I found the conversations around this book and hip hop in The United States to be so compelling because of how so many different groups perform this style of music. It is interesting how in this case south asian identities used music to perform and incorporate ideas of blackness into their own identities. I think this idea of mixing takes shape in many styles of music. For instance, many white american musicians are rappers, and are often critiqued for trying to mix in this sense. Terms of appropriation and stealing cultures arise, as many do not feel that should be performing something that belongs in a black space. This instance is much different than what we see in hip hop desis, and I think many people need to be more aware of it. IT is unique because those rappers in the book are also apart of marginalized minority groups, and through music are trying to face and combat that. These concepts work outside of hip hop also, and the mixing of groups and music comes up in the world a lot. I first think of reggae, and how many groups try to embody that music and lifestyle. It is quite unique that some forms of music are associated with different races, and all the things that arise when other races and ethnicities try to make that music a part of their identity.
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.
I enjoyed the class activity where we analyzed the pictures of the different peoples on plantations in Trinidad. It was a powerful activity in closely looking at the bodies of the peoples, and their differences and similarities. While some looked very much African, some appeared to more closely resemble Indian bodies. We all seemed to make these assumptions in class based on the features and structures of these people. This resonated with me as I do similar things when I look at my diverse family from Barbados. I look at my Grandma and her features and indicate that she is a Caribbean women who looks more European and white, whereas some of my cousins look and have features that are completely different. Similarly, on of my uncles, I look at and associate him more with African and sometimes Jamaican men. It is extremely powerful what associations and connections you can make in visual appearances, even though they might not always be accurate. We looked at clothing and other apparel a lot in this activity, and that is something I have not done in looking at my family members. It would be interesting to look at what they wear and how they wear certain clothes, and continue to make connections and associations.
Throughout my life, I have come to hear, learn, and have conversations about words that are considered derogatory. Some words are just disrespectful and rude when said to any individual, however there are other words that are historically rooted that mean much more when said to certain peoples of different races, religions, etc. The word “coolie” is something I had not heard about until very recently, but as I read I have become to realize that it is very similar to some other derogatory words that I know. The origin of this word is very similar to the word “nigger”, while one was used by white people to label and belittle indentured servants, the other was used to do the same for African slaves. The most interesting thing about some of these words is how the groups who were once labeled by them, take the word, bring power to them and use them openly within their communities. Time and time again we have seen marginalized groups use words that previously were oppressive towards them, and confidently make the word apart of their cultures and identities. It was interesting to see that the word “coolie” took this path as well, and how people like Rajkumari Singh find beauty in it and feel as though it represents heritage. However, for me this always brings up the conversation of who is allowed to participate in the appreciation and renewal of the word “coolie”. I have struggled with this issue for the n-word, and constantly wonder who should be allowed to say and use it, if anyone. Now that I reflect more, I think to myself if anyone has the right to even argue if people can recreate, use, or not use these words. I am taking rural education this semester, and in knowing peoples from rural backgrounds are very marginalized even though they might be of a privileged race, it seems as though the word “redneck” might be able to enter this conversation as well. Again, it is a word that for a long time has been used to setback specific groups of people, but some of these people also have come to accept the word, and have made it parts of their identities. In the end, words are extremely powerful and fascinating, and it will be interesting to see how different words change in meaning and power for the upcoming generations.
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.
It is to my knowledge, that there are clear, undisputable variations in the appearances and genetic makeups of men across that world. The Negro man looks different in many ways than the white man, and those in the Far East have features that resemble no man from the western world.
I believe that we only may look at the moral character of man, in determining who shall prosper and transmit their characteristics upon future generations. The assertion that the white man is the most important and the most essential race of humankind is false under this guideline.
Many view the explorations, conquests, and spread of power and influence by the white man as commendable. I argue that those actions only expose all of the moral wrongness that the white man has committed against other races. The spread of European influence and territory came with murder, exploitation and slavery. This created an unfair hierarchy of man, a hierarchy created by moral wrongdoings by immoral men.
The basic division of earth is the moral and the immoral. There is one human species, but there are undeniably different races that have different colors, abilities and live in numerous geographic locations around the world. This however is not where the division lies. There are no races that are inherently better, nor superior. The only division lies within moral character, and history has certainly proven, that this places the white man very far behind other races of man.