Category Archives: diversity

The Brazil Files: Conflict of Interest

by Special Correspondent Wendi Muse

Before I utter any statements of depth in this piece, I have to present a bias. Though not meant to offend those who believe in proselytizing, I find myself firmly standing on the side of those against it. If you feel that religion and/or a faith tradition of some sort is your source of hope, guidance for life, and possibly even your ticket to eternal salvation, so be it. I respect that, and I fully honor the right we each have to practice some form of the aforementioned. However, the second you start telling me or someone else which form is best (read: which version will prevent me from burning in hell for the rest of eternity), we’ve got beef.

With that said, I want to go ahead and put it out there that I take issue with the bulk of missionary work (past and present), especially that which takes place in developing nations. It is a reminder of the power of nations who sit firmly and comfortably in their G8 seats, spectators in a game of international tennis. Only in the case of missionary work, the victory comes at a higher price, one that can mean not only renouncing one’s culture, but also one’s religion (or at least denouncing it in public) as a means of attaining vital resources. This is not to say that missionaries have not done good work. There are countless records of missionaries who have helped others in excellent ways, minus all the religious rhetoric. However, even if the message of faith lies in no more than an utterance or the simple presence of the mission’s name, missionary work nevertheless boils down to a political campaign in the name of God.

In light of my objection to this line of work, I find myself dealing with a mental conflict almost every day of my present job. My campaign has nothing to do with God, but in terms of international influence, the English language and American culture come pretty darn close. Though I have been teaching English in Brazil since July of 2008, there are still a few things about my current profession that rub me the wrong way. The source of my discomfort in teaching my mother tongue lies in implications more so than tangible, empirical evidence, thus making my inner turmoil all-the-more “inner.” Much like a mosquito bite on the sole of your foot, my conflict has been an itch I can’t quite scratch.

Before enrolling in the program in which I am involved, I already knew I wanted to live in Brazil for a few months to a year to have more exposure to Brazilian culture, particularly an aspect of it that involved more of the quotidian variety. I was looking to go beyond the favela-riddled, bikini-clad, beach bathing, rainforested Brazil with which we are presented on our television screens and in our Netflix queues. I wanted to be forced to speak Portuguese on a regular basis and pushed a bit beyond my comfort zone. I was not looking for a spoiled, privileged, escapist ex-pat experience of the Eat Pray Love genre.

The easiest way to achieve my goal was to teach English here, but I knew in the back of my mind, I would be presented with interesting challenges that I may not have faced if I had chosen another route to secure a job in Brazil. For one, I would have to be a de facto representative of American Culture TM. My language and my country would be placed center stage during class, but what Americans do, eat, buy, and think would be the main topic of conversation at all other times as well. I would be reduced to a living, breathing souvenir. Yet in actuality, I find myself to be a bit of a disappointment to my students and the Brazilian English teachers, not for lack of teaching skills, but for lack of conforming to their ideas of Americans and American life. Continue reading

A Toxic Waltz: The Racialicious Review of Heroes 4.3

ep 3 title
By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also Published at The Instant Callback

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

Watching “Building 26″ took me back to my days as a fugly kid at the roller-rink, watching the popular kids pair up and the floor clear. Yes, this episode was a Couples Skate!

Sylar and Luke: Our resident Sith and his newfound apprentice did some bonding on the road to … wherever the hell Sylar Senior is holed up these days. Along the way we got hearty bits of exposition on how Sy does what he does and more subtle-as-a-jackhammer reminders from Luke of how similar the two are to one another. Still, the MVP of their sequences was the car radio: “Psycho Killer”? Good stuff.

HiroBreadHiro and Ando: The Dynamic Duo traveled to India – how? Who knows? Who cares, right? — to fulfill one of Parkman’s predictions and save a woman (Amrapali Ambegaokar) from marrying a complete dweeb of a “bad guy.” Neither of the almost-intended exhibited any powers, so it’s quite possible the whole thing was just an excuse to get Hiro to work through his jealousy of Ando’s newfound powers and restore his belief in his own heroism, and to get them a message from Rebel urging them to save Matt – nevermind that they were just hanging around with Matt. Continue reading

The Racialicious Roundtable For Heroes 4.2

Hosted by Arturo R. Garcia

Flight 195

As Heroes continues to crawl out from under its’ own wreckage — both on-screen and creatively — we turn to our Roundtable of fans to see how the latest reclamation projects are going.

[Writer’s Note:As we head deeper into the season, I continue to be surprised at the controversy surrounding Claire’s apparent wig, mostly because I never notice it. Rest assured, there will be a reckoning with this hairpiece.]

Anyway, on to this week’s topics!

Hiro TakenThe thing that bugged me the most this week was Hiro’s behavior. Dude kept talking about “warrior” this and “hero” that, even moreso than usual. He sounded almost sycophantic this week. What’d you all make of that?

Hexy: It used to fit his character, or at least the story arc his character was going through. I’m not sure if it’s writer laziness, or a badly done attempt to refer back to previous characterisation to show that he’s going through a completely new search for his role. Either way, I found it stilted and annoying.

Clara: I just rolled my eyes because I was kind of expecting this sort of dialogue from him. Perhaps Hiro feels the need to compensate for his lack of powers. I would like to see more variety in his lines though, because the destiny/hero/warrior stuff is getting a little old. Plus, Hiro IS CEO of his own company, in Japan too. He has plenty of resources to draw from, but I guess the writers forgot about that again.

Erica: All the dialogue between Hiro, Mohinder, and Matt was very, very uninspired. “I am a hero.” “This isn’t your fight.” “MATT FIND DAPHNE!” Really? Here’s a tip, Heroes — in addition to interesting new plots, you should have some deep conversations. Speculate on their fear, conflicted emotions, confusion, anger, and all that. If I can predict what each character will say, I’m not entertained. Hiro’s “I am a warrior” variations were just plain bad writing. Continue reading

Lean On Me: The Racialicious Review of Heroes 4.2

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, Also Posted At The Instant Callback

Ep 2 title
A little dab of Galactica helped keep Heroes on an even keel this week – don’t look now, but this makes two consecutive non-heinous episodes!

“Trust and Blood,” penned by former BSG writer/exec. Producer Mark Verheiden was all about bonds: the Heroes solidified theirs; Nathan and Noah worked on keeping theirs together; and both Claire and Sylar made new friends.

clairehiroandoThe episode was told flashback style, as Nate recounted to his mom the events immediately following last week’s fateful Oceanic Flight 815 transport plane crash in Arkansas. While the boys and Claire waste no time trying to regroup, Tracy wastes no time before playing Let’s Make A Deal, offering up Peter in exchange for her freedom.

Peter, obviously, has other plans. After ditching Tracy and escaping yet another confrontation with Nathan, he emerges as the leader of our fugitive fivesome, assuring Hiro, Ando, Mohinder and Matt that NOTHING WILL EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN. You’d think Hiro, the comics fan, would just reassure him that things would be back to normal in a year or two. But nevermind. Continue reading

The Racialicious Roundtable for Heroes 4.1

Hosted by Arturo R. Garcia

Apologies to all our readers for the late start; the recap of Monday’s episode should be up on the site soon. Meanwhile, let’s welcome back our fearless band of critics and kick off another round of critiques!

Mohinder just seemed to dismiss his last encounter with Peter quickly, didn’t he? But I do wonder what he’ll do now that he’s been captured by the very program he expressed support for. Also, touching on a comment from Madame Z. in last week’s recap thread: your thoughts on his working as a cab driver again, as opposed to being … well, a DOCTOR?

Erica: Mohinder probably isn’t really qualified to be a practicing medical doctor; few geneticists and biochemists are. Even in India, he was a professor. While he knows his way around a lab (and doubtless could find his way around the human body if necessary), I would be shocked to see him in a hospital setting. That being said, though, there are a LOT of job options between M.D. and cabbie… oh, wait, unless you’re Indian in New York City, HAHAHA. *sigh*

Mahsino: A part of me wants to be mad that Mohinder is a cab driver again, but the part of me that asked for more logic to be applied to the show is in agreement with his present state of employment. Let’s face it, Mohinder isn’t the sharpest crayon in the box, and in this economy, I’m guessing he was taking what he could get. Besides, it’s not like he has a history of long-term employment anyway. I mean, look at his resume: professor, cab driver, top secret work for top secret company, touting his dad’s crazy ideas, top secret work for top secret government project- I personally wouldn’t be impressed. He did get over his beef with Peter a little too quickly. I mean, the dude left you in a vat o’ chemicals, you could at least give him the ol’ shifty eye.

Hexy: Working as a cab driver both works and doesn’t work. If his aim is to not draw new attention to himself, avoiding applying for science-type jobs is a good idea. Of course, if his aim is to not draw attention to himself from the existing networks of evil that know everything about him including his past as a New York cabbie… well, then he’s an idiot. Dear gorgeous, stupid Mohinder. Never change.

As for the bit where he’s been captured by the same program he expressed support for, it’s all very typical Mohinder, isn’t it? Continue reading

Andy Garcia: “I’m Not A Latino Actor.”

by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published at Guanabee

In a press conference for his latest movie, The Pink Panther 2 (Why, God, why?!), Andy Garcia was quoted as saying, “I’m not a Latino actor, sincerely.” And, well. We think he has a point!

At the press conference, Andy said that, while he is known for being immensely proud of his Cuban heritage, he has tried (unsuccessfully, perhaps) to shed the label of “Latino” from being tacked in front of “Actor Andy Garcia.” He explains:

Everyone knows that I love my culture and that I’m Cuban, but I don’t consider myself a Latino actor, nor do I want other to classify me in that way. All actors should be classified in the same manner.

Dustin Hoffman isn’t described as “Jewish, American” actor. I don’t think heritage has anything to do with acting ability; in reality, we’ll all actors. In my case, I happen to be actor who is American with a Cuban heritage that’s given me a certain sensibility and point of view that maybe others might not have.

Andy also went on to address one of the stereotypes of Latino actors that we most love to loathe:

It’s possible that I’m thought of this way, but I’ve never accepted a script where I’ve had to play the “Latin Lover.” I’m not interested in that type of film.

Continue reading

When Xenophobia Meets Homophobia

by Guest Contributor Marisol LeBrón, originally published at NACLA and Post Pomo Nuyorican Homo

An ugly blame game ensued after the passing of California’s Proposition 8, which restricted the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. With exit polls reporting 70 percent of Blacks and 53 percent of Latinos/as supporting the ban on gay marriage, many white members of the LGBT community blamed people of color for the ban’s success.

The December issue of gay news magazine The Advocate stepped into the fray. The cover of the issue provocatively announced, “Gay is the New Black.” Although the cover story’s author, Michael Joseph Gross, dismissed blaming Black voters as a “false conclusion” and a “terrible mistake,” comments posted to the site took him to task for other reasons. Most comments strongly disagreed with Gross’ Black/gay comparison, but many others asked why communities of color and queer communities are still considered mutually exclusive in the mainstream LGBT rights movement.

A comment posted by “Greg J,” pointedly charged, “Gays of color, transgender, and yes, even lesbians are missing from the larger discourse of the gay rights struggle – primarily the gay marriage issue. The gay right’s movement was and remains the ‘gay, white, middle class’ movement!”

The Prop 8 fallout shows how much work remains to be done to connect the LGBT rights movement with other struggles for social justice across a spectrum of issues. Unfortunately, it may have taken the brutal murder of Ecuadoran immigrant Jose Oswaldo Sucuzhañay to highlight the invisibility of queer people of color – particularly queer immigrants – in LGBT rights discourse. His murder will hopefully provide an impetus for coalition building.

Jose Sucuzhañay and his brother Romel were attending a Sunday evening church party on December 7, 2008. They later decided to end the night with some drinks at a local bar in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. The two brothers left the bar at 3:30 a.m. and walked home arm-in-arm to support each other. Three men drove up to the Sucuzhañay brothers, one man got out of the car and began to shout anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs at them. Continue reading

Band On The Run: The Racialicious Review of Heroes 4.1

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García
Also Posted at The Instant Callback

WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD!

No worldwide publicity tours. No hour-long infomercials. Heroes is now just another sci-fi show. And for this episode, at least, it was a decent one.

As it kicks off the critical “Fugitives” arc, not only did the creative team finally get the ball rolling on the various doomsday scenarios it had alluded to throughout the series, but it also skipped to a plot point that used to take at least 10 episodes – Superhero Team-Up Time!

Building on the fall finale, “A Clear And Present Danger” saw Nathan Petrelli, now the freshly-minted Homeland Security chief, begin to round up the other Heroes, with the help of Mr. Bennet and a new character, Danko (Zeljko Ivanek), aka “The Hunter.” In short order, Tracy, Mohinder, Hiro, and Parkman are picked up for shipment to … well, we never get to find out, thanks to the increasingly pugnacious Claire.

Previously spared by biological daddy Nathan, Claire stows aboard and initiates a jailbreak that goes wrong when Peter, after mistakenly making contact with Tracy (he thought she was Niki) ruptures the hull, which will apparently crash the plane — but not before ejecting one unknown hooded figure. Judging from next week’s previews, most of the core group will at least have survived the crash, and we can bet that the Mystery Masked Metahuman will make his or her presence felt later in the series. Continue reading