IMG_1885The four of us who left our little sleepy town yesterday have now landed safely in the bosom of the Windy City. The journey from St. Louis to Chicago only took five long hours on a double decked megabus that offered a beautiful view of the pitch blackness of the road and only a little compensation of little street and vehicle lights. A journey during the day might have given a little more to rejoice for as far as road sight-seeing is concerned. It was something to be thankful for however that it provided a few pockets of sleeping time for us who had spent an earlier part of the evening riding in a private van all the way from Edwardsville. The bus which left the St. Louis Union Station pulled over at the Chicago Union Station a few minutes after six this morning, and we the travellers stepped into the cold wind with gigantic buildings blocking our view of the beautiful morning sky.

IMG_1893We are Reham, Audrey, Mafoya and I: two males, two females; three Africans and one French; two Fulbrighters and two International students; two and a half speakers of French, one of Arabic and one and a half of Yoruba; one moslem, an atheist, one Christian and one composite. In short, a United Nations of sorts. We have so far visited a few fun places, and as I lay here typing after a long day, I don’t know just where to start. The day had definitely been fulfilling, from getting lost on the streets, to getting shoved within a crowd of busy pedestrians going and coming without a discernible pattern of intentions. From becoming the centre of attention on the corner of a busy street because of a heady insistence to consult the large city map right there to the long, pleasant ride up into the Sky Deck observation area of the Sears (Willie’s) Tower to get an aerial view of the whole city, and to learn more of the very much cultural import of this city that has defined America in more ways than one. From a long walk on Adam’s street coming from the magnificent Sear’s Towers to the enchanting awesome experience of the corridors of the Art Institute of Chicago – an experience of a lifetime that requires a long post of its own. From sitting at Starbucks on an early Friday morning observing people getting their morning beverage ritual to returning home tired at night to this five star hostel that had put up no big public sign of its name and had got us a bit wandering. From the ups and downs of this exhilarating day, here we are, bushed from a day on a town that never stops demanding, yet bubbly with a kind of sweet miserableness.

One of the other guys in this large room for ten where Mafoya and I sleep talks a little too loudly on his phone to/about his boyfriend/admirer in an often not too discreet manner. Sigh, will we survive it?

The free coffee provided in the first floor of this almost ten storeys building is one of the crappiest in the world. But since I’m not such an addict in the first place, I should survive, I think.

Our room – a ten-bed suite for the males – for a reason beyond my explanation bears the number 419, a curious number to have as two African students in a foreign land as this. For now, it is our inside joke. And so, we will survive.

Tomorrow will find us back on the streets, seeking out the treasures of a place that could boast of the likes of Barack Obama, Ernest Hemingway, Jeniffer Hudson, Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Louis Armstrong, and yes, Kanye West among its notable citizens. The city has welcomed us with open arms. Its time to ravage it. Let the day break.

21 thoughts on “Our First Chicago Night

  1. @Yemi. I didn’t think he fancied anyone of us anyway, so it was not so hard to survive. I however had one hand firmly on a hard object close by throughout the night, just in case I sense any feeling up while I slept. lol. No, I’m just kidding.

    @Bola. What do you mean? If I were homophobic, wouldn’t I be the one at risk, and not him? A man with a great fear of height is usually the one (feeling) more unsafe, and not the elevator that is taking him up a flight of floors, don’t you think?

  2. If you put a racist and a person that the racist considers to be of another race together, who will be in danger?

    You might not be homophobic but some of your statements are or, at least, they are not politically correct.

    A question: Would you have been disturbed in the same way by a guy talking to/about his female partner/admirer in an often not too discreet manner?

  3. Homophobia is a certain often irrational fear of homosexuals. I don’t have that. But again, if I have an irrational fear of aliens – which I don’t – it doesn’t make me bad. And if you were to force me to stay in a room with one, I would feel more unsafe than the alien since I don’t have any reason to distrust myself with him.

    A racist however is different. S/he excercises PREJUDICE based on race. A homophobic person is not a prejudicial person, but someone with a certain fear. Still, I am not any of the above. If I had a fear of the guy, I probably would have complained immediately and got myself removed.

    In short, if I were a racistophobic person – which I happen to be, anyway – I would still feel unsafe to sleep near a racist person than the racist person beside me.

  4. I already asserted that you might not be homophobic. Despite my initial provocative comment, I don’t want to be a judge of that.

    Now to your definitions: racism = prejudges against members of other races, homophobia = fear of homosexuals.

    My definition: racism = prejudges against members of other “races”, homophobia = prejudges against “homosexuals” and “bisexuals”.

    In my opinion, both types of prejudges can cause different emotions such as fear (the white person will not treat me right; the black person will rob me; the homosexual will force him/herself on me), hatred (whites / blacks / homosexuals are evil), pity (whites are physically weak; blacks are mentally retarded; homosexuals are sick) and jealousy (whites have pretty straight hair; blacks can dance well and run fast; homosexuals have a lot of fun).

  5. Maybe the better English would be:

    Your definitions: racism = prejudges based on race, homophobia = fear of homosexuals.

    My definitions: racism = prejudges based on “race”, homophobia = prejudges based on “sexuality”.

  6. For the record, know that I think that bisexual women and lesbians are hot, and I can’t say the same for homosexual men. So here is a question for you: if I desire and am actually attracted to same-sex loving women but suspicious of same-sex loving men, does that make me a homophobic person or just someone with a certain preference that should be equally respected?

  7. Let me compare this to “race” again. If a person is only attracted to members of the same “race” but not to other s, I would say that person has a sexual preference. If a person feels uncomfortable in the presence of somebody because of his/her “race”, I would say that person has prejudges, at least. If a person discriminates somebody else on the base of “race”, I would be inclined to call that person a racist.

    Why are you suspecious of same-sex loving men? Many of my friends fit into that category and they would not do you any harm.

  8. Let me try to make this a little clearer, like I did in my last comment. The fact that I said that I might be attracted to same-sex loving women tells you that I am not homophobic.

    Now, to the question of why I MIGHT feel uncomfortable around homosexual men. Let me answer it with the question you asked me a little earlier, as to whether I would have felt uncomfortable with his phone conversation if he was talking to a woman in the same manner.

    Here it is. If I was a woman, and I suddenly find myself in a room with a stranger, a man who was talking non-discreetly to a woman about his sexual escapades with another woman, I most likely will not sleep in that room, or if I do, will be quite uncomfortable throughout the night. Why? Because I fall into the demographic of his sexual interest, and because I don’t know him enough to trust him with myself.

    In the same case, a homosexual man already sees me as a member of his demographic of sexual preference whether or not I’m gay. It’s not written on my face. It is not prejudice if I’m suspicious around him. It is common sense, the same kind that women display when they are close to strange men in a public bar.
    If I walk into a room filled with lesbians, I will most likely sleep with my two eyes closed because I know that they won’t have the slightest interest in me. If I walk into a room filled with bisexuals however, I will not be suspicious, only because I myself might have a level of interest in any of them, but I won’t be surprised if any of them is suspicious around me.

    My conclusion, it’s not discrimination, nor is it discrimination on the bases on sexual preference, but caution based on common sense. Whew!

  9. Ok, it’s good that you explained yourself. Your earlier post sounded like you’re suspicious of gays in any situation.

    However, physical attraction to lesbians does not say anything about whether a person is homophobic or not. You can also be attracted by the look of members of another “race” and still have prejudges against their “race” or even discriminate them.

  10. But don’t get me wrong. I do not shy away from my position of suspicion/discomfort of homosexual men in every situation. I’ve only explained why I do, and I don’t have any apologies.
    A racist person may want to hurt me, but a homosexual man may want to screw me. I do not like the prospect of either, and the thought of it revolts me in equal ways.

  11. To compare homosexuals to racists is homophobic. It would be as if a woman compared heterosexual men to racists: “A racist person may want to hurt me, but a heterosexual man may want to screw me against my will. I do not like the prospect of either.”

    You should really think about the attitude you’re displaying here because a homophobic person isn’t any better than a racist; so I can’t imagine that you would want to be homophobic.

    • Comparing homophobia to racism is quite a disingenuous argument. It is not just an exaggeration, it is disingenuous. Some people have a phobia for cats, either because of allergies or because of a personal preference. The same people may love dogs. It may make them cat-phobic, but it definitely not pet-phobic. And even if they were pet-phobic, it doesn’t elevate them to the status of – note this – HATERS of pets. They may fear or feel uncomfortable about/around cats and not dogs, but they do not HATE the pets that they feel uncomfortable around.

      Therefore, I will not rate my old grandmother who thinks that cats are freak animals with the little boys on the street who throw stones at them at the slightest instance. The boys don’t have any fear of the cats, they only think that it is fun to mess with them. In this instance, my grandmother is cat-phobic, and the boys are cat-hating.

      Again, I do not have prejudice against anyone on the basis of their preferences. I do not even have anything against the racists, even though I avoid them whenever I can. I only wonder what makes them tick, and sometimes wonder if they would ever change. I will however retain my right to be uncomfortable around members of my sex that find me a prospective demographic. If you can’t deal with that, I’m sorry I can’t help you. But I will not knock your own right – if you’re a white person – to feel uncomfortable around SOME black people. That doesn’t make you a racist, as much as you’d like to think that it does.

      In this argument, my dear Bola, you are lacking in sufficient points to paint me as intolerant. You have even less points than those who might wonder why a woman will feel comfortable around strange men in a public or private bar – since you missed that part of my argument. And for this reason, unless you say something absolutely new, I will try to make this my final word. 😉

  12. Comparing a cat allergy sufferer to a person who has a phobia of people who are different, THAT is disingenuous. Cat allergy sufferers might even love cats and cuddle with them despite the consequences.

    I must admit that I feel uncomfortable around SOME black people. However, not because they are black but because of one or several aspects of their individual characters – just as I feel uncomfortable around whites who share those characteristics. Also, I don’t feel uncomfortable around any heterosexual men, even if I should overhear that he enjoys sex with another woman. I’d only feel uncomfortable if he had expressed a sexual interest in me and couldn’t accept a “no”. You, on the other hand, say that ALL gays make you uncomfortable.

    Give me a word for somebody who fears members of another “race” (without discriminating them) and that will be in accordance with “homophobic person”. Give me the word for a person who discriminates against homosexuals and that will be in accordance with “racist”.

    Discrimination is discrimination and it is not good. Fear of people who are different (in respect to “race”, sexual preferences etc.) is one of the reasons for discrimination. That is why we have to overcome the fears that are only based on our prejudges. In order to do that we have to identify our prejudges. To do that we have to learn more about the people we fear. Tell me, have you ever tried to get to know any gay?

    • You asked if I’d ever tried to know any gay (person).

      Gay men no (and only because I’ve never been friends with any. If I find out tomorrow that anyone of my old friends has been gay all through our friendship, I will not run away from them, because I have known them. Even if they expressed a sexual interest in me, I probably won’t avoid them altogether as well because I am aware of their potential, and we understand each other. But if I have concerns about sleeping in the same room with a homosexual man, you don’t have any right to question that concern.)

      Gay women, yes.

      Bisexual women, yes too.

      But I have met a few gay men with whom I had no problem. In actual fact, I didn’t have any problem whatsoever with this one that shared a room with me last weekend. I say this so that you know that I entered this argument only because of your insinuation that I might hurt him just because I had described his behaviour as we entered the room. As equal human beings – and you know me well enough – I don’t have any problems with people of different behaviour, orientation or preference. I was however interested in showing you, only through the logic of an argument, that it was possible to be “phobic” of something, and still not hurt them, without putting in question my own personal acceptance and tolerance of anybody regardless of what they believe or prefer in bed or otherwise. Not all snakes are dangerous, but if my little cousin tells me that she’s phobic of snakes in all situations, I will not question her on that either. Perhaps it’s even possible that the person most fearful of something is the one least likely to hurt it. Think about that. If I’m afraid unnecessarily of something, it is most likely that I will try to avoid it by all means, rather than try to confront and hurt it.

      That is why the homophobic person might not measure up to your racist frame of definition.

  13. No, I don’t think that you want to hurt anybody. However, some homophobic people attack homosexuals verbally or physically. The guy who shared a room with you does not know you. Thus, from his point of view, he was in danger – just as from your point of view, you were in danger.

    Your repeated parallels to the fear of non-humans again is disingenuous. You can’t hurt the feelings of a snake by avoiding it but you can hurt the feelings of a human by doing so.

    I repeat: A person who fears homosexuals is not better than a person who fears members of another “race”; a person who hates/discriminates homosexuals is not better than a person who hates/discriminates members of another “race”.

    • And I repeat: the person who FEARS anything, [insert homosexuals, racists, pets, humans of other races, heights, friendship] is NOT the same as one who HATES [insert homosexuals, racists, pets, humans of other races, heights, friendship]. They’re different. Hate requires intent. Fear does not.

      #A. A goat that fears a dog will run away from it, instinctively. He cannot help it, just like the dog can’t help being scary to the goat.
      #B. A goat that hates a dog will most likely head-butt it. This is often unexplainable too, and we don’t always know what makes the goat hate the dog so.

      The two goats are not the same. Goat #A is frightened, perhaps of the dog’s build, collar colour or scent. He doesn’t want to hurt and he will do anything not to be in the same cage with the dog if possible. Goat #2 however is heady and strong, probably dangerous. The dog might fight back, but what chance does it have against the strong horns of a goat? One of the goats is a bully. The other is a survivalist.

      And the two dogs won’t feel the same either. Dog #A might get a bad mood for a few minutes wondering what makes him so scary – at least until he finds other goats (or dogs) that like him, but the other Dog #B stands a risk of getting his ribs broken if he is outnumbered or if he doesn’t run away fast enough. That’s definitely worse than getting a bad mood. Only one of the dogs is in a high risk of real hurt.

      For me as a person, I can choose whom to hate, so I usually don’t hate. But I can not deliberately choose what scares me or makes me uncomfortable, so I get uncomfortable, sometimes unexplainably and you can’t blame me for that. I may not like the fact that I’m uncomfortable about something, but I don’t have to be politically correct about what I feel.

      That said, I’m pleased to tell you that I’m no longer interested in this argument. I’ve always believed that tolerance is key in all situations anyway, so none of the points I have raised above – beyond the rhetorics of plain arguments, and some conceit from ticking you off on our most heated topic of argument – are meant to express more than the fact that I would never have problem with anybody in the world, or discriminate against them because of their race, sex, creed, religion, sexual orientation or language, just as long as they don’t bother me. And this is fair because I’m just a man.

  14. You can very well close this discussion because we are not getting anywhere as long as you excuse human behaviour by comparing it to how humans treat non-humans or how non-humans treat each other.

    A female black widow may kill the male after mating. I won’t condemn her behaviour nor demand that she be stopped nor that she be punished. Should we extend this view to humans and give women the right to kill (and eat) a man after sexual intercourse?

    I agree fear is not the same as hatred. However, both are dangerous. You say somebody who is afraid will run away. Have you never heard of the saying “attack is the best means of defence”?

  15. “the person who FEARS anything, [insert homosexuals, racists, pets, humans of other races, heights, friendship]”

    You forgot to include the person who fears homophobic people. 😀

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