29 May 2011

wow... that whole hispanic debate again...

don't you hate it when people are stupid and just don't realise it?

so, pbs did this somewhat unwatchable [i'll explain why in a minute] series on black in latin america. my friend fly-brother critiqued the first two episodes here and here [mijo, nos debes dos criticas más...]. in the first post, a "person" [i use this term in quotes because this guy can't be real] rants on some really bizarre tangents. he also talks, at length, about why hispanics are a separate race.

now, anyone who knows me personally would by now see where i just might have a teeny problem with that last bit. but then this "person" comes on my page and gets butthurt that i won't debate him [because i've been too busy raising children, but anyway], but today i've finally had some free time to look up his points.

and boy are they some doozies.

now, the easiest way to completely shut him down is summed up by the next few paragraphs:

i did the majority of my formal education in central pennsylvania, known to much of the rest of the states as "amish country" -- many schools that teach german in school don't teach the high german pronunciations taught in germany and german government-sponsored schools worldwide, but the swiss-german forms from which the misnamed "pennsylvania dutch" [pennsilfaanisch deitsch translates as "pennsylvania german"] is descended.

the amish, for those who don't know, are an anabaptist sect mainly known for still dressing and living as if it's the 18th century. an interesting about the amish is their viewpoint about people who are not-amish: everyone not-amish is "english". i bring this up because in central pennsylvania, and especially in places which could be called the "amish american homeland", most people are of the same swiss-german stock as the amish. and yet, they are still called "english".

this is, of course, a bit daft on the face of it. there are a few people in those parts who are not of swiss-german ancestry, and there are some black and "hispanic" people. but, at the 2000 census, pennsylvania had more non-hispanic white people than any state except california, new york, texas, and florida -- all states with substantially more people in general. if you look at the 2000 census, you will see that in the year i graduated high school, 1990, pennsylvania was 88.5 percent white. even at 2000, it's 85.4 percent white. maybe 2010 will have it go below 80% for the first time ever, but i doubt it.

but it doesn't matter. the amish call all of them "english" -- without taking differences into croatian or polish catholics, russian, serb or ukrainian orthodox, or any other group. they're just "english" and that is that. they don't take into consideration someone who is half-black, half-greek, or the guy in front of them in line at the weis markets in the town where i attended undergrad that originally is from west bengal. not-amish = english, that is that.

now, if this guy wants to continue to argue the point that he has the mindset of someone stuck in the early 18th century, more power to him. but, you know, many people with actual brains would be like, "nah, that's too big of a mental jump to make". don't get me wrong, there are a LOT of people in latin america who would wish they were white -- the whole concept of "mejorar la raza" is all about lightening the line to get rid of any obvious black or indian features.

in short, "hispanic" is as much of a "race" as "north american" is -- fly-brother is right in saying "um, no, hispanic is not a race" but is a bit wrong in his retort, as he is [incorrectly] more specific by comparing it to "african-american". the best comparison is "american" and leaving it at that, but i do understand the point he was trying to move by being more specific.

oddly enough, my brazilian visa obtained in cape town actually has "north-american" as my nationality. [fly-brother, does yours?] i vaguely remember my last brazilian visa stating my nationality as "americano". maybe the next one will say, "estadunidense" -- i guess we'll find out in about ten years' time.


now i found much of the pbs series largely unwatchable largely because of skip gates. sometimes i think he's either just stuck on stupid, naive, or both -- and, to me, it was on clear display throughout the whole series. there were some nuances that i'm sure he didn't pick up, not having grown up in such environments -- my favorite of those was when he's in brazil and he's got his hand out with a bunch of other men and he's like "we're all a different colors" and the guy who's approximately the same shade has him goes "moreno" in a tone of voice that totally indicated "why the fuck are you trying to call yourself, and by definition me, black?" this particular scene is in the preview to the series, so you can peep it here without going through the whole brazilian episode. a photo of that very scene that i've just described is next to the teaser for "brazil, a racial paradise?" -- the answer to which, by the way, is "no" for reasons that i touched on here.

i'm going to try, again, to watch the last two "black in latin america" shows this evening. i know i'm going to have a tough time with the brazilian one; maybe i should start with the mexico/peru one instead.

if i'm able to watch them, i'll post my opinions of them later on. on verra.

how about dem elections...

so, almost two weeks ago, there were local government elections here in south africa. there was overall voter turnout of nearly 60%, which was very high for almost anywhere outside of continental europe or various dictatorships, and apparently, much of the additional votes went to new political party the national freedom party -- which doesn't have a website, but does have a few facebook groups.

some more of those votes also went to cementing control of cape town by the official opposition, the democratic alliance (da). the da, since 2006, had run cape town via a seven-party coalition, but this time around they received an outright majority -- and a much stronger majority than many of the other metropoles. they had port elizabeth in their sights, and almost got it on the ward councillor level, but proportional representation is what did them in. you can see the full results of the local government elections here.

i was sort of hoping that the african national congress (anc) would have taken back cape town, so i could see how long i could go without paying the rates on my properties before getting a warning letter. [i already know how long it takes in a da-ruled municipality.] but it would seem that i'm not going to get that chance.

some south african readers might think that this post would be an ode to the da, but i would disagree. i'm not a big fan of most of the south african political parties in general, but i will say that i am quite glad that the da ran an overall positive campaign this time around in focusing on service delivery instead of scare tactics like "if you don't vote for the anc, mandela will die" [i'm not making this up.]

another thing i liked about the da's campaign is this poster. it shows the leader of the party, helen zille [who is the premier of the western cape], patricia de lille [the mayor-elect of cape town] and lindiwe mazibuko [the national spokesperson]. this article is a fairly good cover of ms mazibuko. my only fault with her, to be honest, is that she should have taken on blade nzimande on the floor of the national assembly when she had a chance [and, more importantly, done it in isizulu or siswati]. blade might harp on her about not being from the townships, but she definitely has izinwele kwakasi. [an annoying thing about south africans in general, regardless of race, is they don't seem to be big on hair care.]

but anyway, back to the poster. it shows the three women at the forefront of the party, and pretty much that, barring some bizarre collapse, mazibuko will get to run it, after aunty pat gets a few minutes. [zille and de lille are the same age tho -- zille is three-ish weeks younger than de lille] also unspoken is the fact that south african women do most of the heavy lifting among south africans who work, in the face of some of the most ridiculous sexism on the planet.

the sexism here is pretty bad. i'm glad to be male, but after having moved here, i've found myself extra grateful for that y-chromosome sperm reaching the egg first. it's really ridic.

the sexism is also a factor in the breakaway national freedom party, headed by zanele kamagwaza-msibi. it would appear that the wikipedia article about her was written by someone still loyal to the inkatha freedom party (ifp), as there is zero mention of her leaving the party. in any case, she was the national chairperson of the ifp, and when it was time to have leadership elections in the party, for some reason they were cancelled. many people both inside and outside the party considered her popular enough to unseat the party leader, mangosuthu buthelezi, who has led the party since its inception. interestingly enough, buthelezi is second cousin to the current zulu king, and there's been a lot of chatter in the media that the heads of the royal zulu families are not really interested in a woman leading the official zulu political party. given that women in kwazulu natal are often beaten and stripped naked for the "crime" of wearing trousers, this would not be particularly surprising.

another thing that particularly annoyed me was the shoddy television reporting by both the south african broadcasting corporation [sabc] -- it's so pro-government that i often call it "pravda" -- and its commercial rival e.tv. it was just overall bad -- american coverage of the 2000 presidential election bad. really effing dreadful. after a while, i had become nauseated by the sabc's eusebius mckaiser and tsepiso makwetla and etv's jeremy maggs and iman rappetti in particular. [while i'm on the subject of e-news, macfarlane moleli has become quite the mavis lately, innit? it's not a good look.]

the coverage was just bad. both channels had cute ongoing graphs for the 48 hours of vote-counting, but the analysts they brought on, not to mention the reporters' own personal prejudices, completely turned me off. that said, the analysts brought on e at least tried to hide their prejudices, but the ones on pravda? no way. one of even said, "unfortunately, it looks like the anc will not win cape town." it was really gross.

it reminded me of why i've been dragging my feet in getting permanent residence here -- if i do, then i'll have to pay income taxes to this place. i'm okay with only paying VAT.

it's been a minute...and all i can talk about right now is weed.

so, it's been almost two months since i've posted. the problem when you have a very socially active teenager is that you have to give up a few things in chasing them around.

[for those who follow on and off; my ex's almost-18 year old son lives with me, and it's very likely that i'm going to be named guardian for two of his friends over the next few months. so, unlike a lot of other people who blog about obsessive amounts of travel and politics... i've got very real real-world responsibilities which tend to take precedence over blogging.]

again the inspiration for today's first post of the day is something written over at i'm black and i travel -- he recaps something that i'd heard was coming, but apparently is finally happening: the netherlands is making its coffee shops in the same way as its gay marriage: for locals only. which, of course, is completely stupid and counterproductive, but anyhow.

so they're going to ban foreigners from the coffee shops. reading the article, geert wilders et cie are basically about to put a lot of people into the small-scale drug dealing business, because a good chunk of the american and british tourists are going to want it, regardless.

it's been decriminalised in much of europe, and also in much of canada as well, so i really don't get the willingness of the dutch government to starve itself of revenue from the stupid. it's easy money.

[it's always fun to watch tourists smoking up the last of their stuff in the smoking areas of the train station at schiphol -- and the reaction of the middle american tourists who are there with their kids. not that i've ever done that to taunt such tourists, oh no. nope. never. nooit. geen idee.]

back to the american and british tourists. god, they really act ridiculous with a little booze and weed in them. [young british tourists are, by most accounts, the worst lot in europe. they are tolerated because they tend to have the most money, but still.]

on more than one occasion i would bring my own weed to the bulldog* and mix it with stuff i got there and sit in a back corner and smoke -- not only to hide away from the idiotic anglophones, but because i've bought food at the burger king next door. [there i go on about burger king again.] the staff at the bulldog -- itself a full-service restaurant and bar -- tend to frown on your bringing in your own food. but i look more menacing than most of their bouncers, and plus, i generally order in dutch, so i'm left alone. sometimes it helps to know how to make the "big black man" thing work for you.

*if you must buy weed at the bulldog [while you still can], buy it loose and roll it yourself. their prepared joints are far more tobacco than cannabis entirely because of the aforementioned anglophone tourists getting too high on smoking it pure. europeans tend to smoke their joints mixed with tobacco, which is NASTY to me, since i don't smoke cigarettes.

[wow, i'd made a lengthy edit to this, and blogger ate it. fuck. very unhappy about that.]