Monday, January 25, 2016

When Did I Become A Latina Caricature?

By MarĂ­a Cardona

I have always been very proud to be Latina. To be Puerto Rican has always seemed liked the highest honor for me. However, I’d never truly been aware of my race, that is, until I came to the states. Between jokes about how I probably live and participate in a drug cartel to people questioning my lack of an accent I suddenly found myself aware of my race and becoming a caricature of what it means to be Hispanic in the eyes of some Americans.

It seems as if everyone wants me to speak with an accent or imitate an American trying to speak Spanish. People clamor for me to say “something in Spanish,” they wonder if I like spicy foods, if I dance. If I’m a little too loud or sassy “It must be that Puerto Rican blood.” Every time the topic of drugs comes up it seems as if all eyes are on me, because as the Hispanic I must know all about it. They seem to think my country is filled with famine, poverty and sickness. It’s a shock to some that we are, indeed, part of the 21st Century.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Loving Our Enemies

By John Stratton

When Jesus challenged us to love our enemies, I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean to carpet bomb them.

It is tough to love people we fear, our enemies. Do we even know what the word love means in this context? Are we required to like our enemies? Are we being asked to buy them cotton candy at the county fair? 

Certainly we are not required to be “know” them in the Biblical sense, in the current version of the word “love.” So is this love some kind of Agape love, a distant god-like love?

It’s all very nice to quote Jesus hypothetically, but it is tough to consider what “love our enemies” means when we are talking about actual people and actual fear, people who actually want to hurt us.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Identities: Parents

By Emily Wirtz

Visiting artist Traci Malloy's presentation on Oct. 8 continued with her work on collaborative art. After September 11th, a significant amount of young children were left without a parent, and many of them didn’t know why. How was a mother to tell her kindergartener that daddy was killed at work by a hijacked plane? It’s not an easy conversation to have, and it’s not an easy concept for a child to grasp. For this reason, America’s Camp was started.

She explains how difficult it was to see these kids, devastated and confused by a tragedy so far beyond their understanding, trying to cope. Her collaboration with these children was eye-opening, if hard on the heart. During the years of America’s Camp, she and the children created a quilt, postcards, a paper mache phoenix and a variety of drawings. One of her projects opened up to be an incredibly powerful piece of artwork, surprising even her.

In introducing this piece, she first delved into a bit of Greek mythology. Pandora’s Box is quite often a misinterpreted story. The first woman on earth was given a box by Zeus. Pandora opened the box, letting forth all of the evils and death of the world. Frantically closing it, Pandora unknowingly trapped hope inside. “Pandora’s Lantern” is based off of this story. Like a giant Chinese lantern, the panels of this piece of artwork fold in and out, containing the drawings of the kids of America’s Camp. Within the lantern is light, showing the hope these children have for their own futures, along with a recording of the children’s voices, naming their parents and their hopes. The hope left in Pandora’s Box is exposed and radiating in these kids.

Traci reflected that the drawings the campers made for each project grew more and more vibrant and visually hopeful throughout the years and until America’s Camp was no longer—victims’ children were no longer children. Her artwork brought joy and life back into the hearts of tragedy. The children were no longer the children of victims, but the children of mothers and fathers. They were not labeled as victims of tragedy, but were identified as bearers of light and hope.

Every one of us has an identity. Every one of us also has an ethnicity, a race, a gender, a class, and a past. How we choose to identify ourselves may or may not be one of those categories. Unfortunately, all too often a stereotype arises from something that makes us who we are. Our race becomes our label, or our gender, sexuality, class, etc. and those labels become how we are identified—not how we identify ourselves. All too often a black man is perceived to have a gun in his pocket instead of a checkbook. A woman dressed in old sweats is perceived to have a food stamps card instead of a teaching license. A man on the streets is seen as a lazy addict instead of a man with a Ph.D. and a family to feed. 

Emily Wirtz is an intern and Peace Scholar with the Ashland Center for Nonviolence.