Tag Archives: Comparison

Third World Black America?

I went to the Union Square vigil last night, the National Moment of Silence for victims of police brutality. I spent a minute chanting with the protesters, but decided that I wanted to hear what people at the vigil had to say, rather than walk through NYC. It was nice, being surrounded by people I did not know, who had all come out to support the same cause. There were a lot of us. We were a community with potential.
Community.

One morning on the walk through Kibera, there was a sort of mob forming at one of the intersections of our path. It seemed ominous, although its animosity was not directed toward us, but at whatever was happening at its center.
“Mzungu!” One man called out to the volunteer in front of me, “Come and look at this!” Other members of the crowd laughed, but we didn’t pay attention. We had to get to school, and despite being curious about what was happening, the vibe coming from the people gathered was scary.
We later found out that we had passed by a stoning. Someone had been caught stealing, and when this happens, the perpetrator is stoned to death. In this case, they stopped before the guy was actually dead. It was still slightly unnerving to hear about.
The way that it was explained makes a lot of sense, though. Kibera is a community. An actual, beautiful community, “where everyone looks out for each other. If someone is having a party a few houses down from you, you go to it, even if you don’t know them that well. You go, because they’re your neighbor. When you buy, say, a radio, that’s only possible after taking the time to save up for it. Once you have it, it is precious to you. If someone steals your radio, they are also stealing your security. You cannot trust them, because the same people who steal from you will also come into your house and rape you. A community without trust between its residents is not a community at all, and Kibera can’t function the same way unless that trust is restored. So the community must punish the person who breached trust severely enough to ensure that it will never happen again. They do not trust the police to help them, because they know the police are not their allies; they only hurt, and never help.”

Throughout the experience, I would be annoyed with other volunteers for looking at things that were happening in Kibera as sad aspects of a developing (some people actually still said Third World) nation that was behind the United States. Certain people actually seemed to believe that in four weeks, we would make everything better and set a good Western example for the people we supposedly helped. Meanwhile, there seemed to be no reflection on the United States’ own issues.

This was one that I almost missed. I didn’t really think about it until, while listening to speakers at the vigil, I found myself wondering about Mike Brown’s body lying in the street. When you find a body in the street, who do you call? Who do you expect to move it? It’s funny, because my automatic reaction would be to think of the police. You’re supposed to be able to call the police when you find a dead body, and they’re supposed to rush over and then do their detective thing, find the killer, and put the killer to justice. Right?
Right?
But what if the police put the body there in the first place? That sounds crazy.
That sounds crazy. What if the police shot the body and left it there to rot in the middle of an active street? And what if they shot the body for no viable reason? What if the police are actually killers?
Who do you call now?

There are those stupid Youtubers who have their racist “In the Hood” pranks, where they harass black people into beating them up. One especially stupid one involves them going up to random black guys and snatching the cell phones out of their hands to “check” the time. They Know it looks like they’re stealing the phones. They Know they’re going to be beaten up. They Know they’re creating extremely fucked up situations, but they keep creating them because they Don’t Know that they’re participating in yet another form of racism.
If you can get shot for being black, are you really going to call the police when a shrimpy white boy takes your phone? That’d be stupid. You have to take care of it yourself because you don’t even have a community to stone with you. Black people are not enough of a community yet. I have hope. It can be done. If black people continued to come together and didn’t just wait for the next abominable killing that made headlines, there Could Be a community.

But for right now, it seems that we’re behind Kibera. This must be when what Monsignor Ivan Illich meant when he told volunteers to stay in America and fix its own inequalities first. Who will fix this?

Peace and Body Love

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. They seem so phony and forced, and almost no one sticks to them. However, I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection recently, about some of my experiences and the way I think about things, and I’ve had a couple ideas that could branch into lifelong resolutions. It only happens to be New Year’s time.

I need to accept and love myself. Putting this into action may be what pushed me into finally starting the blog. I know that learning to love oneself is almost cliché at this point, but I feel like very few people actually do it, or do it in the way that I mean.
I think that I started really loving the way that I look last year. I’ve always loved my butt, and it was the first time I was aware of the fact that I have boobs, and other features just seemed to fall into place. This is not to say that I was without insecurities. I’ve never had visible abs, and all the muscles in my body are covered with an inch or so of fat, and there can be any number of things wrong with my appearance on any given day. The way I got over that was by asking myself if I’d want to trade what I had with anyone else. I’d look at girls with bigger boobs and bigger stomachs than mine and decide that I was okay. I’d look at girls with flat abs but no butt to speak of, and appreciate my curves. I’d see girls who looked flawless, and speculate what they looked like without makeup. Each time, I decided that I wouldn’t actually trade anything on my body, or my face, and that I really liked myself the way I was.

You see how wrong that was though, right? I might have accepted myself, but I clearly didn’t love myself if I felt the need to mentally match and compare myself with everyone around me. Is that why people critique others? Not because they really care, but so that they can secretly feel better about themselves? That’s so messed up. I was so messed up. Sometimes I still am so messed up, because sometimes I still catch myself comparing myself to other people. It’s so stupid, because at this point in life I already know that I’m attractive. I know that I have some type of beauty, and I know that someone else’s beauty will do nothing to diminish mine. Yet I still get urges to compare myself to other people, and I’m working on eradicating them.

I’m definitely closer now than I was before. I love to tell people that they’re beautiful, and I love to celebrate with others (the non-distressing form of my empathy). Lately I’ve been celebrating people a lot more than mentally trying to pick them apart, and I hope that this can only increase. This is partly why I really want to join a nudist colony, or at least spend a lot of time on nude beaches. I just feel like being out and open in the world will force me to completely accept everything about myself, to the point where loving my body and my looks won’t even be a thing to think about because it simply will be.

I think that if I can do this, I’ll be happier. Not only because I won’t have to harbor constant worries and negative thoughts about myself, but also because it will allow me to truly appreciate everyone else around me. Without a reason to see bad in people, all the good can shine through.