Tag Archives: art

Depicting Race Without Racism: The Disconnect Between My Home Country and Disney’s “Encanto”

By Glenda Palacios Quejada

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[5 minute read]

As a Black woman from Colombia who recently moved to the United States, I was excited when I first heard that Disney would be releasing Encanto, a movie taking place in Colombia. Studying in the U.S., so far from of my country and my language has produced a strong sense of loneliness in me, not only because I cannot frequent the usual places and people I am accustomed to, but also because I feel that I am losing my voice and identity as I try to become immersed in a white-English predominant place. So, to me, Encanto seemed to be the perfect way to reconnect with my country, and to remind myself of home even if just through a screen. Additionally, this movie gave me the opportunity to share this experience with other Latinx students, as I went to the movie theater with a group of women who I have befriended in graduate school.

Photo by Krists Luhaers on Unsplash

The film began by introducing the hostile imagery of a Colombian family who became victim of armed conflict. Through this you could see the painful representations that are repeated throughout Colombian political history, such as images of women with children in their arms who see their spouses killed as a consequence of the war, or images of entire families who carry their most valuable belongings on their shoulders as they walk the long journey from their home territory to a safe place. Right away, I was impressed that Disney chose to confront this subject matter in a direct way.

Only ten minutes had elapsed before the film began to confuse different geographical, cultural, and historical aspects of Colombian tradition. Among the mountains with coffee plants, tall and leafy palm trees loomed which normally would not be found in these mountainous regions. At community festivals, in a place that seemed to be located in the Andean part of the country, Salsa music prevailed instead of carranga and guasca[1] music; and in exchange for the guitar, a White man played the marimba[2]. The rural people of the Andean zone, instead of wearing a ruanacarriel, and machete, wore summer clothes and sombrero vueltiao. The most shocking inaccuracy was the multiculturalism that the film tried to portray. There was a harmonious multicultural coexistence among the characters in the movie that erased the systemic racial violence that Black people who grew up in the Colombian Andean region, a white-predominant place, are used to. Consequently, I felt frustrated that Disney tried to portray a world with race without racism; it misrepresented and erased tangible and visible racial tensions that constantly subjected Black people to traumatic and painful experiences. Particularly, that magical world denied and hid more than 200 years of slavery and its permanent effects on the modern Colombian society.

Photo by Niels van Altena on Unsplash

The film had three opportunities to accurately represent situations related to racism in the mountainous areas of Colombia, especially with their three main characters–Matrona Madrigal, Maribel, and Bruno. Firstly, it described the dysfunction that the Madrigal family experienced as the female head of household was deemed as an authoritarian presence. She reminded me of the paisa women I used to see every morning on my way to school. They gathered in the main park drinking coffee after leaving church to lament and criticize the students who got pregnant, the wives who separated from their “brilliant husbands”, or those women who were seen participating in “immoral” sexual acts. Matrona Madrigal also reminded me of those paisa grandmothers who reject their darkest skin grandchildren. These women silence them, deny them gifts, and subject them to accusations and punishments in front of their lighter skin cousins ​​or siblings. Right there, the film had the possibility of enunciating how in white-rural contexts, girls with magic like Mirabel lose their strength due to the internalization of racism and their darker skin tones. This rhetoric makes children like Mirabel believe negative stories about their body, hair, color, and ancestry. Secondly, the film could problematize the role of the uncle who lived hidden. He reminded me of the homosexual rural men who are expelled from their homes because they do not follow the heteronormative and imposed ways of feeling for and loving others. The men like Mirabel’s uncle, despite being excluded, stay in these spaces because the paisa culture, religion and customs comprise a fundamental part of their lives that they are not willing to give up. Thirdly, in the representation of magic, the movie did not highlight how Black and Indigenous communities are stereotyped as witches, sorcerers, and children of the devil in these Andean geographies. The movie had no conflicts with these racist ways of classifying spiritual and ancient ways that are not seen as the norm. 

I left the film feeling extremely uncomfortable because I realized that this successful film inaccurately decontextualized race to play into the politically correct idealized world which Disney wishes to portray. This not only ignored long-standing and tangible problems but also recreated them as positive. Another dangerous aspect of these animated films is that they superficially make us believe that they have no impact on the construction of stereotypes, racial prejudices, or other types of bias. But it is quite the opposite. From my experience, this type of film contributes to the discourse of hiding and covering up the existence of racism and racial discrimination, which leads to null or ineffective measures against this structural problem.

Photo by Zan on Unsplash
Continue reading Depicting Race Without Racism: The Disconnect Between My Home Country and Disney’s “Encanto”

My Favorite foods to cook in College

By Tiffany Mays

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3 minute read]

Over the years, cooking has been a form of catharsis for me. Between class and work, cooking is one of the easiest ways for me to take time out of my schedule for myself. Amongst the highs and the lows of everyday life, preparing food allows me to express myself in ways beyond words. It helps me remember who I am and put aside my worries and insecurities if just for a minute. Each food has a signature scent that I often associate with a moment in my life. Filling the room with aromatic smells of crispy, savory, spicy, or citrusy meals, it’s often hard to pick just one dish. In spite of the array of options available, I always seem to cook exactly what I want. These dishes not only smell delicious, but also help me reminisce on my past, think about the present, and look towards the future as well.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Food is like an art form, and as the artist I feel it is up to me to create something beautiful whenever I step into the kitchen. Without a doubt, cooking is an art that requires hours of practice, repetition, discipline, and patience. The intricacies of cooking go far beyond simply combining ingredients together, but knowing what flavors, textures, and aromas go together to form the perfect dish. To be an artist in the kitchen is harder than it looks, and trust me I’ve tried. After watching a few Food Network shows, it might seem easy, but chef’s spend years perfecting their craft. While I cannot say that I am there yet, I hope to be in the near future.

The joy of cooking is such an easy thing to incorporate into your life, but many don’t know what dishes they might like to cook. Here’s a few of my favorite dishes to cook in the kitchen for inspiration:

Photo by Max Delsid on Unsplash

Dinner

  • Jerk chicken, rice and peas, and fried plantains

Growing up in a West Indian household, my mom used to make this quite often for our family. Making it now really reminds me of home, and the comfort I felt at that time.

  • Chicken or shrimp empanadas and yellow rice

One of my favorite restaurants in New York City is a Cuban restaurant that served this exact dish at their establishment. While simple, this dish is always a staple in my diet, and easy to make from scratch. 

  • Chicken Parmesan

Inspired by some of the food I used to get in Little Italy, I like to make this dish once per week. One of my favorite pasta sauce’s to pair it with is Rao’s Marinera Sauce.

  • Chicken Lo Mein

Whether I use udon noodles or regular spaghetti noodles for this dish, it always tastes good. I prefer to use bok choy, broccoli, carrots, and green onions for my vegetables, but it’s really up to you what you would like to include.

Photo by Peter Pham on Unsplash

Appetizers

  • Fried Chicken Wings

After marinating the chicken overnight in a mixture of spices, you can’t go wrong with fried chicken wings. It’s a quick and easy meal that everyone loves to eat.

  • Shrimp Calamari

This dish is one of my favorite things to get when I go back home, and is super easy to make at home!

Photo by Aneta Voborilova on Unsplash

Dessert

  • Beignets

These French pastries pair really nicely with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee in the morning.

  • Coconut Cupcakes

Cupcakes are super easy to make from scratch, and by adding a little bit of vanilla and almond extract they taste even better! The coconut adds a fun new flavor that you don’t often see in cupcakes.

I hope this list gave you some ideas for dishes you would like to cook. If you want to start cooking regularly but are still having trouble planning out your meals, I recommend making a list of dishes you know you like and referencing this before you go to the grocery store so you will know what ingredients you need to get for the week!

Featured Image by Abbey Houston on Unsplash

Tiffany is a Master’s Student from New York City studying Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. Her Bachelor’s degree is from USC in Human Biology on the Applied Physiology track with a Minor in Health Care Studies. She hopes to pursue a MD-PhD in the near future. She has conducted molecular biology, stem cell biology, and cancer biology research at UPC, HSC, and CHLA. On campus, she participated in many student organizations such as GlobeMed at USC and the Marching Band where she played flute. In her free time, she likes baking, exploring LA, trying new food, and hanging out with friends.

8 Things You Need To Do in Los Angeles in Your First Year at USC

By Jordan Al-Rawi

Edited by Natalie Grace Sipula

[3.5 minute read]

With the fall semester fast approaching and many students planning their return (or first-time trip) to Los Angeles, many are eager to explore all of the great things the city has to offer. There are several places I highly recommend visiting in your first year at USC to get the true Los Angeles experience. Even if you have been to LA before, I recommend seeing these places before you graduate! I have listed eight of these destinations below, along with instructions on how to get there using public transportation if you are new to the city and don’t have a car.

  1. The Getty Center
Photo by Ludovic Charlet on Unsplash

The Getty Museum houses one of the most impressive collections of American and European art and sculptures in all of California.  It is celebrated not only for its art but also for its beautiful gardens and view overlooking downtown Los Angeles.  To get to the Getty from USC, one can take the Expo Line from USC to the Santa Monica Station and then board bus 234 to the Getty Center.

2. Griffith Park

Griffith Park hosts a variety of fun activities, most of which are free of charge.  The Griffith Observatory overlooks the entire city of Los Angeles, has live shows, one of the best public telescopes on the West Coast, views of the Hollywood sign, and much more. From USC, you can take Bus 204 to the DASH Observatory Bus to get there.

3. Santa Monica Pier

Photo by Matthew LeJune on Unsplash

The Santa Monica Pier is the pinnacle of Southern California beach culture and a must-visit location as a USC student.  The pier has a small amusement park, a variety of shops and restaurants, and a strong street culture presence.  To get to Santa Monica Pier from USC, board the Expo Line and ride it to the end of the line.

4. Pink’s

Pink’s is an iconic hot dog restaurant near Melrose Avenue that has existed since 1939.  Pink’s has been featured in movies, TV shows, and books.  Pink’s is a Treasure of Los Angeles and serves over fifty-thousand pounds of hot dogs per year.  To get to Pink’s from USC, you can take Bus 200 to Bus 10.

Continue reading 8 Things You Need To Do in Los Angeles in Your First Year at USC