Alumna Natalie Harris ’16 Speaks with Spanish Classes

By Dami O. ’21, Spanish Intern

On Tuesday morning, my classmates and I had the opportunity to hear from alumna Natalie Jasmine Harris ’16 about her short film, Uma Fruta Estranhas (which translates to A Strange Fruit).

Ms. Harris detailed her background as a graduate of the NYU Tisch school, and how through attending NYU, she was able to study abroad in Brazil. On this trip, she was able to learn more about movements for racial equality in Brazil and connect them to similar movements in the United States. She also went on tours where she learned about a kind of fruit which when translated from Portuguese translated to “The Black Man’s Heart.” She detailed how hearing about that fruit led to her connecting the fruit to the famous song, “Strange Fruit” and then wondering about the Black Woman’s Heart.

The film employed color as symbols, such as the colors of the American flag and yellow, the color associated with Yoruba goddess, Oshun, to convey the complexities, the struggles, and the triumphs of Black women that transcend borders. Ms. Harris also used the juxtaposition of color, beginning the short film with the use of black and white when detailing the struggles then color when discussing the triumphs.
Having the chance to watch Ms. Harris’s short film was an extremely valuable experience as we discussed art, especially art that advocated for causes or spoke out against injustices like Picasso’s Guernica in our advanced Spanish class. We also talked about racism globally, especially the connections between racism in the U.S. and Latin America which was also a theme present in the short film.

Thus, Ms. Harris’s compelling short film with interesting metaphors, symbolism, and a masterful fusion of poetic, visual, and musical elements were all aspects that stood out to us as a class and encouraged us to think deeply. My classmates also expressed how they found Ms. Harris’s use of color as well as her connection between Black people in the US and Latin America to be interesting and thought-provoking.

Ultimately, my classmates and I feel that we were able to learn more about racism and how it exists on a global scale as well as about how art can be used as a medium to tell the stories of those who experience racism. Thank you, Sra. Sánchez for organizing the presentation, and thank you, Ms. Harris for speaking to our class!
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