Monday, 28 May 2018

On Prejudice, Hypocrisy and Truth: A Lonely Road

I partially exposed my struggle with a variety of ideological movement. I'm going to talk a bit more of this. In the last couple of years, our society has witnessed an increase in tribalism and polarisation, in some ways enhanced by social media. In its most extreme form, there has been campus protests and some such as James Demore have been fired. But for me, the gravest charge is the way terms used to talk about certain topics have evolved. Racism has become white supremacy, sexism has become patriarchy and so on and so forth.

I have and will continue to point extremism caused by what is generally termed identity politics. However, I have also previously mentioned how uncomfortable I felt with the classical liberal/ free speech “activist”.

Simply said, couched under moralistic and hiding under the umbrella of intellectualism, many are using the fight against tribalism to promote prejudiced views or absolve from any internal recognition of bias.

Take a look at this article written by Coleman Hughes on Quillette detailing the negative impact of some features of so called black culture on the black community. The comments to an article such as this are always interesting, especially when the author happens to be black, as is the case for this article. 

Coleman's argument about black culture are well-articulated. I'm not sure if hip-hop has the kind of hold on black people Coleman proffer or if there’s truly a culture of non-intellectualism. In any case, regardless of whether he’s right or not on these points, I’m one of those who would readily admit that there are serious flaws in the black community and in “black culture” (the Kanye West debacle is a good example). Yet, acknowledging the defects plaguing black society doesn't prevent me from pointing out the legacy of racism and the impact it has even to this day. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

On Foucault and Post-Modernism

This post was prompted by my reading of Kenneth House’s defence of post-modernism and the various French philoshophe who prompted the movement, on Areo. 

I went to an extremely liberal university where our first duty was to get acquitted with the theories developed by both Michel Foucault and Pierre Bourdieu. I have, what can be called, a first-hand experience with critical theory and deconstruction. For many Bourdieu, with its talk of capital was the easiest sociologist to grasp. But for some reasons, my own affinity was always with Foucault. 

For me, its concept of power, truth and discourse made sense. Truth was a relative thing dependent of the whims of those in power.  Indeed, as the saying goes history is written by the victorious. Look no further than the various military intervention the US has made in the four corner of the globe. Through natives of the assaulted country would call it infringing on a state’s sovereignty. Americans get to say that they were fighting for democracy. And even to this days, they are still many people in and outside the US who believe that narrative.

Today, I realize the limit of Foucault's theory or rather I can see the potential damage this ideology can wrought on society. Nonetheless, I still think that his concept of power can be appreciated and used -- if we manage to remove moral relativism and the social building element to it.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Kanye West and Outrage Culture

I suppose it is proof of my growth that a year ago, I would have joined the horde of virtue signaller currently lambasting Kanye West on social media. Well, I'm generally anti-social media. My own form of outrage would have been along the line of "Have you seen...?". When I heard that Kanye West supported Trump or that he thought talking about slavery four centuries after the fact was a choice, I shrugged. Trump is a serious piece of work, but I believe that he could have truly done some good if people were less busy organising Women March and protesting about Dreamers. Trump thought that he could be the Commander in Chief. He learned that he was only to be a figure head. Red-hat wearing American citizens should learn to criticize him where needed. As for liberals, I think they need to understand that Trump is first and foremost a showman who believe that the best way to get what he wants is to take the most outrageous position.

I may be wrong on that one, but I doubt he believes half of the things he tweets or say. Besides, since JFK, he's the only American president who was in some ways his own man. Hence, if you seek justice, peace and the betterment of society, then calling him names defeat your purpose. What Trump lacks isn't honesty, it is smart. To change the course of the US, he would have had to neutralize various powerful factions inside and outside its government. Unfortunately, he wasn't up for the task.

Let's get back on topic. Even more than both liberal and conservative hypocrisy (Wasn’t Kanye a free-spirit when he accused Bush of racism? Wasn’t he a thug when he spoke out against the president?), I'm shocked by our society fickleness and frivolity. So what if Kanye support Trump? Why do we even care what someone who often has trouble stringing two sentences together say? Because he's wealthy and famous? There are people – journalists, scholars, writers who have risked their career and sometimes their life to report the truth about politics, the economy and a variety of other topics. Yet, here we are losing our cool over what an entertainer tweeted!

This situation reveals a dangerous trend in our society: the deification of the famous and wealthy while simultaneously cultivating indifference and even sometimes antipathy toward those that are less successful. A common, albeit farcical argument I often see over the web goes along this line, “Who care what you think? You only have X number of followers.” People often miss how far and wide-ranging the consequence of such behaviour are. Whenever a black person is shot by the police or suffer from injustice, we are quick to point out the indifference and scorn of the wider community. And yet, in light of what I have just said, is any of this truly surprising? Let’s not forget that black people are a minority group amounting to about 10% of the US population which dwell in the lowest sphere of society.

I am one of those that get offended whenever talk of minority privilege and victim mentality crop up. But I must say that I was shocked by some of the comments that sprung from Kanye's remarks. Essentially, Kanye's slavery comment was a blow to the black community or so claimed many social media user behind their keyboard . We can't pretend that it is only a mental health issue, they declared. Heart-breaking, they moaned. I mean what the hell? A year ago, I would have been outraged by Kanye and I would have revelled in the outrage culture. But never in a million years, would I have claimed that it was a blow to the black community.

Even if you find, Kanye deplorable, how low must your self-esteem and internal strength be that his mere words could feel like a hammer blow? For the first time in my life, I was tempted to say that perhaps minorities can sometimes be tempted to support victim-hood. The tentacles of slavery are long indeed. Someone like Orlando Patterson showed how it was still impacting the black family in the US now. Nonetheless, and I realise that as someone who is not Afro-American and has never visited the US my word may be worthless, I must ask where do we go from here?

Slavery has occurred in a variety of society throughout the history of our world. It may sound horrible, but black slavery isn't exceptional. If history has taught us anything, it is that humans are able to inflict unimaginable cruelty on its fellow human. The age is different, the people are different, but the cycle keep on repeating itself. The Holocaust occurred in a civilised society. Israel, that bastion of democracy in the Middle East, has established a colonial state in Palestine where the Palestinian people are nothing but parasite to be exterminated. What does that tell us?

So, again I must ask, where do we go from here? Racism exists, discrimination is not gone, injustice occurs. But harping about white privilege and white supremacy is just not the way to go. The puppet master, our politicians and other professional con-man strive on division and resentment. Besides, it reduce complex psychological, societal and political issues to catchphrase.

Lastly, Kanye's treatment exposes our own hypocrisy. We are constantly complaining about white people tendency to see black people as a monolith. One black person’s mistake is the wrongdoing of the entire community. So, why are we doing the same? By condemning Kanye because he isn’t thinking the right way, we are allowing non-black people to keep on denying our individuality.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018


Initially, I had planned to talk about my view on police brutality, racism and race relations. However, as I put word to the screen, I started to realize that there was a more pressing post I needed to publish. Today, I’m going to talk about my growing disillusionment with life in general. I can’t really say when it started or how it occurred, but one day I realized that my outlook on life had grown bleak indeed. I don’t know…maybe it’s just a part of growing up. I wish…I don’t know what I wish to be honest. Maybe that someone would tell me that I don’t need to worry because it’s going to be ok? That they understand how I feel? That I’m not alone? I just don’t know.

From the moment we’re born, we are told that the world is ours for the taking. Of course, at some points in our life, we are bound to experience setbacks that might or might not be outside our control. But generally, the world is ours. It’s not a perfect world by any means, but it is relatively safe, secure and enduring. Have you ever noticed how any self-help book you might pick tell you that you can achieve anything you want? In these books, though there might be injustice, we nonetheless live in a world of boundless possibilities. Some argue that all we need is to become a bundle of positive thoughts, others take a more hard-bitten approach, recommending to get a grip of our bad habits.

But the conclusion remains the same: with enough determination we can be and have almost anything we want.

Saturday, 14 April 2018

What Does Truth and Justice Mean for Someone in a Black Body?

*This post is more stream of consciousness than structured essay. So, at times, I may be rambling.

The world isn’t right. Everything is flipped upside down. Right is wrong and wrong is right. But how do you make sense of what is truly true? How can you separate right from wrong? How do you know that you aren’t deluding yourself? 

If I had been born white, these questions would probably not be as pressing for me. But, I am black and a woman, living with all the prejudice associated with it. Often, when minorities and in particular black people talk about the colour of their skin, there’s always someone around, generally a white person ready to tell them that they should focus less on race. There may also be a more mean-spirited white person eager to remind the darker folk that if black people were harder working, law-abiding citizen they would not have to wax poetic about discrimination.

White people can afford to be raceless – they are the dominant race. Not only are white people the majority in Western countries, they have accumulated such economic power that even when they are the minority, they are nonetheless the one holding most of the power. The IMF, the ONU and most the major financial institutions, where do they all come from? The West. What is the colour of the people populating movies, TV shows, advertisements and novels?  White. Who own and work for most media? Who is in the board of most universities? Who has the most tenured position in academia?

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

The Future of This Blog - Update 17/03/2018

This blog has had many incarnations. Four years ago, it started out as a book review blog. You can find my very first post here. As you will be able to see, hope and enthusiasm dripped from the page. "Where has it all gone?" is what I wonder. My relationship with this blog has always been on and off. I would write and then I would stop writing for no better reason than sheer laziness. For a very short while last year, I thought of relaunching my blog as a lifestyle/business blog. Oh and oh, the mighty fell and are still falling...

Even as I have stumbled upon knowledge very few people stumble on, my entire life, I have always only wished for a normal existence. A good career, a house and eventually children with a loved partner. Even to this day, it is what I yearn for and my heart weep for the life I could never have. Truth, justice, light--these are words whose meaning have always been lost on me. I care little for being the change you wish to see or being a voice of truth amidst the eddy of madness. The Jordan Petersons, the JFKs, the Martin Luther Kings -- those people are made of different stuff than I am.

And yet here I am, writing the first post of a new Era in the life of Sage Noire. An area dense in deep politics and culture.

It is the third Saturday of March and yet, it is snowing outside. There are those who will tell you that it is a sign of global warning, but I know otherwise. A couple of days ago, Britain expulsed Russians ambassadors from the country. Democracy and the rule of Law died in thunderous applause. As war loom closer and closer, cheers ring louder and louder. Good and evil are so intertwined that it is hard to distinguish between the two anymore. History is being written by mouth spewing lies. Nature is being flooted. Women are not supposed to be women anymore. Men are not supposed to be men anymore. Both hate each other.

It seems we have fallen in the wrong side of a parallel universe, teetering toward Dark Age. Those words are being written, and yet truly, I have no hope. Nonetheless, I write. Perhaps someday, through the Grace of God, an answer will come to me.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Crazy Rich Asians #3: Rich People Problem by Kevin Kwan

Goodreads Summary: Kevin Kwan, bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, is back with an uproarious new novel of a family riven by fortune, an ex-wife driven psychotic with jealousy, a battle royal fought through couture gown sabotage, and the heir to one of Asia's greatest fortunes locked out of his inheritance. 

When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside--but he's not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park--a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore--the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises. As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife--a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid's reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a schoolyard kidnapping to a gold-leaf dancefloor spattered with blood, Kevin Kwan's gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets and rich people problems of Asia's most privileged families.
Published: May 23rd by Doubleday
Genre: Contemporary



Now that I think about it, I realize that it's a bit weird that I've never talked about one of my favourite series. Written by Kevin Kwan, Crazy Rich Asians depicts the crazy adventures of the extravagant Chinese elite. Admittedly, the set of three books is not for everybody. Think of it as a mashup between Gossip Girl and 90210 where the cast is in their early 30s and instead of hanging out in Barney's or Nordstrom, do their shopping between China's fanciest shops and every major fashion city. 

In the first book, Nick brought along his girlfriend Rachel to his best friend's wedding in Singapore, exposing her to his world made up of ridiculously wealthy relatives, friends and acquaintances without any preparation. In fact, prior to the trip Rachel knew little about her boyfriend's family and assumed that his silence on his background hinted at a poverty-ridden home that he wanted to hide.