Jared Callahan and Compassionate Filmmaking

Jared Callahan has the sort of personality that captures the entire room the moment he enters. He seems to actually listen to your voice and opinions, and makes you feel important when you talk to him. This in itself is not a unique trait, but what is is that his mannerisms come across in his films. I found his short films especially to be compassionate and inquisitive, despite their brevity, and reflective of who he is as a film maker.

What stood out from meeting Jared was his desire to portray his subjects as lovable people. As a person who primarily deals with narrative film, I find this to be difficult because I spend so much time creating flawed characters who are interesting, and taking already flawed people and making them lovable is a totally different approach. In consideration of how to do this, I’ve been thinking about a phrase he tossed out: creative audacity. As filmmakers we need to have the creative audacity to dare to tell stories with sensitivity and capture the humanity of our subjects, rather than focus on the “otherness” that makes them compelling to research. How to be responsible to our subjects while still telling a story that is interesting to an audience is an issue I’m still struggling with, but I appreciate Callahan’s approach of making a story about a person who is or who does something, rather than something that is being done by a person.

Jared Callahan’s Work

janey-laughs-on-jared

Once Jared told us that Janey was actually his grandmother that just completely changed everything. The fact that he knew her just shed light on so many of my questions such as how he was able to incorporate such raw footage from her wedding and past pictures. The use of her own proper archived videos and pictures, made it way more real and you could really connect with her. I also really liked the fact that he focused on the history and nature of the town Rio Vista along with the community and their struggle, as it really completes the picture. I also could really relate with the point he was trying to relate through Janey makes a play about Ageism in the US and it really gets you to think about your own life and what your doing with it. This especially hit hard at the end when the 16 year-old girl dies yet the 95 year old still lives.

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It was clear from all three clips that the relationship with the subjects is strongly based on trust. This is especially relevant for the short clip American moderate as he could have thrashed the family but instead portrayed them as balanced and not homophobic or racist. Also, the way it was filmed also made us as the viewer really follow her journey of struggle and indecision.

His “compassionate” style of filming really makes the films more about the people and their stories as opposed to getting a real point across although the point is also conveyed in the end. He thus addresses big issues by letting the audience fall in love with the characters. His job as a storyteller is to make the audience fall in love with the characters and I feel like her really did a great job capturing that, although to a certain extent it seemed like he just really focused on the positive and completely omitted the negative. This just made the documentaries a little to idealistic if I may and a bit too fake as there is more to these people’s stories than just happiness, we all struggle and seeing the struggle can allow the viewer to connect at an even deeper level.

Jared Callahan Comes to Class

When Jared Callahan came to speak to us about his pieces, I found him to be the most relatable guest we have had thus far… at least in my personal opinion. He was very realistic about funding, where to begin projects, etc… and I also liked the fact that he told us which classes he took in college, such as production, and how they have been helpful… or not helpful… for him today. I think learning from him really put into perspective my goals in the near future, and what I should strive for as a senior at Emory.

I really appreciated Callahan’s sense of positivity that he implements in the films he creates, or at least the ones we have viewed. The fact that he always attempts to put his subjects in a good light is refreshing to see in documentaries, rather than just showing the audiences what all is wrong with the world. Like he said,

“the camera is a source of compassion.”

That really resonated with me, and I hope that I can use that idea in films that I create myself.

While watching Janey Makes a Play, it was easy to see that the filmmaker was emotionally connected to central subject, Janey. I feel like otherwise the documentary as a whole would have never been created.

Callahan at the Lone Star Film Festival

While watching, I admired Janey and found her entire story to be entertaining. However, I did feel a sense of a disconnect. It might have been because I have never met this woman, or simply because this community theater is a place I have never been to. I’m not entirely sure of the cause, but I did feel a lack of connection to this documentary, and found my eyes glazing over at times, maybe just because I do not know those people, and have no personal connection. I also wonder if because Callahan knows her and always wants to put a great face on his characters, if that this created a sense of falsity within the movie as well.

I think my favorite films of the three was definitely American Moderate. Being from Texas, a state that has a VERY large Republican background, I found myself relating to Liz’s character. My father is a die-hard conservative Republican, and my mother is socially Democratic. At times dinner had some heated conversations haha. Regardless, I think that Liz’s story is one that we can all relate to. This presidential campaign has had the most media involvement in history, and this fact definitely effects the polls, along with family, friends, etc…

In the documentary, I liked how we never found out who Liz voted for. This ultimate question is then sort of asked to the audience– who do THEY want to vote for? I also think that not having her say in the film who she voted for was interesting because it also expresses the idea that media (including films) should not effect one’s own personal ideas and political opinions.

However, after finding Liz’s twitter account that she spoke of so much, it is clear to me that she has indeed voted for a particular candidate, and I think her saying so on Twitter sort of diminished my delight while watching. I wish I didn’t know, because then the mystery question would have been for the audience to decide.

I found The Many Friends of Sommer Caffarella to be the most uplifting for any audience to watch. It could easily touch anyone’s heart and reach to a broader audience. I think it was a good decision of Callahan’s to not have a tone that just basically says “feel sorry for those with disabilities,” but rather shows them as people, in this case Sommer. In this way, Callahan was able to go into a much larger issue in society through Sommer’s personal life, and how she dreams of being a star.

Scaaaarrry Post!

A question I would like to pose: can a critique be positive?

In the films we watched there were notable connections from the personal to the political. The way in which you learned about social structures, stigma, and prejudice by being confronted with a living moving image of someone, is brilliant. It’s a sure way to start knocking away at the rigid categories we allow to blind us to the complex realities. Tying personal narratives to larger patterns is pretty cool. I think the play about Sommer perhaps does the best job of this even though it is the shortest film at just over 9 minutes.

I am glad that it is becoming more difficult for me to critique some of the films that we are screening. It means that I have to think more and pushes me to challenge the way I view films and by extension the world.

Janey Makes a Play

Disclaimer: My memory may be lacking when it comes to Janey Makes a Play since I watched 3 other films right before it, so if I’ve forgotten things which may at least partially counter any of these points, please feel free to make them known.

It would have been fantastic to see real conflicts among the troupe that put on the play or even the broader community. As much of a family as everyone seemed in the play, I am almost certain there are at least some conflicts sometimes, but these don’t seem to be shown much. Depicting such clashes would have complexified the people and, depending on their responses, deepened our sense of the bonds between them. Perhaps this may be why I personally felt some distance from the characters in this film and the story portrayed, despite the fact that I thought what they were doing was very cool.

While the debut of the play is certainly an example of conflict and a source of tension, it appears to be framed moreso as a common goal in which everyone is united against rather than provoking conflicts within the group and a plurality of directions in which to go.

I am also extremely curious to see how the group fares after Janey passes away. I think this could the basis of a film in itself. Will they be able to survive the absence of the charismatic energetic mover? Will they grow together in new ways or decay and splinter into many directions? Perhaps sending some toward new avenues and other not so much.

The juxtaposition between the alienating structural pressures like unemployment and other financial burdens with the sense of community and performance nicely demonstrate how our society isn’t necessarily based on what is really fulfilling for us. I kind of wish it dug more into this and how such things might be challenged.

If it is the job of the filmmaker to hone their techniques in crafting a story, then perhaps it is the duty of the viewer (and critic, if we like) to dissect what is presented and go even beyond that vision.

It may be that the way we see art is more of a reflection of ourselves than what is presented. So if we cultivate observation and openness to uncertainty, then we could also bring this investigative practice and awareness to our viewings of film and other forms of art too.

Yet if this reflective/reflexive form of critique can tell us about the social impact of film: that is, how it’s perceived and what consequences are tied with that, (more complex than determined in a linear fixed way) then that seems pretty useful! It can allow us to look more deeply and clearly at our own patterns of creating and consuming media.

I would really like to learn more about the creation of the community theater, of this new setting (Sarason 1972). How did this group figure out how to act (haha) when it first formed? How has it changed and how is it still evolving? How did other institutions and organizations respond to the community theater? Were there any conflicts? We’re told that the first 7 years sold out all of their shows and that there seems to be a rather good relation with the school and students, but there’s much more that must have happened than just that.

It seems like there is a rather zoomed in picture that maybe leaves certain more complex details out. Then again, certain conditions drove Janey to create the group. If part of the goal is to show that such different relations are possible and desirable, then showing the tougher times within the community is just as important as the good times.

American Moderate

I had some thoughts about this film too. The character here does feel a bit more real and I did experience more of a connection to her. It’s definitely useful for challenging some of our ideas and stereotypes about people belonging to certain social groups, including American political parties. It’s even good for questioning our own identities and self-inscribed categories. I enjoyed the part about feminism and also when Liz says “But…I’m a republican, I know I am…I’ve always been…”

However, I felt there were a few missing points that could have complemented the film wonderfully. The first is that it appears rather self-contained and does not locate itself within an ongoing historical context. I think this is actually a bias very present within our generation as well as our world’s media production. It would have been really helpful to bring up similar decisions which people have faced in the past within various cultures and social structures. Mentioning the past(s) while acknowledging their complexity seems doable to me.

I think the inclusion of similar instances from the past would have framed the individual indecisiveness and uncertainty in a very nice way and allowed viewers to possibly begin taking a more critical view at and start questioning our political institutions, society and culture. To start asking questions like: why have we been divided into two groups? Were things always this way? How did they get this way and who benefits from and works to maintain it? I understand this may be beyond the scope of the film and the maker’s intent, but these are the kinds of new avenues that begin to open up when we take a longer view of the issues affecting us today. If you think about it, doesn’t majoritarian democracy inherently foster social relations rooted in antagonism and domination (“winner” take all!) over compassionate understanding and collaboration?

Which brings me to my next point: beyond voting.

People may challenge their perceptions of one another but I do not think this is enough. Small steps toward breaking down prejudices are certainly necessary, crucial even, but they do not go far enough on their own because they don’t have to change our fundamental social relations. We also need to challenge the systems that manufacture and thrive on these types of divisions. The fact is that people gain and maintain power through these divisions. Those who command the majority of the planet’s wealth and resources were never voted in, and they’ll never be voted out either. Whether it’s by pitting megacorp employees against those subservient to ultracorp, people living in other countries, or even each other, the divisions perpetuate the hierarchy.

As Ken Knabb points out:

“The side that takes the initiative usually wins because it defines the terms of the struggle. If we accept the system’s own terms and confine ourselves to defensively reacting to each new mess produced by it, we will never overcome it. We have to keep resisting particular evils, but we also have to recognize that the system will keep generating new evils until we put an end to it.

By all means vote if you feel like it. But don’t stop there. Real social change requires participation, not representation.”

I truly wish that a question had been raised at the electoral system and voting itself. And whether there is legitimate social activity beyond this and who decides that.

Why do we vote for these teams? And why do we vote for others to make whatever decisions they like and think it represents us? And why do we want someone else to represent us or think we need it?

Heh, it sort of makes me think about films. Do we really think they can or do represent reality? Perhaps by seeing them as representations and stories we can better pick them apart and be less attached to them. Then we might even enjoy them more, without becoming stuck as easily in the narratives and assumptions they (re)produce with us. Which means we can participate in the creation of our own lives and worlds.

Can love of a character cause us to challenge these ideas? Can empathy for another portrayed in film enable us to reevaluate assumptions?

Maybe, but the conclusions we leave with can vary as much as our assumptions going in. If we bounce our assumptions off of what we view and project our existential experiences onto others, we can easily view someone like Liz and feel validated in our uncertainties or become more open to and aware of the lives of others. However, in neither case does this necessarily result in us going deeper and questioning where these realities stem from and how they are formed. It can become a way of seeing how others do not really know either, and stopping there. It can also serve as a way of thinking that we just need to try to make our decisions well without questioning the context and strategy laid out for us. Thus, the dominant answers, the narratives which we swim in, continue as if they were natural laws, eternal and immutable.

I do not think we can present a story without our own influence. The only thing that varies is the nature of that influence. Whether we contribute questions or hold off on them, select dialogue, framings and frames, cuts and edits, audio or silence, or present some things or leave things out, these are all a part of the web that our creation contributes to and is made up of, which it impacts and is also shaped by and perceived through. This social fabric woven by so many different forces.

Whether we like it or not, what we leave out, neglect to mention, contributes to the context and content of what we put forth. If we do not challenge what people bring to bear, what they carry along with them, then we cannot entirely say “well, they just see their reflections” as if it were the only possible result. Without challenging the lens people bring how can we expect things not to be refracted through those lens? Film is sort of like substituting one lens (of the camera and creator) for that created by any other source that inevitably filters information. So can we shatter one lens without simply replacing it with another? Or rather, can we change the relationship one has with their lens—the ways we look at and with them?

Positive vision is needed, but that almost never means going along with all of the already accepted ideas, assumptions and norms. We must be inspired by the opportunities for change and visions of where to go. This means seeing the problems for what they are, openness to complexity and discomfort, and a willingness to do everything to change them! It means to critique and go beyond, to use strategy and determination together.

References

Knabb, K. (2016, October 26). Beyond Voting. Retrieved October 31, 2016, from http://www.bopsecrets.org/recent/beyond-voting.htm

Sarason, S. B. (1972). The creation of settings and the future societies. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Imba Means Sing Reaction

The images of the village in Uganda compared to the homes in the United States are interspersed throughout the film to undoubtedly show the stark contrast between wealth in the two countries. This technique of going back and forth between images of Uganda and images of the United States creates feelings and sentiments like “how lucky these children are to experience this opportunity” and “what a great cause.” While these sentiments are valid, they are only half the story.

Imba Means Sing did a great job of emphasizing the benefits of the African Children’s Choir in that it gives African kids an opportunity to come to the United States and pursue an education. However, this documentary felt more like an advertisement for the African Children’s Choir rather than a complete narrative of this organization. After meeting Bernhardt, I realize that this documentary was made because she loves the organization who she volunteered for and wanted to show audiences in America (specifically younger audiences) about the organization as well. While all documentaries have some sort of narrative or side taken by the filmakers, I felt as though Imba Means Sing only addressed the American view of the benefits of the African’s Children Choir.

I would imagine that not everyone in Africa supports this organization because not all of the kids in the village are given this opportunity, which can lead to potential problems in status and power, and it creates a community dependence on the United States to sponsor their children. While the benefits, such as giving impoverished children an education, teaching American youth about African song and dance, and allowing African children the chance to pursue their dreams, of the African Children’s Choir as seen by the Americans are evident in the film, I would have also liked to see how the community in Uganda perceives this organization. The intended audience for the film is clearly Americans; however, I think it would have benefitted from addressing potential problems of this non-profit such as community restructuring in villages in Africa who have many of their kids on this program. I wonder that if this other side to the picture was presented, they could offer suggestions for how to make the successes more sustainable for the communities in Africa and not just the individuals.

Art and Social Impact

As an artist myself, being a dancer, I find so much value in using art as a way to bring about social change. I believe there is so much power behind art, in any form, and its ability to communicate and convey important messages to a larger audience. It possesses a strong ability to inspire and influence others. However, I will argue that one of biggest problems in the arts today is a lack of funding. Although many organizations exist that link social change to art, artists still struggle to find the necessary funding to get their art out there and make an impact in the world. It’s no question that there isn’t much money in art, and unfortunately not as much importance is always placed on the arts as on other fields. Arts education, for example, takes a back seat when it comes to planning school curriculums and putting money towards what should be taught in schools. But an arts education can play such an important role in the development of any child. Personally, the arts have been an enormously prominent and influential part of my life, and it makes me happy to see organizations such as The Creative Visions Foundation fund artists and important projects. It is organizations like these that help promote the arts and make them known as something beneficial and impactful for our communities and the world in general. I think it is so important, as individuals, to support the arts and advocate its importance. I admire The Creative Visions Foundation for doing so, and I only hope that more organizations continue to rise in the future so that the arts continue to be recognized and fully appreciated.

Imba Means Sing and Dan Eldon Reaction

When I first was watching Imba Mean Sing I found myself having a very joyful experience. Considering that I’ve been feeling down lately, it means that the documentary was very successful at transmitting the children’s feeling as they discovered a new world and explored their own potential. However, regarding the content, I was constantly thinking about the contrast in life-styles that the children would experience once they went home. These children were taken out of a low socio-economic environment and taken to a totally different one, then expected to have a vacation in the former. This displacement of conditions can have big effects on a child. Moises was told he was American once he got back home, but then Nina was happier to be back than at Disneyland. It’s a very complex situation but it seems like the organization has had success in education many African children in the past, so it is hard to judge the overall effect of the initiative. Is it more worth it to break a nuclear family for the sake of a future hope of breaking the poverty gap? I am not sure, it is a subjective experience depending on each child and family, and whether they do actually succeed through the pressures of school.

Speaking about something else, I found (and I’m sure that was the point) Dan Eldon’s story absolutely inspiring. More than that, I felt understood. I have experienced a long frustration with not finding a way to channel my observation of social issues and not finding a community who would support film/photography as a medium for social activism. Yet, now I know that there’s a whole world out there where people find that music, dance, and visual art are powerful tools to open people’s minds and hearts, and push for change.

Imba Means Sing & the 72 hours that gave me clarity

This past week has honestly been a crazy mix of emotions. Within 72 hours, I went to the Nonprofit Networking night, watched two powerful documentaries Imba Means Sing and Audrie & Daisy (incredible documentary about sexual assault), and got the chance to meet the producer of Imba Means Sing. I’m the type of person who usually loves to have a game plan and a schedule but have been consistently unable to put my life after college down on an agenda pad – and it has been beyond frustrating. Everyone is constantly asking me what I want to do with my two majors (Human Health and Anthropology) after I graduate, or what field I want to go into after college. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve said “I’m not sure yet, just kind of doing my own thing and seeing where it takes me;” I also can’t tell you the amount of disappointed looks I’ve gotten from that response. I mean I’m a junior… I’m supposed to have my life together right?

All of my friends have awesome internships and summer jobs lined up, and all of my friends who have graduated are living in big cities, loving life, and working for great companies. And then there’s me. Unless you count babysitting and “interning” for my dad’s financial services company as work experience then I literally have none – yep this is terrifying, I know. Part of this is because I’ve always been consumed by basketball (I was on the varsity team here at Emory for my first two years) and part of it is because I just didn’t want to get a job, I didn’t want to grow up and have to “be an adult.” So yeah, in the end I’m the only one to blame and I take full responsibility for my lack of work experience but I also take full responsibility for my desire for life experience. I crave new cultural experiences. I crave the feeling you get when you go to a place you’ve never been before. I crave the independence that rushes through my body when I’m traveling without my mom by my side or the perspective I gain by going to different parts of the world that are so different from what I’ve learned to label as “home.”

If one thing has been a constant in my life, it’s how much I love to do nonprofit work. I know I’m kind of going on a rant here but I promise it’ll all add up in the end. I’ve been involved with volunteer work for a really long time and it was never something “I had to do” but always something “I wanted to do.” But still, I’ve gone through high school and half of college with absolutely no idea of what “I wanted to do” career-wise. Then this past week happened, and everything started to make sense. I should probably mention an event that I went to the week before – the all-anticipated Career Fair – and I should probably mention, sorry if I offend anyone, that it was literally the worst thing I have ever been to… ever.

Stand in line. Have multiple copies of your resume – wouldn’t want to run out. Smile! Wear lip-gloss. Look pretty. Shake their hands firmly. Make sure you get a $40 leather portfolio to put all of your freshly printed resumes in! Compete for a spot in line. Don’t let someone else come by and take over the conversation. Assert yourself. Be confident – but not too confident, especially if you’re a woman talking to a man, I mean you wouldn’t want him to think that you’re full of yourself (don’t get me started here…).

 So yeah, I absolutely hated it. Because of that experience I almost didn’t go to the Nonprofit networking night because I was so drained from how ridiculous the Career Fair was, but I changed my mind last minute and went. The contrast was immediate and extremely refreshing. It was everything the Career Fair wasn’t and it was everything I could’ve hoped it would be. I had some amazing conversations with incredible people running/working for inspiring organizations and I loved every second of it. This is where 2 + 2 was finally starting to equal 4. I want to work with a Nonprofit – or start my own! Duh! It was so obvious, why hadn’t I thought of it before? Well, a number of reasons, but I can address those some other time.

Then, we watched Imba Means Sing and I just fell in love with every aspect of it. To be honest, I’ve always loved documentaries and although I’m not extremely talented with a camera, I’ve always enjoyed making mini-movies for class projects and things of that nature. Not only did I love the documentary but Erin was such an incredible person to have the chance to meet and her work is truly inspiring. I didn’t even know The Creative Visions Foundation existed and this past weekend I stalked every component of their website and signed up for anything/everything I could through them! I honestly can’t say what exactly it is, and I’m still immensely confused/scared about my future, but something clicked for me this past week and I’m so excited to move forward with this newfound inspiration and potential life goal.

In regards to Imba Means Sing specifically (sorry I digressed from the questions), I think one of the main strategies that made the film so accessible to young audiences was its focus on the children. A lot of individuals in my generation can more easily empathize/connect with younger kids versus adults, at least in my opinion. With their focus on the children, and a focus on 2-3 in particular, the filmmakers were able to elicit an emotional response from the audience. Young audiences were able to develop relationships with the “characters” and as the documentary progress; we wanted to see them succeed.

Moreover, I think that this increase in social practice art is due to the characteristics of the world, or at least country, we live in today. The US is defined by its technological advancements and our generation is equally defined by our reliance on/proficiency with all things “social” via technology. That being said, videos, pictures, and documentaries are a very successful way to relay messages to our generation, as those are three platforms we are familiar and comfortable with. So, linking social change to art inevitably increases the change’s potential for success. It also makes social issues or concerns more accessible. Sometimes issues taking place halfway across the globe don’t impact people because they don’t seem relevant. But I believe that once someone creates a tangible piece of art to almost bring that issue “to life” it becomes more accessible and in turn more impactful for the general audience. I’m not saying that this is how things should be – we should care about the world that we live in and want to take part in something bigger than ourselves everyday – but I think it’s how things inevitably are.

Observing

This anthropology course never fails to provide me with material to respond to. However, the activity I want to reflect upon for this week is the request that each student “observe” and different space.

I was asked to observe Starbucks; I went to the one on campus. My opinion of the location is inherently biased, because I go there frequently. But I attempted to really look and think about the surrounding I was in.

starbucks

Initially, my focus was on the aesthetics of the location. The walls aren’t bright; they’re a muted yellow and blue color. The backsplash behind the barista counter is blue and reflective, and reminded me of mermaid scales. There are lightbulbs fashionably arranged to appear like they’re floating over one side of the room. The space is muted and earthy; tables are wood based and the furniture is dark. The smells of the location are distinctive too; the restaurant smells distinctly clean (but not in a chemical way), and is underscored by the scent of coffee grinds and baked apple bread.

The sounds of the location resulted in a different experience for me. This location plays music, often indie-rock or something of a folk-nature. Usually the voice of the primary vocalist is deep, soothing and supplemented by banjo. These artists are popular and poppy enough to have created successful songs, but not popular enough to evoke instant recognition. The music was at first calming, but in the space of 30 minutes, the music seemed to grow gradually louder. Again, in the past, I’ve had issues really working or writing in this location because I become more conscious and focused on the music as I spend time in the area. The bustle of the machines and the voices of the baristas can be heard. One woman’s voice was peculiar when she talked to customers; her pitch was fairly high and would rise when asking questions of the customers. Her voice sounded very positive, but the consistency of hearing her talk so chirpily for a half-hour made me perceive her tone as a forced one.

The sensory elements of this observation were in line with my day-to-day expectations of the location. However, during my observation, I began to notice habits the people in the spaces portrayed. The concept of physical space was a defining one; few people in the coffee shop actually speak to one another, even when they are sitting next to each other. While most of the furniture is grouped closely together, the customers would sit at least a chair away from other people. This perception of space was furthered by a young pair. The female was leaning onto the male’s lap, placing her head against his shoulder and grasping his arm. This couple was particularly shocking to see in the environment of the Starbucks. I think because so few people exhibited physical proximity or comfort with others, any overt expression of physical expression seemed excessive (even though it would not have been in different environments). This guarding (or lack there of) of physical space was displayed by a young man and woman. The woman, who was dressed in a crisp looking dress, and the young man, who looked casually clothed in a relatively good-quality t-shirt. I was unsure as to what their relationship was; they sat in seats that were close, but neither one actually touched the  other until the end of the conversation, wherein the woman shook the man’s hand, and the two parted ways. Because of the way that the woman enforced her personal space, I think their relationship was one of professionalism. However, I did not know how to factor in the man’s unprofessional attire with the situation I thought I perceived.

Another observation I focused on, which I had not in the past, was the racial diversity in the room. The majority of people were white females, with a scattering of people of different ethnicities. However, the only two black women in the store were working behind the counter. This concept is one that applies to Emory University as a whole. Our student body is composed of about 10% black students. However, the employees that serve us our food, clean our bathrooms, and do the jobs we all go to college so we won’t have to do are almost all black. This discontinuity between representation of people of color in the academic sphere makes me question the effectiveness of the American school system and the actual level of diversity Emory claims to have. This reflection, while distinctly different from the actual day-to-day events that occurred at Starbucks, is tied to my experience there.

I wonder how Anthropologists who attempt to go out into the field unbiasedly can do so with any amount of effectiveness.

 

 

 

 

 

Immigration Crisis in a World I Don’t Know

My whole life I have been trying to understand the immigration crisis from Latin America to The United States. The origin, the end, and the journey. It was only in the last couple of years that I found out about the equally and, perhaps, more urgent crisis somewhere else in the world. A year ago, I watched a documentary about the ways in which African immigrants cross to Spanish soil and I was particularly amazed at those who decided to hide in cars in the risk of dying in the heat that was produced – somehow, probably due to the images from Syrian refugees, immigrants in overcrowded boats didn’t seem as disastrous. However, in comparison to my American-focused mindset, I had embarrassingly never considered the hearts and the thoughts of those people during the journey in Africa, nor had I given a thought to how the diversity in culture and language influence even the immigration culture that is found in that world I never knew existed.

In this post, I would like to focus on the sense of community that the immigrants have formed and how the article has led me to understand some more about immigration on our side of Earth:

“Each “brotherhood,” as they call them, is formed along lines of nationality — the Senegalese in one camp, the Malians, the Cote D’Ivoirians, the Nigerians, and the Congolese in others.”

In comparison to Latin Americans, African countries might not or barely share the same language. What does this mean? First that transitioning from country to country and being able to survive in them is probably one of the biggest challenges that immigrants fight during the journey to Morocco. Imagine, in the loneliness that these immigrants find themselves in, it is optimized by the lack of culture and language (the two elements that makes us the humans we are even at 12 years old). Therefore, it is expected that after reaching Morocco, the brotherhoods are brought together by their nationality. In a way, I am glad that it happens to be that way but, at the same time, it hurts to know that the divisions show that many countries are suffering push factors towards completely different societies.

In terms of American immigration, I remember finding out in the Stewart Detention Center (2h away from Atlanta) that they had detained African immigrants. I was told by an NGO that they come down in boats to Panama and then they would take the same journey as various Latinx individuals towards the US. So this article makes me wonder: are these people who might know about how hard it is to get into Spanish territory and, therefore, decide that it is ‘better’ to take the journey towards an almost equally impossible border? Is all of this the reason why they’d be willing to get further away from their cultures?

I am not sure but it could be a possibility. It would be something to find out through the stories of the African Immigrants in the US.