Being raised in a South/West Asian home, in NYC, I have the privilege to be able to see things from different cultural perspectives and to carry with me the knowledges of many people. (I use the plural to reflect that there is no one “knowledge”.) I am blessed to have an extended family of second mothers, sisters and brothers who have shared with me some of Puerto Rican culture, African American culture, LGBTQ culture, Jewish culture and so on. I am grateful to have that information and perspective as a part of my being.
But, I too get to be a “stupid American” sometimes – seeing things as funny or odd because of where I come from. It can be people, situations, or everyday things. For example, this brilliant young Afghan artist performed at a few shows in the festival.
He also leads theater with young people, teaching acrobatics, clowning, and general theater skills. Everytime I saw around him I would think, “oh, there’s my little Puerto Rican papi”. Because that’s the way my mind saw him!
Also, check out this group of awesome looking men.
I would like to caption their photo “Straight Pimpin” because of their fly clothes and their poses. But this would deeply offend them. Being from South and West Asian culture, I know that calling someone a pimp is a serious insult. So maybe they just get to be really cool guys! (Side Note: I did learn that in Kabul the number 39 is very undesirable because it refers to someone who is a pimp! I didn’t get the explanation about how that developed.)
Second side note, I got to practice my Spanish today with a lovely Afghani man who lived in France for many years and is now back in Afghanistan working in documentary filmmaking. I met him at the first Afghani Human Rights Film Festival which started today.
It’s the first human rights film festival in all Central Asia and the Middle East! What did I tell you about the innovations happening here?!
Anyway, the rest of this entry is a series of photos that are interesting to me simply because I am seeing through whatever cultural lens I happen to use. I am also including photos of amazingly beautiful people because I am struck by the diversity of faces and cultures in this city. I won’t say more because every time I try to describe the people I see, my words seem so inadequate. I realize the ethnic boxes and categories we have are measly and hollow. Just look and see. I am sure you’ll recognize a cousin, a sister, a neighbor, a friend. No matter where you go in the world, human beings are more alike than we are different.
I’ve joined the judging committee for this activist art contest. Please take a look and consider submitting something.