Dikon nos ta kopia e siudadnan mas sucky di Merka?
As YDK we pride ourselves on our multi-culturalism, our ability to fluently speak all these languages, our quite cosmopolitan attitude not just for such a small island, but also compared to much larger countries. It’s not many a culture that possesses such elegant fluidity and adaptability to successfully navigate the nuances of other wildly different cultures. Plenty of examples of successful YDKs in Singapore, Australia, Germany, just to name a few.
However, it fast becomes apparent that our knowledge is quite shallow when it comes to translating back to our culture. We insist on importing a very narrow subset of values and customs of these cultures we so easily interact with. The US is a prime example. Let me explain.
Ta fo’i Merka m’a kab’i yega
Yes, we do go to “Merka.” I am, time and time again however, amazed at how extremely narrow the definition of Merka is amongst many YDK. It seems like Miami and Orlando ARE “Merka”. I know of people who go to Disney year in year out, and who have NEVER gone to any other state. My friend, you didn’t go to Merka: you went to DISNEY (disclaimer: I lived in Orlando, FL for 10 miserable years).
Why are we so afraid to explore around the bend and do things other than eat at Red Lobster (blegh) and go to one mall after the other? There are about 6,100 miles between the eastern- and western-moist points of the USA, a country almost as large as all of Europe. So of course there are differences in culture and geography. San Francisco is hella different from Orlando, let me tell you that. And then there’s Alaska. Oh, and what about Hawai’i, Wyoming, New York? Kada un ta diferente. Those malls however? ALL THE FREAKING SAME.
“California ta serka di Miami”
When I say San Francisco, California, I inadvertently get: “Oh, Disney” or “Ahn, serka di Miami” or “Dikon bo no ta kore bin topa nos na Miami pa weekend?”. To give you an idea of the (seemingly wilful) ignorance, consider how I got called in the middle of the night once by an airline attendant (InselAir) after they lost my luggage: He had no clue that there is a three hour difference between Curaçao and California and proceeded to call me doodleuk at 7 in the morning Curaçao time. An airline attendant…
‘No, unfortunately I can’t drive down to come meet you this weekend…’
SO Orlando: Lack of urban planning, car centric gated communities with the weirdest layouts haphazardly mushrooming wherever, causing terrible urban sprawl and its best buddy: TRAFFIC. I got one word for you: Caracasbaaiweg. ‘Nuf said.
I am appalled, APPALLED by the flippant, gratuitous use of the n-word. By everyone. Being “down” with “American culture” is so much more than using this hateful word to greet your buddies. It is steeped in centuries of godawful slavery, and brutal oppression of black bodies and minds, which goes on to this day. If you really want to show off your “skillz”, let me hear you spit knowledge on how the Black Panthers raised black consciousness, or impress me by explaining to me how this freaking US political system works (it’s complicated, I still haven’t figured it all out after living here 20 years).
Food & Health Culture
It’s clear what the dominant influence is na Korsou: chain restaurants, highly processed foods in grocery stores, all paired with the ever-expanding waistlines. Oh so Orlando/Miami. Obesity, Type II diabetes and other lifestyle diseases run rampant on our island, with dialysis centers too common a sight.
I had a friend visit a month ago from Florida. As we were driving through SF, she remarked: “Gosh, everyone is so FIT here.” Yes, the SF “straatbeeld” was 180 degrees from what you see in Florida: lots of fit people walking, jogging, biking, tons of farm to table restaurants, and multiple farmers markets everywhere, every day. It’s embarrassing to go into Burger King. IF you can find one.
In short, it’s time to seriously start casting the net of our love affair with the US farther and wider, and take cues for how we live from the more sophisticated places – more New York, less Texas, more California, less Florida, more Nashville, less Vegas.
In two weeks about how there is more out there ku Hulanda, in het Nederlands. Nos tin un paspoort Europeo, fer chrissakes.