Juan Manuel Cisneros:
Sometimes, when I was younger, I would wander around the streets and often end up here, a place to which I became well acquainted with the passing of time. Here are people I met. I think of and recall some friends lying next to me as I stand. Also there are children of the 90´s, ten years old children they were, whose empty bodies were left behind and insides carried out with very profitable purposes. I remember a glimpse of their faces on television when I was their age. I also remember a girl that came here in a pilgrimage. From all the atrocious things under the soil I remember her more.
Some people become proud of a horrid event close to their home and retell the story until it grows somehow obscure, and that is how I get to know this one. Today men are required to stay in another a city, some miles away from Tepotzotlan in their travel to the basílica, as for women, they have to stay in this town and continue early the next morning. The girl, or even child, was taken here by men before that rearrangement, making very difficult to blame someone. She was rapped and strangled with her own long, black braid. There was neither justice for her nor much her mental retardation would allow her to struggle or oppose. People believe they know the responsible. He comes from a family of religious beliefs and they are sure that if member of them becomes a priest, they clean the sins of the whole family. This is a regular practice.
No one cares anymore and this reminds me of Frederick Douglas´s search of justice and attack against a double moral religion. On the one hand I am sure this discourse has been used over and over again every time this terrible deeds arise, on the other I cannot be sure whether these particular case was true. Sometimes I see this man in the street, I see his hands and the bread he makes with his hands, and it makes me think.
These images illustrate Eco’s book The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana which is about a man in his 60’s who is a rare-book dealer. This man, Yambo, has suffered a loss of memory tries to recover it by searching in boxes full of comics, newspapers, photo albums and books. These illustrations made me remember the text about the life of Frederick Douglass. Although Douglass represents the “New Negro” that allegedly challenges racist stereotypes because he was a self-made intellectual and an abolitionist hero (Cullen 159), stereotypical images of black people like those in Eco´s book still persist in the occidental imaginarium. In these clichéd images black people are represented like a bunch of drunken savages (image 4-5) with an exacerbated sexuality (Josephine Baker image 3) who can be treated as objects (image 2). Regarding the second image (the man carrying the black woman) Eco’s narrative voice says:
And then there were the colonial beauties, because even though Negroid types resembled apes and Abyssinians were plagued by a whole host of maladies, an exception had been made for the beautiful Abyssinian woman. The radio sang: Little black face / sweet Abyssinian / just wait and pray / we’re nearing our dominion / Then we’ll be with you / and gifts we’ll bring / yes we will give you / a new law and a new King.
Just what should be done with the beautiful Abyssinian woman was made clear in De Seta’s color cartoons, which featured Italian legionnaires buying half-naked, dark-skinned females in slave markets and sending them to their pals back home, as parcels.
But the feminine charms of Ethiopia had been evoked from the very beginning of the colonial campaign in a nostalgic caravan-style song: They’re off / the caravans of Tigrai / toward a star that by and by / will shine and glimmer with love. (Eco 192)
For me, this passage says it all. Although I am sure that neither Eco nor Yambo are racist or ill-intentioned towards black people, I think this passage illustrates the quotation that we were discussing last class: ‘A language is a map of our failures.’
Cullen Guesser, John. The Unruly Voice: Rediscovering Pauline Elizabeth Hopkins. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1996.
Eco, Umberto. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana. New York: Hancourt Inc., 2004.
I was doing some shopping and as I was on my way to the check-out, I came across the meat section of the supermarket, and I related slavery to meat-eaters. A question popped in my head while I was taking the photo: how is the oppressor better than the oppressed? How is the murderer more special than the murdered? Is slavery-owner, victim, profit, domination-exclusive to the human race? Have black, Jews, women and children been the only victims of it? Have not cows, pigs, chicken, and fish been enslaved? If they are not slaves, then what are they? Are they free?
And, contrary to political and religious dogma, I do not believe animals belong to us. They are not commodities, they are not property! And they are not inanimate, stupid objects who cannot think and feel. Evidently, slaves were not properties either; a human being cannot belong to another human being. Slaves were considered beasts. They were dehumanized and animals are still affected by the same arbitrary preconception in which they are not living, feeling beings but products which their only purpose in life is to serve us: what is the difference between a cat and a dog or a piglet? Why are ones considered “pets” and others, “food”? What would be the difference, if any is to be found, so substantial between two people with different phenotypic characteristics so as to consider one to be the powerful dominant and the other, the dominated?
How come that for the species who claims to understand right from wrong it is still natural and normal to consume death?
There is a stereotype in my candy. Frederick Douglass’s writings condemned many conventional images regarding slaves which were established as truths among his society. Nowadays, we still have these kind of images in our own culture.
This morning when I was leaving home I saw my neighbour’s cat. It was
a black and white cat that was very quiet behind the bars of its door.
The colours of its fur made me think about the former class’
discussion about how slavery system may affect both slaveholders and
slaves at the same, as Frederick Douglass comments on his
During breakfast, as I was lingering on the image that I present here, I started reflecting on the American Dream, an idea that was once again reinforced in “The Declaration of Independence”: “that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” As I was regarding the image on the cereal box, which I consider to be an expression of an American Dream, I started questioning myself to what an extent are we influenced by this ideals, which do not actually belong to our history or our own vision of the world. And why is this being advertised as something that we might aspire to it regard as desirable? Are we also inheritors of the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence?
I chose a photograph of a book because of the importance that reading had on Frederick Douglass. He associates the ability to read with freedom. And so he shares his knowledge with the others thus beginning his goal towards liberty.