Monthly Archives: September 2019

Like It or Not

“This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

“You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I’m one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

“For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you’re doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

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Colonel Chabert (303)

Here’s a trailer for a film adaptation of Balzac’s novella Colonel Chabert that came out in 1994. It’s a remarkable movie, though I’ve only been able to screen a damaged VHS version. Yet another reason to get a region-free DVD player.

Racial Masquerade (310/485)

The image below is a photograph of Justin Trudeau– who is currently the Prime Minister of Canada– from 2001. 2001 seems awfully late to wear blackface to a party, even if it is one themed “Arabian Nights”– which is, in any case, an example of what Edward Said termed Orientalism. (If you don’t know who Edward Said is, then go to Cesar Chavez Student Center and look at the mural depicting him. Definitely someone worth meeting.)

This recent and embarrassing revelation about Trudeau’s party foul comes at an opportune moment for students of Arts and American Culture. In a week, we’ll be reading Charles Chesnutt’s gripping novel The Marrow of Tradition, which dramatizes the Wilmington Riot of 1898. Among the strange and interesting aspects of that story is the crucial presence of racial masquerade, otherwise known as blackface minstrelsy, in the form of the cakewalk.