Tag: society

“You must be rich to study in Hong Kong”…

Well, this is another opinion piece about Chinese people I have met during my stay in Hong Kong (disclaimer, *the ones I have met, I am not generalising at all). I cannot count the number of times I have been asked how I ended up in Hong Kong and how I must be rich to have made it in Hong Kong. I am tired of explaining my “African” presence to Chinese people who know nothing about Africans and their work ethic, but I will try in this blog (sigh).

So I am African and I must come from a “noble” family to be able to afford to study in Hong Kong. Granted, Hong Kong is a very expensive place to live and to study and I get where these sentiments may be coming from, but forgive me if I note a bit of condescending in this too. What makes you (Chinese people I have met) think that an African cannot afford to study in Hong Kong? That they must have some “royal” blood to be able to secure a place in a Hong Kong university? I mean that just sounds ridiculous and insulting.

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Image credit…bitmoji app

 

Africans have been studying in so many other cosmopolitan cities for years and how they do it, in my opinion, is purely hard work and dedication. You think I just woke up one day with a ticket to Hong Kong handed to me? You insult my intelligence and qualifications. I blame the narrative that has been put out there about Africans as these poor, down-trodden beings who cannot amount to anything unless they are royalty. I mean what royalty? Do you even know if there is a royal family in the country I am from? Oh, I forgot…you think Africa is a country. (sigh)

Let me clarify…I am in Hong Kong because I worked hard to be here. I got the place at my university on merit and how I can afford it is really not your business.  You should be asking me how we can work together to motivate others to chase their dreams and work hard, not spread the myth that for Africans to be among you they must be rich. That is ignorant!!! I absolutely hate it when human beings stereotype other human beings just because they are different and put them in these messy little boxes.  Yes, I wish I came from a rich family and that was the reason why I am in Hong Kong, because that would fit right into the box you want to put me in. But, truth is, I don’t come from a rich family. Now you can scratch your head wondering how it is that I am here breathing the same air that you are breathing.

*If I sound angry, it is because I am!!

GG

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Image credit: bitmoji app

 

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“Hong Kong culture more classist than racist”

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I have been living in Hong Kong for a month now. I have been observing this society with interest and making my own observations so that I do not succumb to generalizations and assumptions of how Chinese people are or ought to be.

I want to tackle the subject  of racism which was really sparked by the following video: Black woman facing discrimination on MTR sparks outrage in Hong Kong

To summarise; this black woman got onto the MTR (train service) and the moment she sat down the Chinese woman sitting next to her took out a tissue and covered her mouth. I MEAN!!!I would be outraged. I have been on the MTR myself in the past month and I must say I have observed some weird behaviors by some Chinese people(not all); such as:

  • choosing to leave their seat and stand up when you sit next to them
  • being stared at like you have done something wrong just by entering the train
  • refusing to even touch you or your elbow even when the train is clearly full and it cannot be avoided

But someone covering their mouth after you sit next to them???I don’t think I would have this woman’s courage to stand up and speak against such behavior. So this post also applauds her confidence and pride in herself as a black person in Hong Kong. It sparked a lot of debate around racism and basic ignorance of some Chinese people which explains their behavior towards minorities.

I decided to read further about how black people are generally perceived in Hong Kong. The truth is we (black people) are a minority and although Hong Kong is described as a diverse, first world city; there are not many black people relocating to this city in their numbers. Mainland China seems to have the greater numbers of black people living there. So I came across an article stating that Hong Kong is in essence a classist society not a racist society. This means no matter what race you are, if you look like you are upper class you will be treated with respect. If you dress like the Hong Kong people; that is wearing flashy designer clothes and watches then they will not feel threatened by you being black. The general assumption is that black people relocating to Hong Kong are usually academics with high academic qualifications or they own businesses and come to Hong Kong on business  and return to their countries. So these groups are not discriminated against and they are not that many to even worry about.

The Filipinos, Indonesians and other East Asian minorities are the ones with the “poor illegal immigrant” label in Hong Kong,not black people. This is only because of our small numbers so this is a mild comfort. Does it make it OK though?

My question is if this is such a modern society why are we still having labels at all? Why do we only respect blacks when they are educated and belonging to the upper class? So you are going to cover your nose when the “ordinary looking” black person sits next to you and you call yourself evolved? I know that any capitalist country will have classism as an issue and that is a whole other battle to fight. Our humanity is such that we fear anything that is different from us and we would rather not associate with it. And by “we” I mean all of us. Even black people say racist things about Chinese people and that is not OK either. It is our lack of understanding and it is sad that it has been discussed over and over and yet there is still no one with a solution to the problem.

My social investigations continue…but the experiences of that young woman and her mother on the MTR show that racism is alive and will not be going anywhere anytime soon…

 

 

 

I used to write…

I used to write…so freely and with pride, I would let my words fill a page. I took it for granted that my words would always flow so freely.

I used to write…about anything my mind pondered upon, my reflections, dreams and thoughts. I always thought these would always be available.

When I used to write, my mind was innocent. I was just a writer, wanting to share with whoever cares to read. I wrote for the lovers of the written word. I always thought this passion would always bring me back when I lose my way.

What happens to passion that is not allowed to grow? Passion that is controlled or tamed… Real passion or love is supposed to be beyond control, released or felt with wild abandon.

For the first time I felt my passion fading slowly. It slipped through me and I held on to it with all my might, but it was being pulled from me violently.

My love for writing was no longer a freedom I could enjoy. How could I when I was no longer free?

My mind could no longer be freely expressed, my words strangled by censorship…both my own and that of the world around me. I allowed conformity to distort my free will.

When you can no longer write what you feel, what your eyes behold and what your beliefs may be, then what is there to write about?

When there is too much going on around you to the point that you cannot pick a single point of focus…to the writer’s mind it is anarchy, it is a destructive force, killing creativity and passion.

When you can no longer be objective, for who can write from the heart and write lies?

I lost my passion for writing until I remembered that I used to write…

I remembered why I used to write and why it meant so much to me and to my world.

And my passion could no longer be tamed or controlled!!!

Why I am a feminist…

 

For me, feminism is about justice. I’m a feminist because I want to live in a world that is more just. I’m a feminist because I want to live in a world where a woman is never told that she can or cannot—or should or should not—do anything because she’s a woman. I want to live in a world where men and women are happier, where they’re not constrained by gender roles. I want to live in a world where men and women are truly equal, and that’s why I’m a feminist.  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichiecropped-img_20140905_212111.jpg 

I found this so inspiring and thought to share…

Transitions…

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Its been a hectic couple of weeks…what with the submission of my thesis proposal and all. Yes graduate school is no child’s play. I am glad that I can still get some time to write and today I want to talk about a topic that has been on my mind because of my thesis, TRANSITIONS!!!

A bit of boring background…

My thesis is around young people making the transition from residential care to adulthood, which basically means looking at the path young people who grow up in children’s homes take when its time to leave the home and get back into society. Anyway this is not about my thesis, but as I was reading on transitions I realized that we all go through transitions in the course of life and I thought to share mine.

First some clarity on what I am talking about…

Coles classification includes the education-to-work-transition, transitions from family of origin to family of destination(domestic single-marriage-transition) and the transition from residence with parents to independent living (the housing transition).

Granted this is by no means a simple, straight forward process to move from one life stage to another and often we are stuck in one phase for various reasons. Sometimes we leave one phase to go back to another phase and back again.

Education-to-work transition

Nowadays progressing from the school-work phase is not as predictable as it used to be and judging by the numbers of unemployed young people, it is an impossible dream for some. I thank God I was able to make this transition straight from college in 2009, that is when I got my first job as a social worker at Child Welfare. But as I stated above, transitions can reverse themselves in the life course, so I left work to come back to school. Which is perfectly normal and is an upward transition, meaning I made progress.

Living transition

We all cannot wait for that moment when we get to move out of our parents’ homes to live independently, that one is an exciting phase. All that independence and not having to ask to go to that party or that gathering and come back at your own time. I made this transition at age 19, in 2005 when I left my home country Zimbabwe for the first time to go to South Africa to study. It was an exciting time but I was still a very young adult needing support from my family.

Domestic transition

This is when one moves from their family of origin to family of destination. Well, I still need to work on this one….I hope I can start my own family in the near future *from my lips to God’s ears*

I learnt that all these transitions are not in any way following a linear pattern. Sometimes it is back and forth, what some scholars call the yo-yo effect. So then just imagine if you struggled with your own transitions yet having family and friends supporting you, how much more difficult is it for young people who grow up in care of institutions and foster care? Just thinking about this made me reflect on the work I did with children back in Cape Town and those children who turned 18 and had to leave state care to go back into society. What are their chances in the real world after being sheltered and taken care of for years? Just reflecting upon it makes me realize why the work I am doing is significant. I want to find out what more can be done to provide support for young people leaving care into adulthood, because it does not make sense to take care of them when they are babies and then leave them to fend for themselves with no support after 18. After all do we, who never grew up in orphanages and children’s homes, ever really leave our families? We still go back regularly for support so why should care for these young people end at 18.

So when you are thinking about your personal transitions, spare a thought for those with less fortunate circumstances than yours and how they are making those same transitions!!!

Happy weekend ♥

“What do you think you’re doing talking about us in this way?”

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“In 1990 I was invited to give a paper on disability research to a conference of academic researchers in Sweden and this gave me the opportunity to reflect on the issues involved. To this day I remember entering the conference room on the first morning with the other researchers, none of whom were disabled, and finding the words ‘what do you think you are doing talking about us in this way?’ written on the board. No-one except me thought it referred to us; those who even noticed the comment at all simply assumed the board hadn’t been cleaned by whoever had used it the day before.

What did we think we were doing: pursuing knowledge for the benefit of humankind? Informing policy and practice? Helping disabled people? Building networks? Developing our own careers? Having a freebie at someone else’s expense? All of those things probably and more; but also much less.”(Oliver 1997:15)

This was a class assignment in the research module of the Masters in Social Policy I am taking. The question asked the learners to describe the role of the researcher in emancipatory research. I have decided to publish this because I feel it has huge implications for society and I found the above excerpt very interesting and thought provoking. I wrote a much more academic article for marking but this is another personal evaluation of the topic and not at all subject to academic grading. It is my personal view. 

After reading the above excerpt I thought what a good observation. So often society assumes that we are doing things for the benefit of others when in actual fact we have not consulted the “other” about whether that is what they actually need. We spend thousands, and for those big foundations, millions of money on conferences and projects for different groups of society that we think are in need. The statement also implies the presence of “us” and “them” which already signifies the divisive nature of society.

Is true emancipation of oppressed groups a realistic goal or an impossible dream? How do you seek to empower someone unless you have consulted with them and together concluded that they are indeed seeking what you as a “helper” seek for them? How many times do policy makers and “concerned” citizens do things “for” and not “with” the people they seek to assist? Who is really benefiting from our well meaning acts? Where is the voice of the marginalized in the policies we are making? Where are our motivations coming from? Because it is not enough to congregate and discuss what we think are the solutions to the world’s problems without proper consultation with those affected. We might actually do more harm than good because what we perceive may be so far from the truth.

Do not begin to assume you know the full extent of someone’s problem if you have never walked a mile in their shoes. There is more to the personal experience than can be described. Assuming that we know people’s needs or what is right for them is downright patronizing. The question above has surely given me cause to pose before I think a certain intervention is what my client needs without hearing from them how they propose to solve the quandary they may find themselves in. This is a basic core of social work “helping individuals to help themselves”. First year of college basics.

I just wonder if anyone actually found an answer to that question “What do you think you are doing talking about us in this way”? What would you even say? Um.. we thought that these bulleted points on our written strategy that we have been working on for weeks/months/years are just what you need to solve the problem of disability/poverty/…any perceived lack of something. Most of the findings are actually based on research but I stand by my view that nothing beats the subjective experience.

I fully understand the extent of hopelessness that marginalized groups may feel. Who marginalizes them? Who emancipates them? Emancipation in most cases is a very expensive commodity. How do you emancipate yourself with no resources or income to do so? So the “haves”make it their mandate to provide what they think is needed but there must be another way to do it without making the “have nots” feel further disadvantaged and offended. Our terminology alone is discriminatory, socially constructed to create “otherness”. Disability/poverty/lack…are all man-made terms. We are all human and we are all capable until someone tells us we are not!!!

It’s worth a thought…

The new world!!!Is it really worth it?

Another one of those posts in the wee hours of the morning when sleep eludes me. Quite frankly a lot of things have been eluding me lately but I choose to focus on the positive and not allow the thief of joy to have any victory.

I see the world and lately I have been observing it with a different eye. I realize that it is a bottomless pit, a place filled with idolatry of so called celebrities and role models created by the media. I have seen how obsessive we have become with pictures and enjoying the fact that every detail of our lives is so bare for all to see. I have been looking at how preoccupied we all have become with each other’s lives but not even the real ones; but the ones shown on social media.

I find all this exhausting and have concluded that is not the happiness I seek. I have reason to believe there must be an alternative. A different place with different values that may be more meaningful. A quieter place where a person’s worth is measured by his good deeds and not by his dress or material things. A place where real conversation takes place and people genuinely care about what you have to say. A place where success is measured by hard work and not popularity or how many followers one has on instagram or twitter. A place where we can all value who we are based on ourselves and not what others think of us. I miss the simple old days when people read books or shared folktales by the fire place. I even miss getting a love letter in the post…

At the end of the day our lives will not be measured with the world’s measure. So it is a pointless pursuit. I am beginning to understand some of the teachings in the Bible, especially on the dangers of conforming to world standards.

Matthew 6:33 King James Version (KJV)

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.