Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Post 14: A Farewell to West

Well this is it… the end of reading Cornel West’s Race Matters for my Comm 300 class. I have to say that this book was definitely the more enjoyable of the two that we have been assigned thus far. I really enjoyed West’s epilogue. It was a good summarizing of the entire book and as he said “… a candid examination of race matters takes us to the core of the crisis of American democracy. And the degree to which race matters n the plight and predicament of fellow citizens is a crucial measure of whether we can keep alive the best of this democratic experiment we call America.” .(West 156)

I enjoyed how his hope for this book would help revitalize the race issue that plagues America and it left a lasting impression. He said that in regards to this “experiment” known as America we are now seeking overnight solutions and are hungry for change to the issues not facing just blacks, but most races in America as well as the minorities that live in this country such as the Homosexual Community… but how can we find quick solutions to a fundamental issue this country has been ignoring and neglecting for 188 years out of the 233 years we have been a country? He feels that we are very late in trying to make up for lost time… and its nearly too late but NOT too late!

I will end with this excerpt from West:

“In these downbeat times, we need as much hope and courage as we do vision and analysis; we must accent the best of each other even as we point out the vicious effects of our racial divide and the pernicious consequences of our misdistribution of wealth and power. We simply cannot enter the twenty-first century at each other’s throats, even as we acknowledge the weighty forces of racism, patriarchy, economic inequity, homophobia, and ecological abuse on our necks. Do we have the intelligence, humor, imagination, courage, tolerance, love, respect, and will to meet the challenge? Time will tell. None of us alone can save the nation or world. But each of us can make a positive difference if we commit ourselves to do so.” (West 159)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Post 13: Chris Rock

Okay this will be a short blog (I think) but I HAVE to get it off my chest. So I was having a conversation with someone recently, and won’t mention names (even though I am VERY tempted so that people will look them up and give them a hard time… then again people probably don’t care about my blog that much anyways haha). So we were watching Comedy Central and watching some random comedian (who happened to be black) and the conversation came up about whom some of our favorite comedians were. I mentioned Bill Cosby and Chris Rock (I have always found them funny), and sure enough this opened the door to the lovely conversation that was bound to come up with this particular. You know the one I am talking about most likely… because this is not the first time it has come up in my presence:
It’s the whole sketch of when Chris Rock says that there are two types of black people: there are black people and there are niggers, and how the nigger have “got to go”. And this person actually USES this to their advantage of racism! They claim that if he, a black person, can say it why can’t they? Not only that but they agree with everything Chris Rock says and start talking about stories of poor black people living around them that do things like this and blah blah blah. They make no reservation what-so-ever in holding in their opinion because of their stereotypes of African Americans.

How God damn ignorant could someone be?!?! Isn’t this type of shameless fucking ignorance and hateful discontent the kind that should have belonged back in the Civil War??? I just don’t understand how something like this could still be around…

And I don’t know how I should feel about Chris Rock. Is he doing his race a service by talking like that? It’s almost like he is trying to spread the racism around and place it on certain types of his own race… like there is a Civil War within his own culture (his comment about him wanting to joining the KKK so he could do a drive by from here to Brooklyn comes to mind). It’s disconcerting to think that instead of banding together to FIGHT the problems they face as a culture and community there are people waging war within the ranks, so-to-speak, causing what I think could be a greater problem. This reminds me of Malcolm X a little from the chapter we recently read in West’s book Race Matters… would he commend Chris Rock on pointing out the deviants of their race or would he bring Chris down saying that his anger is targeted in the wrong place. Considering that Malcolm made a distinction between “house negroes” and “field negroes” I am thinking he would actually agree with Rock’s ideas… but that may be a wild idea and I have begun to start rambling.

I don’t know… it just makes me sick (my friends opinions mainly). So in light of that nausea in my stomach AND I needed a topic to talk about in my Blog I figured why not put two and two together and make a counseling session out of my homework. Sorry everyone! haha

Friday, September 25, 2009

Post 12: Topic oh topic...

Well the semester is officially 1/4 done already with the close of this Friday. Since this is rapidly approaching we have been discussing our ideas and thoughts about a good final paper topic to write about that discussed themes and topics within the Comm 300 class I am taking. Since it deals a lot with racial topics, minorities, etc on television I thought of two programs right away to possible discuss: Lost or South Park

With Lost its unique (and most likely the topic choice I will go with) where the creators use peoples prejudices and stereotypes against them, making them assume one thing but it is revealed that it’s something totally different. A minor example of this would be a black character named Rose had a husband that was thought to be killed in the plane crash. The over-all assumption was that her husband was black since she was, until you find out that he is not only alive but is white. I remember going on the Lost forums and seeing it EXPLODE with shock over this "revelation" like it was a totally alien idea! Quite interesting. And South Park I think is self explanatory. It deals with so many topics of race, religion, and cultural/sexual minorities that it would be the perfect candidate for writing my paper.

I do think I am leaning more towards the Lost topic however since it’s a very hot show right now, many people watch it (especially this upcoming season since it is the last one), and its influence is felt strongly in the television world. That alone makes me want to discuss it more since its exposure is so vast. But time shall tell what my final decision will be.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Post 11: U2

I attended the U2 360 degree Tour last night at the Gillette Stadium. I will be honest I am not an avid U2 follower but I have always heard they put on amazing shows so I figured why not and go. What I was treated with was excellent music, a decent (yet overly pushy) crowd, but more importantly there was something in particular in the show that I found amazing. It dealt with their “Free Burma” piece in which the leader of Burma has been held under house arrest for the 20+ years of her presidency. She fights for the freedom of her people and country, and I wouldn’t have known about the issue if it had not been for U2 and their message (along with their typical support) of Amnesty International, Greenpeace through to DATA, ONE, (Product (RED) and the Chernobyl Childrens Project. ( more information can be found here: http://www.u2.com/heartsandminds/ ). Their message and song was so powerful that it took even the most pushy and belligerent person, and reduced them to tears and contemplation.

After some research of these programs they support, I came to realize that through the many layers of media (television, internet, radio, podcasts, music, videos, interviews, Apple, etc) they have preached their peace-laced message of love and acceptance so much over the past decade that I felt really inspired to write about it and give credit where it is due.

U2: Thank you for helping open my eyes just a little wider, to see what is happening around the world that I would otherwise be ignorant of. Your message last night was well received.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Post 10: Charlie can do no Wrong

Its amazing the length people will go to laugh. The sad part is I find myself laughing at what I am offended at sometimes and it makes me wonder if my media literacy "third eye" so-to-speal is as fine tuned as I had hoped. All of this is coming from watching the television show Two and a Half Men. I tend to see it for what it is, stupid trash humor that essentially idolizes Charlie Sheen and more specifically his habits with women (which is through that filter that I find the humor). He can do no wrong. He is a "god" within the world of his own tv show where even the most sophisticated woman is changed/converted from a charming sex-driven Charlie. Its no secret in the real world, Charlie's way with women is legendary... and not in a good way. Of course he play upon that in this show but in the process seriously stereotypes women, their intelligence, and the use of their bodies rather than their brains to succeed in life. If young women or even kids were to watch this show God help them from what they would learn from it.

I think its fair to say that women are certainly making striving progress in the work place. In fact an article in the New York times two weeks ago officially posted that women hold more jobs in American than men do for the first time ever in the history of our country! But I know that they are under constant attack in terms of stereotypes, sexual harassment, and belittled of their gifts, abilities, talents, and intelligence. Two and a Half Men further brings women down in this regard and I wonder if women will ever be truly free of the sex symboled, stereotypical bonds that society places them in. With shows like this, it makes me wonder.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Post 9: Turnabout is Fair Play

Okay so I admit that I am a HUGE fan of South Park. At first it started as gross humor but it quickly started incorporating current events and political satyr to make statements about our society and how we, as Americans, do things. So today (in fact 5 minutes ago) was watching a re-run while having lunch and the Red Man's Greed episode was playing. To watch the episode I am Blogging about click this link and enjoy: http://www.southparkstudios.com/episodes/103915

It essentially deals with the Native Americans wanting to force South Park from their homes to build a super highway to their Casino to make more money. They do this, obviously, while punning the stereotypical jokes nonstop and also constantly correcting themselves by instead of saying "Indian" saying "Native American". It is like salt to the wound portraying the ignorance of the American people (As Trey Parker and Matt Stone often do). I find the episode to be immensely hilarious because of Parker and Stone's constant reminder of how ignorant the American people are of cultures, ways of life, and ultimately show it in this episode by a reversal of the situation that the Native's of what we now call America suffered at our hands. I am optimistic that most people would recognize the (what I consider) blatant satyr about the subject matter... but I can't help bu think there are probably many people who actually agree with the stereotypes. God I hope not...

I thought it might be something wroth while to bring to the "Blogging Table" and let people comment on it if they feel so inclined.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Post 8: Finding Forrester

I just wanted to take a moment to post a somewhat relaxing and reflecting Blog on a great movie I have recently seen (again); Finding Forrester.

To those who haven't seen it, its a great story about a 16 year old black student named Jamal who struggles to find acceptance with his friends and school mates (both in his old and new school) while keeping a secret that he is too embarrassed to reveal: he is a genius writer.

Sean Connery plays a reclusive white ex Pulitzer Prize novelist who takes an interest in Jamal (through a series of circumstances that bring them together) and he helps Jamal grow, strengthen, and fine tune his writing skills. I have always found this a heart warming tale and there are moments when old school White meets new age Black and the two collide and come up with very satisfying and often funny results, all of which bring the two closer together than either thought possible.

Since we are on the topic of race, equality, and the medium is television/movies I found this to be a very pleasing film and enjoyed it very much and thought that it touches on many of the areas that we are looking at in my Comm 300 class

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Post 7: Will the Death of Television be the future for proper Racial/Cultural Representation?

I am taking an interesting class this semester which deals with Communication in Mass Society and one of the biggest changes to this whole concept is the Internet. Before, television was the main form of media, being able to broadcast into millions of peoples homes across the world. Marshall McLuhan's idea of the "Global Village" had ultimately become a reality. But this class has taken it a bit further with our first assignment: locate three articles that explains how the Internet has changed the media.

Last years Media Literacy class coupled with this class has produced very interesting results and it cannot be denied that the internet (despite how new the technology is for the mass market) has become a dominating factor in the world. Who needs a television when people can stream content directly to their laptops, desktops, and even televisions (go to http://www.onlive.com/ to see the future of video gaming, video watching, and computer programming thanks to the power of streaming internet).

So the question is fresh in my mind: is Television dying? Will it eventually become like what the newspapers are facing these days and fade out within the next 50 years? If this is the case two very interesting things pop into my mind that would improve representation of cultures and races that we view:

1. There is no limits to how the internet can broadcast its content.
2. There will no longer be "filters" in place that hinders the type of content to be broadcasted

The internet is extremely difficult to control, so I contend that the major media conglomerates that control the worlds media (such as Viacom and Disney) will not be able to seize control of the internet traffic therefore making it possible for anyone to broadcast their content without those conglomerates able to force them to filter their content. The possibility for PROPER racial and cultural representation will become a bigger reality! I believe that in the future, internet sitcoms, internet series, etc will become the future of broadcasting. Its already happening!

So are we living in the age where television will be passing on? When I am in my 90's will I be watching my favorite news, programs, and playing my favorite games all exclusively through my 60" internet television? I can't wait to find out

Friday, September 11, 2009

Post 6: Never Forget

So far the news has been filled with media in regards to the terrorist attack on 9/11 honoring the memory of the people lost and offering the support to those families having to live through this particularly painful anniversary. It’s hard to believe that it has eight years since the attack. I remember where I was when it happened. I was at my college in PA (not far from where the United Flight 93 plane was brought down before it could reach its destination) The feeling of uncertainty, fear, and panic gripped the nation.

Something else happened however that flooded the country. The idea and feeling of Patriotism and Unity. When I reflect back to those days, people that hated other people on my campus actually hugged each other. Love, sympathy, and a genuine desire to support others flowed through my campus like a tidal wave. It was amazing to see. I knew it was a Nationwide feeling, due to the media being portrayed. Of course there was the typical Bush “battle cry” to take up arms and fight the “Evil doers” , but for that first 3-5 months you couldn’t flip through a channel without companies making commercials strictly focused on trying to help calm a Nation and reflect on those lost. Of course I am not na├»ve to think that it wasn’t a choice rooted in wanting to make money, but at a time like that who is thinking about it when every human being was reaching out to be comforted?

It took a disaster like 9/11 to bring our Country together. Black, White, Yellow, Brown… it didn’t matter who you were… compassion finally brought our Nation together and sympathy from other countries was expressed constantly.

Today I remember 9/11. I honor the dead. I respect and support the families affected. And I remember that even in the darkest times, we still have the spirit in our hearts to be united so that trivial things such as race and skin color mean nothing compared to the human heart.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Post 5: You're a Liar!!!!

So last night was the big speech Obama made about the Health Care Reform. It was a speech that was very interesting, outlined a lot of what the plan would do and not do. Of course it’s a heated debate over the entire country from people who crave change to those who are so set against it they have made it their political goal to speak against it. Obviously this is no light matter. The truth of it is that this country hasn’t had a true health care reform in a hundred years! And now its finally catching up to us. We are the only Democratic country who pays the amount of money we do (which is more than almost all other democratic countries heal care systems COMBINED) but we still don’t have good health coverage! Change can be scary, but the end result of our current health care system is even scarier.

In any case what I was most shocked about during this whole thing was what happened during the speech. I was texting with a friend during the speech and we were commenting on it throughout. This person, I should add, is against Obama and his administration so it was an interesting (and civil) debate over the phone between us and as a side note… this person isn’t very political at all and doesn’t really understand it much. In other words, very ignorant… like a person entering a fight just because it’s a fight, without looking at WHY the fight is taking places. Anyways at one point during the speech while Obama was addressing how the new health care plan would NOT support the illegal immigrants living in the country, a Republican stood up and shouted “You are a liar!!!!” interrupting Obama and making him pause and stare them down. Suddenly a got a text:

“Yes! That was awesome!”

I replied “How is that awesome? It shows disrespect and ignorance. I don’t care if it’s a Repub or Demo talking, let them talk”

“Yes that’s true but God it drives me crazy that people applaud Obama! The only reason he gets applauded is that because he is black and has a history of speaking well, like King Jr”

I was shocked that this person would even MENTION the fact that Obama is black so I prodded them to continue, “So wait, it’s important that he is Black that everyone is listening to him?”

“Important?? It’s the REASON he is in office! People that voted for him did it because they wanted to make history. Whites wanted to apologize and give a Black a chance, the Blacks wanted to get their own person in office to make history, and the others that voted did so because they honestly didn’t know any better.”

I was shocked by all of this. It’s amazing to me that this kind of thinking actually exists, and at the very least in the north. I know racial tensions are always very high in the south but I thought the northern parts of the country were at the very least more progressive. To see my friend say that was astonishing to me and I thought would make available for comments on what others felt. Do other people feel Obama was elected for history-making purposes due to his color? Was he elected because he stood for something that this country believed and needed? Was he elected because there just wasn’t any other good choice to make between him or McCain?

I know I voted him in because the time for change had to be now and I liked the change he was proposing. His message, his politics, his attitude, his desire for unity… all of it made me think about a country that was whole again and not tattered after the Bush administration.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Post 4: Can I re-roll my race/culture please?

So I am in the middle of reading Week 2’s assignments for Comm 300 and in the book Watching Race, Gray was talking about how Reagan and the media of that time was so manipulative towards other races and cultures (primarily Blacks) in chapter 2. It slowly started to get me depressed, upset, angered, and disgusted with myself. It’s very hard for me to read the things that took place through the eyes of African American’s (and other cultures) but remember it as being one of the best times in American history all because of my skin and class role during that time. There are times when I just look up at the sky and say “God, if you’re there… is it too late to change the color and heritage of myself? Do I really have to share the history of so many that caused so much pain, destruction, anger, hate, and death?” I know it’s silly but it’s how I am feeling right now and on the forefront of my mind. I do appreciate the valuable lessons of learning these perspectives however. In the beginning of these posts I struggled with the idea of how to make a positive change in the world through the use of cameras and the media… well here is a great start. To face the facts of the past, see the uses and results of the present media, and help shape the future with a more positive result. I just hope that it’s not too little too late…

Monday, September 7, 2009

Post 3: District 9... not as far fetched as one might think

So in the "spirit" of racism and segregation I decided to comment on a recent film my girlfriend and I decided to see, the widely praised film District 9.
I will say right away, I thought this movie was absolutely fantastic. It wasn't because of the unique story, the incredible special FX, or the rather interesting ways they managed to expose you to bloody gory deaths. Its the fact that the story is EXTREMELY believable! If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it, but I am also going to vaguely explain the plot and how it applied to racism. So...

SPOILER ALERT!!!

The theme of the story is that a group of alien refugees manage to escape from their own planet and drift their way to our own world. It has taken them 1.5 years to get here. They settle the massive mother-ship over the city of Johannesburg, South Africa but the doors to the ship never open. It just hovers and the world watches with held breath wondering why they have come. Most are scared, some are optimistic, but ALL are confused. Human beings become united about a decision and all agree that we should open the doors and see what is going on. The event is televised around the world as humans helicopter up to the ship, cut it open, and are horrified that the aliens ARE there and they are extremely starved, malnourished, and on the brink of death.

Over the course of the next few years human-kind again unites to nurse the aliens back to health, to take care of them, and to try to arrange an area for them to live in peace (called District 9) but tensions slowly begin to rise. The aliens demand rights, take a toll on money and medical supplies, and their ways are not like ours. People soon begin to get upset seeing the aliens as a constant drain on resources that could be used in other part of the world, odd looking, socially awkward, refusing to speak any language but their own, and a general nuisance. District 9 quickly becomes a run down, slum-like, refugee area where the aliens are left to rummage through trash and garbage for food and shelter, are not allowed to reproduce (any spawning eggs that are found are immediately torched and babies are killed on site), they are not allowed to own any weapons to protect themselves at any time (and if they are found owning weapons they are either killed or shipped away to be put under the needle and knife as experiments for humans to gain knowledge about them and their unique weapon systems), etc.

That is where I will stop explaining the movie because the actual story that follows the main characters are not entirely dependent on my points I would like to make. But all of the description above is extremely reminiscent to the ideas of World War II and the Nazi Concentration Camps or the segregation of a race because of differences and ignorance. The idea that this could happen, even to the people of an amazing discovery (that we are not alone in the universe) is a very frightening and very real look on human-kind and a bold political statement that we are a hateful species.

Does that define us? Or are we more than the sum of our agonizing, racist, hate-filled, power hungry, war-like past? I love how a science fiction story can ask these questions and do it in such a powerful way that we reflect and wonder if we can change the world one heart at a time.

That’s where change begins.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Post 2: Don't Touch that, Retard!!

This is Post 2 for Comm 300 but also a personal reflection on a day I will never forget...

So as some of you might already know (and those who don't are about to find out), I work as an advocate for adults with mental disabilities. I make sure that they are treated fairly, with respect, dignity, to live responsible and as independent as possible as well as being a contributing member of our society. Its a very satisfying job, one that takes a high degree of patience, and a lot of the time. Some of them are survivors of the old ways where they were locked up in government or state facilities and treated as less than human. But now we live in a day and age where they have just as many (if not more) Rights than everyone else and are a minority group (in my opinion) in the world.

Due to the sensitivity and nature of this situation I am about to explain, I will be vague enough to protect the individuals yet convey the power of the message. I took one of these individuals that I advocate for out for personal time out in the community. They often enjoy going out and being active in the community. So on the way back from an outing I decided to stop by a convenient store to pick up a few items. The resident that I advocate for was simply browsing through magazines, looking at the covers, and reading them to himself (he is very literate for his disability and derives IMMENSE pleasure from reading and looking at the pictures) as I shopped. We frequent this store since the residents home is about 7 minutes away, so the store owners are used to us (as well as other in our program) stopping there and giving them our business. This particular day however someone new worked there and it ended up being a very difficult situation.

The store employee saw my resident handling the magazines and reading them while waiting for me and the resident dropped the magazine by mistake. Immediately the employee shouted at the resident.

"Hey! Hey don't touch that!"

I quickly, instinctively, and protectively looked up and watched/listened at the store employee as they made their way towards the resident saying the same thing.

"I said don't touch that!" as they turned to another store employee following behind them and adding the comment "... these damn retards..." low enough for other people (except me) to hear... but clearly loud enough for the resident to hear.

To make a long story short I got the individuals name, reported him to our organization, filled out a incident sheet, and allowed legal matters to take over.

I mention this in my post because I witnessed the unfair treatment and abuse personally, of a minority living in our country. But it hurt more than things I had read and watched in our class material so far... because these individuals have almost no protection of themselves. If they didn't have people like myself there to watch and help... who would observe their rights? Who would stand up for them in a world that treats helpless individuals like that??

At the end of the day I couldn't help myself... I saw the scene replay in my mind... the face of the accusing store employee... and the face of the resident I advocate for (knowing full well the derogatory meaning of "retard" considering their literate background) and I let myself softly cry for a few moments in privacy.

Now more than ever its apparent how people like myself, and others who have the conscience to do so, need to change this world for the better of those who have no voices or are misrepresented and sadly still mistreated. I am hoping that this class course will further help me appreciate minorities struggles and allow me the knowledge and understanding to help them accomplish what they struggle to preserve and protect.

An emotional day, a hard day, and eye opening day that will be engraved into my mind forever.

Friday, September 4, 2009

ARGH!!! Let me off this emotional rollercoaster PLEASE!!

So this week has been met with massive frustrations in regards to my school. Granted classes have gone smoothly but my constant butting heads with the IT department has taken it toll as I have tried to get my Black Board account ready. Not to mention a professor that (at first I was angry at but now sad has left us), Amanda Brozana, that had its toll as well.

But FINALLY after a long week of fighting my Black Board account is active and thus begins the mad crazy dash of catching up in my Comm 300-W01 class to be sure everything is submitted today! *deep breath*

Now that I have time to reflect (which I have been doing since answering the Discussion Board questions/comments) I kinda feel like an emotional loss has been hanging over my head. It mainly had to do with the readings and videos required by the Comm 300 class that got me a bit down and depressed. It dealt with the Negro nation/community and how after so much fighting for their rights they are still being misrepresented and their culture is being raped of its values and heritage. Are we, as an America society still so racist? Are we still so God damn divided?? In a day an age where anything is possible.. how is it that we are still so full of hate and anger? A friend and fellow classmate, Liza, brought up a good point too: its not just the Negro community... its other cultures, other races, other sexual preferences, etc that are under attack from an American society.

I hate feeling this way... and the only hope I have is that I can take what little optimism I have and apply it for the good of the world. I guess the hardest part about this is the question HOW CAN I DO IT? I mean I am the average white middle class male... right away I fall into the category of leaders of the worlds nations that have taken these cultures and people and bashed them mercilessly. I already feel a bit... ill equipped. But I know my heart, my conscience, and ideals are better than that and with the proper knowledge I can make a difference.

Let time tell, and my actions judge me!

*Battle Cry!!!!!!*