Racism, Rihanna, and the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, Indonesia

I haven’t written on this blog much since moving to Indonesia. The short answer is because I’ve been busy and low-level depressed (when I’m sad I don’t really write). The long answer is because I’ve come to fully realize that I’m not a fan of Indonesia. I was raised to not say anything at all if you don’t have anything nice to say, so I figured that extended to an entire cultural experience too.

Then, something happened last night that made me say f*** it. I’m going to write, and let the cards fall where they may.

Indonesia, you have some work to do. 
Let me start at the beginning.

A co-worker and great friend invited me to the Java Jazz Festival back in August. After she blocked my attempt to cancel on her at the last minute, I found myself in an hour plus cab ride across town. We arrived at the venue and watched two female performers–Michelle Walker and Candy Dulfer–perform amazing sets  that left me bubbling with excitement and gratitude.

“Thank you for having me come,” I kept saying to my friend as we walked around sampling sets, looking at the merchandise for sale, and just enjoying that Jakarta had something to offer besides traffic and pollution.

In my mind, I was already crafting the blog post that would be convincing people to attend the Java Jazz Fest. I was already raving to my friend and fellow blogger Sojourner’s Sojourns. I was already planning my return for next year.

My friend and I sauntered outside to hail a cab that would not try to take every last rupiah we had in our pockets (i.e., a Blue Bird Taxi) when it came from a group of men around my age.


I turn. My black body in a black dress is facing the men.

“What did you say?”

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