Despacito is the rare Spanish track that has become a massive success in the U.S. and around the world. The hit song, which recently became the first video to hit 3 billion views on YouTube, has become the most streamed track of all-time and is spending its 14th week at No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Despite its clear success, it didn’t receive a VMA nomination. Despacito missed out on nominations such as video of the year, best collaboration, best editing and other more which it should have stood a fair chance at winning. MTV said “Despacito was not submitted for consideration” to The Associated Press because they never received a notice to submit the song. There is no concrete reasoning as to why it didn’t receive a nomination, but there’s a strong belief that race plays an underlying role. Despacito is the first Spanish song to hit #1 on U.S. charts and many believe it is due to the song’s lyrics being in Spanish and not English that it did not receive proper recognition . This language bias shows how race and biases are prominent in popular culture. The nominators hesitated to allow a foreign song to compete for song of the year despite the success. In 2018, this type of hostility should be recognized and criticized. The media should embrace the diversity and multiculturalism of pop culture and music and allow awards to be given regardless of tongue, being rather evaluated by success and ratings.
The “Black Panther” is a very important comic movie for people of african descent especially the young generation of today. Throughout the years in the comic industry, there hasn’t been any big comic movie out there that consisted of a more than 50% black actors and actresses to my knowing. I haven’t been a big fun of comic movies to begin with, simply for the facts that I could not see myself in the characters being played and/or the actors in the movie. In my perspective, comic movies for children are supposed to motivate them to strive to be whoever they want to be and be whoever they want with their infinite imaginations. However that can very quite hard for some especially for me when you can’t see characters who look like your skin color. A lot of people don’t like movies when skin colors of people are the main focus of the movie including the casting. The western culture has always been very close-minded with african culture and made it seem as the “other” or “abnormal”. What got me excited to go watch Black Panthers over this weekend as my first time going to the theaters for a comic movie was the cultural and tribal references embedded in the movie. I gasped out of excitement when I saw the protagonist, T’Challa, in a Kente scarf. That was my first time seeing an american movie have such references such that. When I got back to my dorm, I called my mom immediately about what I saw and told her to send me a kente scarf. I became very curious about Michael B. Jordan tribal marking on his skin and where that came from and it turns, it is from Mursi and Tribal tribes of Ethiopia. I would have forgotten or never known such cultural. The Indebele neck rings that was on Shuri and Dora Milaje in the movie were from Zimbabwe and South African which symbolized a sign of wealth and status. I wouldn’t have known that. The people involved carefully took their time to research and execute this movie. I loved how they didn’t shy away from technology such as luxury cars and sci-fi planes to show the influence of the western culture too. I really encourage everyone regardless if you have no connection to Africa to watch the movie and do some research on the cultural/tribal references! Aside from the cultural references in the movie, it really warmed my heart when i saw a video trending online of two young children saying in front of the movie poster at a theater debating about who they are in the movie. They were trying to emulating their new found superheroes.
“Once you are an immigrant, you never forget that you are one.” -Jorge Ramos
In today’s world, the topic of immigration is one of the top priorities because there is always movement amongst humans and when there are push and pulls factors then immigration will always been relevant. Immigration is a close subject in my life because my parents are immigrants. They chose to leave their homeland to create a new home in America. With my family’s ethnic background being Mexican, we are targeted as the focused immigration group to be a burden to America. My confusion only grows as I learn more about the history and stories of immigration, because I still do not comprehend people’s mockery of them. Why is there no escaping prejudice? Immigrants are always alienated for being different. There is never a common ground of appreciation to traveling to a new country in search of a better future. My family’s label as being immigrants will always be on that I will not forget.
For another course this past week, I was assigned to both read and analyze Emma Lazarus’ poem, “The New Colossus”. For those who aren’t are, this poem by Lazarus is embedded into a plaque in front of the Statue of Liberty in NY to emphasize on America’s presumed acceptance of all immigrants here in ‘the land of the free’.
The part of the poem that stuck with me the most was when Lazarus wrote: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (lines 10-14). Originally, these lines were interpreted to be accepting of immigrants from all specs of life – varying in cultures, ethnicities, race and socioeconomic levels. America was portrayed as a nation that indiscriminately welcomed every hard working being into this ‘glorious’ place. Lazarus symbolized the entrance into the U.S as a ‘golden door’, as if life in America for ALL is anywhere close to being heaven-like. Completely ignoring the fatal relationships between Europeans and ‘others’ in America. This sonnet depicting hope for all immigrants in America has caused controversy in today’s time, given the presidency of Donald Trump and his blatant disapproval and disregard of immigrants.
The contemporary recontextualization of this piece is that America is indeed not a place for ALL immigrants. Since the beginning of America as a nation, European colonists have exploited people with cultural and ethnic differences which were deemed inferior for they didn’t coincide with theirs. From the slaughtering of America natives to the enslavement of Africans off of Africa’s Western Coast, America has a history of abusing the people they’ve viewed as “different”. The realization that America is indeed not a place welcoming of immigrants as the Statue of Liberty represents can be seen in Donald Trump’s recent comments on immigrants, in addition to his congressional proposal to construct an $18 billion dollar border wall to keep all Mexicans from obtaining illegal entrance into the U.S.
I just found this poem to be intriguing given the recontextualization of it. Published in 1883, this piece still causes controversy today as people use this poem to reiterate the ideologies of America versus its actual reality. America presumes itself as a nation accepting of all, but it is evident that race is a major factor in one’s place here in America’s racial hierarchy.
Lazarus, Emma. “The New Colossus.” Historic American Documents. Lit2Go Edition. 1883. Web. <http://etc.usf.edu/lit2go/133/historic-american-documents/4959/the-new-colossus/>. February 18, 2018.
In class this past week we read about the Diaspora, to me it has always been something I have been interested in learning about. Back home in Rwanda when the word diaspora is used it means something totally different, there diaspora means any Rwandan living abroad. Hence, when I thought of the diaspora I usually thought of populations of people who live away from their countries of origin usually this being a choice they made. So one of the things I had to relearn when I got to the US was the meaning of what it means to be an African diaspora in the states. For example. now I know I would never be able to call my aunt who has lived here for 30 years an African diaspora. I must admit that I am still confused on who gets that title in America and who doesn’t. For example, are you among the African diaspora if you are an immigrant from a country in Africa or if your parents immigrated here from Africa. And does that mean in Rwanda when we use the term diaspora is it wrong or is it just a matter of the social context in which it is used.
To this day, I do not understand why there is still a lack of diversity in American popular culture, more specifically, the film industry. Sure, there are diverse backgrounds represented, but most of the times these people aren’t given lead roles. The United States is a country where people of all identities contribute socially, economically, and politically. Statistics show that Latinos buy 1 in 4 tickets every single weekend. In 2016, Latinos also bought 21% of movie tickets, but in 2016’s top 100 films, only 3.1% of speaking characters in films were Latinos. Similarly, black actors and actresses aren’t rare in films, however they still don’t often obtain lead roles as much as they should. This past weekend, Marvel’s FIRST black superhero film, Black Panther, premiered. It has been a success, and it has been so hyped up for the reason that it is rare when a black person is the face of a movie. Not only did it star a black person, but Ryan Coogler also directed it. Coogler was also Marvel’s first African-American director. One film isn’t going to solve any racial issues or satisfy the need for diversity, but with more films like these, we’ll get somewhere. However, it should not be once a year when a person of color is given a lead role.
Pallotta, Frank. “Black Panther.” (n.d.). Black Panther is heading for a blockbuster weekend. Here’s why that matters. Retrieved February 18, 2018, from http://money.cnn.com/2018/02/16/media/black-panther-opening-box-office/index.html.
Moreno, C. (2018, January 22). Gina Rodriguez Slams Hollywood For Lack of Latino Leads. Retrieved 18, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gina-rodriguez-hollywood-latino_us_5a65fdbce4b002283004d524.
Jasmine, a novel by Bharati Mukherjee, tells the story of an Indian woman’s journey to America and her experience becoming an American. The protagonist, Jyoti (aka Jasmine, aka Jane) endures microaggressions and discovers the horrible truth of America as she realizes the country is not as welcoming as the brochures in India made it seem. In a quote from the novel, Jasmine describes how she is physically characterized in America. “They want to make me familiar. In a pinch, they’ll admit that I might look a little different, that I’m a ‘dark-haired girl’ in a naturally blond county. I have a ‘darkish complexion’ (in India, I’m ‘wheatish’)” (Mukherjee 33). Reading this novel, and especially this quote, reminded me of the tendency Americans have to classify people by skin tone and the desire to see everyone as either black or white. In India, Jasmine is seen as a lighter skinned woman, but in America they categorize her and label her “dark-skinned” and “different.” This idea was also mentioned in class when we watched the film “An Island Divided,” where the narrator Professor Gates comments, “in America all these people would be black” while walking down a street in the Dominican Republic, even though most Dominicans identify with Spain rather than Africa. It’s strange that in America we are told to “never judge a book by its cover,” yet people are still constantly classified by their physical appearances.
Mukherjee, Bharati. Jasmine. Virago Press, 2014.
Haiti & Dominican Republic. Dir. Ricardo Pollack. PBS, 2011. Kanopy. Web. 18 Feb. 2018.
Slavery. This word gives me chills. I find it incomprehensible that the ownership of other human beings was justified not all that long ago. I came across a very disturbing article, It’s the 21st century. Yet slavery is alive and well. Although the title is pretty self-explanatory, I felt obligated to read on. The article begins with a reference and a link to the State Department’s “Trafficking in Persons Report”. I encourage everyone who reads this post to please check it out. Although it is terrifying, it gives readers a glimpse at the large gap that still exists today between laws prohibiting slavery and the actual enforcement of them. There have been great strides in the effort to free those who are captive, and prosecute slave-owners. Organizations such as The International Justice Mission (IJM) focuses efforts on freeing women and children enslaved to brothels in Southeast Asia. “The prevalence of minor girls in the sex industry plummeted by more than 80 percent” (Burkhalter, 2017). Global grant-making foundations, funded by private investors and donor governments are being created. In doing so, the United States creates an opportunity for collaboration with governments in which slavery is still prevalent to rescue victims and put a stop to modern-day slavery.
“Where are you from? We have been here for 200 years. Our blood, our sweat is in this land, and we will not allow you to take it from us…Who sent you here? The white man. You came here to destroy us…We will defend [this land] with our very lives” (Guiana 1838). This powerful quote from the film Guiana 1838, The Arrival encompasses the enragement felt by the emancipated Africans at the arrival of the Indian indentured laborers. This enragement was towards the white man, and the Indians, and stems from the fears and doubts that were felt after emancipation. From the second that the African slaves found out that they were “free,” there were uncertainties.
Many believed that this was too good to be true; after centuries of abusing slaves, why then would Britain turn against slavery? One possible reason was the arising sense of social humanitarianism due to religious beliefs. A growing middle class that felt it had an obligation to right past wrongs, and there was also a sense by the English population that plantation owners were flaunting their wealth, which was brought to them by the forced labor and torture of humans.
Of course, the actual enactment of abolition of slavery was not as righteous as it should have been. Under the terms of abolition, the British government paid the British slave owners 20 million pounds as compensation for putting an end to slavery. The slaves received no compensation, but instead were forced back into the fields with the new title “apprentices,” and faced the same treatments, but this time around, with low wages.
Jagessar, Rohit. Guiana 1838, The Arrival . RBC Radio, 2004.
In watching the film “Haiti & Dominican Republic, An Island Divided” in class, one scene in particular stood out to me. It comprised of a man from the Dominican Republic, who basically admitted to not realizing nor accepting his blackness until traveling to New York. This connects to the identity and race issue that divides this island, as the Dominican Republic has traditionally pushed back from their African heritage and identity. However, the simple notion of this man seeing himself as one thing rather than what he truly is, is something I personally can relate to. The majority of my life I saw my Grandmother as simply a white American, and similar to the man in this film, I believe the culture around me accustomed me to think in this way. In actuality my Grandmother was born in raised in Barbados, but is of a lighter complexion which would make many people who saw her quickly assume she is just white. It took me visiting Barbados and also entering college and learning more about race and other cultural issues, to figure out that I should also accept and appreciate the true identity of my Grandma. I think in The U.S. I am expected to see her as white, as in the Dominican Republic the man is expected to see himself anything but black. However, I know I must appreciate and understand that my Grandma is a West Indian Woman from very mixed and diverse ancestry, and does not adhere to the norms of the United States or even more specifically, white America.