Terrorism and Racial Profiling

A couple of days ago, ABC World News asked if we should implement racial profiling in response to the attempted attack by the Nigerian terrorist. Of course, this is not the first time that racial profiling has been supported. Many "brilliant"*smirk* minds such as Sarah Palin believe this is a great idea, no doubt because of the effectiveness of the racial profiling of the Japanese during WWII, which caused many to lose their lives and be destitute and resulted in the US paying over a billion dollars in reparations. Also, considering the United States' long history of racial discrimination and genocide, who wouldn't want to return to those happy times again? But besides these obvious reasons for racial profiling, one wonders why it hasn't suggested it before considering the frequent (non-Islamic) attacks that have been planned and implemented before 9/11. I'm not just talking about Columbine, Oklahoma City, and Virgina Tech, but other attacks which, for some reason that I just can't imagine why, the media doesn't like to stress as much as the Islamic extremist attacks. In short, Americans act like this regarding terrorism (yes, hearing those advocates of racial profiling motivated me to draw this. Cute, I know):

Gee, if they are going to start implementing racial profiling, they better target everyone (not just those people).


I am worried because for the first time white people are calling things as racist, and I'm giving a pass. I read this article, which states that Avatar is nothing but a white fantasy about race intended to alleviate their guilt. After reading this, I watched to see for myself. I was blown away. Perhaps it's the sci-fi lover in me or maybe my own philosophies about life distorting my impressions, but I was not rolling my eyes through this film but actually loved it.

A big objection that I hear is that the main character is white. He plays a major role in the resolution of the conflict, and therefore we have the "white man is savior" complex all over again. This year has been overrun with movies like this; however, I do not see this particular movie this way. The white guy, Jake, betrayed and used the Na'vi, and just because he had a heart and fought against his race doesn't make him a savior. He was worng, saw the light, and was redeemed, and there is nothing wrong with that in my mind. I don't like that he was leading the people to battle with the biggest dragon, but in all fareness it wasn't all about him either. The writers did balance the different elements in the story so that it wasn't just the white man's battle. The Na'vi's goddess, Eywa had a substantial part in winning the battle by turning all of the animals against the whites, and Neytiri saves him twice at the end. Another objection is that by having Jake as the main character, the writers are making the story white centered rather than devoting the focus to the aliens. This may be cliche, but it is the writer's prerogative. I see nothing objectionable in it.

After being flooded with movies like the Blindside and Precious, this is one of the most racially honest films this year. Instead of being shown as infallible beacons of light, whites are greedy, lusting creatures who have no sense of what is sacred. They believe in destroying anything and anyone for more money and power. Jake comes into Pandora in with this attitude having no respect for natural life until he meets the Na'vi who teach him differently. Besides a few, most whites see the Na'vi and their world as primitive and worthless, and therefore deride it as such (as we hear them do in real life all the time). However, we learn with Jake that they are more than that as they have their own culture that surpasses the whites' in some areas, and that the whites are barbaric in their own ways as. In short, we learned to appreciate "primitive" societies. This was very refreshing as we are always bombarded with images that "primitives" are just animals, with no brain, mind, or cultures of their own to be respected, and that the "advanced" societies are pure and perfect. A perfect example of this is Star Trek, mostly TNG and later. (Even though I like it, I can point out it's flaws.) Throughout Star Trek, species with greater technology, especially the federation, are portrayed flawlessly. Those who are not as technologically advanced are labeled "inferior species" and "unworthy of assimilation," and basically portrayed in a clumsy, stupid way. We are always left with the impression that species must develop as the federation did, and that is the peak of their perfection. At worse, twice on TNG, Picard let two planets filled with people to die because they had not developed warp drive. Because they were not "advanced" they were are not people, and we can morally justify letting them all die. When you pay attention to the plots of these films and shows, bigotry is evident.

Avatar puts this in reverse. It does not equate technology to true advancement. People can look at the Na'vi without feeling "those are pitiful barbarians in need of a white savior" because they are thriving. They have a society where everyone supports each other and lives in harmony. The idea of destroying the world for wealth as the whites have is deplorable to them. Avatar illuminates that Western culture is not the peak of superiority as it was built on the destruction of life. Contrary to shows like Star Trek, the West has many kinks in its shining armor.

Okay, maybe I may not be entirely fair here. Perhaps I'm giving Avatar too much credit. I watched Avatar with my prejudices and experiences. Someone else may not get this message. However, the life of the Na'vi appealed to me, so for now, this will be a favorite.

The Princess and the Frog

What are they feeding the next generation of sisters? How did Disney treat its first Black princess? I watched the Princess and the Frog yesterday to find out. First I'll address my concerns about the movie and how they were handled, and then I will say what the positive and negative aspects were.

Was the first Black Princess actually Black?
Yes. I was pleased with this. When I first heard of this film, I was worried that African-American girls would be subjected to more colorism by being given a woman's who race was up in the air. Instead, she's clearly black. I'm also happy that they didn't give her long straight hair to her butt like Black barbie dolls have. Tiana has wavy/curly hair, which is a step forward considering how Black girls are portrayed in dolls and cartoons. (Basically, white with a super tan.)

Was this a minstrel show?
No, not really. It didn't come off to me that way, which is rather strange considering that it is set in the deep South. They have a range of stereotypical characters that you would expect and like to forget exist there such as the Southern Bell, Big Daddy, hillbillies, etc. Even so, I did not feel that this show portrayed Blacks negatively, on the contrary in fact. They showed us as hard workers in comparison to others, which is an interesting feat considering where the show was set as I said before.

Was the "Black" princess really green?
Yes, and this was a big disappointment. The movie is approximately 89 minutes, and she turns into a frog at 29 minutes and stays that way until 86 . This definitely makes Disney's triumph over the color barrier less monumental.

Was the prince Black?
No, but that is actually a good thing as you shall see.

What were the good parts?

The princess herself, really. She is unique in that she isn't a damsel in distress waiting for a prince to save her. (If anything, she saves him.) She's a hard worker, and is a good role model because she is adamant about her goals. This is the first Disney movie besides the Lion King that doesn't teach kids that your dreams will come true because you are entitled to them. Finally Disney is telling them they have to work for what they want.

What were the bad aspects?
The film itself was mediocre. It didn't have the magic of its previous films. This isn't good, it isn't bad. It is simply adequate. I don't know if it's because it was set in the U.S. or what, but it didn't feel special, and I felt disinterested. If the princess was just another white one and I wasn't watching to see how Blacks were being portrayed, I wouldn't have watched past the first ten minutes. It's fine if you want a cute movie, but if you want an captivating story, watch the Lion King or Pocahontas.

Secondly, Tiana seems short changed--not only because she's a frog for the whole film but also because her "prince" is a bum. The only thing he cares about is partying, and he's absolutely broke (which is why it's good he wasn't Black. In comparison, the Black man, Tiana's father, is extremely industrious). Since he has no money, his goal is to marry a rich woman so he can squander more money. Instead, he marries Tiana and they open a restaurant together. By the end of the movie the "princess'" life has no royal aspect to it at all. We don't get to see a castle or anything, and she stays in Louisiana. I'm not saying whether this is good or bad--I'm just saying don't expect anything rather princess-like regarding Tiana.

I don't like how Tiana setled for that prince/playboy/bum. Girls do that anyway, we don't need to teach them to do that through their cartoons.

Disney made a decent movie, but their approach to the first Black princess wasn't what I hoped. With the Arab, Native American, Chinese princesses, they made exotic stories by setting them in their own countries or land. There is nothing exotic about Louisiana. I wish she were an African princess instead. Of course, it's not to late, Disney could make an African princess--unless Tiana is just another token and our first princess will be our last.

Africa Is Equal To AIDS

AIDS ˈādz\ noun: 1. the continent of Africa. 2. acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. 3. a disease of the human immune system that is characterized cytologically especially by reduction in the numbers of CD4-bearing helper T cells ....
This morning, I was a bit annoyed because I was thinking about how Americans see Africa as one giant country instead of the diverse continent that truly it is. So, I decide to tweet about the topic, but then to my surprise my tweets were in red. I quickly realized that every tweet that mentions HIV or AIDS today is red on twitter. But why were mine in red, as I didn't mentioned either? Apparently, Twitter thought it was a bright idea to put not only tweets that mentioned AIDS and HIV in read, but those that mentioned Africa too.

The fact that the words "AIDS" and "Africa" are apparently interchangeable was not the only thing that annoyed me today. Most of what I saw about AIDS today was about Africans. It is curious that on World AIDS Day, AIDS is being treated as if it is only a problem that affects and concerns just Africans. Why is it so vital that we stress and make the distinction that AIDS kills mostly Africans when it kills around the world? What point are they trying to make here? I'm feeling the air of condescension coming from this campaign. It is as if they are not only promoting AIDS, but the "white man's" burden as well. I got the same feeling from all of this as I got from this video, which attempts to advocate peacein Africa by showing the Whiteman save the warring savages.

Once gain, Africans are projected in the flat stereotypical light of being helpless, needy, and desperate for the white man's help. In addition to Precious and the Blind Side, it looks like this will be a reoccurring theme for the rest of '09.