October 30, 2009

Work Study Insight

Here's what Joniece has to say:
What’s so funny about Big Black Woman?
This topic has always been a question that I have had in mind. Why must a large black woman be the butt of many jokes in television and film? Seeing that black people are already marginalized as it is, being big and being a woman seems to be worse to the media. These women are usually portrayed as being ugly, mean, or rude, but are there not other types of people that also fit this trend.

I myself am a “Big Black Woman” and I do not see myself as any of these things. I am a very smart, intelligent, and beautiful woman who takes pride in who I am. I also have a group of friends that would be considered big and black but they share similar qualities to me. I am aware of how people may stereotype me and although this does not matter to me, there are many girls may age or even older that may have lower self esteem due to how society views us.

I have been taught to appreciate who I am and the body that I have and I know that if I am not happy with then I could do something to change it. In the past I have been with friends of mine and a guy would commit and say to us, "you are pretty for a dark skinned girl" or "you are pretty for a big girl." What exactly are they trying to say by this? Is this supposed to be a compliment? Is he respectfully trying to insult me? I do not understand it at all. How about "you are very pretty" and leave it at that?

I guess society has taught him that maybe finding us attractive is not such a good thing. Whatever the case may be, I know that I am a beautiful black woman and I am very proud of who I am and what I look like.

Elyssa says:
When I first saw the ad for “Latino in America”, I was actually quite intrigued. I was interested in what the media was going to do to portray the fastest growing minority in America. I thought it was going to be stories of hope and success with some emphasis on hard times and people’s struggle to achieve the American Dream. However, according to the reviews on Racialicious, I didn’t really miss out on much.

From what I read it sounded like CNN and Soledad O’Brien did a horrible job and just focused a lot on the negative stories. Indeed from what I read it seemed they just played up many of the stereotypes you hear about Latinos. I honestly thought the series was going to be about how Latinos are changing the face and shape of the American culture. I mean one of the ad’s slogans was “Instead of keeping up with the Jones’, try keeping up with the Garcia’s.” I guess that was a little misleading because according to Arturo R. Garcia from Racialicious, “Most of the people featured were not ‘changing’ their communities- they were being victimized by them. They were pregnant, suicidal (or pregnant and suicidal), caught in an immigration raid, losing their cultural roots, facing an uphill job struggle or isolated in their churches.” Yup, that definitely sounds like stereotyping to me.

You know this kind of bothers me that they can’t do a quality show about being Latino in America without bringing up so many of the negative stereotypes. Why can’t they just focus on the stories of those who overcame them, not the ones who fall into them? I don’t know, maybe my expectations were too high. Or maybe I don’t really know what I’m talking about since I haven’t seen it. All I know is that if it’s anything like what I read about then I don’t want to see it.

Antonio writes:
I had an interesting conversation the other day. I met someone at Stonehill (a college employee) and we got to chatting. In our conversation he asked me where I was from, to which I responded “New York”. He asked “Where in New York?”, and when I responded “The Bronx”, he had a look of surprise. He said “The Bronx? Really?? Isn’t it really dangerous there? I’d be afraid to go there. They’d look at me and shoot me.” I responded, “Like most places, the Bronx has some parts that are dangerous, and it also has some parts that are really nice like Riverdale.” What shocked me most was his next response. “If Riverdale is such a nice place what’s it doing in the Bronx. Shouldn’t its own separate place?”

I hate that I am sometimes immediately judged by where I live. While this person may not have necessarily made any personal judgments on my character based on this, I have met people who have in the past. In the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, I was having a conversation with a new student about where we were from. When she found out I was from the Bronx she had an expression of disbelief. “You’re not from the Bronx, look at you. You speak properly, you dress nicely…where are you really from?”. There is just this contant stereotype that is perpetuated about people from a certain place. According to this student, everyone from the Bronx dressed poorly and couldn’t speak proper english. I know from talking to people here that they too have gone through it coming from Brockton or certain parts of Boston. It’s really disappointing that certain judgments are automatically made just on learning where you are from. This isn’t restricted to communities with reputations for being dangerous or low income, it can apply to others as well. I guarantee if I had said “I’m from the Hamptons”, the opposite would be assumed of me. “He must live in a big house and have lots of money. He’s probably spoiled and doesn’t know what its like to work for something.” I have friends on both ends of the spectrum, from both higher income families and lower income families, and all of them have told me of how they have to fight stereotypes before anyone even knows them. This is something that has to change. If we can’t even get past something as trivial as where we are from, how can we expect to begin addressing larger and more pressing matters.