Saturday, October 20, 2012

Election Predictions

The election is getting closer and I can feel my anxiety rising with each passing day.  In the summer, I thought Obama had it in the bag, but lately I’m not so sure. It seems Romney has gained some ground with his choice of running mate, win at the first debate…and a Thursday Gallop pull that showed Romney has a 7 point lead. Yikes….now I’m starting to panic.
                  I’m not why this is happening. Obama is clearly the better candidate; he supports marriage equality (and is the first sitting President to ever do so), believes that everyone should pay their fair share, is making health care more affordable and giving women the equality they deserve. Romney on the other hand believes in “traditional” marriage, wants to cut the wealthiest American’s taxes by $250,000, wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) and when asked about how he felt about the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, he said he would have to “get back to you” .

            So how is this race even close? Romney represents everything that is wrong about American politics…rich men using the system to gain power and wealth. He is not someone that I believe belongs in politics. I want a president who understands the American Dream and who has also struggled. Who hasn’t had their dreams given to them on a silver platter.  I believe that Barack Obama is that man. He, in my opinon is the best person for the job. He grew up poor without a father, put himself through school, went on to be a community organizer in the depths of Chicago, then put himself through Harvard for his law degree and became the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. He then went on to be an activist and professor at the University of Chicago. He has worked his way up and is a prime example of the American Dream.

      My predictions? I do think Obama will win. The margins though, will be close. I think it will come out to be about 53/47. I don’t think we have the election won already and have to keep working to ensure that Barack Obama continues his term as President. That is why I am volunteering at my local field office tomorrow, to show my support and give a few hours of my time. Being involved is crucial to our democratic process; make your voice known and heard. And even if you don’t support President Obama’s reelection, please go vote. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Disney Get's It Wrong: Sophia The First (Latina?)

A new Disney Princess is about to be unveiled and she is a Latina...or so they say. Sophia is her name and she will be making her debut in the TV movie Sophia the First: Once Upon a Princess on November 18th. 
While on the surface this seems like a step forward, having a Latina represented in Disney's princess franchise, there is one problem.... it doesn't really seem like she's Latina. If you look at the images of her, she seems to appear white, perhaps of Western European dissent. Unless you know that she is Latina, there is no way to tell by looking at her. And in fact, producers aren’t even emphasizing this point! Joe D’Ambrosia, VP of Disney Junior says that “We never actually call it out….what I find fascinating is that every girl thinks they’re Sophia.”
Sofia the First: Disney's first Latina princess

She has blue eyes, a reddish-brown shade of hair and ivory skin. That does NOT look very Latina to me! In fact, I think that she looks more like me than any of my Latina friends. If I was to watch this movie, I would have no indication that she is Latina. The thought would never even cross my mind. It’s outrageous, as it’s not actually making Latina’s more visible in the media! If we cannot tell that she is Latina, then diversity is not actually being shown!
Here is a picture of me, next to a picture of Sophia
I think we acually look very similar, which is NOT GOOD! She is supposed to be Latina and I am Irish and Scottish. How does it make any sense that we have visual similarities?! Why is it that she looks so white?
And while we are on the subject, why is her name Sophia? Sophia is not a Latina name and has no origins in the culture. In fact, Sophia orginates from Greek and is used primarily in European and Russian languages[1].  By this, her name shouldn’t even be Sophia…her name should be reflective of her being a Latina.
This whole ordeal  is very upsetting, to both myself and the Latina community. I participated in a discussion about this on Facebook and my Latina friends expressed a lot of concern and outrage: “She looks nothing like me” one said, “This is upsetting and misrepresented” said another. “If that’s what Disney thinks a Latina is then I wonder what they would consider me!” quipped another feisty young Latina. Their comments hit home for me and made me realize what a real issue this is. When you don’t have any characters, actors or Disney Princesses that look like you, it can really feel like you aren’t there at all. And when one does come out, but is a horrible representative of you (and is claiming to be like you) it’s even more upsetting.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Being Othered

I am the white girl. The one that stands out in a crowd of minorities. The one who doesn’t “get” black culture. The suburban, privileged diva.  This is who I am.
                How did I get this label? Well, I participate in a variety of social justice programs in the city closest to my surrounding suburb. I have made documentaries, art galleries and wrote articles. I have also learned about oppression, privilege and power dynamics, sexual violence and prevention. Because of my experience, I am a proud activist.
                All of the projects/programs I have participated in have been in an urban area. Because of this, I have to venture out of my cozy suburban ranch into the city with the poor, gunshots and government housing.  Because of this, nearly every, if not all, of the other people I have worked with belong to a racial minority.
                Thus, I have been othered. I experience what it is like to be different, the odd one out, the black sheep. All of the awesome people I work with share a culture, history and identity. They talk about racial prejudice and understand it in a way that I never will. But at the same time, I now know what it is like to be them, at least symbolically.
                The suburb I live in is probably 95% white. It is quite a rarity to see anyone belonging to any other racial group. If there is someone, they are quietly outcasted and looked at differently. Even if these attitudes aren’t completely external, they exist. You can feel them during a class lecture on slavery. You can hear them when a rap or hip-hop song comes on the radio. You say them, when you talk about the “black” kid.
                Engaging in my social justice work has opened up my eyes to a whole new way of examining racism. I never before saw the prejudice within myself, or those around me. Racism was not something I ever really thought about. It just wasn’t a part of my life.
                Hearing of the experiences of Blacks, Hispanics, Latino’s and Asians, has made me think more critically about race. I now understand just how the intense racial history in our country still echo’s in our institutions to this day. Also, being the different one has allowed me to acknowledge my own privilege. I feel what it is like to be different, to feel like I don’t belong. Even if nothing is said, everyone knows there is something different about me. That I am not like them and have grown up with numerous advantages they have never had. And while this makes me sad, more than that, it inspires me. It inspires me to work hard to fight against racism. It inspires me to keep pressing on and moving forward. To acknowledge my own racial privilege and think critically about race. To stop prejudice that I see towards others of racial minorities in my own life. To embody equality.
So being the white girl isn’t all bad. For once, I get to experience what it is like to be othered. Even for just those few moments, I see it with my own eyes. And that is the most powerful thing of all.