Thursday, July 06, 2006

does this drive you crazy?

I love Kate’s blog, I do. I think it’s entertaining as well as informative reading coming from a country (Congo) so much written about from a distance and little understood. Kate’s blog is on the list of my must daily visit blogs and over the month of reading, I have to come feel like I know Kate (which I don’t) and to like her.

Maybe that’s why I feel so strongly about her Thursday, June 22, 2006 Congo 101, Lesson 1: Geography post that basically set out to describe how one can tell from which of the country a Congolese you meet comes. Kind of the thing we have in Uganda where you can say he’s a Muganda because he has a huge nose, she’s a Munyakole because of her wide hips. That kind of stereotyping you never really notice and is even considered fun sometimes. Except this one time.

Is it because I know Kate is a white woman that my radar is wailing? Do I think she is being smugly patronizing and racist because she's white? I know I’m not the only one who was disquieted by that post because the number of comments on her blog suddenly dropped. I think I maybe being unfair but this seems to be an issue where I can’t get my heart to agree with my head. Read the post and decide for yourself.


Just Rich said...

I read the lady's post; she seemed to be hiding behind her friend with "...atleast thats what my friend says." I couldnt help remembering a scene from Spiderman 2( yes, i love Spidey) where Peter is seeing a doctor about losing his powers and he goes," So i'm spiderman.... in my dream. Infact, it wasnt even my dream. it was a friend of mine's dream." Riiiight.
Since i dont come from any of the places mentioned or know anything about them, i cant be subjective. But should it be more offensive because she's white? Its kinda like the "nigga question"; should it be okay for a black person to call me a nigga but racist for a white person to do the same? How are "Black only" words any different from "White only" restrooms?
If it's not offensve within one race, it is not offensive period.

Kenyanchick said...

Not sure why wazungus are still doing this in 2006. She says she's quoting her Congolese friend, but, as we know, something always gets lost in translation. I know we (Africans) all do it too, but there's always that danger when someone with too little information takes us at our word. And, let's face it, it just plain sounds bad coming from a white person. Did you notice the comment someone left on her blog? They were asking if the Congolese still eat their mothers-in-law. Kidding? Who knows, but look what she started...

baz said...

you Black African Negroes be so trigger happy, so sensitive.
You think of every white person as a racist waiting to explode.

As if we don't sit there watching World Cup and saying the French are passionate but the Germans are very mechanical and all that.

How come when wazungu say New Yorkers are always in a rush and Los Angelenos are superficial no one says ati they are being prejudiced?

I vote not guilty. I will not say Kate is racist until she demonstrates that she feels that people of a different race from her are inferior.

Racism is a serious thing to accuse people of, you guys. Be easy first.

Kate said...

hey y'all-

i figured i'd dip in on this conversation. maybe i'm hiding behind my bud's theories. cuz hell, the truth is that i don't know this country well enough to come up with something like that on my own.

as for being racist, i promise i won't pull the "i've got a black friend" card and other than that you're going to have to make up your own minds.

my theory: a lot of us wazungu are too scared of being called racist and spend too much time worrying about what they say to be honest with themselves or anyone else about whether they are or are not racist.

but if you want, you can call my black friend. he'll vouch for me. and for the record, i am a rushed new yorker, in the flesh. :)

(na asante, baz, for sticking up for the 'zungu)

Lovely Amphibian said...

was late to comment on this but baz and kate have been here saying something along the lines i wanted to comment when i read it. it's true we sometimes rush in and stick the racist tag on white people. we are always seeing monsters in the shadows but i think its unfair.

reading the post, i didnt in the least feel like this here white person was feling superior. instead i was reading something someone wrote about a place she is fascinated about and is still exploring. and i also read the humour in it all; like even if her friend believes the lables should stick, she has enough sense to see how ridiculous some of that stuff really is.

if she is racist, i did not read any of that in her post. i only read the kind of self disparaging humour any one of the sunday writers in Uganda (Olivia,...) will once in a while get published. and its a great blog, thanx IWAYA for pointing me there.

Kenyanchick said...

I need to clarify: I didn't call her racist, not only because I have not evidence of that, but because I don't think it's a particularly useful term. It is a strong accusation to make, but, because it's been flung about so much, it actually doesn't mean anything any more. BUT I do take exception to the broad generalisations made about us: people from one area are "hard working" others are "all flash" etc. It's the absolute knowability of Africans that irritates me. That and the fact that we're considered to be part of some herd. Are there any African individuals or is, pathetically, our geography our identity? THAT'S what pissed me off. It's not racist, but it is ignorant.