So most every (educated) Black person knows about W.E.B. DuBois' reference to the Black "double consciousness." I don't feel like explaining it - so click the link if you don't know what I'm talking about - but I will say that I'm mainly referring to this part
" . . . the internal conflict between being African and American simultaneously"
As a Black person, my perspective about America can be a little . . . interesting. I think Chris Rock put it best when he says that to a Black person, America is like "the uncle that put you through college . . . but molested you." For the most part, I have a sense of humor about everything. (A couple days ago, I was in Tokyo visiting one of my best friends from high school and he was saying how as an American, he apologizes to his significant other every year for Hiroshima. I told him that I don't apologize for jack because "it was them White folk that did that sh!!") He thought it was hilarious, but to a degree . . . (and I'm keeping it really really real) that's how most Black folk think. But let me get to the point with this post (because I really gotta go to bed soon.)
I brought up the "double consciousness" thing because being in this country has given me like a million different "realities" to consider and sometimes I find myself conflicted between my consciousness as an American, a Black person, a woman and also things that I've never really thought about before moving here . . . like being tall or even my bra size. There are a million and one things that I never really thought about that have become a big part of who I am out here. But one surprising thing is that I've become fond of nearly everything that I represent.
Like, I couldn't imagine coming from a more "cooler" country than America. And I know it sounds strange, but there is a certain amount of casualness that Americans are recognized for, that I never knew about until I left. I was talking to a Japanese lady the other day and she was telling me that after she left America and moved to New Zealand, the "Kiwis" were constantly correcting her English and telling her that she had an American accent. She told me that she could tell that I was from America when I said the word, "can't." I cringed with embarrassment.
"I know," I said. "The American accent is so - "
"Cool!" she interrupted. This caught me off guard. I guess, I was so quick to think that the whole world only thought negative things about us, that I never really stopped to listen to what was actually being said. (Don't get me wrong, this "casualness" isn't always seen as good, but what I'm saying is that people all over the world have some viewpoints about Americans that aren't all negative.)
Now that I'm in Japan, I realize how loose I seem compared to "the natives." The way I talk, walk, smile and interact with my friends is completely different from the people around me and in a way you can say it's very stereotypical of what they feel America represents. A lot of the stores that boast to have "American clothing" showcase huge billboards and posters with the words, "Casual" or "Relaxed" with pictures of blonde haired, blue-eyed "Americans" wearing cowboy hats and torn jeans, posing in some laid back look or another. And when I walk down the street (regardless of the fact that I look nothing like the White people in their "American" posters) that's what I represent.
But then, there's another level to my "breeziness." The way I walk, the way I talk and just having that extra "swagger" and personally, I attribute it to being Black. It cracks me up the longer I'm around some of my White friends and coworkers, the more I hear them repeating the slang words that I've recently used just to see how it sounds coming out of their mouths. I make up random ish and I can literally see these people taking mental notes. No one can convince me that Black people aren't the root of all things cool in America, and the Japanese people may not know that . . . but the White folk certainly do and I am definitely being studied, lol.
My friend in Tokyo was saying that he misses being around Black folk, because he notices that Black people go with the flow a little bit more. Personally, I think we have our own hang-ups when it comes to plenty of things, but for the most part I can agree with him and that's another thing I am proud to represent while over here.
Now as for being a woman . . . I am THE only person that looks like me in this area. I'm 5'8, I have shoulder length dread locks, double D breasts, size 7 pants, size 10 shoes . . . and the list goes on and on. I can't help but to think about the Sojourner Truth "Ain't I a Woman" poem, being that I am built way more sturdier than these - as my Grandmother would say - "drop in a bucket" women around me, but honestly I have never felt sexier. I definitely stand out because of the way my clothes fit, the way that I wear makeup and just the femininity in the way that I carry myself. Like the way that I switch when I walk, which I really can't help because . . . well, that's just the way I'm built. (And these men and women out here aren't stupid. I've gotten a few flirty "konnichiwas" since I've been here.) But these are all things that I never really thought about before moving to Japan and they make me proud every day to represent a demographic that isn't seen very often in countries such as this.
I wish I could finish this post better, but all I can say is that if you (or someone you know) is ever considering moving to another country, make sure you are comfortable with who you are (or who you think you are). Because you will truly be tested on every "consciousness" you possess and it will either make you a stronger person or it will just make your insecurities stronger. Okay, I really gotta get to bed now. G-night, blogosphere!