Had a lively discussion tonight with a Nigerian man

Struck up conversation tonight with a native Nigerian man whom I spoke with on one previous occasion. Very nice man. Very kind and accommodating. Last time we talked he showed me a slideshow of his children and their “family house” back in Nigeria. His children are doing well, as are all of his direct relatives. This time I decided to question more deeply into his native culture and legal immigration into the U.S.

Love that guy. What a sweetheart! Such a nice human being. Our conversation wandered onto differences between Nigerian educational expectations and typical American black expectations on to cultural differences that he’s learning to adjust to, etc. Now that’s an immigrant who has his shit together and who’s helping his kids to become the best they can be in the U.S. I am seriously impressed. He’s a working man of obviously modest means or he wouldn’t be hanging out in that bar and interacting so much with the neighborhood locals, all of whom seem to appreciate him. The only damper on the evening was the (white middle-aged male) bartender approaching me while Gus was away to say that our conversation might potentially encourage others to join in and cause a ruckus, which never occurred. We both remained perfectly respectful toward one another and had a very engaging and interesting conversation that no one else attempted to butt in on. I personally gained a great deal from our interactions tonight and am grateful that Gus was so open and willing to share his opinions with me. So no problems for the bartender to worry about ever arose.

He educated me this evening in greater depth about his native country and the riffs occurring there. I asked about the Boko Haram debacle and he provided his honest understanding on the matter, which is (by my paraphrasing) that it’s totally fucked up and the northern Muslims keep attempting to enslave and mistreat the southern Nigerian Christians.  Was interesting to hear about it firsthand from a man who visits the region frequently and yet has learned to assimilate into the U.S. culture overall.

I explained to him my own background., so far as I’m knowledgeable about it. And we discussed how arranged marriages tend to be the norm where he comes from.

Very lively and interesting guy. Glad to have met him. He requested my number so as to notify him when I’m back at that particular bar for future conversations on such matters. Told him upon leaving that I’d like to hear next time his opinion about the Black Lives Matter movement, to which he chuckled. Surely he’ll give it a bit of thought before our next interaction.

Wish I could spell out all we talked about tonight but it’s nuanced and the night is growing dim on me now. Will just say that he’s an excellent example of a migrant to the U.S. who has heart and concern and who works hard toward helping his (now college-age) children to prosper. And that’s what I love to see. That’s what America is supposed to be about, in a nutshell. Not immigrants coming here who don’t give a damn and who openly state detestation of our country and its laws.

Anyway, in short, Gus is a great dude and I’m grateful to have run into him again tonight.

On our culture, depression, and suicide (Talks 1 & 2)

On our culture, depression, and suicide (Talk 1):

On our culture, depression, and suicide (Talk 2):

The article referenced in both videos was published in Newsweek (May 22, 2013) titled “The Suicide Epidemic” (also mentioned elsewhere on this blog): http://mag.newsweek.com/2013/05/22/why-suicide-has-become-and-epidemic-and-what-we-can-do-to-help.html

From The Guardian, “Facebook reveals governments asked for data on 38,000 users in 2013 (First report of its kind reveals more than half of government requests for user data in first half of 2013 came from the US)”:  http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/aug/27/facebook-government-user-requests

“Technology giants struggle to maintain credibility over NSA Prism surveillance (Strongly-worded denials issued by Apple, Facebook and Google about their co-operation are followed by further revelations)” (plus Verizon): http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/09/technology-giants-nsa-prism-surveillance

More news of Google and Yahoo’s connections with the NSA: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/technology/nsa-is-mining-google-and-yahoo-abroad.html?_r=0

My thoughts on the video “Becoming A Feminist”

Watching and reacting to this tonight:

For starters, she and I are very different people who came up in different lifestyles (I went into some of how I came up and got into feminism in this video). She reports having been fairly tomboyish and involved in sports, whereas I was certainly not a tomboy, didn’t get into competitive sports (P.E. became the class I dreaded most), and didn’t care much for sci-fi until about midway through my 20s. As a pre-adolescent, I hung out with girls primarily and tended to bicker with boys, though in my teen years I gravitated more toward men and boys, partly due to falling out increasingly with girls, and this trend has strengthened to this day (to where I now stand with only one close female friend who lives in another state, plus my Grandma). BUT, I don’t necessarily have hard feelings toward womankind. Irritation and bewilderment are the words I’d use to describe the situation, coupled with a sense of awe that admittedly has been waning a bit over the years.

BUT, I am a woman as well, regardless of how well I do or don’t get along with others of my sex. Not like I hit it off with every man I come across either.  LOL  No, members of both sexes can and do drive me nuts, but I recognize the value of both sexes overall despite my quibbles and frustrations. Don’t appreciate each and every individual in existence today, but ah well, humanity itself is valuable and individuality as a concept deserves to be protected.

Yes, I agree that it would be great as a woman to not be so readily dismissed as “neurotic” or “feminist” because I offer up one female perspective. I’m a woman — it can’t be helped. Same goes for a man, yet we don’t as a society challenge and scrutinize that perspective in the same way, or at least we didn’t use to. I don’t enjoy having my ideas overlooked until a man restates them either necessarily, though I don’t take as extreme issue with this as I might’ve once upon a time. Why? Well, because the role of muse is valuable in its own right. I’m not the best speaker and my writings can run long (haha), so if someone else can state some of these ideas more cogently, go for it. Prefer not to have my ideas ripped off and/or bastardized though. Living and learning is a creative endeavor that can’t help but be cooperative in the sense that we pick up information and ideas from others along the way. In simple terms, no human is an island. Might as well accept that and be gentlemen and gentlewomen toward one another where possible. As in mentioning credit where it’s due (hence why I keep bringing up Erich Fromm whose books have had a transformative influence over the last several years on my own way of looking at life and humanity).

Because I’m a woman and can’t avoid being impacted by laws specific to women (one clear example is abortion access) doesn’t imply men’s matters are of less concern. Most people I care deeply about are men. Doesn’t mean I view all men as equal though either, and same goes for women. And it’s here where the concept of “equality” breaks down for me. To each expect fair treatment under the law is one thing, but this idea that every human is automatically of equal value isn’t accurate. Some people actually do possess more value than others. Take myself for instance, I’m probably not all that valuable in the big scheme of things.  lol  Take my partner, so far as being helpful in direct and important ways, he’s probably more valuable to greater society. I accept this as how it stands currently. Not everything in life has to be a competition, jealous as I do sometimes get of his natural “sunshine” ways. But anyway, such is life. Some people serve more utility for more people than others, though there’s no reason to undermine the individual purely because they haven’t proven terribly useful in their time to others. Plenty of major contributors to life as we know it were shunned by people in their day, even executed in some cases. So… based on this consideration I say we have to let individuals stand on their own merit and be careful with our dismissals and ostracism — some deserve harsh judgement and treatment, but not any one group categorically or individuals simply because they won’t toe the line some or even many may subscribe to.

It’s a tightrope of sorts that we all face, but it’d be nice to not be so swiftly “discredited” simply because I happen to be a woman. The harsh judgment that my criticisms or concerns must stem from completely biased, self-serving agenda is the assumption of ideologues who can’t see beyond blacks and whites, for us or against us. I reject such simplistic thinking. I am not FOR all men, just as I am not FOR all women, nor can I be. As stated already, too many assholes in each pile to go along with a strategy like that. Some men and women I vehemently disagree with or aim to remain protected from, and that’s just the way life goes. Not all black people are on one team (as evidenced by how common  black-on-black violence has become) and the same goes for the sexes. Men are capable of stabbing a person in the back as fast as women could — might stem from different motives, but the end result is it severely sucking nevertheless. I don’t put all my eggs in arbitrarily-defined “camps” like that. Why do so? What substantial good comes from it?

Hence why I still am unable to call myself a feminist. I support women’s rights where I believe that’s actually what’s going on, since oftentimes it isn’t and plenty is paraded as in favor of women and children when really it’s just an attempt to expand the scope and power of Big Government under the guise of angling for an unfair advantage. I don’t like being used to serve unjust bullshit ends of that sort. The feminist movement all too frequently these days does endorse problematic legislation, and I can’t go for that. Better to be a social nomad than to go there, IMO. Better to stand as an individual voice than be absorbed by a movement that doesn’t at bottom have people’s, let alone women’s, best interest at heart.