Sunday, April 6, 2008

Mississippi Masala: Where is Home?

I really enjoyed the film Mississippi Masala. I had never watched a film about an interracial relationship between a black man and Indian woman, nonetheless watch a film solely focusing on these two races. It was also good to watch a film about Indian Americans, because many times I feel we forget Indian Americans are part of the Asian American population as well. So many times, we exclude this group of individuals, when their culture so richly adds to the American culture today. In the film, these cultural differences help to create a discussion about interracial relationships, racism, and displacement.

The most interesting aspect of the movie to me was the topic of race and relationships. At first, we see Nina is not accepted by many people in her own Indian community: she is too dark and too poor to date one’s son. Thus, she is rejected, and perhaps chooses to reject them in the same manner. Her darkness, however, creates a racial ambiguity that perhaps ignites another relationship. At first, she is mistaken for a Mexican American because of her dark skin and wavy hair by Demetrius. Later on, he discovers her Indian identity and Ugandan upbringing. It is possible that her dark color allows to be more accepted by Demetrius and the African American community.

Racism runs wild in the film. Many times, we hear the idea of bonding of the minorities. They announce that they are all against the white man. Is this true though? Is there a bond between all colored people? The racial divide is typically described between white and blacks, but where do people of other color stand in the spectrum? Does the black community accept Asian Americans because they experience the same racism from white men, or by being lighter skinned, do they gain insight into white privilege? I feel this topic varies throughout history and location.

Finally, we see the idea of displacement with Nina’s father. His home has always been Uganda: he was born there and raised there. All his assets still reside in Uganda. To him, he can live nowhere else. However, he can be seen as racially displaced. Although, he is Ugandan first and Indian second, he is still a minority in his own home. “Africa is for Africans – black Africans.” This racial divide eventually drives him and his family out of the country. In the United States, however, again experiences a feeling of displacement. He cannot support his family economically and constantly dreams of his home in Uganda. In the end, however, he realizes what home truly means to him.

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