hi everyone,

please use the comment section of this blog post to add you project ideas before class on monday – so that we can all see what everyone’s interests are to work towards creating groups around topics. – GL

Blackboards of Rudolf Steiner

Following the story of an adopted black child on “This is Us”; Challenging the white savior narrative

I’ve been watching a TV show on NBC lately called This is US, which follows the story of a white family who was about to have triplets, and when one of the triplets dies, they end up adopting a black child who was left at a fire station. It switches off from when the family’s kids are 9 years old and when the family’s kids are 36 years old.

So often in the media when a well-off white family adopts a black child, they are simply seen as saviors and problematic/complex issues of mixed race families are not addressed. However, I think This is Us does a good job of addressing how the white family was unprepared for these complexities and how Randall, the black child, struggles with his own racial identity. When he is 36, he finds his birth father and bonds with him out of feeling incomplete with white adoptive parents. The show addresses problematic aspects of how the family thought that “replacing” a white child with a neglected black child isn’t simple and is problematic, and that black child development is inherently different than white child development.

the ultimate message in this show is that although the parents provided a safe and loving home, there were a lot of things that they couldn’t provide Randall with as a black man because they were white and didn’t understand his experience in the world

This recap demonstrates part of these struggles, starting at 0:10

Black Model recreates Fashion Shoots Featuring White Models

I think women of color being represented in the world of modeling is so important and I love what this model did! I also recognized the link between the “purchasing privilege”s group and what this model did because I remember their group critiquing the lack of women of color in the modeling industry, and the especially harmful elements of allowing white models to model culturally appropriative clothing.

However, I do want to comment on the fact that this model has a similar body type to the other models; tall and skinny. It would be AMAZING to see women of color and women of different body types to be seen more in the modeling industry.


Tomi Lahren and Trevor Noah

It’s been interesting to see the discussions going on after Trevor Noah’s interview with Tomi Lahren. Some people have been praising Noah for using the platform to discredit Lahren’s racist views. However, other people have been arguing that by inviting Lahren on his show as if she were anyone, he is normalizing her racism.

I’ll link a few articles around the issue if anyone is interested in looking into it more. I’m also interested in hearing if anyone else has any opinions on the interview and what it means to interview someone like her.


Hi everyone,

Here’s the link to our petition.


The Complexity of Sports & Solidarity highlighted in New Film ‘Race’

Over thanksgiving break I saw, Race, a sports drama film about African American athlete Jesse Owens, who won a record-breaking four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games. Race is partly a biographical drama about legendary gold medalist Jesse Owens and partly a historical drama about the American Olympic Committee’s controversial decision to attend the Nazi-run 1936 Olympics.

The thorniest question, partly addressed by the film, is whether Owens should or shouldn’t have competed. Would a boycott by America’s foremost athlete have made the point more strongly than the gold medals he won, right in the Nazis’ faces? It’s a dilemma echoed by the #OscarSoWhite controversy and decisions by Will Smith and others not to attend, and even more recently with the backlash Collin Kaepernick is receiving. I believe Owen’s story is very relevant as to why athletes have every right to capitalize on their participation in major sporting events to challenge injustices.

In the United States, Owens found himself caught in a struggle between the president of the Amateur Athletic Union, who urged an American boycott of the ’36 Summer Games. But we know this doesn’t happen. What actually happened was a haughty industrialist named Avery Brundage, who argued for American participation and stated that politics had no place in the Olympics, negotiated the terms of American participation with Goebbels (Hitler’s second in command) to allow limited participation by Jewish athletes. Owens, under enormous pressure from both sides, vacillates, but eventually goes to Berlin. Before he makes his decision, there is a factually inaccurate moment where representatives of the N.A.A.C.P. visit and gently plead with him to boycott the Games.

The real-life letter written to Owens by NAACP secretary Walter White argues “how hypocritical it is for certain Americans to point the finger of scorn at any other country for racial […] bigotry”, which is certainly backed up by the humiliating compromises Brundage went on to make. “I don’t know if there’s that much difference, deep down,” says Owens, in the film’s boldest line, about his own nation and Germany.

In another poignant moments, Carl “Luz” Long, Owens’s German challenger for the long jump, befriends Owens, gives him crucial advice and expresses his loathing of the Nazi agenda. Although this dramatic moment almost feels too good to be true, it really took place. Because this interaction undercut Hitler’s racist agenda, Luz Long was stripped of all his titles and forced to enlist following the olympic games. Owens remained friends with Long until he died in 1943 while fighting for Germany in World War II.

The film is complex and educational, though it has issues of representation and posits that sports should always rise above the political, I think everyone should give it a watch!



Media and the environment

I have been writing my thesis about the iPhone as a tool of cultural imperialism, and since the election I have not been able to touch it. Something about it grossed out and I couldn’t quite figure out why. For weeks I stared at my paper and couldn’t write a word, something inside of me knowing it wasn’t right. Upon reading The Media Ecosystem, I realized I had been missing an incredibly large part of the argument. THE ENVIRONMENT! I had unknowingly left it out completely from my argument. Some of the quotes that stood out to me so much are:

“the primary economic model of colonial media is to enclose the cultural commons through intellectual property laws, monopolization, and control of the technological infrastructure” (López, P. 42).

“The goal of colonization and its key implication for media is that people have to be trained to take on an alien perspective as their own. In one example, the great anticolonial writer Frantz Fanon described this psychological condition as having black skin with a white mask we adapt the mentality and belief systems of colonization as a mask, with media encouraging us to accept the exploitation as normal, even desirable.” (López, P.16)

“Hegemony’s center of gravity is based on a convergence between information cartels, centralized energy monopolies, consolidated financial trusts, multinational corporations (food, pharmaceuticals, mining), and the global security state that shores up the planetary corporatocracy. In the short run, for these groups, this is a very ‘successful’ system. A small number of people are getting very, very, very rich from it. Like trolls, they thrive on other people’s misery and can only succeed in conditions of chaos.” (López, P. 47)


“Unlike the alien-like mentality that permeates the world system, as earthlings we have an innate ability to empathize, feel love, experience beauty, seek connection, and desire wholeness. Our capacity for war, greed, destruction and delusion is not unnatural, but neither is it normal or inevitable. It is the result of conditioning, manipulation and trauma…ancient cultures, believed in the anima mundi—world spirit. It is common for indigenous cultures to view the universe and all its creations as alive. So instead of the modern Euro-American cultural assumption, ‘I think, therefore I am”, they believe ‘it all thinks, therefore I am”. They live in a participatory and reciprocal cosmos as opposed to a vertically controlled, hierarchically structured system of reality” (López, P. 20)

Relevance of Media Studies (Week 9)

In thinking about how and why the study of media should be taught in school, it is important to think about the ever increasing impact that media has on society. One of the most recent uses of media has been the creation of fake news sites. More than ever, the study and understanding of media is crucial even if understanding if a news story is real or fake. I think this article does a good job explaining why it is important for us to always be analyzing media in the context of fake news.





Fidel Castro’s Death: Learning from his Successes and Shortcomings

The death of Fidel Castro offers an excellent opportunity to think about some fundamental concepts of queer revolution and solidarity. Castro is a complex figure, and I have no interest in overlooking his shortcomings or the real harms for which he should be held accountable. But let us remember that, until very recently, every US president had no trouble being outspokenly homophobic. There’s a great video that is freely available on the internet called “When AIDS Was Funny.” Do a quick search. It’s basically a mashup of White House press briefings in which Reagan’s staff is on tape laughing at gay people dying. So spare any ahistorical homonormative narratives about how progressive the US and Canada are because now there is gay marriage, when there are still queer and trans people murdered on a daily basis, and still nobody cares, even lots of gay people, because the ones who are dying are mostly poor and mostly people of color.

I believe America needs to compartmentalize their critiques of Castro’s homophobia given the success of his universal literacy and health care campaigns. He also virtually eliminated homelessness, or at least made considerable strides where we, America, have made virtually none. “But he hated queers!” you still think? What do you think helps most queer people more: the “freedom to marry” and a president/prime minster who smiles and waves while walking down the street in a gay pride parade, or access to one of the best, and free, educational and medical systems in the world (especially when you look at per capita cost), not to mention a place to live, because no one “owns” property, and therefore there is no landlord raising your rent 5, 10, 20% every year. No it should not be a choice and while Castro hardly created a perfect society, these things went a long way towards creating a state that was invested in creating conditions for the masses, especially the people of color most affected by institutional racism, to do more than just survive, but also live and thrive.

Filmmaker and queer / trans rights activist, Kami Chisholm, shared:

I am constantly decrying LGBT people’s narrow investments in SINGLE ISSUE POLITICS. We are setting the standards damn low if all it takes to be non-homophobic is to say some nice things. I don’t give a shit about what politicians say. I care about what they do, especially for the people who aren’t their target demographic and aren’t their campaign donors. And if they are leaving masses of people who are poor to die, but support gay marriage, in my book they are not “gay friendly” and they don’t deserve any fucking praise and endorsement.

I don’t give a shit if, in San Francisco, where I lived at the time, I could go to a gay pride parade attended by more than 1 million and party openly in gay clubs, while when I visited Cuba that same year I could only find other queers by word of mouth about which bar or beach people were congregating at. I don’t care that the one queer dance party I went to while I was there was shut down/raided by the police (also, they just shut of the music etc, they didn’t beat or arrest anyone). Yeah, folks had to live underground to some extent, and that caused problems, it was hard, and I am not trying to minimize its effects. What I am trying to offer here is context, and the following observation, which probably would be a shocking idea to many gay people in the US and Canada:

I would rather live some place where I didn’t have gay pride or clubs and had to be somewhat underground if it meant that EVERYONE, and I mean ALL OF US, had health care, a place to live, and education. You heard me. I would then fight like mad to combat homophobia and transphobia, but I would be doing it from a place in which we all had the basics to live.

So no, I don’t want to hear about Castro’s homophobia, and – until everyone in the US and Canada has a place to live, access to health care, and free education – I’m really not interested in hearing any such criticisms or nationalistic bullshit about how great it is to be gay here as opposed to ‘over there.’

My point is not that Castro should be exempt from criticism, but exactly what has he done that the US hasn’t also done a million times over and far worse? No, that doesn’t make it ok, but you have heard the expression about throwing stones in glass houses, right? And such criticisms, without taking into account the very many truly unique and revolutionary things about Cuba, its history, and its practices, is nothing more than western exceptionalism, nationalism, and imperialismAnd no, I’m not happy about how far “we” have come that gays here get to mouth all the same exceptionalist, nationalist, and imperialist bullshit in the name of gay rights and anti-homophobia. I hate to break it to you – well, no, I don’t… I hate that I have to – but that is not progress, nor is it something to have “pride” in.

RIP Fidel. I wish for a world in which more people have a vision like yours. May they learn from your successes, and also from your mistakes and failures.”

The horrors and delights of technology explored in TV Show ‘Black Mirror’

My roommate recently showed me an episode of this show, and it feels like it should be required viewing for our always connected, device-augmented lives. Each episode of “Black Mirror” — named for the way our screens look while powered down — paints a different nightmarescape of a future gone technologically awry. Anyone who has skimmed Guy Debord’s Wikipedia page or watched the AMAs could condemn our culture as a masquerade, a spectacle of virtuality. But ‘Black Mirror’ proves this in a disturbing new way.

I only had the chance to watch the beginning of an episode. Phones were firmly in hand, everyone rated the interactions they had with one another and the photos they posted on their profiles — no matter how banal — on a scale from one to five stars. Every rating affected a person’s overall standing. The higher your rating, the more perks you got; the lower your rating, the harder you had to work to keep yourself afloat.

It was incredibly scary, but not that far-fetched. The sly ingenuity of each scenario is that the show nails down our love for the same devices we blame for our psychological torment.

Despite all the recent hype however, “Black Mirror” isn’t a new show at all. Its first season was broadcast in Britain in 2011, but it’s enjoying a new surge of interest in the United States since it began streaming on Netflix in December. It wasn’t widely advertised; its growing popularity is fueled by references to it on Twitter and Facebook, screenshots posted to Tumblr and the like. The fact that the show probably owes its American stature to social media is perfectly appropriate, since the series fixates on our codependent and contradictory relationship with technology and media.


Hidden Figures

I recently saw a trailer for a film that I think is incredibly relevant to what we’ve been talking about in class. Hidden Figures is a true story about three important African American women (Katherine G. Johnson, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughan) who worked at NASA and were vital in helping the launch of astronaut John Glenn.  My project group is focused on BLM and media and this film showcases intelligent, successful women of color making important contributions to the world and in the STEM field. Of course it’s hard to say because the film hasn’t come out yet, but do you guys think based on this trailer that this will do good for African American representation in media?