The American Identity Theft

February 4th, 2009

The American Identity can not be described easily, because it has been so influenced by others: Natives, British, Slaves, Immigrants etc. Each group proposes the question, am I American now? There is not ethnicity placed with being American, which gives a reason to propose this question, which also lays at the base of American Studies. Deloria proposes that the America Identity is far from isolated but rather draws on all types of identities. This means that our American Identity is evolving and never ending. There can not be a true American Identity because it was and will always be based off of others. No Identity is solitary.

By using Deloria’s example on the impact of the Native American, we can continue to understand how Americans have continually created Others, separated from them. In addition, Americans use these aspects to further the American Identity. Blacks were created as African Americans; Blacks created Rock and Roll, and Rock and Roll is now an essential part of American Identity.

How does Doloria’s model help us better understand Others in America today?

Are we still playing Indian?

February 3rd, 2009

When I first came across this book in the required texts list, I immediately had interest in the title. I thought I would be learning more about the American Indian and their near extinction. As I went
through school, I often encountered Native Americans in the curriculum.
First, in elementary school we had the Indian party on Thanksgiving where we all made hats with feathers and vests out of paper bags. We gradually continued to learn more about the mysterious Indian, until finally in High School I learned of the genocide. I had never learned much about the American colonists aside from the major events leading to the Revolution and also Civil War. I was completely unaware that the Colonists played Indian in so many different ways, and how in fact this play changed over time. There was a double edged sword with playing Indian; they were fighters and free but also savages. It seems that we still have much to learn from the Native Americans, and more to learn about our founders from the descriptions of these Natives.

Questions
What about the identity of the American Indian made them so popular to emulate? How how did this identity change?

The author writes that the descriptions of the Naitive Americans given by early Colonists reflect more abou those who wrote them, then the real identity of the Naitives. What do their descriptions reflect about them?

Who is the quintessential American? In reality? In ideology?

Are there any groups today that have a true identity and one in which they are portrayed as? Do people use these identities to there advantage? Are these examples comparable to the identity of the Native American, or different?

how do you study America?

January 28th, 2009

America has increasingly been looking outward. One cannot fully understand America without first understanding her original immigrants, which means a thorough understanding of Western Europe. Today immigration continues to play a key role in how America is redefining itself. In the simple example of religion, never have there been more Catholics in the states since the immigration of Latinos. Originally America was a land for Protestants in which Catholics were even persecuted. The author provoked some interesting questions. It seem America has found itself far from her original intents. Not only are we caught in international politics but more concerning is the degradation of human life in terms of cheap labor. The most disturbing thing is that most Americans know about this oppression. But are we really willing to boycott the places we love; Walmart, Target, or our favorite designer clothes, Nike, Banana Republic etc? Americans have become too comfortable with their exuberant lifestyles, so much that we hope to remain ignorant of what our dollar pays for.

Have you already learned about child labor? Do you actively boycott anything?

Why aren’t female rappers creative?

January 26th, 2009

Females have always been in the minority of the music scene and especially genres such as metal, rock, and hip hop. The author says that it is solely based on the freedoms that women lack; this is quite the over statement. I was thinking on this topic and began to listen more closely to female rap artists (thanks to youtube). Modern rappers such as Eve, Missy Elliot, Lil’Kim, and old school girlies such as BWP, Salt n’Peppa, Lauryn Hill, and MC Lyte left me less than impressed. Few female rappers have good lyrics, which are usually masked unsuccessfully by good productions. The rhymes, the ideas, the flows – it’s all….annoying. In reference to BWP, I found the most painful uninspiring works. Not only were the vocals painful to listen to but the raps were simply a reversal of sexual masculine domination, and thus uncreative and uninspiring. Simply reversing the roles that men and women play in using sex for person gains whether it be status or personal pleasure is ignoring the elephant in the room. Objectifying the person who objectifies you is still objectification. So yes women are taking more powerful roles, but for what reason, and what are they achieving? I found comfort in Lauryn Hill’s lyrics, which are inspiring yet crushing. She speaks to both men and women and calls out both sexes for the wrongs.

How is the mother viewed in hip hop culture?

“A New Generation of Black Folk”

January 26th, 2009

The introduction of this article yet again brings up the question of authenticity. Dyson grew up in the projects and is therefore one of the heard. Dyson even questions this uncanny equation to determine what constitutes the authentic in hip hop culture.
Eminem, though white, is from a low-income hood, and he experienced the many challenges that give many artists their street credit. But what then is the difference between then passion of Eminem and the phoniness of Vanilla Ice? I propose that it is expressed not in the history of the rapper, but in the lyrical solidness and talent. The real rapper will give true and poignant critiques of society, creativity, having genuine passion for the advancement of hip hop. The last one is often forgotten when a rapper, consumed by the commercial world of hip hop falls into a mindset focused on the self.

Rap has moved internationally, what about Hispanic rap makes it authentic? Why is rap spreading?

What year is it?

January 26th, 2009

The complete out-datedness of this book completely changed the way in which I read and acknowledged the author. I found her writing to be a matter of stating obvious facts and then over analyzing. Though she did site many monumental points in rap she regretted to include many of the important milestones in underground hip hop, though this is perhaps due to the book being published in 1994. These records from the likes of Ultramagnetic MC’s, the Coup, and countless local artists marked a split in the hip hop scene and culture from mainstream rap to a new emergence: the underground. Mainstream rap means something completely different from what the underground represents. She has glossed over the horror of the sell-out, and what it means to black culture. Where underground hip hop stands today as a means of social commentary through poetic lyrics, creative new mash ups, while paying homage to the founders, mainstream rap it at best a party music for kids with little cultural respect. By regretting to write about this significant split she refers to a Black Culture as unified when it is indeed not.

Questions?
How do you listen to rap?
Why is this book titled Black Noise?
When was this book published? In what way does this impact the way your read this book?
“I am the worst thing since Elvis Presley,To do rap Music so selfishly and use it to get myself wealthy”
What makes Rap music authentic? What characteristics?
How has the Media affected Rap music? How has Rap music affected the media?
How is this an attempt to scholarize rap?
Should sampling be regulated, illegal?

American Studies

January 20th, 2009

My Blog is now going to turn into a reading journal for my American Studies class. While the posts may not be as interesting as adventures in Italy you are all still welcome to stay posted

Its…..ending?

December 11th, 2008

As I am sitting in my empty apartment, trying to stuff everything into my suitcases (event though I know they will be overweight), hoping that math will get online so we can chat, and I figured I could procrastinate just a little more by writing.
I finished my internship today. It was very odd, and I must admit that I cried the entire way home. I am just completely overwhelmed with the blessings in my life, and this mainly refers to people. I will truly miss going to Studio 4, and seeing Daniele, Ottavio, Paola, Nicoletta, and Valeria. They are all wonderful people, who taught me so much more than just Italian, and Art Restoration.

I have much to do, much of my apartment to clean, and much more to finish. Tomorrow will be my last day at the leather store, and also my last dinner with my friends. I wonder how I will sleep, But

Its all so….bittersweet?

December 7th, 2008

So I had another incredible Italian lunch. I hope to experience this will all of you at some point, because it is so intimate. We started lunch at one thirty and I left around 5:30. Great wine, great food, and great conversation. That is what it is all about. Something I have learned to cherish here. Of course after we finished our sweets cigars and limoncello.

This whole experience in Florence has been so bitter sweet. Alot of my experiences have been so unwanted, but so useful and so beautiful. For example; I came here and I knew no one. I did everything on my own. Which was such a shock. Many a Friday night would come around, and I would spend it alone in my apartment. Obviously I did not want those times. But as I reflect back on them, I needed those times more than anything else. And I am so thankful for them. These are the times that were so hard, so bitter, but I will miss them when I am home. Time to myself. I learned to truly appreciate it. Silence can be so sweet, so fruitful, so real. I wish people wouldnt listen to their ipods soo much, and realize how incredible their own thoughts can become. Though I obviously see incredible creativity come out of music. You must have your own spirituality before you can create art though, and being able to understand and appreciate it.

We dont normally make sweets out of Pumpkins

November 28th, 2008

This is what an Italian said to us on the bus, while we were carrying 5 pumpkin pies, and 2 apple. Let me back up a bit.

The day of thanksgiving started started for Kaitlin and I the night before, when we first made all the pie crusts. Then we got some sleep, and woke up early to get the pumpkin pies in the oven, because we all know they need to chilll for few hours. The morning went by quickly and we didnt expect to finish it at. But some more friends came over to help. We put them on Turkey duty. Which entailed making 40 turkey name plates for people…you know the ones that you cut out your hand, and then glue feathers too. Once all the desserts were finished, we had to get them to the restaurant. That of course means the bus….during rush hour….perfect. So we got on, and were completely overprotective of our pies and people bumping into us. Then once that was over, we had to walk a few more blocks. We were all happy when we got there, and could put them down and not have to worry about dropping them any more!

Then we got the room ready. We set up the tables, but table clothes down, our center pieces and candles! It looked great!!! Then people started coming, which was fantastic, everyone was so excited about their name plates, and the decorations. Then the food started.

apertivo, focaccia bread with mortadella
primi, pasta
secondo, patatoes, turkey, and stuffing…..yes we had cranberry sauce to top it!
dessert, pumkpin pie, chocolate chip cookies, and apple pie.

After of course some limoncello, and then we all rolled home. What a great thanksgiving in Italy it was. It was truly a family atmosphere with great food and wine, and reminded that we all have a lot to be thankful for. Of course everyone missed their family, and all the different traditions that we have, but we truly had a wonderful time with our family in florence.