Follow my Existential Exile. . .

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Walking in the Light.

CAUTION: Revolution-Walking©. Martin Luther King Leads Selma-Montgomery March, to Protest Lack of Voting Rights for African-Americans.

Wait don't go!

Welp, that was quick! The month we're suppose to nationally acknowledge the history of people of African descent in America is over. As always I will continue to celebrate my life and history all day everyday. I had an interesting skype conversation with a friend last night. I'd like to share it with you:
(Previous words were exchanged about the unity of Black folk in America and what certain Black leaders like Farrakhan and Obama are doing or not doing to help the unity)

"Friend" 2/28/12 10:46 PM
The problem in the US is very simple, all the community are devided, i've never been to Chicago, but i got lotta friends in the US and they all TOLD ME THE SAME ish, they said Unity? only among the christians, or muslims, or black Caribbean...
unity won't exist between other blacks if they got different believes etc
i mean all of my african friends told me that

"Me" 2/28/12 10:47 PM 
interesting opinion
there's more to it than that.

"Friend" 2/28/12 10:48 PM 
so if you didn't hear about what N.O.I. [Nation of Islam] is doing for the community (muslim), based on their talkin (my friends) it won't surprise me

"Me" 2/28/12 10:53 PM 
Americans in general, who have been in the country for many generations have lost their original culture, and especially in the case of those who are of African descent, but were brought over as slaves, our heritage has been completely erased. So we try to form our own "Black" culture, but honestly, though it is rich, it's not enough, and not well defined, and not concrete, or has any solid foundation anywhere but from slavery. So, in my opinion until Black people can hold on to a solid sense of self worth (which also comes from knowing and believing you are a valuable child of God who is loved by God) and an actual heritage that was formed from a specific culture i.e. cultures in Africa, only then I feel can you begin to understand who you are and where your values should come from

it won't solve all the problems, but I do think in general youth in America and Black folks struggle with a lack of identity


yes we are American, no doubt, but I'm not "The American" until I leave America, that's kinda strange

that i'm not even accepted "as I am" in my own country

So I think it's wise if Black folks embraced and researched their African-ness

but too many Black folk are too lazy, too naive, or

tooo caught up in James Brown Philosophy "I'm Black and I'm Proud"

to even investigate what their true heritage is

"Friend" 2/28/12 10:56 PM 
T there's nothing to add, you said EVERYTHING, im 100% with what you said

"Me" 2/28/12 10:56 PM 
a lot of us are not just "Black" we're African + Native American + European (Anglo-Saxon) . . .
and we have a means to figure this out now, the African Ancestry kit
so there's no excuse, but it is a bit pricey

"Friend" 2/28/12 10:58 PM 
i feel you girl, i think it's very important for the black american to know their history and from where they are coming from, i had several convos with few of them and T i couldn't get why they were so embarassed to be assimilated to their african brothers


"Me" 2/28/12 10:59 PM 
. . . of course at first it's a bit daunting, but the reality is we are from Africa

Because we're soo far removed, its hard to really relate to a culture you don't know anything about 


however,

and this is why more Black folk need to travel. . . we are still African, partly, half, quarter whatever, we're a lot of things, and unfortunately unlike other countries like France, or Brazil, we haven't been able to be proud of ALL of our heritage

but this is America in general, a lot of white folks couldn't tell you their heritage either

Americans are happy just being "American" and that's good enough for them, like some Puerto Ricans [Jennifer Lopez] are happy saying they are 100% Puerto rican,  but that's a lie

they're Spanish + African + Native American,

Jamaican's are happy saying "I'm Jamaican" when in reality you could potentially have Chinese, African, Irish and Indian in your blood line. . .


. . . Long story short, Let's take this exile to Africa!

Mosaics

Not all mulattos [or people of mixed heritage] play the "tragic" role. In light of my previous post, below are a few photos of contemporary "con lai" creatively loving their culture:
Linh's mother is Vietnamese and Martinique. I love Mama Nguyen!

"queen" Victoria is Vietnamese and Cameroon

The hip hoppers. JM is Vietnamese and Reunion Island. (near Madagascar)
Cute and Gorgeous!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

a little history for ya

According to the American government or whoever makes these rules, it's the month we're suppose to celebrate the history of the people of African decent in America. Well, I celebrate my living existence everyday. In fact I'm jamming right now to Erykah Badu. Hey!

Any who, since we're suppose to be talking about the history of people of African decent in America, and I'm currently located in Vietnam lets discuss an issue that is about to be extinct in Vietnam. . . the con lai.

To be continued in a few. . .

Okay, so for those that don't know "con lai" in Vietnamese means "mixed". Not to be confused with còn lại which means "remnants" or as my government friend told me "left behind." If you look up the phrase "con lai", Google translates it into "cross breed". Well we're not talking about dogs, we're talking about the children of American soldiers and the Vietnamese women they slept with. Before I relocated to Vietnam, I had a few friends profess that "there are soo many Black people in Vietnam! War babies!" Oh really? Did you fly over to Vietnam and perform a census?? I don't understand where people get their information. From my personal experience living in Saigon for almost 2 years, I will tell you I HAVE NOT seen a lot of African Americans, and I definitely have not seen or met a lot of people who look to be mixed with Vietnamese and African ancestry. However, they do exist.

There is one lady whom I see every time I visit my favorite vegetarian restaurant, Hoa Dang. You can only see her if you sit in the back of the restaurant, straight ahead from the door. This is because she only works in the kitchen, and on occasion she will come out and stand by the mini bar and bathrooms. Her skin is brown, a bit darker than most Vietnamese who let their skin tan. It's her hair that gives it away. Most of the time I don't notice if a Vietnamese person looks mixed with African features, because if I do see someone like this I assume they are Cambodian. This worker at Hoa Dang has African hair. There's no doubt about it. I can also tell, she has no idea how to take of it. Does she even know where it came from?

A friend of mine who works for the US government talked about a program back in the 90's, that granted American citizenship to Vietnamese who "looked" mixed. There wasn't much paper work involved because most Vietnamese who were alive or born during the time of the war burned any evidence that they were part of or supported anything anti-Communist and/or the American army. And according to Wikipedia, "Having a child with a member of a belligerent foreign military, throughout history and across cultures, is often considered a grave betrayal of social values". 

I can only imagine the shame the worker's mother may have felt for having the baby of an American soldier. She may have been outcasted. I doubt she kept in contact with the father. Once the baby was born, (some time between 1950 - 1970's) was she educated on her heritage? I doubt it. Could you imagine being born into a homogeneous  society, everyone but you looks the same, same skin tone, same hair. You don't really notice you're different until everyone stares at you, or makes fun of you. You wonder why you look different but no one bothered to explain, or give you a correct answer. To make matters worse, these Afro Amer-asian con lai children have spent their entire life in a society that doesn't accept them as beautiful or worthy. Now as grown middle aged adults, these Afro Amer-asian con lai have been fully immersed into Vietnamese culture. I wonder if they feel complete. Or,  do they feel like a part of them is missing, incomplete or unresolved? 

dear readers,

I received some negative feedback regarding my blog earlier this week. Please understand I started this blog as a gateway for my friends and family in the US to have a taste of my experiences living in Asia. If you don't like what I have to say, DONT READ IT, it really is that simple. I will only censor myself so much. I do have the right to my opinion, and I realize that my opinionated thoughts may offend someone. I apologize. The blog is about no one else, but me and my experience. Unfortunately or fortunately if you are in my life at this current time, you are part of this experience. Be encouraged that I find inspiration in the rich stories of the colorful lives I learn about daily. At the end of the day, its all about lessons learned, and it's all good.

Peace and Blessings,
Tiana