What being a (privileged) minority abroad has taught me about race

IMG_8158

Could I be any more of a mzungu?

“Mzungu! Mzungu! How are you?” The Kenyan kids holler. Or they just stare.

Other kids yell, “Chinese!” Yes, that’s right, they mistake blond-haired, blue-eyed me as a Chinese person. This has also happened to me in Central America several times, which speaks to China’s expanding reach and influence.

This week a new friend told me that I was the first white person he’d ever had a conversation with.

I’ve spent 60 of the last 90 days traveling in Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Zambia and years of my traveling life as a minority. Not only am I majorly a minority in many of the places I travel, I’m a novelty. Sometimes I…

Read More >
 
3 comments
Read More >
 
Add a comment

Burning tires are the voice of the unheard

fullsizeoutput_26d2

They felt like their vote didn’t matter.

Their leader said the election was rigged.

Maybe it was. So they grabbed a tire threw it into the middle of the road and lit it. Many had no agenda, but others thought it would bring the attention of their leaders.

But their burning tire, their noxious scream, was one of hundreds if not thousands. Even the media, perhaps afraid of escalating violence, barely covered the protests to Kenya’s 2017 presidential election.

In Kenya, as it is everywhere, democracy is a story in which the people must believe if it’s to work.

A few anecdotes of why folks I’ve met in Kenya doubt the story:

Voters are paid for their vote.

This doesn’t happen everywhere, but people can list the counties where…

Read More >
 
Add a comment

The Makers of Muncie’s MadJax

Madjax slider

I work in a factory in Muncie, Indiana. Not many people can say that these days.

In fact, many believe that Muncie’s best days–our factory days–are behind us. Our schools are going through budget and transportation issues and a third of our citizens live in poverty.  There’s a lack of hope that we can’t be more than our struggles. That we can’t thrive without factories.

I don’t work on a factory line, but I do make things. I create stories.

For the last ten years I’ve traveled around the world to meet the people who produce many of the things in our lives that we take for granted. I’ve worked alongside coffee farmers…

Read More >
 
7 comments

Election Day in Kenya

IMG_6894

(My friends James and Thomas)

“Hello, whiteman,” the bush said.

I looked around, but couldn’t see anyone. I wondered if this was how Moses felt?

I thought I must’ve been hearing things, so I kept walking toward the fancy café in Nairobi’s Westlands area. It was closed. Everything was closed today.

It’s election day in Kenya.

Christmas or apocalypse?

When I left my hotel the guard—a woman in a black suit with a red tie— had asked me where I was going. I’ve gotten to know her a bit over the few days I’ve been in Nairobi. Yesterday when I was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, she nearly insisted that I go back to my room and get my sweatshirt.

I had told her I was walking…

Read More >
 
Add a comment