In an effort to inform the Nexus of their cultural ignorance, we met with the editors to discuss the balance between satire and the offensive use of literary power. I saw three main problems with this article.
First, the archived article that highlights the Philippines as the butt of this satire is not understood as a satire in the context of the website. On April 1, it was made clear that the Nexus was publishing an April Fool’s edition; however, after that date, if you wanted to research anything about the Philippines, under the search portion of the website, the satire article reads as though this shit actually happened.
Secondly, the website article published a few lines that did not show up on the regular published version. There was shit about Filipinos crucifying and self-flagellating themselves on a regular basis. There is no mention of the cultural context of the situation, and it is highlighted as the only thing Filipinos do in our war-torn country. According to the editors, these lines were not intended to be in the article and in no way should have been in any published form.
Thirdly, I had issues with the way Christine Apa’s comments were portrayed in the opinion article. Due to the miscommunication between the editor and the cartoonist, the artist was not informed about the context of Christine’s comments. As a result, a mushroom cloud with the word “Boo!” did not exactly re-affirm a student’s voice on this campus. It practically belittled her. In all three situations, the Nexus reflected a careless use of literary power. All my qualms stem from details that the Nexus could have easily fixed. But it took a rallying call within the Filipino and student of color communities (along with support from the Student Action Coalition) to finally get a meeting with them and discuss their responsibility to represent our student voice.
It happens all the time. I remember when the Nexus published an article that highlighted the dog population lowering because of the high rise of Hmong and Vietnamese students. Or how about last year when they satirized the Chicano population with a character named Mostly Mojado (Mojado means wetback). Or how about the misrepresentation of a weak, dependent and crying pregnant woman next to a Take Back the Night article. If the Nexus keeps on offending all these groups through a scapegoat like “the student population should be intelligent enough to figure it out,” they are being academically lazy in actually understanding the satire that affects oppressed people. If they weren’t, these details would have been fixed the day Christine wrote her retraction.
The foreign policy satire you wrote hits very close to me. Earlier this week, terrorist bombs ripped through large cities throughout Mindanao. Thousands of U.S. soldiers now occupy the same soil that was used by the same U.S. soldiers a generation ago to torture and rape my great-grandparents. My uncle was murdered there for political reasons during our midterms last winter. And much of the poverty still exists from the U.S.-backed free trade agreements that continue to make the rich richer.
I very much appreciated a satire that actually represented a struggle of my brethren in the Philippines. But through a constant process of miscommunication and indifference, I have personally seen a grave wrong. You use satire and extreme irony to make solid points, but you do not have the experience nor the understanding to make them. If you did, none of this shit would have happened in the first place.
As a suggestion, if you guys really want to make good solid ironic points about gender, ethnic, queer and other communities, there are representative groups on campus you can go to. They would be more than happy to help you out in developing your research skills in writing about the subject. It’s a journalistic responsibility to do something like that because the Nexus has no right to write shit about people they don’t even come in contact with.
Anyway, if no progress is made, then miscommunication between the privileged Nexus and other student groups will continue. And if that happens, shit will get fucking crazy between students and Nexus.
Roland Navarro is the political chair of Kapatirang.