Interesting discussion arose at lunch today. The
lab ratvolunteer known in this series as the sustainable agriculturist asked the Kenyan neurology student a line of questions. I knew she wanted to ask an awkward question, because she started with, “Well, you aren’t really African, right?” He looked at her with the blank expression that black people give white people when white people are entering embarrassing territory. He responded, “Um, Yes, I am Afrikan.”
She says,”Oh, well, um, do Afrikans eatmushrooms?”
I couldn’t control the laughter. Everyone else at the table took turns mocking her question. She began to turn red from embarrassment. The funniest thing is that she kept trying to explain herself, which only caused her to dig further into that ditch. The Kenyan scientist simply stated,”Yes, we do. And you are only causing further awkardness.”
We have been using that dialogue all day and night.
Now, what I learned from that is people don’t know. You have to always allow for a certain ignorance, especially if the person is truly seeking to know. I have to respect her desire to know. It is definitely better that she went through this experience with us, than for her to write an article or even worse a book with such uninformed notions. I don’t know what they eat in Kenya, either. And ultimately, it was a lesson for all of us. You don’t have to be “politically correct” and tread lightly with every statement you make, but it helps to realize that you are in the position of student seeking to be taught. When I seek knowledge from those I don’t know, I come with a certain reverence. I mean, come on…I don’t know. Her mistake was making assumptions. Assumptions that unfortunately come from what seems to be her jingoistic US worldview. When I brought up her nationalistic prejudice, she conceded.
We are not going to learn all of our lessons in an academic fashion. Most of what I have learned hasn’t been blessed with the only consequence being a letter grade. Due to the reality of a dynamic existence, we have to consider the reactions, and potential reactions of everything we do. Not always an easy task. Eight people spending this much time together in closed quarters, sharing a virus, sharing our space, sharing ourselves is far from an academic environment. We are teaching and building a dialectic that will extend beyond the moment we are graded. In fact, the very theories we discuss are mainly from analysis of praxis, or experienced activities. I don’t fault her for her attempt to weave her way into what may have seemed an offensive topic, but unfortunately, it created a situation for her that prompts punishment. Luckily for her, it is just the wit of my tongue.
My vital statistics are excellent. Blood pressure has decreased and has leveled out well. Dropped five pounds, which is a testament to my metabolism because I’ve been acting the foodie lately. I’ve completed another obligation towards the book I’m inked as a co-author on, and that feels great to get out of my way. Been working on the logo for Owl’s Asylum, and planing on another design. Not sure when that will be completed, but it is in the works.