There are these so called ‘good white people’. I don’t care how nice one is to you; the thing you must always remember is that almost never does he really see you as he sees himself, as he sees his own kind. He may stand with you through thin, but not thick; when the chips are down, you’ll find that as fixed in him as his bone structure is his sometimes subconscious conviction that he’s better than anybody black.
I fear dehumanizing Gambians. I fear the previous sentence confirms my fears. There is a tendency with myslef and other westerners to make gross generalisations about people from The Gambia, to turn a diverse and varied population into a reductive ‘they’. As in ‘they do the funniest things’ ‘they are so frustrating’ ‘they won’t understand that’.
To some degree you have to make some cultural stereotypes so that you can adapt yourself and your plans to fit into the landscape here. But in making these stereotypes there is a tempting inclination to slip into belittling arrogance (I also fear this has descended into a “I’m not a racist but….” style rant), a view that amplifies the cultural flaws of The Gambia whilst ignoring your own weaknesses, of ignoring Gambians strengths and lionizing your own feeble skills. To revert to my geeky star trek comparison, in the belittling perception I become the cold Vulcan, with superior intellect and armed with caustic logic, and Gambians are the weak humans fueled by lethargy and sensual weaknesses. So maybe I shouldn’t fear dehumanizing Gambians but rather elevating myself onto some higher plane, just because I know what the internet is and have a grasp of world geography.
In other news I’m not sure if I want to be a Lord of Poverty.