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! :)...

domingo, 19 de abril de 2015

Problems after the rainbow: Another atrocious tale of rape.

South Africa has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world because it grants equality and protection to homosexual families, allowing them to adopt, serve in the military, change their legal gender and so on. Unfortunately, there’s a problem with the people respecting what is written. In some parts of South Africa they are highly discriminated and practices as “Corrective rape” are disturbing the population. This phenomenon is getting more common. Men ensure to “cure” lesbians sexual orientation by raping them.

"After everything we're going to do to you, you're going to be a real woman, and you're never going to act like this again". That’s what one of the four rapists of Mvuleni Fana said to her after they beat and rape her. She was walking her way home from football practice. She survived but others victims haven’t got the same luck as her. In the last 15 years, 31 women have died because of this and in the majority of the cases there are not punishments for the rapists. In fact, South Africa has the highest level of rape assault in the world affecting directly women, lesbians and transgender woman.

The country has to be faithful to what they proclaim and keep the promise of the post-apartheid era: be a “Rainbow Nation” where everyone is free and equal. It’s a big step approving these laws but if the government it is not giving the people the same rights and protection, Where’s the credibility?

Why is this in our human traits? It’s becoming something natural? What it’s in the mind of the rapist when he commits this horrendous act?

These are acts of hate and misogyny. It’s time to end with the rape culture. It can’t keep exploding in the news every day. This has to be stopped! 

viernes, 17 de abril de 2015

Jack the Ripper (England Culture)

 Jack the Ripper

Hi guys!

Let me tell you about something that really caught my attention when I was researching about England and her culture, the famous Jack the ripper.
You may think that this man was not even real, but it turns out it was one of the most cruel serial killer in the country, specifically in London, terrorizing an entire people that can’t even go out to the streets because of the fear in their hearts.
Obviously it is hard to believe, but let me tell you this mysterious and exciting story from the beginning.

I was researching 1 topic in general, which it was about the culture and the people of London when suddenly I notice that people in the 19th century (Victorian era) was so scared of walking in the streets of London, why? It was all because of a man known as Jack the ripper. From the moment I read that, the curiosity ran through my veins and I couldn’t help investigate this man.

Jack the ripper (as people called it) was a serial killer that to this day remains anonymous, in their murders were involved most of the time female prostitutes.

Nobody could ever solve the mystery and nobody could catch jack, but, what has all this to do with the culture of England? , beyond the fear of the people at that time, the media spread the story of jack all across the country until this man became folklore in England and an inspiration for a lot of movies and biographies. 

Nowadays the story of Jack the Ripper is recognized in every single place of the Earth.

Do you think that the legend of this man impulse London to be a tourist place and also at that time to be the cause of so much fear in the people? 

Linguistic Diversity in the United States

First of all, I chose this language issue to show you the linguistic diversity produced by the long-ago migrations to the United States. Immigration to the United States caused a whole variety of different languages to be spoken there.

To possess an official language is of great importance within a country because it would be the language the whole nation will use for many purposes, such as, legal, educational, administrative, etc. In this context, English is the most spoken language in the United States, but is not official at the federal level . However, many states independently have modified their own legislation which declare English as their own official language.

The second most spoken language is Spanish, followed by approximately 300 other languages​​. This reflects a great beauty that lies in its cultural diversity. In this fashion, the linguistic variety in this country gives a sense of belonging and defines their identity, making it a multicultural and multilingual country.

As in many places, there are people for and against the formalization of English language in the U.S.A. On one hand,  some of the reasons for not formalizing the English language are: the social value of foreign languages knowledge, a belief in tolerance for linguistic diversity, and the cultural freedom of those who come from another country. On the other hand, the ones who are for this formalization believe that the English language may unit people as a nation, and also that the linguistic assimilation of only one spoken language is beneficial to the social order and wellness.

Now, how do you think the formalization of a language may influence the country's identity?

Do you think that the U.S.A would lose its freedom and multicultural identity if it formalizes English as an official language?

Here I leave you with a web site where you can identify the different spoken languages in the U.S.A.

jueves, 16 de abril de 2015

The struggle for a flag

When I think about a country, one of the first things that it comes to my mind is the flag, but when the conflicts go beyond religion and political perspectives, even this symbol becomes a subject of discussion.
While I was searching some information for Ireland’s map, I realized that Northern Ireland is the only one constituent country of the United Kingdom that doesn’t have its own flag. My confusion got bigger when I found out the many different flags that can be used.
Saint Patrick’s saltire was representative of the Kingdom of Ireland, but when it was divided, the Republic of Ireland adopted The Tricolour and started to use the flag of Ulster to represent the north province. In 1953, the Government of Northern Ireland stablished the Ulster Banner as the official flag, but in 1973 the parliament was abolished and so it was the flag. Since then, the ‘’Union Jack’’ has been the official emblem. Nowadays, the Ulster Banner represents Unionists (Protestants), but Republicans (Catholics) prefer the flag of the Ulster Province. 
Although the differences, I found out that the red hand of Ulster, which represents the bloody hand of a member of the O’Neill family, it seems to be the one who symbolizes Northern Ireland without any complaint, because it’s the result of an ancient legend about how a man became king.
Something that caught my attention was the fact that even the sports have been affected by this confusion, for example, the national football team uses the Ulster Banner, but the rugby team shows the Four Provinces Flag or the IRFU Flag.

So, what flag should I use to represent this country without being rude to anyone? This disagreement has caused street protests, fights and even more polarization.

Saint Patrick's saltire and the Union Jack

The Flag of Ulster

 The Ulster Banner

 The Four Provinces Flag of Ireland

The IRFU Flag

By Carla Menares