Mentally I am here

“Everything that you fought for was not for yourself, it was for those who came after you.” — Howard University alumnus Chadwick Boseman provided words of inspiration to the Class of 2018 during Howard University’s 150th Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 12 in Washington, D.C.

If you have survived grief before, you would understand there is no linear way the whole Kubler-Ross stage runs — you would almost experience denial first, with anger, bargaining, and depression filling in the between interchangeably, and when you thought you had reached the end with acceptance in sight, in then waltzes in the retrogress. I would know, for most of the time, I linger way too long in the anger phase, trying to fend off every faux positivity dispensed by sometimes well-meaning, although less informed people to look for the silver lining in my father’s passing. Bleurgh shut up.

Chadwick Boseman’s death, and the revelation of his diagnose of colon cancer over 4 years ago, brought out the lingering anger in many of us, also particularly me. Out sprouted all of these faux positivity, inspiration porn Twitter accounts going, “Chadwick was in 5 movies while battling cancer, what excuse do we have?!” I don’t know man, I am sure Chadwick loved what he was doing, and he probably had more resources than other Black men and women out there trying to fight for their health insurance and rampant racism that are currently structurally killing them, but try to not romanticise how someone had to work through illness and/or a disability? Or do better and try to hire disabled and/or chronically ill people for once, so for once no one should live without fear of losing housing, food, or health insurance? I don’t know, make something easy for some other people who don’t have it easy as you for once?

And Malaysians, it’s not lost on me that while you are currently mourning the death of a Black man — just a few weeks ago your beloved Malay, fair-skinned sweetheart was called out for cultural appropriation after she chose to don a traditional Indian attire for a commercial photoshoot. While she half-heartedly apologised for the ‘oversight’, citing her choice to do so was out of her fondness for the Bollywood culture, the rest of us (I’m saying ‘us’ because as long as this racism is still going on, I am still complicit in it and need to do better) chose to cyberbully the Indian girl who called her out, tossing every single racist, stereotypical language her way, further proving her point that we only love the Malaysian Indian aesthetics where they suit and benefit us, but not the people. I don’t know, like, listen to other people who look different than you are, and are treated differently than you are and not as well are you are, in a country where racial politics is still widespread, for once?

Someone mentioned to me the other day that the year 2020 has been “a ride” so far. I’d like to add that it is like being on a ride on an engulfed roller coaster carriage whilst donning a surgical mask, with leering patriarchy catcalling “hai kak long you’re looking good cium sikit eh sombunk” on the carriage behind you, and murder hornets swarming around your heads on the carriage in front, bringing buzzy news about the largest ice sheet melting in Greenland, all the while having power-hungry politicians ready to push you for your own demise from the carriage, and having the lesser evil of the other side of the politicians ready to catch you from below, only letting you fall to the ground once someone hails them as the hero. Fun.

Mentally, I am currently this paddling forlorn dog.

Reading in my tabs:

  • The size of the Beirut blast compared to other accidental explosions and conventional weapons in this smart data visualisation.
  • Inside the Turkish start-up that wants to be your “personal butler”.
  • “This tool kit and website brings together on emergent best practices, workflows, and tools that communities, educators, mutual aid groups, designers, artists and activists are using right now to host gatherings, and how design needs to change to best suit people, right now.” Responsible design for digital communities.
  • “[W]ithout the hearing aid I can come unstuck, plunging below the surface layer of Toronto into the city that lies beneath — a place full of monstrous shapes and shadowy figures, where clarity is only found in small moments of concentration, as I lean in to listen with my brow furrowed and neck crooked. I didn’t know then that my balancing line between different cities was the same line between a pre- and post-pandemic world, where everyone is forced to join me in a dimension of muted sound.” Ben Berman Ghan is partially deaf, and this is his essay on newly quiet cities.
  • “She also suggested that we may get it wrong when we focus on individuals — on chief executives, on social media activists like her. The probable answer to a media environment that amplifies false reports and hate speech, she believes, is the return of functional governments, along with the birth of a new framework, however imperfect, that will hold the digital platforms responsible for what they host.” How technosociologist Zeynep Tufekci keeps getting big things right. I researched leadership emergence in a leaderless networked movement for my PhD, and Tufekci’s work had been instrumental in guiding my thesis.
  • Practical Data Ethics course, run by and USF Data Institute, covering disinformation, bias, ethical foundations, privacy & surveillance, Silicon Valley ecosystem, and algorithmic colonialism.
  • Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein’s Data Feminism is available for free online. I plan to get my own copy once my budget permits.
  • I mean, if you want to get into it — 600 pages on boxes as world-making devices.
  • The Zooms in my life.
  • “Listen to me. There will be a day when the world will need you most — be alive on that day.”


Comment 1

  1. davebarclay1954 September 4, 2020

    As a white person I think we could all do better, if someone calls you out for being racist then shouldn’t we ask them why they feel that way and adapt our behaviour to become better people? I look at people and see men and women, I don’t see trans, gay, black, white, brown or purple with pink spots. I see people but if my speech comes across as racist to anyone then I would appreciate the opportunity to change the way I talk to and about others. I welcome your post as it gives an insight to systemic racism in society today, very well written and thought provoking piece.

    Liked by 1 person

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