Racist Hunger Games Fans Are Very Disappointed

Here is the link to the original article. http://jezebel.com/5896408/racist-hunger-games-fans-dont-care-how-much-money-the-movie-made.  My own comments can be found below.

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So…can we discuss this a bit?  I feel like I’m losing sleep over the fact that people like this exist.  Since when, in present day “civilized” society, has it been “cool” to be a racist?

Being Muslim…. I’m kind of used to this sort of things towards Muslims. It’s currently socially acceptable (although still sad and sickening) to publicly make racists comments about Muslims, but I sort of put it in a box.  Thought perhaps it was the exception rather than the rule.

I THOUGHT we lived in the 21st century, where race lines are blurring.  Religion – sadly still a cause for divide and tension…but with race I assumed (wrongly) that progress was being made.

If you haven’t read this article – read it.  Forget about the fact that these people clearly didn’t read the books if they have any doubt that these characters weren’t white.  Their limited literary comprehension aside – the blatant racism is MIND BLOWING!  This is a good, beautiful, innocent little girl – for people to have such a negative response to a GOOD character, solely based on race (or perceived race)…it’s really demented, and makes me worry about the direction society is moving.  I don’t know if people feel comfortable behind the guise of social media – but EVEN if someone in this day in age was racist, I thought they would have at least an ounce of shame or reservation before making such a proclamation publicly (even if only out of fear of other people’s scorn).

Here are just a few of the comments made:

“…when I found out Rue was black, her death wasn’t as sad.”

“why did the producer make all the good characters black.”

“EWWW Rue is black?? I am not watching.”

“Why does Rue have to be black not gonna lie kinda ruined the movie for me.”

Check out the article for more…sadly…there are a ton of stomach churning comments – and this about a fictional character, who happens to be an innocent little girl.  It makes me wonder how people would react to real people, real tragedies, and real oppression directed at a white victim vs. a black, hispanic, middle eastern, southeast asian, etc. victim.  The reality is, I think the lack of response to those sort of circumstances are ultimately because, white blood is just worth more in many people’s eyes – and oppression will continue to exist – and to thrive –  in the meantime.

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Book: Mornings in Jenin

This book should be required reading for everyone.   For the average American, it’ll humanize the Arabs and the tragedy that is Palestine, in a way you’d never expect – the “other side” to an often one-sided story.   A side that the media has completely neglected.  You will cry for their suffering, for their humiliation, for their loss.  To lose your family- your parents, your siblings, your husband, your children…to lose your innocence as a child, and your dignity as an adult – it’s beyond compehension.  And yet it exists.  Not just in Palestine, but in many places across the globe.   You’ll be engulfed in shame for being so quick to judge and malign.   For looking away.  For denying the horrors willingly- willfully, while supporting the oppressors in their ongoing oppression.  In many ways, it’s reminiscent of what happened to the Native Americans.   Forced off their land, oppressed, killed and years later, living out their days on reservations (arguably the modern-day euphemism for glorified refugee camps).

On a fundamental level, it’s not about taking sides.  Not really anyways.  It’s about humanity.  The humanity that exists on both sides.  And it’s about losing one’s humanity – for both the oppressor, and the oppressed – by denying the rights that make us all human. 

In an odd way, it also made me understand the plight of the Jews and their desire to survive, although it doesn’t excuse the path which they have taken, any more than it excuses a Palestinian “terrorist” acting out of desperation.  It made me realize the sheer ugliness and brutality of war.  What the Jews endured in the Holocaust…it forced them into survival mode, and their desperation to survive has given them tunnel vision.   Life becomes about living by any means necessary.  That’s what desperation does.  I fault the world and the Zionists for taking advantage of that after World War II.  Dangling a carrot in front of people who have endured what no one should endure.  Telling them, “You can have a home.  You can have a life – a future.  Here are the keys to the kingdom – just make sure you clean house – regardless of whose house it is.”  

If it’s between them surviving and the Palestinians surviving…they chose themselves – and anyone in their shoes would probably do the same.  How else could anyone do what was done to the Palestinians, and find the logic to justify it in their heads and hearts?  That is the only way I can even try to rationalize how someone can allow such oppression because I can’t imagine anyone with any conscious watching idly as it happens.  Not ONLY allowing it – but condoning it, supporting it, being a part of it.  I just can’t wrap my mind around it.  But then again, I live in the security of my own home, with food and water, and safety.   My days are comparatively uneventful.  There’s work and school and dinner.  Breaking up fights over toys and making sure my kids brush their teeth.  I have not experienced war or oppression.  I don’t know what it’s like to have another human being knowingly take the life of someone I love.  I don’t know, and I pray that I never will…

War breaks people, and so, despite my anger at Israel for chosing themselves at the cost of others, I don’t know what anyone else in their shoes would have done.  I blame the world for letting it happen though.  For standing on the sidelines.  Heck, for making it happen.  You can’t right the wrong of the Holocaust by allowing another tragedy take its place.  Maybe Arab blood is worth less in the world’s eyes…maybe that’s why it’s ok.   But peace can’t exist where oppression lives. 

For me, I’m just heartbroken.  I think about how characters remind me of relatives and family friends.  There is so much I recognize that I can’t help but think my poor brothers and sisters – they are like my family.  They could BE my family.  What if this were me…my family, my children…my life.  I can’t even begin to fathom.  Between this, and the last book I read, “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” I can’t swallow how this is a reality for so many, and how the world keeps on living in oblivion – sheltered, comfortable, selfish.  I’m humbled, and embarrassed and my heart aches, more so because of how easily the world looks away or casts blame as a way to alleviate any responsibility on themselves and their conscience.  Here in the US, we rarely see the other side – and I think most don’t care too.  Knowing means a conscience ill at ease.  It means a responsibility being placed on you to do something about it. 

Anyway, I highly recommend this novel.  Not because, Palestinians are good, and Israelis are bad.  I recommend it because you will see life, and love, as well as the humiliation, desperation and pain of other human beings that have been denied for so long.  You will see yourself in some of these characters, and you will mourn them.  You will learn what desperation drives people to.  You will learn that people aren’t born hateful and angry.  They are born like you and me.  They laugh and love and dream..and you learn how the circumstances of their existence shapes them.  What it means to lose one’s honor and dignity, the humiliation of not being able to protect and provide for your family.  The constant struggle.  The frustration.  The realization that circumstances won’t change and the desperation for change, any change.

Needless to say,  I pray for peace, not just in Israel/Palestine, but everywhere.  Oppression is an ugly thing – it only brings out the dark side of humanity.  No good will every come of it.  Good can’t grow where poison lives.

A Thousand Splendid Suns

I love this book.  For more reasons that I can probably put to words.  I think I read it in 2 days (and for anyone who sees what my days are like, that’s quite a feat :)).  The character development is spot on…the writing is brilliant.  You are seeing recent history through the eyes of two extraordinary women in this novel.  I can’t tell you enough how much it touched me, and how saddened I was when I got a real understanding of what life in the past 30 or 40 years in Afghanistan was like.  What the people of this nation have endured is beyond what anyone should have to endure…

I was also angered…on so many levels.  So often I’ve heard intellectuals talk about how religion is a crutch for the simple-minded …to explain the ways of the world.  But  I’ve actually come to experience quite the opposite.  Religion isn’t for the stupid or the ignorant.  There – I said it.  They ruin it.  Something that should be about fostering peace and contentment through connecting with one’s Creator often gets wrongfully distorted into something ugly in the face of ignorance.  If it incites violence or anger or oppression…then you don’t get it, and you’re doing it wrong.  In the case of this book, I’m talking about the Taliban and other groups within Afghanistan and how they intertwined Islam with their tribal ignorance and basically contributed to the oppression and ruin of their nation.  You even see it in the West with right-wing evangelicals inciting hate against Muslims, illegal immigrants, gays, and other minority groups.

Anyway, I highly recommend the book.  It’s not only a lesson in history, but an ode to women and how beautiful and strong they can be in the face of such darkness.  I can’t wait to read Kite Runner

The Side of Feminism Less Spoken About…

how sad…

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1021293/How-mothers-fanatical-feminist-views-tore-apart-daughter-The-Color-Purple-author.html

How my mother’s fanatical views tore us apart

She’s revered as a trail-blazing feminist and author Alice Walker touched the lives of a generation of women. A champion of women’s rights, she has always argued that motherhood is a form of servitude. But one woman didn’t buy in to Alice’s beliefs  –  her daughter, Rebecca, 38.

Here the writer describes what it was like to grow up as the daughter of a cultural icon, and why she feels so blessed to be the sort of woman 64-year-old Alice despises  –  a mother.

Read More at:  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1021293/How-mothers-fanatical-feminist-views-tore-apart-daughter-The-Color-Purple-author.html

Running With Scissors

So I’ve been meaning to write about this book for quite some time but got sidetracked with…life 🙂

Anyway, I came about this book by accident.  I read a book by the author’s brother, John Elder Robison called:  “Look Me in the Eye:  My Life with Asperger’s,” which I found touching, insightful, entertaining, and well written.   I really recommend it to anyone who wants a glimpse into the mind of someone with Asperger’s.  I really enjoyed it.  I figured, his brother might give a different perspective on their rather dysfunctional upbringing, and thus, I came to “Running with Scissors”.

Don’t waste your money.  If someone let’s you borrow it…don’t waste your time.  Just don’t read it.

I don’t say that often, even if I don’t like a book, I generally find some redeeming quality about it.  I can generally appreciate that someone else may actually enjoy it.  This wasn’t one of them.  For starters, it’s so bizarre, it borders on unbelievable.  You can’t actually imagine some of this stuff ever happening (and going unnoticed by neighbors, etc).  It’s disturbing because it DID happen.   It’s odd because he tries to turn this very odd, abusive, dysfunctional childhood into some sort of comedy? (and might I add, rather unsuccessfully), and it’s a little TOO sexually explicit.

Reviews describe it as entertaining…a comedy – perhaps a dark comedy, etc.  I don’t think I cracked a smile once.  If it was fiction, it would be too odd, and off base to be believable and to pull off successfully.  As a memoir, a work of non-fiction, the fact that this stuff actually happened is really disturbing.  The people in this book aren’t cute, kooky characters…they are mentally disturbed, and I think it’s weird (borderline distasteful) for the author to try to portray them as anything else.

Maybe this is his way of coping with what happened to him as a child, and I honestly feel horrible for him for having to endure such an upbringing.  But an entertaining comedy this book definitely is not.

Aljazeera English: Tensions escalate over Amazon mega dam

Reminds me of one of the topics in “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins, where he discusses his job function, which was basically to convince the political and financial leadership of underdeveloped countries to accept enormous development loans from institutions like the World Bank. Basically, once these countries were crippled by debts they couldn’t repay, the US would have leverage over them, and they’d be forced to give in to political pressure from the US on various issues.  In his book, Perkins discusses how the long-term effects were basically:

  • having these developing nations neutralized politically
  • the widening of the gap between a small group of the elite/rich and masses which were generally poor (with a small or no middle class) – since many of these projects benefited a few and had adverse effects on the poorer members of society
  • and the ultimate crippling of these nations’ economies in the long run

Anyway one of the topics he discussed was the effects of various projects on indigenous people, and the long-term environmental effects.  This article just reminded me of that…

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Indigenous communities say $10bn reservoir in Brazil’s largest rainforest will destroy their way of life.

http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/04/201145115820561110.html

In early March, while boisterous Carnival celebrations filled the streets of Rio de Janiero, bulldozers began clearing away Amazonian jungle for roads leading to the construction site of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam on the Xingu River in northeast Brazil.

The $10bn dam is planned to be the third largest dam in the world. Government officials say its construction will generate thousands of jobs and create electricity for 23 million homes.

Environmental groups and indigenous activists in the area, however, condemn the project, which they say will displace some 20,000 people, and destroy over 100,000 acres of land in an area full of ecological diversity and indigenous communities.

“We don’t want Belo Monte because it will destroy our rivers, our jungle and our way of life,” Raoni, an indigenous leader from the Kaiapo tribe told the BBC. Ireo Kayapo, another leader, told reporters that if his tribe was pushed from the land, “there’ll be war and blood will be spilled”.

Plans for the Belo Monte dam began in the 1980s under a military government, but its construction was delayed largely due to environmental concerns and resistance from activists.

According to the environmental group Amazon Watch, 80 per cent of the river is planned to be diverted for the dam, causing massive droughts and flooded forests. In order to keep the dam in operation during the three to five month-long dry season, upstream and tributary dams will be needed to store water, causing further displacement and environmental havoc.

In February, indigenous groups gathered in Brasilia, the nation’s capital, to deliver a petition against the dam to Brazil’s recently-inaugurated president Dilma Rousseff. The petition included over half a million signatures, and demanded that Rousseff end the plans for the “disastrous” project.

The bitter standoff between indigenous activists and the new president comes just three months after Rousseff took office. She told the crowd at her inauguration: “Brazil has the holy mission to prove to the world that it is possible to have speedy growth without destroying the environment.” But these words fell flat as her administration quickly okayed plans for the controversial Belo Monte dam.

The move did not surprise long time analysts of Rousseff’s green credentials. Gustavo Faleiros, a Brazilian environmental journalist and editor, said that even going back to the days when Rousseff held the position of minister of mining and energy under the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration, she was seen “as a leader with an old-fashioned view of development”. This view prioritised economic growth over environmental concerns.

With the Belo Monte dam, this vision of development is totally at odds with the livelihoods and rights of indigenous people on the Xingu River.

Amazon Watch explained in a report on Belo Monte:

Mega-projects typically confront indigenous communities with disease, loss of food and clean water sources, cultural disintegration and human rights abuses by illegal loggers, migrant workers and land speculators

The promise of development and temporary jobs is also an empty one for the region’s farmers and fisherman who rely on the land and river to survive.

While Brazil continues to establish itself as an economic powerhouse, with 7.5 per cent growth in 2010 alone, the new president needs to focus on indigenous rights and the environment if the country is to progress in an inclusive and sustainable way.

As Sheyla Juruna, an indigenous leader from the Xingu River explained to reporters after delivering the anti-dam petition to president Dilma Rousseff:

By pushing forward with this dam, the Dilma government is trampling on our rights. This is not just about defending the Xingu River, it’s about the health of the Amazon rainforest and our planet.

Benjamin Dangl is the author of the new book Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America. He also teaches South American history and globalization at Burlington College in the US.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.