Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Race, IQ and penis size.

Controversial I know, but yeah, let’s talk about this sh**.

There have been studies done that suggest that there is a relationship between race, penis size and intelligence. IQ, so it goes, is very much related to what is in your genes, as well as what is in your jeans.

So apparently, East Asian people are really brainy but are somewhat lacking in the trousers department. People of African origin tend to perform less well on IQ tests, yet as popular culture tells us, are seriously packin’ down there. If you are Caucasian, you probably fall somewhere in the middle on both counts.

Hmm. Now get this straight before you get angry, I’m not saying I believe this sort of thing. I’m just saying, the studies have been done. I’m not sure why someone felt they really really needed to do a study on this, but they did. My hunch is that it wasn’t someone with a gigantic trouser snake, know what I’m sayin’? Although that’s just a hunch.

But there are lots of flaws with some of the assumptions being made here. Firstly, how do you really measure intelligence? How much stock should we put in an IQ test? I mean, IQ tests are great if you’re good at shapes and numbers and all that sh*t. Some other stuff, they don’t measure. Like, just say, you’re the leading world expert on, I dunno, the European red-breasted swallow, and have an encyclopedic knowledge of everything pertaining to that creature. But you happen to be hopeless at maths. You will suck at IQ tests - does that mean you are unintelligent?

The sort of person often considered primitive or backward in traditional Western thinking – let’s say a tribesman from New Guinea, for example – is pretty damn intelligent if you ask me. He typically can build a house, make clothing and weapons, hunt all kinds of animals, find edible plants, knows which leaf is used to make poison and which leaf cures headaches. Would he do well on an IQ test? Perhaps not.
I on the other hand, consider myself to be of above average intelligence, and a couple of dodgy IQ tests seem to back that up. But I haven’t the faintest clue how to do any of those aforementioned things, which are actually more useful. However, our New Guinea tribesman probably can’t make witty pop culture references like I can, or analyse soccer tactics like I can, and probably can’t spell “iridescent” . Does that mean I’m smarter?

Many argue that IQ is genetic. I’m sure it is to a certain point, but what about environment? If your parents are morons and you are also a moron, is that because you were born of moronic stock, or that you were raised by morons? Also consider that external forces such as trauma and poor nutrition are known to lead to setbacks in brain development – which probably disadvantages people from poorer backgrounds and poorer countries.

Anyway… so how does one’s brain power correlate in any way with the dimensions of one’s todger? I mean, there are also theories that guys with big hands, or big feet, have a correspondingly big member. I have no idea of the truth of this, but if it were true, I can see how it would make sense, since its all about physical proportions.

But why would the brain and the wiener be inversely proportional to each other? Did God only have only a small amount of human tissue left with which to construct us, meaning that He had to choose between our two most important organs? It has been said many a time that men think with their genitals, perhaps there is such a mental/groinal link after all.

How does this work in evolutionary and biological terms? Remember that the key to evolutionary survival is the ability to score a mate and hence pass on one’s genes to offspring. If well-endowed men do indeed tend to have less mental acuity, is that because they don’t need it? I mean, are the magnificently hung at such an evolutionary advantage that they don’t need smarts in order to pass on their meaty genes on to the next generation? If so, what does this say about male-female relations throughout the history of human evolution? Do females choose partners based primarily on the size of their love truncheon? Did cavemen merely have to display their wares to attract a mate? Does this still apply today? And if I tried it, would I get arrested?

Is brain power an evolutionary compensation for lack of penile endowment? In order to attract a mate, do men with less-impressive toolkits have to rely on cunning and nous to make up for their deficiency in length? Did we have nerdy cavemen ancestors who were able to write out calculus on cave walls, thus bestowing upon them greater status with which to compete with the well-packaged but less canny competition?

And if there truly is a correlation between brains and dong proportions, how far do you take this theory? Is a member of MENSA likely to have the genitalia of a small rodent? Should women who seek the beefiest of sausages be looking for a partner in an institution for the intellectually disabled?

And where does race fit in with all this? I have no idea.

I will say this however: East Asians are generally more small-statured and with a more compact body shape than Europeans and Africans. People of African origin tend to be the tallest and longest-limbed. Is it then not logical that their body parts will be in similar proportion?

As for my own proportions, well that’s personal. But if this theory is true, well I have Asian blood and possibly a high IQ… so I guess that tells you all you need to know about the calibre of weapon I have in my holster. But as they say, its what you do with it that counts, right? So maybe an Asian's wedding tackle may not be so dazzling size-wise, but they'll have the smarts to do some crazy intricate kung-fu sh** with it which will blow your frickin' mind. Maybe.

If you liked this, you may like:

The Asian penis in popular culture

The geography of knob size

Comebacks to stereotypical and racist comments

Are white people more racist than everyone else?

Baby names and criminality

A bit about Asian men and white women

Eliot Chang on racist questions

RIP Michael Jackson 1958 - 2009

The King of Pop is dead. Of course, you could argue that he sorta died sometime in the 80s, and was replaced by a bizarre freakshow version of the entertainer we all knew and loved. While the Michael Jackson of the last 20 years was a walking cautionary example, the MJ of the late 70s was the quintessential black soul-pop star, a brilliant singer and dancer. Looking back on what happened since then, it's a sad descent, both as an artist and as a human being.

While "Thriller" (1982) is the biggest selling album of all time and is quite a remarkable collection of pop at singles, the seeds of his decline were already in evidence; it was the 80s after all, and most black performers from the 70s got noticeably crapper in the 80s. His music became progressively more shrill and synthesised, and his extraordinary singing talent seemed to regress to mostly shrieks. While he was a hero to African-Americans, not least for being one of the few black performers to break the unofficial colour bar on MTV, ironically he was shrinking from his blackness at the same time. Gradually his life became more and more of a circus, and he was known more as the punchline of jokes rather than for any actual good music.

I'd prefer to remember Michael the way we wish he'd stayed - identifiably black and human, good-looking and still relatively normal. The below videos are an example of what was and could have been.

The child performer of seemingly limitless talent, appearing on Soul Train:

"Butterflies" was one of the few times in recent history that Jackson seemed to remember that he was originally a soul singer, rather than simply a pop phenomenon. Produced by the A Touch of Jazz crew and written by Floetry, it's a shame he didn't make more of it.

"Can't help it" was one of the standouts on the 1979 classic "Off the Wall" album,but it recently got a makeover by Norwegian disco maestro Tango Terje. The result is wonderful and a cult classic. Terje doesn't compromise the original's lush instrumentation and soulfulness, simply speeding up the tempo and adding some tasteful house beats and percussion. It's the sort of direction it would have been nice for Jackson himself to have headed in.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Random comic genius: the Pushy Nigerian Mum

This will be appreciated by Nigerians, Chinese, Indians and anyone else whose parents really really really wanted them to be a doctor. It's British/Nigerian comedian Gina Yashere, from The Lenny Henry Show.

More Gina Yashere here:
Gina Yashere on Def Comedy Jam

Still more Japanese efficiency

This is a follow up to the skit about getting up for work in only 5 minutes, which you can see here. Pretty funny.

Is Sarkozy right to want to ban the burqa?

In his quest to make more enemies, French President Nicolas Sarkozy this week called for the Islamic outfit known as a burqa (or burkha if you prefer) to be outlawed in France. He said they were unwelcome in France because they were a symbol of the subjugation of women.

So, does he have a point? Or should he simply butt out of people's business and let them live their lives?

The burqa, which is usually associated with Afganistan and Pakistan;

and the niqab, common in the Gulf States.

There are several issues at play here.

Islamic culture places a great deal of emphasis in personal modesty, for both sexes but particularly women. For many Muslim women, wearing some form of hijab affords them respect, and protection from being regarded simply as a sexual object. And this is not a point to be disregarded lightly; in the West where images of naked and semi-naked women are everywhere (even Sarkozy’s model wife Carla Bruni has previously posed naked), is this necessarily a step forward for women’s rights? Does the omnipresent sexualisation of the female form in modern Western culture contribute to disrespect and violence towards women? I’m not suggesting Islam has it right either, but it is hardly prudish to suggest that we in the West may have gone a bit far with some of this stuff.

So rather than being an instrument of oppression, could the burqa or niqab actually be something that liberates women? I don’t really think so, but I don’t doubt that many of the women who wear it do see it this way.

Another obvious issue is the basic freedom in a modern civilised society to wear pretty much whatever you want, providing it doesn’t offend standards of public decency or harm someone else. On these grounds, it is hard to see how a woman wearing a burqa is hurting anyone else.

We must also consider the rights of a religious or cultural group to follow traditional practices – again, so long as it does not negatively impact on others. Would it be unfairly discriminatory to ban the burqa?

Another issue is not an obvious one but one that must be considered: if the women who currently wear the burqa were banned from doing so, in what way would that change their behaviour? Would they make a simple transition to make-up and slacks, and go about their daily business? In some cases, perhaps, but in many cases the result would be that they barely leave the house – effectively this may force a kind of cultural imprisonment. Although you could argue that wearing the burqa is already a kind of imprisonment, at least it still allows them to move around freely. This may cease were it to be banned.

These, to my mind, are some strong cases against banning the burqa.

HOWEVER... despite taking all that into account, I actually agree wholeheartedly with Sarkozy on this. (Didn't see that coming, did ya?)

France’s move several years ago to ban all overt symbols of religious worship (turbans, headscarves, yarmulkes, crucifixes, etc) from state schools was a move too far. Yet from all accounts, people have more or less accepted it and had to adjust, for better or worse.

I can’t say I’m a fan of the Islamic headscarf; to me it still represents a degree of oppression, even if most women who wear it don’t see it that way at all. But in any case, a headscarf still allows people to identify each other face-to-face, which I think is very important. Also, wearing a headscarf is in practical terms no different to wearing a hoodie, a turban, a baseball cap or a beanie. So whatever you think of it, women should have the right to wear it. They must also have the right not to wear it, of course – I have a real problem with Islamic schools that enforce the headscarf as part of their uniform. The right to choose, either way, is essential here.

So the headscarf is ok. The burqa and niqab are not.

Hang on, I hear you arguing, if women must have the right to choose, shouldn’t they then have the right to choose to wear niqab or burqa?

Sheesh, that’s a tough one. But I say no.

Why? Because the burqa and niqab are primarily symbols of the subservience of women. I’m afraid I can’t get past that. I can let the headscarf slide on this one, but the burqa and niqab represent everything that is regressive about hardline Islam.

One of the common reasons given for the rigid observation of hijab - the necessity of covering up so as not to elicit impure thoughts in men - is repugnant when you think about it. It implies men are morons who cannot exercise any self-control. It places the onus on women to limit their freedom because of men's inherently voracious appetites. It also leads many Muslim men to dehumanise non-hijabi women as "sluts" and "immoral" since they do not adhere to this rigid standard. It allows men to place the blame for rape on the victim.

Some women may claim that to wear them is empowering and liberating. But let's look at the kind of people who aggressively promote these dress codes. To my knowledge only 2 governments have enforced either outfit on women in recent history. One is Afghanistan under the Taliban, who forced women to wear the burqa. Among the Taliban's other contributions to the women's movement were forbidding women from seeking employment, and killing young girls who attempted to get an education. The other government is Saudia Arabia's, which until 2008 forbade women from driving cars.

I realise what I am about to say is extremely patronising, but here goes: women who believe these garments are empowering are victims of religious or cultural propaganda who don't know what's good for them. Just like women who force other women to undergo female genital mutilation for cultural reasons. It is the equivalent of African-Americans wishing they were slaves again. It may seem strange that I or any other male should think they know what is best for a woman, better than that woman herself. Yet burqa and niqab are themselves male impositions on a woman.

I must add that it is not only Western governments that seek to impose restrictions on the various forms of hijab. Secular Islamic nations such as Tunisia and Turkey have banned even the headscarf (Tunisia has an outright ban, Turkey has many limitations on where it can be worn).

Covering one's body and face also implies that one is separate from society. Anyone expecting to be welcomed by French society or any other Western society must reciprocate that welcome, rather than exclude. It is basically a big f*** you to the wider society, since seeing a woman's face is a privilege open only to the her family - demonstrating that she is merely a possession of her father, then her husband.

I'm not for a minute saying that Western culture is morally righteous when it comes to the treatment of women. And I acknowledge that Western societies are built on a foundation of freedom, and limiting a woman's ability to choose to wear the burqa does go against that. Yet the burqa also is an affront to that other hard-won cornerstone of the modern society - women's equality.

Saira Khan has written an interesting article in Britain's Daily Mail about this topic which is well worth reading here.

So what do you think? Feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More Awesome Asian Ads - Malaysia

You may have come across this fabulous Malaysian commercial recently - it won three awards (two gold and one bronze) at the 2008 International ANDY awards which honour creativity in advertising.
It focuses on Chinese schoolboy Tan Hong Ming, who confesses his crush for his Malay classmate Umi Qazrina. And its cuter than a basketful of kittens eating cupcakes.

Gotta give it to Hong Ming, he knows what the laydeez like.

The ad was one of a series put together for the Merdeka 2007 campaign to promote national unity, racial harmony, friendship and brotherhood and all that nice stuff. And you'd have to say that it is effective as well as cute.

The other ads are nice in their own right, while not being a patch on the timeless love story of Tan Hong Ming.

It helps to understand Malay for this last one, though it really doesn't matter that much.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Global funk connections: Towa Tei / J-Dilla

The art of sampling in modern music gets a lot of bad press, and its not hard to see why. Folks like Puff Daddy got rich quick by ripping off obvious samples and bringing very little creativity to the table, thus inflicting upon us some really bad, derivative music.

Yet sampling has its good side, and some exponents of the sampling art are so good that they inspire others to sample them, or better yet, to have live musicians interpreting their work, which originally sampled live musicians - the process of creative inspiration coming full circle.

Here's an example. Take the following track by, "Technova" by Towa Tei, the Japanese DJ best known as a former member of Dee-Lite. This is a well-cool track on which he enlists the sultry vocals of Brazilian chanteuse Bebel Gilberto, with whom all bossa nova fans will be familiar. It comes from his 1996 album "Future Listening".

One fan was obviously the late hip-hop uber-producer J-Dilla, who sampled it in 1998 for A Tribe Called Quest's song "Find a Way" (from The Love Movement album).

After Dilla's passing in 2006, Carlos Nino and Miguel Attwood Ferguson released "Suite For Ma Dukes", an orchestral tribute to the music of J-Dilla. The highlight is their exquisite rendering of "Find a Way". It's an interesting journey taken by a slice of music originally performed by a Japanese DJ/producer and a legendary Brazilian singer.

Listen to Carlos Nino & Miguel Attwood Ferguson - "Find A Way"

Pilaf, paella and pulao - how a rice dish conquered the world

The old Persian Empire was at one time the largest empire of the ancient world. Geographically, modern Iran is only a shadow of those former glories, yet the Persians left a clear influence on the cultures of many nations in Europe, North Africa and Asia. One notable aspect is culinary, and a prime example of this is the pilaf, a dish that probably originated in ancient Persia but now exists in various forms all over the world. In its most basic form, pilaf is rice, often cooked in stock, and often combined with spices, meats and vegetables. Some of its descendants - India's biryani, Spain's paella, the plov of Central Asia - are some of the most popular of those respective cuisines.

While rice had been grown in East Asia and India for thousands of years, the Persians only began cultivating it on a large scale sometime between 1000 BC-500 BC. Around this time, some enterprising Persian invented the first pilaf. It is quite possible that the technique is actually from India, which had a longer history of eating rice; but in any case the name that stuck was Persian.

Polo or polow, as it is called in modern Farsi, is one of the flagship dishes in Iranian cuisine. Usually containing lamb or chicken and often featuring dried fruits and nuts, it comes in many varieties. Butter and saffron are commonly used to flavour the rice, which must be basmati or another top-quality variety. Zereshk polow (pictured) is a well-known variation which features chicken and dried barberries.

With the Persian Empire extending deeply into Central Asia, pilaf was introduced there as well. It had become a common enough dish to be recorded as being served to Alexander the Great of Macedonia when his armies conquered Persia around 330 BC, and they introduced the dish, now called pilafi, to Greece upon their return. Today, plov is a dish of enormous cultural significance in Uzbekistan, Azerbaijian and surrounding countries, essential at weddings and other celebrations. It is now consumed as far east as Xinjiang province in Western China. Carrots are a very common addition in Central Asia, with mutton being the usual meat used. One of Afghanistan's national dishes, qabuli pulao, uses grated carrots, raisins, lamb, aromatic spices, almonds and of course basmati rice.

The dish was reintroduced to Europe by the Turks. Originally a Central Asian people, they began their move into what is modern-day Turkey around 1000 AD, and by the 17th Century the Ottoman Empire extended as far as Algeria, Somalia and Central Europe. The Ottomans are also credited with introducing coffee into Europe, while that quintessential Austrian dessert strudel is based on the Turkish filo pastry. While the Turks still make their pilav from rice, bulgur wheat is a very common substitute (pictured). Today, pilaf is a common method of preparing rice throughout Greece, the Balkans, Bulgaria and Romania, a legacy of Turkish rule in the region. While it was probably already familiar to the Greeks from the days of Alexander, this would have been reinforced by the Turks for whom pilaf has always been a quintessential dish.

The Indian subcontinent was constantly under the rule of invaders from the northwest, and in particular the Mughal Empire (1526-1827), originating in Persia, had a profound effect on Indian cuisine. Famous North Indian dishes like korma, paneer and kebabs are legacies of this era. And of course pilaf, or pulao as it is known in India. An elaborate variation of pulao is the well-known dish biryani, which is pulao rice layered with meat, vegetables, dried fruits and nuts. Indians make the spiciest variation of pilaf, as might be expected, yet the spices used tend to recall the dish's Persian origins - cardamom and saffron in particular. One of the most renowned variations is the Hyderabadi Dum Biryani (pictured), in which the flavours of South India meet strong Mughlai influences.

The dish made it as far south as Sri Lanka, where it is called pilau, while biryani is a much-loved dish there as well as in Mauritius, brought by Indian migrants.

The Arabs were quick to pick up the art of cooking flavoured rice from the Persians, and the rise of Islam meant that they spread their culture and cuisine far and wide. In Indonesia, a dish called nasi kebuli (pictured) is a legacy of Arab trade in the region and is commonly prepared by restauranteurs with Arab descent. Despite using obviously SE Asian ingredients such as lemon grass and sometimes coconut milk along with meat (goat or chicken) and rice, it also uses clarified butter and spices such as cinnamon, cumin, cloves and cardamom which are typical of Middle-Eastern cooking but not of Indonesian; indeed, its name translates as "Kabul rice".

The spread of Islam across North, East and West Africa also brought culinary ideas with it. Senegal's national dish thieboudienne (rice cooked with fish, onions and tomatoes) and the similar joloff rice (pictured) of Nigeria and Ghana, bear witness to Arabic influence in West Africa. Pilau is also a very common dish in the East African countries of Kenya and Tanzania. While the name and similarity to Indian pulao may lead one to suspect this is a dish introduced by the many Indian immigrants to those countries, it appears to be a Swahili dish that predates the Indian presence in Africa. The Swahili culture is a fusion of East African cultures with that of the Persians and Arabs who traded up and down the coast from the 6th Century AD. The Somali people, themselves heavily influenced by the Arabs, also frequently consume a rice-and-meat dish called isku dhex-karis, spiced with cardamom and frequently with raisins.

Meanwhile, along Africa's northern coast, the Moors (Arab and Berber peoples) conquered Spain and introduced rice into the Spanish diet. From this resulting fusion of cultures, the dish known as paella was born in Valencia. Despite the etymological similarity of the words paella and polow/pulao/pilaf this is perhaps only a coincidence. Most sources point to the word paella stemming from the name of the pan in which it is cooked, which is also called a paella (from the Latin patella). In any case, the dish itself (rice cooked in stock with meat or seafood with vegetables) clearly recalls its distant Persian origins, particularly with the presence of saffron as an essential ingredient.

The Spanish spread their rice dishes to the corners of the globe. Thus the Philippines has its own variations of paella, while in Latin America, arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) is ubiquitous. These dishes tend to eschew saffron for the cheaper spice annatto, but the result is still to dye the dish yellow, just like in Spain, India or Somalia. The name of another common Latin American rice dish is a reminder yet again of the Arab influence on Spanish cooking - Moros y Cristianos (Moors and Christians), with white rice representing the Christian Spaniards and black or red beans representing the darker-skinned Moors. The frequent use of cumin and cilantro throughout Latin America is another reminder of the Moorish legacy in Spain - around the time of Columbus those influences would have been more pronounced.

Pilaf was to become an important part of Russian cuisine as well, due to its history of interaction with Central Asia - constantly invaded by Turkic and Mongol peoples from the 11th Century onward, then gradually expanding Russian territory southward and westward from the 16th Century onward. Thus when pilaf first became known to the chefs of Western Europe, it was as a Russian dish.

The other famous rice dish of Europe, Italy's risotto, may or may not be a descendant of the pilaf. Certainly the Arabs did occupy parts of what is now Italy, and risotto is similar to many pilafs elsewhere in its early stages of preparation - stir-frying the rice in oil with onion before adding stock is a classic pilaf method. Saffron is a key ingredient in the classic form of the dish as well. But risotto was born not in Arab-occupied Sicily, but in Northern Italy around Milan - is it possible that the region's proximity to the Ottoman-controlled Balkans gave rise to this dish? It must be said though that the somewhat sludgy consistency of risotto would be unthinkable to a Persian polow-lover, for whom the grains must be dry and separate - so it is a significantly different enough dish to call any links into question.

In any case, the results are delicious. The original polow of ancient Persia has certainly travelled a long way.

Like this? You may also find these posts interesting:

So who really invented noodles? China or Italy?

Foods That Make You Stink - Fenugreek

Green Tea is Intent on World Domination

Is Chai Latte Only a Drink for Wankers?

Thursday, June 18, 2009


Mokkori-kun - a character used to promote mushrooms, apparently.

The word "mokkori" in Japanese refers to the sound of something rising abruptly, or sticking out on a flat surface. It is also used as slang for an erection, and funnily enough, the sound of a man suddenly getting an erection. (So next time you think sexy thoughts, fellas, listen closely and see if it sounds like "Mokkori!")

For a Western cultural parallel, think of the term "schwing!" as used in the Wayne's World films.

The term was apparently popularised in the 80s anime City Hunter - the main character Saeba referring to an opportunity for sex as a "mokkori chance."

Obviously the Japanese are not the only culture to figure out that erections are funny, but the mokkori phenomenon in popular culture is surely one of those "only in Japan" type things.

For example, there is the "mokkori bomber" doll...

While the Marimokkori doll is also a popular purchase.

And then of course, there is the TV show called "Mokkori", which is basically about a guy walking around with a massive erection straining to get out of his tight shorts. Hilarity ensues. Yep, that's the entire show. Check it:

Wouldn't the world be a more fun place if every guy just yelled "Mokkori!" everytime they got a boner? Try it and see.

Random comic genius: My Black Friend (Acceptable TV)

The VH1 comedy Acceptable TV was short-lived and a little hit-and-miss, but it contributed its fair share of comedic gold to enrich your life. The highpoint for me is "My Black Friend" a send-up of reality-TV that hits its target so brilliantly that there are stupid people out there who actually think this might be a real show. The rest of us can just laugh in enjoyment.

It's really worth scouring the internets for some of Acceptable TV's other show ideas. Highlights are "Homeless James Bond", "Pedophile Gladiators" and "The Sound Effector" among others.

Japanese TV according to Gaijinsmash

One blog I'm really enjoying right now is Gaijinsmash, written by Az, an African-American writer living in Japan and married to a Japanese woman. His most recent series of posts reveals Japanese TV as being an incredibly boring wasteland of untalented celebrities talking about their uninteresting personal lives.

And here I was thinking that Japanese TV was all zany game shows and nonsensical commercials! I feel like a dream has been shattered.

In any case, it makes a very entertaining read.

Employers shunning ethnic applicants

Researchers at the Australian National University have shown that prospective employers are more likely to consider a job application from someone with an Anglo-Saxon name, as opposed to a Middle-Eastern, Italian or Chinese name, a study has shown.

“Well, duh,” I hear the resounding reply from all the ethnics out there. “No sh** Sherlock.”

Yeah, I guess many of you figured that already. Like my African mate who was considering using a less-exotic variation of his name on job applications. But now its official. So all you Asians who are sick of your parents asking why you’re not working as a doctor yet, you can now use racism as an excuse.

The researchers sent out 4000 fake applications for entry-level jobs in waiting, data entry, customer service and sales. The qualifications were identical and all applicants had attended high school in Australia.

Those with Anglo-Saxon names got call-backs 35% of the time.

Those with Italian names got call-backs 32% of the time.

Those with indigenous-sounding names got call-backs 26% of the time.

Those with Middle-Eastern-sounding names got call-backs 22% of the time.

While those with Chinese names got call-backs 21% of the time.

A recent study conducted in Canada showed similar results.

The study also showed that employers in Sydney seemed to discriminate against ethnic names more than Melbourne or Brisbane.

So, in a difficult economic climate where job offers are hard to come by, what is one to do? It’s obious - change your name. Now you understand why the telemarketers ringing me from India introduce themselves as “Johnson” or “James” – their employers figure I will hang up straight away on someone named “Balasubramaniam” or “Gurmeet”. (I hang up pretty quickly either way, although there is something strangely compelling about an Indian guy with the unlikely name of Johnson.)

So, unemployed Mr Wai Xi Wang, you are now “Bob Smith”. Ali Akbar Abdul Rahman, you are now “Steve Jones”. Can’t wait to see the look of confusion on the interviewers’ faces when they meet you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Global funk connections: The Soul Investigators

I posted a while back about the unlikelihood of Finland being some kind of centre of great funk and soul music. Yet the country has a decent jazz scene, so perhaps it's not so much of an stretch. In any case, The Soul Investigators are arguably the best deep funk and soul band in the world right now, after NYC's Dap Kings of course.

Their original line up (Pete Toikkanen on guitar, Sami Kantelinen on bass, Jukka Sarapaa on drums and Antti Maattanen on organ) began in 1998, taking inspiration from 60s/70s acts like The JBs and The Meters. They were soon joined by Lasse Tolvanen (sax), Eero Savela (trumpet) and Erno Haukkala (trombone).

As good as their instrumental work is, it is their collaborations as a backing band for soul artists which has gained them the widest attention. Their chief collaborator is Nicole Willis, the American soul singer formerly of The Repercussions and who has herself worked with electronica legends Leftfield. Willis is married to Finnish techno/jazz/funk auteur Jimi Tenor, which is undoubtedly how this connection came about.

More recently, new Oakland-based soul duo Myron & E have enlisted the Soul Investigators as their backing band. Their debut single "Cold Game" has been getting a bit of play around the music blogosphere, but the b-side "I Can't Let You Get Away" is the real gem. It's a stunning slice of retro-soul balladry, which sounds messy at first, but needs a couple of listens to work its magic. It's my favourite song of 2009 actually.

Bangkok's street food in the Washington Post

If you're a fan of Thai street food (if you're not, you may need an intervention), you'll like this article on the subject that appeared in the Washington Post. It is accompanied by some great pictures by Bangkok-based photographer Austin Bush, who always does great work.

Twitter: I just don't get it

I'm prepared to be educated on this, but I think Twitter is the stupidest phenomenon to sweep the internets.

Whose idea was this? "Hey, you know how Facebook is so popular? Well, how about we take one of the most annoying aspects of Facebook and make it into a whole application by itself?"

See with Facebook's status updates, as with Twitter's "tweets" or whatever the fudge they are called, most people use them to write the most mundane and uninteresting information. It's even more mundane and uninteresting when said user has an iPhone which allows them to update it anytime, anyplace.

"Oooh, you're waiting for a bus? Wow, I'm so glad I know that now, it puts everything into perspective for me."

There are of course some people who have turned status updating into an art form and can inspire conversation, thought and levity through well-worded and stimulating contributions. However, these people are clearly an extreme rarity.

I've never seriously considered getting involved with Twitter. I'm interested in many things in this world; the fact that you are about to go to the shops to buy bread is not one of them, I'm afraid. And I doubt anyone is that interested in my daily affairs to care what the hell I do during a day.

But, in case you are a massive fan of yours truly and desperately wished I would tweet regularly, I'll give you a quick taster, in lieu of you getting a life of your own.

10:01: I'm updating my status on Twitter.

10:49: My butt is itchy.

11:22: I'm twittering instead of doing anything useful. Gosh darn, this thing is so addictive and I know I shouldn't be doing it, but for some reason I am!

11:29: My butt is still itchy.

11:51: I just saw something funny. LOL.

12:02: Gonna have IndoMie for lunch.

12:09: Yeah, IndoMie taste good.

12:14: OMG, my butt is still really itchy. Maybe they make some kind of ointment for this?

12:43: I think John ought to stick with it.

1:11: I just saw another thing that made me LOL! Today has been like so awesome.

1:49: I'm hanging out with Paris Hilton. Aren't I cool?

1:50: Nah, I was just kidding about Paris Hilton! ROFL

2:20: Finally managed to buy some of that itchy-butt cream.

I hope that added new meaning and purpose to your life.


UPDATE (18th June 2009): I see on the news that the popular uprising against the Ahmadinejad regime in Iran has been fuelled by Twitter, since phone networks and many other social networking sites were shut down by the government.
So, I guess Twitter is useful after all. Whoda thunk it?

UPDATE (28th February 2011): Ok, so guess what? I have a Twitter account now (@euraznsensazn). Have for a few months, actually. So laugh at me and call me a dickhead all you want, here's your chance. Mind you, I barely tweet anything, very occasionally read a handful of funny people's tweets, and still think it's mostly good for not much.

Random comic genius: Eliot Chang on racist questions

Friday, June 12, 2009

Your Guide to the “F*** Off We’re Full” Facebook Group

Yes, there’s a Facebook group for everyone, isn’t there?

There’s heaps of discourse around now about Australia is a racist nation. My answer is a cop-out, really – it is, and it isn’t. More on that another time. But if you want proof that we are a racist nation, start at this group, which seems to fall under Facebook's "Just for Fun" category of groups, since we all know there's nothing more fun that hating people.

In any case the members of “F*** Off We’re Full” are an interesting crew, some intent on claiming that they are not racist and only opposed to unwelcome changes to Australia. Whereas some just unleash a torrent of racism which kinda damages the credibility of the aforementioned members, who are at least trying to be a bit respectable. Although joining a group with this name does wonders for one’s respectability, of course.

This eloquently-named group, opposed to immigration and multiculturalism, has over 64,000 members now. Although a significant number of them seem to anti-racist trolls looking to sh*t-stir, judging by the debates on the discussion boards.

It’s actually not the only group on Facebook with such a name, there are variations – “F*** Off We’re Full!” (note the exclamation mark) and “F*** Off We’re Full!!!” who only have 87 members but judging from their use of THREE exclamation marks are really, really serious about the matter.

And to show that xenophobes have more than one point of view, there’s also a group that innovatively titles itself “We’re Full. So F*** Off.”

In response to this phenomenon are groups like “F*** Off Xenophobes, We’re Full”, and my personal favourite, “F**** Off People with ‘F*** Off We’re Full’ Stickers”.

Anyway, the main group I’m talking about has a manifesto which is xenophobic but perhaps not particularly racist. Inflammatory title aside, it mentions Aussie pride and an integrationist rather than multicultural model for Australia, among other things. These are at face value not necessarily bad things; certainly things you can have a reasoned exchange of ideas over.

However, when you give your group a name like that, it’s gonna attract a certain type of crowd. Now, I’m sure many of them simply have legitimate concerns about the direction our nation is heading, which is fine. There are even a few members of Asian background. (Even an Asian guy who wishes we had an equivalent of the British National Party here, not realising of course that the BNP don’t allow Asians to join.)

But then there are the hardcore racists. Lovely people like Darrin Hodges, a candidate for the Australian Protectionist Party and a guy with a history of association with anti-Semitic groups. Hodges is all over this group like a rash.

And if you join the group you can also converse with charmers like Mikey Hutton, whose conversations usually involve such words of wisdom as “Left wing dogs are the real threat, they should all be killed” and “Theres no point arguing with left wing dogs anymore, they will never open their eyes. Just create a fake profile, befriend them, find out everything about them including their address, then go round there and stomp their f***ing heads in.” Nice fella.

There is a discussion thread on there entitled “All foreigners should be euthenised”. Unsurprisingly our friend Mikey Hutton pops up here as well.

If the issue of race hate wasn’t so serious, you might even be able to laugh at some of these clowns. Take Nick Brockhurst, who seems to spend a lot of time on these discussion threads, often complaining about how sick he is of multiculturalists accusing him of racism. Later, Nick has this message for Indian people: “Indians should F*** OFF back to their mud hut, the Taj mahal whatever the f*** IF they want to carry on like a bunch of wankas. get the F*** OUT U C**TS”. Just don’t accuse him of being racist. Strangely enough, Nick has a photo of US comedian Arj Barker as his profile photo. Given that Barker’s real name is Arjun Singh, it is possible that Mr Brockhurst hasn’t quite grasped the irony of his stance on Indians.

Jodie Smithers is also an ardent philosopher on the human condition. During a argument on a thread with a woman of Indian background, she sums her thoughts up thusly:

“… you f***ing curry munching c***! You filthy indian arse should be shipped back to bombay so you can become a prostitute as you were originally destined to be, so an AUSTRALIAN can resume the spot which you have stolen to get your law degree. I don't give a f*** if your rich curry eating father has millions from driving a silver service taxi around lakemba, or because he works 168 hours per week in a f***ing 711 or subway, or sells curry out of his own arse, the fact is you are occupying a space for an Australian. So F*** OFF BACK TO YOUR OWN F***ED COUNTRY you f***ing arrogant prostitute.”
It’d take a whole lot of Indians to depart the country in order for a Uni place to become vacant for the likes of Jodie, I suspect.

It’s also a place to get to know people like Matthew Greenwood, who passionately wants foreigners out of Australia, despite living in NYC and calling himself a “real american” on his profile. Here are some things Matthew has to say about Indians:

“They are curry munching idiots who come here for a better quality of life contrary to that of which they had in their sh*thole nation. They want to spread their stufid,foolish and irrelevant culture in Australia,which any true Australian would never accept,so there are conflicts. The indian men try to converse and exploit our aAustralian wmen,on the other hand the indian women move around the Aussie men to pursue them to make any relation with them,which is an act of "sluttism" and no Aussie man doesnt likes it.”

Make sense of that if you can. Matthew also demands that “If you cant speak ENGLISH,please f*** off.” Which is probably why he lives abroad, since judging by the above passage, he has a few problems with English himself.

I know, I know, making fun of ignorant racists is like shooting fish in a barrel. But its hardly less witty than calling an Indian a curry muncher.

Btw, if my head ever gets stomped, Mikey Hutton probably did it.

Like this? You may like:
Comebacks to racist and stereotypical comments
Racial humour - is it ever ok?
Asian-fearing Herald-Sun readers of the week

UPDATE (14th June 2009):
It seems that this group is no longer an open group and prospective members must seek permission to join. My guess is because of the number of trolling anti-racists, and perhaps due to the publicity it has received in the media. So its not as easy to observe the discourse within the group anymore.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reprisals begin - Indian students take the law into their own hands

It was only a matter of time really. When police response to a law and order issue is woefully inadequate, or at least perceived to be, concerned civilians turn to vigilantes.

In Springvale in Melbourne's Southeast, Vikrant Ratan's car was torched outside his apartment in the early hours of the morning. Around the same time, in St Albans on the other side of town, Kamal Jit was being beaten unconscious by a group of men apparently wielding a metal pole. It was the second attack in two weeks Jit had endured, after being pelted with eggs the previous week.

In St Albans, Thomastown and Springvale Stations, police have instructed the large groups of Indians gathered there to ensure the safety of their countrymen to move on. The police say they have stepped up patrols in those areas, and the gathering would-be vigilantes were threatened with $200 fines each.

Too late, as it turns out, because things are already getting out of hand. Indians are hitting back.

A 20-year-old man was stabbed once in the neck and twice in the arm in St Albans early yesterday after allegedly racially abusing a group of Indian students.
The victim allegedly said: "You are black. You don't belong here. Go away from our country".

Note that I doubt that the victim actually said that - knowing Melbourne's young people as I do, I'd wager it was more like "You bunch of f***in' black c***s, you don't f***in' belong here, get the f*** out of our country."
Nearby, a car was torched, believed to belong to people attacking Indians.

I don't blame the Indian "guards" for gathering at St Albans as they did; actually in one sense it is an admirable show of community strength and spirit in the face of perceived community indifference. But anytime you get a group of agitated young males together, things have the potential to get ugly.

Things also got ugly this week in the suburb of Harris Park in Sydney's West. In a suburb dominated by the Indian and Lebanese communities, tensions ran high after a number of attacks on Indians in recent weeks, including the petrol bombing of a student, a man being kidnapped by four balaclava-clad men, and eggs being thrown at a temple. Indians and other residents have claimed that there has been a major problem with Lebanese gangs there for years which has gone unchecked.

Around 200 men gathered in the street, incited by inflammatory text messages and news of more attacks on Indians in nearby suburbs. A group of young Lebanese men were dragged out of their car and attacked; it is unclear if this was related to any other incident or simply for their ethnicity.

As you can imagine, these sorts of incidents have readers over at the Herald-Sun and Daily Telegraph wetting themselves with delight, as they snidely type "Ain't multiculturalism grand?" or think of new ways to say "Send them all back home!"

But the vigilantism in both Melbourne and Sydney is an example of what happens when the State is not living up to its duties. The severe lack of police presence in trouble spots, and Victoria Police's continued assurance that the attacks on Indians had little to do with racism, send a pretty clear message that they just do not care. Yesterday Police Commissioner Simon Overland and Premier John Brumby belatedly admitted that there was clear racism in a number of cases; but the damage has been done to Indians' confidence in these men's ability to uphold law and order.

Likewise the Harris Park situation. While Melbourne's anti-Indian violence does not seem to by dominated by any particular ethnicity, attacks in Sydney appear to be largely young men of Middle-Eastern heritage.

What happened in Harris Park on Monday night was in many ways a smaller-scale and browner version of the infamous Cronulla Riots of 2005, in which around 4000 people, mostly male and Anglo, whipped up hatred for "wogs" and "Lebs", and attacked a number of innocent passersby who happened to look foreign. Cronulla was one of the most sickening displays of Aussie racism and twisted patriotism in our history, but it was nonetheless a response to a serious issue - the aggressive and anti-social behaviour of Middle-Eastern thugs - which was not being dealt with adequately by police.

Vigilantism is also unsurprising when you consider how many times Indians have been described as being "soft targets" by the police and media, who imply that they are being picked on because of their "naturally passive nature". (Which in some ways is true, and in some ways is ridiculously untrue - the subcontinent's violent history suggests they ain't quite so passive.) If you were being picked on and everyone said it was because you were soft, what would you do?

So what happens now? A number of possibilities.

The Indian students may have done all of us a favour by putting pressure on Governments to get tough on street crime, particularly by increasing patrols to act as a deterrent.

However, the image of brown people behaving belligerently in the streets is likely to provoke further racism among those who were already unsympathetic to migrants.

It is possible that these incidents will show that Indians are no pushovers and may make would-be attackers think twice; however it is probably more likely that they will simply provoke another cycle of violence. After Cronulla there were reprisals from Lebanese youths, and you'd have to expect there will be some now too.

Either way, no one wins from this crap.

For more interesting takes on this issue, try here, here, here, and here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chihuahua tasered and shot 3 times by Cincinnati police

When the Bullock family of the Cincinnati suburb of Blue Ash returned home from a funeral, they found blood and bullet shell casings on their front porch, and a note to call the police about their dog, WCPO reports.

According to police, the Bullocks' pet chihuahua-mix named Jack had gotten loose on the street. When officers arrived and tried to catch it, it had bitten an officer on the hands 26 times. They tried to shoot this terrifying beast (pictured) with a taser, but when that did not seem to work, they apparently had no choice but to pump 3 bullets into it.

Wow. That is treatment that US cops usually only reserve for black people. Oh, and 72-year old great-grandmothers.

It seems to me that in the time it takes a dog to bite someone 26 times, you'd have time to consider some options, like: "Hey, maybe cornering this animal is not a good idea." Or: "How about we get experts from the SPCA to try and catch this dog instead." Or: "How about we find a cage, or a bag, to catch it with."

There is apparently no truth to the rumour that the police sprinkled crack on the dog's body afterwards.

They oughtta keep these vicious beasts off the streets if you ask me. The police, I mean.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Global funk connections: Soul Jugglers

When I think of Pinoys (if you ain't down, that means Filipinos) and their musical tastes, two things immediately spring to mind: cheesy karaoke, and black music. Yep, there is some spiritual connection that Pinoys have with soul and hip-hop; perhaps it was an influence from US servicemen who have long had Urban music scenes in both the US and Australia have a strong Filipino presence.

This affinity goes back a long way it seems, at least to the 70s. I have very little info on Manila-based disco-funksters the Soul Jugglers, but on the evidence of these tracks "Pakinggan Mo" and "Pinoy Disco", they knew how to bring the funk. Fat horns, bouncy clavinet and a tight rhythm lock that would fit in well alongside their US contemporaries, acts like Kool & the Gang, BT Express and Fatback Band.

Note that there is also a US hip-hop crew called Soul Jugglers, who as far as I can tell are completely unrelated to the Pinoy band.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Interracial dating in the USA

Some interesting info over at Yahoo Personals in regard to racial preference in dating.

Did you know that until 1967, it was illegal in many states to marry outside one's race?

Also according to 2006 statistics, there were 530,000 married couples in which the husband was white and the wife was Asian; yet only 174,000 Asian husband/ white wife couples.

That'd be no suprise to many. In Australia I'm sure it follows a similar pattern, at least judging by the couples I see on the street. I myself am a product of such a union, so I can vouch that it's totally rockin'. However, it's a bit of a shame really that there exists such an imbalance across the gender divide. I mean, people can't really help who they are attracted to, but the perception of Asian males, particularly in popular culture and media is often not as flattering as I'm sure they would like. And traditional concepts of masculinity, which certainly have their flaws, are often not kind to the Asian male.

There is a similar disparity with black/white interracial marriages. 286,000 black husband/ white wife married couples, compared to 117,000 white husband/ black wife couples. Anyone got any sociological point of view on this?

Seems like as good a time as any to have a look at Wong Fu Productions' classic short film Yellow Fever. Way over-acted, but still funny.

Hat tip: Angry Asian Man

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Kamahl weighs in on curry-bashing - and the media twists it

Did you ever wonder why many prominent people from different communities seem reluctant to criticise their own kind? It's something that is common to a great many minorities. Many Muslims may seem reluctant to address what may seem like glaring problems in the Muslim community; African-Americans dislike publicly criticising the African-American community; and so on.

Now sometimes the reason for this is indeed parochial ignorance; some people seem incapable of seeing faults in their own kind.

Yet there is another reason, and that is the mainstream media's uncanny ability to twist such criticisms and use them as a stick to beat that community with.

The phrase that often pops up around this issue is "airing dirty laundry". Within the community, these problems can be raised, debated and discussed frankly. However, the wider world contains many who would leap on such issues as further evidence for whatever xenophobic agenda they may have.

I witnessed a perfect example earlier today on Channel 9 News. Looking for another perspective on the spate of attacks on Indian students in Australia, they tracked down popular veteran crooner Kamahl. The man known to his parents as Kandiah Kamalesvaran was born in Malaysia to parents Sri Lankan Tamil background, who arrived in Adelaide as a student yet became a singer, achieving popularity that was surprising considering the far-from-enlightened prevailing attitudes towards non-whites in 50s and 60s Australia.

The story was also picked up by Sky News. This is how they reported it:

Kamahl angry about Indian attacks.
Renowned entertainer Kamahl has joined the chorus of condemnation, over a series of racially motivated attacks on Indian students in Melbourne.
But the singer also says the Indian community would make itself less of a target, if it tried harder to integrate into Australian society.

Now, let me say that there is nothing untrue about what Kamahl said there. Assimilation into the mainstream will lead to less targeting of Indians; this is true of any community and Indians are no exception. It's not news to anyone as far as I'm concerned.

But this is how Channel 9 portrayed it in an advertisement for its nightly news, in which it was run as the top story:

Kamahl says Indians should try harder to integrate into Australian society.

So suddenly, the key point is not that Kamahl is sickened by the attacks on South Asian people. No, the real story Channel 9 wants to play up is that this respected South Asian man thinks that Indians are not integrating enough. The inference is clear: if Indians are getting attacked, well, they must be doing something to bring it on themselves, right?

Oh come on Eurasian Sensation, I hear you say. They didn't misquote him. You yourself just backed up what he said about the Indian community needing to integrate more. So what's your problem?

My problem is that public opinion is far more strongly influenced by soundbites than "the whole story".

My problem is that there are already plenty of people out there who don't want to accept that racism is a serious problem in Australia. Plenty of people who are looking for ways to blame this on the victims, rather than the perpetrators. Plenty of anti-multiculturalists who are looking to spin anything to serve their own agenda. Plenty of people who are happy for another excuse to bash an Indian.

And Channel 9 News played right into the hands of those people. And I don't think that's what Kamahl had in mind.

Friday, June 5, 2009

More Indian students attacked, and temple vandalised

This week has brought more cases of racist violence against Indians in Victoria.

On 2nd of June, student Nardeep Singh, 20, was approached by a group of men as he walked through a carpark at Chisholm TAFE College in Dandenong. They initially asked for cigarettes, then money. When he refused, Singh was slashed with what appeared to be a box-cutter. Police do not believe the attack to be racially motivated. Which may be true, but as these kind of attacks mount up, it may be hard to cling to that mantra.

One incident that was definitely racist in nature was the vandalism of a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in Shepparton in northern Victoria. Racist graffiti was painted around the premises, including swastikas, while eggs were thrown at the temple and a fence smashed by a car.

On Saturday May 30, in the popular nightspot of Chapel Street in Melbourne's inner south, student Ashish Sood and three friends were taunted by a group of 15 youngsters who then attacked the. Sood was apparently struck with a metal object and was admitted to hospital with minor injuries.

The Hindu Times also reported that on Wednesday (June 3) another Indian was attacked at Newport train station by men wielding cricket and baseball bats.

It is perhaps understandable then that Indians are starting to take the law into their own hands. At St Albans train station,

A group of 100 to 150 mostly Indian men meet outside the station. The group waits at the station every night from 9.30 p.m. until the last train. Then it is divided into smaller groups that are assigned to street corners to prevent attacks.

It is hard to blame them. Anecdote after anecdote has emerged that indicates that the police response has been severely inadequate. This is not solely the fault of the police force, who are underfunded and understaffed. I just hope that the Indian response in St Albans does not lead to vigilantism. I bet it terrifies some of the locals to have this small desi army hanging around the station!

Meanwhile NSW Premier Nathan Rees has stated that there is no pattern of violence against Indian students in his state. Sure, there seems to be less of it than in Melbourne, but he's likely to get an argument from community leader Yadu Singh, who claims an average of 20 attacks are happening every month in Sydney.

Some Indian Australians who have been settled here for longer periods are taking a different perspective on the racism angle. Raj Natarajan of the United Indian Associations of NSW has stated that Australia is a tolerant multicultural country and their children do feel safe. He questions whether it is the behaviour of the new arrivals that is contributing to the violence.

Which sounds pretty weak in his lack of solidarity with fellow Indians, but there is a point in there. I don't think you can so much blame the Indian students' "behaviour", but as I have stated before, newly arrived students are more likely to be riding trains at night and be in other situations which have an increased risk to safety. The more established Indian community here is well-educated and relatively wealthy; they are less likely to be using public transport, working in higher-risk jobs or living in certain areas.

So I guess the key is to be wealthy, don't be different, and don't leave your house unless absolutely necessary. Easy, right?

Remember Trent from Punchy?

With the escalation of Clare the Kings Cross Bogan to full-blown media celebrity a couple of weeks ago, it got me thinking to another case of fake bogan-ness.

A year or so ago, another great Australian bogan became an internet sensation. Known as "Trent from Punchy", he was being presented as a real guy from the Sydney suburb of Punchbowl, who someone had interviewed in exchange for a few bucks.

Then, shock horror, it was revealed that Trent from Punchy was not in fact a real person! Apparently he is the creation of actor Nick Boshier.

The thing I find odd is that so many people actually thought he was real. Seriously?

I mean, it's funny, and I know there are bogans out there like this, but this is obviously taking the piss.

Or am I out of touch? Is this believable to some because there actually Trent-like characters out there? Perhaps, with the apparent rise in street crime in our urban centres, the portrayal of Trent may tell us something about what's really going on in the streets. Or maybe not.

Be warned, the language in these clips is not for the little kiddies.

Type "Trent from Punchy" into google and you'll come across all kinds of funny stuff that shows how gullible people can be.

The Nigerian diaspora: Actors

More on the impact that people of Nigerian origin have had on popular culture. For my earlier post on Nigerian diaspora musicians, click here.

London-born to Yoruba parents, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje is hardly a household name, let alone an easily pronounced name. Yet fans of the hit series Lost will no doubt remember his performance as Mr Eko, the African child-soldier-turned-priest. Triple A (as he is often nicknamed) has also had cameos in The Bourne Identity and The Mummy Returns. But his defining role was undoubtedly in HBO's gritty prison drama Oz, as the coolly menacing Simon Adebisi. Does it seem strange that someone who once worked as a catwalk model in Milan would be such a natural in the role of a brutish Nigerian gangster with a penchant for sadistic revenge and making people his bitch?
Interestingly, despite being born in Britain, almost all his roles have been as Africans and involved him invoking a Nigerian accent.

Sophie Okonedo was also born in London to a Nigerian father, but was raised as Jew by her Ashkenazi mother. Her 20-year acting career includes roles in films such as Aeon Flux, The Jackal and The Secret Life of Bees, but she gained the most recognition for her Oscar-nominated turn in Hotel Rwanda.

London-born Jocelyn Jee Esien has the honour of being the first black woman in either the US or UK to be given her own solo comedy sketch show, entitled Little Miss Jocelyn. She also starred earlier on the hilarious hidden-camera show 3 Non Blondes, sort of a black women's version of what Borat would later become known for.

One actor I think is bound to win an Oscar eventually is Chiwetel Ejiofor. The London-born actor (of the Igbo ethnic group) made his big breakthrough in 2002's Dirty Pretty Things. His soulful portrayal of an African doctor and illegal immigrant in Britain won the Black Reel, San Diego Film Critics Society, and American Black Film Festival awards for Best Actor. Since then his many roles have included a transvestite in comedy Kinky Boots, drug dealer in American Gangster, and charming assassin in the cult sci-fi flick Serenity.

There was a time when I was addicted to The Bill and would stay home to watch it without fail. Don't ask me why. But one of the standout actors on that British television stalwart was Cyril Nri as Superintendent Adam Okaro. Like Ejiofor, he has also acted onstage as the lead in Shakespeare's Othello. An openly gay man, I find the number of famous Nigerian diaspora folks who have come out (John Amaechi, Justin Fashanu, Kele Okereke, Labi Siffre) interesting when you consider the huge cultural taboo that homosexuality is in traditional African culture.

"Curry-bashing" - what ethnicity are the attackers? Does it matter?

I need to set the record straight about some stuff. A few people on the internets have been linking to my first post on the curry-bashing phenomenon, and have been trying to twist it for their own agendas.

I mentioned that "if you were thinking of it as white-on-brown, Aussie-versus-foreigner violence, you’d be mistaken, as the picture is more complicated than that. There is no dominant trend apparent in the ethnic background of the attackers – Anglos as well as people of European, Middle Eastern, African and Asian heritage all feature."

I also mentioned that some of the attacks, particularly on taxi drivers in 3 suburbs, were by African youths.

Now it seems that some people in the blogosphere are taking this out of context, and trying to interpret this information as "Asians and Africans are responsible". This is something I did not imply at all, and so I wish to make it clear about who is actually committing the crimes. With the exception of the African gang attacks on taxi drivers, I deliberately avoided mentioning the ethnicities of the attackers, since I didn't think it was especially relevant. The more pertinent issue is that there is a culture of violence amongst many young people in Australia, which reaches across ethnic boundaries.

Likewise, foreign media has singled out Anglo-Australians to a degree which is perhaps unfair, linking the attacks to the history of white colonialism and the "arrogance of the white man". While many of the perpetrators do seem to have been Anglo, it is hardly restricted to that group, with many coming from migrant backgrounds as well.

Note: Most Australian media often avoid mentioning the ethnicity of suspects, for as I have shown above, some people selectively interpret this information to form prejudicial views. My intention to clear up the details of ethnicity is to actually counter these prejudicial views. The information I am presenting here is all in the public domain, and is available on the internet if you are prepared to search for it, which I was.

In the recent attack of Sourabh Sharma by 7 youths on the Werribee line train, it was clearly a group of mixed identity. At least one was clearly white; one looked like a Pacific Islander but could also have been Southeast Asian, and one looked either South Asian, Middle Eastern or Islander.

Regarding the attack on taxi driver Jalvinder Singh in 2008:

Parish Charles, 45, of Alphington, has been remanded to reappear in court on
July 23 over the incident and faces charges including attempted murder.

You can make your own mind up about what background Parish Charles comes from.

On the case of the 4 young men who actually used the term "curry-bashing", and who attacked Binesh Mosaheb and Zhonjun Cao, killing Mr Cao:

Four young men have been charged over the attack on Mr Cao. They come from
different ethnic backgrounds, including Asian, Italian and Pakistani heritage,
police say. John Caratozzolo, 20, of Melton South, appeared at Melbourne
Magistrates Court yesterday charged with one count each of murder and robbery
over the two attacks. Magistrate Thomas Barrett remanded Caratozzolo to reappear on May 16. A 16-year-old appeared at the Children's Court charged with the same offences and was also remanded. The two other youths, both 17, charged with Dr Cao's murder, were extradited from Adelaide yesterday to appear at the Children's Court today.

The 17-year olds in this case were convicted and were only referred to by their initials.

WH was born in China and MBA came from a migrant family and was dark-skinned.

Regarding the group of men in Sunshine who attacked Indians in the Impex Grocery Store, putting Sukhraj Singh in a coma, one of them was caught on camera and described:

He was described as caucasian, aged 17 to 20, about 170cm, thinly built,
with light-coloured, short-cropped hair and wearing dark clothing.

Regarding the group of thugs who beat and almost killed Dr Mukesh Haikerwal:

The much respected doctor was said to have been attacked by a gang of people
aged between 17 and 21, of medium-build and Caucasian-looking, who went on an
one-hour rampage, attacking four other people in a five-km radius on the night
of Sep 27.
Two 19-year-olds, Michael Baltatzis and Sean Gabriel, and a
16-year-old boy faced an out of sessions court at Broadmeadows Saturday morning in relation to the attacks, reports the Australian Associated Press (AAP).
Baltatzis is facing 10 charges of armed robbery and intentionally causing
serious injury, and Gabriel and the 16-year-old are facing six charges of armed
robbery and intentionally causing serious injury, reports AAP.

As stated earlier, the spate of attacks last year on taxi drivers in the adjoining suburbs of Moonee Ponds, Ascot Vale and Flemington were apparently all by gangs of African youths.

Convicted of the murder of Indian taxi driver Rajneesh Joga in 2006 was Broadmeadows man Eyyub Bayram Zaim, to whom we can probably infer a Middle-Eastern background.

The crowds of youths who attacked a Sikh taxi driver and Asian shopkeeper on Australia Day this year in the Sydney suburb in Manly were clearly of Anglo background, as photos indicate. They shouted "Aussie Aussie Aussie" and wore clothing emblazoned with "F--- off we're full."

Also in Sydney, on the day of the Cronulla Riots in 2005, 2 Bangladeshi students who lived nearby were attacked in their car by crowds of rioting youths who were predominantly Anglo. The main target of aggression that day were Lebanese, but an Italian man walking nearby was also chased.


Obviously this only the tip of the iceberg; there are many attacks that we do not know about. But it gives you a picture of who is out there attacking South Asians.

I have heard some people commenting that since some of the attackers were themselves of migrant backgrounds, meaning that the attacks could not in fact be racist in nature. This of course is rubbish - racists can come from all backgrounds.
However, in many of the attacks in which we do not know ethnicity but which have included racist abuse of the "go back to your own country" or "you look like a terrorist" variety, I will say anecdotally that I very much doubt that Africans were responsible for any of these. It just does not ring true when you consider the background of the African migrants in those areas; many are from Muslim backgrounds themselves (so shouts of "terrorist" are unlikely), and given that many have only been in Australia a very short time themselves, I doubt they yet have the sort of attachment to this country that usually accompanies this sort of attitude.

So in conclusion (and read this carefully, because I don't want anyone to miss my point here and take more stuff out of context):
The perpetrators in these crimes are of various ethnicities, and do not necessarily have the same motives. Some are clearly racist and xenophobic, some are "wrong place, wrong time" incidents, and some have a combination of both factors.

I don't think it helps to try pin this on particulary ethnic groups, as some are trying to do. This trend demonstrates that racism is pernicious throughout society. But more relevant is the culture of thuggishness that has become increasingly common throughout Australia's young males.


UPDATE (27 July 2009):

The India Times describes the well-publicised screwdriver stabbing of Sravan Kumar Theerthala in May as being by "two white boys", according to a witness. The same article reports a random attack in Box Hill in late June on another Indian student, Mir Qasim Ali Khan, by "two beefy white teenagers."
Meanwhile, one of the attackers of Sourabh Sharma (mentioned earlier in this article), has been revealed to be of Indian origin himself. Which certainly adds an intriguing element to the mix.

Sunny Bajaj, punched and racially abused in Boronia in mid-June while getting into his car by two men, described one as white and one being of African appearance. Wow, a black person and a white person coming together to victimise a brown person. Messed up world, innit?