A Life of thinking globally, acting locally, and seeking peace internally.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cultural Identity and Immigrants - Part II

Have you seen Ocean of Pearls? If you haven’t, I definitely recommend it, although not necessarily because I enjoyed it.

In fact, I am not sure I did… Of course, it was wonderfully made; the story, casting, music and cinematography are awesome; it shows Detroit in a positive light. It brings up challenges that we need to confront and will definitely play your hearts strings even while it ends on a hopeful note. There will be those who don’t acknowledge the difficulty of the cultural generation gap or the racism that the movie depicts. There will be those who may not be able to handle the issue-(over)load: romance, career choices, generational conflict, acculturation/assimilation, racism, and religious identity struggle.

The movie's subtitle - It is in the collision between the old ways and the new that we find out who we are - is so relevant to the immigrant story and especially to development of identity. There are uncomfortable places that the movie takes me to, as an immigrant straddling many labels and cultures, and seeking balance.

The one scene that replays in my mind is typical of the movie’s sadness and reality: the protagonist Amrit (a heart transplant surgeon who is held back due to race and religious identification) and his new potential love interest are discussing the hospital board’s denial of a promised position to Amrit. She suggests that Amrit take up the issue openly and legally, and he pushes that option aside. At times, I feel the same – why does the minority have to take an (antagonistic) stand? I guess the answer is that history repeats itself, and this is the film’s ultimate story – the story of taking a stand and being true to oneself, and this is not just true in the immigrant context.

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