Skip to content

Re: It’s Ms. Mzungu, thank you!

June 15, 2011

I totally see where you are coming from and again I want to apologize for any offense. I agree with you in that we need to “untrain ourselves from that kind of thinking” and that is exactly why we are here. Kate, Mike and I are here learning first hand what “real” Africa is and at times it becomes difficult enough to lose our sensitivity for those reading at home. I know this is going to sound rude, but these were two separate quotes. When my host mom said “people get raped here” she was referring to the neighborhood I live in, not to Africa as a whole… I should have clarified in my post!! My fault!!
But again, thank you so much! I love reading you responses Cam!!!

From: Cam Nguyen [] on behalf of Cam Nguyen []
Sent: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 11:43 AM
To: Margot G. Stluka
Subject: [heston2011] Re: It’s Ms. Mzungu, thank you!

Let me clarify: I was not trying to understate the danger that Kate, Margot, and others are facing in Uganda. I understand what it’s like to have no authority to rely on. I’ve lived in a country where the police and the government were incredibly corrupted and the danger of being attacked, physically, sexually, whatever, was very real, so I can see where Kate and Margot are coming from. As women, we’re taught to be careful when walking around by ourselves, regardless of where we are. How high up we put our guards, though, depends on the area we’re in and all that’s associated with that area. Being that, in general, the governments in Africa are more corrupted than here, Kate and Margot, you should definitely be cautious. But remember that we, as Americans, sometimes try so hard to separate ourselves from others when, in fact, there are a lot of similarities; we just choose to ignore what we don’t want to confront. Just because we don’t openly talk about rape in the States does not mean it happens less frequently or that the consequences are better than in “underdeveloped” countries.

Anyway, my point was not about the risk of getting raped in Africa and what that implied about the continent and its peoples. My point was to encourage people to be mindful of what they say and how they say it. Sometimes, we make comments that perpetuate biased ideas and thoughts. Obviously, that is not our intention, but it’s really easy to repeat the oppressive behavior we’ve been taught unless we’re conscious to act against it. We’ve been conditioned to internalize all sorts of stereotypes and prejudices, including ones of Africa. So when we hear “This is Africa,” automatically there are all those preconceived notions we’ve been trained to believe, whether they be negative or positive. I just want us to be aware of those thoughts and how we can un-train ourselves from that sort of thinking. I am not in any way criticizing Margot’s host mother, but think of the difference between “People get raped here” and “THIS IS AFRICA. People get raped here.” There is a connotation there, a connotation we don’t want people to take as truth. This is the same when we describe something as “ghetto” or “gay.” One may not hold any prejudices against the LGTBQ community, but describing something as being “gay” still puts the gay community in a negative light. And “ghetto” is not even an adjective. If we’re choosing to use it as one, we should at least know the history of the word and why it’s such an oppressive term. These two examples are still so commonly used and this is how our generation speaks, but we need to change that – we need to be more conscious when we speak.

[Like]Like [View this on the website]


From → Uncategorized

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: