Cultural colonization
This is an invisible, bloody question.
Sometimes I wonder, why do immigrants like us, who are otherwise intelligent, open-minded, and receptive of a world culture are increasingly aversive to learn about all the potentially good and smart things — particularly art, music and movies — from so many different countries and races that have made America such a great melting pot?
I wonder, why is it that we Bengalis stick to our Tagore, our Ray, our literature, our poetry, and our passions that we have brought along with us to this land? Why is it that in America, most new immigrants — whether from Tamil Nadu or Trinidad — flock to their ethnic TV and newspapers. Here in America, only Yupp TV has found more ethnic viewership from India than from any place else.
Why do we not want to flock around the American TV, American media?
The answer is that nowhere in the new cultural and social space that we have adopted to be our own we find any message of respect and praise. The Western, especially American media, have not found a single inch of space for proud newcomers like us that we can call happy and comfortable. In the name of a much-glorified diversity, the people and powers who own and run the cultural show have made sure they are going to decide what we should like, what we should watch, and hear.
In my thirty years of educated observation, I have not seen a single message coming out of the mainstream U.S. media that would want me to follow the American shows, and not switch back to YouTube or Netflix to search for an Indian or Bengali movie, dance or musical performance. I have tried, believe me, for many years — to love the American “show.” I have failed.
Of course, the new-generation, MTV, Bollywood and Hollywood-raised young men and women do not know any better. The junk and the brainless is all they have grown up with. To them, cultural identity is not a word that makes them think twice. They live in their detached-from history, make-believe world where consciousness forms in a vacuum.
But for the extremely endangered, educated and sensitive human species like us, our roots in our cultural history simply would not let us drop our resistance, and willingly drown in the quicksand of substandard art and kitsch.
In the elite media or tabloid yellow journalism alike, this important discussion about the mind and its active killing by the power is completely absent. It is so absent that even the most sensitive mind does not miss it. It is not a part of their awareness.
A mass slaughter — a silent genocide — is happening right in front of their eyes, and they do not even notice it.
We are dying an invisible, slow, very painful, yet bloodless death.
Partha Banerjee
Brooklyn, New York.