Mixing It Up

Observations and ideas about race, ethnicity and mixing.

Month: March 2018 (page 2 of 3)

National Geographic’s past exposed

As I was reading the news today, I came across an article with a disturbing title. “A probe into the past exposes National Geographic’s racist content.” A study done by a history professor at the University of Virginia discovered the racist behavior in National Geographic’s past.  As I continued to read, the author gave examples of some of the evidence the study unearthed. “A 1916 edition, for example, featured two Aboriginal people with a caption that read, ‘South Australian Blackfellows: These savages rank lowest in intelligence of all human beings'” (Dzhanova). We recently learned about Aboriginal people and how they were regarded as “children of the forest” and viewed as a wild people, and being considered “savages.” This also goes back to the beginning of the class when we learned about how early scientists attempted to use race to determine intelligence or social capacity and to distinguish which races were “superior.”  National Geographic’s use of stereotypes and their tendency to portray people of color as laborers has given their once impeccable name a permanent mark. As this information comes to light, and in an attempt to make up for the century of discrimination, each issue of National Geographic this year will be part of a series on racial, ethnic and religious groups, this time portraying them correctly.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/probe-past-exposes-national-geographic-s-racist-content-n857746

#Wakanda Forever!

Over spring break I was asked by a random stranger where I was from, I told him Rwanda and he immediately thought I meant Wakanda. I thought that was funny and then I proceeded to explain to him how Wakanda was fictional and how Rwanda is very much real. But on then I started thinking about the movie and what it means for me as an African and a black person in America. I realized the significance of the movie and how represented different black identities; with Killmonger having grown in the US and the people of Wakanda as Africans who had never left the continent. One of the most powerful moments in the movie was towards the end when Eric utters the words “bury me in the ocean with my ancestors that jumped from the ships. Because they knew death was better than bondage.” This immediately reminded me of the middle passage and what form of resistances Africans were showing even before they got to the New world. Additionally, the fact that Wakanda was never colonized presents the idea of what Africa might have become without colonization. It also challenges the idea that colonial powers did Africans a favor by colonizing them. Furthermore, the move brings together Black people all over the Global because it celebrates African culture and encourages people to learn more about said culture. For example, days after the movie came out posts on social media were trending that explained the origins of some of the attires in the movie. Different African tribes inspired all of the clothes in the movie. As a black person, this movie literally changed my life!

 

Colorism

March 18th

“The woman skin lighter than yours and mine she feel she better than people on this hill” (Lovelace 21).

 

Colorism. The discrimination based on skin tone that has been formulated through the years of colonization. This sense of belonging to become involved with the higher class has driven people to associate, mate, and create new circles in order to include themselves or future generations into a “white” society. Around the world this concept various but colorism is a cultural aspect recognized in the Caribbeans and Latin America. It is something that replaces the cruel racism experienced in American society but still present within these community islands. The lighter you are the more privilege one will have. This is unfortunate belief because how light or dark a person is will depend on the broader group they are in: White or Black.

I write about this because these are topics still in need to discuss. With colonization, the foundation of colorism is part of the norm now. So as to challenge the oppressor with institutional and everyday racism, we must all call into question how the hegemonic power has used colorism to separate people. The hype about Black Panther is tremendously significant because it not only a “Black” movie but a dark-skinned cast.This is something that would have been unheard of or recognized properly ten years ago. A famous actress by Amandla Stenberg has played roles in the Hunger Games and teen flicks and she had recently shared her rejection to the hit movie by Marvel. Her rejection was considerate as it acknowledges herself as light-skinned woman wanting the right actress to portray the sentiment Black Panther stood for.

We need more Amandla Stenberg’s in the media and in society to help represent everyone and denounce this social construct. Colorism is a dangerous form of discrimination as it turns marginalized groups from within against each other. Like racism, it will not go away in a day, this will take time. But with the continuous discussion of it, there can be improvements made for in society.

 

https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2018/03/amandla-stenberg-black-panther

 

Earl Lovelace, The Dragon Can’t Dance

 

An Identity To Be Proud Of

I think one of the important messages in “The Dragon Can’t Dance” is how it is impossible to move forward in society when the people of the society don’t understand their history. The novels is in constant hope for the community to get grow and transform and to fight against its oppressed past. During the carnival season, we see the cultural resistance against slavery and colonialism. I think that Lovelace wrote this book to express an identity for Trinidadian people can be proud of. For example, he talks about the importance of calypso. The act was previously illegal but he shows how it reveals their culture and identity. He writes to create a place where the typical colonial, Eurocentric ways of thinking can be challenged and other identities and ways of thinking can be understood.

Coolie Women

I really liked the lecture on March 1st where we viewed photos of Indian women. In these photos, women advertised their beauty and their prosperity. Almost always, the women depicted were laden with silver and gold. Their bodies showcased these precious metals usually in the form of bangles on their wrists. They also were generally depicted wearing silk blouses and ornies on their head, adorned with lace. I found it interesting that wearing these metals and blouses allowed these women to show their wealth and status. These representations of self were all very similar in the women’s facial expressions. Most women had inscrutable expressions, no photo shew a woman smiling, which is common for photos seen in the present day.

coolie women

I think it’s interesting that these women were referred to as Coolies because the term was conventionally used to refer to laborers, but in these photos the women appear to be moderately wealthy. Using the term “Coolie” to refer to these women marks them as foreigners in the Caribbean. It made it clear that they were not from this place, and served the purpose of laboring, regardless of their status.

Who am I?

In many of my classes, it has become apparent to me that I am deliberating people deliberate themselves. People trying to socialize their right in the world most and be perceived by the world in the same light they perceive themselves.

The journey of identity, both external and internal, is encompassed by philosopher Alan Watts’ quote “I believe that if we are honest with ourselves the most fascinating problem in the world is: who am I?” This is the question we spend much of our life attempting to answer. This is the question we intellectualize through paintings, films, and novels. This is the question we continue to politically disregard though it is the foundation for all our politics. For many people of color in the United States, this is the question dictated by racial stigmas, which demands that the development of who they are is dependent on how they are racially categorized.

And what is a person of color? What by the existence of that identification alone is implied about humanity? I think it means that we, as people of color, live as an additional or almost, accidental people. Why is it not enough to just say person when I speak about myself or when someone else speaks about me?

If She was the Sun

After reading the article “Third World Quarterly row: Why some western intellectuals are trying to debrutalise colonialism,” and the piece “I am a Coolie” I began to think about the more subtle, intimate consequences of colonialism. Be it the exploited people reclaiming derogatory terms like ‘n****r’ and ‘coolie’ to rather reflect all they’ve endured and overcome. It is a constant navigation for pride in one’s natural self through abstractions like language, love, and beauty that have been perverted by colonialism. I wrote a poem that I feel embodies the hurt and confusion when you can’t find that pride because it has been systematically stolen from you.

In English class, she learned
that Juliet is the sun and she has spent years
trying to feel her light. Years of sitting beneath
scorching heat scalding the tips of her girlhood
ears while generational echoes tell her to
unkink the Dominican in her hair. The stench
of burning curls becomes the scent of
apprehensive conformity and the blood lining
the insides of her cheeks taste the way longing might.
She looked to Juliet, to the sun, to see
remains of herself but she never found them.
Instead she cried the secrets of colonialism,
because she is Julietta, never Juliet.
The moon tried to whisper to her “Va con paz,”
on a bright morning before she realized the
sun had risen and she was to be lost, once more
and always, in its light.

Debrutalization of European colonialism

After reading Vijay Prashad’s “Third World Quarterly row: Why some western intellectuals are trying to debrutalise colonialism”, I could not have agreed more. All throughout my history of learning here in the United States, I’ve been unaware as to the effects of colonialism. In fact, I didn’t even know what European colonialism was. Even in tenth grade World History, the effects of European colonialism weren’t dwelled on, let alone even mentioned. Throughout my high school history courses, European colonialism was simplified into European expansion, which failed to convey the brutalities of European colonialism. It just frustrates me that I wasn’t properly educated on the effects that European colonialism has caused to third world countries such as African and Latin American nations. The fact that to this day, most historians fail to convey the severity of European colonialism, goes to show that the white supremacist ideology is still rooted in our society, for the history of European colonizers invading, and ‘bleeding nations dry’ of their resources for the benefit of their own nation, goes to show that a bias amongst history exists and is still prevalent until this day.

The Fight Continues

When I first read the article by CityWorldNews, “Native American Council Offers Amnesty to 240 Million Undocumented Whites”, the first thing I thought about was the controversy on immigration now. That article talks about Native Americans offering amnesty to the illegal whites in America. In my head, the article was describing the current ongoing fight of Dreamers to attain citizenship. It is ironic to think that it could have been whites asking for an amnesty, but today it is mainly Hispanics fighting for citizenship; fighting for rights in a country they’ve lived and worked for years. This past week thinking a lot more about colonization, made me realize we’re demanding citizenship from people who originally didn’t own the land, from people who believed their customs and skin color were superior to the indigenous people living here. Today, the fight for an amnesty is much more than obtaining rights, it is also proving to the country that we’re valuable and that our ethnicity doesn’t define our intelligence or work ethic. It is exhausting and frustrating dealing with this struggle, but we will stay determined to soon end the ethnical-race hierarchy that was created years ago.

Character Over Race

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” -Martin Luther King Jr.


How do you live a life of pure kindness? The answer, you cannot. The world today is built on social constructs that create boundaries between humanity. Race is a component that perpetuates these false ideas on people’s character. I read recently this week Sam Selvon’s book, A Brighter Sun, in it, the diverse characters representing the variety of Trinidad. In the text, it details the relationship of an East Indian and African descent couple that are being judged by their own people for helping each other as neighbors. It is a sad moment when kindness can be overshadowed by prejudices. Their friendship is being questioned because of the connotation of each other races and how culturally they are different. I find this to be significant within the context of marginalized communities because everyone’s struggle should be cared for by everyone else. Intersectionality is the answer towards a united people. Until we as a people realize that the hegemonic power does not have to separate us oppressed groups is when we will truly live a life. Character should be a defining factor, not race. 

 

Selvon, Sam.  A Brighter Sun . London: Heinemann, 1995.

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