Underthecurrent


someday I will read this and be like… “why so serious?”
June 21, 2010, 1:25 am
Filed under: overtly political

A little crispy after some slurpee park reading action today, which is sort of funny because I almost never burn, leading me to believe I was as pasty as feared when I pulled on my Daisy Dukes and went to face the sunny humidity.

Strangers talk to me, or about me, regularly. I don’t know if this happens to everyone, if my exceptionally good hearing helps me figure it out; I just know it provides near endless entertainment on otherwise boring days. Last weekend, some guy told his friend I look “sort of like Wonderwoman” as we passed on the street. For the record, I was pleather and thigh high free. This week, rushing to work, I checked both ways and disobeyed the walk light. A guy who was g’up from the feet up passed me going the opposite direction, following my lead, and loudly whispered to me (in my skirt suit and ultra conservative trench) “you’re a rebel!” Today at the park some guys who probably weren’t legal to buy beer offered me some.

[I’ve been super distracted writing this. I can’t listen to music and write coherently.]

Summer notes.

I’m so into drinking out of stubbies yesterday when I found a rootbeer stubbie I was easily persuaded to pay about $2 for it. I don’t even really like Red Stripe.

I love how different people look. Summer reveals this, when the clothes start to come off. I like different skin tones and body shapes. The multitude of ways a similar subject can constitute itself.

Watching FIFA coverage has my mind back in Africa. I find myself thumbing the spectrum, from old issues of The Afropolitan and I Write What I Like to outsider travel books like Dark Star Safari. Heading to Africa as a foreigner is an inherently political thing, it just is, no matter the context.

Africa radicalized and unsettled my personal politics to the point I’m still trying to sort things out. As in. I believe in trade not aid because aid has offered all the wrong incentives, on both sides, and trade meets someone as an equal whereas aid always implies a greater and less than and we need to get past that. I don’t think the brand of feminism I believed in for so long is necessarily the best conclusion and most thought out end point, I’ve learned a lot about female power by heading past the highly individualized rights-oriented North American perspective. I’m not one hundred percent behind democracy anymore – I think there are a lot of viable ways to pick leadership. I’m not sure if expressing that approaches treason, but there it is.

So, applied.

I think Canada owes so-called developing countries some well trained medical aid because we’ve taken too many of their people. There should be more incentives for people to take their careers overseas for a couple of years – plus a lot of Doctors here could learn a few things from the approach taken in other places to treatment and care. It’s a totally different experience to go to a hospital or clinic abroad than it is to visit one here, rarely in a bad way. All work in other countries needs the presumption that the exchange is bilateral, something that’s oddly absent from a lot of discussion about international exchange.

I think we need combined projects with diverse countries, like Brazil and South Africa, looking at different ways to manage diversity, because all of us are rapidly coming up on opportunities and need progressive solutions and can trade ideas.

Most community organizations don’t need some clueless foreigner providing free labour. Full stop. Sorry. Organizations are best operated and controlled by stakeholders, and we, as a society, love formal bureaucracy way too much to fit in with models in other places.

I think the best thing foreigners offer to Africa is an education in what foreigners are like. So going there isn’t a bad thing at all. But they need to be more open to what Africa is like and less interested in categorizing it, e.g. tribal, authentic, rural, poor.

We lose sight of how strange our lives are – the oversanitization that is producing scary allergies and superbugs in hospitals, the wasteful silly ways we process and merchandise food.

We don’t see obvious comparators, how we warehouse poor people the same way other countries do but simply have less poor people to warehouse so the impact is less obvious.

And people visiting other places who want to have authority to speak to them even peripherally need to acknowledge: everything is authentic. The most “authentic” experience I had with African dancing wasn’t some gumboot performance for the benefit of donations, it was the clubs I went to full of people my age just doing their normal thing, some of who were my classmates. If you aren’t struck by the ordinariness of what you’re seeing, it may not be that real.

To illustrate how ridiculous the notion of “safaris” and getting with very rural black people to understand Africa is, imagine the same concept applied to Canada. If someone told you they had “had the Canadian experience” by virtue of going to Churchill and sleeping in an igloo with some Real Live Inuit people, and then going to Banff, would you agree they had a total understanding of the country, its politics and failures and challenges, and the people who inhabit it? What if they’d hit up a Ukrainian Dance competition on the prairies and maybe visited a traditional Maritimes watering hole? Good enough yet? Riiight.

Also, guilty pleasure – Flo Rida – Can’t Handle Me

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