Appropriation VS Appreciation

Understanding Appropriation & Appreciation through experience, white privilege… and the Genie from Aladdin.

I remember once when I used to work at the Bose store, I was trying to sell a pair of QC25’s (noise cancelling headphones) to a guy who looked around the same age as me. He had the whole ‘hipster’ vibe going with his blonde top knot and beard.

At the time I was also rocking a top knot and beard combo, although I imagine for different reasons.

I left him to test out the QC’s and retreated behind the till to change the store music, when an elderly Jamaican lady walked in. She stopped for a moment when she saw my customer and then looked directly at me – she walked over to the till with this massive beaming smile like she was about to burst out laughing and said to me…

First these white boys were wearing braids – now this – next thing you know they’ll be walking around in a turban

Fortunately for ‘Hipster Joe‘ (chill his name was Joe – I remember) he was wearing noise cancelling headphones and jamming out to Portishead – so he was saved the embarrassment of being a part of that conversation.

He left soon after, but not before promising he’d buy the headphones when he got his next pay cheque from the artisan shoe cobbler he was temping at.

My first reaction to her comment was to laugh – because her delivery was legend.

Then after she left the store I began to think about the difference in me sporting a look that I recognise as cultural, and Joe having a go because all of a sudden it’s a new trend.

One might argue from the image below that I wore a top-knot for superficial purposes, but the truth is when a person feels that their cultural identities are being ‘high-jacked’ they are more likely to engage them in an attempt to reclaim them. Recently I’ve seen more Indian friends modernise more traditional looks, and African friends sporting their natural afros, or braids for this very reason.

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Top-Knotted

But as a beard wearing brown-boy with a top knot I had been ‘randomly‘ selected from airport queues, ‘randomly‘ searched at train stations, ‘randomly‘ pulled over on the road, and have even had people blatantly avoid sitting next to me on the tube (I’m sorry to be blunt here but that last one was exclusively by white women)

I wonder if Joe faced those same issues?

Enter Appropriation…

Now to those of you who think that this just sounds bitter/angry/over-analysed, ask yourself this question…

“Have I ever been made to feel like my image/attire poses a possible threat to the people around me?” 

Now the only white people who are likely to answer yes to that question are either those desperately seeking to experience the ‘minority struggle‘ – as opposed to understand it… or Police Officers.

*Note we don’t refer to it as the minority struggle – that is yet another title bestowed upon us. 

You see it’s hard to be so ‘easy-going‘ about this stuff when you get characterised as a threat for simply ‘doing you’…

So what is appropriation?…

A young black female is walking along Southbank with braids and a dashiki at a time where the global #BlackLivesMatter movement makes some people feel uncomfortable because they’ve been gravely misinformed about its intentions. She is meeting her black friend who hasn’t straightened her hair and is proudly wearing her afro.

The 2 girls meet with an array of inquisitive stares…

“What are their intentions?” 

“What are they trying to prove?”

“Are they trying to intimidate us?” 

 

Now this time 2 young white females are treading the same path and are sporting the same look – they also meet with inquisitive stares…

“They must be going through a phase/to a fancy dress”

“Wow they’re certainly forward thinking”

“They must be very confident”

Cultural Appropriation is being able to dress in the attire of another culture without carrying the burdens/stereotypes/idiosyncrasies that come attached.

 Cultural Appropriation is trivialising a cultural identity for the sake of novelty – i.e. ‘themed’ costume parties.

Cultural Appropriation is the generalisation of a cultural identity for superficial purposes – i.e. Fashion.

Cultural Appropriation places a trivial importance on the symbol while disregarding what it symbolises.

Appreciation 

Two years ago it was my sisters wedding, and my brother and I invited our best friend. He was invited for the whole day which is a pretty big deal. Now he’s spent a great deal of his life around my family and has come to many ‘cultural functions’ so he was excited to see how things went down at an Indian wedding.

One day my brother and I were discussing when we should buy our Sherwani’s (Indian male attire) and it was really touching when our friend asked if he should wear one too, or if it would be seen as disrespectful.

“NOT AT ALL! ” – We 3 went to Wembley the next week to buy our Sherwani’s for the wedding…

appreciation
The man has taste! 

The difference is something so simple and fine-lined that you’ll kick yourself when you hear it…

A genuine interest to learn and engage.

Taking the effort to learn is the mark of showing true respect and honour to any culture or tradition. If you do anything without understanding context you’re immediately at risk of looking like a fool.

The picture below serves as imagery to bridge the next part of the conversation with the idea of looking like a fool.

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No YOU haven’t personally murdered a Native American, enslaved an African, or invaded India… but you are still benefitting from those actions.
White Privilege…

Now before you roll your eyes and head for the comment section to lecture me on how you’ve never had any privilege – let me try this from a different angle…

Not too long ago I was having a discussion with a white female peer about the concept of white privilege. She refused to acknowledge that there was such a thing because she had seen both her parents slave away in working class jobs and never receive any advantage over anyone. I believe her.

She also made it a point to inform me of how many ‘ethnic’ friends she has – but I’m never sure why this is relevant information. Nonetheless I offered her a gold star – but she didn’t want it – which I found odd.

I then tried to explain it from a perspective that she might better understand.

“I’m a man – so you might say that in this society I have ‘Male Privilege’… now that doesn’t mean that I have a golden ticket to success and that no matter what happens I will always have some rope to climb up – it means that in a situation where both myself or a female could be vulnerable – the female will inevitably feel more vulnerable than I might, because society has rendered a very different world of outcomes for her than for me.”

She sat silently processing the idea – “For example if a male and female were both walking home late at night on a dark street and no one was around – it is more likely that the female would feel vulnerable and under potential threat than the male… even if it’s for just a second”  

She was visibly walking through the scenario.

“White Privilege works in the same way – it’s late at night, 2 black males and 2 white males are driving down the same road in 2 separate cars and a police car stops in between them both at a set of traffic lights… who do you think is more likely to get followed and/or pulled over?”

Looking at it in that way seemed to make sense to her.

Maybe ‘privilegeseems like the wrong word – but I’m pretty sure I speak for most people when I say that we’re not big on the term ‘minority‘ ‘urban‘ or ‘immigrant‘, or having anything that is considered ‘non-white‘ to be ‘ethnic’.

I don’t say this with an ‘eye-for-an-eye‘ mentality – I say it because the english language is limited and we have to play with the cards that we’re dealt. The only way we can be rid of these words is by understanding the concepts attached to them and working together honestly to make them meaningless.

That being said I bet we can find better words for these ideas in German or Sanskrit. 

Curiosity + White Privilege = Appropriation
Curiosity + Engagement = Appreciation 

Listen, you probably don’t have bad intentions when you want to throw an Egyptian or Bollywood themed party. When you slap on a Bindi before you go to a festival I highly doubt you have any intention to spite Indian women. If you’re rocking braids and a FUBU jacket – you might be a little confused – but no one believes you’re a bad person. However, if you throw a ‘Red Indian’ themed party you’re basically scum (#SorryNotSorry)

The truth is that you’re unburdened with the responsibility of representing your entire ethnic group and are not going to be scrutinised and possibly even penalised for visually engaging your culture. This gives you the luxury to feel that engaging in other cultures is just you celebrating or honouring them.

That’s a lovely thought, and if all of the world wasn’t distorted by the ridiculous racist paradigms that effect ALL OF US… there wouldn’t be a problem and we would just be sharing culture and experience.

I genuinely love that idea.

But many many people (including myself) disdain actions taken in ignorance, so until people are willing to understand the implications of parading around in a native american head dress with red cups full of red bull and Jager calling themselves ‘LittleBigBull’, this conversation isn’t going to be silenced… no matter how uncomfortable it makes people.

A Scene from your Childhood

Do you remember that scene at the end of Aladdin?  When Jaffar makes his final wish to become an all powerful Genie? Then Aladdin gives that triumphant final word “YOU WANTED TO BE A GENIE? WELL YOU GOT IT – AND EVERYTHING THAT COMES WITH IT!” – yeah that.

Watch from 1.00 to relive an important lesson from your childhood about ‘genie appropriation’.

 

IN THE ‘NEWS‘:  This week Vanessa Hudgens took a photo of herself with box braids and shared it on her snapchat –  now there is speculation as to whether this is an example of appropriation. Personally I think there are far more pressing things to attend to on the global stage – but since this ‘event‘ can open up a dialogue about deeper issues – it’s certainly worth spending no more than 60 seconds to make up your mind on this particular issue.

#Hindus4Trump? Yikes.

These Hindus be trippin’ yo

 

As a practising ‘Hindu’ it’s taken me over a day to process what happened in New Jersey on Saturday evening.

The #HindusForTrump Bollywood Event.

Thankfully I live 3,500 miles away in London – because if I was any closer I wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from attending the event to try and sabotage it in some ‘Looney Toon-esque’ fashion.

But while I am shocked at what I saw, I’m not surprised that right wing politics is taking ‘a swim in the Ganges’ so to speak. Let me take you back to springtime in London when Sadiq Khan (Labour) and Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) were in the running for London Mayor.

The Goldsmith campaign targeted the British-Indian demographic by posting flyers through our doors promising to protect ‘our family gold’ from Khan’s wealth tax, telling us how much he loved to celebrate Hindu festivals like Diwali, and reassuring us of his support for Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

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This tactic was poorly received by the Indian community – but it does shed light on the approach right-wing politicians believe will impact a fraction of society they clearly know very little about. Donald Trump capitalised on that sentiment this past weekend.

Bollywood is near and dear to the Indian community. It’s what many Indians believe to be India’s greatest export. I’d argue against that saying that yoga and worldly literatures probably take top spot there – but I’m not ashamed to say that I also love a good Bollywood movie. So it comes as no surprise that many ‘right-wingers’ try to use this angle to capture the hearts of the Hindu diaspora.

But when these politicians open their mouths about how much of a fan they are – disaster strikes… example “I’m a big fan of Hindu” – Well Mr Trump – ‘Hindu’ says thanks but no thanks.

Watch Zac Goldsmith squirm his way through this interview when he’s asked exactly how much he loves Bollywood. Skip to 0.18 for the Gold.

Frankly it’s embarrassing to be identified as a community that is thought to be so easily swayed by pathetic propaganda attempts led by the Trumps and Goldsmiths of this world. Not to mention this ‘masterpiece’ by the ‘Conservative Friends of India’ called ‘Neela Hai Aasma’ (Blue Skies). It’s a Bollywood styled propaganda video that was published in 2015 to rally support from the British-Indian community for David Cameron.

Seriously though… you need to watch this video. 


Trump’s campaign team has acknowledged common ground between Donald Trump and Narendra Modi supporters. With the increasing tensions around Kashmir and talks of another India – Pakistan war, an age-old dispute between Hindus and Muslims is being incited for the sake of gaining political ground. This anti-Islamic sentiment is the bond between Trump and this small fraction of Indian-Americans who resonate with an anti-Islamic message.

Leveraging the historical tensions between Hindus and Muslims is an old trick that both communities should be very sceptical of by now. The last time they fell for it India was split into two, and hundreds of thousands of people from both communities were killed during partition. The conflict in Kashmir is a result of the very same, the consequences of which have been devastating for Hindu and Muslim communities alike.

It was slightly encouraging to read in a Washington Post article that many of the attendees were unaware that the event was meant to have any political overtones, and only showed up to see some of their favourite celebrities and leave.

But it’s this cavalier approach that implies that the Hindu community will tacitly accept injustice for the sake of superficial pleasure. This idea of our community is reflected in Goldsmith’s and David Cameron’s campaigns as shown above, and was grossly demonstrated by the #HindusForTrump Bollywood event on Saturday.

For any of the Hindus that attended Saturday’s event who may be reading this, I’ll quote one of our own very prominent Vedic figures – Emperor Yudhishthira from the Indian epic ‘Mahabharata.’

“Those who have the right to be responsible do not have the right to be ignorant.”

As voters in this election you are responsible.

We come from a culture that encourages – NO – demands us to be informed and accepting at all times. If you follow a leader who preaches hate and focuses the majority of his energy on defaming other people, saying abhorrent things about women and condemning other religions – you are working against the very culture you claim to represent.

These cringe-worthy attempts deployed by right-wing politicians to gain support from Hindu voters – whether it be here in the UK, over in the US, or in India itself – should be viewed in the same way you view a doctor giving a baby a lollipop to distract her from the needle going in her arm – a childish tactic… and you’re adults for Krishna’s sake!

BuzzFeed published a post sharing ‘The 12 Most Incredible And Absurd Things That Happened At The “Hindus For Trump” Bollywood Event’…  Incredible, absurd and I’d add downright disturbing to that list.

If my article or BuzzFeed’s list hasn’t swayed your thinking – I have one last thing for you…

If Trump ever met Gandhiji… he’d probably call him a pussy. 

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What Brown People should be saying about #BlackLivesMatter

“They’re forgetting about us”…”We also suffer racism”… “#AllLivesMatter”.

Earlier this year – in fact shortly after Brexit – I was walking down a street in Hayes & Harlington, and I was tripped up and told to ‘Fuck off home’… although the joke was on them because I was already on my way home! 

It was a shocking experience merely because you don’t really expect that sort of shit to happen anymore. Alas… it did – but don’t cry for me, I was fortunate enough to get my story heard with an article in the Washington Post – so yay me. Here’s the full article with the Washington Post.

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DISCLAIMER: I’m about to get very honest regarding this topic – so if you’re easily offended or prone to senseless trolling… I did warn you.

 

Now the kind of statements in the header of this post only surface when people feel like the afflictions they’ve dealt with for so long are totally forgotten about or given less importance.

This isn’t the case with #BlackLivesMatter… no one is forgetting about the time you were stopped and searched 10 times at the airport, or the time someone called you a ‘Paki Terrorist’ for stepping out into the road too early, causing all kinds of havoc.

But in order to understand why the #BlackLivesMatter movement matters for all of us – even more than #AllLivesMatter – we need to look at the bare facts about racism. 

Ugh – How do I do this without sounding like a wacky conspiracy theorist? Right…

A seed is planted into the ground with the intention for it to sprout. If the surrounding conditions nurture the seed, lots of things happen over time. By the end of it you have roots, a trunk, branches, leaves and fruits. But you don’t call that tree and everything on it a seed. 

In the same way ‘Racism’ is not what we think it is…

Racism is an economic idea. 

Racism is the ‘seed’ in this analogy. The idea that an oppressed economic class could be created using a combination of aesthetic and cultural distinction.

The slave trade and forced migration to Europe and America are the ‘roots’ in the analogy. The very foundations of the institution that would support the idea with economic growth in an ‘enterprising nation’. 

The courts and rulings are the most visible and reinforced aspects of this ‘growth’, and so they are the ‘trunk’… This stage can be referred to as application. Laws were created to mentally imprint upon society that this new economic class were also a criminal class, thus justifying the foundations that supported the idea.

The ‘branches’ are none other than the organisations that developed as a result of the application, foundations, and idea. From the Ku Klux Klan to the Black Panthers – all of the support and resistance that developed as a result of a social and economic system of oppression can be referred to as its legacy.  

The abolishment of slavery, the civil rights movement, ‘affirmative action’ – All of these are campaigns to mark a new era of consciousness. These are the ‘leaves’ that sprout from the branches. But just as leaves do these campaigns wither and fall off, making way for a newer more ‘evolved’ approach to maintaining the idea and foundations, by altering the application and distancing from the legacy. This we can refer to as development.

Then finally the long awaited produce that can be bitter, sour or sweet depending on the timing – the ‘fruit’. Or as we know it #BlackLivesMatter, #AllLivesMatter – or anything in their likeness. Essentially the ingrained mentality and response of the public towards issues relating to the original idea, its foundations, the application, its legacy, and development strategies.

Do they buy it? spit it out? or wait for the product to ripen into something that suits their taste?

tree-breath

IdeaFoundation – ApplicationLegacyDevelopmentProduce

As a young entrepreneur when I look at these stages I see nothing more than a business strategy – and getting personal in business helps no one.

Don’t get me wrong – this business strategy has (and continues to) cost countless lives and evokes rage in anyone who has even a sliver of a conscience. But if we want to dismantle it – we just can’t take it personally. 

Now many of you must be saying to yourself – “Great analogy Kesh – but when you put all of those parts together you get a tree – so if you put all of those stages together you get racism.” Right?

Wrong. All of those stages together are called an ‘institution’ – A collection of functions serving one purpose – to execute an idea. Racism is an idea – developed to create an economic hierarchy that is distinguishable through aesthetics and culture – of which Black people are kept at the bottom of this economic pyramid. 

Still not convinced? Then I have one word for you:

Anti-Semitism #ThinkAboutIt  

Now to the brown people who are seething because I haven’t mentioned the atrocities of the East India Company, the British Raj, or the wars in the Middle East… and classified these as contributions to racist ideals – ‘I aint mad at cha’ – in fact those are all contributions to executing the idea. 

But these are all classified as foundations which are usually characterised by acts of imperialism. It’s the application that then defines how a ‘race is placed in the pyramid’.

While the British were in India they immersed themselves in the culture. In fact they integrated with it so much so that many quintessential British nuances derive from things they learnt during their time in India.

‘Blighty’ comes from the Urdu ‘Bilayat’, meaning European. ‘Curry’ (which is a non-existent concept in India) is an official British cuisine… the list goes on… #Tea

Considering the rule of Britain in India coincides with the slave trade from Africa – this gives us a very clear insight into how the British had strategically placed 2 races in the pyramid.

There were Indians who were enslaved and exported to the Caribbean – but again these Indians were much darker than those who were demoted to 2nd class citizens (not slaves). Playing into the idea of economic segregation through aesthetics – which had already existed in India long before any European set foot there I might add. 

A great way to see the lasting effects of these wildly different approaches is again very visual…

Take the Asian and African diaspora in the west as an example. Wherever Asians find themselves in the world the first thing people will notice about them is that they are still very much immersed in the culture they have come from – even after 2 or 3 generations. When you go to your Hindu friends house it’s not uncommon for you to see it decorated with Vedic deities who date back to ancient times.

How often is it that you go to an African friends home and see Kemetic or Pwenetic deities? – Whose existence also coincides with ancient Vedic culture.

In fact, from my personal experience, when speaking to black friends who haven’t actively educated themselves on the true history of Africa – many can only share with me African history post slave trade. This is not me insulting the African diaspora – it’s shedding light on the result of destroying history to devalue culture.

While the Asians under European rule were ‘given permission‘ to hold onto their cultures, the Africans under European rule had theirs destroyed, and a new culture was ‘graciously donated‘. This particular tactic is part of the application and is a strong insight into the value of culture in any economic paradigm. So when a culture is completely ‘whitewashed’ at the time of colonialism and enslavement – it’s clear that this is a strategic ploy.  

Many of my black friends and colleagues who have spoken to me about the acceptance of this culture, refer to it as ‘Stockholm Syndrome‘. This can be considered as part of the produce – as we are referring to an ingrained mentality. 

Yes – bombs are being dropped and people are being killed across the Muslim world, small Indian and Chinese children are being forced to work in hostile conditions to piece together our #Swag. But the economic leaders of these communities are very much in cahoots with supplementing this economic pyramid.

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Just look at Saudi Arabia, India and China as nations – all are considered to be economic partners of western nations and corporations… why?

Resources, infrastructure, unification. So long as there is a tacit acceptance that these nations can continue to grow their GDP from this system- they will be viewed in high regard.  

This comes under development  in the strategy – as we are redefining relationships for the benefit of 2 parties – or at least it seems that way! 

So when these communities are viewed as economic partners in an economic pyramid – does this not place them higher in the structure?  

Of course it does! If you were thinking no you’re being stubborn and silly!     

Racism can be defined as the idea that an oppressed economic class is created using a combination of aesthetic and cultural distinction. People of African descent are the oppressed economic class who are the subject of this racist ideal.

I’m not being politically correct here – I’m calling a spade a spade. 

This video entitled ‘The Racket of Racism‘ by the extremely informed Romany Malco can give you a more elaborate insight into the history of racism

Yes – many of us brown people face a myriad of prejudices and discrimination – but what we need to understand is that supporting an idea like #BlackLivesMatter does not mean that you are supporting the ‘black struggle’ and forgetting about the ‘brown plight.’

It means that you are addressing the very seed of the problem that we all face – by firstly acknowledging the economic structure in place, removing your personal attachments (because they have no place in economics) – and educating others that we are actually fighting a ‘business model’, not a bunch of mindless racists who hate for no reason… as convenient as that is to believe. 

Businesses shut down when the idea is no longer relevant, wanted, or needed. You can attack the foundations, you can condemn the application, you can slander the legacy, disrupt the development and even stop consuming the produce

But until you completely understand and obliterate the idea… they will always find a new way to build the model up again.

So if you truly want to be rid of racism – you don’t have to proclaim #BlackLivesMatter every second of the day – but you certainly need to accept that it is the first step in understanding what racism actually is. 

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REFORM RACISM – The Men Who Ruled India

The Piccadilly line is one of the most ‘happening’ places in London. Nope… I don’t have a crack pipe in my hand, nor am I a deluded train driver with an insatiable passion for the underground. But like many of you, I’ve collected a wealth of educational experiences from plotting myself on a carriage and absorbing the fragile ecosystem that is a TFL tube. From friendly conversations with commuters, to drunken songs with strangers, eye opening chats with homeless travellers and awkward moments with sleepy tourists… the really memorable experiences have (sadly) always been race related.

The most prominent of the lot was the first time I decided to intervene in a situation that just appalled me. It was the evening commute home, and this young Indian guy was sat down across from me. He was engrossed in some work documents and had no clue that he was suddenly surrounded by a group of large Caucasian males who’d clearly spent a substantial part of the day drinking… something (the carriage smelt like a nail salon).

“A bit smart for the corner shop aren’t ya?” said one of the giant xenophobes,

“How bad is it cleaning toilets in your 2-piece?” added another burly jester.

Now just 2 weeks before this I witnessed a similar situation where an English lady yelled “FUCKING PAKI!” to an Arab woman who mistakenly pushed passed while entering the carriage with her two daughters. I said nothing and it ate at me for ages.

This time I wasn’t going to let that happen!

I made eye contact with their target; I could see his discomfort and fear of being left to deal with this abuse alone. So I stood up and took a shot…

Can’t be worse than realising your self esteem has plummeted because you see Asian youths excelling after a single generation, and you haven’t been able to shift out of whatever working class hole you crawl out of everyday, despite your ancestors having been here since King Canut!”

I visualized myself taking a deep breath, but held a stern gaze for effect. The carriage was frozen for what felt like 20 minutes and everyone was doing that typical Londoner ‘staring-but-trying-not-to-stare’ thing. I looked down and carried on reading my ironically titled book ‘The Men Who Ruled India’. The four men just glared at me, they had no words, only dumb expressions and pulsating temple veins… then they left the carriage. My initial feeling was the relief that I wasn’t having my head smashed in against the ground. I had the smiles and admiration of the other commuters, and most importantly, a look of genuine gratitude from the guy opposite me. But that sense of victory quickly faded as I began to realise what I had said to those men.

They say, “The best defence is a great offence.” That type of mentality only applies when your objective is to win the game, not when you’re trying to teach someone a new one… that requires patience.  

To chastise a person on the basis of their social class is something I strongly stand against because I too hail from the working class. But I succumbed to my frustrations and impulsively spread a little bit more hate, disguised as heroic action.

I firmly believe education to be the key solution in resolving tensions between ethnic groups, which makes aggressive retaliation nothing but counterproductive in my crusade to ‘reform racism’. We can only educate others by creating an open dialogue.

What does that show?

It shows that you care enough about the issue to hear another person’s point of view, regardless of how opposed to them you may be. People really respect and respond to that, even if the entire conversation is based upon their hatred for you.

A person’s ignorance is not a mark of their value, only of their experiences.

So what should I have done instead? I could have asked questions, “What makes you assume he cleans toilets or works at a corner shop?” Questions make situations of this nature awkward for the abuser; because most of the time they themselves don’t know why they say the things they do, feeling too uncomfortable to shed light on their antiquated opinions. It’s an impulsive act and comes from a place of confusion and frustration. If you retaliate with the same energy you only enhance racial tensions and contribute to a culture of bitter 2nd and 3rd generation ethnic minorities.

I guess what I’m saying is if we can remove the subject of race from uncomfortable race-based situations, we stop assessing a faceless institution and begin to question the individual and their reasons for racially provoking another… and let me tell you something, if you successfully dodge the subject of race in a scenario of this kind, you will either expose a person for their brain-washed ignorance or wake them up to a new perspective.

Gwan… Give it a go!

P&L

K

Why I’m tired of Female Harassment Videos!

I’m sure that many of you have watched at least one (if not 10) of these social experiment videos exposing female harassment.

Now before I continue, I realise that the title of this post alone is enough to infuriate even the most fickle of feminist supporters, but this trend of criminalising 50% of the human population is beginning to digress into nothing more than a passive aggressive sting in the sides of misogynists and male feminists alike…

it’s no longer serving an educational purpose, it’s only riling up both sexes.

As men, our understanding of how it feels to be a woman in 2014 is only limited by our capacity to empathise with the stories and accounts of sexual harassment and rape available to us through history, the media, online or through people we meet or know… so by that logic, the depth of our understanding is totally dependent on how much valuable information we have access to.

I proudly call myself a feminist, I’ve grown up in a family with strong feminist values, but more importantly, I’ve been raised by women who understand the importance of instilling these values in young men. Like any man I’ve fallen off the wagon at times and undone much of the work the matriarchs of my family had put so much effort into. But it’s testament to the value of a great home education, the fact that I was able to shake off my demons and march to the right beat in the end.

Unfortunately, young men today are immersed in ‘lad culture’ which is perpetuated  by characters like the in-over-his-head ‘Dapper Laughs’, the WAAAAAYYY over the top Dan Bilzerian, and the inexcusably foul Julien Blanc. As if these types of men were not harmful enough, there are also ‘female role models’ who insinuate that it’s okay to treat a girl like a rocking horse. Pair an overly-sexed up media with the pre existing patriarchal paradigms that have always existed, and you have a very highly concentrated beam of ignorance headed for your tots!   

 MR DAPPER ‘MOIST’ LAUGHS  96520

1804___Selected MR DAN ‘BITCHEZ’ BILZERIAN

MR JULIEN ‘STR8 UP RAPIST’ BLANC 1416051987743_wps_10_julien_blanc

 

 

There is certainly great value in exposing the sexually enthralled male fiend, or ‘lad’ who is sadly now an archetypal figure. However, pointing fingers merely directs us to the culprit, it says nothing of how to deal with them.

I don’t believe for a second that any woman is responsible for any form of sexual harassment or abuse she may be subjected to, whether she walks the street covered head to toe or totally naked is irrelevant, she’s here, she’s free… what the fuck has that got to do with you?

But I’m sorry, asking an objectively attractive female to document the number of ‘cat calls’ she gets during a leisurely stroll around areas known for lecherous men, is like throwing a newborn baby into a cage of lions… they don’t know any better. These are men hardened and conditioned by the misogynistic mainstream media and the ancient traditions of patriarchy. Shouting them down is futile because it’s our society that neglects to educate them properly. This does not absolve these men of blame, but it does insinuate that the problem is institutional, not solely individual. To me that’d suggest that educational reform is in order… perhaps incorporating ‘gender sensitivity’ into school curriculums early on… or if you want to bypass all of that bureaucratic bullshit, the Internet provides us with unlimited creative options in helping to educate young people in new and entertaining ways… I’d start there.  

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If these videos have done anything, they’ve made me so much more conscious of how I communicate with women, which is a great result on some levels, but apparently even making eye contact makes me a potential rapist in her eyes… I am more than aware of how being male and living within a patriarchal society contributes to ‘rape culture’, even if it is by default and is driven by fear… but I mean as if my brown skin and beard weren’t already creating enough preconceptions about my character as it were… we all have shit to deal with.

I’m positive that this post may draw sentiments such as ‘why don’t you propose a solution?’ or ‘you have no right!’…But I firmly believe that causes like this need to be led by those who are plighted by its inequalities… I don’t think a man can lead this revolution against sexism any more than I think I can learn the history of my people from British historians… If your oppressor frees you, you’ll still remain under their thumb… freeing yourself from your oppressor will kick sexism in the bum… Remember that shit.  

I’ve collected a few really positive and insightful videos about feminism, for contrast and inspiration.

 

This is a TED Talk by blogger Courtney E Martin, discussing the three essential paradoxes of her generation’s quest to define the term ‘Feminism’ for themselves.

The next video is a rap written and performed by Madiha Bhatti, who has clearly had enough of the chauvinistic sex fest that is today’s mainstream music industry, and does not mince her words… She quite rightly calls her piece Mu(sick).

The final video features Indian actresses Kalki Koechilin and VJ Juhi Pandey with a very satirical message, speaking out against the poor attitudes to rape shared by many cultures… most notably in India. 

 

Consider this feedback from a feminist who just so happens to be a man, and really wants to see some shit turned around!

Go get ‘em!

K

Conscious or Not?

Throughout my writing constantly arises the subject of consciousness… so I figured it best to discuss what this means early on! I’m all about options… so you can keep reading on, or  watch the video instead!

For many, ‘consciousness’ means to be awake or aware, and this is true with respect to literally walking around with your eyes open; as well as being extra perceptive of various truths. Others understand ‘consciousness’ as a state of mind i.e. conscious, subconscious, unconscious and superconscious. This is also true, as these 4 mental states are objective categories of external and internal awareness. In fact the highly revered Swami Vivekananda, who was the first to use ‘consciousness’ as the adverb to explain the ever-pervading ‘life force’, describes it as “a mere film between two oceans, the subconscious and the super-conscious’. He drops ‘unconscious’ from the category list and focuses on the 3 states of mind associated with some form of awareness. You see for Swami Viv… there was no question of the unconscious, if ‘consciousness’ was his description of the eternal and ever-evolving force of creation, then how could it ever be unconscious?

Now lets figure out how this relates to us by taking all of the above information and forming our own definition of ‘consciousness’ as, ‘a progressive energy, acutely aware of both physical and metaphysical existence’.

Look around you… that lamp in the corner, the tree outside the window. Really engage all of your senses, can you smell a neighbours cooking? Can you feel your phone battery overheating as it’s plugged into your laptop? Maybe you can taste ‘cigarette breath’, or perhaps you can hear some foxes getting freaky. You are able to perceive this rather mundane setting because of a cool trick called ‘sensory processing’… long story short your body uses your nervous system to transmit messages to the brain according to what you may see, hear, smell etc. We are going to focus on sight to drive this point home.

Time to get a little scary… In our entire lives, we will never TRULY see anything in its present form. Anything that falls within our direct or peripheral vision is a light frequency travelling via the nervous system and processed through the eye. The eye sends this ‘signal’ to the brain, who then graciously projects the image within your mind. Your brain does many things, storing information and controlling your body are its most basic tasks. Think of your brain as a radio receiver, it receives signals and transmits them appropriately and according to the information encrypted within the frequency. So tis not your eyes that see, but rather your mind which projects. If we apply our definition of ‘consciousness’ to this process, it becomes immediately clear that it is at the core of all earthly functions, and is therefore the ‘life force’ within all things that naturally evolve through time.

We are still able to perceive things in a state of subconscious, some would argue more strongly; and in a state of super-consciousness, the capacity to perceive is at its greatest. This provides great insight into why we all see the world so differently. The more ‘conscious’ a person is, or rather, the more aware a person is of their consciousness, the more intricate the world they interact with will appear. This is due to their brain processing more frequencies’ faster and more efficiently than others. People fine-tune these abilities through disciplined regimes of meditation and yoga (even 30 minutes of each every day makes a difference!).

So how can we say that the force behind all creation is ‘consciousness’? Surely evolution is a process of geology, biochemistry and adaptation to an already existing environment… isn’t that how our sensory processing function would have evolved? Absolutely. But let’s look more intricately at the way in which things evolve. What was once a basic atom, evolved into a more complex atomic structure. It later developed into minerals and molecules, and then cell based organisms, followed by tissues and organs, then, into various types of animals and plants. This tells us that whatever propels the process of evolution, does so with ‘increasing complexity’. This fact alone makes it very clear as to how evolution can be considered as an ‘increasingly complex expression of consciousness’ as consciousness is consciously trying to become aware of itself… the result is you and me.

This understanding of consciousness brings to light the concept of the ‘Ātman’ (pronounced At-Maa), which many would understand to be the soul, life force, energy, or the ‘Holy Spirit’ within. Ātman is a Sanskrit word, most directly translated as ‘inner-self’ or more appropriately, consciousness. This is an elemental Vedic principle explaining the science behind the eternal energy that propels the universe. Despite it’s Vedic roots, this principle fits comfortably within any theology or scientific theory, as it recognises an integral rule of physics and religion, ‘energy cannot be created nor destroyed’ it merely transfers or transforms from one location to another. So whether you’re Atheist or religious, I am positive as to how you can see this concept fitting into scientific theory such as Einstein’s ‘conservation of energy’, as well as theological descriptions of the eternal and omnipotent Lord God.

This helps us to understand ‘consciousness’ as a metaphysical force that supports the material infrastructure of the universe, and in turn offers an answer to it’s location; that beneath the physical world in which we are so effortlessly engaged, lies pure and absolute consciousness. It’s very difficult to materialise this concept with words, because we can all detract different meanings from any word, just as we did earlier on… so I will once again turn to Vedic philosophy to help me explain it.

Kali Devi stands on the chest of Lord Shiv Shankar
Kali Devi stands on the chest of Lord Shiv Shankar

This image shows Vedic Goddess ‘Kali Devi’ standing on the chest of Lord Shiv Shankar, known to most as ‘Lord Shiva the Destroyer’, yet he seems to be in a state of absolute calm. As with most religious art, it is essential to know what the deities symbolise in order to make any sense of the image. Kali Devi represents the following:

1) The feminine energy that makes up the material universe:

The material universe was born from feminine energy, like all things that come into existence. The ‘Feminine’ is the force behind all creation, whether woman or man we are all created within the ‘feminine’. This is where the concept of ‘Mother Nature’ is born.

2) The truth of mortality:

Kali represents our mortality, the decapitated head and blade on one side depicting the inevitability of death; and on the other she gives blessings with one hand and offerings with the other… signifying the blessing of birth. This seemingly paradoxical image is a metaphor for universal balance… light cannot exist without darkness, good cannot exist without evil. These are the fundamental rules of the material universe depicting an eternal ‘give and take’ dynamic.

Lord Shiv Shankar represents:

1) The masculine energy that forms the metaphysical universe:

If feminine energy is creation, masculine energy is conception. Just as a sperm cell fertilises an egg, masculine consciousness provides the energy for feminine creation. Lord Shiva is understood to be the ‘point of all light and knowledge’, he is consciousness, light, sound and time. Vedic theology depicts Shiva in the form of the Shiva Lingam, a phallic structure representing this masculine energy. Shiv Shankar is the anthropomorphised form of Shiva… from this is born the concept of ‘Father Time’.

2) There is no beginning, so there is no end:

Lord Shiva is known as ‘the Destroyer’, but is truly understood to be the ‘establisher’ of each new age. Every creation will face destruction, but only in destruction is creation born. Just as Einstein’s conservation of energy theory suggests, “energy cannot be created or destroyed” instead it evolves with increasing complexity. This means that any physical manifestation is born out of chaos, and will die in the same way. The Big Bang is a great example of creation and destruction born of chaos.

Now that we understand who’s who, we can look at what the picture is actually saying. It’s quite simple really; the physical feminine universe that we interact with is supported by a masculine metaphysical consciousness. Only within the feminine realm of physical creation is masculine consciousness able to express itself. But in order for the feminine realm to manifest anything material, it requires the constant flow of consciousness to conceive or express itself. This once again alludes to the ‘give and take’ dynamic depicted in various ways by various theologies, the most well known being ‘yin and yang’… we’ll refer to this as ‘universal balance’.

So we’ve talked about a lot here… what consciousness is, how we engage our own consciousness, evolution as a process of consciousness, the Ātman, universal balance, and an alleged location of this cosmic energy… and in all honesty we’ve only really scratched the surface. But I think this is a great place to walk away and let these ideas marinade. We will explore consciousness in more depth through different philosophies and theologies in the future! But in the meantime I hope this foundation course in consciousness has been an enlightening and uplifting insight into how we can begin to build bridges between science and spirituality, and therefore gain an intrinsic understanding of universal physics.

P&L

K

Conscious or Not Video: