Pursuing natural health & thinking beyond the superficial. Deconstructing Culture.

Posts tagged ‘Racism’

Telling People to Stay Put, and Repeatedly, was Not the Right Answer

There’s a lot of information on missing people on this page but here’s a few quotes:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4610428/Artist-named-fourth-victim-Grenfell-Tower-blaze.html

Rania Ibrham: No contact after filming harrowing video from 23rd floor

Ms Ibrham also sent a heartbreaking Snapchat message to another friend at 2.45am in which she said in Arabic, ‘forgive me everyone, goodbye’. In the video Ms Ibrham, who is from Sudan, screams ‘Hello, hello, come here’ as she ignores the advice of a friend and family members to keep her door closed.

Residents are seen rushing through her door as they try to shelter from the smoke and flames of the inferno.

El-Wahabi family: Couple and three children who lived on 21st floor

The family all lived on the 21st floor of the tower, according to Mr Wahabi’s sister. Hanan Wahabi told reporters: ‘I rang him and the fire had not reached the top of the block at that point. He said he had been told to stay inside, stay in one room together and put towels under the door.

‘I told him to leave. He said he was going to come. Then I called him and he said there was too much smoke. The last time I saw him they were waving out the window. The last time I spoke to his wife, he was on the phone to the fire brigade.’

Housewife Amina Ahmed, 28, who lives on the 19th floor of next door tower block Winstable, knew the Moroccan family of five.

She said: ‘They were on the 21st floor of Grenfell and were told not to leave their flat when the fire started. Had they left at the time they would have got out alive.

‘I’m so heartbroken as I could see it and could hear families screaming. I felt so helpless. Our building is very similar so we are just terrified of it happening to us one day.’

Zainab and Jeremiah Dean: Told to stay in their 14th floor flat

Francis Dean said his sister Zainab told been told by firefighter to remain in her flat on the 14th floor along with her son Jeremiah, 2.

He told The Telegraph: ‘My sister called me to say there was a fire in the tower. I told her to leave by the stairs but she said she had been told to stay inside her flat. That was in the early hours of today and I’ve not heard from her since. I fear the worst.’

Mr Dean said that a firefighter used his phone to speak to his sister. ‘He told her to keep calm and that they were coming to get her,’ he said. ‘He kept saying that to her again and again.

‘But then he handed me the phone and said to me ‘Tell her you love her’. I knew then to fear the worst. The phone went dead and I couldn’t talk to her.’

Raymond ‘Moses’ Bernard who lived on the 21st floor

Friends of the popular Raymond ‘Moses’ Bernard, one of at least 70 people reported missing after the Grenfell Tower fire in London, say hopes of finding him alive are ebbing away as the days pass.

But on Wednesday night he decided to stay in his own flat on the top floor with the dog the couple shared, a King Charles spaniel named Marley. ‘There’s no way he would have left the dog,’ said Trish. ‘The dog was like their child.’

Grenfell Tower block fire in London Before and After Cladding

Daily Mail
File photo dated 05/05/11 of the Grenfell Tower in west London, where several people died after a huge fire destroyed the tower block with witnesses reporting residents trapped on upper floors as the flames tore rapidly up the building.

What was the point in the cladding at all, in wasting how much of the refurbishment budget on it? What was the point!?!? The people didn’t need that (let alone for it to burn to almost the top of the building 20 minutes), how many improvements the residents could have had instead… The old building minus the ugly prison looking cladding wouldn’t have burned like that.

And what is this:

Grenfell Tower Time Fire Took to Spread Infographic

Daily Mail

Why is there 21 floors in this infographic, 27 floors in the caption and reportedly 24 floors elsewhere in the news plus info from missing persons on 21+ floors in this article and other places. I keep seeing this discrepancy everywhere.

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All those people – if they hadn’t been told to stay put they’d have a much better chance of surviving, they could of gotten to lower floors where they could’ve been reached and/or taken in by others who were about to be rescued or even made it out the door. Along with that they could’ve grabbed their families, pets, friends, neighbours and money/essentials and gone. Always, always, always have a bag packed. Most people are not ready for emergencies and the only time they have an overnight bag packed is in pregnancy or with those who need constant care; tons of people have forgotten how to react in a power outage for crying out loud and don’t have any backup. Always have an overnight bag packed as if you were going camping and your valuables/medicine easy to get to. No one is going to that for you and in terms of retrieving items, that’s in the aftermath – if they survived. Don’t pack the kitchen sink just everything that is really important to you, you won’t be able to get back your parent’s/grandparent’s gift such as a necklace or photos that could you haunt you for years in regret because you forgot it. Just pack it away ready, if you use it put it back in your safety bag immediately afterwards. For everything else such as a torch, dried food, water canister, dry clothing, toilet paper etc keep a spare set in that bag. Don’t pack more than you can carry. Even if you’re single and don’t have to hold on to/support other people/animals you don’t know who/what you’ll meet on the way now how tough your route(s) is going to get. Time is of the essence and you have to use that time wisely – a few seconds and minutes can both seem like not enough and an eternity when you’re in an emergency/fight, sometimes it seems like slow motion and you can get a lot done in them especially if your rescuer is hours away and the threat moves faster and in this case a lot faster towards you.

Every emergency drill I’ve been in tells you to leave your items (bag, coat etc), leave everything (your work for example) and go but then you find people are rushing out pushing past and leaving pregnant women behind who have to make a much slower descent, older people, disabled people etc – only to be followed by co-ordinators/officials saying you should’ve waited and helped them too. D’uh. Common sense is hard in any situation let alone a life threatening one, I just wish we didn’t defer so much of our personal responsibility and freedom to others/’professionals’ who don’t always have our best interests at heart, are bogged down by protocol or who like are human and can’t always think straight even if/when they’re trained – so many of those people/animals in Grenfell Tower and other places all around the world all the time didn’t ‘need’ to die.

We shouldn’t have ‘examples’ like this to learn from, we should know and remember already.

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On another tangent, there’s something which has been bothering me at the back of my mind which I haven’t wanted to admit – but when I look at the names and photos of the dead and missing there’s one thing which keeps coming up (and something I wondered when initially hearing about this just because it tends to be a factor whether we like it or not, think its overhyped or not)… Most of the people shown so far are not White or not obviously so.

He brings up a lot of salient points; the race issue, the fact that if a regular person injured or killed someone they’d be brought up on it straight away but corporations and institutions aren’t it’s like they faceless and hard to pin down, desensitization to the ongoing wars, that we all live here together why are some people more prone to suffering than others e.g. through class/wealth etc.

Grenfell Tower Missing People

Grenfell Tower Missing People

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Hidden Figures (2016) – One Giant Leap for Women (‘Coloured’) One Small Step for Womenkind

What a film!

Award worthy indeed, I absolutely love the way US folk manage to include pathos in drama where one moment your heartfelt swept up in the moment and the next laughing with joy, but seriously lay off the cheese. That said for a patriotic movie (against the Russians of course) it did well in showing US failures both in ethics and the space race whilst portraying the 60’s attitudes and work ethics in a way that is comparable today.

In a way it reminded me of one of my favourite films 9 to 5 (1980) but with mathematics and Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, who unfortunately still played Sheldon but toned down and kudos to ‘him’ for playing no:2 instead of no:1 in the genius stakes. Kevin Costner was pretty damned apt at playing someone open minded enough to realize that to be the best (or at least ruthless) you have to at the very least pretend to push aside prejudice but at the same time a person who doesn’t see what’s in front of his face until it’s heavily pointed out. Kirsten Dunst did well as a woman forced to respect other women. The leading ladies were brilliant, of course, an absolute delight to watch and I couldn’t stop smiling every time I saw them (regardless of my severe discomfort due to ‘illness’). I really wanted to see and understand the equations better but I did enjoy knowing how to fix the flaws in their basic explanations e.g. the heat shield and the change in elliptical path. I did love the fact that they reverted to ‘ancient’ mathematics for ‘Atlas’ i.e. remembering the lessons of the forbears rather than needing or thinking they were inventing new theories.

It did make me wonder if/why there weren’t any Mexican, South American or other ‘ethnic’ (hate that word, White and Eurasian people are ethnic too) races involved or just Black vs White (though interestingly Black people were referred to as Browns vs Virginia [state]).

I always dislike seeing/knowing just how much it takes one person to go through to make any kind of change let alone wide ranging changes and then those individuals have to push others ahead as well considerately and sometimes to the individual’s own detriment to build enough confidence in a group to support them. Otherwise they’re practically left outside alone (as a minority or even worse, an extremist) and social change then takes forever. For all the hardship the women faced in the film and indeed also deference and respect from their male peers (which was strange to see) we haven’t come far as a society and in the end I was left thinking – great we made it into space and we can’t even solve out domestic problems, technologically forwards and socially backwards, what a way to spread our problems to the rest of the solar system and galaxy… And who knows where else.

I think NASA could’ve been portrayed a lot worse than they were (and the poster boy astronaut was particularly sickening but at least he had faith in our first amongst equals leading lady or ‘computer’ as she and those like her were known) but the film had to be funny to make it more palatable not only as a meta-nonfiction story but to the inclusive audience watching; teenage and adult women and men of all colours.


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Moving on, some snaps of what I was wearing:

9 to 5 (1980) (featuring another Dolly 😉 and I love it when Lily i.e. ‘Violet’ demands a little dignity and respect! How much do you have to go through just to be treated with the same basic rights as everybody else!?)

P.S – both Hidden Figures and 9 to 5 feature awesome period fashion hence the addition of my photos and a non-in depth review (though I’m far too tired for more detail).

Gallery

Curry and Chips – Spike Milligan’s PakiPaddy Show Takin’ the P*ss out of Everybody

Curry and Chips tv show
Air Date: 1969
DVD Released: 2010
Runtime: 30min x 6 episodes, it was cancelled early.
Rating: 15

I’m going to go straight into this one and do the background/intro afterwards. You’ll note the use of terrible language but it’s nothing in comparison to the TV show where the characters spoke in streams of insult.

CHARACTERS

Kevin O’Grady

The Pakistani man who left Pakistan to get away from the wogs but when he came to England realized there were too many wogs here as well for his taste making it less likely for people to accept him as Irish. Kev is one of those darkly skinned challenged people who wish they were White or fully White in his case, not just in skin colour as many crave but actual Caucasian-ness and sadly for him his half Irish heritage doesn’t show through i.e. no one believes him. But it stills gives the people around him and strangers he comes across ammunition for double the ‘fun’ so he becomes known as ‘PakiPaddy’ his main nickname alongside ‘Sambo’, ‘Wog’, ‘Koon’, ‘Black’, ‘Gangadin’ etc and when people question his Irish background it’s always “if he’s a Mick then…”, unfortunately Kev doesn’t know much about Irish culture so they tend to get the better of him.

Kev is as patriotic as they come; pro-monarchy, pro-working hard and efficiently, wanting to get Britain ‘back on her feet’ to prosperity but that doesn’t win him any favour either, actually it does the complete opposite. Occasionally it leads to some funny blips like him being told by his colleagues not to bring the monarchy into an argument for cultural diversity and he reminds them that Philip is Greek to which they stare blankly.

He just can’t understand why people don’t like him, he’s Irish for crying out loud not like those wogs on the street and he’s not Black and please people Pakistan is not in India (anymore) it’s in Pakistan. He speaks the queen’s English, is always polite to people and of course it makes sense that the Muslim man in news was claiming welfare for five wives, five wives are impossible to pay for but it makes perfect sense to marry as many as you want even if it’s not legal here.

Oh and btw Kevin O’Grady is played by a ‘Blacked up’ Spike Milligan (Indian born and educated, English/Irish ethnicity, Irish nationality), but remember not to call him ‘Black’ or anything Black related he is NOT Black, he is Irish!

The Token Black Guy – Who is actually Black

The factory where Kevin works already has its quota of coloureds, their token Black guy who they cannot tell to go back where he comes from thank you very much because he was born here mate, he is English and not a bloody foreigner.

To assert his native status he’s also against Kevin but is in the middle since he’s not fully accepted by the rest of the employees yet he’s not totally an outsider. For them he’s a fair weather member of the group, they’re against him on principle but they get on the rest of the time and at least he’s not like Kevin. It’s better to be Black than a Paki. Sidenote – Sadly enough these ethos are still alive and kicking from born or naturalized citizens towards ‘freshies’ and I’ve seen one group think one prejudice is better than another e.g. a couple of Black men didn’t want to pay their bus fare and got verbally abusive to the Western/Southern Asian bus driver who said “How would you like it if I called you Black, if people called you Black (in a derogative way) you wouldn’t like it” – awkwardly stated because you know ‘nigger’ would have highlighted the point better and the fare evaders got that with one retorting “Hey I’m Black, I’m a nigger and proud, at least I’m not a PAKI! (pointing and laughing as they left)”.

Oh divide and conquer, how people keep falling for it.

The Foreman aka The Apologist and The Landlady

This character (played by Eric Sykes) is like the voice of reason and fair play, he stands between the tension and the audience quickly sees that it’s not all racial, a lot of it is class based so he not only has to keep things relatively peaceable between employees but between their Union and the company Governor. He seems an affable guy just trying to get on with everybody.

Now he’s all for PakiPaddy, as long as they don’t get any more coming through the Labour Exchange, and he knows how difficult it must be but at the same time we obviously can’t integrate him fully because he’s, you know, different. Still he does his best and asks his landlady to let Kevin stay with them, at first she puts up the necessary front – what will the neighbours say, of course there’ll be no special treatment and he must pay the ‘Coloured Rate’, although she quickly starts adding curry powder to his food to make him feel more at home and it turns out has quite a liking for heavily tanned skin. She, the foreman and Kevin go down the pub together and get Kevin used to it as a part of normal everyday life but that sparks gossip from the other patrons “remember what she was like in the war, back then it was the Americans” and Kevin being warned to keep his hands off their women “but he wouldn’t want, not your Flossy” interrupts the foreman etc etc. Remember that it’s ok for White men to like a bit of tawny here and there but it’s not alright for coloureds to be with White women. Although skin shades aside it’s alright for all men to ‘show appreciation’ for women by leering, calling, invading personal space, groping etc it’s natural you know to want to ‘give them one’.

The Shop Steward and other Employees

The head honcho on the floor, the union mouthpiece aka the Shop Steward (underneath the Foreman) is the most vocal out of the anti-Kevin and anti-coloured brigade. He and his are all Labour all the way except when it comes to foreigners then they’re all for ‘Eunuch Powell’.

Kevin is giving everyone a bad name; he works too fast, too much and no he didn’t have a ticket to fix that fuse when the lights went out stopping everybody from working and he’s a snitch, how dare he talk out loud about those of us who spend too much time in the bathroom especially at the end of the day waiting for the finishing bell and he’s not union… Ugh now what is he doing, he’s doing what we said staying in the loo again, he hasn’t done his work/swept up, we’re not working in this mess. ‘Honestly you bend over backwards for these wogs, offer them the hand of friendship, take them to your bosom and what do they do? They take your jobs and your women (but not your Flossy)’.

It’s imperative to remember and emphasize that the darkies are ‘not one of us’ civilised people instead of their former barbaric, ignorant, primitive selves they are ‘more like us now’ but ‘not one of us’ because obviously we are superior even the lowest, stinkiest ones of us (for which the pong of their job hangs around) that we pick on are not allowed to be called ‘smelly’ by a wog, the audacity.

Oh look he just won the football pools! Oh that’s bloody typical, the foreigners always win! – Funnily enough the competition win divides the anti-Kevin group and the Shop Steward turns around and acts like his lips are surgically attached to Kevin’s buttocks. On top of that if anyone is mean to Kevin, he himself will report them to the Race Relations Board!

Was the Show Worth Watching?

The show was a Spike Milligan/Johnny Speight collaboration and since I’m a fan of parody, spoof and satire I wasn’t adverse to seeing what all the fuss was about. It’s helpful to make fun of ourselves stepping back and getting perspective but there was uproar when this show aired in 1969 and hence hastily cancelled.

I initially thought it had the worst and silliest opening theme I’d ever heard so the rest of the content would probably be just as silly and maybe slapstick (seriously, that theme song should have only been used for the first episode). At first I found it funny, snorted a bit at the irony, liked recognizing actors such as a younger Geoffrey Hughes (Onslow from Keeping Up Appearances) and thought it fitting that the factory they work in is called LilliCrap Ltd specializing in joke shop/Halloween wares but the shtick got old pretty quickly.

The characters are all a bit goon-ish, hammy and/or shouty, there’s little character development and it’s very much like they’re stage rather than screen acting; the one dimensional style is better for a skit show. I can see why the acting was over the top, the characters and their attitudes are over the top, hypocritical and frustrated but it was just too much, all aggro or lecherous all the time. It reminded me somewhat of Sanford and Son (1972-1977) (the Black American version of the BBC’s ”’Steptoe and Son – 1962-1974) in which the son was just too mean to the father and had to be toned down early on to make the show more likable.

The everyday culture clash content Milligan and Speight were working with provided ample material for jokes and being thought provoking but perhaps they captured the hostility a bit too well. I don’t often watch something serious (that isn’t a documentary or news) out of choice for entertainment, I just end up watching them and am duly moved however when I’m choosing entertainment I do prefer it to be lighter, to have some levity – life is stressful enough by default I don’t like drama and prefer to relax if possible. Therefore I guess my taste in humour balances on the side of the sardonic over the sarcastic as I don’t see sarcasm as the highest form of wit. Contemptuous irony (sarcasm) is necessary but it’s hard to take in big let alone constant doses but then the sardonic (mockingly derisive) can be harder to understand and misinterpreted… Either way I found Curry and Chips too boorish.

I also thought that it focused too much on working class bigotry, yes as we can still see in current times it’s easy to get people stirred up and frothing at the mouth especially at the poor and immigrants, people are territorial and it’s easy to say it’s out of ignorance. It is partially ignorance but we know that racism, sexism, colourism etc is saturated throughout the classes and levels and of education. There are standout scenes though for example when even the company Governor and his ilk try to court Kevin after they thought he won the football pools in that form of convenient elitism i.e. capitalism where if there’s something to be fleeced/gained one can’t be too tolerant of the little/other fella.

Curry and Chips tv show

Kevin (Spike Milligan) and the Foreman (Eric Sykes)

CONCLUSION AND COMPARISONS

The reason I’ve given this a 3/5 is because even though it gets its point across and in my opinion isn’t taking the proverbial out of people for the sake/fun of it, it’s not in Milligan’s, Sykes’ or Speight’s best works and is just tacky and outdated for the modern viewer (except for those still in the fray of the noisier parts of non-city pub culture). From the people I’ve known who remember the era and from reviews I’ve read the consensus is that it was representative of the time so in that sense I don’t see any reason why the show would need to make the people in it look better but at the same time I disagree with Independent Television Authority’s decision to withdraw the show based on it being controversial, yes it was and that was the point. It highlighted multiple normalized prejudices and didn’t promote them but perhaps holding a mirror up like that was just too embarrassing especially since its reality was so crass.

There were much better shows doing the same thing around the same time and afterwards such as:

Til Death Do Us Part (1965 to 1975) – Also written by Johnny Speight, and which probably inspired the more wide ranging issue based US show All in the Family (1971-1979) both series’ having a bigoted, working class father, long suffering wife, nice daughter and socialist son-in-laws.

Love Thy Neighbour (1972-1976) – similarly to the above covering the friction between White and Black neighbours.

Recommendation

And later, one of my favourite shows in general – US made:

The Jeffersons (1975-1985) – had something all the above shows didn’t; character flair and finesse in production. It was a spin-off from All in the Family featuring the Black neighbours who in ‘Movin on Up’ (the theme song) style made a success out of a bad situation, climbed the social ladder into a high rise apartment and the high life BUT was still a social issue show. The father favouring Black people (especially ‘brothers’ over ‘sisters’) being openly racist to Whites and whilst trying to stay in the good books with his old friends wanting to climb even higher into the graces of his Jewish banker landlord. That said, he’s always made to see the error of his ways by his family and friends and manages to twist things to his advantage. The show is laugh out loud funny, has a lot of likable characters, the dialogue sharp and on the whole still very watchable to today’s standards.

The Jeffersons

The Jeffersons

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Poetry and Race Relations

So there’s a number of significant calendar dates scheduled today and the ones I’m going to focus on are World Poetry Day and International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Interestingly enough it’s also World Puppetry Day and Harmony Day (Australia) which can go together in a cynical way though Harmony day can more positively be seen akin with the two titles I’m looking at, but then so can World Puppetry Day in a negative way….

Respectful notice to the other dates World Down Syndrome Day and Youth Day in Tunisia (Youth Day is celebrated in different countries on different days). Whilst I’ve read a bit about these I’m no expert so won’t unfairly expound on the subjects but acknowledgement to those for whom these themes are significant, whether as a marker or a lifetime issue, and kudos to those trying to make good the situations.

On a sidenote it’s also Fragrance Day – hmm all I’ll say there is I prefer flora mixtures and oils rather than designer label and celebrity endorsed bottles with apparently delightful smelling concoctions and hundreds of unknown ingredients.

Ok so in regards to Poetry and Race Relations I guess I’ll start like many a Victorian novelist and by relating experiences of my London youth. I grew up in a time that I look at as a sort of racial ‘renaissance’ in general regarding issues and groups that the public hadn’t really acknowledged or tried to get to know previously. The 80’s were years with a sort of nod to the 60’s and 70’s in social enlightenment though without the holistic approach (which was abused and confused in those times meanings things like communal, energy efficient, clean living were degraded by the sex/drugs/free love ethos). In the 80’s we had AIDS awareness, then the road paving for LGB acceptance (transgender hadn’t really broken through yet), womens wages being significantly less than their male counterparts for the same jobs (approx -30% which has not changed much since for permanent positions), world poverty was coming to the forefront of the public consciousness, domestic trade union strikes (most notably the miner’s strike) and of course race relations. There were plenty of other issues fighting for the stage and others being hidden from the spotlight as always but those listed are the ones I remember as a child being the most widely talked about.

The part of London I lived in was borderline, mostly Caucasian but with other ethnicities throughout on one side and mostly Black on the other. I didn’t think much about it and got on with everybody I could regardless of what we looked like or what our parents/carers did. The area I lived in was subject to massive riots but was strangely ‘nice’ the rest of the time without much face-to-face racism but more institutionalized and hence rioting happened when things got to a head. So the people within may have not been racist but the underlying racial tension was there.

The overall makeup didn’t include as many Eastern Europeans as there are today as we hadn’t got that far with European relations, though the racial composition of Brits had already almost completely changed by previous invasions and inter-mixing. (Many still refer to Anglo-Saxons as some sort of English standard before closing the doors on who is allowed to be called English or even British but the Anglo-Sxons were not English and tookover from the Welsh as the dominant ethnicity/ies in Britain). I like many others came from third generation immigrant folk having at least one foreign born parent who were later naturalized here and then us/the second generation were born here. As then as it is today no matter how well we get along many people think still of “proper English” or “proper British” people as White people who were born here – though they’re a lot more accepting of us non-Whites since we all have the accents 😀 . (Yes they even confuse English and British so the racialism is between everyone as always but the in-house is different to the ‘you look different’ from us perspective still – and not unique to British or White people as I will explore again later.)

At the time and in the part of area I lived in non-White folk were mixed in pretty evenly amongst our White ‘human’ (heheh I won’t take it further with potential space alien breeds) family members, there weren’t segregated ethnic communities and we all lived in the same buildings, went to the same schools, shops etc. Racially things seemed not too bad for me in that other than a few flare ups between strangers or people I didn’t know giving off a general undercurrent of distrust or dislike towards me at times, no one I knew brought up colour or place of origin when they argued. It helped that my mother put extra effort into being educated and into educating me though that said I was a bit like Johnny 5 in my thirst for knowledge (I wish I could read that fast) and so minor things like that knowledge comes from where people are this colour or that colour didn’t occur to me. I also never bought into ridiculous things taught at school like Hitler hunting Jewish people because they had dark hair and eyes – seriously the way cirriculums twist, dumb down or omit altogether really makes me value home education even more. It was only when I was 12 years of age that I started to notice people/friends around me starting to take on more of what was expected from them ethnically such as going to after schools on days or weekends specifically to learn more of their language and culture and some segregating into new groups of friends which surprisingly and sadly looked less rainbow like so to speak (my best friend decided to dump me for those ethnically closer to her for example).

Up until then I’d noticed a kind of ‘fraternity’ between Indian and Chinese people, I say Indian and Chinese because out of the Asian people I knew they made up the majority, so not titling them just because they’re the the main sub-continental countries. Anyway at the time there was a mutual respect, acknowledgement, sympathy and empathy between us which I really liked. It was no surprise given the similarities and links in history, culture and religions. Though when I hit 12 that’s when I started noticing a delineation between our communities and the growing importance of noticing ‘one’s own’ i.e. separating South East and South Asians. I had previously known more Chinese people from that section of Asia but had been aware of the importance not to confuse Vietnamese and Chinese people for example – akin to though not the same as not confusing Caribbean and African people and of course since Africa is a continent not to confuse people from countries who would not appreciated being confused (and hence just ‘naturally’ learning physical and cultural characteristics of people from different areas of the world). But from that point in time the Chinese people I saw grew more chummy with their South East neighbours e.g. Vietnam and Japan (Koreans weren’t so noticeable in the overall community as far as I could tell at the time) and the Indians I knew were closer to other South and Western Asians though overall. “Indians” and “Muslims” as they were known back then (geographically, ethnically and culturally confusing I know) were also close to Black people (mostly African at the time) – part of which probably stems from the immigration and invasions into Africa akin to the neighbour-ship between Western Asians and Mediterraneans. I didn’t really know any “middle Indo-Chinese” country peoples back then e.g. from Malaysia or the Philippines. I had one good Thai friend but his family moved back and our long distance letters just stopped (I have not forgotten you though, I remember exactly what you looked like and how exactly to spell your name! If circumstances had been different I’d still have your letters – I kept them for as long as possible – I hope you and your mother are doing good and I thank her for the snacks 🙂 ).

Basically the closeness the Indian and Chinese dominated communities had was breaking apart and I couldn’t understand why at the time but my former close Eastern friends grew more exclusive and elitist towards me and those around them, and the other Asians and Black friends I had would tell me not to dwell on it, that they had their own group and to forget about it. But heck – that would mean giving up many of my friends! I didn’t have any choice in the end as even though our personalities were previously harmonious (to the extent possible for clever and bossy kids – which we were, nerds yet somehow not unpopular) my personality started getting on their nerves in addition or because of whatever it was they were being told/taught that I didn’t know about and their personalities were changing in ways that I didn’t know how to react to or understand. They just didn’t want to mix anymore leading me to being apologist for whatever it was about me that was offending them, trying to laugh it off and finally to being patted on the back by the aforementioned other Asian and Black friends and being told “they have each other, you have to be with us now“.

So why the growing ethnic/cultural indifference and/or dislike between us? Well I mentioned before the mutual admiration from having similar backgrounds, that conversely meant there had to be similar stereotypes as well and I started hearing more about bias and prejudice towards people of darker skin shades. It’s the same with many Asians – lighter skin is generally preferred, just look at Bollywood which mixes sexism with colour preference; all the women are pretty to gorgeous and tend to be lighter skinned and any darker skinned women have lesser roles. It doesn’t really apply to men in person or media, as from movies to pop videos men of all shades and sizes are popular as long as they can sing/dance/act, whereas in the same music videos for example none of the women will be overweight or average looking let alone dark skinned and of course those with Green or Blue eyes are special, with hazel being the easiest alternative. The same issue can be seen in South American and Black communities with darker skinned female media personalities having a harder time getting roles they want or ‘respectable’/high profile roles. But that’s been a part of the media agenda for ages particularly in Bollywood, making attractive women more accessible, and the disparity in looks between female and male leads and backup is obvious. How does it fit in to the falling apart of community and friendships between these places/ethnicities?

Dark skin is less attractive to many, with my lighter skinned friends saying “you’re not dark skinned, you’re like the rest of us” and my darker skinned friends saying “well you are dark skinned” – and the people around me who have the habit of comparing people to food compare me to light Brown sugar… (Heck I just want to be Gold skinned and haired damnit, not quite sure on what my ideal eye colour/s would be yet and I’d totally have to be able to change body colours for certain moods so it’s not like whether I’m light or dark would matter anyway! :-p ) The racial purity thing always rears its head and preferring lighter skin in general goes all the way back to the Indus Valley as the last commonly known point but goes back further still. Though it gets worse – many people also associate dark skin with being poor (which is nothing to look down on the poor for, more something to look down on those orchestrating and maintaining poverty) and somehow physically unclean (this one being double pronged as it infers being racially inferior and hence unclean as well having dirt on the skin). The poor and unclean connotations aren’t so common among South and Western Asians (not even in Eurasians) but the older I get the more I hear about the belief in South Eastern Asia, more notable in some areas than others which is to be expected e.g. parts of Korea. (Which may go a ways to explaining the experiences I’ve had with Korean people unfortunately and previously I couldn’t understand why they looked and behaved towards me as if I were a piece of crap that purposely got under their shoe. It’s a bloody shame since I respect them as I do anyone else and see them as the forerunners in modern fashion design for my own design preferences as well as being concerned over the massive pressure their younger generations have with conformity vs looking ‘attractive’ e.g. the increasingly common practice of cosmetic surgery as graduation incentive/presents.) So were my past friends secretly looking down on me for more than I realized? I don’t know but either way, it’s terrible that society and whatever ghostly else got between us, I never stopped wanting to be their friend and their images, particularly that of my best friend still haunts me as I wonder about the adult she became.

Part of the dissolution in relations could be the “it’s ok when you’re kids but not when you grow up” mentality. Not having particular affiliations with any specific community meant that my own immediate family didn’t have many regimented social obligations and pressures. Someone once told me that mum planned on marrying me off to which I mounted a massive and years long indirect campaign of resistance towards, but that was the main ‘throwback’ of cultural restriction I had except the usual admonishments most kids get when being told off e.g “you have it easy, in so-and-so’s house, in a traditional house, most Indians do this and that” etc. Or the “disgrace to the family, what will other people think” (how you appear to everyone from people you know to strangers to possible strangers, all of which are somehow more important especially when it comes to reputation and honour) – all of which are common in households from all over Asia to the “where is your brain/didn’t god give you a brain” insult lines found worldwide. And that’s when parents/guardians are talking with their mouths and ha plenty of you know what I’m talkin’ about, and we were getting it even though we were model kids most of the time trying hard and/or doing well in our studies, clubs and housework weren’t we!?! Anything would do; belts, anything steel or tough plastic and long, shoe heels, hair brushes etc – and those before us i.e our parents had it worse and theirs before them! Bah no wonder we were so good at hide and seek and sports! *A few ‘jokingly’ inserted sport and singing related stereotypes could be inserted there but the heavy hand applies to all races – but then again look at the countries that have traditionally done well in certain sports and how their athletes were treated. It has gotten less socially acceptable and less and less people I come across who are younger than me were treated like that but it always continues. Ok gone well off tangent.*

Back on tangent – back to the it’s ok when you’re kids bit. A lot of people I’ve seen start telling their kids to behave differently come puberty or in anticipation of it, and in my day that was roughly 12, now it’s more like 9 and when it comes to relationships Asians are the most racist, in my opinion. When it comes to romantic relationships and marriage Asians are still the least likely to look or end up out of their ‘own kind’ or closest acceptable alternative. Religion plays a big part in that in some parts of Asia and colour comes into it in others. With South and Western Asians religions particularly get in the way but that said it’s like with any coupling – they can fight any and all of the time but doesn’t mean they’ll allow anyone else to e.g. think of a wedded couple who are at each other’s throats half the time but will stand united against anyone else who criticises one of the partners, even if it’s in agreement with something one partner said/did about the other. As part of my own wonderings in sociology I found that most South and Western Asian people I’ve known would think of each other as their next ‘ideal/potential partner’ and not even think of looking outside unless really modern and in those cases it’s more the women finding partners amongst other colours but the men idealizing White and to a lesser extent South Eastern Asian women. When finding out the same from the South Eastern neighbours I found that they were more open to people outside of their sub-continent, most notably towards Caucasian people, both men and women finding them attractive. The same is true vice versa ‘who is your ideal exotic’ (not quite in those words) has most commonly yielded that the White people I’ve known or read/heard about prefer South East Asians as their number 1 alternative. There’s even a repugnant practice in some parts of South East Asia which can be likened to a revamp of colonial behaviour where Western male expatriates have local partners (mostly female) for the novelty of it because they’re “less hassle“, “more eager to please” and quite frankly don’t require treating with the same respect and consideration as a White expat partner would. Many of them keep their ‘toys’ with the promise of marriage in the long run and generally see their Asian partners as money diggers. I’m not saying it’s all one sided but either way why does it come about? Colonialists, ‘masters’, invaders/conquerers, soldiers have always/still taken advantage of people considering them ‘spoils of war’ and ‘property’ regardless of colour, place/ethnicity, origin and destination but this modern expat behaviour isn’t as obvious in South/Western Asia.

I can’t comment on how racial preferences reflect in comparison to the numbers of obviously mixed raced families because the reality of how our lives work out and who we come across/become part of our lives is not necessarily in line with what we expected or fantasized. Though from my collective experience it seems there’s a sub-conscious preference between those we consider most ‘like’ us in ways that we find acceptable. On an individual basis the mixed raced couples and immediate families I’ve known and seen tend to be Black/White, Black/Southern&Western Asian, and South Asian/White; and male/female of either colour in Black/White groupings but mostly Asian women with Black or White men, that said I’ve known a lot of Asian men interested in White and South Eastern Asian women. So my question is, does this mentality extend to friends in communities that don’t keep their kids from mixing/playing together? They might worry about their kids mixing at a later age especially fe/male friendships, but do some communities also withdraw their kids or work in such a way as to make it so their kids gravitate more inwards instead of maintaining or looking outside the community for friends, even same sex friends (when there’s no worry about alternate orientations)? After 12 years old I noticed the South Eastern community looking down on the South/Western Asians more and the South/Westerns Asians adopting an indifferent attitude. Then later I noticed the next generations of South/Western Asians using words I’d never heard before like “chink/y” (UGH) and “freshie” referring to other South/Western Asians “fresh off the boat” (again UGH) i.e newly visiting or immigrating here. What is with this need for the Us and Them mentality – the further we move away from one type of behaviour stemming from this need, another trend pops up. I didn’t put a question mark there because it’s rhetorical, people have the divide and conquer mentality inserted into their minds and maybe their blood. Always finding ways to feed into the complexes yet standing together against what is considered a common threat or something they have to put up with. In those cases the usual enmity or dislike is mitigated with expressions such as “they’re not that bad for a ___” or “they’re ok sometimes” or “they’re ok at work/school/outside but not at home“. Fickle and unhelpful.

On a couple of occasions in my early 20’s I wrote a couple of poems; the first was in answer to a different question/issue but since it’s World Poetry Day and I wrote them in the same timeframe I’m going to post them together. The second directly relates to the above.

Escape through the Sand

I walk alone across the sand,
Barefoot and determined
Parched of thirst and not knowing what my future holds .
I’ve come a long way since yesterday
Many miles upon miles upon miles
There were times I thought I’d given up
But my journey’s just begun.

Every step feels like a mountain
Each dune a potential drop
But forwards I must keep on going
I can’t afford to stop
I’m no longer the person I used to be
I’ve been forced to change my identity

These grains of sand are rough and raw
Ripping and tearing at my skin
Covering me in yellow and gold
An appropriate camouflage to be in
But even then it can’t conceal the truth of what I am
Yesterday I was a woman, today I am a man.

I’m heading towards the city
To start my life anew
Comfortable in my disguise
But at least to myself I am true

I wont be forced into a harem
No matter how convenient it may seem
I wont be forced into being a wife
With no voice, no choice, no life
I wont be forced in pregnancy
By a husband who knows nothing but vice
I wont be given away by my family
Like a possession of those who pretended to care for me
And so I left because my life depended
On those who could of raped me, rejected
Sold my life for money and then had it suspended.

So now I have only me to rely on
No one to trust or ever call upon
But now I am free, to live and just be
No rude expectations, restrictions or abuse
I must find my own way, put my time to good use
Be aware at all times, to avoid death by the noose
Which is the consequence of my crime,
A woman living as a man is not a woman but a demon set loose
In the eyes of society, they’ve no tolerance or excuse
You can be one or the other but not allowed to choose
One gender you must be and follow the rules
Or die a painful death and be branded a fool.

Well a woman I may be, and I’m as proud of it as can be
But a woman has no self within her community
And in men’s clothes at least I have dignity
I can go where I want without reason or permission
Meander down a lane without demeaning tradition
Walk without jeering, oblivious to any leering
I can have an opinion and have it treated respectfully
Without being examined on the quality of my femininity
My eyes, bosom, hips and lips don’t come into it
And if I’m laughed at it’s because of my wit.

I’m not saying that life as a man is easy
It’s not and I don’t underestimate it, believe me
It’s more physical hard work, even for the average day clerk
Unending and all day, for hard earned and little pay
But I learn and get used to it, and at least I can say
That I dictate my own fate; I’m a person and not a dead weight
Just another number for a bigamist with an ego to inflate

I stand my own ground, let the wind blow against me and chafe
But still I have to wary, pretend to shave and never act contrary
For I must never be caught and forced to deport
Face punishments unspeakable and unimaginary.

More now then ever before, I have to keep myself safe.

In tribute and remembrance to the friendships lost.

Chess and International Relations

A game of cunning, a game of guess
A game of thinking, a game called Chess.

Immerse yourself in its logic, and inside its reckless dare
Lose yourself in its strategy, or in your opponent’s stare.
There’s no going back, once you’ve gone forth,
There’s only calculation and staying ahead of the game
Causing your partner losses, and taking the same.

How was chess invented? How on earth did it start?
Well, there’s heated debate about both questions, and some take it to heart.

“It started in India!” Some say,
“No! In China!” Others retort
And even though it’s important, the argument only leaves disarray
We all know there’s political prejudice in the theories anyway.

Similar to the very game itself, based on military precision;
All this anger, conveniently academically based, promotes nothing but competition.
I know I may be far too young, to talk about a ‘golden age’
But I’m sure I remember a time when all this China vs India wasn’t all the rage.
Now, I may have been naïve, my mind trapped within its age,
But I recall when both communities used to respect each other,
And now they don’t even acknowledge one another,
Acting superior, as if on stage.

What does this have to do with chess you say?
Everything and nothing.
It’s a metaphor and an example, of things that have gone astray.
Two subcontinents who used to share benevolence,
So different and yet so similar, exotic yet familiar,
And yet now, just withstanding the other, holding each at bay.

It may not be the older generations, perhaps it’s just the younger
But in my limited experience I’ve seen many barely recognise each other.
Personally, I don’t see why,
For we are cultural sisters and brothers.

In the US, Asians are classed as Chinese and related
And the rest just don’t exist, or are labelled ‘the curry kind’.
In the UK, it’s just as bad, with Indians the only Asians
And the Chinese being sidelined.
It’s not fair I say, and hints at foul play,
We’re all South and South East Asian
Sharing countries on our borders of equal denomination,
And when willingly segregated, all we get is angst and frustration.

And what about the rest of us?
Our neighbours never mentioned?
Forced to specifically clarify themselves, on forms without contention.
We’re not the only ones, and shouldn’t act as if we are,
Big as we may be, in our distinct geography
We don’t own the whole continent and do injustice to our peers
By making our specifications the international generalisation,
Whilst their claims fall on deaf ears.

But anyway, back to chess; a game perfect for this expression,
Its roots steeped in history and mysterious origin.

It’s amazing how like life the chessboard can be,
The allure of success lurking in uncertainty
Jumping from one square to another, relying on probability,
And not all games have been fun and friendly,
Some go on for years with unbridled rivalry
But it doesn’t have to that way, if we try, we can enjoy it affably.

Move your pieces onwards, with their ultimate ambition,
Surround, surprise and conquer; the prize of your opposition.
Why the King? And not the queen? Well that is an interesting question,
The most powerful figure she undoubtedly is and that is no suggestion.
To give her second position, is surely a terrible cheek
But when I think about it, maybe she is tolerant, in order to protect the weak
Like the sergeant to the officer, we know whose the real pipsqueak. 😉

Other enigmas may include:- Why does white go first?
And what about the Castle Switch? That has to be the worst,
Because when you need to do it, the computer always says no
Yet when it is convenient, it’s the first to have a go!

And don’t you just feel sorry, for those poor innocent little pawns?
Always on the front line of fire, and the very first to extend,
The ones constantly used for sacrifice, their territory to defend,
Clearing the path mercilessly, and courageously taking the flack
Fighting for the stronger ones, hiding in the back.

In that sense it’s like society, all the little ants, going with the flow
With the upper echelons, happily running the show.
That order is reflected, in all our institutions
From school to school, work to death
We have no other solutions, hierarchy has always been and is part of our evolution.

That is why, in my opinion, Chess is a fantastic invention
Complicated, time consuming, and full of apprehension.
Composed of individual pieces, limited and free combined,
All trapped within circumstance, and futures intertwined.

It’s the game of life, so neatly represented,
No wonder the Greek gods liked to use it, to make their heroes demented.
I can’t believe life was supposed to be a game,
Forced into moves, never again to be the same.
As a prop piece your fate cemented,
Is that really what was intended?

and here are some pics of me from around the same time that I wrote the poems; first two in my favourite Chinese top:

Yes that's my flame hair :-)

Yes that’s my flame hair 🙂

Dolly

and then:

World Earth Globe Tourist

Mum’s poetry – universal species race relations

Lalita – Why Empty?

Emptiness fills the air, the room, the look on their faces.
However, I dread the longing, the laughter, the thoughts within me –
They give me no space, no room to grow, to grieve, to be!

Why do they fill me with thoughts of plague and suffering, of nonsense and their shame?
I question every detail tearing it apart with an analytical eye.
Yet I am surprised that I find no joy in this quest as it serves me not – only wastes my time,
My energy and my life!

So why do I pursue with such vigor and hunger?
Because the bittersweet craving is the drug,
And the antidote for what was, what is and yet to become.

Pain or pleasure? – Life or death, try both my love?

Fear not the demons – for they are the fear within their fear,
They play you as they play themselves with loss and grief.
They are the losers, the weeping willows, the plague and suffering, greed-lust-sin and war & death.

Answer: The last fight, the last dance and the sweetest kiss of LalitaKali’s victory!

Lalita Maha Kali Goddess Destroyer Mother

I Hate All Forms Of Evil

Gave you all a mind to choose – there was is only one choice that is to do right and good deeds,
You demons decided to do evil deeds harmful to all creatures – you became a virus upon the world.

NOW sit by the fire my little liar for you all will burn burn burn.
Its your day to roast roast roast my little toast toast toast.
Gave you all life and all you did was to burn burn burn, with lust greed and envy.
Gave you all a home and all you did was bring me shame by becoming thieves and parasites.
Gave you all a paradise and all you did was mock my name and turn my world in to a living hell –
You played a fools game.

Sit in the fire my little liar as now you all disappear.
Did you enjoy the game – now hold your breath – I need no answer as all is recorded forever.
Look I am here, always been there and will always be –
You know there is no existence without me!
Time for a beating – would you not agree?

Lalita Maha Kali Destroyer Universe Goddess Mother Creator Fire

Gallery

OOTD: T3 Challenge – Outfit based on a book quote

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review Commentary

INTRO

My Closet Catalogue

T3 (Third Thursday of the month) is a literary fashion challenge thought up by Maricel at My Closet Cataloge and her friend at A Bibliophile Style – basically you choose an outfit based on a quote from a book you’re reading or have just read (check).

To Kill A Mockingbird

I thought I’d re-visit this story after I saw it in the library whilst browsing the classics, I’m not one to re-read books (or re-watch visual media) but there are a few exceptions and classics aren’t classics for no reason hence after some years I find I can read them again. That might not sound like much in their favour but I personally dislike repeating things/myself and there are very few media that I can leisurely revist again and again let alone in a short period of time. I pay attention quite intensely the first time round and think about/argue the details so I remember them for longer and don’t particularly like to go through it again. That also means that it’s hard for me to pick a quote to use as the basis of an outfit because when I read/look at things a lot tends to stand out and I can’t choose one to interpret or express my opinion. So here’s some background to help show why I chose my outfit.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review CommentaryTo Kill A Mockingbird is a book about the nature of people’s bias and prejudices, with a focus on race and particularly Black/White race relations. The book was set in and inspired by events/characters in the 1920-30’s and so parts of it can seem outdated but there are many principles on human nature and nurture that are just as relevant now as they have been for such a long time. The setting is mainly in/about a courtroom case and the differences between law, ethics and the minds of people are highlighted.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review CommentaryThe main questions and expositions in the book being on: “how can we trust people to be fair?” So what if you put them in an orchestrated setting and tell them to behave, like in a courtroom (where Black and White are ironically used as the costume of the court) – it doesn’t mean they’ll suddenly turn into fair minded people who can see various points of view. If it did, would that mean they were acting, what about how they are like in everyday life? Many people view it like being on stage, where they don’t want to give their opinions and don’t want to take part due to possible repercussions or because it interferes with their lives. What about the hierarchy of people’s positions in groups? Just look at the mini societies-micro infrastructures in the practise ground of educational institutions where the social/political or personality based roles people take in groups are then often repeated in the workplace and other areas in life where there are face-to-face situations. The same happens in juries, not every member is equal and even if they shouldn’t be, look at some of the factors behind what determines how a group votes. When they are anonymous a number of ‘nasty’ things can turn up for organisers where people decided to show their ‘true colours’ instead of going with the group – or when it’s not anonymous, who has the pervading roles and what is harbouring? What about the idea of a jury of peers? Are they really peers, do they really understand or have any experience in the situation, do they really care, what are their opinions based on? Preferences and resentments from life, watching and experience transfers to the ability to judge and what are instincts based on? People often say ‘if so and so weren’t ruling, things would be better’ and vice versa or as is the case in many uprisings ‘well someone will chosen from the people, an upstanding citizen’… But what makes the ‘people’ really better than their so-called ‘leaders’? Do you really trust everyone around you to do the right thing? Do you really like everyone around you despite situations where you have to get along? What does that lead to – popularity votes from a selected few (and how are those few chosen, usually through having enough status and money to run in the first place and how did they get that) and one regime copying another.

People often start out or sound as if they have ideals, but when push comes to shove they’d rather not have it as bad as others and if others have to have it bad so that they don’t have to or so that they can at least be in a position they can manage that isn’t too repulsive to them – guess who gets sacrificed. Who is running and working in the court? Interesting question. Kinda like how is it countries can be at war with each other, have masses of propaganda and convenient social division and cohesion on issues/events at certain times yet their ‘nobility’ are going off on business trips together, sharing dinners and going to each other’s weddings? Protocol, work? Yeah like those excuses really help anybody, well anybody outside the inner pyramid.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review Commentary

A secondary theme is family; that you can’t generally choose them and no matter what happens they are called ‘family’ in name at least. Many people are not happy with their families or particular family members but yet they are usually given priority over non-members. Then there are family members who are not wanted, replaced and passed on from place to place. The example is extended to various groupings people fall into – how people are members of a race/ethnicity, of social and financial classes and ultimately the irony of sub-group clashes when we are the same species/family. How much does family vs personal merit count?

Another theme is that of revenge and what happens when people are made accountable for something, they usually take it out further on the victim or others. Disproportionate emotions which led to the offence and factors into the reactions afterwards. The opposite to which is ‘blind justice’ – highlighting issues where ‘justice’ that is ignorant, distant, uneducated, disaffected and composed of groupings that have to mind their associations with each other. Retribution isn’t really touched upon but that might seem vigilante and would go against the courtroom setting as well as the notion of democracy.

That is the gist of the book – players and the game/system, the players who make up the game and keep it going, how the game takes over society and the consequences. Players doing what they can in the game or only what is acceptable yet acknowledging the human mental conditioning and the motivations behind it. As aforementioned it was based in the 1920-30’s so minor things like half the population not being thought of as sound enough in mind to deal with big matters like dispensing legal ‘justice’, people thought of as crazies, demented, too young, criminal, bloody foreigners, people generally not liked at that particular time aren’t really given the same credence as the main character representations. For example the females in the book that are respected or shown as intelligent are rebuked (e.g. one being told by the school that she shouldn’t be allowed to read and write) or given second fiddles in the usual ‘not bad, for a woman’ ethos. But hey what do you want? Do you honestly expect with the big ‘ol brains humans have that they’d be able to care about and be ethical regarding everything/everyone other than the issues/factors that immediately affect them/those they personally care about or hit them in the pocket? Oy vey, that’s asking a lot, we only use a fraction of our brains in our lifetime don’tcha know 😉

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review CommentaryThe actual crime that the story revolves around is of one of the worst acts of violation that can be desired/planned/aided/committed but not much focus is given to it, it is instead used as leverage to heighten the injustice of the situation and everyone’s feelings of quiet rage, disgust and ultimately desensitization/acceptance to ‘the way of life’ or as we call in modern days; rape culture (http://psychologybenefits.org/2014/02/18/3-components-of-rape-culture-and-what-you-can-do-to-fight-back/). The only connotation of interest it is given is that it is a man who came up with the idea to use it as a false accusation and was backed up by others because of their prejudices. The girl involved isn’t really focused on in the story but goes along with it.

Those who help in the background, or quietly or in a inconspicuous way are often sidelined, maligned or thought of in hindsight whilst those who shout the loudest longest or follow orders or relish the idea of the spoils of victory tend to get branded as heroes. This book shows that people can’t trust what they consider to be their instincts much of the time especially since so many of them are fear based including impressions and opinions on physical appearance.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review Commentary

Two famous films that remind me of this book are A Time To Kill (1996) and The Green Mile (1999).

So how does this relate to my outfit?

Book quote:

“If there’s just one kind of folks, why can’t they get along with each other? If they’re all alike, why do they go out of their way to despise each other? Scout, I think I’m beginning to understand something. I think I’m beginning to understand why Boo Radley’s stayed shut up in the house all this time.”

This quote is part of a discussion between two of the main characters in the book, two children named Scout and Jem who act as the ‘innocent voyeurs’ in the book, learning as they go along from the people around them and remarking/sometimes acting upon the situation. Boo Radley is a bit like the older neighbour in the film Home Alone (1990), a hidden helper in the neighbourhood though generally keeps to himself and is seen as mysterious/dark/quiet, someone to be uncertain of. Following the trial they remark upon how after having seen all they’ve seen they can understand somewhat why Boo is private. It is ‘Boo’ (i.e. the ghost/shadow) who ultimately kills the main antagonist in the book in self-defense protecting the children after society, the education system, the legal system and ultimately family has failed the victims. His act is covered up by the main characters in the story to ‘protect’ him from public acknowledgement/thanks as in their opinion it would be too much on his reclusive/behind the scenes persona. I think they missed the point and their hiding the truth would not help him or society in general.

I’ve always said people are people wherever they are, whatever they look like, however their cultures may be decorated – their behaviours and personalities don’t differ.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review Commentary1) Well the outfit obviously had to fit the Black/White theme (also classically fashionable) and deals with people as social animals within groupings. That reminded me of Animal Farm by George Orwell where non-human animals are used to portray human individualist and pack mentalities. My jumpsuit reminds me of Zebra print which is not only Black & White but represents an animal seen as prey, the hunted – both books have an animal in their title, both about victims (the direct ones in Animal Farm being a horse and donkey) and victimizers and where the defenders of the hunted are outnumbered, gossiped about and share in the backlash. Wearing a zebra print rather than say a dalmatian print pays tribute to the hunted/those treated unjustly and keeps the horse relation. The Black/White theme also shows that no matter how clear cut our ideals may be people find it very hard to live by them, mainly falling into shades of Grey where they believe positive and negative character traits and behaviours/actions can offset or redeem each other.

2) On the human groupings side – my skin colour allows me to fall into the minority category in ye olde Albion. I’m Brown skinned so in between Black and White which could have philosophical tangents but at the end of the day my first hand and inherited experience of racism is not more or less than anybody else’s in similar situations. Racism is worldwide, all races have been used as slaves and experienced genocide/ethnic cleansing as well as enslaved and tortured their own and others. Racism is an excuse for an outlet, a symptom of further internal desires to subjugate and control, hence it sits well with other prejudices.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review Commentary

3) I’m female – another so-called minority and so contradicting the opinion/belief in this book that women are either incapable of thought and understanding, just as much or as little as men or if they are respected then they’re praised with the ‘not bad, for a woman’ ethos or female versions of their husbands i.e. Mrs ‘husband’s name’. The ‘prick us do we not bleed’ figure of speech applies to all.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review Commentary

4) I have an appearance that is a bit like Marmite and can do a fair hermit portrayal – not in the same visual way as the character Boo Radley (interestingly the person he was based on in real life was locked up for 24 years by his father following some kind of incident) from the book but similar and an image which to some goes with certain stereotypes that are quite unsavoury. To others it contradicts what they consider normal and acceptable and to some it is actually something beautiful or aspiring to be anyway.

Wearing Black/White in this case shows that as a person of appearance which fits into various conflicts and is different than normal (except in a few places where people generally mistake the ‘extra glamorous’ look and position it can bring as empowerment and others seek to degrade/flaunt it further) I understand that the meta-narrative of the book is about appearances. Physical appearances and first/shallow impressions based on socio-political-economic-cultural relations, and how they are manifested by the need to divide and conquer.

Fashion Outfit Book Review Commentary Sin To Kill A Mockingbird

5) As examples of the above, the book features miscarriages of justice both in and outside of the legal setting, the loss of innocence and people doing what they think they have to to be a part of society, of family, of their group. Going along with one and going against another because the obligations are hard to juggle, big and small actions that effect everybody slowly making dents in the overall consciousness but nevertheless trying to move past things that can’t be undone. No matter the atrocities the living always try to move on continuously repeating things they’d rather not happen to them in the quest of making life more acceptable and bearable, but to do so they have to forget to an extent and have the ability to normalize atrocity. Black and White also symbolizes death and paying respect to it, traditionally Black in Western society and White in Eastern – I was born in one and ethnically of the other so wearing both fully fits the significance of this outfit.

6) Accessories – The headpiece features a Black centre and wings, the whole thing is Silver coloured and I’ve worn it on my head as per the expression “it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird” and wings representing freedom, it pays tribute to all those wronged. If I had to be justice I certainly wouldn’t be blind/folded in any way and neither was the original Lady Justice, the goddess going back through time a morph of The Maid/Daughter whose divinity i.e created from truth guaranteed her impartiality (ironically enough the original non-blinded personification has been maintained atop London’s Old Bailey). Also interesting to note, many goddesses throughout the world and eras carried a bird.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review Commentar

Notable uses of symbolism in the book

The father playing the righteous lawyer, he is widowed and named after a number of classical philosophers. The name Atticus interestingly enough is also famous as the name for both the father-in-law and daughter that the general Agrippa married. I remember reading about his strategies. On the whole the name is a carry through from the classical Graeco-Roman empire representing ‘enlightenment’ for the chosen few e.g. what is still thought of as fairness and democracy. A double edged sword of a name given it’s prominence amongst those who were a part of a long line of peoples subjugating (or from their point of view, liberating and improving) much of Africa, reminds me of the way Cecil Rhodes is lauded here.

The use of the right and left metaphorically with hands. Remember what right and left hands have signified to people where the right hand/path is the better and the left hand/path is dirty or inferior. In some places this was taken even further so that the right hand is masculine and left hand is feminine. The use of the right hand in this book further shows the accused is innocent and he did not use his right hand to hurt the girl. The girl in question represents the left hand/path and her father who forces her to falsely testify is left handed. Note – Mayella (the girl) is notably shown in the book as having grown Red geraniums, Red being a colour twisted from its roots in its cultural use for female sexuality. In the book she is so downtrodden and cornered that she resorts to what has later likened her to a prostitute.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review Commentar

The name Tom. Tom Robinson is the name of the Black man falsely accused, convicted and slaughtered; failed by society, his peers and the legal system. Remember what the name Tom means in US Black cultural history. The phrase ‘Uncle Tom’ has been used by many in later years as an insult akin to using ‘zebra’ as an insult to mixed race Black/White children and or the popular modern use of the wholly detestable ‘n- word’. But remember that part of the inspiration for Tom was Josiah Henson and that before the rewrites Tom was a character who helped many slaves, like Tom in this book helped Mayella at times because he felt sympathy for her. Tom and Mayella were different in age, colour and sex but both were prisoners. It’s a shame that their non-romantic relationship was changed and one used against the other. One abused by the father and the other defended by the father figure of the book who worked within the infrastructure of the system, in the courtroom – knowing and accepting that it wasn’t right and speaking all throughout the book on its faults and the faults of the people it was composed of/depended upon.

The bird symbolism, various birds are given different connotations e.g. the Egyptian symbolism on US money, everything from Horus (later Zeus) the eagle giving rise to the image of a convenient counterpart, the bald eagle being normalized as a national symbol signifying all manner of things from truth and justice to strength and power and pointing out that it’s a damned able predator with super efficient ways of hunting, killing and very tough methods or rearing its young is not recommended. To kill a mockingbird was seen as a sin because:

“That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

Killing a mockingbird was seen a senseless act of cruelty, as mockingbirds signified those who do not hurt us and give to us. (The same is thought of cows in India – they represent the giving without taking essence of motherhood – but I guess people figure cows are more useful, farmed and tasty than mockingbirds so it’s not deemed senseless.) The father also told the children in the book that they could try and kill as many bluejays as they wanted. His surname – after the interesting first name – is finch. Another type of songbird.

Book Fashion Stripes Zebra Sin to Kill a Mockingbird Animal Farm Review Commentary

Speaking of songbirds, I remembered the perfect song to end this post sung by a group of awesome vocalists.

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