Posts

Text Review Assignment “American Son” (2019) – L. Williams

The movie American Son (2019), is a more recent movie that has very noticeable systemic and racial injustices throughout it. The movie is particularly about an African American mother (Kendra Conner) and her separated white husband (Steven Conner) who are at a police station unaware of their son’s (Jamal Conner) whereabouts after he had left the house the night before after a fight with his mother. Where the racism and injustice comes into play is with the police officer (Paul Larkin) who makes several remarks to Kendra, about Jamal, before her husband gets there. Officer Larkin continually says things implying that Jamal is a bad kid because he is black. Officer Larkin asks Kendra several questions that are stereotypically asked for black men, even though Jamal is a straight A student and is at the top of his class. Officer Larkin asks questions such as, if Jamal has had any past run-ins with the law, if he has ever stolen anything, if he had any “street names”, if he was part of any gangs, and if he has ever been caught with drugs. However, the racists remarks do not stop at officer Larkin, but continue further when Kendra’s separated husband arrives. As Steven goes about to say that Jamal has been talking with “black slang” and has been wearing his pants low like a “gangster”. Mr. Conner goes on to state that him and Mrs. Conner did not spend “over a quarter million dollars to send Jamal to a private high-school for him to become a thug like the rest of the black folk”. This type of systemic racism and racist remarks made towards Jamal and his mother made me think of a few correlations between this movie, and readings we have had thought the semester. One of the readings being Hegel’s The Master-Slave Dialect. The reason I thought about this reading is because of officer Larkin’s way of talking and the way he wanted to assert that he was “in-charge” or rather the “master” of the situation. The other reading that I thought really related to Kendra Conner was Gayatri Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?”. I thought this reading really related because it felt like Mrs. Conner was the subaltern the entire movie and was being talked down on, and was treated as if she was lesser than the two white men. One thing I think the creator of the movie really wants the audience to take away after watching the film is how this occurrence happens more often then not with police and African American men and women. The creator wants the audience to think about how this is just one example of how African Americans are treated in society and I think they want the audience to ask themselves how they can help change and make a difference in police brutality and systemic injustice.

Movie Scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hVIPdQDGmc

Movie Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dbKZlSwAS3M

 

Text Review “American Son”

I watched the movie “American Son” on a Sunday afternoon not expected to be completely drawn in and impacted like I was. As soon as I read this assignment I knew I had to not only write about it but encourage you to watch it.

The entire movie takes place in one room and begins with worried mother Kendra Ellis- Connor seeking answers about the whereabouts of her son Jamal who had went out with friends the night before and had not returned home nor contacted her which was out of character for him.  Jamal was a good student , son , and was headed to West Point.  Kendra is questioned by an officer while waiting on her husband to arrive.  His questions included things about wether Jamal had a street name, priors, and even gold teeth. He insisted that these questions were standard but Kendra knew they were because of the color of her skin.  The police officer gives Kendra little to no information but when an FBI agent walks in he finally shares the information he has not knowing that it was Jamals father and Kendras ex husband Scott. The officer responded differently to Scott because he was white and it took a while for the officer to understand who he was.  Most of the movie is the parents trying to get answers and replaying the events leading up to the evening . Race, gender, and class are are discussed not only in how they raised their son to respond to police but in police procedures themselves.  I won’t say how the movie ends but it will leave you with a deeper understanding of how profiling and racism is impacting society.  Actually saying you will have an understanding is an understatement. The writers have made it so you see things through Kendras eyes and feel what she felt. If you sit on the side of privilege in this world you will be sitting in silence after the movie has stopped with a lot of emotions to sort through.

Text Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is a fictional story taking place in Afghanistan that follows the converging lives of Mariam and Laila, two women from different socioeconomic statuses that end up married to the same man. Mariam is the illegitimate child of a wealthy businessman who is forced to marry Rasheed, who is abusive. Conversely, Laila grew up in a loving home however when her parents are killed in the erupting violence of the war between Afghanistan and the Soviet Union, she is taken in by Mariam and Rasheed, where she is manipulated into also marrying Rasheed. The story follows the two women’s lives as they become entangled with each other.

The theme of identity is very apparent in how the main characters lived prior to their marriage. Mariam’s life, which has been shaped by being unwanted and abused because of the status of her illegitimate birth and her infertility, made her a victim to the standards that she is held to as a wife. On the other hand, Lila, was brought up in a loving household that valued women’s education and individuality. The vast contrast in their identity and socioeconomic background initially caused resentment. Mariam resents Laila for the affection Rasheed shows her as well as her fertility. However, as time goes on, they begin to see each other as allies.

As the story continues Rasheed starts to abuse both women mentally and physically. He asserts his dominance over both women fueled by a society highly impacted by the presence of the Taliban. The initial imbalance of power in their relationship is what drives the women together, and together they take back their power eventually resulting in Rasheed’s death. The power struggle in the novel parallels Hegel’s “The Master-Slave Dialect.” The women and Rasheed are constantly struggling against each other and serve as threats to the others’ happiness. Rasheed desires blind submission and for his wives to act on all his wishes. The women desire safety and security, that they initially believe will come from their marriage to Rasheed. Rasheed views his wives as his slaves, and it is only when the women band together that they break this master-slave relationship. The novel quite literally incorporates a “struggle to the death” as described by Hegel.

This novel brings to light many realizations and questions. I think that Hosseini wanted his reader to investigate some of the power struggles that he has witnessed in Afghanistan and force his reader to look into how ideologies like the master-slave dialect can impact relationships. I think he also aims at giving readers a glance into the extreme changes in the social climate of Afghanistan as a result of the Afghani Soviet war, Taliban, and the events following 911. His work particularly focuses on the impact that these events had on women, broadening his readers’ understanding of what these women went through and how their identity shifted.

 

Text Review- “Just Mercy”

Just Mercy is a movie about the story of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) founded by Bryan Steveson, a civil rights defense attorney. EJI is a nonprofit organization based in Montgomery Alabama that strides to end mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the U.S., challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society (https://eji.org/). The story is about the early days of EJI when mass incarceration, death sentencing, and execution rates were very high in the 1980s. The story is of one of their first clients, Walter McMillian, who was a young black man stopped by police while driving home from work and charged with a murder he did not commit and got the death sentence. There was no evidence against him except a convicted criminal who was manipulated to lie as testimony and 17 witnesses who vouched for McMillian’s whereabouts at the time of the murder. Ultimately the Supreme Court grants McMillian his retrial. Stevenson (lawyer) then moves to have the charges dismissed entirely and the District attorney, Chapman, finally changes his initial fight against the EJI and agrees to join him in his motion. The case is dismissed and Walter Mcmillian is a free man and returns home. Identity, power and injustice are very present in this movie. Due to McMillian’s identity as a black man, he is treated unfairly and unjust. There is systemic racism in Alabama in the higher positions of power such as the courts and police. It is clearly shown in the movie, these officers and the district attorney knew McMillian did not commit this murder yet were okay placing the blame on him and having him die. This relates to the class ideas of racism and the master and slave. White people see themselves as better than and in power over the black people. The works of John Lewis’ March and Martin Luther’s Letter from Birmingham Jail aid in understanding this concept. The Police force is a structure of power and therefore police brutality is a systemic injustice. Martin Luther said in the letter, “political leaders consistently refused to engage in good faith negotiation” which is systemic because these are people of power as well. The Civil Rights Movement combated many injustices including Jim Crow Laws, segregation, voter suppression and many more things people did not view as racist. This was a great time of change. This movie and the concepts allow us to understand the truth and reality of racism and how near and true it is and was still today.

Text Review – The Americans

This text review will go over the concept of master and slave within the world of The Americans. To start off, this show is a period drama in which Russian KGB illegals are living within the United States. To begin, this show struck me as odd when we are introduced to the KGB agents. They are a married couple with two kids who were naturally born within the United States. The overall mission for the couple was to essentially root themselves into American society and become just like any other suburban American family. Their task comes from the “Center”, the overall commanding presence of the show. Every bit of their lives is controlled by the Center and an ounce of talking against the Center or the State could cost their own livelihood. As a viewer, we never really see who runs the Center or what the Center is comprised of, we just know that in this situation, the couple is essentially the slaves and they are controlled by their master. We see rifts and complications grow between the couple and their family due to the Center. The KGB agents have devoted it all to serve their country, and given how deeply rooted they are within the Illegals Program, they often times have to choose between country and family. This overall conflict drives through this slow-burning period drama, but at its apex, it all came to a wonderful conclusion. Although, given the conflict and their situation, we often see that they have to defy the Center’s demands and go on a whim to either save one another or risk it for their family. When this happens, we can clearly see that their actions are often met with a brutal blow from the Center for going against their judgment or their command. This, I believe, is in its purest sense the idea of master and slave. The couple is often scared into serving the state after receiving punishment and are forced to be reminded about what they are doing first and foremost.

 

Text Review- Modern Family Cameron Schroeder

For my text review, I chose to discuss the television show, Modern Family. This popular show takes the viewers through the complicated and rather funny lives of an extended family that come together to love each other no matter their differences. This show has it all when it comes to indifferences within the family. There are numerous cultures, large age differences, and a same sex couple within the show. The family consisting of different cultures includes the husband, Jay of American descent, and Gloria his wife, of Colombian descent. Through their marriage in the show, the viewers are able to see that despite a difference in culture, people are able to adjust and learn about each others traditions and everyday life, no matter where you are from. This couple also depicts a rather large age gap between Jay and Gloria although their age is never formally said in the show. Due to their differences, their is often arguments between the two, but they always find a way to put aside their different identities and love each other for who they are. The family with the same sex marriage includes Mitchell Pritchett (Jay’s son) and Cam Tucker, who also adopt a young Vietnamese girl. The inclusion of this same sex marriage addresses identity and throughout the show their a numerous instances when people become accustomed to their relationship despite it being with the same sex. For example, on season 1 episode 13, Mitchell tells Jay one of his best friends are gay in order to teach him a lesson about homosexuality and his stereotypes about homosexuals. Viewers watching the show believe that Cam and Mitchell’s relationship on the show forever changed how people view the LGBTQ+ community. Their relationship shows that same sex relationships can live a wonderful life.

It is very clear that everyone is treated equally and their is no instance in the show were any characters are see as Simone de Beauvoir’s “the other”. Everyone is always heard throughout the show and always treated as though they are as equal as everyone else in the family, despite their differences. Through the inclusion of different cultures, ages, and relationships, we can clearly see the promotion of equality for all through Modern Family.

Question: Have you ever had to become accustomed to or rethink your viewpoint on any form of identity (religious, cultural, gender identity) due to it being present in your everyday life or within your family?

Modern Family' Renewal: ABC, 20th Reach Partial Agreement; Cast Talks – Deadline

Green Book Movie Review – Sierra P.

Movie poster

Green Book is a movie I’ve had my eye on for quite awhile now. It was released in 2018 and is set in the 1960’s. At that time, African Americans were still struggling to gain equality. The title references an item called the Negro Motorist Green Book which specified the place

s African Americans were allowed to go around the country. In the Green Book, an Italian man, Tony Lip, starts working for a famous African American pianist, Dr. Donald Shirley. Tony Lip is responsible for driving Dr. Shirley to his shows through the south using the Green Book to find places where Dr. Shirley can stay and eat. Tony was hesitant to take the job at first as he himself had some racia

l biases against people of color. On their road trip, they face many instances of racial discrimination. An example from the movie is when they get pulled over in a “sundown town” which is a town with rules where African American individuals are not allowed to be there after sundown.

The movie highlights racial discrimination at the time and even shows the discrimination between different classes of people. Tony Lip and Dr. Shirley each were able to see life from each other’s points of views. Tony Lip came from a lower class family and was less educated than Dr. Shirley. Throughout the movie, despite their unlikely friendship they were able to learn from each other and accept one another for who they truly are. Dr. Shirley also struggles with identity as he feels he isn’t accepted by white people because of the color of his skin nor is he accepted by people of the same color because of his wealth and class. In one scene, he is supposed to preform in Birmingham, Alabama at a country club. Dr. Shirley tries to eat dinner at the restaurant located in the country club but is told he can’t because he is African American although he is the person performing later that night. Despite his wealth and status, he is still discriminated against just because of the color of his skin.

Green Book is a very eye opening

movie and brings up some interesting questions and ideas about these important concepts:

What would you do in these types of situations?

What can you learn from others to make yourself a better person? and what can you offer others to make them a better person?

Look inside yourself and find the better in you before judging someone else for who they are on the outside.

What does this movie teach us about discrimination not only between races but different classes and individuals with different backgrounds as well?

What can we learn from stories like these?

Little Fires Everywhere Text Review

I chose to review the book and TV series, Little Fires Everywhere. This series tells a story of two families who come from extremely different backgrounds and upbringings with regards to culture and race and how they were raised. This story is told from the viewpoint of the main character, Elena Richardson. Elena comes from an upper-class white family and strives to be nothing short of perfect. And she wants the same for her four children as well. In a perfect world, Elena is surrounded by structure and rules and her perfect family. On the other hand, the story of the other family involves a black character named Mia Warren and her daughter Pearl, a family who moves frequently and at one point lived in their car. In the story Elena hired Mia to work as a housekeeper in her home and rents them Elena’s old apartment to live in.

From first read, it sounds like the things Elena does for Mia and her daughter are out of kindness. However, as we learn more about Elena and the darkness inside of her, we learn that she is racist and she acts as if she is superior to Mia due to the color of her skin and her financial status. We see this by the comments she makes. For example, Elena makes racist comments to her daughter about her black boyfriend which is the first instance we see. In addition, it is apparent how Elena looks down upon Mia for not being able to take care of her child in the same way that Elena takes care of her children.

On the other hand, these cultural and race differences we see from Mia’s point of view as well. Mia does not approve of the way that she raises her children and would rather have her life with her daughter than the one that Elena has.  It infuriates Mia when her daughter Pearl takes a liking to Elena and her children. To conclude, Little Fires Everywhere explores the effects of secrets, identity issues, racism, and motherhood.

source: https://www.google.com/search?q=little+fires+everywhere&tbm=isch&sxsrf=ALeKk03lw_JiPuL4USrtlLgcvhAkQfzQag:1606748333973&source=lnms&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjJ-MH9w6rtAhVhuVkKHeW_DbIQ_AUIESgD&biw=999&bih=677&dpr=1#imgrc=IeK7k-prqyzaNM

Shameless: Season 5 Episode 2– Jason L.

It’s expensive being poor. Isn’t that ironic? It doesn’t sound right, but it’s actually true. According to the Washington Post, food costs are higher for low-income families, scheduling of low-wage occupations are limited, and transportation is expensive. These are just a few blanket examples that suggest it’s expensive being poor. Knowing this, how does the government help those below the poverty line? Overall, they don’t. There are programs that are created to help those of low socioeconomic status, however, they aren’t effective in combatting this systemic issue. This can be seen in the TV show Shameless.

Shameless is about a dysfunctional family of six kids who learn to raise themselves as they cannot depend on their drunk, relatively absent father. Fiona is the oldest sister who takes the parent role for her siblings, and she struggles to provide for her family as a local waitress. Lip is a genius, yet he’s often corrupted by the “system,” or the lack of opportunities due to the immediate assistance his family needs. Ian is diagnosed with Bipolar Depression, which effects his ability to enlist in the military. Debbie becomes a single-mother struggling to provide for herself and her child at an early age. Carl is a trouble-maker who sells drugs, is often under the influence of alcohol, and is infatuated by weapons. Liam’s does not share a biological father with the other kids and is the only black member of their immediate family. With so many issues surrounding their family, all worsened by their economic struggles, they are shameless; their family does what they need to do to survive, regardless of how they need to do it.

In Season 5, Episode 2 of the TV show Shameless, “the Gallagher’s face the ugly truth of gentrification.” Gentrification is defined as the process whereby the character of a poor urban area is changed by wealthier people moving in, improving housing, and attracting new businesses, typically displacing current inhabitants in the process. The Gallagher’s live in one of the poorest parts of Chicago, and they struggle with the possibility of being homeless due to the rising costs associated with gentrification. At surface level, gentrification appears to be beneficial by creating livable areas that will boost economic growth. However, gentrification directly impacts those living in poor communities, as it creates a place vastly unaffordable to those already struggling to provide for themselves.

Many communities that are subject of gentrification are communities affected by the process of redlining. Redlining is the practice of denying or limiting financial services to certain neighborhoods based on racial or ethnic composition without regard to the residents’ qualifications or creditworthiness. Redlining began as a means of segregation, and statistics show that black citizens in the U.S. are most likely to be affected by redlining.

 

Questions:

Is it fair to say the Gallagher’s, a predominantly white family living in an extremely poor area of Chicago, are not affected by redlining due to their race? Why or why not?

Where have you seen gentrification at Ohio State and the surrounding Columbus area?

 

Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/01/25/why-it-costs-so-much-to-be-poor-in-america/

https://medium.com/@rgraham7146_30067/gentrification-in-shameless-e7755f4add4a#:~:text=In%20the%20Shamless%20episode%2C%20I’m%20The%20Liver%2C%20the,typical%20%E2%80%9CAmerican%20dream%E2%80%9D%20suburb.

Text Review

Avatar The Last Airbender, an animated tv show created for children but shows complex ideals such as identity, ethnicity and class division. The specific season I will be focusing on is Book Two: Earth. In this season main character Aang and his group of friends are faced with the challenge of finding him a master to help teach him bending of earth. The show caters to children but has light hearted and entertaining ways to show different ideals. For book two the unfair division of class is very prominent. A specific scene that portrays this is when Aang and his friends go to the capital city Ba Sing Se. Upon entering the city they are met with a tour guide who explains the layout of the city. They divided each class by “rings”. First is the lower ring. This is a place most similar to a ghetto, where low income citizens often housed refugees of all kinds of different ethnicities. The next ring is the “middle ring” which is where the middle class lives. Then finally the “upper ring” where royalty and the rich live. The lower ring and middle ring have access to each other so citizens can roam freely, however, the upper ring is closed off by a big wall so no one can get through. In the show the characters show confusion and mention that that is not fair. It is small, however, this portrayal of class division is introduced to children at a young age to educate them on the injustices of today. This division is common in everyday life. We can see that low income areas are divided off, not by a wall, but by lack of resources, education and safety. The “rich” tend to get better education and opportunities primarily based on their social status. This show is clearly meant for entertainment but I believe the portrayal of class division and identity was done on purpose by the director to help educate children on what injustices are happening in real life.