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.
Rajkumari Singh defines a Coolie “To be an Indian or Chinese laborer who has emigrated under contract to a foreign land”. I never really heard of this word nor its origin until I read the text, “I am a Coolie”. Although I am completely in agreeance of Guyanese people reclaiming of the word proudly, I can also see why many of them along with other people of East Indian descent from Guyana would prefer to leave the word in the past. The word, coolie, was “a European’s name for a hired native labourer in India or China” as Singh described. Any word coined by Europeans in relation to marginalized groups is motivated by racist ideology or this sense of racial superiority. For example, during the height of slavery in the 18th century, The n-word with the “-er” attached, was referred to not just any slave but a black slave as way to belittle them while empowering whites as a superior race. Today, the context of the word has changed and many people especially the popular culture (music industry) are pushing for the frequent usage of the word as a source of empowerment. I think this word should be left in the past along with slavery. Slavery is one of the most brutalities that I know of and feels very personal so whenever I hear someone use the word regardless of what race the person is makes me very uncomfortable and deeply disturbed. I am surprised in the first place that this word still lingers today and is even more popular in youth’s vocabulary. Many people defend the word’s usage as meaning, “a friend” and even some go to the extend of saying that the ending of the word has been changed from”-er” to “-a” and therefore, the meaning is not the same. Regardless of how it is spelt today or what it means today should not be an excuse for anyone other than black to use the word. I don’t even think the black community should be using the word because, it motivates other races especially whites to feel the need to use it too. A white person asked to stop using the word would argue that someone is using the word and therefore it is okay and they don’t want to “feel left out”. Even words used to target LGBTQ communities such as “queer” and the f-word are also now being reclaimed as terms of endearment when those words used to be derogatories that have been used against them in the past. Now today, some people use the n-word, the f-word, and “queer” in the historical context to attack the targeted groups. Every marginalized groups should have the choice to decide whether or not they want to accept certain terms in the context of words of endearments. Within marginalized groups, there are varieties of opinions and experiences so the fact that one is fine with one term doesn’t mean all of the group is fine with that term.
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.
A lot of people may argue that racial issues have improved prior to the 1960s but I really don’t think so. A lot of has changed politically but socially in our lives, not that much has changed. If you have met and gotten to be around me, you will notice I don’t talk much. I am a very observant person, therefore I love listening to people and try to understand them. I have friends who deem themselves as progressive /open minded as what we would call today as being “woke”. They are quick to call someone out if they made a racist comment or joke but won’t call them out about types of people they would date based on skin color. I was at the cafeteria not long ago in the beginning of the semester sitting at a table with close friends of mine eating. We were spending time sharing what we did over the break and one person at the table shared out loud that he has finally gotten a Tinder dating account. We all cracked up and resumed to whatever the previous conversation was. Later on the person with the Tinder account saw a notification from the app on his phone that he has matched with someone. He opened to find out who it was and he reacted saying something like, “Eww no!”. We were all curious to see it was and quite frankly, it was a nice looking person. We all in an agreement said the person he matched with is a good looking person and doesn’t deserve that reaction. All he said was, “But I only date black guys.” I immediately asked why and he replied saying, “It’s just my preference”. This had me thinking, “Is it really okay for people to have dating types/dating preference based on skin color?” And this is not the first time I have heard this. I have a couple friends from my high school who have also said something as dating only white guys and asians only. I am really interested in finding out why they have preference based on skin color. I wonder if it is because of their surrounding or what they have been exposed to growing up.