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Author Topic: Black.White: Moral Lessons?  (Read 1409 times) Average Rating: 0
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minasoliman
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« on: April 06, 2006, 10:59:34 PM »

So I watched this reality/documentary show that will end its series on the sixth show, or as they call it "sixth hour."  I'm a little surprised it will end early, but then again, tensions did grow between both families.

To those who watch this show, what can one learn from this?  Anything surprised you?  Are there other moral lessons to be learned besides the issue of race?

I'd like to hear some views.

God bless.

Mina
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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2006, 11:48:47 PM »

I watched all the episodes with intense interest, and think I mostly learned to examine myself more, to look for possible (unintended) racism within my own thoughts and actions. I was suprised by almost everyone on the show. I saw on the previews for the finale that Brian said that Bruno was a racist (something the black musician/teacher also said). I would disagree with that, though certainly Bruno is very hard headed, and seemed to absolutely refuse to open up and try to look at things from a perspective other than his own. Even his own family was frustrated by his obstinance. I think I understood and could sympathise with what his rap video was trying to get at (that some middle aged white people look at the rap sub-culture and think it's horrible), but it was a microcosm of Bruno's whole problem: he has some good thoughts, but just can't seem to seperate them from some of the bad thoughts, or get them across in a way that is not obnoxious and confrontational.

Brian really got to me early on, because I would agree with Bruno that he does have a chip on his shoulder. But as I continued to watch the show, I started to understand exactly why he might always be looking for racism. That is not to say that I agree with his position (especially the way he tries to get his son to go along with his position), but I can sympathise with him a lot more than I did at the start. Renee also struck me wrong from the beginning, especially because she couldn't seem to let some of the remarks of Carmen be forgotten. I think Renee is someone who has her views, and she's going to see things her way, and there's no way you will change her mind. I personally felt bad for Carmen, because she kept putting her foot in her mouth, and I really don't think she meant anything bad by it. The bit*h thing was wierd, but I think was mostly naivete', and probably due to her only real contact with black culture coming from rap videos or something like that. The "beautiful black creature" comment was also wierd, but again I think that Brian and Renee made way too big a deal out of it.

I was suprised that Nick had problems in school, which I don't think they revealed until like the 4th episode? He seemed like a normal teenager to me; if anything, he seemed too laid back to get into much trouble. At times, he was even what could only be described as docile. Rose (besides being pretty, as both black and white Smiley ) was probably the one who grew the most, or at least got the most out of the experience. She might be the only one who, when all the experiences are balanced out, ended up on the positive side (everyone else who made gains also seem to have stumbled over road blocks which might have forced a step back or two). I noticed that when Rose first revealed that she was white, the general tone was that the poetry class accepted her, but in the last couple episodes she has talked about how she feels unaccepted to some extent. It would have been nice if things could have been different, but I suppose that's life.

I think what made the show interesting is that this was not about these perfect people examining racism in strangers, but had people who were pretty imperfect themselves looking at each other and also others outside the house. I don't think that it's a suprise that the two people least effected by racism were the two youngest. Perhaps that's what bugs me about Brian's lectures to Nick: Brian even admits that Nick's generation is different (ie. better) on the racism issue, and then turns around and tries to inculcate Nick with his own paranoid views (and when Nick brings up them being from two different generations, Brian contradicts himself and says that that has nothing to do with it). Anyway, I've enjoyed the show a good deal, and hope they do another one--perferrably with more episodes.
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« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2006, 11:48:24 AM »

I come from a community of "hip hop" Egyptians, both Muslim and Copts, who identify themselves with the black community, and most went far to call themselves "African Americans" and "egy ni**as."  And it started to get acceptable in our high school.  I even had a black friend who criticized how I said we're more "Mediterranean" than "African," to which he said "you can't be Mediterranean unless you're in a boat in the middle of the sea.  You're black Mina...admit it."

However, at the same time, because of some of us, the color of our skin being olive to white (rarely any true Black Egyptians, although I saw one in Church one day), we also can experience life on the "other" side, the "white" side.  And surely enough, being Egyptian, and then experiencing life in both races, I got to see and understand and develop my own opinion of things.

In the end, I thought that the family just went further and further apart, and never truly tried to understand the other.  They claim they "want to get something out of the experience," but both seem to want to prove their own views.  The show started to evolve in showing the "Bruno Block," and Bruno himself started defending himself saying that perhaps it's not me, but the "Brian Chip."  I would personally say it's both the "Bruno Block" and the "Brian Chip," where they both understand one another's arguments, but don't really "want to experience it" as they claim they do.

You made a good point on the "Bruno Block," but the "Brian Chip" also was there, especially when finding out his own son Nick allowed white people to joke about the N word.  Nick is one of those boys, and I understand where he's coming from, since I deal with the same boys in Sunday school, who seems to not care about life, or not understand what life is all about.  He may seem "laid back" or nice, but his true colors come out when he's with his own crew.  In the beginning of the show, you even find Nick saying that he's in the show only because of his parents, that he don't care about the show, that he's trying to get by.  And in the argument with his parents about the N word, I was angry at Nick for not arguing against his parents on the same issues he argued with the white boys.  If the N word was used jokingly, and not as something confrontational, then it doesn't bother him.  But when it came to his parents, he didn't say the same thing, and just kept quiet.  So this is one thing that shows the "Brian Chip."  Even you say that he forces Nick into his way of thinking even though he understands he comes from a different generation.  And everytime Bruno is out in black, in Brian's words "he strikes out, and is not able to give Bruno the full experience."  At the same time, Bruno is not expecting something subtle, but something huge, like "hey n****a."

Renee also has some issues too.  I like Renee as a strong woman, but she also doesn't let go of things too easily, and always picks on Carmen.  For one thing, it was weird Carmen saying the B word without asking why it's there (I would).  For another thing however, it's not so weird for Carmen saying "black creature," and I think even blacks have to understand that the use of this phrase is something that blacks would say about themselves as well, in the "Black is Beautiful" era.  So I felt bad for Carmen too, but Carmen also has to think before jumping and doing things.  In the salon, she felt someone's hair, and it was quite strange for her to do this, and that she incorporated, what I assume, her white outgoing culture into the black makeup, and not stopping to think before she does something.  But at the same time, Renee was too judgmental and makes big deals out of something small like that.

The most successful cast so far in this experience is indeed Rose.  And yes, she was very pretty in black and white.  (I wondered if she married a black man and had a black daughter, would her daughter look like what they turned her into?)  Although she may have felt sort of "unaccepted" later on, you always see a certain black boy (I forget his name) who she grew very fond of (she mentioned of a "crush") and who truly tried to make her feel comfortable and acceptable.  There are also other examples of this in the show, which I hoped that if the show went longer, it would might have been sort of successful, like Carmen's black friend, Renee's white friend (I never knew the black family was Catholic Smiley ).

Come to think of it, none of the men themselves truly had "someone" that could have helped them.  Bruno, who thought he might have had a friend, failed and was shockingly called a racist for his blunt personality (I also thought the music video was uncalled for, and by the beginning of the show, should of understood it was not something appropriate to make them watch, even though they claimed they weren't "bothered" by it).  I also felt both Brian and Renee in their white makeup was only looking for more racism "underneath the carpet" so to speak, although Renee found a home in the Catholic woman.

In the end, I'm worried that this "project" would be a failure overall.  The women could have probably learned more than the men's stubborn (or the boy's "don't care") attitudes if only this show went on longer.  I was hoping that in the midst of all these problems, can one find a solution?  Or are we going to encourage our black children with "chips" and white children with "blocks"?
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« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2006, 12:05:07 PM »

I'd like to add though a little interesting Egyptian perspective as well.

In Egypt, you can find both "blacks" (true Africans) and "whites" (Alexandrian/Mediterranean/Arabic heritages).  I've watched comedy shows that can make fun of color, but both sides do this out of good will and love (it's not as bad as making fun of Sahidic Egyptians, which may have some added "stereotypes" although not racism).  In Egypt, no one notices color as a reason to discriminate as much as America makes a big deal out of.  In fact, one of Egypt's presidents, Sadat, was black.  Our own Coptic Church (and the Greek Alexandrian Church as well) makes it a duty for ourselves to be evangelists to the African continent, and two autocephalous churches resulted, Ethiopian and Eritrean cases in point.  We also have a saint called St. Moses the Black.  Sudan was also part of Egypt.

I think America needs to take a page out of Egypt and perhaps learn about how blacks get along with whites.  I recently found out one of my grandmother's distant cousins was black as well, and it never caused any issues of separation.  My father's best friend was a black man as well.  When they came to America however, the common white stereotypes amongst Egyptian immigrants against black people grew, and this is something black people need to investigate about themselves as well (Bill Cosby was one who really put this out in the open).  In addition, Egyptians also had growing black stereotypes against white people, such as lack of family, increasing immorality, or in cases of religion, evangelical fundamentalist naivety or Godless race (in addition to increasing Arabic discimination nowadays).

So this seems to confirm, at least to me, that both races have their issues, and both need a rude awakening, Bruno and Brian being the microcosmic representation of further seperation.

God bless.
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« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2006, 02:52:41 PM »

I'm not sure so much of the "stuff" on Bruno's side was anything but a culture difference. For example, with the rap video incident especially, he took a portion of American black culture that while most don't accept, seems to be heavily popularized. So, in a sense, it was the American black community that gave him these deas, he didn't pull these out of nowhere. The other family only criticized him, and didn't seem to ever explain that that is merely a subculture, which didn't help anyone. Also, the places he was taken, to the smoking/drinking domino game, and the park with the black marchers, was not his fault. It was almost as if some of the things he thought were confirmed, he really didn't know any better. After all, wouldn't he consider people that smoke, drink, and march to be getting out of life what the put in?

Also, I think Brian is a HUGE racist. When walking on the sidewalk once, he commented about white people not moving out of his way. Later, he commented that people did move out of his way, and he interpretted this as them not wanting to be near him! What is this, darned if they move, darned if they don't? Wow.

I also think in general, as with Bruno, some of the locations the families went to were bad. I seriously have to wonder why they were surprised to find racism in a bar/club with confederate flags on the wall!!

I saw a huge double standard involved, as well. For example, if there is a place a black person can't go, it's called segregation. If their is a place a white person can't go, they said on the show it's because it's their "inner sanctum." Wow...

And finally, I think the issue is not race at all, but a culture issue that masquerades as race. For example, we see backs and whites mix in many, many societies without much racism. However, here in America, there is a lot of racism. So, how much is due to the cultures that the people have surrounded themselves with, and how much is due to race? After all, as with Brian, he was teaching his son to be racist, he basically said his son was "lost" if he couldn't be as paranoid as he was. Likewise, the black culture, in the eyes of many whites, is rap, language, and impurity. That's simply how it is portrayed in the media. Also, there are things like BET on TV, and that makes many people think that blacks want to be seperated and different, and have their own society. But again, where racism is almost absent, so are these cultures that seem to promote discrimination.
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2006, 04:46:17 PM »

Minasoliman

I found your comments extremely interesting.

Like many Ethiopians and African Americans who are Baptised in the Ethiopian Church (We refer to African Americans particularly Orthodox ones as "English speaking". This allows for unity of 'person' with African Americans and Ethiopians. Avoiding the 'us' and the 'them'. Thus our only disguising difference is 'language') Find the Coptic fathers as our direct African fathers.

HH Pope Shenouda is undeniably the Spiritual head of Africa in general Orthodox or not.

This does not lessen the fact that HH Abuna Paulos of Ethiopia is the true head of the Ethiopian Church and that the Ethiopians and the Ethiopian Church is the fountain by which Africans and African-Americans looking for the true Church may find it along with their true African heritage (Particularly where this heritage is in full alignment with the Holy Church).

Ethiopia rings "black" and "Africa" to most people; particularly African descent peoples. So Ethiopia must meet this challenge. And as such she has established a huge orthodox faithful among African descent all over the world.

This does not change the fact that the See of St. Mark is the African see and seat of the Apostolic Church on the African Continent. My home is full of the books written by HH Pope Shenouda and many of the tapes, discs and evangelical material produced and published by the See of St. Mark. The Coptic Church through the grace of God produced many great teachings in English and to me are leading the way in the west and the English speaking world where African descent peoples are in need of the correct Apostolic teachings. I know protestant type African-Americans who are reading and learning from this material. This is the true example of scripture which establishes the great commission to 'preach and teach the Gospel to ALL the world'.

Sorry; but I have no opinion on the show which is the subject. I never watch this kind of television. Or was it a movie?....actually I never even heard of the story until I read this post.

I attend a St. Mina Coptic Orthodox Church sometimes.
Every other male person is named 'Mina' there.

Also; from ancient times Egyptians (KMTics) and Ethiopians (KUSHites) have been known as brothers. The current physical record has proven this out finally.
The black /white racism is a western (European) creation which has spurned on the earth over the last few centuries a horrid and debilitating mind-set which extends as far as the western imperialist arm has stretched from Gibraltar (Gi-Abdel -Terique) to India all through Australia and everyhere in between. America is a land built solely on racism. The land which holds the largest forced migration and disenfranchised group of people in the history of man. This is not counting the millions of souls laying on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean which never made it through the middle passage. May God rest their souls.

People think it is cute to act like racist Americans when they come from their countries to America. They forget that If they were from such great origin why did they come to America? They forget the suffering they faced back home and become a player in the suffering of African-Americans since 'they are' are better than them. This Godless behavior is appalling.

African-Americans built America...FOR FREE. And as of today NO payment has been made on that huge 400 years worth of labor for millions upon millions of people. So much were African-Americans central to wealth they appeared on the money. We only see the founding fathers with that honor now. The labor bill alone which is still owed to African-Americans could pay all the debt currently owed to European banks from African countries 100 times 10 thousand times and provide a colledge education for every African-American for the last 400 years and the next 400 years; all this with enough money left over if given out by equal share to every living African-American would make each one a multi-millionaire. This is true. There is not people in the world not mention America that could boast wealth of this magnitude.

You can not learn about people watching TV unless you are stupid and thus think that learning this way is good.

Whets and blacks may never see each other as brothers. But Christ teaches the world and he said "who is my brother?....the same is it that does the will of my Father". I may not have quoted that completely but that is the point. If we do the will of the Father through His Son than we are Brothers. In His coming kingdom their will be no white neighborhoods to like and black neighborhoods to hate.

I pray to find myself in that place.

But for now God help us!
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"Are ye not as children of the ETHIOPIANS unto me, O children of Israel"?....Amos 9: vs 7
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