My best friend LaMecca and I have very different hair. This is not at all surprising, considering I am of Chinese descent and she is of German and African-American descent. I did not understand, however, what “different” meant in the context of hair until we became roommates during our senior year of high school.
Last week, the Stripes covered the Black History Month Closing Gala, which closed out a month of BHM programming with one final celebration. We sat down with a few attendees to hear their thoughts on BHM, recent engagement efforts in the black community, and the road ahead.
In high school I worked at the local Santa Cruz County Immigration Center in Watsonville, California, an agricultural town inhabited largely by Mexican immigrants and their descendants. One service we offered was assisting clients in filling out immigration paperwork, as the majority of them did not speak English and a number of them could not read or write, even in their native language. A peculiarity that stood out to me was how, when filling out the race and ethnicity section, we instructed all our clients to check Hispanic for ethnicity and white for race. Clients were periodically confused at the race box: why did they check white when in the United States they were constantly made aware of their non-whiteness?
Lupita Nyong’o. The name of the Kenyan-born actress is on everybody’s lips after she won a well-deserved Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress last night. Nyong’o plays the physically and verbally abused slave Patsey in Twelve Years A Slave, and her acceptance speech reflected the grace, intelligence, and humility that she has demonstrated throughout the awards season. Her performance as Patsey is gripping and formidable, one that leaves you still reeling as you leave the theater. Continue reading
In our education system, students are not given an appropriate education in history. When they learn American history, much of the semester or year is spent learning about wars, presidents, and economic failure. They get a few days at the beginning of the course learning about the different Native American cultures and history, and about a week (or less) focusing on the Civil Rights Movement. Then the curriculum goes right back to “American” History. Continue reading
I was not surprised when I learned that Michael Dunn hadn’t been charged with first-degree murder. He may have racked up a lifetime in prison, but the jurors refused to attribute any of that time to the murder of Jordan Davis. After all, it was just last year that a jury acquitted George Zimmermann of Trayvon Martin’s murder. And that wasn’t surprising because prior to the Martin incident, black men had been consistent and deliberate targets of violence for hundreds of years in this country. Continue reading
In recognition of Black History month, The Stripes has decided to now publish another Round Table discussion we recently hosted, one which sought to address the differences and divides between the community of recently immigrated African-Americans and the community of blacks who are historically (for multiple generations) American. For the discussion, we invited a range of participants, including those from each of the aforementioned communities, and also those who were removed from both of those communities (for example, the president of Princeton’s African Student group, who happens to be a white female).
In my opinion, one of the cruelest things you can do to a modern, western, black individual is inquire into his or her ancestral background.
In America, people are rarely so insensitive, given their general knowledge of colonial history, but this frequently happens to me when I go abroad. And, quite frankly, it sucks. The inquiry almost always arises out of friendly intention and general curiosity, which is obvious when the questioner’s face lights up in a smile.
“So where are you from?”
During a long drive with my friend Jamal to New York, our conversation led to a discussion he had recently had with our friend Maria. He was recounting a debate he had with her over immigration, explaining that he was frustrated by her manner of expression. He felt that she had shut him out when she raised her voice, displayed no intention of really listening to him, and expressed too much emotion during their discussion. Surprised, I told him I had no idea what he was referring to but instead was reminded of the agreeable discussions I’ve had with her in the past. In time, we moved on to another topic, but the brief conversation lingered in the back of my mind. Continue reading