Tag Archives: culture

Race and Violence

It was astounding to see the historian blame the London riots on the “black culture”. That goes to show that anything deviant that does not pertain to the roles mandated by the authorities and high class, ‘white’ society will be blame on the minorities of color. Now that I see why the riots occurred, it is baffling that it is even suggested riots being a consequence of ‘black/urban culture’. They are social issues, not racial ones. This is not limited to London, here in the United States it is extremely visible with how crime is portrayed in the media. White killers are always attached to some mental illness or temporary outrage, while any other race is immediately thought of as “evil” or “influenced by their culture” (poverty, stereotypical ‘urban culture’- for lack of a better term). In the Dominican Republic, Haitians born in the country are not granted citizenship- due to their darker skin tone (there’s a history of discrimination in the country because of racism), human rights organizations are outraged. The treatment of race in the media and the government only adds to the racial profiling of people in all aspects of society.

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(In this tweet by comedian Katt Williams, he clearly differentiates between the handling of crimes in America according to one’s race/ethnicity- stereotypes are powerful if given constant attention).

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Young Latinas Suicide

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I was not surprised at all that Young Latin women were the most likely to attempt suicide. Coming from a Latin family and living in America, I completely understand why my ethnic group is at such high risk. Latinas have two cultures to pick and choose from, but pressured to stay a ‘good’ traditional Latina. Identity is an ever changing part of a Latin girl/woman. Teen pregnancy is rampant in our community, which only adds to the issues affecting these young girls. Sustaining education, cultural clashes, social pressures, and becoming inexperienced mothers either provoke motivation or depression. Even when pregnancy is not an issue, young Latinas wanting to become the independent ‘American’ woman are always pressured to marry and become exemplary wives and mothers. As Talk of the Nation mentions, the high drop out rate and social isolation are also major factors adding to the statistics of ‘most likely to attempt suicide’. I was surprised the LGBT factor was not mentioned in the program, as this is another major difference in who the Latina woman is supposed to be. The conservative methods that Latin parents generally engage in for their daughters are unrealistic to who the Latinas actually are, and the world around them. I completely agree with the perception of not having any role models in the media while growing up, Hispanic television only focused on romantic dramas and family problems. Independence is hard to achieve when a Latina girl is restrained/looked down upon if there’s any deviance from the traditional Latin woman. The gender role expectations can become impossible to manage, causing young girls to look for a way out, even if fatal. Durkheim pointed out social factors causing suicide, and all of the factors affecting young Latinas fall into the social sphere. Young Latinas suicide attempts are indicators of egoistic suicide. It cannot be part of anomie because Latinas actually get too much moral regulation within their cultures.

“Bad Girls,” Behind the Scenes

Below is the music video from M.I.A. that we viewed in class, “Bad Girls,” and further below is a fantastic short film (13 min) on the making of the video, which incidentally happened in Morocco.  As we know, all “societies” have their own gender norms, expectations or standards of “appropriate” behavior for men and for women.  Gender is also expressed symbolically, through signs conveying shared understandings of “male-ness” and “female-ness,” masculinity and femininity.

The actions, gestures, and appearances of men and women in the video scramble traditional gender norms — as well as other cultural stereotypes.  Director, Romain Gavras, explains their approach: “We didn’t want to portray guys versus women…this debate is outdated for a music video.”  Long obsessed with cars and “drift” — “the sport, the physicality of it” — M.I.A. had been looking to incorporate the concept into her work.  “It’s a unifying concept,” according to Gravas, “not something that divides men and women. Each time an Arab woman appears on screen, the audience expects a lecture such as ‘Arab men beat their wives, that’s why they yearn to be free.’ Whereas here, there is no already-given social meaning.”  Drifting, just as popular among Arab youth as American, transcends regional, ethnic and national differences as well.  Gavras explains that “The idea was to compile Arabic references — fantasized or not — into a pop video.  Pop videos usually show American kids in their element. Here, you got Arab kids in an insane car rodeo element.”  So existing symbolic codes around cultural binaries like East-West or Arab-Western are subverted in the same way the Masculine-Feminine binary is.

Here’s are some of the lyrics.  Not typically “feminine.”

Live fast, die young
Bad girls do it well
Live fast, die young
Bad girls do it well (x2)

My chain hits my chest
When I’m bangin’ on the dashboard
My chain hits my chest
When I’m bangin’ on the radio

Get back, get down
Pull me closer if you think you can hang
Hands up, hands tied
Don’t go screaming if I blow you with a bang

Ahh; Suki Zuki
I’m coming in the Cherokee
Gasoline
There’s steam on the window screen

Take it, take it
World’s bouncing like a trampoline
When I get to where I’m going, gonna have you trembling ….

BTW, that’s a girl balanced on top of that car in the still shot below.  The stuntwoman is interviewed in the film.