BEING AMERICAN & EXPLORING CULTURAL CONTEXTS

Being an American citizen outside of America is always a daunting experience. My other experiences abroad, both in Italy and The Czech Republic, were completely different than in Asia. In Western Europe, there were a considerable amount of Africans, but really no Americans of color. I always receive curious stares. Italy has a lot of Africans as well. In Rome, there was a sentiment of hatred for Americans and it was better to be presumed as African. The fact remained that in all the countries  visited, I was still the minority. In Asia, it has been completely different. One thing remained the same though, educated individuals are bi-lingual; the power of the dollar is recognized even in this developing country.

Bangladesh is exciting for me because everyone here is of the Diaspora. Walking through the streets, I get curious stares, but there is no sign that I am of the same descent as European or The American Oppressor. British colonialism has taken its toll on this country as well.  The art community has welcomed me with open arms, no questions or speculations. The fact that I am a former student from the Art Institute Chicago is respected and not met with sentiments that result from stereotypes that permeate American culture.  I gave a lecture at the Dhaka Art Center yesterday, and when dialoguing about artists of color (Kara Walker) it was difficult to explain “the minority experience” in America and  racism that is contextualized in her work. The discussion afterward was quite compelling. Ultimately, all nations experience oppression in their own form. This country has had its share, just not in the context of “black versus white”. I have truly enjoyed being embraced by this community of color from the other side of the world.