always talking cock.

i.

dekho dekho,
dekho wo kaise ban kar english bolti hai.

ii.

at home:
kals were kals,
please was pliss,
vowels ran unaspirated and rampant.

at school:
kals are cauls,
please was pleese.
vowels full.

Kals at home.
Cauls at class.
Cauls are always better than kals.

iii.

You’re from India? You don’t sound like it!
You’re from India? Your English is so good!

rinse, repeat.

iv.

teacher speaks a wird tae me
every nae and ken
ill-gab.
takken oot and replaced with spang-new
impruived
vyce.

v.

You are logical and erudite but we’re terribly sorry, your accent is heavy, says the TOEFL to my mother.
we look at each other
then to the radio tuned to the BBC
I spend a week listening
You are logical and erudite, but we’re terribly sorry, your accent is heavy, says the TOEFL to me.

vi.

move to new country
they were colonised once too,
they’ll know how it feels.
try kal at school
everyone act blur
try caul at school
why so cheem.

vii.

i’ll lurk in the airport toilets
when you’re changing your lips
i’ll catch every word
every code switch
every slip
of your syllables
store and pickle it
Ye Olde Standarde English Shoppe

forty percent off if you buy a non-rhotic R.
no refunds.

viii.

i suka-suka write. where got square, where got circle, where got accent, where got anyone tok liddat one.

ix.

amma picks up the phone
listens to the nice Amreekan speak
I am terribly sorry, she says,
enunciating each word
you are logical and erudite
but your accent is too heavy
please speak to my husband.

Advertisements

What NOT to do for #Japan.

All these things are insensitive and inappropriate.

– not everyone can send money due to not having any, someone else controlling their bank account, or the sheer red tape of donations or even not having enough spoons to walk down to the bank and transfer money. some people with disabilities can’t use phones either so phone donations are sometimes out of the question.
– not everyone’s God is the Abrahamaic God, so laughing at the “illogic” of praying is ridiculous. sometimes prayer is the only thing someone can manage, that does not lessen their capacity for action. assuming that people are stopping ~all action~ to pray, why, you think they can’t pray AND act by helping in shelters or something?

– saying people only get hit by natural disasters because they don’t believe in the Abrahamaic God is preposterous and by extension trying to proselytise on that basis is not only hurtful to the people affected, it’s also against the bits of your holy book that remind you about humanitarian needs.

– using a natural disaster that is still affecting people as a backdrop for a story/fanfic/whatever… SO MUCH NO.

– citing a country’s history as reasons why you should not be compassionate makes you… well you guessed it, a shitty excuse for a human being. because no matter how you look at that… it’s just fucking racist.

– citing a country’s present actions [e.g. whaling] is racist too, just fyi.

because if your ends were that noble, you wouldn’t need to co-opt human suffering to achieve them.

Cross-posted from Tumblr.

The Merchants of Knowledge

by Thursday.

Recently a friend asked me what would happen if universities were abolished. When I queried as to how she meant, she said: well, you wouldn’t need to specialise at all! You could start your own room and sit there & say I know X about Y let me share what I know with you. & you can share that with someone else, and so on. Nobody charges for knowledge, because everyone has access to it, & can question & query. No more hierarchy of student-teacher. No more worrying about paying too much for a mainstream view that erases so many. Create a structure that is non-hierarchical, encourages critical thinking, & participation is based on what you want to know.

I was speechless.

But you know duckies, she had a point.

In the Islamic Golden Age, there were scholars in the mosques who taught specific subjects. They had cushions or chairs and their audience sat around them. Someone could walk in and ask, “Where is the chair of mathematics?” or “Where is the chair of astronomy?” & be directed there. They could attend as many times as they wished & stop the instruction simply by leaving. It’s from this we received the modern university — and would you believe it, the heads are still called Chairs.

The current university system treats knowledge as a commodity & self-perpetuates that. First, they have a knowledge class, a group of people who control what gets out & to whom. Secondly, they ensure that other groups don’t get to the same level. This is rather easily done, if you look at it, the library at University of Delhi is far smaller and much less well-stocked than one say, at a university in London. Subscriptions to places like JSTOR are unthinkable, because they are so expensive. & when you graduate, chances are your degree is not going to be accepted overseas because there is no medicine other than that of the Big Pharma. & thirdly, they make sure dissidents have no room to act. I walked into my International Political Economy class and was veritably shocked that everyone already knew other countries were being exploited, but spoke about it with coldness. Even when aware of the unfairness of things, we were still treating them as theories to be ridiculed or mastered, not considering how they affect people’s lives practically. I remember writing a paper on Partition for my exam, and upon getting a low mark, I asked my teacher what I had done wrong & he said, “You took it too personally.”

But you see, the commodity knowledge is presumably objective, when we as human beings cannot truly possess objective knowledge: it is always, always filtered through our perceptions. Even when entering the social justice community, one immediately has to familiarise oneself with the hierarchy of knowledge that exists. A community that is supposed to champion the myriad of human experience where knowledge-as-commodity erases diversity and divorces us from our personhood. & you can see that, because around activists there is still a teacher-student perception when privileged people treat a marginalised person as a learning experience, or when people treat us as convenient access points, or even looking at the cult of personality that springs up around certain people. I can perhaps illustrate this best using people who are “feminists” for a living, or a particular Anti-Racist Who Never Fails to Grate Thursday’s cheese. They — either consciously or unconsciously — don’t treat social justice as a practical deconstruction that affects the lives of people, and — either consciously or unconsciously — engage in yet more erasure of marginalised experience, because they control who has it, who speaks about it, and who it filters out to.

We must first create non-hierarchical, participatory environments that empower us. We as activists must first devise ways to de-stratify, de-commodify knowledge. I share what I know with you, so we learn.

Now, where’s my cult? :P

A Guide to Every Troll You Meet When You Talk About Cultural Appropriation

So the trolls are roaming around.

And of course, Thursday, now proudly waving keoi’s reverse racist card, has to snark at people.Because it’s not upsetting anymore, it’s really, really amusing.

1. Mx I’m Showing Appreciation/I’m Promoting Understanding.
By engaging in these activities, I’m showing respect for the source culture.”
Translation: By breaking into your house and stealing your stuff, I’m telling you I love you?

2. Mx This Wouldn’t Be Happening If You Would Just Share.
People like you are separatist and elitist, preventing us from appreciating diversity.
Translation: Why are you stopping me from sharing my horribly distorted view of reality with people!!

3. Mx Don’t You Have Something More Important to Worry About Like Poverty and Stuff
Isn’t this distracting you from REAL ISSUES?”
Translation: Self-evident, I think.

4. Mx You’re too PC
You’re just looking for something to be offended about.”
Translation: Indeed, marginalised peeps spend all their time hiding under bushes on the roadside waiting to jump out at people like me.

5. Mx I Don’t Find This Offensive
I don’t see how my actions are offensive. I/my friend/random person from source culture think it’s ok.”
Translation: Y U NO LIKE ME STABBING YOU IN THE GUT RE? MY FRIEND WAS OK WITH IT.

6. Mx Marginalised Peeps Appropriate As Well.
White people get appropriated from as well! Look at how much chromatics make a fetish of our culture!”
Translation: It’s all about me and my feelings. Even when it’s about you.

7. Mx Colonialism Was A Long Time Ago!
Colonialism is over! We don’t do that now! And even if we did, we don’t mean it like that!”
Translation: I can do whatever I want with your culture because I’m a good person because I said so, & you know I’m a good person because I told you!

8. Mx Tone Argument
I’d listen to you if you were more civil!
Translation: Y U SO MEAN RE

9. Mx How Do I Not Appropriate It Is So Difficult
I’m scared of appreciating things because of the hordes of angry chromatics.”
Translation: It’s so difficult for me to not be an imperialist douchefuck! GIVE ME SYMPATHY!

10. Mx Fashion/Culture/Fiction Borrows From Everybody
Fashion/culture/fiction borrows things and it’s not racist.”
Translation: I’ve never seen an atom so they don’t exist.

I haven’t covered them all — people are constantly amazing me with how creatively they can be arseholes. Nonetheless, a good thing to remember duckies, when we talk about race, people with race privilege should sit the fuck down & listen, because their self-evident, self-defensive “rebuttals” are about as warranted as someone blowing their nose on my sleeve.

A Handy Guide to Appreciation of a Marginalised Culture

Tired of being boring ol’ white? Want to add a bit of spice to your life & get hippie street cred in the same bargain? Look no farther! Thursday’s written this simple & unadulterated guide to appreciating a marginalised culture. We guarantee we’ll make an imperialist douchefuck out of you before you can say ‘antidisestablishmentarianism’, or your money back!

So, here we go.

1. Choose your target.
First of all, all white people have the right to another person’s culture, especially you! Fashion, art, & fiction have always borrowed from other sources, but don’t worry, there’s plenty to go around! Poke around in the storage closet & remember to pick one that truly speaks to you. Or you don’t even need to pick only one, you may change every other week or so to keep your friends interested.

2. Dive in.
Got your new culture? Excellent, you can start promoting cultural exchange right away! Start a blog to show everyone how much you love your new culture. Complain that not enough literature is being translated from their language to yours. Make a new exotic friend! Wear their clothes. Use their greetings. Eat their food. Jabber in their language — oh you don’t need our help to butcher those phonemes, surely! Change your name to a nice native-sounding one, & if it’s the name of a god in their pantheon, it’s perfect for you!

& if you feel extra-kind, pop over to their country and get a fresh ~perspective~. Take pictures of random stuff without asking permission. Mention (loudly, & several times) how it’s such a shame they’ve remained as they are when their history & culture was so glorious. Remember to look shocked when they speak English, or better yet, point & laugh. (Bonus points if you’re in China, you get to use ‘ching chong’.) And if you feel very ambitious, why not get a tattoo of a phrase in their language? Or several? Don’t worry if it’s complete gibberish. No one cares.

3. Mix & Match!
If you get bored, you could always mix & match! Bellydancing to bhangra music! Sioux headdresses with hanboks! Dhotis with Maasai weapons! Why stop there? Be creative!

4. Dodging the PC PoliceTM.
By now your enthusiasm would have attracted unwanted attention. Their attention. How do you know who these people are? Well, they’re always looking for something to be offended about, & that makes them as subtle as a monkey on crack. They’ll use the keywords: ‘inaccurate’, ‘racism’, ‘cultural appropriation’, & ‘white privilege’. & if you’re really lucky, you’ll also get: ‘povertyporn’. & if that’s not a clue, there’ll probably be hordes of them, too, sending you angry messages.
So, here’s what you do: say they have no right to tell everybody what to think! Hmph! Nobody would know about ~diversity if they had their way. Then, call in your friend from step 2! They know your reasons: you’re promoting cultural exchange ~respectfully~, & white culture totally doesn’t speak to you. Disassociation happens to everyone!
Next: you‘re not offended by your actions, so it doesn’t matter.
& lastly: don’t they have better things to do, like, solve poverty & stuff?

5. Haters Gonna Hate.
You’ve still got people left from step 4? That’s all right; keep on doing what you were & they will eventually give up & go away. If you see any of your haters refusing to engage with you and/or saying they’re out of spoons, CONGRATULATIONS! YOU WIN!

& if you have any questions or concerns on how much of an impact you’ll make using our Handy Guide, you may contact us at 555-GO-FUCK-YOURSELF.

at least we can blame Kipling

Dear reader, we here at Weekday Blues always intimate to you that words mean things & it’s important to question their context.

If you ever need a perfect example of how cultural appropriation is the epitome of racism, this tumblog is relevant: http://colonelhathi.tumblr.com (trigger warning for horrifically offensive content)

Formerly known as ‘Fuck Yeah Exoticism’, I first engaged with this person when ze reblogged the Malayalam alphabet on tumblr. I pointed out that exoticism was a racist word. . Ze changed ze’s profile to say, ‘Don’t call me a racist unless you know what that means.’ & then this happened. & at the moment, it is ‘Exoticism is a wonderful word’. Alas.

Remember folks, Actual People(TM) think & write these things. & here is your brain bleach, the exit is on your left.

eta: I left this open letter:

There is no such thing as ‘just words’. When looking at language & saying it is ‘just words’, is like saying the economy is ‘just trade’. So much of the contextualisation & recontextualisation of space comes from the connotations of words, and it is context that gives words the potency that they possess & words are never without context. Nothing is ever ‘just words’. They have baggage, context, & lasting power. When we fail to examine them, their monstrous power swallows & shapes us, for we internalise these messages. Oh, I understand words. I am the one who bears their weight.

As for the rest of it, I have said this before, & I shall say it again. & repeat it. Your terra incognita? Is my home.

It is one thing to like a culture. It is another to respect it.

This goes much deeper than just simple appropriation, though. This is the concept that chromatic cultures are to be shared, delighted in, & marketed for everyone as a little bit of spice. This is why you can dip your feet into the waters that nourish me. There is no promotion of equality between us, because we were never equals & are not equals at this present moment: you will never emphasise my humanity, you will only continue to strip me and mine of our personhood & say it is in the glorious name of ‘exchange’, or better yet, ‘diversity’. This is racism. This is Otherising. This is flattening of a vast spectrum of experiences.

It is not your place to say you don’t find yourself offensive when you deliberately exercise white privilege by engaging in such actions. It is like focusing sunlight through a magnifying glass and frying ants as they march past, and saying the ant feels no pain.

It is one thing to appreciate a culture. It is a different matter entirely to fetishize, misunderstand, and reduce a rich, living heritage to tired caricatures for your personal consumption. We do not exist to please you. We do not exist so you can discover your inner dusty peep. & we certainly do not exist to increase your hippie street cred. If you truly had an interest in us, you would not be paying lip service to stereotypes. You would not even be writing a blog dedicated to — once more — showing us to be polite, hospitable, deeply spiritual, and vegetarian. Perhaps you think even our tigers have internalised this message, hm?

In another time & place, your actions would have gone unnoticed, even lauded.

Perhaps in another time & place, the rest would have been silence.

Today, it is not. Today, I have a voice. You do not respect my culture & for this I pity you. You will never engage me; you will never understand: to you my heritage is a poor imitation, a hilarious distorted image in a funhouse mirror. & You will never be able to claim it as ‘yours’, because you will never perceive me and mine beyond our inscrutable smiles, our strange letters, our too-tight clothes, our dusty skin, our forked tongues.

Dear Anon.

Dear Anonymous,

I see you stand with Egypt and Algeria.

I don’t think.

Okay, this is what I want to say, Anonymous: you people suck. A lot.

Social justice? You wouldn’t know what social justice was if it popped out of the ground in front of you, mewled adorably, and then sprang tooth and claw towards you and nipped you viciously.

It’s not social justice, darlings, when you decide how fun it’d be to trigger people with photosensitive seizure disorders. That’s ableist, that is, my dearests. That’s the privilege of your able-bodied selves deciding that disability is a fucking laugh, that people don’t work to manage their own lives already, that your actions have no repercussions. The ability to ignore the consequences of what you do — that’s the privilege of those who don’t have to suffer from it. I’m disabled, I don’t appreciate this shit.

It’s not social justice, darlings, when you decide you have to pick a side when an influential man is charged with rape, and so decide to pick the winning side, the powerful side. You’re reinforcing a structure of power, of privilege, of oppression. You’re continuing to trample over the bodies of women — that’s not edgy, that’s pathetically and sadly mainstream. You’re pushing the same toxic myths about rape — survivors lie, survivors must behave in a certain way, survivors can’t be feminists or liberals or what the fuck standard you decided to move the bar to today — that we’ve been told a million times. I’m a woman and a rape survivor, I don’t appreciate this shit.

So. Privilege? Anonymous, you have it in spades.

So. Counter-cultural? Oh, please, Anonymous, what’s so counter-cultural about privileged, straight, abled middle-class men taking pleasure in mocking marginalised groups? That’s not counter-cultural, my dearests. That’s the goddamn culture I live in, everyfuckingday. Depressingly, painfully the norm.

Well, then, Anonymous, don’t talk to me about social justice now — we’ve watched as you committed the same injustices that the kyriarchy as a whole does to us all the time. And don’t talk to me about net neutrality. Where were you when people exactly. like. you harassed Kathy Sierra? Where were you when Sady Doyle was threatened? Oh, right, you were on the other side of that fight. Justice and Internet accountability — not things for wimminz.

No thanks, Anonymous, I’ll stick to this side of the fence where I and many others try to make them things for everyone (that’s why they’re universal human rights).

Now, when you talk about standing with those poor oppressed folks down south and east, Anonymous, when you repeat your twaddle like ‘People should not be afraid of their governments; governments should be afraid of their people’ — well, Anonymous, this is a very polite request to STFU, please make a note of that.

We’ve discussed privilege earlier in this post, haven’t we, Anonymous? We’ve explained why you have it in spades. D’you think your head could get round a new word now, Anonymous? Specifically: orientalism.

The non-white/Western world is not a stage for you to gawk, gentlepeople. It’s not a stage for you to hijack with your rhetoric, either. It’s not a stage for you to project your beliefs. It’s the majority of this globe demonstrating on behalf of their beliefs, not yours; it’s the majority of the globe which colonialism squashed and which you continue to oppress with your hegemonies and your power systems of today. It’s a people standing up for themselves and by themselves, who couldn’t possibly give less of a fuck about your posturing. Because it is posturing. It’s like poverty-porn except feel-good for you white/Western audiences; it’s revolution-porn.

You didn’t change anything, Anonymous; you only solidify the walls that keep us out.

We’re changing our world, Anonymous, one teaspoon at a time against your ocean of bullshit, so please to take a step backwards and sit yourselves back down.