Maya Angelou and The Hidden Past

The world was saddened by the demise of Maya Angelou a few months ago. She was a great leader, a brilliant teacher and above all, a wonderful soul who had so many stories and life’s lessons to share with us. Admit it. We actually learn about people more when they are gone. Their good and bad deeds would turn into topics to discuss for the next few days.

Maya Angelou was no exception. She passed away at the age of 86, leaving behind her glorious life as a legacy. The media did a commendable job in highlighting her achievements but what amazes me is the fact that the media glorified the ‘good stuff’ of her life, the ‘past’ that we would be proud to talk about, the stories that would earn her more ‘respect’ and the talents she had that left the entire world amazed.

What about the past that made her into who she was until the day she died? What about the ‘least glorified’ stories of her life? The untold mistakes that made her stronger and wiser?

I’m not very sure how many of you had actually read Maya’s books. I came to know that she was one of the most successful non-fiction writers after her death. (Shame on me on not knowing this earlier! I know. I will be buying those books soon! *excited* ) Maya Angelou had a very challenging life. She was raped, she was a prostitute, she smoked pot and took drugs. Throughout her life, she was a strong advocate for the underprivileged people. She stood against racism, sexism and other ugly forms of discrimination. In an interview with her, she had explained what it actually feels to be doing something that may be wrong in the society’s point of view.

I agree that she had lived life to the fullest and nobody would have preferred talking about her as a prostitute in the wake of her death but ignoring her past as a sex worker, a night club dancer and a madam for lesbian prostitutes simplifies her legacy. This issue was debated by Aya De Leon on Huffington Post. Maya never felt intimidated by her past. She chose to embrace her past, forgive herself and learn from the mistakes. There are lessons she learned from the journey of her life. Her past defined her life and herself.

Her past itself also advocates for prostitutes, lesbians, gays and feminists. Unfortunately, the media did not discuss her struggles as much as they embraced and celebrated her achievements and this is actually an issue that we should address. When someone is walking out of their ‘not-so-nice’ past, turning over a new leaf and looking forward to living a meaningful life, why do we choose to encourage them to erase their history?

Failure leads to success and success is celebrated but nobody values failure. We are living in a society that is highly judgemental. We are expected to find the route to success without failing because people don’t accept mistakes. As soon as we know someone has erred in their life, we quickly judge them, label them, degrade them and undermine their quality of life.

One of Maya Angelou’s autobiographies, “Gather Together In My Name” revealed her life as a sex worker.

“I sat thinking about the spent day. The faces, bodies and smells of the tricks made an unending paisley pattern in my mind. Except for the Tamiroffish first customer, the others had no individual characteristics. The strong Lysol washing water stung my eyes and a film of vapor coated my adenoids. I had expected the loud screams of total orgasmic release and felt terribly inadequate when the men had finished with grunts and yanked up their pants without thanks.”

I must say that we hesitate to accept women’s past as compared to men. This double standard has been around in our society for a long time. As a result, women erase the black marks in their lives and avoid being discriminated.

Do you celebrate your past without prejudice and let people know who you are for real or do you think it is necessary to safeguard your darkest secret in order to allow the society to let you live life peacefully?

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Writing Can Be Deadly!

Writing Can Be Suicidal

I am back as promised! Why writing can be suicidal? Well, if you are a fiction writer and you are writing about something doesn’t exist in reality, that is completely fine because it involves nobody in the real world. But what if you are writing about something that is happening around you? About social issues and politics or even about your own thoughts and views on certain people or politicians? Now could you smell the possible danger arousing due to this?

I have been a member of Global Voice and I am very excited about it because it helps me lend bloggers and social media users a louder voice to highlight what they are saying collectively! Let’s take the issue or news about who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize recently. I’m sure many people across the world will be talking about this and voicing their opinion about the result. Some would or may say that Malala should have been awarded instead of the OPCW. What authors of Global Voices do is to summarise what people are saying about a particular issue.

Now, being an author on GV is as risky as being a blogger. While people may support the good deed  of exposing the truth, abolishing crime and terrorism; the ugly truth is nothing guarantees that we will be safe being a whistle blower. I will tell you why people don’t get involved in social work that is ‘risky’ like this or may be sometimes it is a better option to just keep quiet and mind our own business.

Sometime ago, we had a case in Malaysia where someone was shot while he stopped at a traffic light. He is in charge of the My Watch movement which basically works as a whistle blower. R. Sanjeevan was a young man who was inspired to do something beneficial and transform the corrupted society into a better community. My Watch is about ten months old and has successfully revealed a few corrupted authorities. Guess what he got as the prize of it? He was shot after getting several threats by people and luckily survived but still suffering from the aftermath. Sanjeevan shared his story with a reporter lately that the movement is now dying as there is nobody to protect him or to support his fight for Malaysia. In fact, he also told that he has lost many friends after this incident as they were afraid of their own lives.

While I was reading this issue, I came across another updated blog post on one of the most popular blogs in Malaysia. It is written by someone with a blog name of  ”The Raged Indian”. As I was reading this, I learned that he stayed away from blogging for quite sometime as he has received threats from some people as well since he writes a lot about social issues and influences thousands of Malaysian Indians particularly. He raised a very good question in his post too that made me think he was right. After all, if something happens to him, who will be at lost and who will come to defend him? It is still an unanswerable question isn’t it?

Today, I came to know that Malala’s book is out. It has been written by Malala with Christina Lamb as the contributor. She is an advocate for women and she got shot by the Talibans. When you do good in the public, you will be scrutinised heavily and then discriminated!. She was expected by some to win the Nobel Peace Prize but it was awarded to OPCW. I got goosebump while watching one of her interviews today and it made me feel so proud of her! It also explains the power we have as an individual and this is what I like the most. I think Malala’s life has changed to reveal the real potential she acquires.

I feel that one doesn’t need to be an activist in a global level. Anyone who is able to instill changes in another person’s life is an activist. As we live in a dangerous world, it is better to start from below and act like the termites. Termites are small and eats your wood from within silently and you will only know when everything is totally destroyed; when the entire furniture comes crashing down on your head! Any social activist should be working like that so that you don’t alert people in authority who is capable of bringing you down.

Like +BV Bharati said, it can be dangerous exposing the activities of people especially politicians. She has written an article about it earlier which can be viewed via this link. On the other hand, if you have not heard about author Jean Sasson, you can check it out here and see for yourself how she got into trouble by stalkers who file cases against her! She shares her experience with her reader at her website. She writes about life in the Middle East and I love reading her work!

Sharing what Jean says here:
For anyone who is considering writing a book, you might want to read my personal account of what it is like to be stalked, and, for that stalker to find attorneys willing to file a frivolous lawsuit. — Jean

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Unilever’s AXE Is Axing Itself Hard!

That’s Not Cool

I can’t help it but to story you this agonizing act from Unilever’s AXE. But before that, let me tell you what made me ‘like’ AXE Malaysia’s page first and foremost. Well, AXE Malaysia had a contest to search for the next Malaysian astronaut and a Malaysian Indian lady was among the top 5 selected to contest for the final round. When I got to know about this, I was so excited and I told my mom and we were showing our support to the girl by voting for her every hour. The contest is now over and the official winner will be announced coming 24th. I spread the news to some of my friends on Facebook and guess what, not many actually replied or showed support. This is pretty much why I feel like not having Facebook because people are there just to stalk you and gossip behind your back but acts like they never knew you when you approach them on FB. Okay, let’s just stop ranting about social media, which is not very social actually.

AXE is a brand by Unilever for men’s hair care and body products. My question is, what are those women doing on AXE’s advertisement when it is a product meant men. Of course they have one or two products for women too, but when it comes to men body spray, are we supposed to see men in the advertisement, aren’t we? AXE has been using women, or I will say, exploiting women to promote their product and this has caused an uproar among the AXE Malaysia’s Facebook page because we anticipating updates about the competition and all we get is their sexist,cheap promotional methods on Facebook page. I was one of the first ones to spark a debate about this on their page (hahaha :P). I saw many comments following that trashing AXE Malaysia. If you need to know what I’m talking about exactly, you need to go their page via this link and see for yourself.

Is That Picture Necessary?

By having videos and pictures like that, it simply sends a message that men has no brains and nothing much to attract women, so use good fragrances like this to get ladies. It doesn’t matter how bad you smell from within, all you have to make sure is to smell good with AXE.
It also sends a message that indicates women are cheap and can be attracted with good fragrances. Watch this video.

Reaction From Potential Customers

What they expect out of their ‘sexy’ advert – Men and women going crazy about their products and keep giving them business. What is actually happening – They are losing more and more customers and probably because of people like me who is contributing to their loss, it will be even worse because due to the competition, many people all around the world are watching this page closely and their promotional method is suicidal now. People would be attracted to products and companies that have value and do good. Of course, in the business world, nothing is transparent but avoiding efforts to objectify women will save them in the long run.

Now, on the other hand, I think women who model for this product knowing that they are being objectified, are just plain dumb and have no social responsibilities at all. What are those employees for Unilever doing? Well, it is so sad to think we have to forgo social responsibilities at work because we are there just to earn money for living and not to argue for our values that we uphold.

I’m not saying women should be covered all the time or should not be given the choice to dress up. Bikini and modesty has very little correlation because we won’t be able to change a man’s mind to respect women just by changing our clothes. No, it is not that simple. Bikini is just a swimwear. You wear nightgown when you at bed and you do not roam around the city with that because that would be inappropriate. One should know his or her limits and behave accordingly. You will just know if what you are wearing is appropriate or not. What has to be changed is not bikinis but misusing them for advertisement purpose in a way that causes harm for women. Of course, for lingerie advertisements it will be fine.

Last but not least, if I ever have a boyfriend using AXE, I would be ‘welcoming’ him home with an axe. With that being said, ladies, you know what to do now 😉

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Black Or White?What’s Your Stance, America and India?

Miss America 2013 – Is She Too Dark To Become One?
Image From FoxNews

It has been a week now since I last blogged. Today has been a fantastic day so far. I made it to the third round of interview after being interviewed by the director of GreenEnergy Worldwide for Malaysia. It feels good because I think it gives me a chance to be in an industry providing green energy solutions and eventually breaking the dependency on fossil fuel. I have also received a surprise e-mail today so it has been a great day so far and I’m thankful for that.
So getting back to the post today, I’m sure many of you are well-informed about the winner of Miss America 2013. Nina Davuluri was crowned as Miss America and she is the first Miss America from Indian descent. She is also the Miss New York 2013. America being one of the world’s largest melting pot where people of different races and cultures embrace America as their home today took the world by surprise when some people made racist remarks on Twitter following her victory. What really amuses me is the fact that people have been calling her a Muslim and linking her with Al-Qaeda. Some people made themselves clowns by saying that she should have been chosen as Miss Africa. I think they must have missed their Geography lessons back in school, poor kids! 
This social backlash reminded me about the popular TV show, Celebrity Big Brother where we had a participant, the late Jade Goody with two others bullying the well-known actress in India, Shilpa Shetty for being an Indian. I think, generally when you cross your own border, you are a refugee and you just don’t belong to where you are fully because people do not welcome ”foreigners” wholeheartedly. 
Is it a crime being born with a dark complexion? What it really takes for a woman to become Miss America? Being blonde and white? I don’t understand how people could choose Obama as their president and still be prejudicial. I don’t understand how they could welcome Indians to come and work for Bill Gates but still deny their rights to contest in a beauty pageant. In most countries today, majority of the citizens are not the native people. My ancestors were from India and they were brought to Malaysia during the British occupation. Our real native people are the Orang Asli which literally means “the native people” and America is no exception too.  
As an approved contributor for Global Voices, (I haven’t contributed anything YET, and I have posts up there as drafts because I thought it will be good to observe what others post and how to protect myself if someone from my ”awesome” government were to read my posts and accuse me of being a ”threat” to the national harmony and security. Malaysia is getting funnier day by day so it is good to know how to save my ass before doing something) I observed a post from an Indian citizen and I thought she has pointed out great issues and Tweets from other netizens. 
I think Americans are way better because we will not see Nina Davuluri being crowned in the pageant if the organizers or judges were racists. It is just a part of the society that has a problem seeing an American-Indian winning the competition, may be because their favourite contestants lose the game! I think the issue is less severe in America than it is in India.
While reading the post from Global Voices, I realised that if Nina’s parents chose to stay in India and raise their kids in India, Nina’s chances of being crowned would have been a dream still. You can see the comments in the snapshot below and I feel it is true because we Indians(referring to the race) do not embrace our own people as we worship fair-skinned ladies and men more. 
Global Voices
At least, Nina prides herself in becoming Miss New York and Miss America but what do we see in the Indian film industry today? Actress Nandita Das is a dark-skinned, beautiful young lady and I have always admired her so much. Her message for this year’s Women’s Day is “Stay UNfair, Stay Beautiful”. She and her career has been affected due to her dark complexion and she campaigns for the movement called Dark Is Beautiful. You can read about her further at her blog (and let me know if you think she is beautiful ;))

We all have our own issues to deal with and raising awareness is not just about me blogging about this and you reading but also about correcting the way people think and behave around you and making a change. Do your part in educating the society. By writing this, I will never be able to reach out to those who made insulting comments about Nina but if we continue to pass the message around, hopefully we can see gradual changes. 
Good night world!

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Hudson’s Sexism Remarks

Hudson’s Stupidity Was Unbelievable

Today, my mother and I went to the local supermarket nearby to buy some groceries. We headed to the food department where they sell sweets and other junk food. I was looking for something to eat and I thought it was good to buy some snacks. I got some Cloud Nine chocolates while my mother was searching for sweets and that’s when I saw Hudson’s sweets. I have never really seen Hudson’s sweets in packets before so I picked one of it up and flipped the packet! Guess what I saw?!

Hudson’s #1
“When your little son asks you to show him how to make his own babies… Hudson’s soothes life’s little irritation.”

Hudson’s #2
” When you wife asks you if she looks fat in her new dress… Hudson’s soothes life’s little irritations “
Hudson’s #3
 “When your boss asks your honest opinion about his new hairstyle… Hudson’s soothes life’s little irritations”
Hudson’s at the Store
Hudson’s and its nonsense!
Hudson’s, you are not soothing life’s little irritations, you are inducing frustration and irritations! 
I just can’t understand what makes Hudson’s feel so cool about its promotion or marketing method by incorporating such rubbish at its packaging. Obviously, this is not the only product that promotes wrong messages and supports movements that don’t benefit mankind. I feel one of ways to stop discrimination is by boycotting products and businesses. That would create stress in their business and eventually force them to do stop monopolizing the market with marketing that has negative impacts on people. 
I stopped buying Gardenia bread we have over here when I knew it was taken over forcefully by some people using political influence. I will include Hudson’s now in the list!

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