Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: acceptance, africa, afrika, black, racism, self-hate
A brown-skinned, hazel-eyed, curly-haired little girl or boy may seem to you like the perfectly ‘beautiful’ doll to pamper and show off, but just take a little moment out of your superficial dream to think. You may feel that, by increasing the number of racially mixed kids, the entire social construct of race will just vanish, when what you are in fact doing is creating more conflict. The majority of the world’s societies are founded, or re-created through colonialism, on the sheer construct of race.
Colonialism brought to most of the world’s societies the hierarchy of skin tone, split into roughly three rows: the bottom being the indigenous person – African, Nican Tlaca, indigenous Chinese, etc.; the top is the White European; in the middle row would be the ‘racially’ mixed – possibly treated with less discrimination than those of the ‘bottom row’, yet ironically still considered part of the bottom by the White European.
What this has contributed to, first of all, is the White European standard of beauty. As someone from the ‘bottom row’, it would be an achievement to appear more like someone from the ‘top row’, that is to say, be lighter in all aspects, and lack the physical attributes that someone from the ‘bottom row’ would typically possess, whether that be kinky hair, a wide nose, small eyes, etc. It is common to take drastic, sometimes life-threatening measures to seem part of it.
However, the reality of not being White European leaves the ‘middle row’ as the best compromise, hence this fetishisation of mixed-race children. This current trend is a historical folly that only damages the confidence of both the black and black-mixed children.
It’s important to note that, besides the everyday issue of beauty standard, racism touches other areas. Colonial attitudes towards people of the ‘bottom row’ still continue their legacy to this day. This is done by maintaining decorum in a certain way to avoid any association with the ‘bottom row’. Being ‘well-spoken’, i.e. speaking either a colonial language such as French or Spanish, or avoiding use of a vernacular such as Patois or slang, implies ‘intelligence’. Avoiding participation in and enthusiasm for ‘bottom row’ customs such as music or food, implies ‘respectability’. Most of all, choosing an identity which avoids implication of being part of the ‘bottom row’, for example, ‘Jamaican’, ‘Latino’, ‘Dual Heritage’, implies acceptance and tolerability.
To express support for colonial prejudice towards a group of ‘bottom row’ people is shocking for some, but nevertheless accepted, often considered as ‘light humour’.
To express love for the same group of people, is either mocked by some, or most of the time considered intolerable and racist.
To not kiss the arse of those in the ‘top row’ is intolerable and racist.
Yet, to desire to be part of the ‘top row’ is ‘ambition’.
As a ‘racially’ mixed person, I fall into the ‘middle row’. From here, there are two routes to take:
I can use my less-than-African blood mix as a reasonable excuse to be part of the ‘top row’. I am half-white, therefore, I can hold colonial views towards African people by prejudging, stereotyping and laughing at racist jokes, having never been to Africa. I can avoid any relation to Africa by calling myself ‘British’, ‘Jamaican’, ‘black and white’. I can speak ‘properly’ like a grammar school-educated white girl and listen to ‘acceptable’ music so that I am not seen as suspicious by the police, teachers, or old ladies. I can use my lighter-than-African skin to be seen as ‘pretty’ whilst avoiding that attention be made to my African nose, lips, and hair. Scrap that, I can permanently straighten my hair. This is white privilege.
Or, I can study the history of Africa and its civilisations so that I can appreciate that African people are way above the stereotypes. I can empathise with oppressed people, rather than view the world with white-privileged glasses by condemning any race-related talk and labelling it as ‘racism’. I can identify myself as Afrikan, of African descent, or part of whatever ethnic group I may belong to, without shame or fear of being mocked. I can wear my most African features with pride and true acceptance of their beauty – natural, kinky hair, slightly large nose, full lips, high cheeks, full figure in the lower half (big booty). Features I was once ashamed to show in public, I now flaunt with more self-confidence than I’ve ever had.
Which sounds more racist? And which one is more commonly labelled ‘racist’?
Filed under: afrika
i try my hardest to avoid the use of cliché words that would make me seem part of this new age, neo-hippy trend. i find it a shame that such words are thrown around so lightly – the english language is limited as it is, so the significance of these words, i think, must be considered before being used.
‘enlightenment’ is a word in particular of which i have been experiencing the meaning, yet without being able to explain this experience, it would only sound empty if i were to proclaim it. it is a word that is immediately connotated with either hinduism or marijuana; neither had been tools in my repeated experience.
on both occasions, i felt what i feel i can truly describe as bliss – a bliss i had only before been able to achieve with marijuana. they had both followed, however, the gift of knowledge.
knowledge is preceeded by acceptance. when in doubt or denial, you can’t notice even what is right in front of you. pessimism, that is.
i suppose i am implying that optimism is the key to happiness, but i wouldn’t want to induce the idea of blind faith for the sake of faith. rather, it’s more a case of collecting information to contribute to your faith, thus gaining knowledge. then, through experience, knowledge is confirmed – such which happened to me. bliss, or ~enlightenment~ is more than a human emotion. it’s a state that affects both the physical and mental – and it is here where i lose myself in the prison of vocabulary.
“reverse racism” is just a taste of one’s own medicine (or rather poison). you create the idea of “race” to feel superior and as a way to identify an entire group of groups of individual people as of lower rank (or subhuman). now these people who have been seen as subhuman for the past 500 years or so revolt against the self-proclaimed “superior race” and are attacked by this “superior race” for only seeing the skin colour of these people who initially made the cut-off lines between a gradient scale of one colour (brown/melanin). i, for one, would love to see us all as “the human race” but it’s near impossible in this “new world” that’s been founded on the idea of race and its hierachy.
Brown skin. Brown eyes. Black, kinky hair.
White parent. Black parent. English surname.
These are the contributing factors to the confusion I’d felt for seventeen years of my life regarding my ethnic identity.
The idea of being mixed is often romanticised as having the ‘best of both worlds’, but the reality is that you barely feel like you can live in either. From what I had perceived from both sides of my family while growing up, I could either be Jamaican, or British. It was very naive of me to think of that as the solution to my identity crisis. Growing up in the diaspora is to be in a society that opposes everything you perceptionally are: I could settle in this British society, as long as I identified only with my English heritage. That is to say, as long as I don’t express any sign of being ‘black’, I could live avoiding any racial prejudice. I would perm my hair straight under the false pretence that I simply preferred straight hair. I hated my full figure which is an obvious attribute to being a ‘black’ girl. I developed this false ‘well-spoken’ grammar school accent, despite having lived in South London all my life. I envied the other mixed girls who were ‘blessed’ with light skin, green/hazel eyes and loosely curled hair. Worst of all, I rejected the idea of being a child of Africa. Speaking from a shameful experience, to have any allegiance with Africa would be submitting yourself to racial prejudice, discrimination and mockery. I was living under white privilege.
I would never have even contemplated the idea of being African. As a Jamaican, that would be treacherous to the island’s motto, “Out of many, one people”, which implies that one must conform to the colonial identity above all. It had always been obvious, however, that Jamaica’s culture, as well as population, is descended (for the most part) directly from Africa. Such denial of African descent is a problem all over the Caribbean, caused by colonialism, and causes many Afro-Caribbeans in the UK to settle as either Jamaican (/Caribbean) or British, but never a child of Africa.
I was proud of my English surname, until one day, curiosity drove me to trace my family tree. I could only go as far back as my great-grandparents. Any history before that has been masked by my surname, which I concluded had been the name of a slave-master. From that point at the age of about sixteen, I could only feel negativity: sadness, confusion, a slight bit of anger. I accepted it as a part of life, and continued my embrace of other cultures around the world, as a way to avoid my own lack of identity.
It was only when I visited Santa Cruz, Bolivia, that I developed enough anger to mentally activate myself. Bolivia has a rich ethnic diversity, including Quechua, Aymara and Guaraní. However, there is a general preference to not acknowledge such ethnicities. Instead, I only heard people talk of their Spanish, Italian or German blood. It angered me, not just because of the outright white supremacy, but because there still exists today indigenous populations that continue traditional customs in their way of living and communication. The evidence of their heritage in Santa Cruz is in their surroundings, and they choose to not only detach themselves from it, but attack it! Everyday life in Santa Cruz is a constant battle between the camba and the colla – of which the common connotations are the ‘indigenous-looking’ person (i.e. dark skin, hair and eyes) and the person of light complexion. In actual fact, the true meaning of colla is simply to be of Quechua or Aymara descent, and camba is to be of Guaraní descent – meaning that both the camba and the colla are indigenous to Bolivia! It was simply a battle between ‘light skin’ vs. ‘dark-skin’. You can surely understand how quickly this made me reflect upon my own fellow Afro-Caribbeans and diaspora Africans.
Through networking on Facebook, I discovered Africans from all over the diaspora and ‘South Americans’ (Nican Tlaca) who, not only felt the same way as me, but had already taken action to resist colonialism/white supremacy and embrace their true identity. Now, I am beginning my own journey to the rediscovery of my roots. It will and already has been a long, emotional and demanding process, but I am rewarded with knowledge of my true identity and cause for which to fight.
Facebook groups to consider if you wish to begin your journey:
Filed under: language resources | Tags: bilingual books, chinese, hindi, japanese, korean, mandarin
I said I would scan the books I get from the library. Well, it’s very tedious to scan! So I will upload one each day.
1. 狐のお話し [kitsune no o-hanashi] (Fox’s Fables) [Japanese->English]
This consists of two fables: The Fox and the Crane; The King of the Forest.
2. यए थिन [ye shin] (Yeh Hsien) [Hindi->English]
Cinderella derives from this old Chinese folk tale.
3. 여우 우화 [yeowoo woohwa] (Fox Fables) [Korean->English]
The same story as number 1 :)
4. 旋轉的頭巾 [xuan2 zhuan3 de tou2 jin1] (The Swirling Hijaab) [Traditional Chinese - Mandarin->English]
I don’t know if this story is sensible lol.
Filed under: language resources | Tags: bilingual books, languages, parallel translation
I remember when I visited a library a few years ago and found loads of foreign language books. However I didn’t think they would have them in my borough.
Well, I visited my local library today with my little sister, since she has a newfound obsession with libraries (she may have seen it on TV ^^). I thought it’d be good to rent out some Spanish<-> English books for her. If you didn’t know, my sister is both Bolivian and British, so she speaks Spanish with her father and English to my mother and I (and everyone else).
I’ve found my new hideout! There are so many more languages in this library, ranging from Albanian to Somali to Yoruba. In fact, they are books for children, written in English and the other language. I presume they are for bilingual children to develop their second language, but there’s nothing wrong with me profiting from them :)
I was pleasantly surprised to find a Korean book, as there is practically no Korean person in my area. Here’s a little snippet:
I may just scan these books in before I give them back - maybe I’ll upload them as well for anyone who wants it.
I also rented a book in Japanese, Hindi and Chinese, regardless of my non-proficiency ¬_¬
Some of these books are obviously promoting multiculturalism lol.
A book in Chinese about the child-like perceptions of a headscarf:
A book in Hindi about a Chinese princess:
and one in Japanese about a Jamaican kid and his grandma xD :
Anywhere, here are some other ones:
Filed under: 日本語 (japanese), 漢語 (chinese) | Tags: edo, hindi verbs, language learning, soas
I have been very lazy when it comes to language learning. Before I began my A-Levels, I would be at my computer straight from bed, and into my Korean e-books, diligently studying new grammar.
I carried this book everywhere:
which inside I penciled in notes and hanja for Sino-Korean words.
Unfortunately, I only began learning Chinese and Japanese a few months before A-Levels, hence why I haven’t much proficiency :( It’s pretty difficult to devote time to them, since I have a time limit in which I must become amazing at French and Spanish.
From mid-July to September, I intend to fully devote my time to Japanese, Korean and Chinese. I want to focus more on Japanese. Why? When I read Japanese, I can understand so much of it through guesswork, so it’s clear that I could learn so much more if I just spent some time on it.
I must admit, up until around now, I relied on Korean waaay to much when studying Japanese, to the point where I hated finding differences, thus hating the language. They are, without doubt, gramatically sihimilar, but not so much that it simply be a case of learning different vocabulary. I now appreciate Japanese for what it is. I’m amazed by its verb base system – something which doesn’t quite exist in Korean. Something else I love is the intense agglunitation. It startled me a bit at first, as it’s MUCH more abundant in Japanese than in Korean.
Yesterday I attended a taster day at ~my future university~ SOAS, to get a taste of their degrees in Chinese, Japanese, Hindi and Burmese (was going to do Arabic, but they changed the timetable :( ). I was particularly amazed by the Japanese lecture. All the other lectures were more language-orientated, and pretty much assumed us as complete beginners. However, the Japanese lecturer took a completely different approach and went straight into history through literature. If you couldn’t read kana or didn’t know much about Chinese characters, it would’ve all been gobbledegook. He introduced us to the Edo period, comparing it to today’s Tokyo and explaining to daily life of both men and women during Edo.
We learned about ‘ga’ vs. ‘zoku’ (雅 vs. 俗) in terms of art, where 雅 is the more sophisticated form, considered by the snobs as ‘real’ art (could be likened today to fine art or sculptures), and 俗 is the ‘common’ form, with no real potential (say..graffiti, although in that age you could say street theatre which somewhat crossed boundaries).
Prostitution was a big business back then, and it was considered as zoku. To know more about they way they worked, we read an extract from ‘Ukiyo Monogatari’ by Asai Ryou-i.
The general aim was to seperate the men from there riches by tricking them into love.. hmm.
Truthfully, I didn’t quite understand this part. There is the concept of ‘ukiyo’ (浮世) vs. ‘ukiyo’ (憂世), the first referring to enjoying the pleasures of life (floating world), and the other meaning that we all die in the end – everything has an end, so saving up money, for example, is pointless because it will be spent anyway (suffering world). Something I remember the lecturer saying is ‘what’s the point in being happy knowing that you’ll die’. Haha. This is where the floating world comes in. Aaah, it’s confusing. We were introduced to the works of Ihara Saikaku, particularly ‘The Life of an Amorous Man’ (好色一代男) and the sister story, ‘The Life of an Amorous Woman’ (好色一代女) which narrate this concept.
(I couldn’t find an online extract, so here’s a photo ;;)
Needless to say, my mind was blown.
In the Hindi lesson, I discovered a nice structure commonly used in the language.
To say, for example, that you are late, it is constructed impersonally. You would say:
Mujhko der pasand hai ( I am late)
This literally means ‘To me, lateness happened’, and the nuance is that you didn’t intend to be late, rather, it just happened. In the same way, you could say:
Mujhko pyaar pasand hai (I’m in love/fell in love)
which translated as ‘To me, love happened’. You didn’t intend to fall in love!
Isn’t that amazing? SOAS do a very good job at making you very indecisive.
The Chinese lecturer was amazing too. Although her lecture wasn’t that intense (probably because she arrived 15 minutes late), she brought lots of humour and I would say she succeeded in attracting new fanatics of the language (which isn’t good for me, I guess).
She made us guess which character of 哭 and 笑 meant ‘cry’ and ‘laugh’. Obviously, being new to Chinese, a lot of people were making haphazard guesses. In the end she explained ‘哭’ has a little teardrop, and 笑 has flower petals on the top to mean happiness and laughter! Hahahaha. I don’t think that’s what the bamboo radical means there, but nevertheless, she made everyone laugh. She also switched between Cantonese and Mandarin to present the aural difference :Q__
It’s made me even more excited to learn Chinese at SOAS ^^