Week Ten: Buddha and Blue Collar

Blue Collar and Buddha was a documentary about the influx of Laotian and other Asian immigrants due to the Vietnam War and other wars in Asia at the time.  The documentary shows perspectives of immigrants, Americans, and priests.  It details the Laotian immigrant experience when they came to America.  Focused on Rockford, Illinois the film follows the lives and experiences of those that immigrated.  At the beginning of the film we saw the reactions of some Americans at a bar, I found it to be quite disturbing their opening remarks because we saw the anti-immigrant sentiment but they also used various racial slurs that were disturbing.  It was obvious that they were not accepting of the Laotian community.  In one of the news reports they talked about how the Buddhist temple had been bombed twice; it was shocking (but at the same time it wasnt) that the citizens living in Rockford had such a negative reaction to the presence of Laotians in the community.  

The film also talks about religion quite heavily, I had not been too familiar with Buddhism and its practices, however, after watching the documentary I learned about the traditions of the new year and it showed how it was different from Christianity.  In the Buddhist culture there is an emphasis on the presence of ancestral spirits and evil spirits, this is different from Christianity because they do not believe in ancestral spirits and the presence of dead family members.  I also found it sad in a way how accepting the Laotians were of Christianity and its culture (which is considered becoming American) while they were treated so unfairly and were discriminated against.

3 thoughts on “Week Ten: Buddha and Blue Collar

  1. I found it really interesting how many members of the Laotian community actually took to Christianity while still practicing Buddhism. In my sophomore year of high school, we had a project where we went to a religious service of a religion we were not familiar with. I chose to go to a Buddhist temple and afterward spoke with the minister (I can’t remember if that is the correct term, I apologize) and I explained to him that I was Christian and that I was there for a school project. It was amazing how accepting he was and the Buddhist religion was. He explained to me that I could be a practicing Christian and a Buddhist, as someone who grew up Christian I was shocked by that because my religion was very confined and very heavy in teaching that Christianity was the only truth and the thought of practicing two religions at once had never crossed my mind. I took away a lot from that experience, and I think it was also interesting how the Laotian refugees seemed to be willing to adapt to American ideas and culture, like the language and the typical religion, while still practicing their traditions. I also thought how many of the citizens of Rockville, many of them being Christian, did not seem very accepting of the idea of having a mix of the two cultures. Maybe religion has an impact on the way the two different cultures view adapting and culture?

  2. I agree with your reaction to the Americans in the bar, how baffling it was that they were negatively refering like that to an entire race . Especially ones who come and try to just live their lives like they were back in their homeland. Something that I also picked up from was that the Americans themselves were talking about having immigrant ancestry. Once that was mentioned I couldn’t understand how they were able to treat the Asian Immigrants the way they were treating and talking about them like that.

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