Some interesting bits:
– Fascinating NY Times’ article on the joy of Passover, when Orthodox Jews find a way to enjoy the Ringling Brothers’ circus and still be kosher.
– An Easter thing: Slate.com’s Explainer explains the meaning of the Peeps and Easter. Cool. So glad those little marshmallow-like chickies are only available once a year.
– Fascinating NY Times article on a Henry Louis Gates’ project of a database on a database of African-American biographies. Gates feels that this an opportunity to fills gaps in history. Shelby Steele and other African-American conservative scholars worry that such a project only serves to put African-American stories outside the mainstream, i.e., it separates their stories under the guise of putting them on a pedestal. John McWhorter, another conservative writer, questions the impact of these stories being put out – will they really inspire people, or convince people that African-Americans are tragic – considering the many stories of sadness and injury.
– An Asian-American law school friend and I had this conversation that is sort of relevant to what I read in that article about the African-American bios and I wonder, so, what are stories telling us about others/ourselves? See, my friend was unhappy by how the American mainstream media, particularly the NY Times, seems to always cast Asians, particularly China and Chinese, in a negative way. I didn’t necessarily agree with her that the media was anti-Chinese – but then again, I tried to counter that it wouldn’t be consistently easy to cast China in a certain positive a light when the mainstream doesn’t approve of Communism (as it officially still exists in whatever guise in China, putting aside other questionable things about China, like human rights dilemmas and environmental fears, etc.). Plus, I took the view that the mainstream media in general didn’t report on international news properly anyway.
But, really – how do the stories that get told, and the manner in which they’re told, affect us? Do people perceive Chinese people in America or Chinese in China more negatively than they should be, because the media reports them negatively, if it bothers to report their stories at all? Will the African-American biographies – and by extention, African-American history in general – be seen as just tragic? I just don’t know. I’d like to be positive and say that media consumers are savvy enough to not just accept stories at face value and realize that history isn’t inevitable – nothing in history says that things must follow a tragic end. Some stories turn out to be inspirational, but we don’t that they are either sad/happy until we even look at them. History develops; it’s only in hindsight that we think/realize that there’s is a direction.
Sometimes, I think blaming the media is too easy. Sometimes, I wonder if more people can be independent thinkers and weigh what they read before they say anyone is tragic or inspiring. There’s no quick and easy either-or anyway – just a lot of grays, since no one, in contemporary times or in history, is perfect.
Well, enjoy the spring; nice weather today.