Tag Archives: Immigrants

Escaping Trump’s America: One Writer’s Harrowing Tale of Survival

trump-011It has been 51 days since Drumpf became president, and I lock the door to my apartment for the final time. It’s a cold day in March, but even my thick coat raises eyebrows as I arrive at the station.

They say Mussolini made the trains run on time, but I’m guessing the strange intricacies that seem to govern the Greyhound buses would’ve sent tears running down the fat, doughy face of the Italian despot. My ticket reads 5:30 to Chicago, No. 302, but the sun is already starting to rise over the desert. All the seats have been taken. I find myself a free spot of ground beneath a leering poster of the president. The bitter morning wind, reeking of diesel fumes and cigarette ash, sends loose papers skittering across the concrete. Discarded ticket stubs, crumpled receipts- a single page that looks like it may have come from some shoolboy’s essay. All decadent, unpatriotic schools have been replaced with Drumpf Universities, where we are to be re-educated to stop thinking like “bimbos” and “losers.”

An hour passes, and the guards return- weak, winter sunlight glittering off of their glossy, golden uniforms. They have proper haircuts- as we all do now. Aryan blonde, brushed forward to cover the parts of our head that absolutely aren’t balding. Any illicit hairstyles will earn you and your barber 80 lashings. They takes measurements our hands, to ensure their proper size. They search my belongings. I’ve prepared for this. Just enough clothes for a three day trip. No money. No passport. Just my mandatory certificate proving native birth and authorized religious beliefs. My papers say that I am going to Houghton to visit a sick friend. I am lucky that I already have documents that show I went to college there- at least, to the Houghton in New York. I do not think I could have afforded to have all my papers forged. Continue reading

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“Hymn for the Weekend”: Appreciation, Appropriation, and the Exotic Black Woman

I don’t know about you, but I can’t stop listening to “Hymn for the Weekend” on repeat.

However, before I had even listened to Chris Martin and Queen Bey meld their voices in a divine mesh of harmonies, I was reading about it on Tumblr.

Cultural Appreciation vs. Appropriation

The first thing I heard about the video was that it had some pretty rampant cultural appropriation. Since there have been a number of music videos and performances accused of cultural appropriation over the last few years, I wasn’t too surprised to hear about “Hymn for the Weekend” being added to the list.

The video quickly split viewers into two groups, those who considered it cultural appropriation, and those who appreciated the video’s focus on Indian culture. The clip below highlights a few of the key elements that have been discussed and criticized.

This discussion is tricky for a variety of reasons. For example, there is a time and place when a white person can wear Indian clothing and accessories without coming off as disrespectful. In some cases, it’s actually much more respectful to embrace local dress customs than to ignore them.

There are even music videos where diverse customs and styles have been featured without any backlash about appropriation.

This debate can also seem confusing when Indian fans, or fans with Indian heritage, don’t seem to be bothered by the video’s representation of their culture.

anigif_optimized-20745-1454418987-1 Continue reading

When Life Gives You Don Lemon III: The Lemon Awakens

Well faithful readers, it’s a new year. While your ever-vigilant crew at Culture War Reporters has certainly enjoyed their break, time marches inexorably on and we’ve got some catching up to do. Why not kick things off with our favorite nemesis and all-around nutjob Don Lemon.

Who we can always rely on to bring us incisive and relevant info on today’s most pressing stories.

As dedicated readers will certainly recall, CNN anchor Don Lemon is not exactly a good person. Lemon represents everything wrong with the news today: ignorance to facts, obstinance in the face of correction, and glee in chasing whatever headline will pull in the ratings- and all from behind a facade of journalism. And certainly, there are plenty of folks in the media today who are notorious for each of these problems, but few manage the impressive feat of having all them at once, and definitely not with the reach and influence that Lemon has. The man’s the perfect storm of power, obliviousness, stubbornness, and ****y ethics, and yours truly has made a point of keeping an eye on him in the same way that you’d keep an eye on a typhoon brewing off the coast. And I’m sad to say that, no, it looks like Hurricane Don isn’t showing any signs of abating.

Continue reading

The Importance of Ms. Marvel as Immigrant Literature

I can think of no better way to introduce this subject than with Stephen Colbert’s reaction to the news:

<this is where I would embed the video, if Comedy Central, Yahoo Video, and WordPress would just get along already>

Before I continue I want to point out that the original Captain Marvel was a Kree alien who actually went by the name “Mar-Vell”, and when taking that into account Darlene Rodriguez’s pronunciation actually has a fair amount of validity.

With that out of the way, let’s take a more in-depth look at the young Kamala Khan.

Easily one of the most fascinating aspects about this new character, at least from a writer’s perspective, is how she came into existence. It all began when Marvel editor Sana Amanat, who grew up as a Muslim, began recounting stories of her childhood with fellow editor Steve Wacker. The two moved forward from there, “[noting] the dearth of female superhero series and, even more so, of comics with cultural specificity.” Continue reading

Europe and Racism

I’ve mentioned on more than a few occasions that Europe is grappling with issues of racism, which is something of a euphemism for “full fledged white supremacy movements.” What with my repeated references and the major role that this obviously plays on a cultural and political field, I figured it’s high time I actually break it down for ya.

The UK

You’d think that a nation that’s invaded all but 22 countries, maintained the largest empire of all time, and started multiple wars with underdeveloped nations to force them to buy drugs would be a bit more understanding when the people from those countries tried moving to the UK to build better lives for themselves. Instead, the flow of immigrants into Britain has resulted in a massive backlash from the “native” English (you know- the ones descended from Angles, Saxons, Jutes, and Norman immigrants). United under the fear that the empty house next door might be rented out by a family with brown skin and funny accents instead of a family with white skin and funny accents, Britain has seen the rise of bigoted groups in both the forms of political parties, such as the “British Nationalist Party” [BNP], to straight up gangs of violent racist thugs, such as the self-proclaimed “English Defense League” or “EDL”. But hey- we’ve got similar problems across the pond- what’s the big deal (other than, you know, the attempts to turn Britain into a whites-only nation, through violence and intimidation if necessary)? Continue reading

Shame Day: Zionism

This hasn’t been a great week.

My pick for the Zimbabwe elections lost to a 90-year old autocrat, white nose syndrome is devastating the American bat population, and the recent attempt to defund the NSA’s domestic spying programs has failed in Congress.

And in spite of all that, I’m going to be discussing issue I’ve been wanting to take an axe to for quite some time now.

Yep- Zionism. Continue reading

Slavery and Movies

I recently had a chance to see The Man with the Iron Fists, a gritty Kung-Fu-Spaghetti-Western-70s-Exploitation mash-up film presented (of course) by Quentin Tarantino. I say presented by Tarantino; the creation of the film itself is owed largely to The RZA of the former (and still awesome) Wu-Tang Clan. In addition to co-writing and directing the film, the RZA stars in the epic slug-fest itself, serving as the narrator and titular character.

Now I went into this film simply suspending my disbelief. I assumed all the nonsensical elements in the film would simply be loving jabs at the old-school kung-fu and action movies that Tarantino and Roth grew up on. That’s why Russel Crowe’s character has a gun-scissor-knife weapon, or why (and here’s the big thing) the blacksmith in this fictional Chinese village is black. Much to my surprise however, the movie began offering explanations (though not to the gun-scissor-knife). The blacksmith is, in a flashback, shown having grown up on a plantation and receiving his freedom from his dying master. Despite having papers declaring him a free man, he is continually treated as a slave- in one scene he is told by a couple of dandies that there’s no way he can read, and therefore understand what’s written on his documents. The two men crumple up his paper and proceed to slur and shove him until he fights back, inadvertently killing one of them. He flees west, and after his ship is wrecked, finds himself in China.

Now obviously that whole last bit about him running so far he winds up in the far east is obviously just the movie shifting back into fantasy, but what really got me was the depiction of slavery. Not prejudice, not segregation- slavery. When’s the last time you can actually say you saw a film deal with that? Glory in 1989? Some Little House on the Prairie episode sometime in the 70s? It simply isn’t done (and that one episode of The Boondocks doesn’t count).

And that’s what I want to talk about. Our depiction, or lack of depiction, of slavery. For all our grand talk of freedom, liberty, and American “exceptionalism,” we do tend to gloss over the uglier elements of our history, such as Manzanar, Wounded Knee, and perhaps most notably, slavery. It brings up all sorts of uncomfortable, and frankly unresolved conflicts. It throws a dark shadow over all of our self-reported greatness. Nevertheless, we really can’t shove it under the carpet, and it looks like, at long last, it’s starting to all come out.

AMC’s Hell on Wheels takes place during the years following the close of the Civil War, and like The Man with the Iron Fists is one of the few depictions of slavery I’ve ever seen on film or TV. In addition to its frank depiction of slavery, I want to take a moment to give the show some applause for the historical accuracy it had in general, depicting Northern racism towards the ex-slaves, as well as the racism inflicted to (and by) the Irish immigrants- another nasty little thread in American heritage you won’t find in most history books.

Of course, beyond that, there’s the highly anticipated Tarantino film Django Unchained, which we’re all expecting to be jaw-dropping in how good or bad it turns out to be. Unlike the previous two examples, which depicted slavery only briefly, this is a movie set completely in the antebellum South. That’s another hefty jump, though again, how well this is going to be executed is still very much up in air.

Now I’ve been struggling all night to come up with a conclusion for all of this, but I’m really not sure what to say. I can’t say why we’re suddenly interested in a subject we’ve been ignoring for the past century and a half. I can’t quite figure out if this is some little trend or the awakening of some part of our culture that’s been dormant so long we’ve forgotten it. I can’t pinpoint what’s causing this. I can’t tell you where it’s all going. I can tell you, however, where I hope it goes.

I hope this is the beginning of something that might pass for maturity in our culture or our generation. I hope that movies depicting the reality of slavery become a thing. I hope that they open up the doors for the rest of our small-pox-infected, witch-burning, Japanese-interning, waterboarding history. I hope we can actually learn something from all of this once it’s out there, and hey, maybe we can actually get some racial diversity in our movies for a change.

Maybe.

P.S. I haven’t seen Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter or Lincoln yet, so I can’t say how they deal with it in there.