viernes, 22 de mayo de 2015

Harriet Tubman; an African-American heroine.

Hello Guys!

Today I want to share with you something that I found really interesting and caught my attention in a very beautiful way, I’m talking about Aramita Ross, better known as Harriet Tubman, an amazing women that fought for the freedom of the African-American people during the American civil war.

She was born in Maryland, into slavery. After long and long years being ill, knocked, whipped, she escapes on September 17, 1849 at the age of 27. By the time she came home, she said: When I found I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything; the sun came like gold through the trees, and over the fields, and I felt like I was in Heaven.

But this was not the end of the story, not at all. She came back to Maryland again and she started to rescue her family one by one, the same way that she did; through tunnels and secrets routes that were connected to another states or connected to Canada.

During eleven years, she rescues over seventy slaves including brothers and friends with their own family. No one ever knew that Harriet Tubman was the woman behind the release of all these people.

In time she became a woman of respect and an icon in her country with a really big legacy; now:

Do you think that what Tubman did was a very important thing at that time?

A lot of people say that she is the Moses of the slaves; do you think the same?

Harriet Tubman by Squyer, NPG, c1885.jpg 

The power of words

Are we really conscious of what we say things? Can our words mean something completely different for other people?

We all know that communication is based on specific words with connotative meaning of each language. But we often forget that there is also a denotative meaning given by the historical, social and cultural context of a particular group.

When we start learning a new language is important to recognize that the words given by the dictionary will not always be useful for us to communicate properly, because if we do not understand the context in which they apply, we will not achieve the receiver to understand our message clearly.

The N-Word in North American is attached to a past of violence, segregation, discrimination and slavery associated with black and brown bodies, treating African Americans as second class citizens or worse. As early 17th century the word “negro” evolved to “nigger” as intentionally derogatory, and it has never been able to detach itself from this unwanted and painful meaning.

The conflict with this word lies on two different yet current perspectives:

On one hand it is the word as an insult that has tormented generations of African Americans. Linked to a history of violence, brutality and derogatory actions rooted on the psyches of African American people.

And on the other hand, is the meaning used lightly on the pop culture. For instance, the popular song call "My Nigga" by American rapper YG, that shows off for the world the N-Word as a synonym of "dude", "brother" or "friend".

All this leaves at the discretion of each, old or young, the use for this word. This could be dangerous because It can be used just as word but it can also be somethins way more meaningful.

Here I leave a video to help us understand the perspective of real African American people nowadays. Lets not forget that language is powerful. And as U.S Supreme Court Justice, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. posits:
 “ A word is the skin of a living thought”. 

jueves, 21 de mayo de 2015

The Haka: Another Māori Cultural Expression

Maybe you have seen the dance that “All Blacks” team performs before a game and how powerful and terrifying they look. But, did you know that this kind of dance is also performed in social events?
Haka means dance and originally was a war dance meant to intimidate and scare the enemy, showing the passion and strength of the tribe. The legend has it that Tamanui-to-ra (The sun god) had two wives: Hine-ramauti (summer) and Hine-takurua (winter). Tamanui-to-ra and Hine-raumati had a son called Tane-rore who is the trembling of the air that is observable in the hot days of summer; his presence is represented by the quivering of the hands in the dance. 
In a performance, the haka dancers show the white of their eyes and their tongue, while clapping hands, rhythmically slapping them against their body and violently stomping with their feet. Male and female can dance it, in fact, there are some haka specially made for women (ka panapana).
In the past, they grunted and cried to the ancestors asking for help so they could win the battle, while using their weapons and doing fierce facial expression; this was the peruperu. But nowadays, the weapons are not used anymore, because the dance takes place in other type of celebrations such as welcoming visitors, important events and even funerals; this type of haka is named taparahi.

The haka is not only a dance, actually it’s a meaningful expression of pride and unity. What this practice represents should be an example for us to appreciate our own cultural origins and to preserve them as part of our identity.
Would you imagine us dancing or watching a group performing the pürún (Mapuche’s dance) during an important celebration? We may dance cueca, but what about our indigenous origins?

Before finishing this entry, I’d like you to read this definition of Haka provided by Alan Armstrong in 1964. Even though he’s not Māori, I consider that what he says can improve our understanding of the importance of this practice for Māori people and its meaning:

 “Hands, feet, legs, body, voice, eyes and tongue all play their part in joining together to bring in their fullness the challenge, welcome, exultation, defiance or contempt of the words. It is disciplined, yet emotional. More than any other aspect of Maori culture, this complex dance is an expression of the vigor, passion and identity of the race. It is at its best, truly, a message of the soul expressed by posture and words.’’

And finally, here you have some pictures of a typical Māori welcoming (including the haka, of course), but pay attention to the visitors. Do you think this symbolizes national versus foreign identity?

Louis Moeau, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Hiria Hape

Watch this video! 


By Carla Menares

Black women and the “F” word.

As we know, there is a BIG amount of underrated black people that fought for their liberation, but history has always put men first, leaving behind women. In this blog entry, I will set aside HIStory to talk a bit of the “F” word involved in black women HERStory.

Patricia Hill Collins, a sociologist, defined Black feminism as including "women who theorize the experiences and ideas shared by ordinary black women that provide a unique angle of vision on self, community, and society".

Despite their affinity with white women in terms of gender, they were nonetheless subordinate to them, because white women had access to authority and power which black women lacked. Also, many white feminists act like black woman didn’t know about the existence of sexist oppression since they give them the voice of the feminist sentiment. Besides that, Black Liberation Movements put aside black women too, exposing a clear racial, sexual and class oppression. Those are some of the reasons why many black feminist movements started to appear.

In the same way, many movements appeared in the African-American Civil Rights Movement period. Feminist leaders were inspired by the Civil Rights movement, through which many of them had gained civic organizing experience. At the same time, black women played a key role in the Civil Rights movement, especially through local organizations, but were shut out of leadership roles.

To finish, white feminism cannot name itself as hegemonic, both are in the same fight and they have to unite to overcome. Also, I think change can come out by redefining, redistributing power and reevaluating the criteria designed by men. For me feminism does not strive for equality because it takes the male status quo as the standard to which women aspire and feminist do not want men to share their oppression.


What does “feminism” means to you? Would you call yourself a feminist? Why?

A tight trip

If we go back to the times of slavery we are going to find with a lot of dramatics things and conditions, now I’m going to write a bit about one of them: Slave ships.
When I was reading an article the last week I realized the slaves was transported by ship, but in those ships were more than 500 people, including kids and women and all of them crowded, each one next each other, most of them couldn’t breath, therefore they died in the journey to The U.S.
After I red the article I started to search on the internet more information about, because I was really impacted, I couldn’t believe that.
I found a page with information about the conditions and all the trip on that ship, and I’ll let a little piece of information:

“Conditions aboard the slave ships were wretched. Men, women and children crammed into every available space, denied adequate room, food or breathing space. The stench was appalling - the atmosphere inhumane to say the least. The Reverend Robert Walsh served aboard one of the ships assigned to intercept the slavers off the African coast. On the morning of May 22, 1829, a suspected slaver was sighted and the naval vessel gave chase. The next day, a favorable wind allowed the interceptor to gain on its quarry and approach close enough to fire two shots across her bow. The slaver heaved to and an armed party from the interceptor scrambled aboard her.”

Here is a pic of the ship and also how the people was crowded.

Now… let’s reflect, if we were on that year what will you do?

Would you go out and fight for the civil rights, specifically, black rights?

If you want to read more about this I’ll let you two sources with interesting information: 

The Beautiful Culture of Australian Aborigines

Hello everyone!
The text about Australian Aborigines called my attention, for this reason I searched more information and I share it with you.
The indigenous culture of Australia is one of the oldest and most fascinating. The Aboriginal population is very diverse, with different lifestyles, languages and traditions. However, these diverse societies are united under a single link of harmony with the nature called "Dreamtime".
Resultado de imagen para aborigenes australianos dreamtimeThe Dreamtime is a sacred, mythological and supernatural period in which ancestral spirit beings have shaped the earth and everything in it.
They believe that everything in the natural world is a footprint left  from metaphysical beings whose actions in the past created our world. Therefore mountains, rocks, rivers, etc. are the memory of the origin of all things.
The past is still alive in their present lives and will remain so in the future. It is a complex network of knowledge that penetrates all the spiritual and physical aspects of the life of an indigenous Australian. Thus, they consider that full extent of the land is a part of their body, everything is in sync, and the energy flows with them.
On one hand, Aboriginal people believe that everyone has a part of his nature which is eternal. The people then live a life within time (since became body by being born from a mother) and die for back again to an eternal life; they never cease to exist. In other words, life in Dreamtime has no beginning or end. But for us, life is but a fleeting instance, a gap in eternity.
On the another hand, they have an intangible relationship between their  music, beliefs and the land. They preserve the heritage through a tradition of mythological Dreamtime stories, and music has always played a central role in their cultural identity.
The culture is in close harmony with their environment. In this fashion, music is an imitation of natural sounds. The typical instrument of this production is the didgeridoo.

Now, how do we react to this culture?

Resultado de imagen para aborigenes australianos

For us it may sound mystical or mysterious, because we think rationally, but to get a better understanding of Aboriginal culture, we must open our minds and imagine the world before the development of reasoning and questioning.

Here I leave you with a video of their music

martes, 21 de abril de 2015

Up Helly Aa, the Viking Fire Festival in Scotland!

Hello everyone! I would like to share with you a very interesting topic about a huge Scottish celebration not widely known for us, called “Up Helly Aa”.

Up Helly Aa is a traditional fire (yes, fire!) festival that originated in the 1880s in the Shetland town of Lerwick, Scotland. Since then, the festival has been an annual occurrence for centuries, taking place on the last days of January.

But where did this remarkable practice come from?...

Marking the end of Christmas and New Year, this carnival is a celebration about Shetland history based in an older Yule tradition of tar barreling, when squads of young men dragging barrels of burning tar through town on sledges, making disasters and mischiefs. Over the years, the tradition became more and more elaborate, introducing Viking themes, music, dances, torch processions and a replica of a Viking Galley to be burned!

Today the Up Helly Aa every year show us how a thousand of streetlights are off and the streets shrouded in darkness when nearly a thousand torches are simultaneously lit and the procession sets off for the site where the Viking galley is then burned. Can you imagine that magical picture?

But before that, all squads (each about 20 men) spend the whole night visiting twelve festival halls. They present a dance routine or other specially rehearsed act for the hall’s community host group, dance with one of the host ladies then leave.

Honestly I think the interesting and awesome fact here is that the Scottish people can see how around 900 costumed "guizers", complete with winged helmets, sheepskins and axes and shields, goes to the streets to recreate the town's ancient past.

They can revive their history every year giving to the people a deep sense of belonging and make a very realistic travel to their roots.

I leave with you a video, enjoy it! :)...