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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

They shall not pass - Não passarão!





I should have gotten used to it by now but bigotry makes me feel incredibly sad. Today a guy directed some racially charged abuse towards me and I know that is probably always going to happen not only to me but to many, many people everywhere on this planet but the thing is I feel so sorry for this guy and at the same time the whole thing is representative of such a tragic system that well… sadness is the only thing left to me at the moment.


I suppose this is a very daring thing to do. You see, I am a woman, but on top of being woman, I am also what some would call "of color". So I decide to get out in the open to fight for my rights to have a body. I decide to go fight for the right to be a person, because the way things are today, we women are relegated to a status that is lower than personhood. But then, people see me there, daring to wear a tee with the sound print "MY BODY, MY RIGHTS" in it and I suppose it is too much for them to take, really. Because, if they regard women to a lower status than that of men, to us women of color there is nothing left, really. It was like they were saying "Do you want rights? But you're just an animal, you cannot think". That's precisely what that guy said to me, with other words, obviously. But you know what? I just gotta be strong, and I will keep on swimming, like Dorie from Finding Nemo. Except that I will not forget, and those very words he said to me, I am saving them: there will be some literature. 

And don't worry about me. I will be able to laugh again. I will laugh, I will swim, I will rise. But all this is still very, very unfortunate. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

06:10 Posted by Afro Latina No comments
Just came across this one and its brilliance had me post it here. I cannot believe only now I am getting to see Anton Kennemeyer's work. I'd totally post it to my fb wall but away from social networks for a a while.


Thursday, 20 November 2014

01:06 Posted by Afro Latina No comments
Life is that very moment you download a new operating system and cringe at how stupid developers can be, so you feel like crawling into a dark hole where you could stay forever, with your teethy mouth gaped and your eyes firmly shut, so you could feel the decay of each cell in your body in peace. But then you resign to the fact that said developers are like gods and they actually get to tell you that whatever change they have implemented is an <<enhancement>> and you don't really want to go back to the previous OS because that would feel even more stupid and there is nothing else to do besides being annoyed for a few days and then getting used to it. Why, we tend to get used to shit.


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Over sharing

15:38 Posted by Afro Latina No comments




I realize it's been a while I don't drop by to say a word, it is not one of those cases where words went missing from my head, they are still there aplenty, it is just that I cannot usually get out of my state of complete apathy in order to have any sort of clarity and write things down. On the other hand, the longer I stay away, the better I realize that I might never achieve such state of lucidity, so why not stream a bit of my consciousness here anyway? 


This is not a post about anything. I don't want to rant, I don't feel like complaining about stuff, I am not really willing to be self-indulgent and pity myself and then give a tap on my own back and say Girl, you are super cool and awesome and beautiful and great. No, I am past that, I promise. Today I just want to write about nothing special. Like the day I have behind me. 


I've just shared with himself that I spent a good deal of my day plotting the best, cleanest way to end my own life. He gasped in horror and retired to his room, feeling extremely disappointed that I would ever ponder on such baffling topic but it is what it is: I was wondering how I could possibly die without getting too graphic, shocking too much, leaving scars on people. As I was not able to give those three questions a proper answer, I did what I always do whenever such thoughts cross my mind - I muffled them.


I think what separates me from people who actually let go of themselves is that I lack the courage to hurt myself. In short, the what ifs prevent me from being gutsy enough to say enough is enough and just go away. I know I am perturbed, I have always been like this, but the very fact that I am now able to talk about it feels a bit liberating. I want to talk about death. 


The other day I had a brief conversation with a guy at a sauna. I love saunas, they sort of remind me of the heated place I come from, and I am not joking. So there I was, enjoying some heat and thinking about life when this guy starts small talking to me and the conversation was soon to become philosophical. He's probably in his late twenties and has never had a job in his life. You don't miss what you never had, he said. I was mulling over that for a few days and I must confess I have nothing conclusive to say, but I do tend to disagree with his statement, and I am not sure if I will be able to explain myself as I have this maddening ear pain which prevents me from thinking clearly now and I do think the pain is also one of the reasons why I so earnestly wish I ceased to exist. 


But why do I disagree with that statement? In short, I think I've never been really free in my life. I need a parenthesis here, I don't blame anyone. Maybe it's the whole system I was born into. Or maybe it's me. We could even say it's an amalgamation of both. The thing is, I really wanted to be free. I would love to have a life of my own and not have to give anyone any explanation about my actions whatsoever. It's as if I secretly wished the people I love the most did not really exist in my life, and I know it's a rather daunting thing to say, but it's true, and again, they are not at fault. When I look back in time I sort of realize that saying yes to India was actually an attempt at freedom, which did not happen de facto. You cannot be free when your only option in life is to move from the hearth of your parents to that of your husband. Even if they are the nicest and most loving and awesome people alive. This is not about love, it is about independence. 


And that's pretty much what I've been thinking about since I traveled to Portugal in the end of October. I've been contemplating on my ineptitude to be independent, I've been wishing I had the courage to say to myself, loud and clear, that I am enough, instead of being so vulnerable and in need of care. Somehow I got convinced along the way that I am the one people should look after. At some point in my life I was made to believe, not only by others but most importantly, by myself, that striving for a secondary career would be enough. I thought I really did not need a career, because somehow in my mind I would be occupied minding my children (they never came, I am childless, and although English is not my mother tongue I do understand the difference between being childfree and being childless, so I did use the correct term here) and the main income should be that of the man, and what a pathetic human being I used to be. 


There is no point in being consumed by regret, I suppose. My mantra is It could have been worse, after all. I guarantee that I've grown in ways I could have never predicted. The only thing that still keeps my flame flickering is knowing that I am able to empower myself through writing, even though I completely abhor most of what I do, but that's because I am not really keen on myself, so I would obviously hate anything that comes from me, perhaps being infertile is not a bad thing after all. Nature knows I wouldn't be able to cope with a mini-me anyway. What I did not know, until very recently, is that I would probably be happier if I had some sort of independence. 


Do I regret having become a feminist? Not even a tinge. These things happen to shake things up a little. There is a lot I need to deconstruct inside of me. For the time being, I am a bit paralyzed, but I feel I will be able to get to a more lighter state, and it will probably feel unbearable, but I do want to try it anyway. No, I've never had it. But I do know I need it. I want to appreciate people for what they really are, not for what they can provide me with. I think I might be getting to that stage where I finally learn that relationships do not necessarily need to occur in capitalist terms. Although I am pretty much a stray cat who got adopted and now has food and a roof over its head, I am confident I will be able to provide for myself, soon. Perhaps that's the only hope that prevents me from going ahead with the project of killing myself.


The only thing that made me smile today: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3b6LU-nBzLo


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

#Savita


I know it's been long I don't drop any line here but I'm kinda glad I haven't been exactly idle. As I am happy that everything went fine with the vigil we at Galway Pro-Choice have put together to commemorate Savita's death, I decided to post here today. In case you don't know who Savita is, here is a little summary of her story: she was a migrant woman from India who was denied an abortion here in Galway (Ireland) on the grounds of religion. Yep, you read it right. Savita was told she couldn't get an abortion because Ireland "is a Catholic country".

So we organized a vigil to observe the date and it was beautiful. It started and ended peacefully, we had people write messages for Savita and her family and also candles were lit and I had a chance to speak up at the event. I'm very grateful I got the opportunity to talk, so I wrote the poem I'm posting below, read it out and had a very positive feedback on it. Also, I was so moved by Dette's speech that I have no words to express how much I've been personally growing in this activism. I hope I will be able to write a bit more about Savita soon (and keep updating this blog more often). For now, here is the poem I wrote:






This is not a speech.
I don't know how to do speeches.
I would define it as
A woman from the Global South
Attempting to figuratively denude herself
Hoping somebody will listen

Before I came to this island
I'd heard about Savita
But somehow failed to
Connect all the dots.
So as her globally known tragedy
Unveils to me, I immediately remember
Her story - Was that in Galway?
I'm beyond terrified now

The news - it was given to me
By another migrant woman
Just like myself
We look at each other and there's horror
In our eyes

What binds us together - beyond the fact
That we are women from the Global South
Is that what happened to Savita
Could very well happen to us
I look everywhere around me
And I see breathtaking places
Beautiful colors
Friendly people

Judging by its cover
It's very, very easy to forget
That living here
As migrant people
Is a constant struggle
In order to prove that we are ready

We have to prove we are good enough
To live in Ireland
That's the Western way of telling others
How they should behave
And setting standards even the West itself
Fails to meet

That's the scenario
We have today
But make no mistake
Nobody says goodbye to
Their roots
The food, the smells
For any reason other than striving
For a better life

Savita's husband
And then Savita herself
Had to go through a Via Crucis
In order to be deemed 'ready'
To try to make a living in Ireland

Ask any migrant person
Ask any asylum seeker
Anyone who's just managed to get through
How arduous the whole process is
It literally tests a person's limits
And the limit in Savita's case
Was her own life

I am here telling you this
Because one of the first things
I hear whenever I meet a fellow migrant
Is the very puzzled question
Is Ireland ready for us?

I've been living here for a year and guess what?
Ireland is not ready for me
And each and every migrant woman
I come across here
Confirms to me that Ireland is also
Not ready for them

But as we move on with our lives
And try our best to adjust
As we clean your homes
And serve your tables
Or provide any high qualified service
Like doctors, engineers, dentists
Like Savita did
As we dwell into Irish culture
We realize there is actually a whole spectrum
Where racism and xenophobia
Are on display
It's a whole range of misogyny
Where the veil of religion still
Prevents issues from being directly addressed

It's a shame things are the way they are now
It's a shame to come here and realize you will
Always, no matter what
Be the other
Perceived as somewhat inferior
Or exotic

But what hurts me more, somehow
Is the very realization
That besides not being ready for us migrants
Ireland is also not ready
For its own women.








Thursday, 7 August 2014

On Suzanne Moore and her article about Mindfulness

04:46 Posted by Afro Latina , , , No comments
Alas. Today I read the most nonsensical article ever. It saddens me that it's authored by one of my favorite columnists, Suzanne Moore. I do believe humanity is imperfect and therefore cannot afford to yield perfect institutions or activities. As a feminist, I am well aware the theories I believe and try to follow are not impeccable - and that holds true to pretty much everything in life.

Although I do agree with Suzanne that capitalism shamelessly absorbs all things, including the practice of mindfulness (one that is very dear to me, as all my friends/readers know by now), I have a problem with her utter dismissal of the whole practice. Mindfulness has helped me in ways innumerable, and I believe only a very misinformed reading would deem it egoistic or void of any profound meaning. I think such interpretation is - to state the least - lazy and arrogant.

Let's face it: modern life is extremely loud and busy. I wouldn't be surprised if Suzanne had so tight a deadline that criticizing something as simple and straightforward as mindfulness seemed like an easy road to take. By claiming the practice is actually mindless, she is not only revealing a lack of understanding of a world she is so eager to criticize, but also a hurriedness that only demonstrates...well, mindlessness.




Putting the abductive reasoning above to the side, there is this element of arrogance I want to discuss here. It is precisely because I consider myself an activist (for feminism as well as for meditation) that I found Suzanne's article to be so absurdly elitist. To me, she sounded like a hipster who is totally worried about the popularization of the practice. Since it is getting so widespread, she seems to be arguing, it is no longer genuine.

Which begs the question: in this world, what is genuine anyway? I mean, claiming that something is no longer valid because it is not circumscribed to a niche anymore doesn't feel very rational to me. It rather sounds arrogant and essentialist. Only because it is getting popularized, she now deems it void of any meaning, as if the people who seek it were hollow themselves. By no means I can feel sympathetic towards such critique.

Furthermore, I know capitalism distorts things, in order to better profit from them. We're witnessing this phenomena taking place with feminism itself. The recent, highly airbrushed Beyonce's Rosie the Riveter picture is one such example. In all honesty, only time will say whether  Beyonce's highly twisted feminism will turn out to have the power to effect real change in society or not. In this scenario, it pops to mind that Bell Hooks seemed very exasperated by Beyonce - to the extent of calling queen B a terrorist. To me, Hooks' passionate and offensive remarks sound as arrogant and blindly passionate as Moore's take on mindfulness. It took the Crunk Feminist Collective to point out the obvious:

"So let us be clear: Beyoncé  is not a terrorist. She isn’t systematically doing violence to any group of people, rolling up and taking folks land, creating a context of fear in which people must live, or usurping folks right to self-determination, raping women as a tool of war, or turning children into soldiers." 



As for Moore's article, it does seem to be making a case that mindfulness is being used by capitalism as a tool to keep people under control. It's the same reasoning Bell Hooks had the infelicity to make on Beyoncé. It doesn't really sustain itself because the practice is not reinforcing competition and blind obedience to the powerful. It is simply focusing on people's well being anyway. Should we be really having a beef with something that actually improves our lives? 

I mean, improving is radically different from revolutionizing. As much as I like to think that only a revolution will change this world for the better, I completely abhor the idea that each and every trend is valuable only if it turns out to be an insurrection against power. I like to see the glass half full. Thus, I deem the fact that companies are sparing 10 minutes of their worker's time in order to teach them to care for their minds as something positive.

Thich Nhat Hanh - I love his teachings, and he also states that meditation can make us stronger to fight for social justice.
Moreover, the purpose of meditation is not activism, but it does have a revolutionary potential: by changing ourselves we can change the world. Imagine if everyone realizes that we just need to slow down and live in the present moment? That would do wonders not only to ourselves, but to the environment around us. Moore complains that people are just "switching themselves off", and again I think it is better to shut off by means of meditation than by simply watching junk on TV.

Yeah, I think I get it now: her argument seems like the old fallacy that things were brighter, or at least more noble, in the past. It's a lazy reasoning similar to that one which states technology is making us antisocial. As if people did not switch themselves off by means of TV, food or any other hobby. As if before the mindfulness 'fever' we were all avid readers of Marx and Gramsci who promptly organized demonstrations in our after hours. This world has never existed. Give me meditation over reality shows anytime. At least it is a healthier practice and I do believe companies are getting a wee bit more humane by promoting it. I rest my case. 









Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Another break on the wall :)

16:05 Posted by Afro Latina , No comments

People: So what are you up to? 

Me: Nothing.


The above answer can be quite terrifying, I guess. I don't really know if I'll ever get used to it. 


Nothing scares me. I think I should have probably used a quotation, but I fancy the effect… it does frighten me but… does it?


This is my second facebook detox this year. Oh dear, I still love facebook. It's just that I've been lacking patience these days. It's pretty much the same: I feel I have nothing much to say, but keep saying anyway. So it gets repetitive, as I give and take sameness. Maybe one day I will realize facebook is not really my thing?


Well, maybe. For now, I am just behaving as another addict: one day at a time. Being out of the social network makes me more mindful of my immediate reality. It's not that great of an existence, I know. However, allowing myself to experience and be grateful for whatever little I have, without worrying much about updates that will not change my life anyway - well, that has value. Or, at least, I've started to pay more attention to some tiny things I wouldn't otherwise. The older I get, the better I realize how much they matter to me. 


Everytime I temporarily quit facebook, my mindset is usually directed towards achieving specific goals. I aim at being outstandingly productive. I think I will accomplish loads of things my easily distracted mind wouldn't be able to finalize - because I obviously keep on refreshing that damn blue page all the time. So I like to fantasize that I will come up with the solution to all human ailments during my detox periods. 


Not gonna happen :P 


Besides, I used to think I'd figure out exactly what I want to do with my professional life. So, so naive. I ended up finding out about what I did NOT want to do with it, last time I deactivated my account. I know it doesn't sound as promising as "eureka! I know what I want to do for a living!", but it's something, I suppose. 


So here is the thing: I am becoming more and more grounded in reality, I guess. This time I haven't assigned myself any deadline (I wouldn't accomplish it, anyway). I haven't set myself the goal of figuring out what I want to do with my insignificant being. I just decided that, for one or a few days, I will live in the moment. 


It's been quite complicated. This mindfulness thing belongs in the level hard category of actions. I think it would be easier for me to learn how to do Jillian's workouts than tackle that one. Whenever I stop and contemplate on the difficulties of living in the present, I kind of feel hopeless. But then I realize I am overthinking it. All my life, that has been precisely the problem: thinking in excess. 

So I am starting to feel this is the moment for me to start thinking less, and a bit more effectively. Some things I cannot change at the moment, and it's fine. Some things I think I will be able to take action upon - that's just great. Some stuff I regret profoundly. I need to do what people have been doing from the dawn of times: move on. 


Whenever I am faced with the question that opens this non-article, I usually give the answer that's more closely related to capitalism: Nothing. Because no, I am not generating income. No, I am not doing "productive" work. There is no profession. I have not turned into some sort of niche celebrity. I haven't a clue why patriarchy still resonates so much with people.


But I'm alive. For better or for worse, I have plenty of time to be sad, then happy again, sad, then happy again, to bake a cake, to chop green onions and garnish all my dishes, to sort out the clothes I want from those I can donate to a charity, to look at the mirror and think I look hideous, then to look again and think oh, she's so cute! Sometimes, I get even lucky enough to focus on a book. 


This is where I am today. I haven't planned on updating this blog, and I think it will be a while until I get back here again. Or not. Who knows.