Scapegoats

When Albinos Are Fair Game,
Human Dignity Is Shot Down

There’s another bloody wave of killings of albinos going on in Africa, and once again, superstition and ignorance are behind it. It’s now happening in Malawi but it’s, in every way, equally as brutal as it’s been in Tanzania and other places.
Obviously, many are eager to toss their two cents into the well of possible reasons for the murders. But it all goes down to what Jean Paul Sartre’s play Final Exit proposes: hell is other people. Or, the pathological fear of ‘the other.’
Albinos, as Jews in Nazi German, the Roma in present Europe, or Mexicans and Muslims to a certain U.S. presidential candidate, often play the part of our inner boogeyman, full of the same treacherous intent and magical powers only our own deepest fear possess.
As such, they’re easy targets for unbound racism, prejudice, histeria, and even worst, the illusion that by destroying them we’ll somehow purge all that we consider ‘wrong’ inside ourselves. Make that into a ritual and call it tradition, for legitimacy.
Make it into a market and call it an abomination. According to a 2015 Red Cross report, an albino arm can be purchased for $4,000 in Africa, while the whole body can sell for about $75 thousand, which is usually raised by witch doctors among wealthy, but secretive, customers.
After last year’s staggeringly cruel acts committed against albinos in Tanzania, the United Nations chose June 13 as the International Albinism Awareness Day. It couldn’t come now at a better time, as 18 Malawians are believed to have been bludgeoned to death since 2014.
The brutality of the crimes make it hard to strike a proper balance when it comes to punish them. The Amnesty International, which released a report condemning the murders, has positioned itself against the death penalty for accused killers, as some in Malawi are proposing.
Three years ago, we published the post below which resonated with people in different continents, albino and not so. It seems that we’ll be posting it for a least a few times more. Albinos, who didn’t choose to become a magnet to fascists, may as well serve as symbols to the human dignity we all have the right to pursue and not be killed for it.

THE HUNTED

The Haunted Beauty of Albinos
& the Bigots Who Can’t Bear it

After months of relative peace, the brutal chase was on again back in 2013, when a seven-year old Tanzania boy had his hand chopped off by thugs disguised as spiritual healers. That false beliefs and carnage never cease to fester in such impoverished land is no surprise.
As it’s nothing new that a supernatural being is ‘ordering’ the murder and dismemberment of innocent humans, exacted by the hands of their ignorant priests. But it’s still staggering that what’s essentially an ancient medical condition would incite such unconscionable acts for so long.
We could spend the day here discussing that and many other cases, with their particularly gruesome patterns and all the gory details. Instead, we choose to celebrate what’s considered the ‘otherness’ of albinos who, after all, have to put up with all the limitations of their own condition.

The work and lives of South African models Thando Hopa, and Refilwe Modiselle, Tanzania Albino Society’s Ernest Kimaya, Afro-Brazilian Rosemere de Andrade, the India’s Pullan family, documentarian Harry Freeland, Brazilian photographer Gustavo Lacerda, plus a cadre of highly successful artists and thousands others, only assert the power of their dignity as human beings.
We offer today’s post as a solidarity gesture to albinos everywhere and their plight, not a repulsive patronizing pat on their scared backs, because it’s clear that neither such condition is an impediment to greatness, nor that to stand with Albinos requires preaching and outraged diatribes.
We hope the boy, Mwigulu Magessa, recovers, of course, he being only the latest in what appears to be an increasing series of savage attacks for their supposedly ‘magical‘ flesh. Let’s hope too that TAS gets the resources it needs to go after the culprits and those who cover up for them. In the real world, ignorance should never be a bliss.

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* Photo Retouch

The Unconfessional

Hold the I or Indulge on Us;
Agonizing Over Who’s Speaking

Now let’s talk about at least one thing we really dislike about us. That’s exactly it, this idea that using ‘us’ makes our writing more compelling, or less self-indulgent, or a bit more inclusive. It doesn’t, we knew that from the beginning, and now we’re having a hard time going back on it.
It was a conscious decision, mind you. The rationale behind it was that, since the fiction you find elsewhere on this blog is written in the first person, news stories shouldn’t have so much of a personal focus, a narrator if you’d prefer, lest not the content be taken over by the voice.
There’s no way around it, it was pitiful mistake, just like any other on this site: full of lofty ideas of making it all about the reader and not the writer, and winding up being all about the modifiers and not the subjects. Guilty as charged, there isn’t any formula to make this less than another exercise of vain righteousness.
The idea would be then to walk back into that original, and faulty, premise, if not for anything else, then for the fact that everybody hates those insufferable pretentious dopes, who like to refer to themselves in the third person. How come this became a pertinent issue is a matter of contention.
It’s also well understood how flawed such an undertaking can be, that of deconstruct a device used for over two years to basically, let’s face it, mask the real problem: we simply don’t have much stomach to keep using the I did this and I did that. Mainly because we usually don’t do either.
So, here we are, and we mean everyone who’s still with us at this point, knee-deep into a muck of pretense about form, and probably already wise to the fact that, lacking a certain knack for a good news story, there’s not much there, now is there? You, of course, will be the judge.
It was also, let’s be fair, an idea that not just seemed good at the time, but also served well the purpose of, well, repurposing the news of the day with a humorous tinge and a slight slant towards the potentially overlooked detail. After all, there wouldn’t be any point in rewriting someone’s else report.
Somewhere between that noble, albeit arguable idea, and the end result, which was the excessive use of the plural voice, a lot of common sense got lost and wasted. There isn’t any packed newsroom behind ‘us,’ Continue reading

Caturday Dreaming


Cats’ Internet Domination Now
Extends to Cutting Edge Research

Since cats so quickly jumped to the top of the Web’s food chain, we feel gladly obliged to every once in a while pay our respects to such a riveting phenomenon. So welcome to the latest disappointments of Henri, le Chat, Steven, the guitar player who won’t bother with an earthquake, and Denis, Cat Burglar and collector extraordinaire.
Plus what’s up with a certain Virginia lady and her backyard full of homeless cats, and the surprising findings of a Google/Stanford’s computer neural network project. That’s right, even machines are teaching themselves to search the Internet for them. Today we’ll get started with Kodi, the Kitten, and his 7-step guide to walking your human.
Or rather, let’s chat a bit first. Way before this phenomenon was even apparent, back in 1997, there was Arthur and his dolphin friends, Shiloh and Thunder. As much as we’re ambivalent about using animals for entertainment purposes, one can’t deny the educational value of exposing children to marine creatures.
Hopefully, this kind of institution, along with zoos, circuses and any settings where wild beasts are showcased to the public, are all on their way out. Holograms, Continue reading