"Let me tell you what’s happening to me. I’m on the PTA at my child’s school, the Secondary School of Journalism in Park Slope. I’m currently advocating on behalf of my child, and seventeen other children whose parents don’t speak English. These kids are from Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, everywhere. These kids have all done very well on their Regent’s exams— I’m talking 90/95th percentile. Very smart kids. They were on their way toward qualifying for an Advanced Regents government scholarship,that would give their parents badly needed money to help in their education. But the fine print of that scholarship says the children need three full years of a foreign language.
And the principal at the school FIRED the Spanish teacher. She is not hiring another foreign language teacher for an entire year, effectively disqualifying all these kids from that scholarship they need. When we try to talk with her about it, she acts like she doesn’t owe us an explanation. When we try to call the Board of Education, they tell us to put it in writing. They get us all excited. They have us think if we write a nice letter, and use good grammar, and use all the correct punctuation, something will happen. Meanwhile another year passes, and nothing. And the kids don’t get their scholarship. You know something like this would never happen at a nice Manhattan school like Stuyvesant.
We’ve got a new mayor and a new chancellor. So we aren’t blaming them. But they need to know how impossible they’ve made it to help our kids. Trying to get something fixed in these schools is like praying to some false God. You call and email hoping that God is listening, and nothing happens. Meanwhile the kids suffer. All these parents that I’m representing are good, simple people. They say: ‘Don’t worry Annette, God is going to fix it. God will make it right.’ I love them. And I love God. But I tell them: ‘God won’t fix it! We’ve got to fix it!’”
"I’m not too emotional of a guy. People say I have a good heart, but they’re wrong. I have principles. The heart is a fickle thing. There’s no way I can love everybody. So I’m not even going to try. But I can respect everyone whether I love them or not. And that I try to do."
How interesting that among the equipment and supplies pioneering polar explorer Ernest Shackleton took on his historic 1914 expedition – now illustrated – is a bicycle!
Peggy Hoyt, 1938
The Meadow Brook Hall Historic Costume Collection
"Wild Concrete is a photographic series focusing on a very singular phenomenon happening in Hong Kong. Usually wherever human beings are thriving, they always try to keep in control of their direct environment. But in this bustling city, trees can grow impressively on residential buildings. They are the proof that our control is not ever-lasting and they show us how this very loss of control can bring true beauty. Wild Concrete is about nature taking back, it is a demonstration of the tenacity of life in our urban environment."
Sooooo, I don’t know if you knew this but Disney made a movie a while back based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen. Here’s a link to the original 1845 text. This tale was written in Denmark, but does not necessarily take place there.
To be honest you seem kind of exasperated and I don’t really get why.
I’m not sure what kind of answer you’re expecting. I can’t provide you with some kind of comprehensive list of every single cultural concept you should avoid in order to somehow avoid future discomfort when someone who actually belongs to that culture confronts you over your use or misuse of aspects of their culture. I don’t belong to every culture in the world and can’t speak for anyone else. I’m not a broker or ambassador for anyone else, and the authority to designate what is and isn’t harmful to others is not vested in me.
All it really takes is doing the same thing MOST writers, artists and creative people do: research. dialogue. basic human consideration. understanding of how society works, and behaving respectfully towards others.
If someone says, “Hey! Don’t do that, it’s harmful to me” then stop doing it. There are some people whose cultures, religions, or races have been so badly misrepresented, they prefer no one who does not belong to their culture write about them at all, ever. Respect that.
The problem here is that you want an easy answer, someone to tell you what to do and how to behave, and I can’t do that. People who belong to the same culture often disagree about this topic, too. “culture” isn’t monolithic. Do YOU agree on everything with everyone you are perceived to share a culture with? Of course not. “Western”/eurocentric cultures don’t have a monopoly on human individuality.
The bottom line is, we all have to share a messed up world with each other, and the discomfort of easing that burden is also unevenly distributed. Some people are encouraged by society to railroad over other people’s lives and truths, and then go on to produce media which in turn trains and reinforces the idea the some people are entitled to railroad over other people. You can either reinforce it or go against it.
And everyone has to deal with that. Some people deal with that by feeling entitled to be comfortable all the time, and would rather trigger the oppressive systems that are already in place to easily silence those who are being harmed by having their race or culture misrepresented in the media. Others deal with it by aggressively defending their own character or repeating “I’m a good person, so everything I DO is good, therefore this is okay”.
Or, you could deal with it by being uncomfortable for a few minutes, owning up to the fact that you harmed someone, or MANY people, apologize, and just flipping deal with it.
If you’re looking for some kind of preventative medicine, listening is probably a good start, instead of reacting or demanding.
For those who think “But you really expect me to think about how my words and actions might affect every person of color in the world???” Well.
Consider I was just basically asked to speak for every person of color in the world. Like I said, why don’t we spread that burden around a little bit.
Nobody said fixing this mess would be easy.
Now you, too, can be a contestant on Jeopardy.
Phyllis Wheatley was born around 1753 in the Gambia. In 1761 she was captured and sold as a slave in Boston, Massachusetts. Wheatley’s masters realized her intelligence and taught her to read and write in English. Phyllis learned quickly and…