How Nassau is a lot like Game of Thrones

Hello all. I’ve been back in The Bahamas for two months now and I’ve noticed a few things. I’m an avid reader, voraciously so. I am also primarily a fan of fantasy and sci-fi genres. That being said I’ve come to notice a few things about this precious island called New Providence and it’s similarities to feudal Westeros. Let us begin.

1. We have Direwolves, known as the Potcake

Let’s talk about this for a second. The Stark family’s sigil is the Direwolf, now if we were to take New Providence to be one giant family house, our sigil would be the Potcake. Why? They are everywhere, and much like the Direwolves, they’re huge.

2. Like the Kings fighting for the Iron Throne, everyone has a sweetheart

Like King Robert Baratheon, or the leader of any house (Frey, Martell, Greyjoy), someone always had a sweetheart. This is directly analogous to New Providence and The Bahamas at large because like these giant Kings of Westeros, everyone has a sweetheart. They place a lot of stock on marriage but erry’one got them a sweetheart. Men. Women. Alike.

3. Violence everywhere. Westeros has an excuse though (claiming the Iron Throne and all) what excuse do we have?

If you’re a fan of the books or you’ve just watched the series on HBO, I’m sure you’ve noticed a common thread? Yes? Oh yes, it’s the violence. From Day 1 GOT was a violent series. And greets me when I step off the plane and hop into my ride to my new apartment? Violence on the radio. Violence on the newspapers. Westeros had an excuse though, a million Kings all vying for the one true throne. We though, Nassauvians, don’t have much of one. I shouldn’t be afraid to live alone, but I am.

4. Cersei was born into wealth. Daenerys has dragons. What do Bahamian women have to do to get into power?

If you’re a woman in Westeros, chances are your lot sucks. Your opportunities suck. Your life expectancy, also sucks. Now we’re a bit better than them but certain themes do reoccur, in that like Cersei born into power or Daenerys who gained it (through dragons no less!), women have to be born into some semblance of power (coming from a powerful family or have a modicum of wealth or opportunity) or work their butts off doubly hard to get it.

5. Like Sansa, Daenerys, Cersei or Arya, women don’t have a ton of options

We get to the next thing! Women don’t have a ton of options. Sansa, Daenerys, Cersei and Arya are all prized for their marriageability. I’d like to think that as Bahamians we’re beyond this concept, beyond looking at women as alliance makers and breakers, but at the end of the day, what options do Bahamian women have? Things like race and class intersect with this as women born into positions of privilege (class/race) will have relative chances of upward mobility but not everyone though.

Let’s go back to Westeros, the common woman, the farmer’s daughter or fisherman’s wife, unattached to a castle or man with a fancy title, what options did she have? None.

6. Shitty. Roads. Everywhere.

Riding their carts over wobbly terrain, Westeros travelers have it hard, and like our fantasy brothers and sisters, those potholes, dips, dents and bumps don’t make Nassau roads no darn better.

7. High Born. Politicians.

Like the ‘high borns’ or the nobles in Westeros, we have our own set all vying for their own Iron Throne. What are they called? Politicians! What do they want? To win elections!

 

ClaireSig

Your anaconda don’t.

That’s right. Another article about Nicki Minaj’s video “Anaconda”.

I’ll be honest, I hadn’t even heard the song in it’s entirety when I started hearing about how ‘nasty’ and ‘slutty’ the video was. Naturally, I had to watch. And I fucking loved it. Sure, the dancing was risque and Minaj and her dancers were scantily clad, but welcome to show biz folks. Plus, in reference to the dancing, spend a weekend evening in any club, you’ll get the same show. I’m losing my focus here. Anyway, these are small things when you watch the video prepared. I was prepared, prepared to be disgusted, to experience some serious female degradation. By the end though, I was nothing but impressed. Allow me to explain.

Let’s start with the lyrics. THE LYRICS. The entire song is about various men she has conquered, reduced to a lusty mess because of her amazing posterior; about all the things she got from them because they were mesmerized by her body. The lyrics are quite empowering; throughout the song SHE is in control of her sexuality. “He love my sex appeal”, she’s acknowledging her own sexual attractiveness, is proud of it and the power it gives her. There are actually very few lines from “Baby Got Back” featured in the chorus of this song, one of which being “oh my gosh, look at her butt”; I feel that’s a middle finger to the male gaze; because that’s the only thing you’ll be doing to Ms. Minaj’s butt, my friends… looking.

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Moving on to the video. Firstly, I love that she and her dancers are dressed the same way, and dancing together. She’s not above them or better than them; she’s with them, their buns are equally as powerful. I don’t understand the people saying this video is demeaning. If you can look passed the shaking booties for five bloody seconds you might see the point. Anyone who can’t is one of the many this video is meant to call out. For example, the fruit scene. Minaj is meant to be making a smoothie or something, whipped cream ends up on her chest (to distract the mouth breathing male viewer), then she holds a banana suggestively near her mouth… and cuts it into pieces.

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… Okay, I couldn’t resist.

 

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The message this scene is meant to convey is your “anaconda don’t” have any relevancy here, buddy. Anaconda, though named for Baby Got Back is not only doing a 180 on the meaning of the classic, but is also completely shattering the male gaze. Sir Mix a Lot informs us that he only likes women with big bums, Minaj let’s everyone know that big bums are fantastic, that she’s used hers to lure unsuspecting men into traps etc; but hers is not here for you or your ‘anaconda’.

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Then Drake walks in. This scene was THE best. He barely moves the entire time, she is twerking and dancing like mad all over him, the floor, what have you. She is in control of the situation, of her sexuality, of what happens next. And what happens next is that after all the ‘suggestive’ dancing, he tries to touch her and gets his hand slapped away. Because… and I’m gonna write this in caps for reasons. HER OUTFIT AND/OR DANCING DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE ENTITLED TO ANYTHING, HUN. Her desirability does not equal availability; nor is it up for comment. It belongs to her and she’ll do with it what she pleases; so sit small, hun. Pun intended.

Jessica

Obligations To Your Country Rant 2

First of all, there are a few business items I must take care of. To those who don’t know, today is Jessica’s BIRTHDAY! She’s old, so old, she’s got a quarter-life crisis going on. But I’ve come to take care of that, I have a pretty message for her below (from her man Dean):

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OK, now onto my petty ranting. I recently finished exams (GO ME! I survived comprehensives!) but leading up to it I wasn’t paying any sort of attention to drama back at home in The Bahamas. However, once I’d come up for air and finished I realised that I need to get my big-girl pants on and go job hunting once again. In a previous post I’ve explored my conflicting desire to stay in the UK but feeling an obligation to return home and work.

Now that I am faced with that dilemma I’m taking a really passive-aggressive stance to it, I’m applying to jobs in the UK and in The Bahamas and will ultimately follow the money (I’ve got loans y’all, and RBC don’t play with people that don’t pay their loans back). In this job search though, some people have felt the need to lecture me about my being a bad “Bahamian” for not immediately jumping on the go-home bandwagon.

I am not a fan of including .gifs into posts, but this one is applicable. To all those that lecture me on brain drain and why I’m a ‘bad’ Bahamian.

I’ve got a few things to say to all of those people bringing on the hate:

Panic! Brain drain being both a concern and an insult:

So the first order of ranting begins with the notion of brain drain. I believe in it, I’ve seen it happen. A lot of my friends who left to go to school abroad never went back home or if they do, it’s not to work but just to visit family. I get it, it’s a big concern! How can a country function if all of it’s educated people choose to leave to seek better jobs elsewhere (let’s pay attention to that term ok: better jobs elsewhere). However, I don’t think it should be lorded over people who choose to stay abroad. People have reasons OK! Be it lifestyle (you can’t exactly call The Bahamas terribly accepting of difference), or better opportunities. If you want to stopbrain drain you have to create diverse opportunities for people (note: DIVERSE).

Another thing that pisses me off about this is it is also completely insulting for the people who have either chosen to stay in The Bahamas or have no choicebut to stay in the country. It isn’t easy to leave (money and visas, oye  vey, that’s another rant) and it’s insulting to say that the best and the brightest are gone. This inherently implies that only the not-best and not-brightest are left within the country. Which isn’t fair on the people who live and work and breathe an existence into The Bahamas! The best and brightest are at home and they’re also abroad! Stop focusing on brain drain as a best vs. not best debate. I’d feel more comfortable if the debate was framed as people are leaving because of lack of jobs in general. Don’t blame the people who are leaving, blame the structure man.

Diversity and education:

Another rant in this brain drain debate is tied to education I believe. I study anthropology. To make matters worse, I specialise in a particularly small and obscure branch of anthropology. So obscure there are three programs in the world that offer degrees in it. I left The Bahamas because COB didn’t offer anthropology and it sure as heck wasn’t going to offer anything as obscure as my specialty. So the government and all the higher ups are worried about people leaving? How about you give them an incentive to stay and I don’t know… offer a diversity of fields? I understand that COB is a small school but if you want to get it up to university status they’re going to have to offer a greater range of subjects. I mean broadening the social science department, arts, languages, natural sciences, etc. I love that COB offers a range of technical fields or professional degrees, but we need a greater diversity.

I shouldn’t have to leave my country because I’m not willing to compromise on what I want to study. I want to study what I love and I should be given an opportunity to do so here.

Ummm… are there any jobs?

We’re more than just accountants or lawyers or nurses or doctors. Sometimes, a Bahamian goes into a super obscure field and even if they wanted to return home, where the hell are the jobs (in general)? There certainly won’t be a job for that super obscure field.  So don’t come to me and yell about how is The Bahamas supposed to get better if all the good people leave. I know. I am aware. I am very aware but if no one gives me the opportunity to get a job that will meet my personal and professional goals, what is my motivation to return? The country needs jobs. And not just more of the same old jobs.

And, to my last point (which I’m a bit ashamed of even saying but I have to survive yo) can the company pay me what I deserve to be paid? A company in the UK can pay what a person with an MSc deserves to get paid, and honestly, not a lot of placed in The Bahamas can do that. This isn’t fair on The Bahamas or me, but I am willing to take a pay reduction to return home for the sake of adverting brain drain, but not such a huge pay cut that I’m being paid what someone without a degree is being paid. I worked hard for this MSc and I want to reap its benefits.

Transnationalism and supporting from abroad:

This is the last rant in a too-long post. My hand hurts, so I know y’all eyes are hurting (and if you made it this far, HURRAH! You’re a super reader and I commend you for putting up with my whining!). OK this point really sticks it to me: you can support your country transnationally. GASP! Say it ain’t so! Yes. You can. In all seriousness, I know The Bahamas needs bodies to improve but there are other ways of assisting the country from outside of its borders.

I know many academics who, though working abroad, feature The Bahamas exclusively in their writing nad teaching. What is this doing? Raising awareness of Bahamian art and culture. I’m writing my MSc thesis on The Bahamas,. I plan to do my PhD on The Bahamas. I was even thinking of starting some kind of consultancy business to help students interested in studying something “different” (and by different I mean outside of the medical-law-tourism trinity we seem to tout) figure out how to do so (anyone interested?) I know these don’t bring large quantities of dollar bills into the country but it’s a form of mental support. Plus, money flows internationally, money leaves and enters the country and it’s people from the Bahamian diaspora, to disregard their financial contributions to the nation is ignorant. Money flows and as long as people have love for The Bahamas, it will always go into it.

OK I’m tired. I know this is a ramble, but I hope it’s a ramble that makes sense. I’m just annoyed that people would try to make me feel guilty for trying to support myself and my family.

ClaireSig

Gullywash

I really don’t have an opinion based piece today, I’m a bit too boring for that I guess. However, I want to talk about something else, about material culture, specifically. Now, for those that know me, they know that I’m a huge geek for material culture studies. Material culture basically looks at the stuff that people and cultures find significant (or even those that are important, but don’t register as important!). Why study stuff? Well, it doesn’t make much sense in my head, but I think if we understand the stuff we find important to us as a people and as a culture, maybe that can help reveal a few things about our values. This concept of the Culture Series will look at an object or food from Bahamian culture that I find interesting and honestly, can find information on from somewhere on the internet.

Gullywash Vs. Sky Juice

Today I want to talk about Gullywash, that coconutty, sweet, divine, alcoholic goodness. I love Gullywash. Like, love, love it. I also, find it terribly interesting that when I moved to Nassau to work, I couldn’t find the stuff anywhere because everyone was calling it Sky Juice. Now, Nassauvians, can someone explain that to me? What is the history of the term Sky Juice? I’ve searched for both Gullywash and Sky Juice in academic journals, books, regular literature and so on and it’s pretty hard to find in the public domain. So why is something, that I think is a pretty significant Bahamian alcoholic beverage, so darn hard to find about?

Also, why gin? A lot of Bahamian drinks have rum in it, so what is so significant about the gin? I’ve had Gullywash that actually had equal parts gin and coconut rum in it (so good!) but as you can imagine, it was quite strong.

This is my typical recipe below:

1 smallish bottle of gin.
Lots of coconut water.
1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk.
A dash of cinnamon.
Lots of coconut chunks.

So the complete nonsensicalness of this recipe is reflective of how we sometimes make things in The Bahamas I think, there is no recipe, either grammy or mummy taught you how to make it and you just throw things into the pot.

I want to make this post an interactive one, where people’s opinions and comments will become part of the post, so if you write a comment, tweet us or say something on Facebook, I’ll update this article to include your opinions about the drink.

ClaireSig

 

From Oreos to Coconuts

I’m not hungry, I swear, I’m not writing about food in this post and didn’t mean to get anyone hungry for any of the chocolate cookie goodness that is the Oreo, or the nutty flavour of the Coconut. Rather I want to talk about something that has confounded me for some time.

So- right, get ready for a story- I was in a casual group setting once and a few individuals in the group were complaining about someone who wasn’t there. They commented on their lack of ‘Bahamian accent’ (don’t get me started on this, please don’t), the way they dressed, the music they listened too. Everything was up for grabs in their haterade, and then someone uttered the ultimate insult (lulling the group into a quiet semi-horror), ‘He’s such a damn coconut!’ So, being from the ‘bush’ (as I was often told, because somehow to this particular Nassauvian, Freeport is the bush? Being the second largest city in The Bahamas and all, that totally makes Freeport The Big Bad Bush), I was a bit confused as to why everyone was quiet and a bit squeamish, and I walked myself into a trap, I asked ‘What’s a coconut?’ I was given a very detailed 5 minute lecture as to the term coconut and it all boiled down to this, it was the same as calling someone an Oreo and it’s essentially someone who was black on the outside and white on the inside.

Let this mull over. Yes.

I left the group, not having said anything after my question, annoyed as hell. Why? Because I’ve been called an Oreo my entire life and I was annoyed that the phrase and concept was still permeating throughout Bahamian culture. Coming from a biracial family with one Black mother and White father, I never developed a concept of what a ‘Black’ person versus a ‘White’ individual should act like. Does liking rock music make someone who is Black, actually White? Does dressing like a prep and greeting someone without a bey every few seconds nullify the cultural-Blackness of their skin? I know I’m writing this like an ignorant bullshit, but these aren’t really questions but a round-about point, what exactly makes someone Black? And I’m not talking about the melanin in their skin, I mean culturally, what makes someone culturally Black and deserving of being called a Coconut or an Oreo?

Personally, I think the entire concept is ridiculous and people should let people be. I don’t think anyone should ever be called a traitor to their ‘skin color’ and called someone else. To me, being called an Oreo or Coconut is such a loathing term and concept. It implies that someone isn’t ‘enough’ for the what their skin color dictates them to be, and it’s like the term implies that the individual secretly harbours self-loathing aspects, desiring to be someone else, someone they’re not. It implies that they’re a traitor. A traitor to their culture group, to their ethnic kin. It’s loaded and it’s ugly.

It’s so ugly, that I tend to get really angry hearing it because, I do think in The Bahamas we get caught up in our categorization of people that we forget to just let people live. However, such modern day conflicts are the children of our complicated, entangled and discriminatory history. Terms like these don’t come out of nowhere, they’re born and I’m just wondering, when, if it ever, will it die?

ClaireSig

Obligations To Your Country

In this post I will speak about a very specific set of obligations one has to their home country. I don’t mean things like paying your taxes (VAT? Customs? Who knows what’s going on!) or being a decent human being to your fellow countrypersons (you know, thou shalt not kill, don’t hassle women who have no interest in you anyway, that sort of thing), I’m talking about something like Brain Drain and the conundrum a student faces when they finish school abroad or have gone ‘foreign’ for any extensive set of time. What I mean is, what obligation do we, as Bahamians, have to return home after being away for so long?

After finishing my BA, I took this sense of obligation seriously. I took it seriously in that I believed, as a student of the social sciences, as an educated woman, and a lover of all things Bahamian, I had a duty to return to my country and give back a bit of what it gave to me. I felt this duty was important. So I returned home at 22 after completing a degree in Anthropology and Museum Studies. I was fortunate, as many are not lucky, in that I was returning home with a job. I successfully applied for a position and had secured a contract for 2 years. Boom. I was fulfilling my obligation. I was giving back to The Bahamas and Bahamians, injecting my hard earned dollars into the economy (by buying local) and working hard to contribute to Bahamian cultural growth. I don’t regret this time at home, I loved it. It was a great eye-opening experience (or experiences, really). It molded me and helped me focus my academic, personal and intellectual goals and interests. So I went off, again, to complete an MSc (which I’m still trying not to fail at and leave academia with all of my mental faculties unharmed) and now that my program is drawing to a close (exams in 2 months! Ahh!) I face the same dilemma at 25 as I did at 22: Should I return home, or not?

Part of me says yes, that I can contribute more to my country and myself if I return home for a few years before I can move onto my PhD (yes, I’ve got that on my To-Do list). But part of me doesn’t. I have so many concerns and questions: Can I find a job at home (in something so specific as Anthropology or Museum Studies, this is kind of hard, though the unemployment rate in The Bahamas is ridiculously high)? Will I be happy if I go back? Can I get used to the increasing violence of Nassau? DO I even want to go back to Nassau (I’m from FPO)? If I can find a job in the UK, why not stay? I plan to do my PhD in the UK anyway. Yet, every time I come to this conclusion, I feel that nagging sensation: But shouldn’t I go home? Don’t I owe it to the people, businesses, communities, organisations that supported me? What do I owe, and to whom?

I think anyone who has been away for a long time feels some gamut of emotions when deciding to return/ not to return to The Bahamas. Part of me says Yes, Return, do not contribute to brain drain! Contribute to the development (in all facets) of your nation! The country that nurtured you!

And then, part of you will say: Just don’t do it.

Alas, at the end of the say it’s a hustle to survive so I’ll go where the money takes me, which is partially sad because more often than not, the money is taking you somewhere far from The Bahamas (this is a whole different issue of employment, lack of job growth, lack of growth in diverse sectors, and I’m not talking tourism here, *cough* museums/culture *cough*).
ClaireSig

Why I don’t find ‘Anybody Home with the Door Crack’ funny.

Side Note: I know yall didn’t expect a Valentine post from ME, right?!

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Okay, good.

Now, before you go assuming that I must have no sense of humour, allow me to explain you a thing; I am hilarious. To be fair, my humour is dry as hell, consists mainly of quips and is littered with sarcasm, but I’m versatile; I can both give and take a joke with the best of ‘em. If you were paying attention I’ve made a joke already. I’ll admit, the phrase itself is quite nonsensical so it has the potential to be funny, but it’s just not. And here’s why: she’s not laughing; in fact she’s confused really. When you’re laughing AT someone and they aren’t amused or even aware of what’s happening, it’s not funny; it’s rude.

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Just yesterday I was discussing this same point with my cousin. He and I were exchanging some pretty clever (albeit odd) banter with another cousin; who wasn’t laughing, and kept getting on the defensive. So I told him to stop, and said something to her along the lines of ‘we’re only joking around, not making fun of you. Please don’t take our stupidity to heart’. To which he interjected ‘uhm, those two are the same thing.’ However, they aren’t. Joking around means everyone is involved and having a good time being idiots together, making fun of someone implies they aren’t enjoying it, and you could be hurting their feelings. They both understood and the banter continued; sans feelings. Now, you can easily argue that this doesn’t apply to the Door Crack video because she doesn’t look upset. However, she’s still not in on the joke, while the whole country is laughing AT her. So I can’t find the humour in it; all it makes me feel is uncomfortable.

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The second (and main) reason is that whoever shot the video tried too damn hard to make it funny. In the videos they ask her repeatedly to “say it again ahahaha”, “say it again, come on, say it”. As if this is a friggen circus and she’s the seal with the horns, or they’re the annoying neighbour kids that keep throwing stones at your dog to get him to bark. They’re hard up for a joke and that fact kills it.

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I have always found it to be true that beauty and ‘funny’ are similar in that neither of them work if you try too hard. The funniest things are effortless, come naturally, unexpectedly, and out of nowhere. Stop trying so hard!

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Jessica