Saturday evening musings from Chile.
“Sal! We spend much money up in here. ” (Buggin’ Out, Do The Right Thing, 1989)
Walking home one night last week I looked up to see all of the movies that were playing at the local World Cinema near our neighborhood mall. Now, I had been observing the types of movies that were being shown there since last September 2013. At first, I was very encouraged to see that US films were also being shown here in Talca, Chile. But I also began to realize that very few films feature Black people as particular subjects in the films shown here at the Cine Mundo. I do however, distinctly remember seeing Marlon Wayans in one of the marquee advertisements last fall, but I am not for sure if what movie was, not a regular movie goer (cause I’m a grad student = no life) perhaps, Scary Movie 15 or 100? lol I’m just kidding.
I began to think about the international export of North American images and movies representing persons living the “Black-Life” in the US; and how such images are very rarely seen here in Talca. Nevertheless, it is not at all uncommon to hear the songs of Black musical artist blaring either in my own campus office or as I pass by a local Discoteca (yes, they are still called Disco Techs) only to hear Pharrell’s “Happy” song or some other soulful tune from a Black artist. It is in times like these that I am grateful for the internet, because it allows people from other cultures to get more unfiltered views of people from around the world. If left to the whims of free-enterprise, most international image makers if left unchecked will promote racial stereotypes and representations that some of the more “unconscious” and anti-diversity power brokers in Hollywood seems all too willing to promote. Movies like, The Butler, and Twelve Years a Slave, are far more cherished as the gold standard of successful black films (images), making movie executives very rich.
Far too many people fail to realize that Black life, African life, did not begin in slavery. Standards of excellence have remained deeply embedded in the ethos of African and African diaspora peoples whether they be in North, Central, or South America. Deficit models, representative of Black peoples, look to position the community of African Americans to simply be satisfied with “crumbs”. These often clandestine efforts tries to pigeon-hole Blacks into a mold that suggests a person’s desire to be one of the most preeminent Astrophysicists in the world (i.e., Neil deGrasse Tyson) is ludicris (not the song artist). These are the voices of an imaginary “post-racial” society that simply no longer wants to deal with the hard work and complexity required for deliberative discussion of racial politics.
Moreover, a single-mom looking to return to university study so as to obtain a PhD, after having raised an awesome daughter who is now a lawyer and young Black woman making her own way and socially conscious mark upon the world is an anomaly. Maybe it is. All of the fore mentioned challenges were faced by a woman who lost a great paying job, beautiful home, and for a short time a since of personal dignity. Even more so, that woman is an older adult learner from a working-class African-Indigenous American family heritage, and wanting to study civic engagement in another country. That required she learn another language and live in a totally new foreign cultural context. Top that off with needing to apply a futurist theoretical framework that incorporates the sometimes controversial science of Memetics alongside Spiral Dynamic Theory, and Multiple Intelligences theory being the cherry on top. And finally, this woman is creating this nutty-sprinkled concoction of sweet deliciousness as a mixed methods dissertation study… Whew!!
But, I love it nonetheless!!
I am glad for new knowledge and technology in the form of internet blogging which allows me access to communicate my experience to the world. Thanks to God and new media, I don’t have to wait for any Hollywood executives to find my story and others like mine worthy of international marketing appeal. Now, the challenge for me is to increase my WordPress readership. Hah hah. Alas, one step at a time Candidata al doctorado.
It’s starting to get chilly in Chile! 🙂
Oh, I forgot to mention to all my friends, and family back at home in Ohio, who I teased when I arrived here in early March to 70 and 80 degree weather… things have changed. As I mentioned on Facebook, the seasons run opposite here in Chile when compared to the United States. As you all are now entering spring and summer, we here in Chile are approaching fall and winter seasons. It was so funny seeing all of the Chileans here in Talca, walking around with their winter coats, hoods, and scarfs on today. While I strolled to campus in Zumba exercise pants and a sweater. I’m from the Mid-West and this Mediterranean weather don’t scare me. Waz up cold?!! Nah, I jest. It gets really cold here at night, Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!! Time to bust out the sweaters family.