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.
Discussing Race Outside of Class
Last night, I went out to eat with my boyfriend and I was telling him all the things I have learned in this class and in my Intro to Africana studies class. I shared with him how it was cheaper to work a slave to death and replace him than it was to keep him healthy and alive. We talked about how the constant kidnapping of Africans has caused so much damage to the continent of Africa that is still present today. It is disgusting to think about how even after 200 plus years, the European influence is still haunting the people. We also discussed the idea of reparations. Haiti had to pay France for many years, but we don’t see any Europeans countries paying back Africans countries. I wonder if the African countries would even want the money from their colonizers. I think it some ways those countries may be resistant because they don’t want to feel dependent on their colonizers ever again. Although those countries may be struggling economically, they may want to heal their country on their own. At the same time, I doubt that the European countries would have the moral instinct to repay Africa. More than anything, I think it is so important to have these conversations with our friends who aren’t actively taking classes like this. It is important for everyone to know this history.
After just two short weeks of this class, I can honestly say I am disgusted, amazed and completely in shock. Race is so embedded into our society that it is impossible to ignore. Yes, it is a socially constructed idea, but it’s an idea that holds so much power. To think that there were countless philosophers who thought it was necessary, and took years, to racially divide up the world blows my mind. I question what this do for them? What did they think they were accomplishing? Francois-Marie Voltaire wrote, “and mulattoes are only a bastard race of black men and white women, or white men and black women, as asses, specifically different from horses, produce mules by copulating with mares” (Bernasconi and Tommy, 6). It was hard to read quotes like this one but what was harder to swallow was the fact that today, February 4, 2018, people still think like this. We still here the word mulattoes. People today still believe that white are superior to other races. In the latest 1700’s Kant expressed the need to erase the inferior. Fast forward to the 1930’s and 40’s and we have the holocaust. The ideas that were introduced hundreds of years ago are still so relevant to today’s world and it is terrifying to think about and have to admit. After reading the article on Meghan Markle’s family tree, I can only ask myself, who cares and why was it so long? It was more than showing her family roots. That article was invasive and unnecessary. They never examined other fiance’s’ family tree as they did her’s.
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.