The first time

The first time

It took me a while but one day, all of a sudden, I loved it. I loved seeing how resistant its curls brushed against my comb. Curls no, coils. Every time pushing back firmly towards the coming dents. For the first time ever, I saw my blackness in sight, straighten right upwards, rested with pride. For now it has become a symbol, coiled up in strands, alien to all around me, my personal strength. My inner revolution. I love it. How it’s texture can be shaped and molded however I want it. I love it. The looks I get, the surprises, a sense of control that often I feel I lack. I also remember that very, very first time, that riot. I tried to dominate with my hands but simply wouldn’t, it couldn’t, and there it was, refusing to bend, anytime it won’t.

That first time I took my fro out I was in panic, shaken, inside out with self conscious. “What do you want to do with it?” asked the Nigerian hairdresser after the much hard work removing my time-consuming, lengthy, overstaying extensions.

“Ehh…”I answered, with no clue.

“Would you like to straighten it? We can also put new extensions if you buy more hair.”

“Actually I was thinking to just wear it like this…natural.”

“Ok, but how do you want it? … twist outs, cornrows, braids? Here,” she said grabbing her phone, “let me show you.”

As she passed the screen I was amazed and a bit overwhelmed to see all the things I could do with my hair. I mean, I always knew, but it never occurred to me before what was it that I liked or even wanted to do with my natural hair. The styles, they all looked awesome but somewhat still strange to me, like something that is cool from afar but once on you not really. Unable to decide, I chose to simply have it washed, combed and trimmed on its ends. I remember the indignation on the lady’s face as she watched me get up and leave with my fro all spiked out. That look—it pretty much set the tension for my way back home. For the first time in ten years, here I was, extension-less (which at the time was almost the same as being naked), stepping onto the street with an overwhelming feeling of fear and shame. As I cycled past the moving bodies, my conscious self kept screaming, hide. In my head, every face on the street that day was looking at me, comically replaced by an exclamation mark.

Now you may think, c’mon, it’s just an afro, now who hasn’t seen an afro before? Also, besides, afros are pretty cool. For me though, since a very young age I always knew my natural hair was not something you’d find in the cover of a magazine. Everywhere I turned I was indirectly or sometimes even directly told that. Like that one time a boy in elementary school shouted across the playground “Ei! Cabelo de bombril!”—in English, “Hey! Sponge hair!” Or later in university, when a close friend of mine started arguing with me about my extensions and much out of line told me: “This is not how you’re supposed to be! It’s not how you were born!” Although I remember moments like that as hurtful, I think most pain came indirectly, like when playing with dolls that looked absolutely nothing like me yet having that bitter urge to be just like them. Their glossy blonde Barbie hair, easy to part, easy to comb- oh how much I wanted that. I remember thinking that if I had three wishes, having cabelo branco, white hair, would be one of them. I grew up with barely any dark faces around me and when there were, to the outside world they always made sure to have their curly or kinky textured hair relaxed, straightened, or hidden under the mask of a wig or extensions.

After some time I came to realize that having that hair was not enough to feel how I actually wanted to feel. I wanted to be as beautiful as the white women I saw on magazine covers but I didn’t want to just try to look like them but actually be like them. According to my seventeen-year-old self, Beyonce was the “most beautiful black woman” alive but not just “most beautiful woman.” Trying to appeal for a kind of beauty that deep inside I knew I never in its full entirety could reach must have been one of the hardest things I ever had to face. But like most hard realizations, that also had the magical power of setting me free. That feeling surely didn’t come the moment my wanna-make-believe-hair came out, far from it. The first years without my extensions I found myself feeling insecure, unsure, and scared every time I stared at the mirror. Because this new appearance was a side of me I was never used to before, for a long time I didn’t know how to represent myself. It might sound a bit silly, but wearing my natural hair out must have been one of the hardest and most personally growing experiences I ever had.

I always thought of myself as lucky to have a hairdresser mother who could aid me with braids and extensions at zero expense (which in a way, I very much was). With a singular idea of beauty, that is, white with straight type of hair, being able to acquire that in my teenage years felt like the only way I could possibly be. With the low self-esteem I had at the time, being able to acquire that kind of hair was, sadly, one of the few things that actually made me feel good and beautiful. So for years: wigs, extensions, perms, braids yet never had I found that kind of “perfection.” Oh, how I wanted others to see me. That fairytale, that character: an aspiring Black Snow White- little did I know I’d never make the real part.

But finally, now I know. I know how you see me. You see me how you see me, you see what is in me, and I love it. Finally, I got it. I managed to master control with my hair.

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Hollow

For is quiet that sits the mist

please the night

that peaceful sound

swallow hollow 

soothing calm

freezing fear cools down

sudden warmth 

running wrath 

enough.

Silent virtues 

sometimes plane

silent curses

silence stains

who’d ever find 

in it a lasting friend

goddess remains

wise to cleanse its veins

in solemn drunken pain

for quiet reigns

that peace in vain.

 

an angry black woman’s message to the “alt-right”

On the 20th of November, about 300 people gathered at the National Policy Institute’s (NPI) Become Who We Are 2016 conference in Washington D.C. Two days after, Vice published a coverage of the event featuring photographed portraits of some of its key members, each followed by an excerpt from their interview. In “Heil Trump’: Members of the Alt-Right Are Looking Forward to a Whiter America“, Vice features one of the conference’s keynote speakers, Richard Spence, the man credited for coining the name that lead to the conference: the alt-right, that’s short for alternative right.

Here is the portrait and paragraph retrieved directly from Spence’s speech (copied and pasted from Vice’s article):

richard spencer.jpgWe are faced with binary choice, fight or flee, join or die, resist or cuck. That is the position of white people right now. Two weeks ago, I might have said the election of Donald Trump might actually lessen the pressure on white Americans. But today, it is clear that his election is only intensifying the storm of hatred and hysteria being directed against us. As Europeans, we are uniquely at the center of history. We are, as [Friedrich] Hegel recognized, the embodiment of world history itself. No one mourns the great crimes committed against us. For us, it is conquer or die. This is a unique burden for the white man, that our fate is entirely in our hands. And it is appropriate because within us, within the very blood in our veins, as children of the sun, lies the potential for greatness. That is the great struggle we are called to. We are not meant to live in shame and weakness and disgrace. We are not meant to beg for moral validation from some of the most despicable creatures who ever populated the planet. We were meant to overcome all of them because that is natural and normal for us. For us, as Europeans, it is only normal again when we are great again. Heil Trump! Heil the people! Heil victory!

The above has been copied and pasted directly from Vice’s article.

Angst, anger, disgust- a paralyzing fear and frustration. The reactions once upon reading this statement.  Its absurdity makes me wonder how is it possible that still today there are people in held of such beliefs. People who would take their skin color as proof of its history to only make them believe to be almighty, superior, and above all else, make those who look like me seem less than human. For them, I become nothing. A vehicle, a mule to carry, a slave to serve, a thing to give. Full of entitlement and expectation from my existence, one in which I am only here to give and be given.

Alone, alt-right participants say more than any article (ironically) could try to say about them. The excerpts clearly highlight the hopes and intentions of its members. That is, the creation of an ethno-state, one where white supremacy can return to being the “new normal”. In other words, they’re saying: give us our corner to be racists and leave it alone. Many would believe that Donald Trump’s presidency and his appointment of chief strategist Steve Bannon, the executive chair of Breitbart News, an alt-right’s associate, are steps closer to achieving that goal.

Ever since the shock of Trump’s election, news and social network pages have flooded with debates dwelling what has been the cause of its happening. While critics may look to the left for fault given its inability to attain leadership or persuade the mainstream- some even go far to say that the scene’s obsession with political correctness is directly to blame- others look more to the deteriorated socio-economic situation as the underlying cause, pushing those in globalisation’s losing end to opt Trump as the only viable alternative. They would back this by arguing not all voters are what we would imagine to be: ignorant-blind-raging racists; this is given by the fact a very small percentage(I highlight) of blacks, hispanic and even muslim Americans had shown support for the Republican nominee. However, now upon seeing Vice’s feature on alt-right’s members, I feel one’s opinion would be inclined to change.

This is what the alt-right looks like

Reading what each of these members have to say is scary, but even more chilling is seeing who these people actually are. Usually, the picture I have in mind of white supremacists is the ultimate stereotype: people in long, hideous KKK uniforms, skinheads carrying swastikas or that Southern, drinking beer redneck kind of type. But here I was, in face palm to see those who believe in this newly branded and packaged form of racist ideology are not the most obvious with stamped RACIST on their foreheads. Instead, the alt-right walk in blazers, fancy shoes and clean haircuts. Here you’ll find people from intellectual backgrounds, successful careers, redneck racists and internet trolls alike- who, to top it all, are not all white. I know. Shockingly not every supporter of the alt-right are who you’d think would benefit from white-privilege. My mouth dropped when seeing people like Vietnamese-American reality TV star and now self-acclaimed white-nationalist-Hitler-supporter, Tila Tequila. I was shocked to see a Sikh supporter, who worked as a key volunteer for the conference, and another non-white follower of hispanic background- both men didn’t want to disclaim their face or name.

Knowing that non-white people support Trump and the alt-right was a shocker, but seeing who they are and what they actually have to say was close to heart threatening. Like all other followers, these supporters believe in the idea of biological racial difference as essential traits in behavior, hence, a reason why they believe ethnic groups should have their own state/nation. A reason why they oppose policies for immigration, multiculturalism and as you probably know, muslims. A reason why they chose Trump. I think most anthropologists and sociologists of today would lose their eyebrows upon hearing what these guys had to say- I surely almost did.

Again, copied and pasted directly from Vice:

This man is a Sikh who worked at the event as one of Richard Spencer’s key volunteers. He asked us not to reveal his face or his name:

As a minority in the alt-right, I think ethno-nationalism is important. It is beneficial to everybody, including those who would have to leave or go back home if white Americans made their own ethno-state here in the US. I believe in Japan for the Japanese. India for the Indians. And Europe for the Europeans.

More than half of India is not potty trained—there’s no plumbing. Everybody who graduates from top schools from there comes to America. In Punjab, my homeland in northwest India, everyone with a triple-digit IQ moves to the Western world. Well, I think it is a cheap cop-out for the natural elites of these foreign nations to leave their countries and come to an already developed country instead of developing their own country. India is a much worse place because of the brain-drain effect. I see mass immigration today as the imperialism of the 21st century. The Western world robbed everyone else of all their smart people, impeding their ability to develop their own nations. It’s time to go back.

Hispanic alt-right follower from Huma, Arizona, asked that we not photograph his face or reveal his name out of fear that he might be attacked by other Hispanics in his hometown for his political beliefs:

If you were a doctor and you denied the genetic difference between races, you’d be fired for malpractice real fast. Did you know, black people’s bodies will automatically reject any organ donations from a white guy 20 percent of the time? They’re just not compatible genetically. You have different performances in school. Like me, I did terrible in school. But I don’t feel inferior to whites. There is always a plus and minus to everything. One thing people don’t know is that white Europeans have smaller brains. Even though they are better at developing technology, they don’t do too well at a contact sport like boxing because they get brain trauma too easily… I’m inferior in some ways, and superior in others.

Tila Tequila is a 35-year-old who became famous through social networking sites years ago and has become notorious for her Nazi sympathies:

I came to the alt-right around the time I started pondering Hitler in 2013. Hitler did nothing wrong! I feel like there are two sides. I definitely see [a connection between Hitler’s rise and the alt-right movement] because the alt-right wouldn’t have manifested like this if these people didn’t feel like they had been oppressed for so long. These people wouldn’t be so extreme and hardcore as they are. The German people were broke, and that is just like middle class of America today. Our middle class has vanished. They feel like no one cares about them. This alt-right thing would not have manifested if there wasn’t such a crappy environment to begin with.

Ethno-states, national identities. So…what are you then?

It’s clear that each one of these non-white supporters have their facts based on scientific racism (probably taken from 1745, Colony & Slavery book) like seen in the statement of Hispanic follower where he affirms himself to be genetically different from his white fellows. Such idea serves for the argument of the ethno- state as a way to define and separate ethnic groups, essentially differentiating what is believed to be a man-made-up, historically produced and societally constructed ethnic-Self from ethnic-Other. As the Sikh member says, they seem believe that things would be better if there would be a “Japan for the Japanese. India for the Indians. And Europe for the Europeans”- note that this goes without noticing the fact that in each country and especially a continent like Europe a massive territory of 44 countries lays without accounting the numerous ethnic identities living in each of these countries for decades. Additionally, they also demonstrate discontent with the way things are in a globalized world, as Tila Tequila ends it, “this alt-right thing would not have manifested if there wasn’t such a crappy environment to begin with.” Little does she realize that perhaps the world wouldn’t be half as bad if we weren’t all socialized to be racists (internally and externally).

Another key thing they seem forget is if there was to be an ethno-state for every single ethnic-identity in the world, each existing nation today would have to be chopped into ever more tinier pieces- this, of course, if territories were to even be divided equally! As if defining who belongs in each group isn’t already a difficult task, dividing how territories should be separated and resources distributed is even more daunting and most prone to lead to conflict. Their views seem are just in line with the arguments used by white alt-right members, however, to my shock, what they don’t seem to recognize is that in a movement led mostly by white-nationalists, those likely to benefit from the creation of an ethno-state in American territory would be exactly those white-nationalists. One can just look forty years ago to notice that, for the hundredth millionth time, leave Western and I should stress, white leaders, take charge to first invent and then cut up nation states as if to serve cake and you’ll see exactly how this ends up. Years pass, it’s 2016 and guess what. Fucked. Up.

When I think of that I can’t help but wonder how within this movement these members actually see themselves? Besides the Sikh, who clearly states that he believes people should go back to the nationality of their ethnic background, I don’t quite understand how the others place and identify themselves in their vision of an ethno-state. How does Tila Tequila, a self-proclaimed white nationalist, feel doing the Hitler salute while standing next to two white nationalists? Does her political beliefs and cultural affiliations suddenly make her “white”? Because otherwise I don’t quite get it, if I understood correctly according to the alt-right’s vision, she would have to fall into the Asian-American or more specifically, Vietnamese-American category- now good luck defining that.

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And here is where I blow up.

There is no alternative in the “alt-right”. There is only a “right” and that is one that’s always been: a racist, misogynistic, white and supremacist one. That is no matter what ridiculous ribbon you decide to put on and then give a name to it. In the end, it’s all the same old shit.They say that it’s different than the old, conservative nationalism, that the old-right longed for the past while in fact the new-right look towards the future. Bullshit. Sure, because there is nothing about the past than standing and doing a Hitler salute. I can’t believe the ludacritic bullshit I have to put up when reading that one has nothing against other races and that’s because he even identifies “with people of color more” . Here I present you with the epistome of all racists: closet racists. Yeah I am looking at that person who says: “No I am not a racist! Many of my friends are black!”

Dear closet racist, let me tell you something, please listen carefully and especially if you’re in the alt-right. First of all, this is not possible. This not possible because “white nationalism” essentially means not only maintaining but also strengthening the status-quo of a white supremacy that already exists, one in which, surprise surprise, only you benefit. I know this will sound really difficult for you to understand but historically produced effects don’t simply go reverse. In more simple terms: you can’t just poop in hope for your shit to go back. To dismantle, to create a white ethno-state would mean ensuring you have an even bigger piece of the cake that you had before. Now I can imagine you’re probably smiling but if you are, you better stop it as I am a very, angry, black, woman right now.

Aiming for an ethno-state in the US or any other territory asks for exactly that. That white legacy with its long history and continuing oppression is left alone. Just so you are put away from all your so called horrible PC scrutiny and criticism from all groups and trust me, that is a long list of muslims, blacks, hispanics, native americans and even whites for that matter- basically anyone with the common sense to agree that racism is an awful system. But you are part of that system- you mister, most certainly of all, is the walking incarnation of that system. Hence, we don’t like that. Hence, we hate you. And hence why, we’ll continue to hate you. And to all non-whites who support Trump, the alt-right or whatever other racist organization, let me heartedly tell you,  you’re an absolute idiot.

Uff.. now that I am done with the first part of my rant, I can go further to say that what baffles and irritates me the most about this “new” racist movement is that its members see themselves as victims of a world that is still on its toes to reach an ideal of racial equality. As Huffington Post referenced it: “when you are accustomed to privilege, equality to some feels like oppression”. This notion is crystallized in another alt-right member’s statement who I cannot be bothered to name right now.

I’m not really a white nationalist. But I see anti-racism as a dystopic thing that once gave the benefit of the doubt to the idea of racial differences and has evolved into this stifling dogma that has a scapegoat and that scapegoat is white people and those who are deemed as racist. I see anti-racism as not just bad for whites, but bad for everyone.

When I read this it reminds me of that same old thing when you hear people say: “Well, I’m not trying to be racist but-” and then they go on and say something racist. He resumes to explain:

I’m not a white supremacist, either. Nor do I see myself as that intelligent. I don’t see myself as a WASP or whatever. In some ways, I identify with people of color more. But I do think there are different frequencies of different traits in different populations. I feel like this dogma we have that we are all the same is bad for everyone. It is on this basis that we have these unequal cultural policies that penalize white people, create double standards, and has become dystopic.

Ah- shoot me, please.

First Impressions: Stiffness, Amadou & Mariam and men slapping each other’s buttocks. Hi, Sweden.

I step outside and notice the rain droplets falling on my forehead. Damn it. Why do I always forget to bring an umbrella with me? Being in Sweden is different, for the first time I am staying for longer in a country where I go out and nada, I understand nothing about what is said or talked around me, I could as well be deaf and there be no difference. One day after paying entry at a club, a bouncer dressed in a police uniform (they do that in Sweden) asked for ID but totally unaware, I simply walked past him. Somewhere in the back I heard someone shout but I just assumed it wasn’t towards me. After all I am black- couldn’t he see I am not from here? – thought my prejudiced self. The thing is, I got used to people just assuming I am not from somewhere. For example, in the Netherlands most people assumed I was not Dutch hence automatically addressed me in English. In Germany, the same and even in Brazil, my home country, many people tend to ask me where I am from.  However, here- a place where I feel to be ever so different- this has surprisingly been not much of the case.

Perhaps it’s because in the Netherlands I had friends who I spoke English to then making it easier for people to notice I am a foreigner. Or maybe this is just another of Sweden’s many good attributes, in addition to its progressive values towards gender equality and environment, it also teaches people not to presume someone’s nationality based on their skin color. Or, perhaps, just a competent bouncer doing his duty. Whatever it is, I don’t know, all I know is that he must have been stunned by my seeming confidence walking through as it took him a while to actually reach me, by the time he did I was almost at the bar. Offended but somewhat more shocked that this tall bearded man with an authoritative funny looking hat was now leaning aggressively towards me, I knew I had gotten myself into trouble though not sure for what yet. So I turned to him in a James Dean kind of way and said, listen man, I don’t understand a thing you’re saying now back-off please  (I didn’t quite say that but you get the idea). The reaction on his face was priceless, turning red his wrinkles softened into a confused smile it even made me feel bad. “Oh, I asked you for your ID  over there but then you just walked away- sorry, I didn’t understand you didn’t speak Swedish.” I apologized, handed him the ID and watched as he investigated my document further. By then everyone was staring and speculating, while I stood there feeling like a stupid tourist.

Moments like this summarize most of my recent experiences in this strange, strange land called Sweden.  For the past two weeks I decided to go out and discover the city of Gothenburg in spite of feeling like an incomprehensible loser for half of the time and so, here were some of my first impressions:

First stop: Amadou & Mariam and fancy theater.

So during my first week I passed by this fancy building called Stora Teatern and saw that one of my favorite artists, Amadou & Mariam, were coming to play and immediately hyped, I walked in and bought a ticket. Eventually a week passes and finally it is Amadou & Mariam and I’m all giggles and smiles. (: 

Me: before at home and while through before the concert started

Even though they ranked somewhere in the European charts and collaborated with bigger artists like Manu Chao and Santigold in the past, not many people seem to know Amadou & Mariam which really makes them extra cool. They are also foreign in that “foreign” sense of the word meaning non-white and from a “developing” country which immediately made me assume certainly three types of people would show up. Number one: people in their 40s obsessed with the category  “World” music. Number two: older folks who were once protest loving hippies but still wearing loose colorful clothes they bought during a lifetime trip to Goa or Thailand sometime in 1966; and finally, hipsters because let’s face it, they are everywhere. I get there and 3/3 score, convictions confirmed, I skim the audience and as predicted mostly white and Swedish because I could only hear what appeared to be gibberish around me. I don’t think there were more than maybe five or six people of color in the whole venue- one of whom I note, worked as a coat checker- this equated to me feeling like the only black person in the room but guess who isn’t used to that by now.

At the entrance people are standing by the bar and though I cannot understand a thing, it looks like they’re talking about some very smart things. Look at you- I think to myself- being fancy. However, this sophisticated feeling of cool soon vanishes the moment I get to the place Amadou & Mariam are about to play. Here is when things start to get interesting, I gotta say that this night has left me with some particular impressions about Swedish culture. The first one about seats. Yes, there actually were seats. Glancing at my ticket and once again down the hall, it unfortunately turns out I am actually in the right room. You must be kidding me. At this point I am trying to picture seeing one of the coolest, grooviest middle-aged married singing couple alive probably ever while sit and trust me, it doesn’t look anything close to amusing.

SSS: Swedish, Serious and Stiff

After being accompanied by two staffers, mic in hand, stands in front of us a short, same sized couple, both wearing gold yellow robes and sunglasses, smiling curiously at the audience who is cheering at this point quite modestly or to say the truth, not really at all. Interfering the slight awkwardness in the room, Mariam, with her charming familiarity breaks the ice with a casual “Hello- how are you doing tonight?” Here we come to my second shock of the evening, that is the response of the crowd- if not for me and maybe three more people in the back, cheering was barely a thing if so to say there was even a thing at all. I immediately took regret shouting  “wooohooo” as everyone around me turned to give me that “ehm, what are you doing?” look. Naturally my hand coiled immediately back to its place and embarrassed I sat to myself wondering when had cheering become not so in anymore. I suppose not here, not in Sweden- it’s that ahead. 

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The concert started after the percussionists and guitarists entered the stage, all swinging and  dancing, making hand movements for the audience to follow which for my relief they did. As Amadou and Mariam began singing I could feel the audience loosening up, however there was a strong contrast, on stage a vibrant presence and off of it where I was, an entire different world- it seemed dead. I felt like Alice through the looking glass except that I couldn’t reach the other side and instead of magical creatures I was surrounded by what appeared to be mute deaf zombies. C’mon people, there’s a show happening out here, lighten up I think the point is to enjoy it.

After the first two songs, the keyboard player walks all the way to the front raising his hands pleading us to stand. Lord, praise the keyboard. Yet up I quickly started wishing some would have stayed down. At first I tried to think positively: think open mind, different cultures enjoy music differently, this could be watching a concert sat down or not shouting as your favorite band comes on stage or perhaps, dancing. Then I thought I should be supportive: nice, at least, now, they’re trying? I felt like a mother who tells her kid how well they can dance when actually it looks like someone is having an attack of epilepsy. There are many things Swedish culture is known well for but rhythm, sorry to say, is definitely not one of them. While some looked like they were trying to dodge bullets stepping on a battlefield, others took it as their one chance in the year to let loose and go wild, really wild, too wild probably. To watch Amadou & Mariam without paying attention to Swedish stiffness became a dubious task. I cringed almost the entire way through, perhaps that explains why there were seats.

Still in the beginning, Amadou & Mariam rocking while we sat and watched.

Amadou & Mariam or more like Josephine Baker?

What caught my attention was one percussionist in particular, one with the shaker, she had tribal patterns on a skirt that seemed more like a thin cloth wrapped around her waist. She was beautiful and when she danced everything seemed to breathe around her, to be honest it was hard to keep my attention just at Amadou and Mariam. Truly, an ecstatic performance. However, something inside of me kept telling me her dance moves appeared too foreign, a fulfilled imagination of the “exotic”. Especially when sat I couldn’t help but feel that the concert seemed more like a “performance” in that true sense of the word, instead of a joint experience we should “all dance together” – as Amadou liked to repeatedly say. Perhaps because the setting didn’t invite us to participate along by standing and dancing which I guess made the concert feel more of a “show”. More than anything, witnessing it made me feel uncomfortable. The fact that as an audience we were expected to sit while the performers danced and moved on stage it made all seem more of an spectacle performed especially for a white European audience.

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I don’t know but it just felt odd. The racial makeup of those on stage in contrast to those off of it echoed too close to a sort of colonial/postcolonial voyeurism. Watching that while sat made me cringe in that same way I do while watching videos of Josephine Baker dancing in nothing but her famous banana skirt. Although a performer of indisputable talent and courage that drove her to be the first worldwide famous black performer as well as an icon of the Jazz Age, one cannot overlook the fact that Baker probably had to mold herself to the expectations white European audiences had of people like her- dark skinned people. This might explain some of the choice to impersonate ‘savage’ and ‘animal’ like characters in her performances, probably because in order to become the star she was, she had to comply with the ‘exotic’ and dehumanizing ideas that circulated the identity of people of color. Perhaps, this was the only way a woman like her could imagine achieving such success that is, to compromise her image, something I imagine many black artists felt complied to do at the time. For me the question still prevailed, how much did that actually change? Did Amadou & Mariam think of providing an idea of West African music that fulfills expectations of white Europeans? You know, the tropes, that carefree, full of rhythm, full of soul African with the beat of the drum in his/her heart. Did they seek in any way to portray the “exotic”?

Watching them as one of the only few black people in the audience made me question how much of what I was seeing was actually a genuine“authentic” cultural performance. Now I know this is hard to answer as any performance and especially music concerts involve a certain level of show and play-acting. But still, suddenly everything seemed too folkloric, too put on. Don’t get me wrong though, I still think they did an excellent job, their energy was purely charming. It was more everything around them though, the whole jumping up and down, the performative seductive dancing, it gave an over the top enthusiasm that just seemed “too much”. This is especially in contrast to your audience when they seem so immobile (on chairs, literally), stiff and at times even unresponsive. Perhaps I’m too critical and this is just a thing of mere cultural difference or maybe the fact that Amadou & Mariam have a disability that makes it difficult for them to  easily move on stage meaning everything behind them should. But still, to me it felt weird. It was not until we all stood up and could dance along that I finally felt more comfortable enjoying instead of constantly judging it as a cultural spectacle for white people.

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Boggle boggles

I thought I’d make a relevant post about trump and the world but here is a sad, sappy, tiresome attempt at poetry and postmodern art (picture). So here you go

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Boggle boggles –  boggle – boggles boggles

My head boggles

Every time I close the eye

Boggle boggles – boggle boggles

A mind boils

The doctor waits for it tomorrow

Meet bothersome Mister Boggles

Sizzling frivolous hundred bottles

And my eyes begin to ogle

As if caught by the dozen

Boggles boggles

Far rays shine out and blossom

As I lay the sheets beneath

Running eyes glimpses free

Fence jumping counting sheep

No one hears ‘em when they weep

No one sees them when they slip

Four wolves catch ‘em in

Left them blinking in the bliss

I then wake up to my dreams

Exhaustion is to think

Boggles boggles

Bothers me like no tomorrow

A ship sinking deep

Free falling anchors in

No sailor to pull it

I then get up to think

Tiring is being me

Boggles boggles

Send a prayer to fulfill

And your God shall come in

Down on all of my knees

I will stand another hymn

Boggles boggles

Boggles please

I won’t ask another thing

If only you’d just leave

 

Our silence

Our silence

I usually like silences, but ours not too much.                                                                                                 We hold tight to pauses that run for too long.                                                                                 Chew, chew and chew- all different ways.                                                                                                While food grasps the quiet, as you eat my days.                                                                                     

You hand in the cheque without your returns.                                                                                    For cues fill the blanks, two seats no reserve.                                                                                        We can set the table, you know where it is.                                                                                              Or maybe you forgot, most important to eat.                                                                                        

But there is the quiet, catches back by front seat.                                                                           Driving us nowhere, passed right through the mist.                                                                   Open wide wide, wondering what you might think.                                                                                I find silence shuttered, mouth utters but speech.                                                                             

For separate rooms, we opt for this place.                                                                                            The gaps fill my teeth, they won’t need eat for days.                                                                          As you lay the plates, I plead you to explain:                                                                                    Please tell me what is it you just cannot say.                                                                                                    

I reach out for laughter, far far in my dreams.                                                                                  There silences were minimal, I felt I could speak.                                                                       Perhaps it’s made-up, to think that’s the case.                                                                     Whichever is fine, doesn’t do much your way.                                                                                           I took time to think and forget all this craze.                                                                                       All I need is hold, whatever it may…

To closure our quiet, that quiet within. Our silences shall fill in. Sure, one day it must be.silence.jpg

23. portrays in the come of age for a young woman

23

Portrays in the come of age for a young woman.

12065771_10153292542775677_2554195136490592694_n.jpg

Twenty-three! Congratulations! To you, young lady!

Here!

One more year!

It rings in my head

Ring! Ring-ring!

All alone in my bed

Here, Anxiety!

And Stress came to spare!

HI! Creeek creeek

All along in my head.

What,

A wonderful ball!

Pillows and covers,

Spin restless down the hall

Sleepless in turnings

More alk-alk to stir

Now!

Pour pour

So I won’t have to hear

Ring, ring-ring!

Still rings in my head.

Just, one more year

All along in my bed.

Here,

This year

For not being here,

Not getting there.

Always too late

Now stare at the stairs.

Outside, now wait

Now open the door

Because I’ve been wanting

To get in for more.

Ring, ring-ring!

Still rings in my head.

Just, one more year

All along in my bed.

Here!

What occasion,

A time to celebrate!

Always so nice,

A mouse with no case.

Also too shy,

Too sharp or too vague.

Too much or too quiet

No way I can’t fake.

Here!

Once again,

One scream for a toast!

Several.

Rejection.

All failures to boast!

No faults or real sorrys

I hold them within

I don’t like the gloating

Modesty is my key.

Ring, ring-ring!

Still rings in my head.

Just, one more year

All along in my bed.

23

I suppose

23 is okay

I guess that means cheers

23 on my way.