"I’m not going to post about the Boston Bombing today. Just like I don’t post about 9/11 on 9/11. I am sick and tired of only American lives being remembered, of only Americans being considered fully human. I have a pit at the bottom of my stomach today, and I can’t get rid of it. Honestly, if you’ve never had a moment where your chest folds in on you and you find it difficult breathing because of what the United States has done, you’re not reading and listening enough. More than a MILLION people have died in Iraq in less than two decades. Beirut was practically flattened by Israel in 2006 creating more than a million refugees, and the unemployment rate shot up to 75%. The sea turned black because Israel bombed a power station, among other sites that constitute war crimes due to the physical and psychological torture attacking locations necessary for livelihood cause. And now, 10 years later Lebanon is taking in more than a million refugees from Syria. Where are their memorials? Where are their hashtags? Where is their compensation? Where are their ribbons?"
"I’ve come upon something that disturbs me deeply: We have fought hard and long for integration, as I believe we should have, and I know that we will win. But I’ve come to believe we’re integrating into a burning house.
I’m afraid that America may be losing what moral vision she may have had. And I’m afraid that even as we integrate, we are walking into a place that does not understand that this nation needs to be deeply concerned with the plight of the poor and disenfranchised. Until we commit ourselves to ensuring that the underclass is given justice and opportunity, we will continue to perpetuate the anger and violence that tears at the soul of this nation."
The architects and artists who worked in the service of early Islam were likewise driven by the wish to create a physical backdrop which would bolster the claims of their religion. Holding that God was the source of all understanding, Islam placed particular emphasis on the divine qualities of mathematics. Muslim artisans covered the walls of houses and mosques with repeating sequences of delicate and complicated geometries, through which the infinite wisdom of God might be intimated. This ornamentation, so pleasingly intricate on a rug or a cup, was nothing less than hallucinatory when applied to an entire hall. Eyes accustomed to seeing only the practical and humdrum objects of daily life could, inside such a room, survey a world shorn of all associations with the everyday.
—- Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
The honeycomb-like niches here are called muqarnas.
In a nation more associated with calamity than consensus, the initial results of Saturday’s Afghan presidential election are startling.
Despite Taliban threats to attack polling stations nationwide, the same percentage of Afghans turned out to vote—roughly 58 percent, or 7 million out of 12 million eligible voters—as did Americans in the 2012 U.S. presidential race. Instead of collapsing, Afghan security forces effectively secured the vote. And a leading candidate to replace Hamid Karzai is Ashraf Ghani, a former World Bank technocrat who has a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Columbia University, a Lebanese Christian wife, and an acclaimed book and TED talk entitled “Fixing Failed States.”
"Relative to what we were expecting, it’s very hard to not conclude that this was a real defeat for the Taliban," Andrew Wilder, an American expert on Afghanistan, said in a telephone interview from Kabul on Monday. "And a very good day for the Afghan people."
Two forces that have long destabilized the country—its political elite and its neighbors—could easily squander the initial success. Evidence of large-scale fraud could undermine the legitimacy of the election and exacerbate long-running ethnic divides. And outside powers could continue to fund and arm the Taliban and disgruntled Afghan warlords, as they have for decades.
Dear Lana Del Rey, You Are Not A Latina Gangsta Girl, So Cut The Shit [TW: Racism, Ethnocentrism, White Privilege, Cultural Appropriation]
Sadcore singer Lana Del Rey recently released “Tropico,” a 27-minute art film/music video, and the first image I saw was of the white artist dressed as a woman bearing many of the stylistic hallmarks associated with Latino gangster culture (right down to the teardrop tattoo). Now, was that a polite way to start my day?
But before I rolled my eyes completely in my head, I braved the entire clip and reserved my judgement until the credits. As I watched, I asked myself, maybe Lana was earnestly playing a role? Maybe she wasn’t vilifying urban life? Okay, fine. But perhaps she didn’t realize that dressing up like an actual person is wrong for so many reasons?
The Anthony Mandler-directed “Tropico” opens with Marilyn Monroe, John Wayne, Elvis Presley and Jesus impersonators loosely advising Lana as she prays while wearing a veil in what looks like Heaven. She and her albino boyfriend, model Shaun Ross (cast as Adam to her Eve), are seated at attention in front of the four icons. Later, in the garden of Eden, Lana and Adam eat the apple from the tree of knowledge and suddenly she passes out. Lana comes to as a stripper with teardrops and a Tupac-esque belly stamp that says something like “Trust No Bitch.” I’ll just leave that there for a second.
Elsewhere, Adam, wakes as a low-level store clerk-gangster, — or a square who hangs out with gangsters but wants to be cool? I couldn’t figure that out — and eventually robs a group of businessmen during a party featuring Lana’s stripper friends in a home invasion. In the next scene, Lana and her boyfriend are driving into the wilderness, where they park their vintage car in front of a symbolic looking tree and shed their Latino gangster clothes. Then the duo dress in white and ascend into the heavens. In between, there are scenes of Lana sucking on lollipops and painting her nails dark colors with Latina tattooed women on a porch.
So yeah, I wanted to try and give Lana the benefit of the doubt, but it’s pretty clear where she’s going with this. Dressing up like an entire culture and calling it “fashion” is offensive. In the same way Miley Cyrus was taken to task for her use of black background dancers as props, and Gwen Stefani was called out by Margaret Cho for doing the same thing with her Harajuku dancers during the “Hollaback Girl” phase, using another person or culture as an outfit to make your art edgy is in poor taste.
(Also, what’s the strategy for a person of color who wants to turn all of this cultural appropriation on its ear? Dressing like Martha Stewart? Maybe Donald Trump or Brittany Spears? But let’s be honest: Even if a POC did that, mainstream America probably wouldn’t even notice because white culture is mainstream culture.)
Styles are often associated with certain groups because they were created within a culture and have a history specific to that culture (like Rihanna’s latest doobie hair “style” at the American Music Awards, which sort of came off to me like she was wearing her rollers outside of the beauty salon to go get some snacks at the corner store). But take Gwen Stefani’s “Luxurious” video — a song that I admittedly adore:
In the 2005 clip, Stefani dresses like Mexican artistic powerhouse Frida Kahlo as more of an homage — but then she surrounds herself in a classic block party scene and presents herself like an extra from "A Lighter Shade of Brown." (She even glues rhinestones to her face; anyone else remember Sad Girl from "Mi Vida Loca"?)
As a kid growing up in Northern California, one of my neighbors was Mexican. In the mornings, her sister used to drop us off at our middle school in her low-rider, playing oldies like Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools.” We thought we were the coolest — but come Halloween I didn’t want to dress up like her because that would’ve been offensive. “Imitation is the highest form of flattery” doesn’t apply a group of people.
Sorry, Lana, but culture can’t be tried on like a sweater at a J.Crew sample sale.