Lifestyles

‘Roma’ captivates the reality of indigenous life

     “Roma” captivates the reality of indigenous life and social issues in Mexico during the 1970s in a way that no one else has. This monochromatic film sets the stage in the Cold War era and post-revolutionary Mexico where the shock of indigenous and peasant land usurpation is still felt. Employment is visually distinguishable between class, race and gender lines. White Mexicans, or Criollos, live in fine homes tidied by indigenous women.

     Director Alfonso Cuarón tells the story through the eyes of Cleo, a timid Mixtec domestic worker for the home of whiter Mexicans. Cleo, starred by Yalitza Aparicio, has to navigate through the social dynamics present at the time for a rural Indian woman living in Mexico City. Cleo tends the fracturing family while trying to figure out how she will get by alone with a child on the way.

     For a moment in calm air, Cleo is pictured washing clothes on the roof then zooms out to show the backdrop of other Indian women washing clothes on adobe homes in synchrony. Although family anxiety gives a perspective of underlying expectations of Indian help, the family supports and loves Cleo in her times of stress.

     Cuarón seeps nuanced details of the political atmosphere at the time. Crackdown on student protests hints to the massacre of Tlatelolco of 1968. Indian domestic workers finish their day and go to segregated bars for peasant Mestizos and Indians where they mention land usurpation that causes them to work in the cities.

     “Roma” innovatively details realistic social issues of Mexican life during the time in a way no other Latin American film has. Cantinflas’ “Por Mis Pistolas,” sets Mexican Indians as unintelligible dark bandits with a Tigerlily-like princess as the only coherent, light-skinned Indian among them.

     “La India Maria” reveals that Indians are only able to have a role on Latin American TV if they portray bumpkin stereotypes. Even Jesus Helguera’s paintings that iconized a form of Aztec gallantry only romanticized indigenous people of the past while ignoring contemporary Indian people at the time.

     “Roma” changes indigenous portrayal in Latin America. Since its release, Latin American fans have exploded on Twitter and Instagram for incorporating indigenous beauty rather than Eurocentric standards of beauty. Aparicio won an Oscar for her performance in “Roma,” making her the second Mexican and first indigenous woman to do so. Overall, the film was an artistic production that connected with Latin American’s desire to see a candid portrayal of Indian Mexico.

News

Johnny Evans steps down for a new opportunity

Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Johnny Evans said that he would be stepping down as dean and move to Brunswick, Georgia for the Spring semester where he will be hired as Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs for Georgia Coastal College.
“It is a rare opportunity. But it is bittersweet because ABAC is an amazing place with great faculty and students,” said Evans.

Following the announcement, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs, Jerry Baker asked Jordan Cofer current Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs if he would fill in the role momentarily while ABAC hired a new dean, to which he complied.

Evans arrived in 2013 from Lee University where he spent 13 years developing grants to funding the science program with the equipment needed. He was also a significant part of building project there. Evans acquired his tenure there and developed an interest in service relief and service learning. He led relief trips to Guatemala, Ghana, and West Africa, learning what it took to engage students in helping others.

After arriving at ABAC, Evans helped ABAC’s vision for a better science department grow. He became an essential part of the team, along with Tim Carpenter and Melvin Merrel, to design and build ABAC’s new science building. Altogether the project took one year to complete.

“Working with faculty, we have grown a strong biology program. That is because we have a strong and dedicated faculty working here,” said Evans.

Together with the faculty, Evans helped grow the science program and funds for further projects, drawing in more students interested in science. Evans served as the Dean for the school of math and sciences and later as the dean of arts and sciences when three schools consolidated.

Evans brought the disaster relief skills he garnered and helped create a culture of service relief. With Professor Allison Miller, Evans led a team of over a dozen students to help victims of a flooding in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 2016. There, he worked closely with students preparing them for the next task: a second and grander relief trips. Students that volunteered to in the first trip helped as team leaders of a second trip consisting of over seven teams and one hundred faculty and students. The students established bonds with volunteers for the Cajun Army, a non-profit organization that was dedicated to bringing relief to people affected by the flood. In total, 58 houses were gutted in four days.

“I appreciated the emotion behind the trip. I loved that the affected homeowners could express their feelings to us and we could respond with empathy. That man [Evans] has helped me more than he will ever understand. I won’t ever forget either of those trips,” said Katy Summers, then a student volunteer and now ABAC alumna.

Summers even spent some time in graduate school going to North Carolina to help people affected by Hurricane Florence. Working with people in need changed the lives of many students and the culture on campus. Summers, like others, have stories which were impacted by the help of Evans.

Cofer says he has been working with Evans and learning the responsibilities of a dean. Before his current position

“The school of Arts and Sciences is in great shape, I just hope to help faculty continue to strengthen our processes,” said Cofer. Until ABAC hires a full-time dean, Cofer will be serving as interim dean.

News

Lambda Sigma Upsilon stands with immigrants

Lambda Sigma Upsilon (LSU) hosted their first “I Stand With Immigrants” awareness event. LSU, like other Latino and Pro-immigrant groups around the United States, took the opportunity to sign up for the annual day of action with the organization, “I Stand With Immigrants.” The group provided LSU with shirts, stickers and other labeled materials that bring attention and solidarity to immigrants. The organization aims to provide the material to immigrant-friendly events in hopes of bringing light to our shared stories and diversity in America.

“We must have empathy toward each other. Politicians misconstrue the image of undocumented immigrants and, in turn, their rhetoric harms our community,” said Daniel Muñoz, president of the fraternity.

President Donald Trump stated earlier last week that Democrats “are about allowing crime… with open borders.” Dismissing the fact that the United States has historically taken in immigrants in need, the statement intentionally served as a way to attack Democrats without facts of the matter. The Vice President also claimed that Venezuela was funding the caravan of immigrants in support of Trump’s statement. Without evidence, the statement should have aroused suspicion. At the beginning of Brian Kemp’s candidate race for governor, he created an ad boasting that he would “round up criminal illegals,” on the back of his own truck. On all levels of government, fear against undocumented immigrants has been used to rally Americans and continue to harm undocumented people.

The event took place in the Chapel. Fifty shirts were given out by the LSU members. Muñoz and other members invited students, teachers and community members to share their experience with immigrants or as one. Dr. Jan Gregus spoke about the challenges he faced as an immigrant. Members of the South Georgia Immigrant Support Network spoke, welcoming students to volunteer for a variety of services to help immigrants. Pedro Escobar, an ABAC alumnus, spoke about his struggle being undocumented and the hardships to attain his citizenship.

“You only see what’s portrayed in the media. To see people who are your classmates speak is a powerful impact because it is very personal,” said Nikia Griggs.

The event provided a space for students who are immigrants to feel welcome. Teachers supported their students who vented the anxieties of the growing intolerant culture against immigrants. LSU plans to make the “I Stand With Immigrants” day of action an annual event to bring locals and other ABAC fellows to understand the life of an immigrant. It also harnessed the ability to come together and understand one another. The fraternity also hoped that it would be a way to motivate young Latinos who attended to make a change in their community and to feel comfortable to express their dreams to bring that change.

ABAC’s “I Stand With Immigrants” event reminds us that we are a diverse campus and that it is a home for students who are affected by the anti-immigrant rhetoric. Students continue to seek a space and a career that will help them give back to their communities.

News

Minority communities organize for Abrams

Georgia’s gubernatorial race has brought minority communities to the forefront of the fight for a decision that would greatly impact their lives. Seemingly affected by the Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to rid America of undocumented immigrants, state and local Republican candidates largely adopted anti-immigrant politics to their campaign in Georgia’s gubernatorial race. Casey Cagle promised to abolish sanctuary cities in Georgia, something human rights advocates worked hard to achieve. Both Michael Williams and Brian Kemp indifferently proposed to “round up illegals” in Georgia.

For many Latinos, this was a personal threat that demonized their community. After all, 7/10ths of Latinos in Georgia are unable to vote because of their undocumented status according to the Pew Research Center for Hispanic Trends. Williams, a Republican candidate in the primaries employed xenophobic phrases in his campaign’s deportation bus, “Follow Me To Mexico.” He positioned the words, “murderers, rapists, child molesters, and other criminals on board,” associating the latter with the former. Ultimately, the rhetoric dismisses the dignity of working families who have felt the brunt of increasing immigration policies. William’s loss at the end of the primaries might have signaled Georgia citizen’s discord with intolerant policies had not Cagle and Kemp employed such tactics to rally who they believed represented Georgia.

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic Party’s candidate after the primaries rose with a clear message that she supported immigrant communities. Addressing the undocumented community in solidarity Stacey declared in her campaign page that “in the last few years, you have shown incredible strength in the face of brutal attacks. The anti-immigrant rhetoric and actions of this administration are cruel, inhumane, and must be opposed in the strongest terms.”

Mijente, a national community organizing group that connects local organizations developed a campaign called Gente For Abrams. Gente For Abrams became a way for Latinx, undocumented and documented to join the fight in the electoral process by sharing with Latinos who can vote their reason to push for Abrams. Gente 4 Abrams rallied local Latinx community members and engaged them with educational resources to learn how they could get involved such as canvassing.

“This is the first C4 campaign in the state of Georgia that targets Latinxs, informing them about who to vote for,” stated Tania Unzueta, the Campaign Director of Gente for Abrams.

Since the primaries, Gente For Abrams has knocked on 51,000 thousand doors with a goal of 20,000 more before the November elections. The campaign not only focuses in the Atlanta area, it also engages Latinos in rural areas of Georgia. Kathy Diaz, the campaigns Volunteer and Event coordinator stated that in one weekend alone, it was able to reach nearly 900 people by participating in other progressive events. In one day, six volunteers were able to knock on the doors of over 300 people. The broad majority of leaders and volunteers have been undocumented, women, and youth who envision an intersectional future.

“I feel like the youth have enough power to make a change,” said Oscar Flores, an eighteen-year-old volunteer.

For the campaign, supporting someone who calls for undocumented immigrants to have a welcoming space means that they have a choice in the political decisions that are made that impact their lives. It also creates a foot in the door for more humane policies toward undocumented immigrants in the increasingly intolerant south. Even more powerful, the campaign represents the growing community who are have a history in Georgia to organize peacefully to bring change. The South has a great potential to change its culture. With a steady involvement of immigrants, minorities and welcoming Americans, the South has an opportunity to claim a greatness that root itself in the Civil Rights Struggle that continued the push forward for equal treatment. The social justice tree of Georgia increasingly draws strength from communities around the world who envision a life full of flourishment.

News

Students register to vote as deadline approaches

     Last week was National Voter Registration Week, where thousands of students around the nation registered to vote. It signaled the approach of state elections all around the country later in the fall. This year’s election race is especially gripping, with Georgia House Representative Stacey Abrams and Secretary of State, Brian Kemp campaigning against one another. Students at ABAC should remember that the deadline to register to vote is October 9th for the November elections.

     There are many issues that the two have approached. While the two parties have argued about controversial issues, such as abortion and the legalization of marijuana, many other issues surfaced as well. Mass-shootings all around the United States caused politicians from both parties to address their solutions. Abrams pushed for universal background checks and banning assault weapons while Kemp suggested the solution should be arming teachers kindergarten through twelfth grade, according to The Times newspaper.

     Immigration rhetoric was not only something that propelled Trump into the White House, but its issues have been greatly contested and defended. Abrams believes in a clean DREAM Act and providing legislation for a path toward citizenship for undocumented people in the country. Kemp believes in ending DACA, something he believes provides amnesty to “illegal immigrants many of whom… [have a] criminal background,” although DACA by name and by policy secures childhood arrivals from deportation. Kemp also promised to “round up criminal illegals,” in an ad in the primary election.

     As President Trump imposed tariffs on Chinese products, many farmers around the U.S. became concerned as to whether financial aid would alleviate the harm imparted by the trade war. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported the two candidates’ take on the economic sanction that harmed farmers. Abrams believed it was a terrible idea to harm the operation of business while Kemp, who at the time was endorsed by President Trump, was hesitant to criticize the economic policy and instead supported his decision.

     Abrams stated that she was a “staunch defender of reproductive choices when it came to abortion while Kemp stated that he would “sign the toughest abortion laws in the country”. Both, however, believe in funding education K-12.

     Voting is an absolute responsibility for youth transitioning their life into young adults in the “real world.” Voting is a right that many take for granted. According to the Pew Research Center, Georgia had a population of almost one million Latinos in 2016. The demographics look much different in Georgia compared to twenty years ago. Only around two-hundred-ninety thousand of those Latinos are eligible to vote, however. And though over a fifth are eligible to vote, only one hundred twenty-seven thousand Latinos are registered to vote. This is a surprising contrast compared to seventy-eight percent of white Georgians who are eligible to vote. The contrasting ratio between eligible Latino voters compared to other demographics can be greatly explained by considering the vast number of Latinos in the state who are undocumented. During the past state and national election, major policies have been tossed that affect the undocumented community, ­­­­­­—people who do not have a say about their lives. For my community, it is important that the youth vote for those who cannot because real policies are constantly brought to the table that has an impact on our lives at home.

     Remember, to register to vote, you can simply go to Vote.org, a website where you can also check if you have registered in the past. Contact your local Student Government Association member if you have any questions about absentee ballots or registering to vote. You can make a difference!