Albert Laguna, professor of American studies and ethnicity, race and migration at Yale University, spoke in Nieuwland Hall Thursday as part of the Office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services’ Martin Luther King, Jr. Series for the Study of Race.Laguna’s talk, “The Politics of Play in Latino America” focused on the politics behind Latino, specifically Cuban-exile, humor. Laguna said humor is a special aspect of Latin American culture, which makes studying the culture all the more engaging.“Academic and journalistic discourse surrounding race is rarely funny,” Laguna said. “Yet on a quotidian level, playful ways of representing culture or race is everywhere, for better or for worse.” EMMET FARNAN | The Observer Laguna said the topic of Latin American and Cuban humor was one that must balance popular culture and academia.“The interest in my class from a number of majors across the university taught me that students are looking for tools to make sense of race in forms of play,” he said. “My goal is to provide a balance between these two poles, to delight and instruct, and help you appreciate the complexity and critical potential to thinking about race and play simultaneously.”Laguna said what made Latin American humor so compelling to him was that, despite its being a huge part of Latin-American life and culture, the subject was greatly understudied.“The inspiration … came from growing up in Union City, New Jersey … over 80 percent Latino, situated over the Hudson River,” Laguna said. “I clearly remember the important role and highly visible role of humor in narrating everyday, quotidian life … [so] I was galled by the lack of scholarship of humor in Latino studies.”Laguna said his interest in Latino, specifically Cuban-American, humor also comes from its riveting, tumultuous history. He spoke about particular publications that used humor to make political statements.“Cubans have brought their particular brand of humor to the U.S. and used it to make sense of dying, sport, life and life in Cuba since the 19th century,” Laguna said. “[Here] is a satirical newspaper published in 1897, ‘Cacarajícara,’ printed in New York by Cuban exiles who opposed the Spanish Government … It was basically like ‘The Onion’ of its time.“Little later on you have this … tabloid newspaper called ‘Zigzag’ … from 1963. This was another version of ‘The Onion,’ popular up to 1969, until they decided to make drawings. Fidel Castro, he did not like that and asked nicely — or not so nicely — for them to shut down and many cartoonists fled into exile.”Laguna said Latino humor took on new forms in the 1970s when visual mediums also began to incorporate the style of comedy and satire.“And then you have ‘¿Qué Pasa, USA?’ This is the first bilingual sitcom in the history of the United States,” Laguna said. “It tracks three generations of the Peña family on their first year in exile.”Peña said Latino and Cuban humor add a unique perspective to the history of Cubans and Cuban-Americans.“[Latino humor] has a long history, and it tells an interesting story, one that bucks the usual narrative of the Cuban-exile community and right-wing politics.”Tags: Cuba, humor, Latino politics, Martin Luther King Jr.
Mrs. Sue Lee (Benham) Christman, age 86, of Pleasant, Indiana, entered this life on November 30,1930, in Jefferson County, Indiana, the loving daughter of the late Corwin and Lilyan (Turner) Benham. She was raised in Saluda where she and her sister, Joan, and cousin Sherry (Benham) Ashley often played in the creeks that fed into the Ohio River. She graduated from Saluda High School in 1948 where she played on the girls basketball team. While on her lunch breaks, she often dipped ice cream to sell at her parents Saluda General Store that was across the street from the school. In early years, she worked at Ingal’s Drugstore in Madison, Indiana. She also worked as a dental assistant in Madison. Sue attended Georgetown College in Georgetown, Kentucky after high school. Additionally, she attended Indiana University. Sue was united in marriage on December 31, 1952, at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church in Pleasant, Indiana, to Harold Ross “Mose” Christman. To this union was born a daughter, Leesa, and two sons, Randy and Roger to bless their home. Sue and Mose shared 46 years of marriage together until he passed away on February 26, 1999. Sue and Harold owned and operated a gas station in Orlando, Florida for two years in conjunction with friends, Ben and Pat Frazier. In 1955, Sue and Mose returned to Indiana to help run the family farm in Pleasant which she continued to operate after his death. Sue often cooked for “hands” that helped on the farm. Meals were served wherever needed – at picnic tables in the yard, in her home, or in the tobacco warehouses. She was the bookkeeper for the family farm, the Badger equipment business, and the silo construction business. In the early 70’s Sue trained to become an EMT for the Switzerland County Emergency Unit. She was very active in 4-H leadership and donated countless volunteer hours to the Jr. Leader program. She was an active member and often an officer of many community service organizations – Pleasant Elementary PTA, Moorefield Fire Department Auxiliary, Switzerland County Tourism Board, Swiss Villa, and Pleasant Cemetery Association. She held many of these offices until falling ill earlier this year. She was also a member of the Night Owls and North Madison Christian Church. In recent years, Sue operated Mama Sue’s Antiques located inside the Old School Café building in Pleasant, Indiana where she often greeted and visited with customers of the café. Sue enjoyed gardening, going to auctions, traveling, cooking, family get togethers, and adventures with friends. She loved the beach – especially Emerald Isle, North Carolina, where she often vacationed with family. She also enjoyed giving – gifts – her time, her energy, her heart and her love. She will be deeply missed by her family and friends, and her community. Sue passed away at 1:45 am, Wednesday, November 1, 2017, at the Hospice of South Central Indiana in Columbus, Indiana. Sue will be deeply missed by her daughter, Leesa Olds and her companion: Brian Gallagher of Morgantown, IN; her sons, Randy Christman and his wife: Kelly of Cary, NC and Roger Christman of Pleasant, IN; her grandchildren, Stacy, Kelsey, Mallory, Mandy, Daniel, Geoffrey, Abbie and Kinslea; her great-grandchildren, Christopher, Kadence, Brenin, Danilyn, Nolan, Henry and Brian and her faithful furry companion, Lady.She was preceded in death by her parents, Corwin and Lilyan (Turner) Benham; her husband of 46 years, Harold Ross “Mose” Christman, died February 26, 1999; her daughter-in-law, Rebecca M. Christman, died June 8, 2001 and her sister, Joan Davis.Funeral services will be conducted Sunday, November 5, 2017, at 2:00 pm, by Bro. Bob Hicks, at the Haskell & Morrison Funeral Home, 208 Ferry Street Vevay, Indiana 47043. Interment will follow in the Pleasant Cemetery, Pleasant, Indiana.Friends may call 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm, Saturday, November 4, 2017, at the Haskell & Morrison Funeral Home, 208 Ferry Street Vevay, Indiana 47043. Memorial contributions may be made to Switzerland County Emergency Response, Pleasant Cemetery Fund, Community Foundation of Switzerland County or to the Angela Hoskins Memorial Fund % CFSCI. Cards are available at the funeral home.