I think Sharma’s last chapter in Hip Hop Desis was compelling in that she distinguishes between “appropriation as othering” and “appropriation as identification.” In reference to “appropriation as othering,” she talks about how “the popularity of hip hop and Black styles among other Desis is often decontextualized” to the point where the meaning of hip hop is not understood. What then happens is the glorification of images that “marginalize what these people in these ghettos and housing projects are going through,” which is othering these Black communities and their experiences. However, not in all instances does this prove to be case. For artist Chee, including derogatory terms in his music such as the N word and putting sand in front of it is strategic as it points to the “discriminatory and exclusive practices of the United States, which Middle Eastern and South Asians like himself are victim to. Here, he is identifying to a similar experience that other minority groups can relate to and not using the derogatory term to other, but unite.
Bhavnani’s piece on hybridity and its application to the film Mississippi Masalawas definitely super interesting as it made me think about the ways in which society constructs identity and culture, and the situations in which culture and identity coexist separately or fuse to form something new. “When elements of identity and culture are present such that each element remains as a discrete and a distinct unit,” Bhavnani defines this as being situational hybridity. On the other hand, organic hybridity is the “fusion of identities and cultures which create a mixture in which it is difficult to specify the significance of any one individual axis of inequality.” I can see this organic hybridity in my home through my mother’s cooking in the states. My mother cooks with spices that are very traditional to her Salvadorian heritage, but she has also acquired new spices that are in her signature dishes now due to our Mexican neighbors who introduced her to them. Her Argentinean best friend, has also introduced her to making pasta dishes the Argentinean way, but of course my mother never fails to manipulate the dish and add her own twist to it that is very much rooted in the flavors of her home abroad. I think that organic hybridity happens on an everyday basis, but we fail to notice it or make anything of it because it has become the norm.
A Brighter Sun by Samuel Selvon really struck me in the way the U.S. and the Whites not only have influenced other countries but the minds of the individuals living in these countries, as seen through Tiger in the novel. After getting married at the tender age of 16 and starting his own family, Tiger, initially finds himself trying to replicate the ‘Indian model’ of living in a small village in Trinidad. However, as time progresses, Tiger learns how to read and desires to become more educated while the town he lives in starts to change, particularly by the infiltration of the Americans. As the Americans decide to build a road across the village, Tiger gets excited with the idea of working for the Americans and this opportunity gets him thinking of new ideas particularly the idea of improving his life in all ways and living better. Although this is a positive thing, this infatuation for the new really puts him in a bad position with his wife, who feels that he has become preoccupied with things that have put her and the family second. This juxtaposition is interesting, because it shows the power that the actions of the Americans had on culture and on a society who was not necessarily ready for change or even wanting change. The old traditional way of living means retention of culture, while the new means challenging these values, or getting rid of them completely.
The story of Saheedan Ramroop is really that of a super-hero and brings up the invincibility of an East Indian woman who despite her inferiority status of a woman, brings change in her community. I think it is important to talk about figures like her in history because women like Didi and the impact that they have on their societies gets ignored for the simple fact that they are women, and also for the reason that history often revolves around the contributions of man. What really appeals to me in her story is that when gets offered the position of foreman, she rejects it even if it meant rejecting the opportunity of “living better” because this tells you that Didi was never about the money but about not abusing her own people, but rather protecting them and fighting for them. Didi put her ideals and her people’s happiness first, which is something that not everyone can do. She was special.
The topic of Diaspora is an interesting one, specifically in the way Colin A. Palmer breaks it down. He argues that there are five major African diasporas and how the earliest one began 100,000 years ago and the most recent one is still happening. What this suggests, is that people are continually moving voluntarily and involuntarily over periods of time for many different reasons. Furthermore, his belief that “diasporas are not actual but imaginary and symbolic communities and political constructs (29)” is again something I had never really thought about. This makes the concept of diaspora abstract and moves it away from its physical and geographical definition, forcing people to think of it as something that is more philosophical and deeper in meaning. Bah’s reading was also one that took me by surprise in that I did not know that in other parts of Africa and not just in Egypt, there was a type of ‘slavery’/ servitude happening before the Trans- Atlantic slave trade came into being.
From the first reading of “The Classification of Races” to the essays on “Science and Eugenics”, I have been alarmed by the sorts of ways race has been talked about and how intellectual people have fabricated a myth about “race” that is still very much relevant to today’s categorization of peoples and the discrimination that exists. I think sometimes we forget how far racism can be traced back to and even if we live in a progressive society, people still think that the ideas, systems and beliefs of the European race should prevail over the inferior races to keep the European model of civilization alive and everlasting. However, Dubois and Senghor challenge this system and call for the conservation and embracement of the black people’s ideals and culture, which can coexist with the European values in the same space. Senghor calls the embracing of the Negro-African civilized values a humanist movement, and makes the point that Negritude welcomes all values of the world to then become alive on its own and part of a civilization that embraces all mankind (138). This is important to look at as it shows how people of different values and backgrounds can still embrace their identities, while embracing other values that are humanist and righteous.