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Posts tagged "traditions"

[M]aybe it’s the very fact that Chinese buffets are totally not about exoticized “authenticity,” and that the food is generic, predictable, and stubbornly resistant to culinary innovation, that make these restaurants so comforting — and in a way, as American as McDonald’s — to many immigrant diners. Added to all this, too, I suspect that the potentially infinite promise of food is an irresistible draw for those like my parents who’ve endured wartime poverty and hunger at some point in their lives. That’s why I try not to judge — at least not too much — when my folks insist on getting up one more time for that seventh plate of sushi, shrimp, and soft-serve ice cream. (You know what I’m talking about.) 

There may be a high price to pay for such cheap abundance, though.  Chinese buffet workers, often undocumented and lacking in the language and legal resources needed to challenge unfair labor practices, are frequently the biggest victims of the low-cost Chinese buffet system.  Many stories of exploitation of Chinese buffet workers across the US have been reported in the past decade, including in Chicago, where the owners of fourteen Chinese buffets were sued in 2002 by the U.S. and Illinois Departments of Labor for $1.5 million in unpaid back wages to their employees.  In a horrific recent case in Countryside, Florida, the owners of a popular buffet restaurant were sentenced for “harboring, transporting, and exploiting illegal aliens” following a two-year investigation by Homeland Security that found the restaurant’s twenty-seven employees living together in three cramped apartment units and working eighteen hour days, six days a week at a rate of $3 an hour. 

Over at Hyphen, Jenny Lee breaks down the social appeal and the societal cost of the ubiquitous Chinese buffet.

Image credit: Chris Busby at TheBollard.com.

As a Muslim from a Christian family, Christmas has historically been complicated for me. Converting to Islam as a teenager, part of what I wanted from my religion was a new identity; the differences between Christians and Muslims held more value for me than the similarities, so I abstained from my family’s Christmas celebration. The boundaries between religions were crucial to my personal reinvention. I believed that there was no way of interpreting Christmas other than through the theological lens in which Christ was the son of God; because this violated my understanding of Islamic monotheism, tawhid, I had to stay as far from Christmas as I could.

In later years, I gave up on my Christmas boycott. I now join in my family’s annual party—with a discreet trip to Denny’s first, because everything at the family dinner has pork in it and Denny’s is the only thing open—and apparently celebrate the birth of someone’s savior, but not mine. I’m now confident enough in my own Muslim selfhood to not let it be won or lost by a holiday. Anyway, the boundaries don’t always mean to me what they once did; but for numerous Muslims with Christian families, Christmas can be a difficult choice. Besides the theological question of whether celebrating Christmas means that you join in the worship of a human as God, there’s the matter of what constitutes proper Muslim behavior. Celebrating Christmas could be classified as bida’a, “innovation,” the corruption of an Islam that’s imagined to be otherwise pure and pristine through mixture with the practices of other communities.

For pro-Christmas Muslims, the esteemed place of Jesus in Islam might offer a rational defense for sharing in a Christian holiday; the Qur’an not only recognizes Jesus as a prophet, but also supports the story of his miraculous birth from a virgin mother. Some Muslims might take part in their families’ Christmas celebrations with the intention to honor Jesus as a Muslim prophet. This can even connect to Muslim traditions regarding Muhammad. Not all Muslims believe that it is appropriate to celebrate Muhammad’s birthday, but those who do might consider the celebration of other prophets’ birthdays as well.

There’s also the well-worn “children of Abraham” narrative, in which Muslims, Jews, and Christians are all said to share in a common heritage and should therefore see each other as spiritual cousins. This isn’t exactly wrong—certainly, one can derive such a position from the text of the Qur’an—but it’s limited, because constructing an Abrahamic family just performs a new set of exclusions. Bringing Abraham into this is only the “tolerant” option if we assume the entirety of the human race to be comprised of believing Abrahamic monotheists. The “children of Abraham” approach doesn’t help when it comes to my friends and family outside of the Abrahamic tent, both those who grew up as Muslims, Christians, or Jews but no longer identify themselves as such, and those who claim other traditions. Quoting a verse of the Qur’an that praises all who “believe in the last day and do what is right,” whether Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, isn’t going to be the answer every time.

Michael Muhammad Knight, “Being The Muslim At A Christmas Party,” vice.com 12/18/12


Charter School Teaching Nahuatl & Danza Faces New Criticism

The LA Times ran a story Sunday on Academia Semillas del Pueblo, a Los Angeles charter school teaching Nahuatl and Danza Azteca as part of its curriculum titled “LAUSD charter elementary with low test scores gets a reprieve.” The article mainly focused on how the school has narrowly avoided closure while setting the goal of making language and culture accessible to its students. However, towards the end, the Times quotes Judicial Watch, an organization that calls itself a “public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption.”

Here’s the quote: “The school ‘is not much more than a training ground for the Mexican reconquista movement, which seeks to conquer the American Southwest — by force or by ballot box — and return it to Mexico,’ concluded Judicial Watch…”

Why give such a misinformed group legitimacy, LA Times? Not only is there no such thing as a “Mexican reconquista movement,” but as pointed out in the article, such rhetoric has led to actual death threats.

Image: Juana de la Cruz Farias, a teacher at Academia Semillas del Pueblo, teaches Nahuatl, an indigenous language of Mexico, to Anthony Rayo.

Photo Credit: Gary Friedman, Los Angeles Times

(via strugglingtobeheard)


11 Year-Old Carries On Family’s Aztec Dance Tradition

San Francisco Mission District resident Connie Xochiquetzalli “Xochi” Peña has been an Aztec dancer all her life.

As a 2 year-old, she danced an entire parade route. Now 11, Xochi sometimes steps in for her mother and teaches dance class at the Mission Cultural Center.

She comes from a long line of Aztec dancers. Her great-grandfather on her mother’s side was also a dancer in her family’s native Toluca, Estado de Mexico.

Xochi has big plans for herself, ones that include practicing either law or medicine. If dancing parade routes as a toddler and teacher classes while still in the sixth grade is any indication, we’re sure she can do anything she sets her mind to.

via SF Gate

Photo: Rod Yip/The Chronicle

(via karnythia)