Saturday, October 29, 2011

Acceptance and America

In the news release with “Dhaka Dust” Ms. Ahmed poses a question that is not often asked: “What does it mean to be a Philadelphia-born Bangladeshi-American woman, a writer of color with a Muslim surname raised in small Midwestern towns?” “Dhaka Dust,” winner of the 2010 Bakeless Prize for poetry, is her attempt at an answer. Though she’s American, Ms. Ahmed makes it clear that she’s been honed and haunted by her ghost homeland, Bangladesh. But that knowledge offers small solace, only dual exile:

My sister hisses, they know

by your walk you aren’t

from here, never mind

your dark hair, your skin.

(in “Dhaka Bazaar before Departure).

She understands that she’s dust, not unlike the Depression-era Okie dust of Woody Guthrie’s “Dust Bowl Ballads”: She’s dust whipped across continents to land in, of all places, Ohio; dark-skinned dust to be spurned, shunned or boot-heeled; immigrant Muslim dust that is feared but also fears.

There are many ways America can be "new" and "exceptional" in contrast to other countries, but the one it prides itself on the most is it's liberal acceptance of all peoples. It doesn't matter what you were in the past or where you're from - you are going to be equally accepted as a new person once you're American. De Crevecouer states in Letters from an American farmer his vision that he will be accepted by the Americans, and "be adopted soon after our arrival". America still prides itself on this today, and are proud to have an African-American president to show the equality. However, despite what America as a whole claims - a lot of the people don't see and treat their neighbours equally within American towns and cities. It is not as "new", "exceptional" and as liberal as it claims it is and as the vision most likely soon disappears. On the other hand, The Media and Hollywood also still promotes equality and idealistic liberal ideas to American Citizens causing the vision to be there in the first place to those outside of America, still making America "new" and "exceptional" to others, and those who live in it and believe it.

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