Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Free Love: I endorse this message

picture from here
By now, if you frequent this blog, you should be at least conversant with the fact that I do love Asian culture; my initial introduction being through film. As a result, I have been somewhat indoctrinated into Asian-American culture and recently volunteered on the rousingly successful first Annual Kollaboration DC talent showcase--to which none of my friends honored my invite--and on which I think I was one of two people of non-Asian descent on the whole team. Side note: not once during the production and show did I not wonder if the warm welcome and kind courtesies extended to me would be reciprocated if the group had been largely Nigerian/ African and an Asian had stepped forward to volunteer. i really wonder

Putting that aside, working with Asians has presented me with an issue that I initially had no understanding of the magnitude and gravity: the de-sexualisation of the Asian Male. Almost every Asian-directed blog that I have read focuses on how Asian men are never considered attractive and are at the bottom of the choice-of-partner-poll. On the hand, Asian women are considered highly desirable with one in every six Asian-American women dating aside of her race.

Each time I read this, I think of black women; more specifically African American women who fall into the same category on the female side of the scale. Thus if there are so many similarities,why then won't Asian Men seek out Black Women as potential partners? Why is there a derth of this kind of pairing:

Then come the stereotype responses:

1) Asian men are not attractive
Ugghhh, I seriously beg to differ

2) Black women are loud and aggressive
Uggh, that is relative. If you mean, they have been dealt so much shit over time that they are quick to call you out on your bullshit, then, I agree. Most Black Women I know WHO ARE EDUCATED are some of the classiest and elegant people you will ever meet; loyal and respectful. Note, I did not say, subservient.

3. Asian Men have small penises
While statistically speaking, it has been recorded that Asian men do have smaller members in relation to other races, you have to take into consideration a few things: a) Asian women are also smaller than other races of women, and so why would God design something that would split your insides...b)it does not say that it makes them lesser lovers as size has no indication on this and c) there are enough sexually unsatisfied black women AROUND THE WORLD for me to know that the desired penis size is more of a fantasy. It is like wanting a hummer so bad until you realize that is an obnoxiou, cash guzzling monstrosity that makes you look like a tool when you take up two parking spaces or crash when you took a corner too fast.
4. Neither parties find each other attractive
Ugggh, again, i beg to differ. I think the attraction is something both sides appear embarassed to admit. Speaking as a Nigerian, I watch with intrigue the stress my fellow sisters go through in finding a mate. I am yet to meet one who will say something like, "I am open to a man outside of my race". They are very concerned about what their parents who will say--parents whom I might add, will die and leave you behind to deal with your marriage. or what their friends would say -- friends who might secretly envy your courage to step outside of your comfort zone.
Once my friend stared me like I was crazy when I termed myself "An Equal Opportunity Lover". When I ask for a partner, I ask for love, respect, friendship, support, freedom and laughter. All of which I can get from anyone. It is when I start specifying that he has to be an engineer, be 6 feet tall, have an MBA, come from Ikeja in Lagos State and be an Eckist (as I am not a Christian) in addition to all the things that were listed above that I pidgeon-hole myself. Then when I meet someone that I find attractive, I immediately blank his side because he is none of those things listed.
I think people will be attracted to whomever but fear is what causes many to assume this as a point.
5. If God wanted us to mix, he would not have put us on different continents
Wow!!! Anyone hear KKK advocate?
6. There is the cultural difference
The most similar culture to an African culture is an Asian one. So also, a comparative culture to a European culture is an American one. Equation balance. I promise you that for every African tradition, there is an Asian equivalent. Language? There's always English or Sign or even better, learn a little bit from one another.
7. The Children will be confused
Only if the parents are confused. My parents are a mix of Yoruba and Itsekiri and while that might not seem like a comparative example, I use that to illustrate a merging of cultures. At home, we kids learned my father's language, ate foods from my mother's people and holidayed with her people. So, I am very much connected to both parts.
Plus, it is always useful to have your children be bilingual. I am always irritated when I see Nigerian children who cannot even speak one Nigerian language. The average Indian student has to learn two national languages to graduate from secondary school. Which reminds me, I have to continue my Igbo classes
Why this post? Am I secretly stalking an Asian guy all over town or currently involved with one and thus already defending against any potential social backlash?
I just would like to encourage anyone who would like to experience love to go out and let it happen organically. Or you can use your church matchmaker (BTW, most east-Asians are christian. Yup, I was stunned. Southeast Asians, another issue)
Give one another a chance and live happy. make cute blasian babies...

Monday, September 27, 2010

Kollaboration Rocked!!!

Kollaboration DC was a huge success. And the pre-production for year II begins shortly

Monday, September 20, 2010

People I read II

Blog Name: Ask a Korean

What is it about: Questions about Korean culture are submitted via email and responded to in order and with the discretion of the blog handler who identifies himself as The Korean, and takes on the task of providing his personal insight to the Korean experience both in the United States and on the home continent of East Asia

Why I read it: Infused with sarcastic humour, the blog provides an insightful take on the workings of a brilliant individual who has the difficult task of navigating within an external culture that is both his and then not. The Korean is a naturalized uS citizen and so has both strong ties to his country of birth as well to his country of residence. There is also the issue that The Korean's family had to flee Northern Korea, the more totalitarian and oppressive state to South Korea, which we are more conversant with, before coming to the United States.

One of my favourite posts: Do Korean eat dogs

How to attract a Korean Man

Blacks and Koreans

What to wear

picture from here
I always find myself not having something to wear for any event. And since for the longest time I never functioned on a budget that allowed me to just walk out and purchase a solution, I have on more than one occassion, sat down to effectively review my selections and ponder on why I might be out of a new hip number.

The answer is simple, I don't buy hip new numbers. I am pretty much a basic dresser. Ninety percent of my shoes are black and I always have a black piece as a base line ; be it, pants, skirts or the top. I only just learned a simple technique last year for applying makeup and this was after many years of leaving the house feeling cool only to pass my reflection in the street and wonder what affliction might have possibly befallen me in the past hours of my exiting my residence to make me have a red tint on my skin; and I am not one of those females that uses blusher.

I watch what other females wear and will be honest to say I am not as fashionable as the average femme. As long as my clothes are clean and I smell exceptional --now, fragrances are something I don't mess with-- I am quite satisfied. But these days, I am beginning to wonder whether or not the quality of my social life has something to do with the quality of my warddrobe.

I rarely go out. A typical Friday evening, has me pigging out in front of the TV to my latest foreign film DVD acquisition and I love it. When you are not the drinking type, and living in a culture where most of the socialising revolves around the consumption of copious amounts of alcohol, you will find yourself either gravitating to religious gatherings or if you like me where you are more spiritual than religious, entertaining yourself. Thus as a direct result, my warddrobe is sorely lacking in those pieces we Nigerians like to refer to as "ashewo couture".

Simply put, outfits that grab attention of males and females alike by putting your physical attributes on display.

I am not a prude but I am also not delusional to imagine that my body is in perfect condition to wear certain things. The last time my stomach was flat, my age was in the single digits and my bust and derriere size has steadily climbed in width over the past six years. The last part, I am quite happy with, though. Also, life's experiences have been evident on my skin as my once perfect, flawless feature looks like a cross between a post-harmattan farm burning exercise and a bombing zone.

So, I dress to cover the "love"/"food" handles, mosquito bites on my leg and ensure that my "ladies" are always in their proper position. Luckily, they are still behaving. I dress like a conservative adult. Which is not so bad. It is just that when you are now faced with an upcoming clubbing event --an activity that I have not partaken in in the past year or more-- you realise that your clothes are more suited to an evening at the Kennedy center.

What is a girl to do? I am going to be surrounded by a bunch of Asian girls whose average dress size is from 0-2. I am not envious of that though but I would rather not look like I could swallow one of the whole. Also, I have not been out in a while and so some pieces that used to fit twelve months ago have to be donated to charity.

Jeans it is...I'll will find some top to make it work. We will support it with Spanx. Luckily, I always have one good working pair of "ashewo couture" shoes....

So who is coming out to the Kollaboration DC after party at Pasha this Saturday?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

People I read

I started blogging in 2005 as a way to hone my writing skills and also vent my frustrations about things going on around me in a public form of self induced therapy. And, in the beginning, it was a blissful experience: I was suddenly linked with a group of young and adult writers whose unique outlook on the Nigerian experience both at home and abroad provided for a much intelligent discourse.

Each blogger then, had a distinct way of speaking, so much so that when I conceived and executed my Catwalq Academie Series (see links to all on the right), our general online community was drawn to the project, reacting to the familiar characters who though were anonymous avatars, had inspired personalities that were easily identifiable.

Projects began to spill out, as if an invisible barrier to creativity had been lifted and an infinite number of ideas were brought forth. Bella Naija became a brand, Blog Idols became a seasonal event and then came the blog awards, giving recognition to those bloggers the community felt stood out from the multitude of bloggers. And there was the 14th & Serenity which I was directly involved with, bringing a diverse group of characters for an amazing literary project.

As the community grew, so also did awareness of the technology and thus the different uses for which it could be put. Suddenly, the Nigerian blogosphere was inundated with spiteful, spineless individuals masked behind the cloak of anonymity who would go from blog post to blog spot leaving behind a trail of calculated insults to entice controversy.

Then, there was a mass exodus of bloggers. Most of the bloggers whose daily or weekly posts, i had awaited in high anticipation, eager for the ensuing discourse that would be conducted in the comments section. That was soon gone and a new generation of bloggers came on and my interest in the community all but died.

I have maintained my blog, largely because while I no longer have that connection to majority of the bloggers out there, this portal was initially chosen for me to have an outlet and I find myself running back to it, again and again. And even though my mother now uses this blog as a medium with which she can conduct her transatlantic stalking, I still feel most free expressing myself there.

And so, that is why I have decided to also to share what it is that stimulates me now.

By share curiosity and coincidence, I have become quite involved with Asian American issues, content, projects and initiatives. In fact, I am a current staff member on Kollaboration DC, an Asian American talent showcase holding this coming Saturday at the GWU Lisner Auditorium and being the only black person on staff, I am going to raffle names of anyone who buys tickets to see the show because I invited them, to win a lovely, free Kollab Tshirt.

Getting to meet and befriend Asian Americans also means I am getting exposed to their cultures which is not so new, as I grew up on the steady dose on one of the most successful exports out of South-east Asia: BOLLYWOOD. Outside of African cultures, I have felt most connected to Asian cultures because of the glaring similarities in community construct, social values and hierarchies. Both parts of the world (Africa and Asia) mirror one another, perfectly.

I am infused with the language, dress, food and visual culture. I have more Asian movies in my collection than any other region in the world; partly because they have many thriving industries from which budding filmmakers can learn how to tell accurate encompassing stories about their cultures and do so on a budget but also because the stories are so damn good.

I now have many friends from all over Asia and cannot wait to see two of them in particular at the upcoming Eckankar Worldwide Seminar in Minneapolis.

As a result of me opening myself up, I now read on a daily basis, a steady stream of blogs, websites and articles by Asian bloggers and writers. So in a series, I will term " People I read", I would like to introduce you all to an inspiring and rib cracking humorous individual, residing in New York and raising his daughter as a single parent; METRO DAD.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Kollaboration DC: September 25th, 2010

Next Saturday, the First Annual Kollaboration DC comes to the national's capital with an Asian American and Pacific Islander talent showcase of some of the brightest and amazing up and coming out there.

An added bonus for you coming out to support in honour of my invite to Kollaboration DC: When you buy a ticket, I enter you into my personal raffle to win a free Kollaboration DC Tshirt to show my appreciation. This is my gift to you. Contact me for tickets Prices go up on the day of.

See you there

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Inspired by true events...

A young lady, recently starting at a new position within a financial institution was seated in a mandatory orientation briefing which included staff members at various levels. It was the afternoon session and the current presenter was doing her best to keep the diverse group informed as well as engaged.

Young Lady, who will from here on out be referred to as YA, was however in a bit of a predicament. You see, over the course of the course of the previous couple of hours, she had downed two cups of herbal tea, completely forgetting that within her internal biological system, tea acts as a form of purgative. So as the first batch of slides went up, so did the indicative sounds of future bowel movements which would be preceeded by, until the alloted time of release, loud and disastrous gaseous emissions from her ample derriere.

Her seat was not such that she could so easily slip out of the class for such an extended period of time without people noticing and worse, figuring out the reason why. The presentation was not one that she could miss, the presenter being from her department and presenting material that she had already been informed she would need to be conversant in, and efficient in delivering. Also, the presence of the emissions was not necessarily evidence that she was ready to "go" but that she was too prepare herself to do so.

So, being the person that she is, she began to silently count to herself, willing her body to respond to her mental commands to extend the time between contractions and reduce the audibility of the emissions. Like a woman trying to mask an induced labour, she concentrated hard. Counting, sipping on water, counting, refusing to allow her butt cheeks to release either air or each other.

For 45 minutes.

It was the longest of her life.

At the end of the presentation, she made a less than graceful escape by which time, her bowels had rebelled completely and the herbal tea declared ownership of her arse.

At the end of the day, as the professionals gathered their things and made their exit, a senior staff member from her team, to whom she had been introduced earlier in the week, walked up to her.

"It is amazing what they expect us to process so early," he said with a wide smile, "but I am sure you will have no issues at all"

Her face looked a bit puzzled.

"I noticed you were concentrating hard on each of the slides. In fact, I thought at one pount, weren't you counting the data along with him?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Things that graze past my ear

I was doing my usual crazy walk home from the yogurt place, trying to directly avoid the sewer grates on the sidewalk because I am a firm believer that those things are not as strong as they look --case in point the last episode of the show Rescue Me shows a man just dropping 20ft to the bottom of the sewer when the grate suddenly gave way--but I digress.

So I am walking home, or to the casual observer, hopping from one side of the side walk to another and I pass a Hispanic mother and her two sons possibly on the same route; home, that is.

The little one is talking. I don't know the origins of the sentence but I catch, "....I am going to ask my daddy to buy me ....he said he would buy me....I'll ask if I can have this too."

We get to a traffic light and stop and then I catch the wearied, slightly irritated answer from his mother, "Your daddy always promises you he'll buy this and buy that and you never get nothing...."

The little one immediately jumps to his father's defense. "Nah- uhn, he doesn't lie. He never lies about Jerseys. He bought me that jersey that one time."

The mother gestures for him to keep walking. The light is green. She uses her left hand and there is no ring. Beside her, her older son is silent, lugging two grocery bags. She has a matching one in her right hand.

The little one lapses into silence. Brooding. Most likely hurt. I felt for him because, he was yet to fully understand the dynamics of an absentee father.

I felt for the woman because conversations like this would keep coming up until one day day, they would stop and then she would know that the man was "dead" to the little one. She was probably tired of defending a man who appeared larger than life to his sons, was probably the same to her once and now was not even worth his word to purchase an item for his children. Her response had had no sneer in it, just a cautious reminder to a child that was beginning the foundations of another fantasy that would possibly be crushed to the ground.

I felt for the older boy because from his silence, he had no fantasies left. Not of his father.

I imagine. But the again, it was just a few words that grazed past my ears. Their father might be in the home, and what the boy wanted might have been ice cream and in that case, his father constantly promising him a cold treat and delivering celery sticks would not be so bad...but I like my version better.

More dramatic.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Sound of Music...sounds of the classics

picture from here

My aunt and I took her son and his friends ( children of her best friend) to see a stage production of The Sound of Music. For days before the event, my aunt and I debated over the price of ticket seats, budgeted extensively over the trip that would be more than a day's drive for her --whilst I could wing it by metro-- and could barely contain our excitement. We were so excited about going to see one of our favourite childhood memories brought alive on screen.

The venue was parked. We were there early and could barely find parking. Old and young, the audience trudged towards the Wolf Trap entrance and we went to find our seating. It took off to a good start, the music reaching out from strong, professionally trained vocals to hug us like a warm memory. Our seats were nice enough that they offered us a price that would not break the bank and we could even make out the features of amazing performers. My aunt and I, seated next to one another, sang along with the audience and the performers, rocking ourselves side to side. Then we looked over at the kids and the invited children were looking bored out of their minds.

To say I was deflated, was an understatement.

My aunt whispered that they had never seen the movie --which was the reference point for both us and most likely for you--and my jaw hit the floor. Not only had the kids never seen the movie but their mother did not think there was anything odd about the fact that as children within an environment where they could have access to almost any information, their exposure was limited to hip shaking movements of Obesere, Sunny Ade and Yinka Ayefele.

The kids had never been taken to a stage performance before; in fact were confused as to what was happening during the intermission.

I did not know what to think. I am not going to tell you that their lives are infinitely and permanently marred because they have never read any Western Classics or seen movies like, My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers or even Koku Baboni, Ralia The Sugar Girl etc because there are millions of children around the world who haven't either and are quite fine.

My thing was that even though they had never read those, they were not reading anything either. They are quick to break into whatever track, Rihanna has found to lay over repeating the same word or jump on an owambe party dance floor to collect the dollar bills, stamped on their foreheads but they cannot tell me one single book they have read or movie that was not stamped by the intellect diminishing Disney.

I am a Sunny fan. Yinka Ayefele, Obesere, Pasuma...not on my radar. One of my greatest sources of gratitude was that as a child, whilst I was not born into a financially wealthy home, I was born into one that was wealthy with KNOWLEDGE. I read extensively and was read to. I listened to the conversations my parents and their friends had and was able to piece together my culture not just as a singular unit but as part of a global fabric. You cannot imagine the look on my face when after I ranted about how evil white people where after reading Alex Haley's ROOTS, my father told me Africans had always owned slaves too and even facilitated the sale of slaves to the Europeans. Shuo!

The first time I went to the beach, I was not allowed in. Not because neither my brother and I had planned to swim-- which we did not know how--nor that we did not bring clothes to do so, but because my father preferred to give us a running commentary about the power of tidal waves. I remember watching with mild irritation as he made us count how many waves were coming and listen to the underlying sound of the HU --another story for another day.

My mother would tell me stories of her growing up--she had an interesting and sometimes pain filled experience--and she would in turn listen to whatever stories I churned out; whether made up or not. I went to see plays. I acted my own out at home. I had a little farm of my own; one of my earliest career goals was to be wealthy industrial farmer...which I could still be if I wanted to.

I think that is why I am the way I am. I grew up learning and always enjoyed something new. Living abroad has been one educational experience after another; no pun intended, seeing as I came here on a student's visa. Which is why, when I see Nigerians living in the US who do not seem inclined to or interested in availing themselves of the opportunities to learn, I shiver inside. So, why did you leave home? You could just have been blissfully unaware within the space you live in in Nigeria instead of constantly saying something quite off putting, like calling the Vietnamese restaurant on the next street from your house, a Chinese take out. Or saying that me being friends with a Sikh Indian is bad, because he is one of the "MUSLIM" Taliban on account of his Dastar (or head wrap)

I am not bourgeoisie . I just feel like, one should know of things outside of your comfort zone because you never know where you might be. Also, it helps you realise just how small you are in this wide world.

Till then,

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me

Bless my homeland forever.

yeah, i skipped lines...