Manic Musings

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"A nomad I will remain for life, in love with distant and uncharted places."
- Isabelle Eberhardt
"You know I get that this is mostly tongue in cheek with the tax monster and all that. And I understand that plenty of taxes in the West can lead to frustration. However, there is a real power in taxation. One of the argument’s I’ve been reading a lot lately on the state of E. Africa (in particular, but it applies to other areas of Africa as well) is that, the lack of taxation leads to a lack of representation. In essence, since government doesn’t take much in tax, they aren’t particularly accountable to the public on how they spend their revenue. So most of the roads here, that aren’t main roads, are fairly shit. Even in the city. There is no proper fire service. The police won’t come unless you pay their petrol costs. Electric wires just hang, sometimes for days at a time. Trafic systems are nearly nonexistent. Schools rely almost completely on aid money, and social programs run by the state are nearly nonexistent. Public transport inside Kampala was attempted earlier this year in shifty Chinese buses. But that plan was quickly scrapped for various reasons ranging from corruption to cheaper private options. We do have a water-treatment system in Kampala that gives…cleanish drinking water. To be fair, I use it for tea (you’re supposed to boil it for 15 minutes, I rarely boil it for more than 1 minute) and I’ve never gotten ill. But that’s not to say it’s ‘clean’. A relationship between the citizen and the government regarding tax and spending is important, and perhaps even, necessary to be able to claim democracy. The fact that many states in E. Africa don’t have it leads to a huge lack of services and a need to provide them. Taxes can be rough. But they do buy you both national cohesion and services that most in the West have come to expect as a normal standard of living. Once you’ve lived without such things, you’re likely to be grateful for such basic structures."
  Sure Thing.: No Representation without Taxation 

(via uhuh-she-said-deactivated201312)


I’m an English major. It is a language of conquest.

What does it say that I’m mastering the same language that was used to make my mother feel inferior? Growing up, I had a white friend who used to laugh whenever my mother spoke English, amused by the way she rolled her r’s. My sister and I tease Mami about her accent too, but it’s different when we do it, or is it? The echoes of colonization linger in my voice. The weapons of the death squads that pushed my mother out of El Salvador were U.S.-funded. When Nixon promised, “We’re going to smash him!” it was said in his native tongue, and when the Chilean president he smashed used his last words to promise, “Long live Chile!” it was said in his. And when my family told me the story of my grandfather’s arrest by the dictatorship that followed, my grandfather stayed silent, and meeting his eyes, I cried, understanding that there were no words big enough for loss.

English is a language of conquest. I benefit from its richness, but I’m not exempt from its limitations. I am ‘that girl’ in your English classes, the one who is tired of talking about dead white dudes. But I’m still complicit with the system, reading nineteenth-century British literature to graduate.

Diversity in my high school and college English literature courses is too often reduced to a month, week, or day where the author of the book is seen as the narrator of the novel. The multiplicity of U.S. minority voices is palatably packaged into a singular representation for our consumption. I read Junot Díaz and now I understand not only the Dominican-American experience, but what it means to be Latina/o in America. Jhumpa Lahiri inspired me to study abroad in India. Sherman Alexie calls himself an Indian, so now it’s ok for me to call all Indians that, too. We will read Toni Morrison’s Beloved to understand the horrors of slavery, but we won’t watch her takedowns on white supremacy.

Even the English courses that analyze race and diasporas in meaningful ways are still limited by the time constraints of the semester. Reading Shakespeare is required, but reading Paolo Javier and Mónica de la Torre is extra credit. My Experimental Minority Writing class is cross-listed at the most difficult level, as a 400-level course in the Africana Studies, Latina/o Studies, and American Studies departments, but in my English department, it is listed as a 300-level. I am reminded of Orwellian democracy: All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.


Monica Torres, “Majoring In English,” The Feminist Wire 3/29/13 (via racialicious)

This woman deserves a standing ovation. 

(via uhuh-she-said)

(via uhuh-she-said-deactivated201312)


some people are so good at talking like they open their mouth and out comes good ideas and perfectly constructed sentences and they have confidence and everyone listens to them talk

but when i talk it’s like hello morning yes butter homework wiggle book good

(via brainlikepancakebatter)

"One thing that’s particularly frustrating about living in Sub-Saharan Africa, is the sheer ignorance of the rest of the world. One might be able to argue that there’s not much trade or need to teach Central African studies. No point in lecturing about the history of decolonization in East Africa. And that’s fine. I get it. We have a lot to learn about don’t we? However, the frustrating, heartbreaking and all too predictable result of this is misplaced policies and trade regarding this region. And this sounds bland enough. But the fact is, behind those financial decisions there are real victims. Real casualties. Real wars. We have governments in the West that are dictating aid based on their approval of African policies. At first glance this might seem like a fine idea. We are spreading justice to the world via our taxes. I mean, is it particularly moral to give money to a government that clearly steals elections? That wants to sentence gay Africans to death? However, what Westerners fail to take into account is that they are actually arresting development in these countries by imposing these quid pro quo strategies. For instance, during a particularly contentious election season in Tanzania, the Danish government told the the Tanzanian government they must create an electoral fraud commission ensure justice moved swiftly during elections. A ridiculously large building was built to house this commission and money was spent on salaries for all the people who would work there. But, as noted by numerous Tanzanian scholars, it is the work of the countries judiciary to decide these issues. And in fact, an electoral commission already existed. By taking power away from those institutions, and sending all the money to a foreign-born and foreign-fed system, real, proper governmental evolution was distorted. Elections were stolen as usual. Nothing changed. Except, unsurprisingly, the presidential winner was, of course, the pet of Western powers. Aid-for-policy programs also have another disturbing parallel. They mirror the efforts of missionaries who came (and still come) to Sub-Saharan Africa. Their mission was to educate the ‘savages’ on the ‘Dark Continent’. Proponents of Christianity would come, dig a well, and not let the locals take the water supply until they read, or made an effort to learn, the Bible. They would essentially hold a population hostage with new technology or resources, and not give in unless the locals accepted Jesus as their lord and savior. Most people find this idea abhorrent. Yet these same liberal, Western educated people will propose limiting aid until an African society bends to their Western will. Aid programs, as discussed by noted Zambian author Dambisa Moyo in the book Dead Aid, generally don’t work. They hold African nations at the beck and call of the West while only superficially shifting deep rooted issues. It is a way for the West to bandage Africa without having to really look at the wound. If the West did, actually, take a good, deep, hard look at what is ailing Africa, than a certain amount of self-awareness would have to take place. Belgium and Germany would have to note (previously disregarded) genocidal crimes. The slave trade, the amount of goods and the ethnic rivalries that were stoked to Western benefit would require a fair amount of uncomfortable feelings. Responsibility might actually have to be taken. But beyond that, the West would also have to actually have to remove their previously comfortable prejudices about the continent. That it’s full of mud-hutted, bone-nosed idiots who practice witchcraft. That this throbbing mass of black Africa will never really reach your world. It is easy to think that your children will never have to deal with it, and so should never bother learning. But thats an idea rooted in assumptions based on the ignorant past. The truth is Africa and China trade at an unprecedented rate. The truth is, the rest of the world does business here. The truth is, economic growth by 2020 has East Africa leading the way. Westerners might not want to learn about Africa. But the West’s ignorance will doom future generations of both Africans and their own. Rest assured that at some point, understanding the conversion rate of African shillings will no longer be optional when dictating lithium prices. Understanding Eastern Congolese politics will not be optional for future policy makers. Africa is part of the global world. It’s economics and politics will impact your future and your children’s future. Willfully keeping oneself in the dark will only mean trouble for the African continent, and trouble for the fiscal future of the West. We can, actually, get this right. It is possible to use Africa’s booming economy to create policies that will benefit the infrastructure from Benin to Zanzibar. But this won’t work without the West. Your willful ignorance hurts us. No matter how many Tom’s shoes you own. This is the age of the internet. We don’t let ignorance act as an excuse when discussing intersectionality and social issues in the West. Well, Africa is about to hold you accountable for learning about more than just your own continent. There are hundreds of books, thousands of authors, and plenty of years to read about. Pick a region and get to it. We are waiting for you to catch up. And the longer we have to wait, the longer Africa will suffer."
  Sure Thing.: No More Excuses: Why You Must Educate Yourself About Africa 

(via uhuh-she-said-deactivated201312)

israel:(forcefully sterilizes ethiopian jews)
israel:(demolishes the homes of palestinians on a huge scale)
israel:(segregates buses so that palestinians have to ride separate buses from israelis)
israel:(forcibly makes it so palestinians cannot visit parts of their own homeland)
israel:(kills and oppresses the palestinian people in the name of a pure jewish homeland)
palestinian civilian:(throws a rock)