Humanitarians of Tinder #PoorPeopleSelfies

I’m sure, by now, some of you think I wake up like this:

This is actually untrue because, on most days, I actually wake up like this (pun very much intended):

And then I go about my day, being ***flawless and slaying everything within a 1-mile radius like this:

My daily slaying regimen aside, I have taken a break from my Orange is the New Black binge to blog about this great website called Humanitarians of Tinder, which is way too amusing to even be offensive. Yes, there is an actual website that curates screenshots of Tinder-ians in Third World countries, smiling while draped in “indigenous peoples”. Of course, because what’s a better accessory than poor people in the Third World? Those picture perfect natives, bless their hearts. It’s awesome, isn’t it? Now, at the swipe of a finger, you can “connect” with singles in your area, and hit it off by trading stories about your mutual affinity for poor people of color. Life-changing technology, this one.

For those who don’t know what Tinder is, Tinder is an app where you can “connect” with people in your area. When you sign in, you’re presented with different profiles, and you can swipe right or left to indicate your interest. If you get a match, voila!, “connection” made.

Sounds harmless, right? Except, Tinder is chock-full of hormonal, dubious-looking college kids and divorced dads in the throes of a mid-life crisis. This one guy’s profile only had pictures of his van, and I’ve watched enough Law and Order:SVU to know what a van means, Mr.!

(By the way, I only know this much because I once made a Tinder profile. For social anthropology research purposes, of course.) 

I think this is my favorite photo of a Tinder humanitarian:

I mean, what’s not to love about this guy that’s smack in the middle of this sea of “indigenous peoples”? The fact that one can’t tell why he seems to be dressed in the same uniform as the students (seriously, Jeff Gulliver or whatever your actual name is, some context would’ve been nice) or the fact that it seems like he’s looking into the camera and pleading to be air-lifted out of this vortex of swarming Africans? Or the fact that the picture looks very much like this scene from Game of Thrones?:

I really don’t get the point of putting up such pictures on Tinder. Let’s be real- nobody is on Tinder to admire the largesse of your heart or the depth of your character. Nobody. If I wanted to get someone to pick me as the object of their alcohol-induced affection, and I knew the said person had all of 3 seconds to swipe right for yes and left for no, I wouldn’t put up a picture of me sweating, with damp hair and no make-up. I would probably Catfish by putting up pictures of one of those perpetually upcoming, picture-perfect Instagram “models”.

On a serious note, these people that you parade in your pictures do not exist for your personal gratification. They are not a garland that you can wear around your neck, they are not a pin to put on your lapel to show everyone how well-stamped your passport is, or how well-heeled “fortunate” you are. Stop using them as props to capture your fancy conquests; they are not there for your entertainment, nor are they there to sate your desire for social or personal validation. They are most certainly not there for you to use as Tinder “single-and-ready-to-mingle” signifiers in order to capture the attention of potential-serial-killer Larry from 1.5 miles away.

You probably took such pictures while you were “giving back” in a developing country. It is admirable that you gave up your summer of First World luxuries to connect with your inner philanthropist and observe poverty at a micro-level. Really, it is. “The people” thank you for it. However, save your cool tales of self-redemption for your grad school application; Facebook doesn’t care and Tinder most definitely doesn’t care. There is barely any justifiable reason to pawn poor people in exchange for social media validation. Come on, show some restraint.

For those going abroad this summer (or any time in the future), here is a top tip on how to take poor people selfies: DON’T

#SayNoToPoorPeopleSelfies

PS: I realize that I just referenced 4 TV shows in one blog post. Is there such a thing as TV rehab?

Racializing Fried Chicken

For colored girls who can’t enjoy a damn piece of fried chicken without worrying about the racial ramifications of their culinary choices

Source: BusinessWeek

As a non-American, I don’t get a lot of things about America- why chips are called fries; why pickles are an actual thing; why some slices of pizza are almost bigger than a 15″ MacBook Pro; what the ACTUAL rule is for tipping rates (no, seriously, what is it?); why American college kids are so fascinated by alcohol (seriously, those kids don’t drink for drinking sake; they drink to pass out, potentially die, and most definitely lose functionality in their faculties); why some restaurants are open 24 hours (the simultaneously terrifying and impressive fact that you can walk into a store at 3 AM and get yourself a to-go order of a heart attack with a side of atherosclerosis, all under 5 minutes)… the list is endless.

You might be wondering why all my sources of confusion are centered around food. Well, it’s not my fault that America’s social fabric is spun around eating copious amounts of food with potentially lethal portion sizes. For the most part, I’ve been able to attune myself to this culture, even though I don’t get it. I’ve learnt not to be shocked when my friends do Cookout runs at 3 am; I’ve learnt that 1000+ calorie pizza slices are a thing; I’ve come to understand that gluten allergy is an actual medical condition, not one of those made-up diseases that Pfizer commercials try to convince me that I have. By and large, I have gotten with the program.

However, there remains one thing that I consistently fail to wrap my head around: the question of fried chicken and why it seems to be a black people thing. As a non-American black person, I’ve had to learn a lot of things about what it means to be black in America. Coming from a country with 99% (I’m making this figure up, but you get the point) black people, I never really grew up having to be conscious of my race. I mean, I knew I was black, but it’s not something that Nigerians walk around thinking about. When a Nigerian tells you that “you’re black,” they are more than likely referring to your skin pigmentation, not your race. Thus, coming to America, where race seems to be the central theme in any and all social interactions, I’ve had to learn and re-learn what being black in America really means.

One of such lessons is that fried chicken is a racial thing, a black thing, maybe a ghetto thing (smh, America will racialize anything, EVEN chicken). This, guys, has been a hard pill to swallow. Why? Because I LOVE fried chicken. I don’t care about your broiled, grilled, sun-dried, or cold-pressed chicken; the only way chicken should be eaten is fried.

So you can imagine my horror when I learnt that fried chicken was a racialized thing. At first, I was conscious- I didn’t want to be labelled or judged. I didn’t want to be that kind of black (whatever that means), so I’d grudgingly munch on shrimp or turkey while I was out to lunch with my friends. Now, I eat my fried chicken with pride. I don’t really care about the societal markings of my choice of bird. I will eat that crispy bird like it’s ’99, and you will deal. Too many people have toiled and fought for my civil liberties for me to be constrained by the racialization of fried chicken. You can make me drop the Kool Aid and watermelon (actually, no you can’t. I just don’t care for them), but you can’t take away my fried chicken. I have rights!

Anyway, the story is not all gloomy; at least once a year, I get to hop on a plane to Nigeria, where I can enjoy all the fried chicken I want without wondering if people think I’m less “young, black, and gifted” than the next non-fried chicken-eating black person. I leave the country in about two weeks, and the thought of all the non-judgement-inducing fried chicken that will be at my disposal keeps me warm at night.

I have no idea why I’m ranting about fried chicken at 3 in the morning. This is what being on a clean-eating diet does to you- you find yourself up at 3 AM, editorializing about fried bird. In a perfect world, I’d be writing an ode to quinoa and extolling its virtues, the same way I am currently doing for fried chicken. However, this is not a perfect world (if it were, I’d be birthing Idris Elba’s kids. Yet, here we are), and quinoa tastes like pan-seared saw dust.

Off to try and get some sleep, and (attempt to) fantasize about my healthy breakfast the same way I’m fantasizing about chicken.

 

That Time Adam Sandler Went to Africa

Ok, first of all, let’s get this unarguable fact out of the way: Adam Sandler is NOT hilarious/funny/comical in any way, shape, or form. All his movies are one wackjob after another of epically poor comedy. Somehow, he’s a popular, accomplished Hollywood actor, which is fine. Really, it is; Americans are not exactly famed for their wise choices in whom they bestow the privilege of celebrity (See: Snooki, pre-2014 KardashJenners, Miley Cyrus’ non-twerking rear etc.). So, yeah, I have hitherto let Adam Sandler blur into the mass of white Americans that are famous for absolutely nothing in particular…until now.

So Adam Sandler has a new movie out called “Blended”, starring his co-talentless Hollywood pal, Drew Barrymore. The trailer:

Quick recap:

Adam goes on a karmically bad date with Drew, and they somehow happen to know the same person who has TWO tickets to Africa, this person gives them the tickets and they both go on FAMILY vacations to Africa, where they are forced to live with each other, maybe become friends, maybe screw around a little bit. Blah blah blahhhhhh.

Logical inconsistencies (because I don’t know how two tickets multiply into about 8, but let’s go with it) aside, the entire premise of this film is based on tired, overused, frankly embarrassing tropes about Africa.

First of all, they’re off to AFRICA. Yes, the COUNTRY of Africa, no country in particular. But who cares about details and specificity when it comes to Africa? Who is going to fact-check, anyway? Are Africans going to see this movie? Aren’t they too busy dying/starving to see the movie in the first place? Right, Hollywood?! Americans have bluntly refused to be specific when it comes to Africa. I don’t get it- you can tell me about your vacation in Mykonos, a small island, in the country of GREECE, which is in continent of EUROPE, but you cannot tell me what country you went to in the whole of Africa?! It is downright lazy and insulting. But it’s cool. They are off to Africa. Yay!

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They land in Africa and, in true regal fashion, are greeted by the wild animals; the savannah; and (of course) those nameless, personality- and personhood-deficient, singing Africans. Africans in Hollywood movies are ALWAYS singing and dancing; it’s like an endless flashmob. I keep wondering where these singing Africans are, because I’ve never seen them in all my 21+ years of living on the continent. If this singing is really an African thing, those grumpy Lagosians might have missed the memo. Realistically, I don’t even think the combative African heat is conducive enough for carols and jingles. I mean, I don’t see how you can go singing on the streets of Lagos and not die of dehydration, or a heat stroke, or both. But hey, it’s Hollywood, let’s continue.

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To be honest, I’m kind of jealous. I certainly don’t receive this kind of welcome when I land in Lagos. Last time I landed in Murtala Muhammed Airport, my mum refused to claim me because I was apparently dressed like a homeless person. But here they are, with a presumably starving, yet unbelievably joyous, choir of Africans to herald their welcome. Life is really not fair.

At some point, some excessively enthused African man (another staple of Hollywood African movies) shouts “Is everyone ready to see the REAL Africa!” He then proceeds to take them on a Safari where they ride on ostriches (such fun, I wonder why they don’t have this attraction at the Lagos zoo. Does Lagos even have a zoo?); watch lions devour an animal (lions eating- only in Africa, people); and take leisure air rides across the vast African savannah (again: take notes, Lagos). The REAL Africa, he says. Of course, don’t we all ride ostriches for fun, and have pet lions? Oh, and who cares about buildings, roads, and other markers of civilization? The real Africa inextricably means animals, and endless dusty roads. No human beings in sight, by the way.

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Who cares about humanizing Africans, who cares about highlighting some humanity in these Africans? Hollywood manages to humanize African animals more than it does its people, it’s fascinating to watch. No, I lie, it is downright pitiful and I’m so over Hollywood’s lazy storytelling when it comes to Africa. I mean, it’s bloody 2014. The depiction of this mythical country of Africa is tired, the horse is dead and the world needs you to stop flogging its cadaver. We’re collectively over it, ok?!

Sadly, in some way, this depiction mirrors real life when foreigners visit Africa. Africans are just the backdrop, the faceless blur, the nameless entities that seem to interrupt while foreigners find meaning and existential truths in their interactions with African beasts of the wild. When they say “going to Africa changed my life”, they really mean “staring at a lion from my Safari caravan changed my life” or “taking a Facebook profile picture with some kid I found in a shelter got me many Facebook likes.”

It’s summer time in America, which means it’s that time of the year when my college Facebook friends “give back to Africa” by changing their profile picture to highlight the deep understanding of humanity that they gleaned from talking at interacting with a nameless African kid for all of 2 minutes. I mean, it’s great that coming within 3 feet of an elephant can radically change your outlook on life. Yay you, and yay the elephant. It’s great that going to “Africa”, spending time in hotels and barely speaking to any actual Africans panoramically enhances your world view. Go on, tell me more stories of how your 3-week trip made you a better person. I’m eager to listen. No, really, I am.

I shall be here, judging every last one of you with ALL my might.

In (not so) other news, I’m tired of people.