Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Look out for the kids...

As if it's not awful enough that citizens of Port au Prince have lost their everything. That foolish individuals are still taking vacationary trips to Haiti to BBQ and jet skii. That young men are being shot down for wanting to have some rice for their hungry stomachs. Kids. Vulnerable young orphaned children are being trafficked out of the country. What kind of madness is it? It's difficult to imagine the kind of chaos that now ensues after the quake. The safety of kids must always take priority. It breaks my heart to know what kind of evils that are perpetrated against children. But to stand by and let it happen is to be a participant. I hope that greater measures will be taken to ensure the children of Haiti are kept safe from these criminals.

Social Butterfly Phase

Has sort of begun in my life. I've changed my mind about ways in which I approached matters in life. It's funny how a single event or two can just twist your mindset on its head and force you to rethink. Take a chance in life. Break away from old inhibitors. For once, I did so. I found the courage somehow. Galvanised.

And it was most certainly worth it.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mo'Nique Wins...yes, yes, yes

She has taken the gong for best supporting actress at the Golden Globes this year. I am just routing for her to do a straight clean sweep this award reason. It will be wonderful to watch. Boy. If she takes the Oscar. I'll just be over the moon for her. More power.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Dark and the Light

This weekend I fell victim to a violent familial assault based on a very common error in judgement that people make when dealing with black people of varying shades. It is basic knowledge that within the black race, there are alternating degrees of brown intensity. No big deal you may think. But black people who don't observe patterns of behaviour that are informed by social heirarchies easily succumb to these negative habits. The darkest of us are considered the worst off. The lighter ones in an apparently better position. I'm not just talking about beauty. That's old ass. There's more. It's character interpretation I'm talking about here.

Religious iconography and ideas linked with the darker shades on the spectrum are especially guilty of perpetuating notions that sit in people's subconscious minds. Informing the ways in which they choose to perceive others.

Taking the example of my family for instance. Deeply religious and mad about Jesus. There seems to exist a spirit of white worship and black hatred latent in discussions I observe. I can't help but think that the way in which the Bible narrates in terms of dark and light, beast and angel (mostly so in Revelations) has some impact on the way in which devoutly religious people view race. I see this in my family's insistence on the notion that I am apparently possessed by an evil spirit whenever I express my displeasure of an issue. Hmmm...I can't help but think that the fact that my skin is deeply dark gives them more reason to associate me with mystical, imaginary ideas such as demons. It is quite an insistence that over time I began to parody it in the former title of my blog. That my dark skin often seems to impress on people even those in my family that there is something diabolical about my character and motives. The more ignorant one is of the true nature of dark black people on an individualistic level, the easier it is for them to depend upon these generalizations. I say, Educate thyself. Black people are not exempt from this either. Even I have fallen prey to these patterns of thinking.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Haitian Tragedy

Natural disasters are always sad to see happen. But when nature wreaks havoc on a nation so impoverished as Haiti, it's even worse. All I can say is that my heart goes out to all those people that have lost their livelihoods. Can't even begin to imagine being in that situation. But it makes me so much more grateful for what I have. Really nothing to complain about when you witness this kind of tragedy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Facebook: the future of open human database listings

"Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future" sings Seal in his beautiful mid-tempo ballad 'Fly Like An Eagle'. So it does. Eleven days ago we entered a new decade. Now new announcements are being made with respect to the most well-known and popular of all SNS's - facebook:

No more privacy. That's it. We are steadily reaching what many a futuristic novel have predicted. Alongside the surrepticious surveillance of spy satellites, a social networking site that once took so much pride in maintaining a code of privacy for its users and attracted more as a result of this policy is bulldozing our carefully constructed virtual walls and leaving us bare, naked and exposed for all who have the interest to gape into the intricate workings of our personal lives. Yey! Even more reason to get all deceptive and fake like many a user on myspace. People sought facebook for the kind of transparency that would only be safe to reveal among those one knows from real world i.e vis-à-vis interactions. Now that all is open to whomever, it's right back to the type of guarded artificiality which emerges from the motivations caused by self-preservation. There really aren't that many absolutely nonchalant people out there. That will tolerate drunken pics on their profiles knowing that Seung Chi in Bangkok will have a giggle at pics of Gina and Casey from California taking part in some drunken exhibitionist snogging at a frat party. Or Themba in Durban smoking a blunt with his boys and his boss seeing this and then second guessing his presence at the company. Or worse, that creep from down the road who you catch staring at you on the subway manages to find your info on facebook and takes his stalking to another level. Dangers that we are all smart enough to identify unless you happen to be a money hungry CEO looking to increase revenue by opening up the site to companies hoping to get a piece of the facebook marketing pie. It's all about the money honey. But why let your integrity and good knowledge be subdued by greed? Lame question huh. One may never know until they get into the kind of wealth that this kid has accumulated. Power corrupts absolutely indeed.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Was Not Born For Servitude

This is why I am so hooked on and thankful for the SWPD blog . The posts are insightful, loaded with truth and universal. The same kind of racism exists almost everywhere. The two most recent posts which address the issue of the stereotype of the Strong and/or Angry Black Woman have brought me so much peace knowing that there are Black women out there who are experience what I do and have just about had enough of being treated in ways that suggest that we are not human like whites are. All I could really say after reading the following comments was "Finally, someone has said it!" And in such a concise, eloquent and dignified way.

For instance, when examining why no one chose to speak up against some of the ironically demonstrative comments toward Black women, Witchsistah notes:

This constant non-defending of BW comes directly from the stereotype of BW not being "real" women as in not being seen as delicate, feminine, worthy of care, affection and protection. We are seen as "mules uh duh worl'" and as rhino-hided, she-beasts utterly incapable of delicate, complex feelings or thoughts. Basically no one defends us because we can "take it." It also leads to the idea that BW cannot ever be harmed (from this comes the view that BW are un-rapeable).

So I'm just going to leave off with words by RVCBard, and then a few more by Witchsistah:

When Black women talk about their experiences as Black women here at SWPD, people (particularly White people, but at times other WoC as well), tend to respond with knee-jerk contradictions (typically betraying a lack of true engagement with the content) or remain silent.

For me, personally, it would be nice to see more comments make a more proactive attempt to engage with Black women in a more constructive way.

How about treating Black women as if we are, first of all, human? Yeah, it goes without saying, but from how we're treated, I'm not always sure people truly assume that from jump street. How about treating Black women like women and not disobedient children? Again, it goes without saying, but from what I've seen, I'm not sure if a lot of you really grasp that. How about treating Black women as though our lives are important to us? Once more, it goes without saying, but the things I've seen make me question whether you genuinely understand that.

IMO, there will be less explosive fireworks and fewer ruffled feathers if more people started showing us that they are operating from these very basic foundational concepts.

In the long run, we find black girls growing up knowing that the face they must present to the world is one of strength and resilience simply because in having nobody care, show remorse of compassion for their struggle they learn that feelings which display vulnerability are to be hidden. Because if you show them...well, nobody will give a shit. You are supposed to be strong. You are supposed to take anything. You are basically supposed to not operate as a human being with emotion does.

Then there is that Angry Black Woman stereotype which annoys me because while anger is a veritably human emotion (something we all experience at some point or another), when a Black woman shows this emotion, this fact is used as justification for the preconceived idea of the Angry Black Woman. You are immediately identified not as a person experiencing anger at that particular moment but are viewed as an angry person in general. Which again, nullifies the fact that you are simply human as everyone else is. If a white person were to express anger, they would not be labelled an angry person but one would only say that they are just angry at that certain moment. So, many Black women find themselves going out of their way to avoid expressing negative emotions due to the fact that any display of these will be used against them (to justify their instrinsic savagery) or will be given as a substantiation for any subsequent abuse the Black woman will face as a result i.e. "She deserved to be hit, she was talking out of her mouth."

Often any display of assertiveness is met with a comment about how much of an "attitude" you have. By not playing out your expected role of "servant", you are in violation and must be reminded of your place. The fact that you are not being submissive makes you a deviant i.e. a woman with a so-called "attitude". Again, denial of humanity. A Black women is not allowed to lay down boundaries and assert herself as whites have the privilege of doing without anyone questioning their choices.
Since many men come with the expectation that Black women are hypersexual (courtesy of rap videos), without saying Black women are expected to act lasciviously and without restraint. Failure to do this again usually ends in some form of insult. The sting of rejection from a Black woman is just too much. We are the ones who are supposed to be down with absolutely anything - the apparent "dregs of humanity". A rejection from one of us surely must be a diss.

Before reading these blog extracts today, the thought came to mind. The behaviours I have observed have often times surprised me. When I thought, "Is this person for real?" Why feel it okay to call me a "bitch" when you have no idea who I am? Or think that I would engage in intimate relations with you when I have no idea who the hell you are? It's failure to recognise the fact that people are individuals and not archetypes. In dismissing individulaity one will assume that they know a complete stranger quite well enough already and will treat them according to those very preconceived ideas borne out of ignorance.

I have heard men speak up about the same psychological process which takes place in their own growing years. When a boy is conditioned into false concepts of manhood, he is taught that it is unlike a man to show vulnerable emotions and act sensitively. This is "sissy" behaviour and mor derogatorily seen as something a "gayboy" would do. I don't think that this is good either. I have said before that I disagree heavily with socially-defined ideas on manhood. That Black women are made to undergo the same process of development can be seen as a masculinization of Black women.

Being a Black woman myself, I know exactly how this proces works. All too well. In encounters I have where people feel they can dump their hatred and anger on me without any kind of remorse for their actions, I identify an inablity on those individual's parts to see me as a person that could potentially take some injury from that level of abuse. I see it in those individuals who acted out verbally or physically because I chose, as I have a right to, to assert my own wishes. They expected obedience from me (again disregarding my humanity) and because I showed no interest in being their puppet, I deserved to be aimed at as a target for scorn or mistreatment. These are men I am talking about mind you. Childish - throwing toys when their wishes are not met. "From the nipple to the bottle never satisfied!"

Essentially, these people also believed in the notion of female servitude. So strongly in fact that it was a cause for concern when a woman did not obey them. CHAUVINISM. So again. When it comes to treatment of Black women - racism and sexism are inextricably linked. Everything I speak of here is my own explanation for what I have experienced. There may be alternative explanations but from the commonality of this kind of treatment as seen at SWPD, it certainly is no co-incidence to me.

According to this article about the song "She'a A B****" by Missy Elliot, the song aimed to somewhat parody the critics who labelled here with the derogatory term as well as empower herself by making light of the word and using it rather as a way of portraying her strong-will. But while she is portraying herself in this light, we must remember that she has other aspects of her that would express a vulnerability and humanity we all have. Missy has spoken about her history of severe emotional and sexual abuse. This affected her as it would anyone else. But she has overcome it and gone on to become arguably the best female rapper in history. An icon in her own right. Yeah, you've got to love her.

Dear Mr President, Why Are We Regressing into the Dark Ages?

This week, the president of South Africa - Jacob Zuma - married his fifth wife Nompumelelo Ntuli in a traditional Zulu ceremony at his Nkandla homestead. Fifth, yes, fifth. Polygamy happens to be a legal sport in this nation I find myself residing in. It is absolutely fine, under our country's constitution, for a man to wed more than one woman and have each of these marriages lawfully recognised and registered under the Home Affairs database.

What protects these ludicrous ideas? Tradition. Long-standing tradition than modern pan-Africanists believe European imperialist powers have tried to remove in their attempt to control trade during colonial days. It's quite clear this side of the argument is merely a guise under which misogynistic ideals that substantiate this commodification of women are concealed. With this anti-colonialist stance, traditionalist South African men are hoping to protect their supposed male privilege which makes them feel they have the right to own women and engage in intimate relations with more than one woman at a time without the weight of being accused of adultery. Even more so, those in support of polygamy believe it is somewhat better for men to be given the right under law to have more than one wife than to revel in illicit affairs on the down low with their mistresses.

Progress is gender equality. Gender equality is the future as far as I am concerned. These kind of practices simply do not belong in the fabric modern society. They are primitive and demeaning. When the president of a country does nothing more than collect women in the manner one would collect prized posessions, how can problems such as wage gaps and violence against women be properly addressed. At the root of the patholgies that cause men to appropriate and disrespect female bodies is the notion that women are somehow inferior and should take their role as weak and powerless submissives in society. Which limits them from being taken seriously (as men are) in the workplace and in parliament. And also encourages men to beat their imperiously beat their wives up. Seek extra-maritial affairs without guilt or concern for the psychological implications this will have on the various members of the household. And simply treat women not as fellow human beings but rather as members of some sort of subhuman race of people that happen to exist alongside them and on who, ironically enough, they are intrinsically and desperately dependant for just about...everything in their lives including their very own existence on this mad planet. How funny.

This practice should not be legal. For a country that is struggling to reduce its HIV/AIDS infection rate, it is not only terribly embarrassing for the president to set the standard for female oppression and objectification for men in the country to happily follow, but also exacerbates the various problems underlying the spread of this disease. These problems, of course, have plenty to do with gender relations. Which I believe are deeply troubled and in need of fixing.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How About a Little Contented Singlehood

Here's a topic I rarely approach on this blog. My love-life or lack of one, I should say. Sivving through the comment section on Black Snob's blog in response to the problem Black women in the US seem to face regarding marriage, I found this quote.

Until recently,(I'm ashamed to admit) I was beginning to think that I wasn't attractive enough to get a man. I was beginning to think that I was invisible to single men within my age group and with whom I share an educational background. I couldn't figure out what wrong with me.
Now I see things in a different light. First, if the women in this video don't have mates then something else must be afoot because they are all beautiful and accomplished. Second, I realize that maybe, deep down, I cherish my independence and freedom too much, to want to share with anyone. I like who I am with all my quirks and don't want to change. Why should I? Add to that, relationship people ( you the type who always speak in terms of "we") really annoy me. And married women who feel that the goal in life was to get a man marry them, just are not my type of people.

So, I am not alone in thinking this. For a while, it seemed that I was the only one within my circles who regards relationships as not-quite-necessary-for-my-survival. I understand that they are important. Yes, a bit of companionship is good for the psyche afterall. But is it so absolutely necessary that a person must take on a puzzled expression and then quiz you on the fact that you are not presently in a relationship. It seems as if there is some universal message we have all come to accept which says that there is something faulty about being single and that one's state of singlehood must be uncomfortable. In response to my singlehood, I have heard comments along the lines of "Why not?" or "How can that be?" And the most baffling one of all came from a married old man who claimed that he would have to "fix that"....eeeeew!!!!! Lol! And wondered what problem I would have with sharing a place with a boyfriend. You know what? They do not call this living in sin for no reason!! Again, this is something I just do not get. It's bad enough you would have to live with that person after getting married but to do so before...hey, maybe if you really do love someone you'd put up with the annoying habits.

No wonder so many people, women especially, overload themselves with panick at the thought of not being able to find the "perfect" mate before their biological clockc tick out.

I would like to say that I am in no mood for panick. Yes, I have ages to go before any such even occurs with regards to the plumbing downstairs. Even now, whilst most it appears are hopping between relationships - trying to look for the "right" one, they explain. I, for some reason, just could not be bothered at all. Besides the fact that a relationship may be a cause for unecessary stress (dealing with personality differences, psychological issues...what the hell do I know??), it just doesn't strike me as something that important. I might change my mind in future but right now, educating my black ass seems to take number one priority. And I know how older people like to advise us about how we should enjoy our youth while it lasts and we'll never look this good again. But surely there is more to life than mindless hedonism (sex, drugs and rock 'n roll). When that's all you consider as what comprises a "good time", then of course someone like me who finds alternatives will strike you as a bore, too serious or a person wasting away their youth on books and philosophy. But we are all essentially individuals at the end of the day - with our own little quirks. Often, depending on the person one finds themselves in a relationship with, these idiosyncracies are stamped out for the sake of "making a relationship work" and one cannot truly be themselves. Especially at my fragile age of 21 which is only the beginning of my journey through self-discovery, I cannot possibly define what I really want out a relationship. So, instead my focus lies in building a career because if I end up all on my lonesome in the long run, I need to have a way to put bread on my table and feed my invitro-babies. This will be a last resort however, single motherhood is a tough job. Last resort but still an option because you never know.

I want to live being able to fully normalise the concept of singlehood. It is fine. It is good even. How else does one find the time to engage in introspective thought - learning to understand their mind a little better. Marriage should not be what women look for to be "whole". One should find that "wholeness" and confidence in solitude first before joining together with another human in a serious relationship that could possibly last a lifetime. It's not a fairytale, it does happen. In fact, if you two are wise, resilient and compatible enough, it should happen.

As for inter-racial. I'm all for it baby. All the colours of the rainbow (the ethnic one that is).

Saturday, January 2, 2010

UChicago Admissions Gets Steamy

One thing I did notice about this college some two and a bit years ago was the level of unconvention it strives to with regards to its admissions. There was nothing too austere or stern about it's approach the college application process and almost every instructional sentence on the web page sought to reduce any kind of pedantism. So I am not really all that surprised at the recent controversy stirring over an Early Decision 2010-11 applicant's essay which dove very superficially I might add into the world of erotic literature. By creating an analogy between human mating habits and the student's application process to the College, the student explained how UChi-Town will "satisfy" his "desire" for a specific kind of learning. You mean, they still got that essay topic running (yawn!). At least the boy spiced it up a little. Even if it did make for some cringe-worthy erotica. Who am I kidding. Any erotica is good erotica. Right?

"Dear University of Chicago, It fills me up with that gooey sap you feel late at night when I think about things that are really special to me about you,” the essay began. “Tell me, was I just one in a line of many? Was I just another supple ‘applicant’ to you, looking for a place to live, looking for someone to teach me the ways of the world?

Wrong. It's not even thaaaat raw you know what I mean. There is a hint at body fluids but nothing too explicit but since it is University we are dealing with here and the last thing parents need to think about is the sex that their "innocuos", "well-raised" young ones are going to be partaking in in any case, such talk is preposterous and absolutely worthy of complaint.

Courtesy of this article at Gawker which supplied me with a good dose of laughs this evening. Props. Kudos.

That said, the best are the parents who get their fangs out over it, far more so than the kids. One—"MumMum"—notes:
I agree with the person who said cloying and almost painful to read. Unless one really likes that mop commercial.
Jesus, parents are all over this College Confidential nonsense. That woman's logged 175 posts! Another user's name is VicariousParent. She claws:
I 'got' the essay (in the OP) but personally I thought it was 'meh'. It got a bit tiresome after the first few sentences.

Even the NY Times paid this incident some attention, imagine making the news and all you did was write an application essay. Lucky stiff I tell you (no pun...I promise).

Oh, the sauciness of it. Keep it cumming Dean Nondorf (no pun...ehehe). Would T.O'Neill (toenail?)  have had the audacity to post such an excerpt for public display and hold it up as the  modus operandis for the relaxed and open tone expected of application essays? There's no telling. But thanks for the entertainment people. Much appreciate it.

To Shy Away from Misandry...

Takes a lot of self-control when people such as this guy exist in the world. But boy oh boy is it funny...(in a very twisted kind of way).

Then there are a pile of other douches that one must live with. But I don't need to revisit that. It is afterall a NEW YEAR. 2010 has arrived. Much to be done. Much to be achieved.