Off Topic Friday The Colombian Stigma. A Rant

13 Oct

This weeks Off Topic Friday, comes with my first rant. Enjoy

Ever since I started this blog I have been thinking about what people might think, and how the way they imagine me might change according to the place I tell them I’m writing from. Lets try it out: If I tell you I’m writing from the States, you’ll think of me differently than if I tell you I’m writing from, lets say India. Even the clothes you´ll see me wearing in your head will be different. You see, we all have this preconceived notions of how people look like, sound like, act like depending on where they come from. We carry the weight of what others have done for our country (good or bad), and that is the way the rest of the world ends up seeing us. Hollywood has done more than anyone I can imagine by  creating stigmas for different countries. Who can think about the Russians without thinking about some guy called Vladimir in a black leather jacket? How about something closer to home? Think about Colombia and what has been portrayed in the movies. It’s no wonder when I told you last week I was Colombian, I got all this messages asking for the good stuff. I presume it means you want me to keep writing? To keep the good stuff coming right?

I had planned to keep my nationality hidden from the readers. I didn’t want the label that comes with citizenship. But now that my Colombian is all out, I just have to say it pains me to see and read what people think about my country just because of what is shown in the media. I mean, have you ever seen the first few minutes of Mr and Mrs. Smith? They wake up in Bogotá (The Capital City) and the man (Brad Pitt) tells the skinny one (the woman) that the village is empty, people apparently left during the night.  Really? A city of 11 Million People, just decided to get up and leave? I guess we have better roads than we were aware of. Then the skinny one looks at the man, and a goat goes by, followed by a few chickens. I´ll keep this one short: No goats or chicken in the city. Ever. Have you ever seen a goat while walking through NYC? Nope? Same here.

I don’t want in any way to hide the reality and the struggles my country has and is going through. Believe me when I say that we are completely aware of the drug problem we have (which now the Mexicans have started to inherit). The thing is, we are producing it, the rest of the world is consuming it (but the war on drugs is another subject, another rant, another week). Just let me tell you this: I once saw an interview of Bruce Willis, where he said that to end the drug problem in the world, the solution was to invade Colombia and then all would be solved in a short amount of time. I guess Mr. Willis forgot the fact that we are a country with 40 Million citizens, and maybe invading us would take more than a few weeks. Just saying. It saddens me to think that anyone who saw this interview could have thought this was actually a possibility (or worse of all, a real solution to such a terrible and complex problem).

The point I’m so poorly trying to make is that we are all guilty of having preconceived notions of what to expect of other people. We believe what we see, read, and hear in the media. We don’t question what we are told. I’m guilty of doing it myself. So today I’m inviting all of us, to do some research of our own. We have this great tool now called the internet (yes, you are using it as you read). And we should use it to empower our selves. To verify the things we are told. To teach our children to be curious, to think on their own.


In other news…

1. If you couldn’t tell, we Colombians are a little (a lot) sensitive about how our country’s image is portrayed abroad. I guess we have struggled so much, overcome so much, seen so many bad things happen in the hands of very few. That we have become a little touchy about it.

2. This clip of Ace Ventura portrays exactly what this post is all about. And this one we are all guilty of…

3. Yesterday was the Birthday of one of my readers. He is a red head (Married to my best friend; still managed to find friends and a wife. Who knew that was possible?)  Here´s a story he told me that fits this post perfectly. They moved to Madrid about 5 years ago. On his first day at the job. People were anxiously waiting to meet “the Colombian”. They were expecting this little brown skinned fellow who would be working with them (What they had seen in the media). When he arrived, they saw this 6 Feet tall, Red Head, White as a Ghost Man. They couldn’t believe their eyes. They started yelling to each other: The Colombian is a red head!! The Colombian is a Red Head!! His hair is RED!! And while we all know red hair is a no-no for everyone. It was a bigger surprise for them. Happy Birth Day J!!


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