|I don't know if this belongs here, but I thought maybe some of you could feel me on this...
||[Apr. 13th, 2005|02:35 pm]
As the world slides deeper and deeper into anti-Americanism, I have decided to adhere to the old adage "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em." I must clarify here my use of the word "beat". I have never attempted to beat (in either sense of the word) the harsh and numerous critics I have encountered. I am in no way the one to be defending the actions and values of the government of the very country I wish so desperately to leave. I have simply tried to correct misconceptions and generalisations, often to no avail. As I come to an understanding of what it is to be an overseas representative of one of the most controversial and powerful countries this world's history has known, it's become clear that my skin just isn't thick enough. I have neither the patience nor the will to fight this uphill battle alone. America will always be bigger than me. Trouble is, it thinks it will always be bigger than the world, in turn.|
This doesn't gel well with an intense and ever growing passion for travel, cultural anthropology, foreign languages and the like. To begin, the stereotype of the "fat, ignorant, and proud of it" Yankee jerk-off constantly hangs over my head. Thanks to a few indiscreet (albeit rich) ignoramii predating my arrival in Europe, life's been a series of debates and concessions for this curious, bilingual, brown-skinned and financially-challenged American passport holder. Thanks loads, George Dubya. Mad props, Ronald Reagan. Johnson, you lying son of a bitch. All the Michael Moores, the Tracy Chapmans, Toni Morrisons and Hilary Clintons (I know) in this world unfortunately have not yet been able to outshine the cowboys and cowboys-in-disguise (Tom Wolfe, anyone?) in the rest of the world's collective conscience.
Which brings me to what I consider the biggest hurdle in this expatriation business. For all else they may be, the United States are home to the family, friends and experiences that have helped me to become "me". It is the only context I've known till now, and to quote Ani DiFranco, I owe my life to the people that I love. And they happen to be American, okay? What I have learned thus far, however, is that people are the same everywhere. Meaning: Whatever haven of open-mindedness, willingness to look further, case-by-case mentality etc. I find in an academic setting (and not always at that), there is always the "everyday citizen" one meets in the street. He's the grocer, the pharmacist, the guy sitting next to you in the café. One consulted, his words will take fire, his gestures will fly, the accuracy of his statements (more or less right-on, in America's case) notwithstanding. It's quite the same Stateside, wouldn't you say? The only difference I can see is that the rest of the world actually has something to cry about.
When was the last time Paraguay came and arbitrarily laid claim to petrol on our territory? Is half of your local radio station's playlist comprised of songs you can't understand? The worst: Can you attribute your child's obesity to a worldwide plague of fast-food restaurants specializing in Iranian cuisine? No. I thought not. So these are "extreme" examples. True all the same. Shudder to think, just as extreme has our country's deathgrip been on the unsuspecting rest of the world.
You all might hate me for this, but I'm serious, folks. I'm young. I've got dreams and I'm not going to live the rest of my life in the most resented behemoth in recent history. Expatriation is a risky and costly business, I know. I am willing to do whatever it takes to represent myself differently. And - I never thought I'd say this - I "thank" England, slowly but surely redeeming itself, for being as much of a homewrecker as it was not too long ago. Why? There are a host of countries I can go to without even having to learn a new language (not that that would bother me much). New Zealand and South Africa attract me the most, simply because they're somewhat off the beaten path... I won't go so far as to say inconspicuous, as I did just mention South Africa. Apartheid, thankfully, didn't pass unnoticed. Neither did Mandela's hard-won ascendance to leadership. I hope only that Mbeki continues his legacy.
Regarding South Africa, thanks to my phenotype, I would be part of (one of) the ethnic minorities in that country, and furthermore, the one that has never been in power. The 2.6% of the SA population that traces its origins to the subcontinent had a huge hand in helping construct the railroads. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but the Indian population, famously diasporic, is connected to a motherland just too complex, too "itself", too bewitching to incite the wrath of anyone not Pakistani or Chinese. Even in the States, where racial tensions can get high, I'd never suffered colour-related ephitets until September 11th. Even then, when someone mistook me for an Arab or an Afghani (ha, the first time some had heard of that country...) they quickly shut up when I explained to them I was born in India. "Oh... yeah, India. The food's good, the women are beautiful...I've always wanted to see the Taj Mahal." The list goes on.
I know that all this won't be easy. I realize that the land of my nascent dreams has a 36% unemployment rate and a history of relegating its majority black population to townships in arid areas with beguiling names like Bophuthatswana and Transkei. On the international front, however, who is going to accuse S.A. (or New Zealand - which has had its share of race-related strife - for that matter) of mistaking the rest of the world for its whipping boy? Who?
I fold here. I can't write anymore without wanting to punch someone. I just refuse to function properly in a society that happily ignores (and at the same time, exploits) the rest of the planet. What "we've" done in Latin America alone is a damn, down-low, dirty shame, in my opinion. When will we ever learn to stay home and stay out? Good-bye, America. You really know how to throw a party. I've had a blast, but I gotta check out for awhile. My head's spinning. Have fun without me, and for Pete's sake, try not to break anything else.