petty racial issues? I would like her more if she volunteered to help wounded animals or if she cleaned up the highway.

  10. this  

    picture was stolen.

  11. 123  

    She is the dumb face of activism. The hunger strike was a fiasco on top of an embarrassment. Even the strikers themselves must agree. Seriously, just LOOK.

  12. 5 pointz

    So much for alternative art-hum! 5 Pointz is primarily drawn by white American and Northern European graffiti 'artists'

    • invisible_hand

      well then, 6,7,9,11,15,17...
      you sure have a life. makin' all those comments.
      they should do a profile of YOU.

      bwog - great piece. emilee is a veyr cool person, and this was a nice snapshot of a life on campus.

      columbians: people don't need to be heroic, or demigods. people are just people, and it's nice to get a view of someone's life, just for a moment.

  13. dude  

    the same person is responsible for maybe half these comments. lay off dude.

  14. yeah  

    why are people (person?) such assholes? this sounds like a really cool person

  15. Emilie = Love  

    Emilie is one of the nicest and overall most genuine people I have ever met who actually stops bullshitting and talking about all the bad things she sees in the world and goes out and does something about them.

  16. Anonymous  

    She seems fine, but I've never really heard her say very much of substance in the classes I've had with her.

    When she does talk though, her accent is weird as hell. It's not "urban" - which this bwog article seems to use as a euphemism for uneducated or black as near as I can tell - it just sounds weird.

    Actually, if I could describe the accent, I would describe it as, "someone making fun of Jamie Kennedy in Malibu's Most Wanted."

  17. Anonymous  

    I hate the hate on Bwog. It makes me sick.
    I remember couple of weeks ago when Bwog kindly asked to not be called BWOG but Bwog. Even Bwog got some of the hate.
    It's depressing to know that Columbia students were not given a heart and that I take classes with some of you.

    I'm just saying... the holidays make me be aware of this bullshit even more.

  18. Anonymous  

    Baaaaaw, the internet is meeeeeeean, baaaaaaaaw.

  19. question  

    she's really nice and all (I'm not trying to hate), but where did her "urban dialect" come from? she definitely didn't have it freshman year. hardened by the mean streets of wien?

  20. KVL  

    As someone who has slept with her, I can vouch for her awesomeness!

  21. evan stein  

    y u trynna sip on my zjuuus

  22. rjt  

    1) How much longer are you "at work"? I'm guessing that excuse for attention to this thread doesn't apply any more. And you're still on the same computer

    2) If you're going to have anger, at least commit to it. Probably the most annoying thing on the internet is when people spew vitriol and then say, "Aw, come on! How could anyone take it personally? Everyone does this!" No, clearly from this thread, only you are doing it, and you're a douche. If you legitimately have something against her, explain it, crack a joke about it, whatever, but at least have some convictions instead of backpedaling into "I was being ironic!"

    3) Instead of all of the funny and annoying things that are generally true about GS students, you made up the new stereotype of "They fart a lot." Nice.

    • What?

      1) Work, at Goldman Sachs, can stretch into the Wee hours... you wouldn't understand.
      2) No anger. Do you even know what the word 'irony' means?
      3) You telling me GSers fart less than CC? But I only referred to one GSer. I believe that you are a GSer too. Tell me, do you fart in class too?

  23. emilie is  

    sooo amazing. i love her!!! she is seriously one of the nicest, most compassionate people i've had the privilege of meeting at columbia. you go giiiiiiiirl!!!!!

  24. ddd  

    nice article. well written and interesting. emilie sounds fascinating and definitely worthy of a campus character.

    one little thing:
    "It wouldn't be fair to accuse Rosenblatt of denying the fact that she is white. She maintains a connection to Judaism, attending Temple on the High Holy Days and Passover"
    What has Judaism got to do with whiteness? There are black African Jews and really dark skinned Jews from the Middle East, South Asia, and the Mediterranean. Most American Jews may be considered 'white', but I don't see the general connection.

  25. wohltemperiertes  

    yo is anyone going to give this girl PROPS for being a legit worker? i mean, duane reade from the 4-12 shift- 8 hours?

    most of us, myself included, are just lazy bastards who at this point can get by on our parents or columbia's "generosity"

    • Anonymous  

      As far as minimum wage jobs go, that's a piece of shit. I'm sure the benefits are terrible, if there are any, it pays like ass. Plus, this is New York City, half the bartenders in the city work the graveyard shift and make more than her, while simultaneously not working for a racist, sexist, environmentally unfriendly, bloated conglomerate.

      • Latinaisbeautiful.  

        I completely agree about the job at Duane Reade. Was this merely to "keep in real"?

        Also to #37, I do not think you realize that some of us actually do work because we need to AND rely on Columbia's "generosity" because without it we would not be here. I have a lot of issues with Columbia, but financial aid is certainly not one of them. They help the undergrads who need it.

        The other thing..."Latina is beautiful" on her shirt.

        I take extreme offense to that since I am Latina, and most of us are told our entire lives that we need to be a certain way, that with light and delicate features then we would be beautiful. Then this bitch has a right to wear this like she is Latina. Has she ever been told her ass is too big by white people? Has she ever been looked at like she was going to steal something or as though she were a delinquent based on appearance and racial profiling? Has she ever shown interest in a man/woman of another race and was told, "I would never think of dating one of your backward people"? HELL NO!

        Why are Baby Phat Jeans the example for black people? Hello, Kimora Lee is not just black! Another hypocritical point to this article: clothing and labels do not define a race.

        If she is so unconcerned with grammar, that is her loss. Evidently, "myselves" will be just fine in a job interview or over dinner. If that is how she thinks all people who are "down with it" speak, nothing could be further from the truth.

        Emilie, get over yourself and stop trying to be one of the "people" and just fight for the cause, instead of trying to make "yourselves" be something you clearly are ONLY fighting to be.

        • bts

          haha, she is a little bit of a joke, but if u see her in person, especially from behind, u will realize that she has probably heard her ass is big MANY times. unless those are implants or padded clothes used in an effort to keep it real

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