Malaika Firth (Kenya)
Vogue Paris 2014
Photographer: Mario Testino
danceinthedarksingintheshower, you know me so well.
"But Jessica, you want to marry EVERYTHING"
- Offer the wolves your arm only from the elbow down. Leave tourniquet space. Do not offer them your calves. Do not offer them your side. Do not let them near your femoral artery, your jugular. Give them only your arm.
- Wear chapstick when kissing the bomb.
- Pretend you don’t know English.
- Pretend you never met her.
- Offer the bomb to the wolves. Offer the wolves to the zombies.
- Only insert a clean knife into your chest. Rusty ones will cause tetanus. Or infection.
- Don’t inhale.
- Realize that this love was not your trainwreck, was not the truck that flattened you, was not your Waterloo, did not cause massive hemorrhaging from a rusty knife. That love is still to come.
- Use a rusty knife to cut through most of the noose in a strategic place so that it breaks when your weight is on it.
- Practice desperate pleas for attention, louder calls for help. Learn them in English, French, Spanish: May Day, Aidez-Moi, AyÃºdeme.
- Don’t kiss trainwrecks. Don’t kiss knives. Don’t kiss.
- Pretend you made up the zombies, and only superheroes exist.
- Pretend there is no kryptonite.
- Pretend there was no love so sweet that you would have died for it, pretend that it does not belong to someone else now, pretend like your heart depends on it because it does. Pretend there is no wreck — you watched the train go by and felt the air brush your face and that was it. Another train passing. You do not need trains. You can fly. You are a superhero. And there is no kryptonite.
- Forget her name.
Once they had a ship, the pirates elected their captains, and made all their decisions collectively. They shared their bounty out in what Rediker calls “one of the most egalitarian plans for the disposition of resources to be found anywhere in the 18th century.”
They even took in escaped African slaves and lived with them as equals. The pirates showed “quite clearly – and subversively – that ships did not have to be run in the brutal and oppressive ways of the merchant service and the Royal navy.” This is why they were popular, despite being unproductive thieves.
Oops, turns out piracy is pretty much always a term like terrorist that gets slapped on whatever we don’t like despite being a general reaction to the status quo. And nothing’s really changed.
And when african pirates were captured by the British they were forced into the slave trade.
Horrible Histories taught me about pirates https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zwn5K89dE5c
They were generally democratic, disciplined, communal - they even had pensions! If you wanted out of the pirate life, you would be taken to a destination of your choice (anywhere in the world) and given a lump sum to help you with your new life.
Honor among thieves.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU YES i’ve spent like two years studying piracy (back when i had time to devote to reading and research) and yes pirates are actually all very interesting and democratic and great
Reblogging since someone recently sent me an ask on this topic (although now it appears to be lost somewhere in my inbox).
The thing that annoys me the most about conversations on piracy is the Eurocentrism. African pirates feature as ‘side characters’ on white western ships and that’s about it. This TOTALLY ignores the many other pirate communities out there. Like, why are there no documentaries, movies and novels about Chinese pirates? They outnumbered pirate ships of European origin by a large margin and were very succesful. They formed massive fleets and regularily kicked ass against European naval fleets.
Chinese ‘Pirate kings’ often had a fleet of over 200 ships and the Japanese-Chinese pirate king Cheng Chih-Lung had over a thousand. He fought wars against rival pirate kings and often saw the European fleets as minor nuances. After 1635 you couldn’t sail the Taiwan Strait without a permit issued by Cheng Chih-Lung. He then went on to become a navy commander of the Ming dynasty. He kicked the Dutch VOC out of Taiwan and might have become king of Taiwan if he hadn’t died shortly after.
How is he not the most famous pirate in the history of piracy? Oh yeah.. wait.. he wasn’t white.
Ching Shih had a force of 17,000 men on 200 ships at her command, and she was a hardcore badass pirate queen. http://www.badassoftheweek.com/chingshih.html
"You felt so close to him then – in the barely lit. And so you stayed."
I like how you sent me an ask claiming that no one says a thing except people rhetorically making fun of the position that no one actually holds, and then you send me an ask clarifying that you hold exactly the same position.
I’m kind tempted to just not address anything else you said and just marvel in the perfection of that.
What’s the reason for making a character white? What’s the reason for making a character straight? What’s the reason for making a character abled or neurotypical or cis?
When you assume that making a character Other relative to yourself weakens the narrative, you’re revealing a terrible thing about yourself: that you can’t imagine that those people have backstories and inner lives the way that you do.
Every single person in a fictional narrative is ultimately there because a writer decided they needed to be there, but when the person looks like you and matches your expectations, you accept that this person who was made up for the plot had a life full of events that led them to the point where they’re appearing on the screen or page.
But when your expectations aren’t met, you start saying it’s forced. You can’t accept that events led them here because you don’t grant them the kind of life that you know you have. Your empathy does not extend to them.
Look at how many white people think they can relate to a little girl in an industrial orphanage who falls in with a capitalist robber baron during the Great Depression more than they can relate to a little girl in the foster system in modern New York who falls in with a career politician, all because of a difference of race. The original Annie’s situation and world were only slightly less alien to us than the Victorian period, but making her white somehow makes her relatable in a way that a little girl who clearly exists in our world isn’t.
The fact is, empathy is linked to imagination and we can (and do!) relate to people who are literally alien beings in literally alien worlds. The choice not to relate to Quvenzhané Wallis as Annie—or a Black or gay or female or trans video game character—is a choice to shut off both imagination and empathy.
The failing is not with the narrative, it’s with you.
Love the 4th parag, especially
"So, er, for the non South Asians in the audience who perhaps didn’t understand why there was applause, the British built a really extensive railway system throughout India before they left, and it wasn’t so much for transportation for the Indian people, it was because it’s really hard to plunder on foot."
Hari Kondabolu’s joke about the British colonisation of India [x]
The only legend I have ever loved is the story of a daughter lost in hell. And found and rescued there. Love and blackmail are the gist of it. Ceres and Persephone the names. And the best thing about the legend is I can enter it anywhere. And have. As a child in exile in a city of fogs and strange consonants, I read it first and at first I was an exiled child in the crackling dusk of the underworld, the stars blighted. Later I walked out in a summer twilight searching for my daughter at bed-time. When she came running I was ready to make any bargain to keep her. I carried her back past whitebeams and wasps and honey-scented buddleias. But I was Ceres then and I knew winter was in store for every leaf on every tree on that road. Was inescapable for each one we passed. And for me. It is winter and the stars are hidden. I climb the stairs and stand where I can see my child asleep beside her teen magazines, her can of Coke, her plate of uncut fruit. The pomegranate! How did I forget it? She could have come home and been safe and ended the story and all our heart-broken searching but she reached out a hand and plucked a pomegranate. She put out her hand and pulled down the French sound for apple and the noise of stone and the proof that even in the place of death, at the heart of legend, in the midst of rocks full of unshed tears ready to be diamonds by the time the story was told, a child can be hungry. I could warn her. There is still a chance. The rain is cold. The road is flint-coloured. The suburb has cars and cable television. The veiled stars are above ground. It is another world. But what else can a mother give her daughter but such beautiful rifts in time? If I defer the grief I will diminish the gift. The legend will be hers as well as mine. She will enter it. As I have. She will wake up. She will hold the papery flushed skin in her hand. And to her lips. I will say nothing.