Observations and ideas about race, ethnicity and mixing.

Author: brodeenk

Hybridity at Dickinson

The article on hybridity caused me to reflect on the types of hybridity seen on campus here. Although Dickinson is a predominantly white institution, I believe there are great efforts made both consciously by the administration but also subliminally by students and staff that promote a diverse and accepting environment. However, it is the implementation of hybridity that needs to shift. While the administration promotes structural hybridity, there needs to be greater strides taken to promote organic and situational hybridity.

Intentional hybridity is often the point of contention on campus and can be seen through actions made by the administration. This can be seen in their recent decision to cut the New York Posse Scholarship program to promote more scholarships to other students of color, Mixing It Up Mondays, and through diversity summits and lectures. While these forced efforts promote diversity, they are not the most effective. It often occurs as a “resolution” to conflict, such as the blackface incident with the men’s lacrosse team. While their efforts encourage conversation, it is up to the students and staff to promote hybridity through other initiatives, which are more effective.

Situational hybridity often occurs amongst students through sports, clubs and organizations where the interests of students being people of different backgrounds together to become friends to unite and accept each others’ differences and unite towards something they all share in common. One such club is the International Club that promotes cross-cultural communication and embracing people’s backgrounds. Through events of celebrating holidays such as Holi and through their cooking series, situational hybridity occurs and is cherished. These elements of campus life promote situational and organic hybridity among students. We need to promote these more to make Dickinson more inclusive and accepting, creating a more positive environment for everyone.

Race and Identity in Mississipi Masala

The love story between Mina, an Indian-Ugandan woman and an Demetrius, an African American man in “Mississippi Masala” contextualizes the historical texts we have been reading in class about racial discrimination in Uganda.  Taking place during the time of Amin’s removal of Indians in Uganda, Mina and her family are forced to resettle for the tumultuous time in Mississippi, which highlights the impact of this policy we read about. While in the U.S., Mina along with the her father, struggle to balance and understand their identity within integrating into the U.S., their ancestral  background in India, and their lives in Uganda. Mina falling in love with Demetrius is a unique example of interracial mixing that sparsely occurred in Uganda. In class, we read about how seldom relationships between Indians and Ugandans occurred and how it was seen as taboo from the Indian perspective. Mina’s family’s reaction to her relationship with Demetrius highlights this notion upholding racial purity rather than accepting mixing. Another interesting element of their relationship is their similar roots and them identifying with multiple cultures. Despite being of Indian descent and upholding Hindi culture, Mina is Ugandan and celebrates being African. On the other hand, Demetrius is American but is of African descent. Their coming to terms with their individual identities and each others’ highlighted many relevant and pressing ideas about race and identity that we have discussed.

H&M In Hot Water Again Over Cultural Misappropriation

Less than a month after H&M recalled an image of a black child modelling a hoodie with the slogan “coolest monkey in the jungle,” they have once more returned to the limelight and were forced to recall a range of socks with a pattern that appeared to resemble the word “Allah” written in Arabic. Although it was intended to be a lego holding a hammer, this illustration bares resemblance to the Arabic language. Throughout these controversies, high-profile figures have spoken out calling H&M’s image “offensive”, “irresponsible” and “racist”. Although they hired a diversity specialist, they should have already had heightened cultural sensitivity in both scenarios. Traditional tribal patterns, derogatory terms and prints are often seen in contemporary fashion despite their negative connotations and cultural misappropriation. It is critical to to be considerate and oppose these styles as they foster stereotypes and hurt identities. To keep clear of further controversies, fashion lines should have a strong commitment to addressing diversity and inclusiveness and be vigilant selecting designs.


Link: http://www.vogue.co.uk/article/hm-socks-allah-pattern

Racial Biases in Police Stops

New data realized reveals that Milwaukee police stops are driven by racial biases.  It notes a huge amount of police stops are made without reasonable suspicion as required by law and disproportionately subject Black and Latino people. This is a violation of the 4th Amendment and fostered by deep-rooted stereotypes. To figure this out, David Abrams created a study making it clear that police stops come to racial and ethnic minorities at higher rates than whites, and that factors other than race and ethnicity do not explain those differences. He found even in non-racial factors — including crime rates — traffic and pedestrian stop rates in Milwaukee are both more than six times higher for Black people than for white people. Furthermore, this analysis shows that searches of Black and Latino drivers are more than 20 percent less likely to lead to the discovery of drugs than searches of white drivers — even after controlling for factors other than race and ethnicity. Thus, millions of Black and Latino people are being unlawfully stopped and frisked by police in their everyday lives, showing minorities are still unequal in the eye of law in 2018, a disheartening notion. A factor contributing to this related to Prashad’s article from class is the sudden surge of white supremacy. He remarks this also leads to colonialism, posing an unfortunate possibility in the future. We need to correct this fallacies in our government system to prevent repeating history.


Link: https://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police-practices/new-data-reveals-milwaukee-police-stops-are

Why Didn’t Despacito Receive a VMA Nomination?

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.


Link: https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2017/08/14/despacito-vma-nomination/566969001/

Who are Meghan Markle’s parents?

Link: http://metro.co.uk/2018/01/11/meghan-markles-parents-dad-thomas-markle-mum-doria-ragland-7221712/?ito=cbshare

This article discusses Price Harry’s fiancé, Meghan Markle’s family background, highlighting how race influences the “Royal Engagement” despite great strides being made with the addition of a mixed-race woman joining the monarchy, a huge milestone breaking hundreds of years of British tradition. Many rumors have begun about Meghan’s non-traditional upbringing with divorced parents, the lack of a father role, and her mother being a woman of color, and half-siblings with a 17-year age gap. This particular article elaborates on how Meghan’s family, addressing rumors alluding to dysfunction. It mentions her parents divorced when she was 6, alluding to a lack of a father relationship, and claims that half-sister has called her a “social climber”. During an engagement, there should be positive media regarding it, like in William and Kate’s situation. However, with Meghan’s untraditional upbringing, the spotlight has shifted from the engagement to also diving into her background, where race and socioeconomics are highlighted. She’s negatively viewed because these contrast with the royal family’s pristine, established bloodline. Despite these negative depictions, she holds her ground, shining as a strong, female woman in this setting. Her character allows her to overcome this negative media and show that the world is embracing diversity. As she joins the royal family, she will be the first non-British, mixed race woman. This is milestone breaking against the establishment of hundreds of years of tradition and proves that times have changed and England, along with the public, have accepted it despite the media’s attempts.

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