Caribbean

Eddie Chambers, art and art history associate professor, discusses his book “Black Artists in British Art: A History Since the 1950s” at the new Black and Latino Studies Building on Thursday afternoon.
Photo Credit: Mariana Munoz | Daily Texan Staff

According to Eddie Chambers, art and art history associate professor, black artists from Africa, South Asia and the Caribbean faced exclusion from British art galleries and museums because of their race and ethnic backgrounds. In a lecture Thursday, Chambers discussed his book, “Black Artists in British Art: A History Since the 1950s,” on the undocumented history of black British artists who included elements of their heritage into their art. 

Chambers said many of the artists incorporated their struggles with identity into their work because of the influence of their immigrant parents.

“A generation of people who [were] born to migrant parents — primarily Caribbean migrant parents — came [to England] in the mid ’50s to late ’60s,” Chambers said. “All these tussles of retention and assimilation are present in the works of these artists.”

Cherise Smith, director of the Warfield Center of African and African American Studies, said many black British artists have not received attention for their work, even though they remain a prominent part of the British art community.

“It’s important to study because it’s an important part of British culture and all of art history that has been left out until now,” Smith said. “Curators just didn’t recognize artists of color who were black and who were of Asian descent as recognizable artists.”

The artists started their own exhibitions in the 1980s as part of the Young British Artists (YBA) movement, which influenced contemporary artists such as artist-turned-director Steve McQueen and Chris Ofili, who incorporates elephant dung into his paintings. 

“The effects of the YBA continue right up to the present day,” Chambers said. “They’ve influenced several generations of artists that’ve come up after them.”

Maryam Ohadi-Hamadani, an art history graduate student who studies black British artists, said she understands the importance of studying this unknown part of art history.   

“The fact that there’s been so little written on this part of history,” Ohadi-Hamadani said. “So having any sort of book that is able to bring anything to that is interesting.”

Chambers said he wanted to write the book to document the history of artists who continue to diversify the art community.

“The art world now is very different than how it was 20 or 30 years ago,” Chambers said. “As for the presence of black artists in the British art world, I think it’s still quite tenuous.”

In this podcast, Anthony Green and Madlin Mekelburg are joined by crime reporter Natalie Sullivan to discuss City Council member Chris Riley's attempts to legalize ride sharing services Lyft and Uber, the state of local police demographics and how discrimination can affect the mental health of African American and Caribbean blacks. They also discuss the UT System Board of Regents unanimous vote to deny two state legislators’ requests to monitor the ongoing external investigation of UT’s admissions process and the end to David Ash's career on the UT football team after suffering his third concussion earlier this season.

Social work assistant professor Christopher Salas-Wright’s research on discrimination was published in the August 2014 edition of “Addicive Behaviors.” The study he co-authored found that discrimination increased the risk of addictive behaviors.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

A researcher in the School of Social Work found that discrimination of multiple types experienced by African Americans and Caribbean blacks on a daily basis can increase the risk for mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety and drug and alcohol abuse.

The research — co-authored by Christopher Salas-Wright, a social work assistant professor —  was published in the August 2014 edition of “Addictive Behaviors.” The study compared the presence and severity of mental disorders in African-American, Caribbean black and non-Hispanic white populations in the United States. The research was based on the experiences of 4,400 respondents, ages 18-65, and their everyday discrimination.

The study showed 83 percent of the respondents reported experiencing discrimination over the past year. Those who encountered multiple types of prejudicial discrimination were two-and-a-half times more likely to develop addictive behaviors related to alcohol or drugs, and those who experienced it on a weekly or even monthly basis were four times more likely to develop addiction and behavioral problems.

Trenette Clark, social work assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, led the study, along with co-authors Keith Whitfield, Duke University psychology and neuroscience professor, and Michael G. Vaughn, Saint Louis University social work professor.

One of the main focuses of the study was the identification of the different categories of discrimination that can lead to depressive and anxiety disorders as well as drug and alcohol abuse.

Salas-Wright said it is the combination of disrespect and condescension discrimination, along with character-based and hostile treatment, that puts African Americans and Caribbean blacks at a greater risk for mental disorders.

“The different types of discrimination that people were experiencing translated into different health outcomes,” Salas-Wright said. “People who just experienced condescension didn’t have the same health outcome as those who had more hostile forms of discrimination.”

Noël Busch-Armendariz, School of Social Work associate dean for research, said the research is relevant to society.

“[The findings] tell us that racism is part of the everyday lives of a significant number of Americans and that this has significant negative consequences,” Busch-Armendariz said. “Perhaps more importantly, this research opens the discussion about our collective responsibility and points to the need to move forward more quickly to rectify this persistent and demoralizing social issue in our country.”

This study was introduced to history professor Leonard Moore, who related it to micro-aggression.

“Micro-aggression [is] everyday aggression African Americans feel even at a work place and school that serves to remind us of our race,” Moore said.

Editor's Note: This column is the second in a series on higher education abroad from UT-Austin students who are currently studying or traveling outside the U.S. 

Trinidad and Tobago, two small islands in the Caribbean that make up one country, could be seen as fraternal twins. While Tobago fits the ideal, touristic description of the Caribbean lifestyle, with its tranquil beaches and easygoing ambience, Trinidad is a busy, oil-rich island. In October 2009, Trinidad was removed as a “developing nation” from a list created by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization of Economic Development and Cooperation.  

From the 45-minute drive from the airport to my family’s new home, I was shocked (and admittedly disappointed) at the amount of industry I saw along the way. However, from a local’s point of view, this hustle and bustle means job opportunities in the oil and energy sectors, which influences the focus of higher education within its borders.

While many aspects of higher education in Trinidad differ from those of the United States and Texas, the major difference is the most popular type of curriculum. While the United States greatly respects the liberal arts, Trinidad – along with many other nations – focuses on offering career-oriented studies for its university students.

It is important to understand that globally, having the luxury to study the liberal arts is made possible by individual and societal privilege. However, the unpopularity of the liberal arts in developed nations equivalent to the U.S. isn’t due to a lack of wealth, but the cultural perceptions of the liberal arts as valueless.  

In the United States, there are more than 500 colleges entirely dedicated to the liberal arts, 15 of which are within Texas. In contrast, majoring in the liberal arts is relatively uncommon outside the U.S.

A liberal arts student has the freedom to carve out his or her future, at a cost. Those majoring in the liberal arts take on opportunities in school such as unpaid internships, fellowships and pricey study abroad programs (which may be required in some cases). After receiving an undergraduate degree, many students who majored in the liberal arts must then take extra time to establish a career path (except those students who attend graduate school.) Despite its popularity, majoring in the liberal arts isn't entirely uncontroversial in the United States, as it is a road that does not set out a specific career path after college.

In Trinidad, the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine (UWI) is part of a larger public school system in the Caribbean known for its engineering programs which attracts students from all around the region.

Kristianna Aird, a recent graduate of UWI with a degree in accounting, illuminated the unpopularity of the liberal arts in Trinidad when she answered my question about the extracurricular involvement of students at the university without mentioning liberal arts students at all. 

“It depended on the degrees that people were doing, because the law, medicine and engineering students don't have much school spirit, but the business and management students tended to attend all the football games and be at all of the UWI parties,” Aird said.

Nici Syriac, a student in her third and final year at ROYTEC, a subsidiary business school of UWI, explained that the Trinidadian higher education system doesn’t exist without its drawbacks, such as underemployment.

With free tuition through the government-funded program Government Assistance for Tuition Expenses (GATE) leading to many students graduating with education in a technical profession, graduates are being released into a job market with a high demand for - but low supply of - jobs.  

“Now there are many young people with degrees and no job because we are over-qualified with no experience,” Syriac said. “When we do want a job, we have to get low-class jobs in order to gain experience.”

In the United States, there is a tradition of having the freedom of exploring your education and career options and taking your time to figure out what you as an individual are best suited for.

With the exception of certain majors that are better defined, a liberal arts degree generally offers the flexibility to perform creatively and analytically at many jobs. Possessing a "blank slate" in the job market can be liberating for some, yet overwhelming for others. It is no surprise that the process requires time and money. In other nations, acquiring the education for a professional trade as fast and cheaply as possible is often your best option.

Manescu is an international relations and global studies sophomore from Ploiesti, Romania.

 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder discussed regional crime with Caribbean leaders on Monday during a summit in Haiti.

Holder talked with the leaders of mostly English-speaking Caribbean countries about crime problems, efforts to curb weapons and drug trafficking and a need to alert countries in the region about imminent deportations at the conference of the Caribbean Community, known as Caricom, held at a hotel in the Haitian capital.

Hundreds of thousands of people from Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico and other nations have been deported to homelands they barely know since the U.S. Congress mandated in 1996 that every non-citizen sentenced to a year or more in prison be booted from the country upon release.

“With regard to deportees, I think what we need to do is make sure that we give as much notice as we possibly can before people are to be released and deported from the United States,” Holder told reporters. “As we increase the more general capacity, law enforcement capacity, security capacity of the nations of Caricom, they will be in a much better position to deal with these deportees from the United States.”

Holder also met privately with Haiti’s President Michel Martelly, who assumed the chair of the Caricom group in January and will hold the title for six months.

It’s the first time Haiti has hosted a Caricom conference. The gathering ends Tuesday afternoon.

Holder flew Monday afternoon to Thomas, Virgin Islands, where he is to meet with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of the U.S. Virgin Islands.

—Associated Press

Biology freshman Genry Santibanez and undeclared freshman Brianna Williams dance during the Latin American Network’s “A Night in the Caribbean” event on Saturday night. Texas Latin Dance, which has both Santibanez and Williams as members, taught basic salsa dancing steps to the audience during the week.

Photo Credit: Guillermo Hernandez | Daily Texan Staff

The Latin America Network hosted A Night in the Caribbean on Saturday night to celebrate the cultures of the tropical West Indies with food and live music.

“Tonight people from very different backgrounds come to celebrate a specific region of the world,” organization president Ana Hernandez said. “Stereotypically, Latin Americans are often associated with food and dance, and for the most part this holds true; food and dance are an intrinsic part of the culture.” 

The event, which was open to the public, took place in the Student Activity Center ballroom and included live music by Susan Torres y Conjunto Clemencia. UT student group Texas Latin Dance gave impromptu lessons in merengue, the national dance of the Dominican Republic, and other dance styles.

“There’s a lot of music and food, but more than that, there is a very diverse group — there’s people from different ethnicities, colors and cultures,” anthropology graduate student Derrick Washington said. “There’s a lot of people who stick to a specific genre, say electronic music, and they really miss out on not only other genres, but other cultures as well. Latin music for instance, is not a musical choice, it is a way of coming together.”

Other student groups also attended the event, such as the Caribbean Students Association and the Caribbean Network.

“We had a very good response from the community,” said Mario Guel, Latin American Network ambassador. “We are serving Colombian food, for instance, which shares commonalities with other cuisines from the region; black beans, fried yuca and bananas, meat empanadas and fruit punch are traditional plates throughout the region.”

One of the activities was a raffle that helped raise money for the Caribbean Community Association, a nonprofit that focuses on disaster relief, education and health care. 

“Latin American culture is very unique and the region has a lot of potential,” Guel said. “We are an all-inclusive organization that focuses on cross-cultural awareness and solidarity.” 

LAN holds biweekly meetings that focus on a Latin American country each session. The meetings encompass a short presentation, a video and an open discussion for participants who want to address a particular aspect of the country.

“The food was delicious and the music really brought people together,” management junior Amy Collins said. “What I like the most of Latin American cultures is their soulful aspect.”

Published on February 4, 2013 as "Event celebrates Latin culture". 

Director Gore Verbinski turned a lot of heads when he abandoned his “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise to make “Rango,” an animated Nickelodeon Western populated entirely with talking animals. However, “Rango” is the perfect fit for Verbinski, a genre-based hilarious film that’s just as much for adults as it is for kids.

Johnny Depp voices Rango, a chameleon who loses his owners after his aquarium is launched out of the backseat of a car. He sets off into the desert trying to find water, and eventually, he arrives at the dried-up town of Dirt. His theatrical nature earns him the title of best gunfighter in the Old West. The town buys his schtick, half from luck and half from Rango’s pure charisma, and Rango is made sheriff just in time to deal with an impending water shortage.

The cast is great all around, with each voice actor completely disappearing into his or her roles. With the likes of Depp, Alfred Molina, Timothy Olyphant and Ray Winstone, a lesser director might be inclined to capitalize on his or her actors, but with “Rango,” the characters and the voice actors are more or less indistinguishable, making the audience wait until the end credits to match the voice to the character. Depp, in particular, is phenomenal, creating a character just as fascinating as anyone he’s played before, without the added bonus of actually being on screen.

Much of what makes “Rango” memorable is the sheer amount of creativity infused into every frame and character. From the titular chameleon that only wants to stand out to the villainous rattlesnake with a machine gun for a tail to the bats that double as attack planes, there isn’t a moment in “Rango” when there’s nothing to marvel at or be entertained by.

Verbinski guarantees this by also packing the film with hilarious references for adults and bombastic, frantic action scenes for the kids. A sequence halfway through the film in which Rango outruns of a posse of bats is a magnificent sequence of barely controlled chaos and proves to be the best action scene of the year so far.

Perhaps what’s most surprising about “Rango” is that, while it’s kid-friendly, it’s very much a Western at heart. The film has all the tropes of a classic Western in the vein of “High Noon,” but what could be predictable is revitalized by the sheer amount of energy on screen and the director and cast’s obvious commitment to the material.

On the other hand, “Rango” does have a handful of flaws. The story stalls a bit too often, and most of the background characters are undefined, blending together to form a shapeless mass of one-liners and exposition. However, these are minor quibbles with a gorgeously animated film.

“Rango” stands as 2011’s first truly great movie. It’s a vividly animated, wonderful film that will entertain kids and adults on equal levels thanks to Verbinski’s confident direction and Depp’s top-of-his-game vocal performance.