storytelling is coming back (or perhaps it never left) but it has been on my mind for the past couple of years… ever since my last visit to the panamanian coastal caribbean town of porto bello… necessary post to come…
as i continue to play up to my writer’s block, i do realize that i am rendering this blog of mine ineffectual the more time that passes between posts. but as previously stated i have preferred the old pen and paper as of late. so to help get some of my ideas out i turn to other peoples’ ideas or MEMES? (however dangerous and infectious they might be.. in-fact-to-us, i believe that is the intent with blogs no?
wade davis, a fast talking natgeo writer ponders the implications of the destruction of cultures, narratives that we are snuffing out quicker and with more success than the “company” in james cameron’s less intellectual but nonetheless stimulating AVATAR… although i find it interesting at the end of his talk when he speaks on natgeo’s work to help combat this and i am automatically transported back to my 1st semester of college in monterey where my professor took quite a critical stance on something i had merely taken for granted as part of my childhood… she question whether natgo and their readership (myself as a child included) were truly doing what the thought they were to help indigenous populations through exposure to the wester world… this question has gone largely unanswered to me although at the time i recall mounting an offensive defense to her argument. this question revisited me after seeing the following talk. resolved: i do stock natgeos in my classroom for my students to read.
and as for kameelah… discovering that she went to school with my old neighbor and good friend has only further excited my appreciation for her ability to put into words and images thoughts that i can merely ponder briefly before giving up under their overwhelming ramifications… her thoughts on haiti and the treatment of her narrative in the media as of late and historically where like echos of the exact questions i proposed to myself… and only once to my wife out loud.
as i try to sort out how i will go on telling my life story, or more so as i try to figure out where the plot line is going… i keep reciting these lines:
i have reserved most commentary up until this point. there is a lot of discourse floating about these here internets and i do not have the energy to scour the www. to find every comment. i will say a few things. i find it unfortunate and perverse that the only moments haiti garners any international attention is when there is a disaster. and even with this disaster, it presents itself as an opportunity for to perpetuate more myths about haiti, black bodies, and savior narratives.
re narratives and illusion: ‘blasphemy‘ by yusef komunyakaa
re haiti as spectacle: there is someone deriving sexual pleasure from these scenes. poverty porn. suffering porn. someone is getting off. is it okay to film haitians receiving medical attention. is it not too invasive? do they deserve some level of privacy?
re haiti and adoption: there are a bunch of orphaned haitian children.there were plenty before. but i wonder…will any hollywood stars adopt those kids? curious.
re disaster as industry: someone is making some money from this tragedy. someone has to be contracted to rebuild.
my stomach drops when i see these photos. i cannot breathe sometimes.
everyone has been talking about ‘helping’ haiti because it’s sooo very poor and desperate. very few have taken the time to investigate the root causes of this desperation. becoming the first nation of black slaves to defeat their colonizers and establish a free nation (which was wrought with it’s own collection of post-slavery issues) left many european nations both angry and scared. since the 1800s, the united states has engaged in embargoes and other punitive policies related to land ownership, interference in elections, support of dictatorships, occupations, etc.
enough time has passed where i think the sudden sense of surprise and loss has also lessened the impact that my attempt to write something meaningful might have produced… rethinking schools does a much better job here. i have included zinn’s quote here for the link phobic:
“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.
“What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.
“And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.”
– Howard Zinn
suffice to say that any social studies educator knows who howard zinn is, regardless of whether they agree with his perspective on american history, recognizes that the greater importance of his tireless work is that he provided many of us with the understanding that history is a subjective production and examination of multiple and often competing perspectives… based on all kinds of different things… in this sense more a twisted knot of narrative threads… from which we can either hang ourselves with, or acknowledge and value the strength in this fiber of shared history… and use it to pull ourselves out of some of the surreal and horrifying situations we still find ourselves in… i hope we chose the later, in both the previous statement and the subsequent video: