02 October 2007

Black Guys and White Guys

September 1

One thing that remains interesting to me is the blanket description of all foreigners as white men. A recent example of this took place in Bonthe, when some Sierra Leonean drinking buddies told me about their white friends who served there as a UN peacekeeper. Lieutenant Zoa was from Bangladesh.

Of course, it would be a bit churlish to give Africans grief for seeing all foreigners as alike, given that Africa is widely perceived in the U.S. as a monolithic entity.

I was presented with another perspective on this while waiting to get on a boat from Bonthe back to the mainland, and listening to early 90s standards from Whitney Houston, Brian Adams and Elton John, courtesy of Radio Bonthe. Throughout West Africa (and the world, I'm sure) one can pick up pirated compilation CDs/DVDs of movies. Although often random, they are sometimes organized around a theme -- sequels/serires, horror, Schwartzenegger opuses, etc. One of my fellow passengers was carrying one called "Black Guys in Great Movies." Of the eight, I could only recognize (thanks to Newsweek) Blood Diamond (set here, coincidentally) and Apocalypto, whic was set in pre-Columbian Central or South America (I believe) and so probably does not feature black people.

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