Archive for the ‘dreams’ Category

Fyah links Friday

indexHey Fyah Family, this week has been full of stuff. Good stuff, bad stuff and all that lies in between. For the bad and in-between I found some internet inspiration. I hope you enjoy it as well.

1) My younger sister is a boss. Caring, funny and smart, she is the true super-star and heart of my family. She also happens to have special needs. When I read about Aaron Philip in the NY Times it automatically thought of her and her bravery and strength navigating this world that sadly does not appreciate her skills and contributions.  Read this story about Aaron and check and follow his tumblr.

2) I came across this listing of photographs depicting  love/love stories and even my jaded icebox of a heart went all warm and mushy. Awwww 🙂

3) So, life as a grad student is  something I think you have to experience to believe. Readings, grades, assignments, schedules, a shit load more readings and assignments, working as a TA, working on a thesis, looking for a job that pays cus this tuition is expensive, more readings and assignments, weight gain, and then it all seems worth it  for the times when I am reminded that it is pretty great to be a grad student. Yes, it actually is that frenetic. I was sitting at my desk staring at about 6 student emails about something or the other  and during one of my Facebook breaks , I came across this hilariously revealing post.  Fellow grad schoolers or recent grads, let me know if this resonates.

Have a great weekend!

Conversations – Repost

A few years ago, I heard about a man who had been stuck in an elevator in Manhattan for five days because he refused to call for help. He was an undocumented worker who chose to stay in a dark, dangling and dangerous elevator rather than use the emergency call button. It he very well could have died in that elevator, and it appeared that he was willing to die before being sent back. That story has stayed with me over the years.

It was on my mind recently when I spent a much longer time than I wanted to discussing cases of human trafficking that have been in the local media in the past year with a dear cousin who is chronically concerned about my feminist ways.

She rolled her eyes as I shared the stories of young women and girls lured with promises, flattery, gifts and glamorous lifestyles. I explained that these women are fed fantasies of the extreme and non-stop partying that they can be a part of if they come to Antigua to dance at a bar or restaurant.

What do they expect?”

“I would never leave my country under those circumstances.”

“They are already whores where they come from.”

When they get here, these women are in instant debt. The plane ticket that was once free, now costs $3,000. Rent must be paid for meagre shared accommodations at $500/week. Food must be bought from the club at $80/day. Clothing and shoes too, at $350/outfit. All owed to the club that brought them here.

The parties are indeed non-stop but you are the entertainment, you need to make money to pay your debts and of course you want to have some money for yourself. The going rate of $50 for a dance and $300-$500 for sex can only go so far. Additionally, your passport is confiscated by your no-longer-gracious host, so even if one of these women wanted to leave, where can you go in this strange new country?

”Well, I would never give anyone my passport.”

”I told you they are whores; they are accustomed to that.”

”How could anyone be that stupid?”

My mind goes back to the man in the elevator. Like him, these women often live in horrendous situations that lead them to make desperate and risky choices. Add someone who is able and willing to exploit that desperation and you have the perfect scenario for human trafficking- modern day slavery.

Are you still trying to convince me that they don’t know what they really come here for?”

Quite honestly, I don’t care.Whether or not she anticipates that she will be a sex worker when she gets here is of little consequence to the greater issue: that she is being deprived of choice, denied of freedom of movement, and criminally exploited in general. Like I said,modern day slavery. To over look this because we’re uneasy about sex work is pretty ridiculous to me.

I left that conversation feeling misunderstood and judged. I shudder to think about what is must be like to be a woman trying to escape a trafficking situation, who can she speak to that will understand? How long will she remain dangling dangerously in her own proverbial elevator?

americanah & me

Snapshot_20130524I never read the backs/ inside jacket covers of books before I read them. I typically trust the authors I have chosen to read* and/ or know what I’m getting into**. With movies, entering with that sort of freshness is hard what with trailers and movie reviews. With books, it is far easier; but with this book, it was far more difficult. So much press,  almost every day it made my newsfeed. I made it though, it was only as I read it I knew what it was a bout. Perhaps there was no more fitting time for to read this novel, as I like Ifemelu (the protagonist) am on my way home, to be received no doubt, like an Americanah, or JCB (just.come.back).

A very general review, just shy of 500 pages, like Half of a Yellow Sun I thought it was too long. It could easily have been three shorter novels, or five novellas. I could have done without the 2008 presidential election, the white boyfriend, and maybe even the Black American boyfriend. That’s largely unlike Ifemelu these things have never interested me and/or I have no such parallels in my life.

There are a million things I could expound upon in my reading of this novel- love, corruption, choices, dreams, class, race, sex. For the attention span of readers (some of which I’ve already lost I’m sure) I pick three. Blogging, returning and loving.

no one cares about your stupid blogBlogging. Would you believe Ifemelu’s a blogger? Blogging about race in America. Now for me the fantastical thing about this is that she seems to have made oodles of money off of this. As many a blogger well knows however that is a privilege afforded to few. I say privilege because meritocracy is not alive and well. For those of us who work, who go to school… it is incredibly hard to maintain blogs with quantity far less quality posts.* Though I’m not sure if intentionally, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche was speaks to this directly by having her blog start up while she is dating an obscenely rich man who created an incredibly comfortable life for her. Thankfully, she continued working (at the job he got her) throughout the relationship. But I imagine writing must come more easily, when you’re whisked away to Paris for the weekend once a month. Shout out to blogging while brown and all the clever writers out there who don’t have time to hone their crafts.

Returning. In a few months I go home after a 12 year absence. I’ve visited throughout the years, so the return will not be eddie murphyshocking, but the adjustment is bound to take some time. One of the characters while at a dinner party in England is part of a conversation where white British people bemoan the woes of immigration. A clearly liberal participant says something to the effect of all people should be granted asylum, and be able to live free from terror, war etc. And my character thinks, what about fleeing the, “oppressive legarthy of choicelessness,” and being, “hungry for choice and certainty”.

Growing up middle-class in the Caribbean I have had many opportunities afforded to me. I did not have a nanny or a driver, but my parents have almost always employed a house-keeper. North America affords very few those forms of luxury. There is however the luxury in the certainty that electricity is unlikely to go out, that your car is not going to be damaged in a pot hole the size of a crater or that stores will open on time. That I think of as the luxury of being a middle-classed immigrant (with papers) in North America, that I know I will both be hungry for and miss.

The challenge in returning for me is to

  1. not immerse myself in a wining about how different things are for too long. I can live (and must remember have lived) without cheap restaurants with a variety of foods, libraries that allow me access to Americanah b/c I put my name on the waitlist early this year, not sweating for most of the year.
  2. not to become complicit in the corruption that appears to ease the adjustment of returning. The shadiness described in the novels appears in many forms in the characters lives both personal and professional. Sometimes it is engaged in out of desperation and need, other times simply out of want. I hope to be able to continually engage in the assessment of where on the continuum these things fall for me and not just pick the seemingly smoother route. A reminder, many things take time, and many more won’t ever come to fruition.

Loving. Ifemelu and Obinze have a love story that hurts. Ifemelu makes many choices in her life that I think I would never. She describes relationships young women have with rich man in Nigeria (and all over the world) to maintain a lifestyle they cannot themselves afford. A fixation on marriage, a desperation to impress, an absence of expectation of monogamy… These are the very things that make me so hesitant when it comes to romance and relationships in my own life. What we want and the couplewhat we expect are often so vastly different. To quote a character in the novel, “Many of us didn’t marry the women we truly loved. We married the woman that was around us when we were ready to marry.”

With all that surrounds us, for me, believing in the possibility of love is a challenge. I wish I could be that cold, jaded, unfeeling, calculated person who says, that love is construct, which in theory I very much know it is. But I have also known the joy of love, the agony of love, and construct or not those feelings have been very real; so real that I rooted for Ifemelu and Obinze, even when it was often too problematic for me to think it in their best interests. Love, I truly believe is lovely**, thank you Ms Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for that wonderful reminder.

All that to say buy it, I’m going to even after I’ve borrowed it from the library. 🙂

*check out our great list over at goodreads as well as up and coming fiction by writers of colour for 2013

**cheesy mystery novels, I may or may not have read every Spenser novel and picked up some Agatha Christie’s last week

*in case you haven’t noticed Monday Musings has all but dropped off

** and complicated and messy J

10 pts to anyone who gets the (super corny) 3rd picture reference

4th picture- I have a few favourite couples, who say cam^2; but these two people make up my favourite fictional couple.

Fyah Fridays- Girls, Food and Science

girls1. I have been watching Girls on HBO. I watch it because it’s a captivating story, featuring unique perspectives and characters I have never seen on Television in this light before. These are some screwed up, delusional, without-a-clue, privileged, reckless, self-involved women living in a dream world and it’s hella entertaining to watch. There are many scenes that make me quite uncomfortable around sex acts and relationships but I know this shit really happens. Another aspect about Girls is that not one of the characters are remotely likeable, not one of them. Yet I can’t stop watching.  This is an article I read that sort of reflects how I feel about the show. I know the season has ended but I don’t have HBO so I have to find alternative viewing options so that leaves me quite a bit behind.

food2. I love food, probably too much. I love to go to fancy grocery stores and buy up special sauces and oils and frozen samosas and other delicious things. I found this article on food prices globally and its progression in the last few years. I found it interesting the amount of money spent on food at home. As a student I try my best to eat at home and prepare food to go when I can. How much money do you think you spend on food away from home?

3. I Bleeping love Science. This is my most favourite facebook page. Get into it! science

Have a great weekend!

Music Wednesdays – Mighty Mos Def

One of my favorite artists. Hope you enjoy these as well.

1. Umi Says

2. U r the One

3. The Panties

Have a great Hump Day!

Music Wednesday – Elle Verner

elle 2I have posted music by Elle Verner in the past and I think my appreciation for her sound has increased. I would summarize her sound as a mixture of  jazz, R&B, soul, hip-hop a touch of pop. With her raspy voice and b-girl style I found great comfort in these songs in particular. Hope you enjoy as well.

1. Refill

2. Go! – This song is on the the Power puff girls theme song riddim. Fyah!!

3. Ghosts

4. Leaf

5. Only want to give it to you

Happy Hump Day!

Fyah Friday

Fantastic

 

Here are a few randoms that caught my eye this week.

  1. This was an interesting article about the far-reaching fallout of the recent Lance Armstrong developments. I do not have any tattoos although I have come close a few times. Apart from a family member’s name, I don’t think I have found is a symbol/word/picture that I can commit to.  I found it interesting how these people viewed their body art when the LiveStrong association became tainted by association.
  2. I came across this one on a sisteren’s facebook page. While the Harlem Shake viral video phenomenon has been rather interesting, I was struck that there were so many people that don’t know the original Harlem Shake dance. Apparently someone else felt this way and went to the streets of Harlem to ask Harlem natives what they think about the videos baring their neighbourhood’s name. It is funny to watch but it provides current proof that appropriation is so very real.
  3. Any Fire Stirrers in Philly should go check out this exhibit of costumes worn by the Supreme’s. I would argue them to be one of the most significant music groups in US music history and I would like to personally thank them for influencing some of my favourite songs and groups. The costumes are awesome. Can you tell that I like glitter J?
  4. Last but surely not least is this new Amnesty International petition to put sexual and reproductive health and rights on the global agenda. Sign on! Take part! My Body! My Rights

Have a great weekend!

fyah fridays- occupying space

one billion risingAre you rising on the 14th February? I will be. So will many around the world. Much of my writing, reading and some of my working has been around raising awareness around sexual violence. 1 Billion is a large number, find a rising near you…. learn the dance (debbie allen’s teaching) or create your own but make that day and the days to come one/ones in which you rise against sexual violence. Big up to igds at Cave Hill in Barbados.

Speaking of taking over spaces. Qui Dorian says take over yoga studios this year! I’m all for it… well I would be if it
yoga matdidn’t cost so much. That’s why I’m uber thankful for Brown Girl’s yoga for making a space that feels comfortable and accessible for people who look like me to practice.  I can’t do headstands, I’m not dreaming that far ahead… and the thought of one day being able to do the crow pose makes me simultaneously giddy and frustrated… but I do believe the practice helps me. I pay attention to my body, and for 20-60 minutes there’s nothing else to do but be with me. It for me has been a gift.


I was raped t shirtNnzinga Job’s TEDx Port of Spain talk on Love, rape and sex
.  She talks as a survivor, a believer and a dreamer. What stood out to me most was her sharing that her realisation that we create the meaning of sex has in our lives, once we do this it is so much easier to say no. Journal people, our, all our journeys are worth documenting. Towards the end she shares tips for a healthy sex life. I was going to list my favourite but I actually love them all: 

#2 take the time to know what you like and dislike sexually and why

#3 have sex only to celebrate and commemorate never to forget

#4 get physically fit and flexible and practice sexual expressiveness through dance

#5 save money into a sex fund

Completely off topic but had my cracking up. Artists who need to stop making crappy music. I disagree with Erykah making the list. I loved New microphoneAmerkyah Volume 2. But everyone else, so feeling their place on the list plus I think it’s hilarious that Alicia Keys isn’t on the list b/c we have to accept her albums have never really cut it to start with. lol

black power booksClosing off, 100 books by black women everyone should read. I’ve read about a third of them; and it’s not nearly as straight and African-American as I thought it would be. Shout out to all the queer, African and Caribbean (and their intersections) authors on the list. Check it out- Nalo Hopkinson, audre lorde, Jamaica Kincaid, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Stacey Ann Chinn, Octavia Butler, Shirley Chisolm…. come one, you know you’re intrigued.

makes the ppl come together- keep fit(ter)

workout musicSo it’s carnival season in Trinidad, and though I have no interest in playing mas I know for many people it’s gearing up time. I’ve kind of maybe decided that I will be play mas in Caribana so I’m with those who are also dreaming of firm(er) fit(ter) bodies for themselves, and others. Who in the world wants to exercise without music? My get fit play list.

Let me say Kollision Band sweeting me on a whole next level. Really, it’s taking all forms of will power not to make this my profile picture.

Again b/c I must have a child for djRawkus… here’s a power mix to get that cardio going.

http://www.mediafire.com/?v95x1c5r4995g8b

Bajan soca to rephrase trendsettah can be quite instructive/ demanding and that’s what I like in a trainer, so b/c I can’t afford a trainer that’s what I like in my music… so some Lil Rick.

Anytime I’m in a party and I hear this song I start doing knee rises, good cardio.

Django Unhinged

popcornDisclaimer:

  1. I have been steadily consuming all movies of QT since I was first introduced to Pulp Fiction by my aunt who is a QT junkie some 12 years ago. I think I largely enjoyed watching obscene amounts of violence, clever wit and swearing being actively endorsed by an adult… and the stories were for the most part intriguing.
  2. I have recently read three pretty good fiction books about the lives of enslaved African people in the diaspora- the Caribbean, the USA and Canada.
  3. I identify as a Caribbean womon of African descent whose African ancestors were enslaved people.
  4. I had my reservations about seeing this movie primarily because the combination of #3 and my waning interest in violence. I have become terribly concerned with what I consider entertainment these days. More specifically, how frightening it is that I have become numb to large amount of violence both for “entertainment” and in real life; and I don’t care what people say, there is a correlation. Entertainment affects how you interpret the world, it’s the reason media is so powerful.

So when QT takes his time to graphically depict two enslaved African men having to fight to death in a fancy colonial style home while two white enslavers sit down and drink liquor… I have to wonder what makes us in the cinema who are watching the reproduction of this so different to the white men at the time who were watching it at that time in the room for entertainment as well? Is it entertaining because we are shaking our heads at the obscenity of it all? While still watching it?

Now I’m not saying that it is the same, but there is something unsettling for me about the unnecessary graphic detail. Was it to demonstrate the gravity of the situation? Directors, good directors of which QT is one can convey gravity without me having to watch two black men fight literally to see another day at the whim of rich white men. Professional sport parallels anyone?

vs. Inglorious Basterds

When I saw Inglorious Basterds I was in Trinidad and the audience cheered excitedly as the Nazis were outsmarted, outstrategised and killed. I was a little confused because I was unaware of what the audience’s investment in this history was. It historywas of course a combination of things

  • the graphic and often near comic violence
  • the wit
  • the effective demonization of Nazis in history
  • the typically audience commentary that comes with that cinema.

… but I had to wonder, if I saw a similar movie about slavery would the audience be cheering the same way.

Django Unchained is not a similar movie. Inglorious Basterds was a revisionist history, it was creative and imagined something systemic that would have made a difference to the world. Django Unchained is the story of one man looking out for one man and his wife who happens to have been enslaved at various points throughout the movie. This story of the solitary hero in no way seeks to address the systemic-ness of enslavement. Please note that I do not think this was the character’s job, I’m highlighting the difference in story.

taking up the enslavement of African people

EmancipationThe enslavement of African people in this part of the world was largely physical, but the mental control imposed on this forcibly displaced people has in my opinion has been captured far better in literature. There are hints but when you don’t depict what life is like on a plantation for people in any real way… you’re doing an injustice. Yes, we saw some punishments where QT didn’t hesitate to show naked black bodies but for me it’s the day in day out… the drudgery, the uncertainty, the constant threat of violence, the fear…

In Octavia Butler’s Kindred her protagonist is transported between being enslaved in the 1700s/1800s in the USA to 1970s (then present day). She only gets back to present day just before she about to die. In one scene she’s an enslaved person, and she is being whipped for something and soon after it commences, the pain, the agony… she wakes up in present day in so much pain, the scars of our history.

Later on in the novel she’s back to being an enslaved person, she is being whipped again and she soon expects to be transported again to present day… she doesn’t. She’s still an enslaved person. You know what happened? She thought she would die the first time, the second time, she knew she wouldn’t, that this was just her life… now that’s some heavy shit. Depict that

taking up womyn

Speaking of black womyn who were enslaved… I’m happy Kerry Washington got top billing in a movie where she only had 3 lines.

probably b/c we're invisible anyway...

probably b/c we’re invisible anyway…

But really, let’s talk about misogyny and sexism. QT has a great record with these two. But even this was over the top. The silencing of black womyn was beyond beyond.

  1. Women weren’t being traded that much were they?
  2. Most times we saw black womyn they were comfort womyn. And yes, I get there are all sorts of things attached to that, forced sex work is rape but where were the women working on the field, like most of them were?
  3. Why all these women had long, straight/ loosely curled hair?

What stuck with me most though was the fact that Kerry Washington was the sole motivation for the main character and yet we know nothing about her, except of course what makes her special:

She’s a wife- it’s not right for her to be a comfort woman

+

She speaks German- therefore identifiable

+

She’s pretty- light skinned, speaks well (little evidence of this, seeing that she had so few lines) “nice” hair

= woman worth saving

battle vs. war

Sesa WorubanSpoiler alert, how dare QT make one of the more personally violent vengence scenes occur between Django and Samuel L. Jackson’s (SLJ) character. Yes, I get the that the HHNIC is depicted as the most despised black person. But I maintain, only two types of people survived slavery- the lucky and the scampish. And SLJ was a super scamp, venomous even, but you see that’s what’s make this story so much about a hero as though he’s fighting an individual battle vs. an institution.

Because this was a movie about a battle we see Django “get back” at SLJ in a very real way. And because QT didn’t bother to make this a revisionist history we’re supposed to get some satisfaction with Django’s battle wins

  1. knowing well and good that it’s only a matter of time before his luck runs out and
  2. forget about all the other enslaved people who I guess will not be quite forever trapped because it is 1858 but definitely of no concern to our hero.
  3. I was left sadder… more despondent

A white man of  this time writes the most personally violent and antagonistic scene  between two black characters. Far too unsettling… White privilege and white supremacy are real when a white man can write this “entertaining” piece of film and be celebrated for his wit, satire and genius this “new” world.

If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.
-Aboriginal Activists Group, Queensland 1970s

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