English: United States Supreme Court building in Washington D.C., USA. Front facade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In entire court term, justices see 1 black lawyer – Yahoo! News.
What can be said about this except for the obvious sadness in the headline. Despite whatever advance we may as a country have made education in this country is still more about warehousing than education and is still parceled out according to wealth and status.
I wish schools were different but they are not and never will be. Young minority children need more than rappers and bas
ketballers to look up to, and when the schools themselves segreate quality and class sizes according to ethnicity and wealth and status, it’s ultimately the same as it was fifty years ago if not worse. (Then you could take electives such as shop class, auto mechanics, music, art. Now most schools no longer have these classes.)
It’s just a damn depressing headline that doesn’t surprise me, but is just a sad reminder of where we really are in this country.
Dying to be Lighter: The Physical and Cultural Dangers of Skin Lightening
(Mario Vitanelli is a freelance writer and blogger specializing in the analysis of influential people and organizations, global business trends and international affairs. When away from his keyboard, he enjoys photography and appreciates the rest of the Vitanelli family’s endless patience with his football preoccupation.)
It’s probably a comment on the innate discontent accompanying the human condition that a huge number of people the world over seem to be unhappy with the way they look- their skin tone in particular. Fairer skinned women and men in Western nations keep the tanning industry a lucrative trade in an effort to get darker. Very lucrative- although the global price tag for tanning and tanning products is far higher, each year Americans spend more than $5 billion on indoor tanning alone. That tremendous sum, however, is half what our planet’s darker-skinned residents spend annually on skin lightening treatments.
Not that a market for skin lightening treatments don’t exist in Western states like the US and the UK. A high-profile example is Michael Jackson, whose famous denial of any skin lightening regiment was proved untrue by the lightening creams found among his possessions after he died. However, the great majority of lightening products are sold throughout over Asia, Africa, India and the Middle East. In India 60% of women use skin lightening salves every day; in Togo 59%; in Nigeria 92% of the men and women attending a skin health conference admitted to attempting skin lightening. Comparable percentages can be found in an alarming number of nation states peopled by darker-hued citizens. In many African and Asian nations skin-bleaching solutions outsell any other class of beauty product. In India, they’re the most popular by a 2/3 margin.
While trends like this are always informed by complex socio-cultural factors, the popularity of dermal-bleaching is generally considered to be the result of two influences.
The first is the legacy of Western colonial occupation creating a dynamic in which the wealthier citizens were virtually always lighter skinned (or at least it engendered that perception). The second is the increasingly ubiquitous presence of Western advertising, many examples of which feature blonde, fair actresses and models. This creeping encroachment of occidental beauty ideals has been a tremendous source of frustration for feminists and activists working to convince their fellow countrywomen that darker skin is not an undesirable trait.
Controversy recently polarized much of Senegal after adverts for a skin lightener (called Khess Petch, the translation of which is “All White”) displaying a before-and-after image of a black woman lightened several tones. A similar backlash in India was precipitated by TV adverts for a product meant to lighten a woman’s bikini region.
English: Michael Jackson at the Cannes film festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the ad, a fair-skinned Indian woman looks forlorn because her husband is distant and uninterested. After she applies the cream in the shower, however, the couple joyously embraces- his interest reignited. Unfortunately, in places like India, the assumption on the part of women (and many men) that being fairer skinned will result in greater success is often culturally reinforced. Many beautiful dark-skinned models and actresses leave India to seek work in the West as lighter-toned women get the great majority of work at home.
Beyond the troubling implications of the skin-lightening trend in ethnic/cultural terms are the myriad health implications. Because many of these creams are sold in countries without a public health apparatus capable of comprehensive beauty product inspection, many creams include mercury despite the UK’s banning its topical use in 1978. Mercury is an incredibly toxic chemical that builds up in body tissue leading to a host of problems, the worst of which include severe renal and brain damage, and death. Creams without mercury often contain hydroquinone- another dangerous chemical that accumulates in the system (and was similarly outlawed by the British).
Hydroquinone is caustic enough to break up melanin in the skin (it’s used in photo development) and is a proven carcinogen, can permanently cause black and blue splotching and is very possibly a neurotoxin.
Doctors in areas where use of bleaching creams is common routinely treat patients with bad dizziness, fatigue, almost total lack of cortisol in their systems (which can cause psychological problems), swollen hands and abdomens, and diabetes. Even if users are lucky enough to use a cream that lightens the skin without (more) toxic chemicals, lightening skin leads to a greatly increased risk of skin cancer and leathery skin when older.
Superficial but (physically) benign changes can include blotchy patterns and concentrations of melanin (which gives skin pigmentation) in the joints of fingers and toes, ears and buttocks. As such, use of skin bleaching treatments is culturally unhealthy and can lead to unsightly physical changes at best and debilitating illness, both physical and mental, and death at worst. Since these creams are widely available on the internet, the best hope for doing away with skin lightening procedures and products is education and an affirmation of someone’s beauty no matter what their skin tone.
Salsa anyone? India swings to Latino beat
By Sandip Patil
“It is kind of a weekend dance school where we personally teach our students and encourage them to attend Latino dance congresses around the world,” said Chopra, who started training nine years ago with his wife in Miami.
Salsa Dancing (Photo credit: Ed Bierman)
He estimates that Delhi alone has more than 500 dancers from all walks of life – and that the number of dancers in India could go up to more than 10,000. Besides, hundreds throng ‘weeklong classes’ organised by various contemporary dance schools.
Latino dances derive from the African rumba rhythm, swing and pachanga beats from Cuba, Puerto Rico, Colombia and Dominican Republic as well as the contemporary R&B and hip-hop genres of free-style dancing. But the elegance is very ballroom, Chopra said.
Homemaker Arti Vij and her husband Shelley, in their 30s, are amongst those who love the “sensuous body movement of salsa and other Latino dances”. They drop in to a salsa dance class in southwest Delhi’s Dwarka every weekend. “I am keen to learn more. It makes me flexible and keeps me in shape as my job is sedentary. It is better than many other outdoor sports and easier,” Shelley said.
“The idea is to look groovy, natural and sensuous on the dance floor,” said Gupsom Pierre, a Singapore-based Latino dancer and instructor.
“The best salsa dancers are emerging from Asia. The Latino dances are all about discipline and overcoming challenges on the dance floor. I always use an element of ballet,” Pierre said.
“Salsa is the same as mambo. Salsa literally means a hot chilli-pepper and vegetable sauce. In the 1950s, a journalist couple, while dancing mambo, said it was like salsa – heady and potent. The name was subsequently adopted. It alludes to the language of the body,” Pierre said.
Latino dances have been drawing their rhythm and language from Bollywood lately, says Polish dancer Gosia Kulpa, who partners dancer Neeraj Maskara of Indian origin from Poland at Latino dance gatherings around the world.
“Dances like salsa have some basic rules, but between them there is a bog space to improvise. It is a conversation between the bodies of the couple who pair on the floor. One questions with the body and the other answers,” Kulpa said.
Bollywood movies like ‘Kites’ (which stars Hrithik Roshan as a salsa instructor) ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara‘ and ‘Desi Boyz‘ have extensively used Latino dances – carrying the genres to the drawing rooms, said Bharatanatyam dancer Prathibha Prahlad.
“It is a connection in the deep sensitivity of people… though the roots of Latino music and dance are not the same as Indian dances. These are music and dance of the people belonging to the informal economy, speaking of their angst. Their beats echo in the developing economies of Asia and India,” Aambassador of Colombia to India Juan Alfredo Pinto said.
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Experiencing Natural Wonders with Ecotourism
Experiencing Natural Wonders with Ecotourism
Coined by Héctor Ceballos-Lascurain in 1983 the term Ecotourism was used to describe nature centric travel to relatively undisturbed areas with an emphasis on education. Today ecotourism consists of cultural tourism, nature tourism, leisure tourism and a good dose of adventure.
Sound ecotourism involves travel to natural destinations, minimizes impact, builds environmental awareness, provides direct financial benefits for conservation, provides financial benefits and empowerment for local people, respects local culture, and supports human rights and not exploitation.
It is an enlightening, participatory travel experience to environments, both natural and cultural which produces viable economic opportunities for the tourism industry and host communities, and makes the use of these resources through conservation beneficial to all tourism role players.
According to the World Tourism Organisation Ecotourism is the fastest growing market within the ever expanding global tourism industry. Eco-travel is a serious player within the global tourism market and is fast becoming the preferred option in vacationing. We are a society trademarked by a heightened environmental consciousness not known in past eras. This combined with easy accessibility to exotic locations is what has drawn so many to eco-travel.
Countries have begun to promote their natural resources, unique locals and tourism facilities in a bid to capture the interest of intrepid eco-travellers. Businesses are constructing camps and lodges and trails and tours are being designed to facilitate the wants and needs of the eco-tourists.
Ecotourism in Africa
Africa is synonymous with the concept of ecotourism, its multitude of game parks and reserves conserve some of the world’s most magnificent creatures. The bird life throughout the continent is remarkable, natural wonders are scattered throughout the continent and the cultures and traditions of past eras mystically intertwine with modern day. Each country on this diverse continent offers its own unique appeal to eco-travellers and no eco-traveller would be complete without a trip to Africa.
A Jewel at the Tip of Africa
When the path of tourism began to diverge to ecotourism; nature, heritage and recreational destinations became more important than before and South Africa is a haven for these three cornerstones of eco-tourism. Lying at the very tip of Africa, South Africa is home to some of the most magnificent vistas, sunsets and natural resources one could hope to encounter. It is near impossible to separate SA from a nature experience and the strongest motivations for overseas travellers seem to be the scenic beauty and rich wildlife.
SA Ecotourism Highlights
There are a never ending abundance of activities to keep eco-travellers busy on their journey through South Africa. One of the biggest draw cards are the impressive wildlife reserves scattered throughout the country. The Kruger National Park, by far South Africa’s most internationally acclaimed, was established in 1898 to protect South African wildlife and is today an unrivalled leader in biodiversity and environmental management. Each park and reserve offers its visitors a unique experience. Watching a herd of elephants cooling off at a waterhole or a lioness and her cubs playfully taunting one another are truly some of the most amazing sights anyone can behold. The parks are extremely large which allows the wildlife to roam free and exist as they were created to without borders or unnatural threats. A safari drive is one of the best ways to experience nature up close and personal and it is highly recommended for any one interested in eco-travel.
It is not only the impressive wildlife on the ground that attracts visitors to South Africa; the marine life is spectacularly diverse. From Southern-Right Whale watching in Hermanus and watching schools of dolphins gliding through the waters on a boat trip to exploring the ecosystems in the rock pools along the coastline and scuba diving amongst various marine creatures.
South African is home to some of the most dramatic mountains and mountain ranges. Table Mountain, the Magaliesberg and the Drakensburg Mountain range offer amazing flora and fauna as well as some of the world’s best hiking trails and breathtaking vistas. The various botanical gardens that are scattered throughout the country are home to hundreds of indigenous plants and the countries numerous forest regions are much celebrated by eco-enthusiasts.
The traditional villages are a highlight amongst eco-travellers to South Africa who have the opportunity to experience what life was like in years gone by. Apart from partaking in traditional customs such as meals and games visitors gain an insight as to how the tribes lived off and existed in harmony with nature.
Africa is a treasure trove of natural wonders and the jewel at the tip, South Africa, is a slice of paradise for anyone interested in ecotourism.
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