Tag Archives: english

The Unbearable Whiteness Of Being (Part I)

FACT: All Asian Americans are Asian by definition, but not all Asians are Asian Americans. The truth is that most Asians aren’t. While they may share an ethnic heritage, as well as many cultural similarities, Asian people who were born and raised in and reside in an Asian country have vastly different wants and needs and priorities than those who were born and raised in and reside in North America [and other non-Asian countries].

I wanted to start out with that quote for two reasons.

First, because it’s stolen from my co-writer’s post last Friday, which was a really good post you should read.

Second, because I think it does a good job of establishing the complicated and sometimes uncomfortable nuance that goes into addressing identity politics. Which is what we’re going to be talking about today and in the weeks to follow.

More specifically, we’re gonna be talking about White people.

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We’ll probably cover my use of this specific gif sometime later…

Before we dive in, I just wanna make something clear.

Race is a social construct – a series of categories that we’ve made up and ones we’ve made up only very recently in the scope of history. The fact of the matter is that there’s no actual place you can draw a dividing line when it comes to human beings and there’s no good reason you’d want to.

Not that it’s ever stopped us.

For better or worse, we have divided the world up into so many arbitrary categories, and those divisions have played and continue to play a major role in today’s culture. In spite of what some folks might suggest, ignoring racism doesn’t make it go away, and if we want to end the unspeakable hassle that is identity politics, we’re going to need to start by actually addressing them.

And here at Culture War Reporters, I think we’ve done a decent job. Continue reading

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CWR’s Brexit Breakdown

Well folks, it happened. In a move that continues to shock the world, Britain has dramatically voted to leave the European Union.

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And make no mistake readers- the Brexit is the worst thing that has ever happened. Or the best thing. Or…

Well, something.

For all the outrage, jubilation, and wild speculation, the reality of the situation is that most folks have been caught off guard by this decision- and probably none moreso than folks on this side of the Atlantic.

Plenty of conservatives- including potential American president Donald Trump- have applauded the Brexit, claiming it to be a victory for small government, autonomy, and “making Britain great again.”

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Which is something that should probably concern the rest of the world…

On the other hand, liberals have been howling that the Brexit represents a secession not simply from Europe but from progressive values, freedom of movement, and a commitment to peace and unity in general.

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With all that noise, dear readers, it can be tough to hear the truth.

And unfortunately, we don’t have it either. The reality is that this is an absurdly complicated issue with far-reaching implications and plenty of ramifications that we can only guess at. So rather than add to the din, we here at Culture War Reporters have gathered the most pertinent issues for your own consideration. Continue reading

We’ll Never Be Royals: Why We Need to Kick Our Obsession With the British Crown

It was less than 24 hours ago that yours truly sat at his desk, desperately diving through the dark recesses of the internet in search of something to preach to you about. And lo and behold, dear readers, the internet provided- for yours truly was not seven clicks in before he stumbled across some truly inane Buzzfeed post on Kate Windsor and her offspring.

While the article itself was mostly just pictures of the royal consort and the spawn-of-Windsor (can we please make it a thing to call ’em that?), it was the title that got me. Typical Buzzfeed clickbait, to be sure, but with all that wonder and joy you’d usually associate with a kid on Christmas.

Royal pictures! Princesses and princes! Jewels and castles and- and-!

And all that ****ing drivel.

But don’t you fret, boys and girls, this isn’t going to be another leftist rant against the British crown (the truly sleazy, inbred, useless, parasites that they are).

No, no- it’s a tirade against our obsession with this absurd tradition, and a case for why it’s high time we abandon it.

Now there are doubtlessly those among you who wonder if such a thing is even necessary. The royals are, after all, tucked away in their lavish palaces on the other side of the world. What harm could a handful of random pasty dudes possibly have on our culture?

That, beloved and faithful readers, is a good question. How about we start with…

Undermining Equality

Yes, that most dearly held of American values.

Or at least, formerly most dearly held of American values. With income inequality at historic highs, it’s probably safe to say we’ve let that one slide a bit.

It didn’t used to be like that, though.

Once upon a time, one of the greatest defining characteristics of the nation was a borderline Socialist obsession with equality and the common man. Only slightly more than a century ago the American republic stood unique amid a morass of empires, duchies, and despots, and we, for one, were damn proud of it- even to the point where the practice of tipping was considered to be “un-American”.

Continue reading

The Last 3 Books That Made Me Cry (And Why You Should Read Them)

I love getting lost into the world of a book. You know how it is when you can’t handle taking a bathroom break or stopping to eat lunch because it might mean tearing your eyes away from the page? Luckily, as an English major, reading is a big part of my learning experience. Not every book I’ve been assigned to read has been my style, but some of those books have been so good that they sucked me deep into the story until the next things I knew, tears were streaming down my cheeks.

For the sake of this article, I won’t be focusing on all the books I’ve read over the past year. If you want to read a fantastic overview of a wide span of books, I suggest you check out Evan’s 2014 Literary Awards. Instead, I want to share the last three books that made me cry, and, more importantly, I want to discuss the larger issues that make each of these three books valuable reads.

Each of these novels engages with what it means to live in a post-colonial world. In each story, it quickly becomes apparent that the horrors of colonization do not simply end the moment government policy changes.

While I will avoid any key plot points in these books, I will be alluding to general context around the books. If you prefer to go into your reading experience with a blank slate, I should warn you, Spoiler-ish content below.

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Generally regarded as the post-colonial prequel to Jane Eyre, Wide Sargasso Sea opens in Jamaica, shortly after the abolition of slavery. Rhys’ protagonist, Antoinette, comes from a family of plantation owners who were brought to financial ruin by abolition. As a child, Antoinette struggles to understand what separates her family from the rising class of British capitalists.

By writing from the perspective of a child on the wrong side of history, Rhys prevents any oversimplification of her narrative. She also challenges the idea that colonial injustice somehow ended when slavery did.

Rhys’ strong narrative style creates a story that will immediately pull you in, but her imagery and carefully thought-through word choices create layers of meaning that make this novel much more complicated than it appears at first read. While it initially seems to be a Gothic Romance, Wide Sargasso Sea also explores a variety of important questions around race and gender. Continue reading

Not Strictly Literary: 6 Unexpected Subjects You Learn About in English

I’m currently in the last year of my English undergraduate degree. Well, kinda. I will probably have to do an extra semester to finish off my credits completely, but after next semester I will have finally finished all my English requirements.

Like many students, I kind of fell into my major. In my first year of full time studies I was seriously considering a degree in economics, or anthropology. Until I took a class in those subjects and quickly changed my mind. Once I started figuring out what kind of classes I actually liked, I started talking about doing my degree in Sociology, Political Science, or Environmental Ethics. Then, when I transferred to UVic, I decided I would take their writing program. Well I thought I was decided, until I was invited to join the English Honours program. That invitation totally went to my head and I dropped everything in order to pursue that (very structured) program.

Because of the number of required English classes (and because I blew many of my elective classes during first year), I’ve been taking pretty-well only English classes for the last two years. During that time, I began to ask myself if I had made the best choice. After all, English is really just reading books, isn’t it? Couldn’t I do that in my own time?

Ah, reading for fun/relaxation. Can’t wait until I get to do that again.

Now that I’m getting close to the end of my degree, I’m able to look back and be thankful for (almost) all of the English classes I needed to take. Yes, I still feel like there are a million others I wish I could have taken, but I think I would have felt that way regardless of my major. There are more fantastic courses out there than what you can possibly fit into one undergraduate degree.

Getting close to the end has also allowed me to reflect on the many English courses I have taken and realize just how broad a range of subjects they actually address. I’ve included a few examples below.

Linguistics

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One of the texts we are translating for our final project.

I’m currently finishing off a class on Middle English that I did not want to take. Not at all. I’m required to take a class in early English literature, so I chose this class after a friend recommended the professor. I was then pleasantly surprised to find that it was a fantastic class. It was also not at all what I was expecting.

English has evolved considerably since the 12th century, so it’s hardly surprising that trying to read Middle English texts is like reading an entirely different language.

At the beginning of the class our professor touched on many of the other languages that have influenced the formation of the English language. Then, as the class progressed, a lot of the work we did in class involved translating various works. The translation process required a basic understanding of how to parse language, something I had almost no experience with. Like many English speakers, sentence structure is something I know intuitively, not something I’ve intentionally learned. However, if my experience in Quebec this summer taught me anything, it’s that knowing how to break down language is key to learning a new one. So I’m hopeful that the linguistic skills I’ve been struggling to learn in this class will help me with my future language learning goals. Continue reading

BC Girl in a Québécois World

Guess where I am right now?

That’s right, Quebec! (Sorry, you don’t get a prize because I already gave you the answer in the title of the post).

Look how far away I am from home!!

Those of you who follow the blog (or know me in person) will know that I live in British Columbia. Anyone who saw my excited Facebook announcement will know why I am here, but for anyone who didn’t, I want to give you an outline of where I am exactly and why.

This past year John and I both applied for a program called Explore. It’s a bursary provided by the Canadian government that pays for English students to experience French immersion (and vice versa for French students). The bursary covers room and board along with the cost of the classes, the majority of extra curricular activities and textbooks. Students just need to find their own way to the school they’ve chosen. The bursary covers a wide variety of schools; some provide a credited program and some do not. John and I both applied for the language program in a small town called Trois Pistoles. Since it’s pretty easy to find pockets of English in both Montreal and Quebec City, we chose somewhere small that would (ideally) force us to use French as much as possible.

Continue reading

Frozen: The Power of a Pretty Dress

I’ve been reading a lot about Frozen lately, and not even intentionally. I mean I watched it intentionally, but it was when I was having a slumber party with my niece. Okay, fine. You caught me. My niece is now a teenager and we were watching it in spite of not being the age demographic they were aiming for. Seriously though guys, why are Disney movies so appealing? There are so many things I can hate on in this movie. Like how it features ANOTHER typical white, skinny heroine whose eyes are bigger than her wrists.

Okay fine, I see you Jasmine… and Mulan.. and Pocahontas… and Tiana, but they’re still all skinny!

Or how the head of Frozen‘s animation shared about how difficult it is to animate female characters because you have to keep them pretty all the time.

Man that is tricky. I mean, they’re just all such unique characters.

Continue reading