I thought the film “Mississippi Masala” was very interesting in that it highlighted some of the struggles that people of Indian descent faced from being displaced from Uganda, and having to start a new life in a foreign country like Britain or America. I also enjoyed watching how the different generations (Mina and her parents) handled the transition, as it reminded me of the other film “Coolie Pink and Green”, where the father wanted his daughter to stick to the traditions that they kept with them living in the Caribbean. It is somewhat similar to how Mina and her parents interacted; with her mother wanting her to marry the other Indian man, and her parents not being supportive of her going out with a black man. It was similar to how the protagonist from CPG wanted to be with a man of African descent, and her father did not approve either.
As an education major, I was particularly interested in the education section in the First Indian Memorandum. As I read it I immediately began thinking about and relating it to The United States and the civil rights era, when issues of segregation and schools were very prominent. I noticed how the Indian peoples tried to show how they have made significant contributions to education and the schools throughout Uganda. Similarly, they attempted to convince the nation that Indian teachers were well qualified and were achieving at their professions. This was something going on during the civil rights era in The United States as well, as many African Americans tried to show how crucial they were to the field of education. Also, black teachers were very under appreciated and overlooked at the time, as we see with Indian teachers in this document. There were countless cases of employment discrimination because teachers were black, or when schools did desegregate, many times black teachers would lose their positions to the white colleagues. In speaking of desegregation, the memorandum states that desegregation would be very beneficial for integration. It is interesting to see the Indians placing a strong emphasis on desegregation. In The United States, Brown v. Board of Education paved the way for integration as it deemed segregated schools as unconstitutional. In seeing the outcomes of Brown v. Board, not all were positive by any means. So I take that and connect it back to the Indians, and would challenge them by saying not all of the outcomes of this desegregation you call for, will be positive for you and your people. However, in both cases desegregation was a seen as a strong mechanism for integration, and as I am more familiar with The United States, I can say that it did work well (a slow process nonetheless) for those reasons in many cities.
The love story between Mina, an Indian-Ugandan woman and an Demetrius, an African American man in “Mississippi Masala” contextualizes the historical texts we have been reading in class about racial discrimination in Uganda. Taking place during the time of Amin’s removal of Indians in Uganda, Mina and her family are forced to resettle for the tumultuous time in Mississippi, which highlights the impact of this policy we read about. While in the U.S., Mina along with the her father, struggle to balance and understand their identity within integrating into the U.S., their ancestral background in India, and their lives in Uganda. Mina falling in love with Demetrius is a unique example of interracial mixing that sparsely occurred in Uganda. In class, we read about how seldom relationships between Indians and Ugandans occurred and how it was seen as taboo from the Indian perspective. Mina’s family’s reaction to her relationship with Demetrius highlights this notion upholding racial purity rather than accepting mixing. Another interesting element of their relationship is their similar roots and them identifying with multiple cultures. Despite being of Indian descent and upholding Hindi culture, Mina is Ugandan and celebrates being African. On the other hand, Demetrius is American but is of African descent. Their coming to terms with their individual identities and each others’ highlighted many relevant and pressing ideas about race and identity that we have discussed.
Why are we always trying to fit people into boxes? This is something that I have been thinking about. When a person is dark-skinned, we are quick to generalize them and call them black regardless if they are from the caribbean or even mixed of other ancestry. In Mississippi Masala, I was constantly confused with why the family of Demetrius kept referring to Mina as Mexican. She had a brown complexion but that doesn’t call for her to be assumed as “mexican”. That is so wrong and racist. I guess this is how America is. There can’t be in between? It’s either you’re black, brown, or white. There is no in between. And if a person looks mixed, we are quick to ask them about their parent’s races and then broadly assume that mixed person to be one race over the other based on how they look like. So for example, if a mixed person has one white and one black parents, they are assumed as black according to the one drop rule. I have always wondered though what a person would be called if one parent is latino and the other is black, since America loves to categorize people into one race over the other despite a person being mixed.
Mississippi Masala is one of the movies many marginalized groups can relate. Having lived in Ghana, a person is always expected to marry not only a person from their own race but also from their tribe. If a person makes a bold decision to do neither of them, automatically they will face a significant amount of backlash from both their parents and surrounding community. It always seem as if love is not important when it comes to marrying but rather reputation/self-image of the family after marriage. I can understand why a specific race and/or tribe would prefer their children marrying only within their race or tribe. The family wants the addition to the family to be someone who can understand their culture and sympathize with their struggle and perhaps be involved in preserving their culture. They don’t want someone who might make their children to stray away from their culture and assimilate into the one of the person they are marrying. Their culture might get lost. I was in shock when Jay didn’t want her daughter to marry Demetrius especially when you would think he would be very open minded since he had grown up in a diverse environment. It happens a lot too to many families. Some families are surrounded by so much diverse people and interact with them but once it comes to marriage, they quickly expect their children to marry within their identity.
Local leaders in Gulu, Uganda are being asked to implement sensitizing measures into their judicial system. The need for this is dire, with the rise of violence over class and land struggles creating more cases that make their way into the court system. Our class reading by Mamdani illustrated just how important having land was for the economy, and how in order to stimulate the economy, resources must be cultivated and traded. In order for that to happen, people need access to land. One magistrate, Selsa Biwaga speaks to how overwhelmed the circuit court system is with the sheer number of land-related cases, “I have about 600 cases to hear and 90 percent are land related. But there are people who come to court when they are very negative about mediation.” Biwaga emphasizes how expensive it is to have a case heard in court, and how this could all be avoided through mediative means. The issue over land arises from the clash between traditional and legal understanding of the Acholi people. Since they follow a “customary” land tenure system for ownership, different clans own certain parts of the land. Violence ensues when clans both want a piece of land. Can such a traditional system such as this really be solved through mediation? Or do laws need to be set in place for how the judicial system goes about designating land? This system was introduced in 2013 and it is now 2018 and there is still evidence of land disputes. What more needs to be done?
In the chapter titled “Legitimate Trade, Democracy, and the Slave Trade”, author M. Alpha Bah informs readers on the political and social factors of Africa which in some ways aided internal slavery, which later aided the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
After reading this section, I’ve been left with a few questions. If Portuguese natives, lancados, found the beauty in African culture, enough to settle along its’ coast, marry its women and adopt its customs, why couldn’t all Europeans acknowledge and respect the beauty of Africa? I am also curious as to the baptism of the African slaves upon their entrance into the New World. Why would the Catholic Church demand that European slave traders baptize them? If Africans were deemed ‘inhumane’ enough to be forced into bondage, why should the ‘guarantee of their salvations’ even matter? Did this signify European guilt of their exploitation of human beings?
Immigrating to a new country can be terrifying, but continuously migrating back to where you’ve originated from during this journey can be even more frightening as both adapting and assimilating can prove even more difficult. In “The Ostrich”, written by Sudanese-born writer, Leila Aboulela, she informs readers of the difficulty of migrating given the cultural difference. “The Ostrich” tells of Sumra, a young, female, Sudanese-born student that studies abroad in London. The young woman migrates back and forth between her family who continues to reside in Khartoum with her Sudanese husband, Majdy, who resides in London.
I found this short story to be interesting because it emphasizes just how complex migrating into a new country can be for a person of color. This story highlights the complexity of one’s culture and identity and the struggle to maintain or abandon it given new societal norms.
Here is the link to the text, I think you guys will enjoy it.
I had such an amazing time reading this article, 6 Modern Societies Where Women Rule by Laura Garrison. I sought out this article on matriarchal societies because it sparked my interest very suddenly. I was on Facebook the other day and saw a link to a matrilineal society, Akan, located in Ghana, where roles in the society are passed down matrilineally, meaning through the man’s mother. Eager to learn more, I stumbled upon Garrison’s article. She outlines 6 different societies in the world that are all female-led and still thriving today. I encourage all to read this article, as it is incredibly eye opening, especially in this tumultuous time where we still are seeing women’s voices stifled. The Mosuo of China, the Minangkabau of Indonesia, the Akan of Ghana, the Bribri of Costa Rica, the Garo of Burma, and the Nagovisi of New Guinea are all examples of modern-day matrilineal societies. I do wonder, however, where the boys and men go, and does the absence of men ever prove to be troublesome when it comes to maintaining these societies? In class, we’ve covered the disparities still in place based on gender, so this was quite touching to know that these women are strong, self-sufficient, and truly independent. We could definitely use some of these in America.
I found Aisha Khan’s, What is ‘a Spanish’?: Ambiguity and ‘mixed’ ethnicity in Trinidad to be quite interesting. Khan asserted that there was a “middle ground” in discussing Trinidadian ethnic and racial identities. She mentioned two categories: racial and color. When I think of a race, I mostly think white or black, dark-skinned or light-skinned, but Khan argues that there is so much more than that. There is a compromise between black and white when assessing one’s appearance. I also found it interesting when she further broke down ‘appearance’ into internal and external facets. It made me think, “How do I see myself?” versus “How do other people see me?” When I think about it, ‘mixed’ and ‘colored’ are used interchangeably around me, but this is incorrect. This brings me to my question; What does it truly mean to be of mixed heritage? and Is there a politico-cultural agenda behind procreating with a member of a different nationality, if so what?