I joined Deborah Frances-White and Susan Wokoma for an entertaining and impassioned edition of the fabulous podcast, The Guilty Feminist. Also a guest on the show was the inspiring co-founder of Legally Black UK, Liv Francis-Cornibert.
Check it out!
I joined Deborah Frances-White and Susan Wokoma for an entertaining and impassioned edition of the fabulous podcast, The Guilty Feminist. Also a guest on the show was the inspiring co-founder of Legally Black UK, Liv Francis-Cornibert.
Check it out!
Ah, it seems sometimes I avoid writing because I am a little afraid of what will come out when I start...
Oh Sudan, how you tear me in two.
I just got back from a whirlwind trip to Sudan, the land of my birth. I was there for a total of 4 full days; three days and two half days. If you consider all the flying, I was almost in the air as long as I was on the ground. I returned for the weddings of cousins and to see my Grandmother, a lady who I have lived with and who has taught me so much (the School of Life, as she refers to it).
As the plane came in to land (Alhamdulilah), I thought of the last time I was in Sudan. Coming out of university, going to study Arabic: it was a time of hope, of growth, of the Arab Spring, of something new and exciting. They were memories of rose tinted (or sand blasted) glasses, gleaming with the nostalgia of a time gone by, before #riglyf or the ruin of Syria...
It was not until my return to the hustle and bustle of the extended family home, the dramas surrounding preparations for the weddings or the two hours the hairdresser berated me for the state of my hair (HOW DARE YOU LEAVE IT CURLY?! Don't you know a woman's hair is the crown of her beauty? Don't you want to be beautiful?! How do you think you will find a man? Don't you want to feel attractive?) that the other memories of Sudan began to resurface.
(My favourite comment the hairdresser made: Oh look, I know you think you're an engineer and you're with all these men so you shouldn't take care of yourself, but girl, don't kid yourself. Men want a womanly woman. Just remember that. When I made noises about having a man not being the most important thing in my life, she fell quiet for a few minutes. A few blissful minutes of peace, before the barrage began again, with a different tact: Didn't I want to show everyone else in the house I could be beautiful? I could only muster and agreement-sounding moan).
Returning to the other memories of Sudan: although I'd forgotten, it was the only time in my life that my actions were constantly not enough, not right, not adequate - in a big way. Having not been brought up in Sudan but being of Sudanese origin, I was expected (by this age) to espouse the 'correct' and perfect Sudanese way of being a woman. This, as hard as I might, was not yet achieved. Sure, if I worked at it as hard as I did my engineering degree, I'd probably be a hell of a lady by Sudanese standards, but to be perfectly honest - it just didn't rate with the priorities. That doesn't stop the judgement though...
What were these 'correct' rules that were meant to be espoused? Some simple examples include:
- To make the perfect cup of tea (when to serve, how much sugar, how much to pour, the correct herbs to be added and to do it all with the utmost grace and such),
- To look like the perfect lady (preferably short, thin, not too thin as to look malnourished because that is undesired but not too large as to look like you weren't in control of your portion sizes (and definitely not muscled, lord, that was for men!), with neat manicured nails, smooth, moisturised skin - the whiter the better - with as few markings as possible, straight hair that would be coiffed into rolling curls and once whooshed out of the hijab it had been covered in under 40 degree heat all day, would gleam like the sun and smell like fairies; make up that looked good but not too fake, henna that was done well and not fading, clothing that was attractive but not too tight and shoes that were classy but would withstand the mud... you get the gist)
- To be able to cook, well (No elaboration necessary. Isn't this a prerequisite for every culturally diverse woman?)
- To be interested in womanly things, not politics and cars and football and engineering and the things that were reserved for men...
- To be the a witty conversationalist but also to talk about polite topics and not stray into overly satirical humour (not sure it translates...)
Alas, I may be being somewhat facetious.
However, the truth of the matter (as far as I can see) is this...
Sudan, north Sudan in particular, is a deeply traditional, communal society. Societies that are tribal and based on community in the way that the Sudanese are can often be deeply judgemental. In this world, a woman's reputation is her only weapon, her beauty of uptmost importance and her ability to hold a household and care for a family paramount.
Many of the things I have learned to value here in Australia - the community work, the breaking of the barriers in the industry I work in, the influence in public conversations - yes, that is of passing interest to the families in Sudan, but really, honestly?
It doesn't rate in comparison.
So I go from being someone who is confident in their ability and place in the world to someone who feels like they don't know the rules at all really, and the rules I do know, I don't adhere to very well at all.
The kicker? This is supposed to be where I am from. This would be where I was from, if my parents hadn't decide to make that audacious journey to the other side of the globe in 1992.
So, Sudan is a place where I feel I have roots - deep roots - my only roots.
It is a place I feel I must
Yet although I know I must learn to love Sudan, because it is a place that keeps me grounded and connected, it is also a nation that makes me feel judged and inadequate. It is a place whose values and traditions I know I should espouse, and yet, I find myself disagreeing with. The issue then becomes that yet if I reject these based on the Australian values embedded within me, well it means I am then becoming 'westernised'.
'Westernised' being synonymous with losing my identity, not being 'true or genuine', or almost taking the side of the oppressors. It isn't a rational fear, as those aren't all rational reasons or statements, yet, somehow, it is there.
The implication is that somehow, by trying to be different, I am implicitly forsaking my Sudanese identity and redefining myself as a true coconut - black on the outside, white on the inside. The implication is that taking the identity of the 'white' and the associated individualistic, capitalist nature, is clearly the wrong thing to do.
It can't be.
I am Australian, Muslim, born in Sudan with mixed heritage. I get to pick and chose what I want to take on, right? Yet, every time I go back, I feel guilty about my choices.
Why? I don't know, but this cannot go on...Surely, something has to make it through this madness.
You see, even by calling it madness, I am wracked by guilt. Doesn't Sudan have enough haters, my conscious asks me. Do you really need to be like all the others and hate on it as well? What makes you any better than all of them... why aren't you backing Sudan?
My conscious can be a right burr sometimes.
Earlier this month I had the honour of presenting at the World of Women (WOW) part of the Sydney Writers Festival. It was quite an inspiring session, with speakers who included the likes of novelist Melissa Luckashenko to a young Iraqi lady who had traveled to Australia seeking asylum.
Find out more about WOW at Sydney here.
The majority of the 'Bites' - strictly ten minutes bites of inspiration and the like - were quite deep and moving. Lucashenko's and Kristi Mansfield's were both quite brutal to be honest, forcing the audience to confront issues of rape and violence occuring on a daily basis to young women in our own cities.
I took a different tack and went for a slightly more light hearted and humourous angle. My piece was a 'Survival Guide for Chicks on Rigs...' (because you know, there are just so many of us!). I started off with a bit of a poem...and I would like to share a little bit of the presentation with you!
Aren't you frightened, they will ask,
Of the men, the remoteness, the difficulty of the task?
Why on earth do you want to do that, they will question
Where as if you were a guy, that wouldn't rate a mention.
The fact of the day is, ladies and gentlemen,
That this guide is not about survival.
We will survive - Gloria Gaynor said so.
It is about thriving and owning our power from the get go.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome.
Working on the oil and gas rigs, particularly as a woman, is an adventure and a half indeed.
As I am an engineer and love lists and numbers, I've put together a numbered list of suggestions, and I hope you enjoy!
Determine where YOUR line is, how thick YOUR skin is, how much you are willing to let slide. Factor in the 'drilling rig bonus'.
Often when a woman begins working on a rig, the men won't talk to her for some time at all. Don't take it personally, but they are slightly scared themselves (though they will never admit it!). They won't know how to react to you, what they can say around you, how thick YOUR skin is...they know something will be different now that you are here but they don't know HOW that difference will play out.
Let them take the cues from you. You have power here - a power we as women never used to have, and that is the opportunity to set the tone of the conversation.
What is the drilling rig bonus? An amorphous measure that accepts that normal society is quite different to the microcosm that is the drilling rig and so your line might be different in this situation, or might need to be slightly different. Adjust accordingly.
Make the most of being underestimated.
Some of the rig workers may hold the unspoken belief that a woman is less competent or deserving of a role. We all know that is not the case, but use that underestimation to your benefit! Surprise them at being AWESOME at your job and letting your actions speak for themselves. Being really good at your job is a language they understand and WILL respect, particularly out there.
Have a sense of humour
Nothing breaks down barriers like a bit of laughter. Being witty, sharp, or deploying quick, timely ripsotes are always appreciated (but careful not to descend into bullying).
If you aren't a regular standup comedian, try to see the humour in the everyday interactions - because there is plenty. Personally, I am terrible at being witty but I find most everything hilarious. Nothing warms a hardened man's heart more than having a laugh at a joke he cracked
Learn the language.
There is nothing more effective than good communication. For the sake of mirth though, here are some of the phrases I have picked up (the ones used in polite company anyway!).
I'm drier than a dead dingo's donga.
You wana run with the big dogs you gotta pee in the long grass.
They thought I did what?! That's lower than the basic wage. I'm like a mushroom. I get fed rubbish, everything just slides off me and I only come out in the dark. Number 5. Be Flexible, within limits. Don't forget your rights. The guys working in the field will appreciate flexibility, humour and cues taken from you, as illustrated previously. A level of flexibility is required, as fighting every single battle is not only ineffective, it is exhausting. However, you must also be cognizant of your rights as a woman and individual and if things DO go too far and they DO overstep the line, stop them. Use the tools necessary if required. You might think it is a career limiter but rest assured, it is a career killer for the other individual. The law is on your side. If you are in a situation like this - talk to someone you trust, and then make a decision and don't ever feel guilty for the actions of others. Number 6. Always pack more sanitary items than you might think you need. You won't be able to buy any if you're stuck out in the middle of the desert or the ocean. There's always one really practical survival tip in every guide. This is one of those. Trust me. Oh and a word of warning, the guys LOVE blaming any mood swings on our hormones. It's great. Number 7. Be your version of strong. When I started out, I thought strong only meant masculine. I think that my time on the rigs has redefinined the relationships between masculinity, strength and what it means to be a strong, feminine woman. It means something different to everyone. Now, for me, strength is in the fact that I can not only phsyically hold my own, but that I am not afraid of the men and the environment. Strength comes from knowing who I am and that I accept the fact that I am a woman in the industry and embrace it. Strength comes from knowing that I can choose to wear, dress, behave and speak how I please - whether that's rough or refined, the strength comes from knowing I have the power and gumption to make that choice. Strength for you can mean any number of things, and I believe figuring that out is indeed strengthening in itself. Number 8. Enjoy the adventure! Working as a female in a male dominated industry will always raise eyebrows and provoke questions. Be ready for that. Decide whether this is something you want to *embrace* and talk about or whether it is something you would like to *ignore*. Remember that no matter how much you ignore it, you still will be the odd one out. But that's not a terrible thing. If there are enough women that want to be the odd one out, soon the day will come when that is no longer the case. Either way, I think it says a lot that we now have the CHOICE to to participate in this previously closed environment. Be proud of who you are, and never apologise for it. *** So what do you think?
They thought I did what?! That's lower than the basic wage.
I'm like a mushroom. I get fed rubbish, everything just slides off me and I only come out in the dark.
Be Flexible, within limits. Don't forget your rights.
The guys working in the field will appreciate flexibility, humour and cues taken from you, as illustrated previously. A level of flexibility is required, as fighting every single battle is not only ineffective, it is exhausting.
However, you must also be cognizant of your rights as a woman and individual and if things DO go too far and they DO overstep the line, stop them. Use the tools necessary if required.
You might think it is a career limiter but rest assured, it is a career killer for the other individual. The law is on your side. If you are in a situation like this - talk to someone you trust, and then make a decision and don't ever feel guilty for the actions of others.
Always pack more sanitary items than you might think you need. You won't be able to buy any if you're stuck out in the middle of the desert or the ocean.
There's always one really practical survival tip in every guide. This is one of those. Trust me. Oh and a word of warning, the guys LOVE blaming any mood swings on our hormones. It's great.
Be your version of strong.
When I started out, I thought strong only meant masculine. I think that my time on the rigs has redefinined the relationships between masculinity, strength and what it means to be a strong, feminine woman. It means something different to everyone.
Now, for me, strength is in the fact that I can not only phsyically hold my own, but that I am not afraid of the men and the environment. Strength comes from knowing who I am and that I accept the fact that I am a woman in the industry and embrace it. Strength comes from knowing that I can choose to wear, dress, behave and speak how I please - whether that's rough or refined, the strength comes from knowing I have the power and gumption to make that choice.
Strength for you can mean any number of things, and I believe figuring that out is indeed strengthening in itself.
Enjoy the adventure!
Working as a female in a male dominated industry will always raise eyebrows and provoke questions.
Be ready for that. Decide whether this is something you want to *embrace* and talk about or whether it is something you would like to *ignore*.
Remember that no matter how much you ignore it, you still will be the odd one out. But that's not a terrible thing. If there are enough women that want to be the odd one out, soon the day will come when that is no longer the case.
Either way, I think it says a lot that we now have the CHOICE to to participate in this previously closed environment.
Be proud of who you are, and never apologise for it.
So what do you think?
Why the sudden interest in Malaysia? As part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade's Cultural Exchange program, six young Muslims from Australia are partaking in an exchange program in order to deepen cultural understanding. I have the immense honour of being one of the participants of said initiative.
Traveling through Kuala Lumpur over the last couple of days and engaging in deep and meaningful conversations with various Malaysians has been an enlightening experience indeed.
What has emerged from the conversations?
To an outsider, it seems there is an underlying undercurrent of confusion and frustration in the Malaysian population about identity, politics and religion.
It is important to start with the understanding that Malaysia is made up of three main ethnic groups; Malays, Chinese and Indian.
The Malays are the majority, and they are also defined in the nation's constitution as those who are Muslim and speak Bahasa Maleyu.
If you are Malay, you are entitled to many privileges under the 'Bumiputera' policies.
This leads to an interesting dilemma.
1. If a nation is seeking to be truly multicultural, an affirmative action law that racially privileges one over the others makes life difficult for those in the minority (Malays make up just under 60% of the population). What then is a 'Malaysian' exactly?
2. If the criteria to be a Malay includes being a Muslim, how does a nation separate 'Mosque' and 'State'? Does the religion simply become part of an identity of a race rather than a true spiritual practice? How do minorities fit in a society that only 'accepts' one standard version of Islam?
These are the two questions that have been at the root of many of our conversations. It seems clear that the issues are far from resolved, and the results of the recent election raise more questions than they answer.
There is much more to be said and shared, but this is only the beginning of the program, and I am weary of making judgements that may be unfair.
Observationally though, it seems there is an insecurity around the idea of identity, of what it means to be 'Malaysian', both individially for Malaysians and for the nation itself. It is clearly still a country that is journeying through the nation building process.
What is concerning is the politicisation of Islam and the use of the religion for political gain, or on seemingly superficial matters. This is one such example.
What this means for the future of the nation, particularly one where the opposition is a coalition of the PKR, PAS and DAP parties (i.e. Muslim Malays and Chinese Malaysians who are varied) is interesting and unknown.
I will no doubt learn and reflect more as the week goes by. What are your thoughts though, on how Malaysia deals with the issues of identity, as a nation and individually?
How many times do we have to say this? The use of the word "illegal" is ignorant and mischievous!
[box] While the Coalition may have hoped to score political points with the reappearance of its "illegal boats" billboard this week, it has shone a spotlight on its feeble grasp of international law. Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is wrong to say that the Refugee Convention says asylum seekers are "illegal". [/box]
On the topic of the Boston Marathon Bombings: why is it considered terrorism and Aurora and Sandy Hook not?
[box] Some would argue that it is necessary to remove all religion from the political process and that until Bahrainis stop thinking about being Shias or Sunnis there cannot be a truly democratic country. If you go back in history you see many nations going through similar religious troubles, notably in Europe in the 16th and 17th Centuries when Catholics and Protestants murdered one another in large numbers. We do not live in a perfect world, but sport is one of the few ways in which nations can unite, transcending internal divisions and thinking as a group. Thus looking at a much bigger picture one has to say that the Grand Prix is a good idea for Bahrain. No doubt some will disagree…[/box]
Finding a way of being a girl that doesn't hurt... again going to a question of where the feminist movement is?
Again on the issue of feminism...Five Myths about Feminism. How do you feel about the label?
A massive discussion about social media's do's and don'ts. Really interesting - how do you use social media, as an individual and as a company?
Seth Godin asks the question: What is your critical mass?
[box] If your idea isn't spreading, one reason might be that it's for too many people. Or it might be because the cohort that appreciates it isn't tightly connected. When you focus on a smaller, more connected group, it's far easier to make an impact.[/box]
This is old news but I think I forgot to link it in my hubris - the first female, Muslim MP in Australia!
I am a sucker for beautiful photography (who isn't), and beautiful photography of beautiful machines? How could I resist...
Oh and don't forget to check out my posts this week; one on Global Migration and Identity and the other on Stirling Moss's comment's on women in F1. If you want to keep in touch more regularly, you can always check out my Facebook page!
This was originally posted on Future Challenges! Check out the [button link="http://futurechallenges.org/local/global-migration-changing-the-way-we-define-our-identity/" newwindow="yes"] Original Link[/button]
When my parents moved to Australia with me as a screaming baby in tow, the situation in Sudan was dire, true, but it was much more an economic and socio-political decision rather than one of safety. This type of migration is increasingly common, particularly to a migration based nation such as Australia. How a nation and its people – as well as migrants themselves – deal with these global flows currents of people will define attitudes and perspectives of our current generation and generations to come.
I describe myself as either a “global citizen” or “mongrel”, both labels of which I am proud. What exactly does that mean though, for me personally, for many others in similar situations and for our society as this becomes perhaps the norm?
From a purely economical point of view, there is no doubt that migration, particularly skilled and business based migration, is of great importance and benefit to a society. The introduction of policies such as 457 visas (officially known as the Temporary Business (Long Stay) Visa), which allow Australian companies to sponsor employees from overseas has allowed for the development of sectors where skills are required, for example the oil and gas industry. Australia is no stranger to migration by any means; more than a quarter of the population in 2011 was born overseas, we speak more than 260 languages and identify with more than 270 ancestries. With the ease of travel this century and the relative stability of our economy compared to the global status quo, it is no wonder that more people are looking to cross the oceans to call this land girt by sea ‘home’.
If we are to look at this from a cost-benefit point of view, there is no doubt that what is gained from migration – an increase in labour supply, national income, skills, development, cultural depth, awareness and exposure, heavily outweighs any perceived disadvantages; identity crises, housing and services, the cost of humanitarian arrivals (although this is an international obligation), possible rise in community tensions due to a lack of understanding leading to changes in social cohesion.
It can be said that from that point of view as well, Australia is lucky in the sense that it only stands to gain skills from migration. By and large, we are not suffering from the ‘brain drain’ affecting other nations; our Net Overseas Migration (NOM) is 232 000 (497000 arrivals and 265000 departures, ABS and DIAC projections, 2012). It should be noted that NOM is the net gain or loss of population through immigration to Australia and emigration from Australia.
Although the drivers and immediate economic benefits are known and recognised, the effects on the socio-political landscape are those that are more often talked about, highlighted and debated. Migration can be seen as a purely economical factor perhaps, however we must not forget that we are dealing with actual people, who have hopes, dreams, desires and families. Migrants not only bring economic impacts, but their very presence changes the fabric of communities, and it is this change that can turn the tide of opinion. Economic factors are enough to convince a company perhaps, but “not in my backyard” is also a term used…
Australia is a nation based on multiculturalism, and we have a great untapped resource in our cultural diversity. It is important that we appreciate the value of our migration and cultural diversity, capitalise on its benefits and ensure that we do not neglect the socio-political effects that it has. We must ensure the communication lines are always open between migrants and those who have been settled for generations, and that we provide the space for young people to discover and mould their own identities to find the balance between their heritage and their current environment in a manner that is comfortable and familiar to them. It isn’t something that will happen overnight or be ‘resolved’ but more one that will change over time as influxes and migratory patterns change.
This level of cross cultural pollination has never been seen in history before, so we are at a unique point in human civilisation where we can create and mould identity based on more than just an accident of birth location – we almost have the choice and freedom to form whatever identity we want. What effects will that have on our society as a whole? Who knows yet. It could mean that nationalism no longer has the same power that it used to, or that it becomes based on something other than race, birthplace or religion. It could mean that cultures become based on hybrids of existing national traditions… who knows? All I know is that it is within our control.
Migration is not a crime, by dkalo on Flickr, CC BY SA 2.0
The irony is never lost on the Indigenous population – apart from them, we are all migrants to Australia. So who is anyone to deny the benefits of a concept that brought them there in the first place?
How many times have you thought: I wish I was a fly on the wall on a drilling rig so I could listen to what they talk about... Oh, just me then?
Well let me fill you in on a few of the unique conversations I have on a day to day basis with the men I work with. The following conversation took place between me and an old fella (OF) I had literally just met and I think almost offended by asking how many head of cattle he had - I thought that was 'general farm talk' but apparently not, that was me asking how much money he had... Anyway, one learns.
OF: So where are you from?
OF looks at me suspiciously
OF: What are you born in Australia are you?
Darn, I thought. He got me on that one... When I replied in the negative, he simply nodded...
OF: Mm I thought so! (With a smirk!)
Later in the conversation, out of the blue...
OF: So I didn't see you at the local town's big dance the other weekend, you need to get to those sort of things.
Me: Oh really?
OF: Yeh, I can introduce you to some people. There's this lovely boy from the so-and-so family and they're really quite wealthy, I can introduce you. He's not a bad kid, about your age, he'll be good.
Me: (not sure if he is being serious, and thinking 'did this guy -whom I just met - seriously just offer to set me up with a random Australian country lad? Me, an obviously brown, Muslim non-Australian born chick? Wow, isn't multiculturalism awesome...) Oh how kind, thank you?
OF: Yeh no worries, next time we are in town I'll introduce you to him, you can go from there.
Who knows what will happen next time I go down town!
I walked into the drillers' room - or the doghouse as it is called, as was greeted with this: (D=Driller)
D: You hear that sound?
Me: Nope...what sound?
D: That ticking, it's your biological clock. You might be here now, but one day you'll just switch and you'll be wanting to iron clothes and feed babies... Trust me!
But what if my biological clock draws me to the ninja mafia instead?
It is an interesting world, a little bubble if you will, where you meet the craziest personalities but also some of the most interesting... I love it. Stay tuned for more, and do share if you enjoyed it!
It’s been a big week and these links have been sitting ‘to be published’ for a while now – hope you enjoy nonetheless! The photo above is of the UNAOC Youth Forum that I had the honour of being a part of…
How was your week? If you’re not sure yet…take some time to think while reading these awesome pieces!
"Though there is inevitably a focus on the constant tug-of-war between work and life for women, I don't think our feminist dream is a simple binary equation. Maybe it would be better if we had a more nuanced view, of a triple bottom line - professional, personal and public."
Former Attorney General
A fascinating and very Godin-like interview with the one and only, Seth Godin. Worth the read. I particularly enjoyed this line:
Do you believe in “writer’s block”? If so, how do you avoid it?
This is a fancy term for fear. I avoid it by not getting it. Because I write like I talk and I don’t get talker’s block.
I keep coming back to this article on making this year count.
All that stuff's nice — but entirely besides the point. Of life. For the simple, timeless truth is: You'll never find the rapture of accomplishment in mere conquest, the incandescence of happiness in mere possession, or the searing wholeness of meaning in mere desire. You can find them only — only — in the exploration of the fullness of human possibility.
Are you a political influencer, or want to be? Check out this new tool also being started by a friend, BiPolitico.
I disagree with this analysis of the demise of Google Reader. I think I will write something about it. It’s something that I am not looking forward to indeed…
Something a little light hearted – 27 signs you were raised by immigrant parents. Too many of these made me laugh…because it’s true :)
I used to believe that being forgotten was the worst fate that could befall me. However, I have come to accept not only my mortality, but my insignificance in the story of our universe.
This is not to say that we are all ‘insignificant as individuals’, as we are extremely important to those who love us and the community we are a part of; to deny this would be unfair. In fact, it would be wasteful of the gift of our lives if we disregarded our importance as people and individuals.
However, notions of grandeur and of everlasting importance are fanciful and ultimately selfish, are they not? Think about the thousands of years of humankind and the billions of people who have gone before us, who each had stories; lives, loves, struggles and triumphs…how many of those have been remembered? How many empires, on the other hand, have fallen due to an individual’s obsession with power and immortality?
Why do we feel like we need to be remembered?
On the other hand though, shouldn’t we strive to create and leave a legacy?
Wanting to be remembered is one thing, leaving a legacy is quite another.
One is about the individual, craving attention and validation of their existence. The other is selfless, about leaving the world a better place than when we joined.
It is up to you to decide what your legacy will be. Utilise that gift, and shape one that you are proud of.
*Source of pictures? Tumblr.
In other words, only white people can stand in for the human race as whole.
No act of sexism is too small to ignore: a good piece about changing cultures. The interesting link here can be made with changing of any cultures; as the author says, there is no point in half draining the toxic swamp.
An arresting article on South Korean women who have had plastic surgery. Apparently, they see it just like putting on makeup…what an interesting cultural difference.
An amazing piece by an young Asian-American lady, who found her niche when she always thought she was an outlier… beautiful personal essay: Outsider / Insider. Also from Rookie Mag, a beautiful piece about losing your original culture when you are brought up in a different country.
Stop and realise…these are our good old days. We are living them now! How exciting is that?
The difference between being alone, and lonely.
A reflective piece on being an expatriate and what it is like when you come home. Leaving Australia for good.
From a more technical point of view, how will this non conventional gas boom affect US economics and politics and the rest of the world?
Enjoy your week!
It is not an unfamiliar story; born in a developing country and having the fortune of being brought up in a country with opportunities. It is not an unfamiliar story at all, but somehow I find myself in unfamiliar territory.
Perhaps this is an issue that is best suited for quite discussion around a coffee table with trusted confidantes, perhaps it isn't a lament suitable for the public arena. If it is an issue that is affecting *me* so profoundly though, who is to say there aren't others with a similar dilemma that I can learn from?
I am an Australian, through and through and proud of that fact. I travel with the Aussie passport, I have an Aussie accent, when I am asked where I am from (in my brown skinned & hijabed attire), I say that I am an Australian.
The fact that I was born in Sudan was always just a part of my background story, something that added flavour to my introduction. Yes, it meant I ate different foods at home and I had a slightly "exotic" home culture and cultural expectations, but it was never really something that affected how I saw myself interacting with the world. I was Australian with mixed Sudanese heritage, I would say.
Spending some time in Sudan though, has brought up questions that I never thought I would ask myself.
The country is in an extremely difficult position, for a number of reasons (that requires its own analysis, perhaps when I am at a different address). As someone who has always been passionate about social change, human rights and the like, it is no longer something I can ignore, no longer something that is just a part of where I come from. I used to visit quite frequently with my parents as a child and the trips would be all *visits, nostalgia, happiness, excitement, family*. As you get older though, you begin to see the cracks...especially when the cracks are widening.
So it became a question of wanting to do something.
From the socio-economic perspective, I could see where work could be done. Working with the grassroots community, helping with education, food, orphans, teaching....achievable in discrete amounts, bit by bit...
Then cames the realisation that this may not be enough. No amount of aid or number of mobile libraries is going to fill a gap that the government should be filling. So I cast the net wider...
...and realise that there is, maybe, a hope for change. All the neighbouring countries rose up right? Why can't Sudan be the same? That is the question I hear asked... by the young, the bloodthirsty, the hungry and desperate.
The more seasoned critics reason with experience:
We've been here before and worse, they say...
What is the alternative? they ask...
Better the devil you know then the devil you don't, they counter...
This one is satisfied. He's "shab3an" (ate until he was full). If anyone new comes, they will come hungry and do it all again....
So one sees all this and thinks well maybe, maybe there is a way I can play a part in this. The critics are right, there needs to be an alternative? Does an alternative exist? Do those who are rising up and protesting have a plan? Perhaps I can offer some semblance of support or control or aid...
I ask these questions because of desperation to help, somehow.
I think maybe I can play a part, somehow --
Then comes the questions -- the questions on the back burner, the questions that people ask:
Well who are you to get involved?
Do you even really consider yourself Sudanese?
Who do you think you are?
Why should we listen to you?
Do you know what we have been living through?
Are you just bringing in their ideas??
Can you even speak the language properly?
...and I begin to doubt.
But in such a situation, there is no room for doubt.
All that is left is the question:
Does the fact that I grew up in another country, and consider myself an Australian, exclude me from fighting the fight in the country of my birth? What right do I have, does it make me less legitimate a voice in this battle? If I choose to join this fight as part of the Sudanese sha3b (people), does that mean I forsake my "Australian identity"?
...or is it a case of deciding for myself what my identity is and what "fights I choose to fight?"
I think that perhaps may be my answer, but that in itself, isn't an easy thing to do...
The older I get, the less sure I am of where things stand in the world and the more I realise it is all shades of grey.
What do you think?