Talkin’ n’ Shit, Race and Representation in a Nutshell.

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Side-Eye game proper!!

Talkin’ n’ Shit, Race and Representation in a Nutshell.
Cut by: Davita Cuttita

Firstly, I gotta apologize for the haitus because Grandpa Dinosaur is having technical difficulties of the hilarious variety  which prevent her from posting  (she can’t type “I”s and “K”s and uses a laptop) and I myself am up to my ass in final exams and papers so things will be slow until end-of-the-month-ish. It’s after one o’clock in the momofukkin’ mornin’, I have been reading and writing in French and Japanese all damn day and my brain just suddenly “flipped the skrip” and shut down.

So anyway, one of the things irkin’ me lately seems to be representation and perception.

At University, you get to meet a lot of international students who feel like they’re representing their country. Not all of them mind you, some of them assimilate into the Canadian “mosaic” quite readily but others attempt to carry themselves in a certain, almost diplomatic way. Bouncing around through almost any language and subject I can squeeze in between my double-majors makes meeting these students easier and easier and their concerns seem to sing the same refrain many Coloured people can relate to. For (made up) example…

If a Nigerian student gets caught cheating, all the Nigerian students suddenly go on edge and step up, attempting to prove they can be better while simultaneously fearing that they will be associated with said act.

If an Asian student passes out from stresss and fatigue, all the other Asian student up the ante to succeed.

If an African student is stereotyped as “starving,” they’ve gotta somehow “prove” that not everyone who lives there is running after planes attempting to catch UN care packages.

In short, the International Students seem to have to fight twice as hard against not only existing stereotypes, but also against stupid, “wild fire” stereotypes if one of them just so happens not to have a good day, commit a crime or otherwise. They have to pull out the big guns when they step into the ring against guilt by association.

This just doesn’t seem to transfer over to White students at all. And for the purposes of this article, when I say White, I’m not talking about White International students or even White French-Canadian students(which I haven’t met that many of); I’m talking about White Canadian students.

I find that many International students and also some Coloured students, seem to have this invisible burden of constantly trying to prove that they are capable but also that they are NOT stereotypes.

Grandpa says she’s Cambodian and suddenly, everyone thinks it’s OK to steal her work or attempt to coerce her into doing their assignments.

I say I’m Jamaican and people automatically think I spend all day running up and down the fucking beach and know where to score the best weed (which I’ve never smoked in my life, by the way).

I’ve just been trying to figure out why White Canadian students don’t seem to have this same complex that dictates somehow that their actions are also ambassadors to the world; this complex that seems to demand dignified representation and a constant fight against stereotypes. This complex that seems to dictate that we owe our native countries something, that we owe our communities something.

My very first year, I met a Black girl from Nairobi, Kenya. She spoke with a British accent since she grew up under that system. We were having lunch after class one day and she said out of all the people she’d met so far, I was the only one who actually asked her what Africa was like. I was really surprised to hear that response since she lived in (a predominantly White) residence at the time, so I asked her what the other students said when she told them where she was from.

“They asked me what I was doing here and if Africa isn’t full of starving people like they’d seen on TV.”

OK. That’s fucked up.

Especially since my friend is rich; so rich in fact that she moved out of residence the next year after a drunk White student broke into her dorm, stole some cash and smashed her shit at two in the morn. She was living in a condominium at Harbour Front by herself at the age of  20 (yes, the Harbour Front with the live swans, ships, lake Ontario and all that fancy shit in the heart of downtown Toronto where all the affluent business people live).

Last I checked, she quit this bitch called Canadada-Land and went back to Nairobi and landed an accounting internship. Apparently, the fruits and Indian restaurants there are superior. *shrugs*

And now I am tired as hell.

Tough times, tough times! I’m looking for a new job right now but this poor guy was rejected from McDonalds. Highly reccommended for your enjoyment, lover-la-dah. Till next time…

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~ by davitacuttita on May 15, 2009.

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