The Prominence of Language

Bilingualism is becoming more common within our day and age. Bilingual is defined as someone who is fluent in two languages. I grew up in a house where my parents spoke Urdu (most spoken language in Pakistan), but also English because they knew it would be valuable to my future education. As a child, you don’t learn a new language in the same way you do nowadays i.e. worksheets, verbal exams, reading an article, etc. When you are a child, the best way to learn a new language is by body language and listening.

In school, we would always have these tests that would determine what kind of a learner you were: verbal, kinesthetic, auditory, visual, read-write, etc. I would always get ‘auditory’, and surprisingly, so did my siblings. I did not dwell too much on the fact that we all got the same answer, it might have been a coincidence. However, now I am older, I know why I was an auditory learner. It was because bilingual children are most likely to be auditory learners because of the fixation of listening as a child.

Language seems to be another big idea in Adichie’s Americanah. Dike, Aunty Uju’s child has been living with Uju in America. There was a point in the book where Ifemelu speaks Igbo to Dike and Uju cuts in right away saying, “Don’t speak Igbo to him,” as if it was a crime. Ifemelu, confused, asks why as to which Uju simply replies with, “It’ll confuse him.”

There are so many things wrong with this scene that I had to stop and think about my how I felt in this scene. First of all, if you want to teach someone a new language, it is psychologically proven that the best time to do this is in their childhood/infant years. A human brain is still developing in that stage and when you feed it information such as a new language, the brain picks up on it quickly; whereas when you are old, and your brain is deteriorating all around, your brain does not pick up on a new language as quick as it could have done when it was still developing. So, in response to Uju’s concern, a new language might be confusing at first, but it is actually a good time to learn Igbo if he wanted to at this age. Yes, yes, I know that Uju does not want to teach Dike this langugae, I was only proving a point. Uju does not want to teach Dike Igbo because she wants him to fit in America. However, there is something gravely wrong with that which is the disconnection he might feel if he does not learn Igbo.

My parents have always encouraged me to speak more Urdu around the house, and I never really understood why. However, I do now. If I do not speak more Urdu around the house, I might forget the language and I won’t be able to pass it on to future generations creating that language gap. Without knowing Urdu, I wouldn’t be able to understand what my cousins are saying, I wouldn’t be able to understand Lollywood/Bollywood, etc. That disconnection goes as far as identity as well, holding your culture/heritage with you for as long as you live.

Also, statistics have shown that bilingual students do better in school. The reason being is that your mind is always working, picking which language you are using, therefore stimulating your brain tuning out distractions you might encounter during your day at school. It is a misconception that bilingual children get confused often. When Uju states that Dike might get confused is totally wrong.

Plus, being bilingual is awesome. 🙂

Read more facts on bilingual individuals by clicking on the link below:

http://bilingualparenting.com/2014/04/ten-amazing-facts-about-bilingualism/

 

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The Real Misogynists of Nigeria

Before getting into this blog, I would like to disclose the fact that I am a feminist. Here are two definitions you should probably know right off the bat.

Feminism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

Misogyny: dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against women.

Misogyny is a sad problem to have right now in our day and age, and apparently it is a bigger problem in third-world countries including Nigeria. Although, misogynists are everywhere, even in what is considered to be the best country: America. Misogynists are easy to spot if you are observant.

  1. They are cocky and have this insatiable feeling for dominance.

If you have someone in your life who is constantly commandeering others, that is a sign of misogyny.

2. They publicly degrade women.

Misogyny literally means the dislike/prejudice against women, so do not be surprised if they denounce women in numerous ways.

3. If you are a dating misogynist, chances are, he is cheating on you.

First of all, I hope you did not know your boyfriend was a misogynist when you both started dating. However, it is not too late, you can still dump him. (I use the term ‘him’ because usually women are not misogynists).

A common question comes up in regards to misogyny, “Why do misogynists still marry women if they are against women?” Unfortunately, because these men have ‘needs’ (otherwise known as sex), they marry women for their own selfish desires. If you could not already infer, these men are against equality, therefore do not believe in LGBTQ+ rights resulting in heterosexual marriages. Another reason is that men believe if they marry a woman, they will somehow convince a woman to believe their idiotic ideas. The last reason I could think of is the aggressive outlet they believe they receive after a marriage. These men are typically aggressive and need other ways to vent their anger out. Misogynists typically choose the worst way which is spousal abuse.

Moving forward, last year around June, there was a trend on Twitter called #BeingAFemaleInNigeria due to the rape/kidnappings of girls done by Boko Haram (terrorist group based in Northeastern Nigeria), abortion rights, and the ban of genital mutation (removal of female genital organs in order to control a woman’s virginity for marriage, constrain a woman’s desire for sexual encounters, and to increase the pleasure for a man). This started a conversation on a topic that seems to be sensitive.

Many responded with tweets like:

“#BeingAFemaleInNigeria You are a lady you cant be seen to be too smart, sometimes pretend not to know anything, men like submissive women.” – @AbangMercy

“Several landlords rejected me because apparently it’s not proper for a woman to live alone. #BeingAFemaleInNigeria” – @spectraspeaks

“#BeingAFemaleInNigeria

If you get pregnant before marriage, you’re in trouble.
If you don’t get pregnant after marriage, you’re in trouble.” – @rhodymite__

(I found the tweet above this note a little odd because the tweet was written by a male, yet the trend says ‘being a female’.)

“#BeingAFemaleInNigeria someone asked me why do you want to get a PhD ? You won’t get husband o.” – @FlorenceWarmate

“#BeingAFemaleInNigeria when you leave a bad relationship and people tell you: ‘why didn’t you endure?'” – @StephanieBusari

I know I picked out many, but if you would like to read more, click the link below directing you to many other tweets regarding this trend.

https://twitter.com/hashtag/BeingFemaleInNigeria?src=hash

Feminism is a complex topic, so please inform yourself before making statements 🙂

 

 

 

Pre-Reading Thoughts

1. What is race exactly?

Race is a group of people placed by their color/what you are made of. The modern definition of race has to do with where you put yourself in. An example of that being a black person who wants to be Asian, so she claims to be Asian even though he/she is not.
2. What role does race play in my life?

Race has to do a lot with my life, and it obviously has to do with everyone because everyone belongs to a certain race group. When a person is anything other than white, they are immediately seen as someone different. When we describe white people, we describe them by their features other than the color of their skin, whereas with for example, a brown person, we describe them with the color of their skin initially. It is mainly because of the where we live. In America, the majority of population is White, and to narrow it down further, Iowa has more White people than any other race statistically. My race has everything to do with me: how people see me, how I am characterized, how I am put into statistics, how I am expected to do in life, etc.
3. What role does race play in my world?

It has a lot to do my world. It is 2016 and our world is trying to make a change. We are working on acceptance and to love each other despite differences. It also has to play the negative part: racism. It plays a part of stereotypes created to generalize certain races. It is socially acquired by the environment you are surrounded in. If a parent of a child is racist, the child follows parent and learns the behavior by mimicking it.
4. What does it mean to be white in America?

Looking at this question and trying to answer it was difficult for me considering I am not white, therefore I have no understanding/knowledge of what it is like to be white in America. I asked two white friends about this expecting their answers to go along the lines of discomfort about how to answer this type of question to a brown person. Surprisingly, they answered this very honestly and without hesitation. My first friend had said, “It feels really nice, actually. I do not have to worry about minimal things such as ‘Would this man hire me if I was not colored?’ because I am not colored! I have the luxury of being in a place where people have similar lifestyles to mine.” My second friend had said, “Actually, come to think of it, I do have advantages against colored people, I had never really thought about it before you asked me this question. Sometimes I wonder if colored people are intimidated by us by thinking we are somehow superior because the majority of Americans are White.
5. What does it mean to be a person of color in America?

I can answer this question on my own, thankfully. Growing up in a White country didn’t seem hard at first because you don’t really think about experiences you have encountered concerning race until you have really thought about it. When I was in 6th grade, I remember I had prominent arm hair because it’s black (different from the blonde or brown hair growing on a white person’s skin). I was standing by my locker, and my good (white) friend of five years told me to shave my arms. I never understood why she asked me to do it, it was not like my body hair had put her to shame or something like that. At the time, I didn’t think much about it at the time. I simply said, “Okay,” went home and shaved my arms like I was told. Writing this story seems so odd to me now. I’m confused as to why I submissively said, “Okay,” and did whatever she said to do. To be a colored person in America is to sit on a bus filled with white students and have someone call you a terrorist as you try to have a conversation with someone, to endure the ignorance of some white people as they ask you if the henna on your hands means your married, or even the time that people who have insulted you before appropriate your culture to make a new fashion statement.

6. Find a current event involving race and respond to it and its presentation in the media.

Something that just happened today involving Ted Cruz suggesting law enforcement around Muslim living areas. To say I’m aggravated would be an understatement. According to the media, Cruz is getting criticized for it which makes things a little better. It’s somewhat comforting to know that people still have humanity in themselves. I’m not happy with this suggestion to say the least because I think (hope) I have misinterpreted it. I’m not sure whether he’s talking about patrol in America or in Islamic countries? I hope neither, I am a Muslim and to be under the limelight gets annoying especially when most of us have done nothing wrong. Religion isn’t terrorism, individuals are.

Cultural Significance of the Braid

Starting Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was interesting because the majority of the first chapter was centered around the hair she wanted. I did not understand why Ifemulu was so obsessed with braids, why she wanted that hairstyle so bad. After thinking many times to myself that it is just a part of the story– nothing more, it kept agitating my mind throughout my day (I did not know I cared that much). So, I decided to look up a possible significance of braids in African culture. With that came many results of historical importance of braids. I was honestly surprised considering the fact that I used to think that braids were simply a hairstyle/fashion statement. But, now I am rethinking everything I have read so far. I think that the point of braids in this story is far more complex than a new fad. Her new hairstyle is a symbol for her culture/race. It is also saying a lot that her Nigerian family does not want her to get those braids, it could be compared to how she struggles in America as an African American woman: how the majority of people she encounters (and eventually writes about) either insult her race/culture to her face or imply something racist. The braids she gets are a symbol representing that she is embracing her race/culture, and despite the conflicts she is being faced against with her father or fellow Americans around her. I also think that this symbol plays into the characterization of Ifemulu. She is a strong, independent woman who is confident in herself enough to go against the norms to embrace the culture that is constantly being put to shame. The picture I have attached to this post is a good visual of the type of braids I imagine Ifemulu getting. top-quality-braiding