Sunday, March 22, 2015

Time for Change

If you reach into your pocket, your purse, your wallet, chances are you'll probably find the face of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or maybe even (if you're Beyonce) Benjamin Franklin. Money is arguably one of the most important things in American society. So what does it mean when something this important only features white males? What does this show us about our history? If I were to read American history based off of the 7 different dollars shown to the right, I would think that the only important members of American history, worth any value, would be old white guys.

Luckily, this soon might not be the case. A new national campaign has emerged in the hopes of replacing Andrew Jackson (present on the $20 bill) with a fresh new female face. "Women on 20s" has hit the internet and gone viral. According to, Candidates for the replacement include Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Patsy Mink, and Sojourner Truth. Founded by Barbara Ortiz, the movement is hoping for change by 2020 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote.

I think this is so important, because it finally gives women the recognition they deserve for their roles in helping shape America. Drawing from my own experiences, the only American women that were really talked about in middle school were Sacajawea and Betsy Ross. Although both women are important, Sacajawea is only credited to helping two (white) men explore and Betsy Ross for sewing the American flag. Two actions that are important, but not powerful or inspirational. I think adding a women into the lineage of American currency is symbolic, it shows that women are literally of value in society. It will inspire the teachings of more than just two important women. Hopefully, as the times change, more and more small everyday things will adjust until gender equality becomes a true social norm. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Middle of Nowhere

Today I instagramed this picture to #anamericanstudies with the caption "And everything else is 'in the middle of nowhere' #neverending." In my caption I was quoting a phrase we discussed in American Studies class on Friday as we were analyzing the painting "Kalounna at Frogtown," which portrays a young boy standing in  a field with a house, a truck, and tons of sky framing his body. 

After a fellow student said something along the lines of "it looks like he is in the middle of nowhere." We talked about how, in America (and especially in the North Shore), if you're not in or around a city, you're nowhere. For example, on Road Trips, people tend to drive from city to city, never paying attention to the "nothing-ness" or "nobodies" between them. "Nobodies" like young Kalounna, the young seasonal immigrant worker in the painting. Which I think also speaks to The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, as Lola and Oscar also felt looked past by society at times. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Say Yellow to the New Emojis

You've either sent them, received them, or more likely than not, done both. Emojis (emoticon faces), originally started in Japan, are a widely popular feature on the iPhone; letting users add a little expression to their text bubbles. And now (to many users excitement), in the new IOS 8.3 iPhone update 300 new racially (and LGBTQ) diverse emojis will be added to the emoji world.
Shown above is a little taste of what the new emoji future holds. But something here isn't right. The emojis on the far left (who I assume to be the Asian representation) look so yellow, they're almost un-human. I've blogged about Asian representation (or lack of representation) in media before (click here), but I still find this to be unsettling.

When I first saw the sneak peak of the new emojis, I immediately thought of a parallel to the "Yellow Peril" during WWII, where the United States government used propaganda to discredit the Japanese enemy, which consequently affected the fate of many Asian-Americans (i.e. interment camps). The picture on the right shows a round, asian, yellow face being punched by "American Labor." The poster also portrays Asians with wide square teeth, while the new emojis do not. The only difference between the new emojis are the hues if skin color. So although, I know the new emojis are not intending to be anti-asian propaganda, I still do think the new rounded, yellow faces are eerily similar to the obviously racist ones from posters in the past. 
According to an opinion piece written by Caitlin Dewey for The Washington Post, "The yellow emoji has been a standard hue for icons for years and represents a generic (nonhuman) default....Even tracing back to the 1960's, starting with the big yellow smiley face." Personally, I don't buy it. Why release a "generic" face along with a new racially diverse update? To me, the new emojis mean more.

What do you think? Are these emojis racist? If so, how can we fix them?