A couple of weeks ago I saw a post on Facebook that was asking for people to help with the Because He First Loved Us basketball teams. I reached out and after a day or two I was given the opportunity to coach the 8th grade basketball team. This slightly differed from the age group that I interacted with in our musical activity but it was been a pleasure to work and hang out with these boys. I’ve gotten to know a lot of them personally, given some of them rides home, and I can say that they are really great kids. It’s been humbling to see how they live, what their parents do, and how many people stay in the same household. One of the kids I took home just last week talked about how his brother works to help make sure that ends meet. Personally I know how hard it can be to come to America from another country, but I don’t understand what it’s like not to speak English and not to have a parent that is actually from America. In a lot of ways these kids have the odds systemically stacked up against them. It’s an honor to help swing the numbers in their favor, even if it’s just a little.
This week I had the opportunity to speak with a guy named Elvin from Honduras. He spent some time in Texas several years ago but chose to return to Honduras in order to pursue a LDS mission. He ended up being called to the Dominican Republic where he served in multiple leadership assignments. After he finished he returned back home to San Pedro, Honduras and tried to plan out what would happen next in his life. Fate struck and a sister missionary, one who had worked with his family, started writing Elvin and what started as friendship quickly evolved to marriage. Now Elvin is living in Utah County and he has two children. When we started talking I was incredibly impressed with his ability to speak the english language. He says it’s come with a lot of hard work and practice, something that can be extremely hard when you aren’t sure if you are saying things correctly. I was taken a back with how humble Elvin was. I could sense and feel that he was grateful for his life here in the United States, a level of gratefulness that I believe only comes from having experienced the struggle.
This semester I believe that the biggest thing I’ve learned is how to look at myself at a deeper level. I’ve always believed myself to be a considerate and openminded individual. I’ve had the opportunity to live in multiple countries, I was raised by a single mother and being in a biracial family, I’ve always felt like I’ve had the ability to slide fluidly between different racial lines. It didn’t come easy, but through my life experience I believe that I have seen the world through different lenses, lenses that have given me additional understanding on how others might live their lives. With that all being said, this semester has taught me that I’m not as openminded as I once thought. I am biased, I often jump to making generalizations based on limited experiences, and frequently blind to the privilege I have. This class has opened my eyes to constant need I now have to be better. It’s a need that will never be satisfied, but it’s one that I must constantly strive to fulfill. I want to be the voice of the “little guy”, to speak on behalf out groups, and to couragously stand for injustice. For that to happen I need to hold myself to the same standard that I expect from others, and this class has given me the tools to do so.
I had the opportunity to attend a multi-cultural event where my sister was a poetry finalist. She wrote the following poem about this picture.
La dama del alba is a spanish play written by a man by the name of Alejandro Casona. This play is split up into four acts, which adds suspense and helps to jump to different timelines in the near or further future.
- Act 1
- A family is introduced and the background is set for a continued state of grievance. A mother still heartbroken over the loss of her daughter, Angelica, 4 years ago to the day. Angelica is presumed to have died in the river but no one knows for sure what happened. A mysterious women shows up at the door and the family offers temporary shelter, a normal act due to the religious pathway on which their house stands.
- Act 2
- The grandfather realizes that he actually knows the mysterious women, it’s death personified. He pleads with her to leave his family alone and as she falls asleep she misses what should have been the death of Angelica’s husband, Martin. Because Martin’s life isn’t taken he is able to save another, a young lady named Adela. Death teals the grandfather that she will return in 7 months and that this time she is taking a life, one that is presumed to be Adela’s.
- Act 3
- Adela takes the role that Angelica left behind, even appeasing the mother by wearing all of Angelica’s clothing. Martin reveals two secrets one that he loves Adela and two that Angelica isn’t really dead. It turns out that she just ran away with another man, but Martin didn’t have the heart to ruin her reputation and disgrace the family.
- Act 4
- Angelica comes back home but doesn’t see her family. She has intentions to ask for Martin to take her back as life hasn’t been what she’s thought. She has been living as a prostitute in the city. Death talks to Angelica and tells her that she can’t come back, Adela has taken her spot and if she comes back it will be a disgrace to her family. Death convinces her that the best thing for everyone is to kill herself. Angelica takes her own life in the river and the family finds her “perfectly preserved body”. The whole town calls it a miracle.
I believe that in a lot of ways Alejandro Casona is making the point that we often don’t understand the details of what we may choose to latch on to. The perception that this family has of Angelica is built on a house of cards, none of it true, but all of it providing peace and a sense of faith. She takes her own life but the entire town views her body as a sign of a miracle. In some ways I believe that Casona is even calling religion out itself, or maybe just how religion manifested itself in Spanish towns.
Last week in class we talked about the powerful influence that popular media has on our culture. I think that the most annoying example of this ever, and oh, I do mean ever, is the dab.
Pictured above you will see Cam Newton, QB of the Panthers, and official “dab” fire starter. He used this as a TD celebration, a dance move with an annoyance level equivalent to ten flies buzzing around your face, and ever since than it has been a staple in our society. This move can now be seen during every sporting event, mostly 12 year old boys. It appears on most viral youtube videos, like that kid killing the water bottle flip during his school’s talent show, and there is now a record for most dabs in a minute. Looking back on it I honestly wasn’t annoyed by Cam, but my annoyance level grew at the same curve and rate as it’s popularity. We now live in a world where popular media carries the eternal potential of going viral, a world where tweets, posts and DM’s allow our pop culture to spread like fire. It’s no wonder why the perception that other countries have of us are largely dictated by popular media.
Just a little dab’ing in Tokyo…
Over a billion people live off of less than a dollar a day. This may be hard to believe, and you may even be tempted to think that things must be cheaper in these places, but I can say from experience that the struggle is real. Growing up I spent about 6 years in Fiji, my dad’s home, and an incredibly poor country. While we lived there the average pay per family was 50 cents a day. I would go over to my neighbors houses and for dinner the entire family would eat bread and hot chocolate. At the time it wasn’t a big deal, but as I look back at my experiences it breaks my heart.
I had the opportunity to watch a documentary called “Living on One.” Where a group of college friends travel to South America in order to simulate the lives of what many call a reality. The makers of the film clearly acknowledge that they can only simulate this so far, but it was their hope that by doing so they could spread more awareness. Once again my heart was reminded of the pains of my friends in Fiji. The natives largely don’t realize how poor they are, for them it’s just life, but for me it’s a somber reminder of just how lucky I’ve been in my life.
As I myself am in an interracial relationship, I’m going to forego the interview and drop some personal knowledge. I was blessed with the opportunity to be born into an interracial family, my mother half Irish and half Portuguese, my father Fijian. I intentionally use the word blessed because I feel that it has shaped me to become the man I am today, although I clearly see how the color of my skin has, and will continue to be a potential road block in my life. When we were younger my mom constantly had to deal with comments about why her children looked different than she did.
“Do you take your kids tanning?”
“Do you perm your kids’s hair?”
“That was really nice of you to adopt all of these kids.”
To this day I can still remember my first encounter with racism, and the pure sadness in my mother’s eyes as she tried to relate to something that she’s never had to go through before.
A couple of months after I got married my wife and I were driving home from the store.
“Have you noticed that people always follow us around?”
I smiled at her and began to explain that it probably wasn’t an “us”, but more of a “me”. I’ve also had to put up with people following me or pay extra attention to what I do in a store. I found it interesting that this was a complete new experience to my wife. She now understood a fraction of what it meant to be profiled off the color of your skin.
At times my marriage has also been difficult just purely based off of our differing cultural priorities. A great example of this is what we both consider to
be “close” family. To my wife, close family is her mom, dad, and all of her siblings. To me, close family is pretty much my everyone I’m related to and all of my
close friends. This causes some issues when my wife told me that she only wanted close family to visit us after she gave birth to our six mon
h old son. Let’s just say I was in a bit of trouble when my second cousins started to come by.
Overall I feel that interracial relationships are beautiful because it gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizons, just like what we’ve done in this class. My family and I have definitely had our share of communication breakdowns and arguments, but it has also opened my eyes to better understand all that I come in contact with.