Ethnicity/Immigrant Experience class blog #3

Dr. Allen shared a link to a NY Times article called “Number of Illegal Immigrants in U.S. Fell, Study Says.”  The Pew Hispanic Center, who published the study has different language describing the same trend.  They say “unauthorized immigrants.”

Well noted in class lectures and in the book Moving Millions are the different paradigms and positions on issues surrounding migration of people and how the language we choose betrays our opinions.

The difference between “illegal” and “unauthorized” in an article might indicate your relative position to power.  If the laws benefit you and your people group or give you closer access to opportunities and wealth, you might be more likely to use language that keeps you on the side of the law.  If the laws either oppress you or make it difficult for you to gain access to societal rewards you might describe your plight as something more than illegal.

While the popular adage ” you can’t judge a book by its cover” is still a good saying, when articles have the term “illegal immigrants” I suspect the intended audience the author is trying to reach or their basic stance on the issue.  I think the NY Times article shows a sympathy for the US trying to keep the borders secure.  There are several paragraphs describing how dangerous and difficult it is becoming for people to travel across or from Mexico to enter the US.  The underlying message that I’m reading is “your hard work to keep them out is working.”

I wonder why the author would did not use the term “unauthorized”  that The Pew Hispanic Center uses in the source material.  Perhaps it was an editor.  I have a feeling that it was to make a larger point about power with a lack of sympathy for those attempting to make their lives within the political boundaries of the US.

The Scrapper

If you haven’t checked out Jon O‘s documentary The Scrapper, there is an upcoming screening (City Paper writeup to boot).

It’s really great, Jon gives the viewer a chance to hang out with Joe-pushing his shopping cart on roller blades around Kensington.  The film gets you inside-not only close to Joe’s story, but his humanity.

That Jon O is mad talented.  Below is from an email form him.

It will happen @ 941 Theater
941 N. Front St.
Philadelphia PA 19123
(on Front just as you hit the cobblestone)

Sun May 17
6pm – 20th Century Boy – $6
7:30pm – The Scrapper – $3
8pm – The Mind – $6
All day pass – $10

20th Century Boy is a romantic comedy of sorts about a guy who thinks he was in World War 1

The Mind is a wild horror movie…

There will be free beer!

Get advance tickets here:

It should be a good time…Joe will be there….

Sorry about the Sunday evening thing, but maybe you could come after the 5?

Law & Disorder in where?

Jenni got me watching this BBC special hosted by Louis Theroux called Law & Disorder in Philadelphia.  Below is the first of 6 parts that you can view on youtube, or on Jenni’s blog (link above).

I can’t help but feel a lot of things while watching.  It’s pretty good in the sense that I wanted to continue once I started.  Pretty brutal in that it portrays a dangerous and seemingly unsolvable cycle of poverty in violence.

If you live around here you might recognize some of the sights (maybe even people).   People around the neighborhood do act like this sometimes (and so do the cops), but the sensationalization bugs me.  People are going to look even crazier when they have such a narrow-viewed interrogater looking at violence in the city at one level.  It’s almost to say “this is why our city sucks” or “be afraid to live here because these people are on the loose.”

Well, our city does kind of suck sometimes.  I’d like to dig a bit further at some causes of poverty, Louis.  I’d like to explore why we’re not working together to keep illegal guns off the street.   I’d like to consider the American way of life that leads the “haves” to run to a place of relative safety, sometimes at the expense of the “have nots”.  I’d like some more options for people who get stuck in the ruts of their surroundings.

I guess it would be a boring movie to explore corporate profit on the street drug industry, sale of illegal handguns, letting neighborhoods languish before buying them up, etc.  At least boring in the sense that you don’t have a person with a crack addiction yelling into the camera to reinforce a lot of stereotypes.

The culture of violence or the cycle of poverty are not easily explained or solved.  We really do need Jesus in Philadelphia.

Fishtown the book

I was slow the get the news, but I tag-surfed across the graphic novel Fishtown (available online at here) by Kevin Colden.  It is a fictional 100pg comic based on some news stories  the kids involved in the Jason Sweeney murder in 2003, and for the past month available in hardcover.

I read it before I knew anything about it or  heard any reactions.  After reading, I saw that had/has a great discussion going along with residents’ reactions here.  I get the impression that residents aren’t that siked.

In an interview with The Daily Cross Hatch Colden writes:

It’s inspired by a real-life incident, but I changed the names and the characters significantly, just for story purposes. It was more interesting to see where the characters would take it, as opposed to doing a more factual account. I figured I could get more to the truth of what their motivations were, and I thought the best way to do that would be to create these characters and see where they would go, rather than use what had happened and try to graft something else onto that, and to try to avoid the emotions of the people that were actually involved.

I think the story has a few cool story telling devices.  To me the characters are hard to tell apart, and it paints Fishtown to be pretty one-dimensional whilst being rather disrespectful to those affected by the situation.  Can’t get over that one.  The story is based on news articles and I’m doubtful that it’s based on any interviews with residents or people involved.   Enough details were made up that it could bring out some aspects of the story that get focused on less, I suppose.  Not enough details were made up to do that well, thought, and the lack of research was obvious to me.  It also is like watching one of those gory quasi social commentary movies that doesn’t really have a point besides not really having a point.

Though I was very interested to read Fishtown, I didn’t really like it.  It did get my blood pumping so I thought I’d share.

5min of hipster fame

I’ve talked to enough people about circle of hope’s apparant 5min of fame in the Philadelphia Hipster Media Market, so I figured I’d share a little of how I’m thinking about the recent cover story of the Philadelphia Weekly Oh, Sweet Jesus and Philebrity’s angsty diatribe vaguely about us.

A few people have actually gotten their feelings hurt by what they read, and that is sad.  Both Steven Wells and Joey Sweeny take hard swipes at large groups of people and it’s easy and tempting to feel judged or hated on if you are remotely affiliated with Fundamentalism, tradional church, pro-life, mewithoutYou’s music, or body odor (from Steven’s article) as well as Jesus, Christians, Deerhoof, beards, fixed gear bikes, the rocket cat, mewithoutYou, or Frankford Ave (from Joey’s).

I think Steven is a really nice guy.  He’s fun to hang out with.  I like him.  He doesn’t like coercive power mongers and is really flamboyant in his writing.  He was telling a certain story about Christians that defied his normal view of Christians and for the sake of maintaining post-modern irony and atheist sensibilities took huge shots at the church at large.  He also colored me and especially some of my friends in a certain light-one that shows how not like the others we are.  I actually feel a bit flattered and sent him a nice thank-you email.  How often do so many people I know get featured in something like the PW?  It’s pretty cool, especially for the moment.

Joey Sweeny makes his living by being negatively opinionated.  Philebrity is a gossip blog (and says so) and he is going to call out people and things that he’s got beef with.  So what?  He does not actually dictate what is good or cool in Philadelphia or anywhere-but it can be comical to read.   I sent him a nice email to ask if he wanted to watch the Eagles’ game this Sunday together and he sent me a really kind reply.

Whatever press circle of hope gets-especially from PW or Philebrity is not going to be particularly about the heart of who we are trying to be or what we are trying to do.  It is kind of fun, though, to get so much traffic just because Dane has a beard and listens to Deerhoof on his fixed gear going down Frankford Ave.  At the end of the 5min, getting too worked about this stuff is like being a huge Alf fan.  It’s not really worth it.  These guys are writers who like getting a rise out of you.  They are both probably really nice people in real life.

But Joey did get me thinking.  Why do we have a splash page, anyway?  I’ll look into that.