European monarchies built and waged their power upon our deaths and our blood. Within this context, how could we possibly expect them to value Blackness?By Nneka M. Okona Some months ago, I was comfy and settled on my couch awaiting that week’s episode of “Real Housewives of Atlanta”. I had a glass of wine at my side and as I reached for the first sip, my eyes caught a commercial for a new show aired by Bravo, named “To Rome For Love”. The basic premise of the show: a group of middle-aged Black women crossing the Atlantic to visit Rome, the land of pasta, gelato and the famed coliseum — for love of course. Gina Neely, one half of the famed pair known for their cooking show on the Food Network, was one of the featured women looking for love across an ocean and time zones. I watched the episode of Real Housewives and got my cackles in. My curiosity was piqued after seeing the preview for “To Rome For Love”, but mere minutes later I began to ask myself questions. One of the first things I heard uttered on the show was how, “Black women have trouble finding love in America” and from there a laundry list was rattled off about the numerous ways Black women are perceived to be undesirable romantically; the goal of the show promotes the idea that if Black women dared to relocate across the pond, in London, Paris or Rome, their chances for finding love and being appreciated increases exponentially. That’s where the buck stopped for me and when I changed the channel to something else. Although it’s merely a television show, the fallacy of elsewhere in the world, namely Europe being a fertile ground for Black women to find love and adoration, is prevalent. It’s a commonly believed truth as per conversations I’ve had with other Black women of all ages throughout the years.
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Chinese medicine is such an important part of my life and my identity, so when I see it become a white people trend, I immediately have a lot of questions.By Sally Yue Lin “Have you tried acupuncture yet?” I overheard one white girl asking another. Frowning skeptically, I thought to myself: first they come for our food and now our medicines too? For someone like me, a Han Chinese woman who grew up with traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the increasing trendiness of some TCM practices—such as acupuncture—makes me uncomfortable and concerned. When I was a little girl, my mother would feed me candies between sips of Kam Wo tea to coax me into drinking the bitter medicine. My pópó would rub my forehead tenderly with Tiger Balm when I had a headache. Of course, we did use Western medicine—such as birth control and immunizations—but only when absolutely necessary. In the past few years, TCM has become more popular with non-Asians across North America, which makes me worried that it is becoming commodified in a similar way as yoga. If so, who is telling the stories behind this ancient tradition and who gets to make money off it? For example, the increasing popularity of the cupping technique among swim bros and white celebrities is intriguing for many white people who view it as an odd curiosity to gawk at. These articles may be well-intentioned and the readers genuinely curious, but they still Other those of us who have been using cupping for generations. It shows how many non-Asian clients see TCM as an exoticized alternative to their sterile and familiar Western medicine. But for us Asians, these practices that we grew up with are often what we are most comfortable with. Herbal teas and Tiger Balm are what we turn to when we are feeling unwell; their taste and scents carry deep emotional meanings, family stories, and connections to our cultures’ philosophical and religious beliefs. Chinese medicine is such an important part of my life and my identity, so when I see it become a White people trend, I immediately have a lot of questions. Let’s first look at who gets to tell these stories. The schools that offer “Oriental Medicine” degrees often employ white teachers and practitioners. Are these really the right people to be sharing the historical, religious, philosophical basis of TCM with their predominantly white students? Asians have to work harder in white spaces to prove our abilities, so why shouldn’t white people have to work harder in Asian spaces to prove their credibility? We must challenge these white TCM teachers practitioners and test their worth in order to keep them accountable. We need to be protective of our medicinal heritage and be cautious of white people who want to “discover” these practices and claim it as their own, just because they find it “interesting”.