MJ’s gone, are you crying? Here, we wouldn’t know

While in the United States, I’m sure  I would know this type of thing instantaneously, here I didn’t find out until this morning, via a friend’s Facebook status. 

Picture snagged from Al-Jazeera’s “In Pictures” report. 

 While partly because people don’t care in the same way as in the United States, it’s also simply because I don’t have internet at home (yet!) and haven’t been looking at the news as much as I’d like.  

While Michael Jackson’s death makes me sad and is justifiably front page news, take a minute to think about what the affair looks like for people here. 

People are constantly telling me a lot of their knowledge about the United States comes from movies. You really watch our chic flicks like “How to Lose a Guy in 10 days” and “Knocked Up” I incredulously asked a young women I met last week. She was a friend’s friend and had just told me I was the first foreigner she met. 

How can people apply what they see in movies to real life. Aren’t they getting more reliable information from the media? 

Not talking to friends, hearing conversations in public places, work and school anything read in the news is interpreted differently-it lacks context and the “right” grains of salt.  

From Al-Jazeera’s report of people bursting into tears and the New York Time’s coverage about how close people personally felt to the dead star, the articles paint a picture of a nation in mourning. While MJ’s death is a tragedy, which should not be trivialized in any way, I’m guessing the majority of people in the U.S. are relatively unaffected. 

Yesterday one of the refugees I’m working with who is resettling in San Francisco approached me with a question. “Do you know Donald Trump?” From the way he asked I was pretty sure something was up. 

This refugee, like the majority I work with, is intelligent and well-educated. They probably wouldn’t have made it out of Iraq and to us if they were not.  He reads the news, has watched the movies and knows the U.S. map. 

That doesn’t mean he has any clue what the U.S. is like. 

“Yes… I know who he is,” I answered. “…You mean personally….no, not personally.”

“I’d like to meet him,” the soon to be San Fran resident told me.


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