Thursday, January 20, 2011

"On Being a Mexican American"

     In Jose Mendoza's short essay describing his Hispanic childhood and then his Americanized adulthood, some interesting points are brought up that resonate with me. The author tells of his transition from a person engulfed in his ancestor's native culture to a man who has set these traditions aside for new ones. I hypothesize that when he became "anglocized", he truly became an American who now embraced this lifestyle. I feel that to be a bona-fide  American, a person cannot have culture. America contains such an enormous spectrum of people and backgrounds that a pronounced identity isn't evident to me. In this regard, I would be an American because my European roots have been all but suppressed in preceding generations. Maybe this fact is why my family is so extremely open to new experiences and especially new foods. In fact, we fervently seek out culture via restaurants and traveling. 
     In my view, most immigrants come to the United States to obtain a better life, more prosperity or safety in our tolerant land. However, they aren't willing to turn away from their culture to become American; they only seek solace and opportunity. With Mendoza, his ancestral identity was still "Mexican" for the initial years of his life but they appeared to reside in an only Mexican neighborhood. Therefore, they only left the geographic vicinity of Mexico, not the cultural vicinity. So these people retained their culture and were only pseudo-Americans. However, this isn't a bad thing because everyone who lacks culture wants it but I believe that it is a sacrifice to be apart of a culture-less nation. 

Thursday, January 13, 2011

King still KING?

     Without a doubt, the words and actions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are absolutely still prevalent and relevant in today's society. However, now, his cause in the United States isn't as large and significant of a problem within most current communities. King did also preach about acting against injustice which he believed was a extraordinary moral obligation of those who witness it. Nowadays, if a law is passed and viewed as a transgression against the people's rights, there will definitely be an uproar of grievances, leading to fervent protests by the opposition and by proponents such as the outlawing of guns in certain areas and the refusal to marry homosexual couples. However, in my opinion, King's most relevant teaching is that if a person witnesses injustice, they must act to help to bring justice to those who practice it. I feel that those who observe such an act and do nothing about it are as guilty as those who committed the act which is a slightly altered version of Martin Luther King Jr.'s opinion. Allowing these events to take place, in the long run, condones them and it will be continued to be so until someone makes a move to stop it, like Dr. King and the thousands of others who fought or are fighting for equality on all levels internationally. Injustice will always be present so long as privileges are in place for a certain group and to counter this inequality, people should take the initiative to make sure they don't get away with it. In the words of MLK: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Children of Seattle

     The downfall of civilizations is always of vital importance when analyzing history. The multiple despotic regimes of Haiti and the numerous invasive Americans of European descent contribute to the dissolving of innocence and to the presence of death in the regions they inhabit. In Edwidge Danticat's narrative (Children of the Sea) of two ill-fated lovers in Haitian apartheid, the submission of the peaceful but frightened citizens resembles the outlook of the author of other short story soon discussed: This Sacred Soil by Chief Seattle. A prominent theme in Children of the Sea is sacrifice; the female counterpart's father saves her life while risking his own and the male counterpart witnesses a mother's grief and sadness overcome her when she must submit her stillborn child to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The mother jumps in with the baby and is lost to the sea like many other Haitians who attempted to reach the United States via boats. This detail can be then specifically related to the other story.
     This Sacred Soil by Chief Seattle describes his people's downfall and ultimate acceptance of "White Man" occupation. However, he acknowledges how the Native Americans are more connected with nature and the earth, respecting each living being and each other. Chief Seattle notably comments on how his people will remain on earth, "haunting" the land they lived on, in a sense. Now, like the Haitians, a people neglected by Western society succumb to the ever-present pressure from them and fade into time. Their soil becomes hallowed with their souls and past memories just as the Gulf of Mexico was by the multitude of African descendants how lost their lives to escape to a better place.