archive - issue 14

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  • /

    By Ruth Barker
    On the QWERTY layout of my computer keyboard, the symbol / appears beside the questioning symbol ?. They are represented together on the same key, and
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  • Apartment / Containers

    By Vincent Bezuidenhout
    These diptychs are the start of a series of images I have been working on regarding the visual landscape we choose to surround ourselves
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  • I returned home after my first year in college to discover my younger sister had turned gorgeous. This was a disappointment, but not an
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  • Butterfly

    By Adriana de Barros
    The pupa, a silk wrap of emotionsIsolated, within breathing, wanting to bethe intense pronoun of selfIt is silly to be one's own pronounShe giggles
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  • Collage

    By Claudio Parentela
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  • Drag and Snap

    By Leigh-Anne Niehaus
    This series is inspired by the childhood game of "snapdragon", which allows for simplistic and delightful decision-making through random selections of colour and number.
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  • Evidence of Life

    By Tamlyn Martin
    Below is an extract from a series of 11 poems created in parallel with visual artworks. 5. Memories laced with visceral realityFlooding herThe gentle
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  • Forward! Slash!

    By Travis Lyle
    You think you're a forward-thinking kinda person, do you? Lemme be the one to break it to you, sunshine – you're as lame as the
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  • Human/Nature

    By Lydia Anne McCarthy
    This series explores moments between nature and human beings that are at once idealistic and unsettling. Each picture is an independent narrative, but placed
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  • Immigrants

    By Stanley Onjezani Kenani
    you want to livenothing leaveto liveyou swimor like fresh sardinesyou are packedin boatsyou leaveto live.  you leavegold in the belly of Africaoil in
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  • In Between

    By Tania van Schalkwyk
    Raised in an Arabian land of heat, fire and temper,sometimes the calm of England clamps downlike damp in a bathroom with no windowand a
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  • Letter to the Editor

    By Elan Gamaker
    Dear Sir/Madam I should like strenuously to object to the subject matter ("/") of your current issue. It must first be mentioned, however, that it
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  • Or: a line drawing

    By Gabeba Baderoon
    Pencil and nothing. Her face turned almost entirely away. Forehead, cheekbone,jaw,the bun low in her neck,shoulderand down,the long linejust enoughthen left alone.
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  • p u n c t u a t i o n

    By Ula Einstein
    Einstein works with a diverse range of media, including drawings and installation with fire, thread, and blades. The series of drawings and installations with
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    By Sean Hampton-Cole
    Keys. John speaking. 'Lo?Good morning. May I speak to Bob Mitchell please?Bob in Bonds?I'm not really sure. I'm trying to...You want extension 125. This
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  • Pretty Babies

    By Peregrine Honig
    With the premise that "/ " presents what is IN and what is OUT, the "Pretty Babies" series explores the fashion industry's well-published and syndicated DOs
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  • River Bank

    By Mario Sughi
    The symbol / is intended initially as a symbol of division. A real or unreal line divides the girl from the water, the girl from
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  • Scissor

    By Charlotte Gait
    There was a time when you and I were connected by iron, acid, vitamin and blood. Where every mouthful I took was with the
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  • Seasaw

    By Sol Kjøk
    Here, the motif is conceived of as a seesaw (the typo in the title is intended, as this drawing is part of a series
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  • Series Seven Up

    By Noel Fignier
    Text by João Branco Kyron, HipnóticaThe collision is imminent and in the fraction of time left, the eyes shut and the vision is superbly
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  • A battle over samoosas between the snobbish Cinderella and a homeless electrician is mediated by Cinderella's boyfriend JJ. The samoosa battle is conflated with
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  • Wayne Porter, freelance journalist, donned his anthropologist's birthday suit and hit the bowling alley. Bar the bowlers hat tipped gently off centre, the man
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  • The Incised Wound

    By Joanne Hichens
    "Please, for me, Dave," I placed my hand on his, and really, no begging, just asked him nicely, "Lay off the booze tonight." Whether
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  • He had been driving for hours through that unstable, somnambulist night when he fell asleep at the wheel. He awoke with a start and
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  • The space between.

    By Mehita Iqani
    It's a handy little line, the one that we use to make our options known. Either/Or. Paper and ink or binary code? Its clichéd,
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  • Un Hombre Fuerte

    By Tamo Vonarim Written these words are, at times of a subconscious flow – whether they are mine, I don't know. All I know is that I
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  • Unbroken Awareness

    My life is now a floating shellI am a vessel on that river.The storm, the ship, the sea,Whose shores we lost in crossing.  I
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  • Untitled

    By Wilhelm Saayman
    This series of images, made using pen and ink, photographs and Photoshop, explore alternate/dream realities.
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  • Untitled

    By Aryan Kaganof
    /At R550 rand I thought I'd rather die/ My mother: can I trust this woman?/ I thought the Romans were coming, dinkum/ …and always
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Monday, 30 April 2012 02:00

The Interracial Quest

By  A. Gonzaga
In recent years I've often had to answer numerous questions regarding this particularly captivating concern: "Why does it appear that relationships between most interracial couples do not last?"

My response has frequently been, "Fewer relationships today are able to stand the test of time--regardless of the partners' skin colour." The growing inability of folk to cherish and fight for what they have isn't similar across the continents of the world; people in the developed world take the unfortunate lead.

As Europe welcomes immigrants, creating an environment where races mingle, observers do not need to Google personal details of Alicia Keys or Aubrey Drake Graham for examples of the collapse of interracial relationships and marriages. It's everywhere. It's in their own cities and streets: western women-once seen gadding around town with foreign men--now seen alone, pushing their mixed-race kids' strollers. Perhaps walking alongside them are female compatriots who, if married to westerners, are more likely to have their men with them, helping to push the stroller.

The reality is that western women (Europeans in particular) who are involved in interracial relationships are often discriminated against-by friends, the community and even parents. Undoubtedly, the fact that the relationships are interracial is why people perceive their divorces and breakdowns as more horrifying than those among native-born citizens--ignoring the fact of their own, perhaps even more shameful, breakdowns.

For example, mixed couples are faced with strong cultural gaps to narrow and resolve. In due course they enroll in the two-person school of adjustments, while same-race couples fuss about minor matters such as how many pets can be kept, whose job it is to empty the bin, is she really supposed to cook for the two of them, and why does he drink to the point of needing help to get home so often?

The difference in problems faced by these two groups is so big that it isn't a sound idea to compare their performances. Could it be that the divorce rate for interracial couples is no different from the norm, but they, in fact, are expected to be doing better? The answer is "yes"--for many reasons. Although mixed couples may initially face attacks and rejections from their different parents' camps, they won't need to deal with some of the most common break-up reasons like "He suddenly started to bore me" and "I am not sure if she's what I want--I don't really know what I want yet." It is no secret that the interracial blend is often more exciting; why then the ugly collapses? Apart from reasons mentioned in my essay "In a Nordic Capital, Dating Goes by ID Type"--where the immigrant man needed the citizen woman as a means of securing himself residence rights--a few other difficult issues cause mixed couples to stumble and crash.

I believe, from a position of both observer and participant, that interracial relationships work only for people with certain traits. This claim isn't intended to dispute the truism that successful relationships work for people willing to make concessions. My grounds for concluding that this exciting venture, called "the interracial undertaking", isn't for everyone is because the people involved not only have to deal with everyday relationship issues-those that require mere indulgences--but also have to tackle matters that have to do with different cultures. This is the critical point, where the partner who was hoping for a bed of roses and crazy sex is bewildered.

Recognizing the importance of understanding the other person's culture and upbringing, and identifying with the fact that you are about to undergo a transformation that will see you become half-white, half-black (assuming a black and white couple are involved)--frightening as this may sound--are the chief starting points. Folk who find these two challenges exciting are ideal candidates for an interracial experience.

Some people in interracial relationships consider the importance of digesting the other person's culture irrelevant. They believe they are able to come together as a fresh entity, ignoring divergent histories, and merge flawlessly. No wonder many mixed children face an identity crisis!

As often seen, when vital factors are not seriously taken into account by the actors, the western mother is likely to encourage and, at times, even impose on the mulatto that he or she is white. And since the world is far from achieving a colour-blind Utopia--this ends up backfiring on the blameless offspring.

Europe is trailing far behind in dealing with the problem which seems to have long been resolved in American society. Mixed-race children in that country proudly identify with their coloured counterparts. I believe that in an ideal twenty-first century world people should not be concerned with appearances.

Returning to the question: "Aren't interracial couples supposed to be doing better than their opposites?" we can answer, "If their cultural gaps are tackled in such a manner as to entertain and enrich-not divide-the relationship." An African male, for instance, would happily fulfill his western partner's wish for him to "Kiss more gently and often, and in public places too" as long as she embraces his suggestion that they say Grace before meals and a prayer before sleeping.

In every relationship love alone is never enough; if healthy values such as those cited above are the norm, then interracial couples may be ahead of their opposites in survival prospects.

Most important is the western female's understanding of her black partner's background-where he was raised in a household with the father providing for, caring for and catering to the needs of the entire household, allowing his wife to assume the exclusive role of mother. She must come to terms with the reality of her African partner's inability to be another type of man--and not the fifty-fifty relationship that she grew up chorusing and cheering for. On the other hand, the African male must understand that his western partner has lived in a world considerably different to his own; in essence, he must be patient with the adjustments they both have to make. He should not expect to be reminded by a soothsayer of the need to forfeit a substantial degree of his traditional approach to relationships while accepting that he is now part of a society where precision is the norm and comments are analysed at the morpheme level.

In the end, one key sad truth is that a successful interracial relationship isn't for those staunch female advocates of the fifty-fifty split of relationship power. Rather it is for those who, despite what they have been taught, are capable of scrutinizing the entire package and clever enough to realise that two people can't captain the same ship simultaneously.
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