Quotes from the post!
I’ve always had a fascination with people who take extended trips and travel cheaply, relying on ingenuity and ‘self-reliance’ to go from place to place. I read Red Dust which is about a Chinese man who kind of drops out of life and spends three years traveling around China and I’ve fantasized about recreating that experience ever since. But this 5 dollar a day guy doesn’t quite sit right with me.
As I re-read the article I couldn’t help wondering how he would be perceived by potential benefactors if he were a person of color, or a woman – or both. Would people just hand out house keys and hotel rooms to us like free condoms at the clinic? Would people just dismiss me as another Black panhandler? Could I cast off what little ‘privilege’ I have as an educated middle class person. Would my actions impact Black travelers who followed me?
What do you think of this guy? Has anyone ever attempted anything like this? How do people reacted to you? Have you ever encountered this type of traveler? If you did how might you handle it?
As I read BlackBerry’s post, I found myself thinking of all the “fun” quirky things my boyfriends would describe doing when they were abroad, like traveling all through the former USSR by train, or backpacking through the Tunisia, or whatever, and how they’d tell me I should try being more adventurous the way they were. At the time, I didn’t have the vocabulary to call them out on their judgment or their privilege, but now I kinda wish I could send them this. The body you’re in determines the reality in which you live, and folks? Being female and brown means having to be constantly on the look-out for danger. Gloria Anzaldua describes this necessity as a required sixth sense. In Borderlands/La Frontera she writes,
La facultad is the capacity to see in surface phenomena the meaning of deeper realities, to see the deep structure below the surface. It is an instant “sensing,” a quick perception arrived at without conscious reasoning. It is an acute awareness mediated by the part of the psyche that does not speak, that communicates in images and symbols which are the faces of feelings, that is, behind which feelings reside/hide. The one possessing this sensitivity is excruciatingly alive to the world.
Those who are pushed out of the tribe for being different are likely to become more sensitized (when not brutalized into insensitivity). Those who do not feel psychologically or physically safe in the world are more apt to develop this sense. Those who are pounced on the most have it the strongest-the females, the homosexuals of all races, the darkskinned, the outcast, the persecuted, the marginalized, the foreign.
When we’re up against the wall, when we have all sorts of oppressions coming at us, we are forced to develop this faculty so that we’ll know when the next person is going to slap us or lock us away. We’ll sense the rapist when he’s five blocks down the street. Pain makes us acutely anxious to avoid more of it, so we hone that radar. It’s a kind of survival tactic that people, caught between the worlds, unknowingly cultivate. It is latent in all of us.
I walk into a house and I know whether it is empty or occupied. I feel the lingering charge in the air of a recent fight or love-making or depression. I sense the emotions someone near is emitting-whether friendly or threatening. Hate and fear-the more intense the emotion, the greater my reception of it. I feel a tingling on my skin when someone is staring at me or thinking about me. I can tell how others feel by the way they smell, where others are by the air pressure on my skin. I can spot the love or greed or generosity lodged in the tissues of another. Often I sense the direction of and my distance from people or objects-in the dark, or with my eyes closed, without looking. It must be a vestige of a proximity sense, a sixth sense that’s lain dormant from long-ago times. (61, 62)
La facultad is as much about being aware of the potential existance of a rapist as it is actually sensing that danger. It’s not a type of paranoia, or a mystic power — it’s an understanding of your own body as one that’s vulnerable, as one whose safety is only guaranteed conditionally. So, to answer Black_berry623’s question… I wouldn’t ever do anything like that. I’d twitch if someone tried to do it to me.