A weekly digest of varied conversational musings on day-to-day life, society & whatever the world throws our way.

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#BringBackOurGirls

 

BringBackOurGirls.001Like so many others outraged by the kidnapping of over 200 girls in Nigeria by Boko Haram, I’ve tweeted, hashtagged, attended or promoted rallies, all with a view to ensure that as many people as possible are aware of this tragedy.

I know, of course, that there are other cases – too many to count –  in my country and in other countries around the world where women and girls are targeted, kidnapped, raped, and bought, sold, and killed like chattel. I know that it is (shamefully) nothing new; but the brazenness, and the sheer magnitude and level of coordination required to take these young girls from their school has hit me in a markedly different way.

These girls are in my thoughts – each day; often multiple times a day. Their parents are in my thoughts. And I don’t want these girls to be forgotten. I don’t want the world to move on to the next big news item until each one is found, brought back home and reunited with their families, and their perpetrators punished to the nth degree. 

I hope that this happens – that each one is located, including those who we’ve learned have passed away in the treacherous jungle – but I know it would also be naive of me to think that this can happen with any great certainty now, a month later, given the bungling on the part of responsible authorities in Nigeria. 

I know that a tweet, a hashtag, or Facebook post is not, on its own, enough to find the young girls whose supposed crime has led to their punishment by the insane league of Boko Haram. Their crime is one committed each weekday by millions around the world. It’s a crime which, if I followed the tenets of Boko Haram, would make me guilty too given my own level of education. 

At this stage, only boots on the ground can handle the task; but I hope that, somehow, the young women can sense that there are millions of people around the world who are praying for their safe return and that those millions of thoughts and prayers bolster them somehow.  

I hope that those many signatures on those many petitions, and the photos, posts, and interviews are effective in even the smallest of ways. I hope it is enough to #BringBackOurGirls.

Signing off,

Y.

 

 

Say What?

Question mark

Currently, the internet is all abuzz over racist (and plain stupid and regressive) comments allegedly made by Donald Sterling, owner of the LA Clippers. I say allegedly because it is still to be determined whether the voices recorded on tape are in fact those of the 80 year old Sterling and his girlfriend.  Apparently, the inflammatory comments are nothing new; only this time Sterling appears to have been caught through a covert recording for the entire world to hear. The NBA team owner is known to have “particular” views about black people.  On the recording, Sterling purportedly asks his girlfriend (of mixed black and Mexican heritage) to refrain from broadcasting her association with black people, amongst other “requests”.

I’m not going to use this space though to focus solely on Sterling. If all the comments, past and present, are true they are without question disgusting. They are troublesome too as they colour Sterling’s ownership of an NBA franchise as he has become wealthy on the backs -or should I say via the 3-pointers? – of African-Americans.  Hmm, it makes it sound like the NBA may be the new plantation, but that could be the subject of a different blog post.

While the world focuses on Sterling, I have a few thoughts to express about Sterling’s – young enough to be his daughter – girlfriend.  I make a few assumptions here: 1) that Sterling’s girlfriend was well aware of his prejudiced outlook and chose to stay in a relationship with him regardless; 2) that she doesn’t care about his views; and 3) has the power to leave him if she so desired.

I believe in “girl power” in the non-Spice Girls sense of the term and the “sisterhood code”, i.e. supporting your fellow ladies or coming to the aid of another woman when she’s maltreated, etc. I’d prefer not to have to call his girlfriend out, but I cannot let this one slide. Frankly, her behaviour is embarrassing, alarming, and makes women, particularly minority women, look like gold-digging fools.

And a fool this woman certainly is. And, if I’m generous, perhaps naïve too. Some might say she’s the beneficiary or winner in the relationship. After all, her manfriend (boyfriend seems a bit juvenile given Sterling’s more advanced years) has likely bought her lavish gifts and offered her the “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” lifestyle that likely was her life’s goal, sans the drudgery and labour on her part. But, regardless, at the end of the day, if Sterling’s reputation is as bad as claimed, and if this young woman is aware, then she’s complicit in his behaviour and not much better than him.

Not only is he (allegedly of course) disrespecting other minorities, honey, he’s also disrespecting you too.  Remember, you are the company you keep.

Signing off,

Y.

 

Lazy

While one can get a high during a productivity groove – when you hit that sweet spot and manage to get through your to-do lists and major tasks like an overachieving ivy leaguer on speed – laziness on the other hand can feel oh so good.

The laziness I’m talking about isn’t necessarily that associated with procrastination. I’m talking about laziness in its pure form – laziness as a high art. It is the form that arises when one has no worries or cares, no ticking clock, no alarm bell to jar one from sleep to an awakened existence. It is laziness at its most relaxed. It is almost… beautiful.

Because when you’re in that lazy mood the beat of the heart is steady. The brow is free of sweat, free from worry. The surrounding world moves slow and sticky and sweet like honey.

It is laziness at its most happy, pleasant and delightful point.

That is when it is at its best.

Signing off,

Y.

Cityscape

Okay. I know that it’s been all quiet on The Y Variable front as of late. I have a decently good excuse though for my silence on the blog. I was on work-related travel, so it was an intense few weeks, meaning many things outside of that sphere may have slipped. I hope I will be forgiven. 🙂

But I’m back now and in a decidedly reflective mood after having had the opportunity to get away, especially after months of a seemingly endless Canadian winter that is far from abating. The trip was an opportunity to get a sneak peak at the spring that currently eludes us and to revel in my temporary life in some other cities. In my other existence, I was becoming proficient in ‘big city’ life, navigating trains, the metro and the Underground like a pro – well, trying my best anyway to fit seamlessly with the locals – and luxuriating in the energy one finds in the ebb and flow of crowds that I ordinarily disdain. For some reason, crowds ‘elsewhere’ are welcome, more interesting, meriting a longer gaze, and more analysis from my foreign eyes.

One of the more interesting aspects of travel is seeing how other societies construct their cities. The shape of a city – its roads, buildings, walkways and pathways – all signal what a people consider essential to their way of life. The shape of a city – both its physical and cultural sides – also demonstrates that society’s core values. Is it a biking city – with plenty of bike lanes or bikes for rent? Is it a driving city or a city where metro is paramount? Are there are as many recycling bins as garbage bins? Is the cultural scene vibrant – with festivals galore and access at one’s fingertips to theatre, galleries, or street art? All of these characteristics drive how citizens will design their own lives and creates a remarkable push/pull effect. A city’s form will attract some, creating a unique devotion to that location, but will deter others, causing them to pick up and leave for a locale more in line with their personal philosophies or individual drumbeats.

I always enjoy a good walk in a new city. There’s a particular joy that comes from exploring an unknown place; where being a little bit or very lost is more than okay because what you may find around the corner could be better than anything you may have planned or set out to see. On those walks, especially when on my own, I imagine what it would be like to live in that city that I’m coming to love even more. Am I seeing only a veneer? Do the tourist goggles cloud my vision? Perhaps life in that city isn’t as great as it may be in my mind’s eye? I doubt it, however.

Of course, an escape to another city, whether for business or for relaxation, must always come to an end. The passport has to come out again, that marker of otherness, permitted officially to visit, but signalling that your stay is only temporary and that you don’t fully belong.

On my return to a home still covered with ice and snow I try my best to carry that ‘travel status’ life with me and integrate those things I loved in my life here. And as the snow falls and as I hear neighbours shovelling their driveways for the umpteenth time this season, I think of my time away and the pleasure I found being elsewhere.

Signing off,

Y.

Lupita
Captured By: Christian MacDonald

Captured By: Christian MacDonald

I don’t know her, and am unlikely to ever meet her, but I am so happy for Lupita Nyong’o. (Warning: in this post, I will proceed to gush at length). She appears to be a woman who is truly rising to the upper echelons of Hollywood – where I hope she’ll stay. It’s wonderful to see someone like her receive so many accolades and such a high level of attention worldwide. A woman “like her” wouldn’t ordinarily be found on the cover of a magazine (check out the latest editions of Entertainment Weekly – with Nyong’o sharing the cover with the great Cate Blanchett, or Vanity Fair‘s Hollywood issue, or Dazed and Confused), or be the subject of a fashion campaign (i.e. Miu Miu) and fashion editorials (Vogue Italia), but she has somehow defied convention and won.

She’s dark, even by African standards – and gorgeously so. If one scrolls to the comment pages on websites featuring her image, the first thing most people remark upon is her beautiful, glowing skin, along with her otherworldly face. But more than that – which is significant given the emphasis placed on looks in the entertainment industry – people are drawn towards her and compelled to root for her too because of her personality. She comes across as highly intelligent, articulate, bubbly, happy, and…nice. (How refreshing). She has a perfect pairing – beauty and brains. A perfect package.

Even her fellow comrades in Hollywood are “Nyong’o-ites”. Celebrities want to meet her, hug her, or take a picture with her. Check out The Hollywood Reporter interview featuring Nyong’o, Oprah Winfrey, Julie Adams, Julia Roberts, Octavia Spencer, and Emma Thompson. Oprah is ecstatic to sit beside her during this roundtable discussion and one can witness a certain level of awe from these actresses towards Nyong’o. When she speaks, they listen. When she tears up, overwhelmed, perhaps, by the position she’s in, as well as bearing the scars and memory of playing a tortured slave, they seek to comfort her.

It may not seem like it should be so significant, beautiful actresses are a dime a dozen after all, but when was the last time we saw someone like Lupita Nyong’o ascend to these heights? One may think of Grace Jones – although the only commonalities between the two may be their dark skin and natural hair, closely cropped – but Jones was more overtly eccentric than Lyong’o whose sartorial bent favours the feminine and brightly hued, over Jones’ dominatrix staples and hard demeanour.

Before Nyong’o came around, I wasn’t sure that Hollywood was prepared to have a woman such as her enter its mainstream corridors. Unfortunately, colorism in our society still exists. I’m optimistic that this will not be the end of the road for her. Aside from winning the Oscar for best supporting actress (not to jinx the process, of course), the next test for her will be to carry a leading role in a film. I hope it happens and that audiences come in droves. And I hope that there will be other similarly hued and similarly amazing Lupitas down the road who break down the still-present barriers in the entertainment industry and shine their light. Wouldn’t that be a sight to behold?

Signing off,

Y.