Greetings everyone, I'm back after a 4 month or so hiatus. My apologies, as my final college sem rolls up, and life takes precedence. But I have been keeping up to date with the blog, with much of its interests :) Firstly, I'd like to extend a warm welcome to Nicolette, our newest Narrator. May you contribute to the rich tapestry of PoC interactions, interludes & social intercourse. A shout out to Ankhesen, whose gentle reminders instill a fresh dose of guilt in me everytime
And now, on with the meaty parts. Having read Nicolette's recent post on the difficulties of life in Taiwan, and the comments from (mostly I presume) the ladies on how being black can result in adverse treatment of oneself in (East) Asia, my mind started to whirl once again. Juxtaposing these experiences along with several of my own in the past month alone, a fragmented picture starts to form. I could only shake my head in despair, reading these examples. Even though in the West all people of color are fair game to such phenomena like the glass ceiling & white privilege, in truth both within & without, people of color treat each other like shit. I personally have not faced discrimination or hateful language from black people, but vice-versa the instances are simply too much. Like the time a bar manager denied entry to a Tswana couple in my old neighborhood, only to turn around to his colleague & muttered, "I'm not letting those kaka in here" (The term kaka is an onomatopoeic Tamil word, meaning crow. Within this context it's highly pejorative) Or how people would surreptitiously stare at us when me & my old musical buddy Samuel "Sammy" Turahe Kamanguza would go drinking at the mamak These are but the tip of the iceberg. The tip. Little wonder that my friends & classmates would express their frustration at their treatment in Malaysia. Most thankfully did not allow it to color their view of the country & her people as a whole, but how many can truly feel the same way? I see it as our own shallow prejudices, and as petty as it may seem, the lingering effects of European colonialism. Some of you may disagree, but I stand by what I say. As a matter of fact, it's even afflicted me in some respects.
Quite recently when I was at the Ellington Jazz Club in downtown Perth for a rare night out, I was stopped at the pathway leading to the entrance by a tall, well dressed man who asked for my ID. Since my only ID was my passport, I was reluctant to hand it over, particularly since he didn't look like a staff member. I brusquely declined, brushing him off & went straight in, not heeding his calls for me to come back. At the counter was this smoulderingly attractive girl (she looked Indo-African) who inquired whether I showed my ID to Jackson at the door. I stared at her in shock as he strode in, with a mildly amused grin on his face, as though he's been through the whole gamut before (I wouldn't be surprised if that were the case) My only response was a dumb, "He works here?" As I sipped my mocktail, my sense of embarrassment & shame, sparked at the counter, began to grow. I couldn't take it. I went outside, ostensibly for a cigarette, but to also apologize. Jackson listened intently to what I had to say. And he smiled. Such was its depth that I felt immensely relieved, and even more shameful. We made good conversation, during which he explained that he was here in Australia for 6 years, originally from Jacksonville, Alabama (although from his speech, I could've sworn he was a Francophonic West African) We parted on good terms. Later in the night I struck up conversation with a Zimbabwean-Somali couple (though her family's from the unrecognized Republic of Somaliland) on politics & recent issues. Yet the earlier incident dogged me for several days, gnawing at my conscience. My ego attempted to justify it, "How could I have known?" He wore no badge or marker of identification (he mentioned that he worked on a part time basis at the Ellington, hence the reason why he wore no badge) But my super-ego chimed in, "Are you sure, Boon? Or did you reacted in the way you did because he's black?" Socio-mental contradictions abound >.<
On a lighter note, when I went back for Christmas/New Year, we paid a visit to my dad's folks in the village. I was made to sit in the car with them, alone, on the way to the restaurant for dinner. Expecting the usual talk, I steeled myself & got in. In a rare occasion, my grandad was relatively silent (he does most of the talking in between them) but my grandmum decided to take a different tack; the prospect of relationships/marriage. Given that she was born in the last years of the Depression, and without a higher education (i.e. broad-mindedness) her speech (well, monologue really) was peppered with so many lolworthy old folks belief.
"If you can dear boy, marry a Chinese girl. That way everyone can he happy. If you want to marry a Japanese girl, or Korean girl, can also lah. Even a gui po (a Mandarin term for a white woman, mildly pejorative) not a problem. But better you marry Chinese girl. You can have children and have many years of happiness..."
In the backseat, I grinned wolfishly, unseen by either two. The opportunity was too good, and rich, to ignore.
But more seriously, I've thrown myself into reading about race relations, via stopwhitewashing.tumblr.com and
Nonetheless, I'm thankful of such PoC spaces, with the TBA being at the top of my list, as a safe alternative from all the white-washed mainstream media out there. I thank the fact that everyone here has an interest in one another, not allowing their negative experiences to blind them but instead have come on out stronger & on top. If we could convince more/other people, especially other PoCs of such meritorious socializing, I can die a happy man. God bless you all, each & every one =')