This is a blog post from kittiekattie on livejournal:
You know, some people will start with the basics. Some will start with the negatives. Some will start with fandom (and when I get into that, oh the rage will fly). I’m going to start with the flip side. The positive stereotypes.
See, a lot of people ignorantly seem to think that racism only flows towards the bad things. That racism only involves when people are calling people bad names, and cursing them, and the like. But there’s a just as insidious version of racism that people seem to neglect a lot. The positive stereotypes. The “good racism.” The “Oh, you should be this, and that’s good,” racism. And the problem with positive stereotypes is that they lock you down just as bad as the negative ones, if not worse with some.
We know the one about the Asians: They’re smart, and bright, and good at math, and they work hard and achieve well, and are quiet, and blah. They get a lot of praise, in fact, as America’s Model Minority. (And this is used to hold down other races, but that’s part of the Interracial racism shtick). But what if you’re Asian and you know, you don’t want to be an overachiever, you just want to be you? What if you’re shitacular in math? What if you’re loud, and bouncy, and boisterous? What if you (gasp!) HATE anime? What if you actually open your mouth and say the shit on your mind? What if you’re not grateful to have been adopted at the age of 2 and raised in the US by Bobby and Sally Whitebread? What if you’re sick of being the model minority that comes over and does so good (because boy, those Asians are just so hardworking and smart)? What if you don’t like rice, and you don’t like sushi, and you are getting sick and tired of having people ask you how to say their name in Chinese (and what the fuck is with that anyways, because you’re Korean)? You’re just as held back by people giving you GOOD stereotypes. By people thinking that Latino men are macho and willing to take on work (any work, even dirty shit). By thinking that Black men are strong and intimidating.
And there’s the sexual ones. Not all Latinos/Latinas are hot blooded sexy masters of the bedroom. Not all black men are hung like horses and like their women big and thick. Not all black women are freaks or sexless, sassy women—some of us need hugs and kisses and gentle love too. Asian men aren’t sexless geeks or walking yaoi boys. And the Asian women get a lot of shit. You get dumb white mofos who complain that American women are too uppity and loud and liberated, and they go and try and seek out Asian women to make their little submissive wifie—and then they run into one that will cut a bitch for trying to make her into their pinkerton fantasy and they think she’s not really Asian.
As for the title, that’s me. I’m not the strong black woman. I’ve had depression at least 4-5 times in my life I can pinpoint. At one point, I attempted suicide on a near ritual basis for damn near four years. I was a cutter—and not the show off kind like some are. I wore sweatshirts and cut where no one could see, you know, because I was ashamed of my shit. I was emo before emo was cool and people thought you were just weird when you sulked around all emo and shit. I have a maelstrom of crazy in this head of mine, and not all of it is the nice crazy. Some of it is the stuff that I swear, if I saw myself on tape when I have my freak outs, I’d be scared of it. I’m getting better. But before—did I ever get help? Did I ever consider psychiatric help, even when it was free on my college campus? Did I talk about my problems, my sexual abuse, anything like that? No. I swallowed my pain and pushed it inside and I snapped under the pressure and had something very akin to a nervous breakdown.
And one major reason I never sought help? Because the message in society is that psychiatric is for those “weak ass white people” and a “real” black woman can make it without any of that shit. Because black women are strong. They don’t need to pay no one a shit load of money to talk about they problems, they just need to get up and deal with it (with Jesus, even, cause you know black women are godly like that). And so, when my mind finally snapped at the age of 16 or so, and stayed snapped til I met Brent, I just suffered under my crazy. I didn’t think I could get help.
Because black women are supposed to be strong. We’re the backbones of black society. We raise the boys to men and keep the girls in line, and take care of our men, and we’re the good parents and the care takers and the ones who take on the burdens and what does that sound like oh that’s right, that’s a PACKMULE. Black women don’t need emotions, they’re too busy dealing with REAL problems. Because you know, it’s not that the mind isn’t real or anything.
So you have generations of black women, with crazy in the mind, and no one will help us up because they act like we’re too strong to have emotions. There have been times where I cried myself sick, and people ignored me because they though I was handling it, and I was crying because I was begging people to help me, to get me out of my despair, and they wouldn’t even notice. Because I’m supposed to be strong. Strong meaning “you can do it yourself, no one cares when you cry.”
And then when I break, people look around me and go “Whoa, didn’t see that coming” when I’ve been screaming out signs the whole descent into Batshit City. Maybe if you weren’t too busy telling me what I’m supposed to do and what’s so good about my blackness, you’d have noticed that I’m hurting.
It’s just as racist to call a Latino man “macho” and “passionate” as it is it say they’re stealing our jobs and won’t speak English. It’s just as racist to say an Asian person is a hard worker as it is to say they can’t drive.
And it’s just as fucking racist to tell me I’m a strong black woman who doesn’t hurt as it is to call me a nappy headed ho.
I like this Racialicious piece from last year because it’s a conversation, and I think it touches on a lot of the issues that I’ve seen floating around tumblr the last couple of days. I also particularly like how Latoya [fangirl squee] explains why the idea of “getting past the black/white binary” always rubs me the wrong way.
For the purposes of anti-racism struggles, that’s all you need to go by.
Yes, the term, “colored” is not normally associated with Asian people these days, but it was definitely used to label people of Asian descent in this country in the…
Here’s another one of those one-way calls for solidarity. “If you don’t legitimize my identity and include me in your organizing then you’re stupid.” No mention of Asians needing to eliminate anti-Black or non-Asian POC racism BEFORE being in solidarity with these communities. Or that racism and white supremacy operate differently for Blacks and non-Blacks and we all have to understand those intricacies before organizing with each other. Just, include us or you’re stupid. The fact that I am always Black and never “Other” means something. That white supremacy lynched all of us, but recorded me as Negro and you as white means something. Not that Asians aren’t people of color or victims of white supremacy, but that white supremacy oppresses us in different ways. If some Asians feel closer to white people because they beat them up less, that seems like a pretty important thing to address before making blanket demands of inclusion.
It seems that people are missing or deliberately ignoring the context of my post, which was commentary on a particular piece of commentary, not a blanket statement about intra-minority racial relations. My call for solidarity among ALL people of color was just a rhetorical turn from pointing out the fact that racism among Americans of color has been bred, born, and nurtured in a White supremacist power structure. Recognizing the fact that all people of color are oppressed by the White power structure IN NO WAY is a sort of downplaying of anti-Black racism or a call to ignore the social/economic/historic differences in our situations. I don’t think I’m being controversial when I say that (1)White racism has harmed all people of color (2) though the ways this harm has manifested itself in our communities has differed. It’s possible to acknowledge situated differences AND overall, systemic effects at the same time.
Pointing this out (1) is not meant to absolve anyone of culpability for racism, but is/was meant to (again) raise the point that Asian racism against Black Americans is not Black American’s biggest problem, race-wise. Neither is Black racism against Asians. The LA riots were a perfect example of the divide-and-conquer strategy devised by White racism—get the minorities hating and mistrusting and destroying each other so they forget about who’s actually holding the boot to their throats.
I make a point to acknowledge Asian racism against other non-Whites, but my post was specifically addressing a particular skeptical comment about whether Asians count as ‘Colored’ or not. (FYI: We do.) I’m pointing out the fact that many (black, brown, white, etc.) DON’T count us as oppressed due to circumstances that are mostly beyond our control and that the reasoning behind this stance is highly suspect. Telling Asians to clean up our act is one thing; flat-out denying our oppression is another.
I mean, when has liberation ever been bought with denials and ignorance?
I didn’t discuss Asian culpability in anti-Black and -Brown racism because my post wasn’t about Asian culpability in anti-Black and -Brown racism. It was about how potential allies among POC have tended to deny Asians our history and oppression in a way that reproduces similar White denials of the history and oppression of Blacks, Native Americans/Amerindians, and Latinos. Reread it and tell me where I say, “I’m here to discuss why Black and Brown people should absolve Asians of our racism against them.” It’s one thing to tell me I’m wrong, but it’s another to put words in my mouth before you do it.
I would like to add that one of the basic premises of the responder is wrong: that East Asians were ‘recorded’ as White. No, no they were not. The White Supremecist folk focused on Black people because they were in the same place; that is not the same as giving other PoC White status. Look at Arizona’s campaign against Brown people—have they given Black people a pass? No, but Latinos are the group there to oppress. Were the Nazis recording Arabic people as White? No, because they had the Jews and Roma for non-Whites; nowadays, with the Jews and Roma dead or gone, and Arabic peoples coming in large numbers, Central Europe calls Jews White and Middle Easterners ‘ethnic’.
To say East Asians were recorded as White because they weren’t systematically oppressed at a particular point in time and specific place by a specific group is utterly fallacious.
For the purposes of anti-racism struggles, that’s all you need to go by.
Yes, the term, “colored” is not normally associated with Asian people these days, but it was definitely used to label people of Asian descent in this country in the past. We have been and still are the targets of White racism:
Believing the fallacy that people of Asian descent are not authentically or legitimately ‘Colored’ or ‘People of Color’ is wrong because:
White European man receiving a pedicure from South Asian servants
3) It plays into the White racist divide-and-conquer strategy.
Even a brief look at the history of race/ethnicity in U.S. law alone makes it apparent that a key aspect of White racism has been the classification of non-Whites according to (white-defined) categories.
Those hailing from Asia (as well as the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Latin America) have been legally categorized in a myriad of ways—very occasionally as White, but more often as non-White (e.g. Ozawa v. United States, United States v. Thind). In general, Asians have occupied a strange ethno-racial limbo as ‘Other’ (e.g. the Census prior to 1870). As far as Whites were concerned, Asians might not have been ‘Negros’, but we certainly weren’t White either. Our otherness made us targets for discriminationand violence, and—because our right to citizenship has constantly come under attack—we’ve historically had as little recourse to the protection of the law as African Americans have.
Massacre of the Chinese at White Springs, Wyoming (source)
Yes, Asian people have (somewhat more recently than you think) enjoyed certain perks due to our ethnicity/race compared to Black and AmerIndian people (e.g. ‘the model minority’). But that’s just a more recent aspect of the divide-and-conquer strategy, which the White hegemony has used to pit minorities against each other so as to distract us from the real problems facing our communities.
And yes, some Asian people are complete racist dicks to those who aren’t Asian or White, but that’s internalized White racism. If you’ve been kicked and beaten by your master for years, then suddenly given a few scraps from his table, would you throw them in his face? Or is it more likely that—as beaten down as you are—you’d give in to Stockholm Syndrome and play along? (To be clear: that’s an explanation for Asian racism, not an excuse.)
Even so, incidents of Anti-Asian bias (e.g. Vincent Chin, Wen Ho Lee) and straight-up racist violence occur frequently enough these days that Asians are hyper-aware of the fact that many—including non-whites—don’t view us as Americans, let alone ‘Colored’. We’re simply foreign ‘others’.
So if White is grudgingly treating you OK, while Black and Brown seem to hate and distrust you, then whom do you ally yourself with? More importantly, who benefits from this apparent alliance?
In the American black-white paradigm of race relations, ‘others’ like Asians get shit on no matter which side we’re on. So the Asian internalization of White racism makes a twisted kind of sense as a survival strategy, particularly if your natural allies (other victims of White racism) are treating you like foreigners and even equating you with the oppressor himself.
My point: Asians’ conflicted, sometimes tense, relations with African Americans and those who have been historically, categorically considered ‘Colored’ is an artifact of White racism. This means that if you exclude Asians from ‘Colored’ solidarity against White racism, you are reproducing a highly successful strategy of White racism.
Let that sink in for a minute.
To conclude: Anti-Asian exclusion from POC solidarity movements is ignorant, wrong, and just plain stupid. Asians’s current role as a prop of White racial supremacy is not our doing, just as our historic role as the foreign ‘Other’ is not our doing. The peculiar place of Asians in race relations today has been the result of the intersection of White racism, xenophobia, and imperialism. It is a mistake to think otherwise.
TL;DR: Questioning the identity of Asians as “people of color” reinforces White racial supremacy.
Two French Muslim women yesterday became, to their great satisfaction, the first victims of a law banning the wearing of the full-face veil in France.
Hind Ahmas and Najat Nait Ali had been hoping for convictions so they could start the lengthy process of challenging the law before the European Court of Human Rights. Ms Ahmas, 32, and Ms Ali, 36, were fined €120 (£104) and €80, respectively, for turning up at the town hall at Meaux, east of Paris, wearing their niqabs.
The mayor of Meaux is Jean-François Copé, the centre-right politician who drafted the law against the niqab and burka. It was Mr Copé’s birthday on the day the two women came to Meaux.
About 130 other women have been “ticketed” by police for wearing the niqab since the law took effect in April. All the others accepted verbal warnings or agreed to attend lessons on French civics. “This was a question of principle,” said Ms Ahmas, who demonstrated outside the court yesterday with half a dozen other veiled women, who were ignored by the police. “We sought this conviction deliberately. We will be claiming a victory once the law is abolished [by the European Court].”
“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”—Zadie Smith, from the novel, On Beauty. (via chrysalises)
Last night my school had an “International Welcome Party”, which I thought was pretty self-explanatory. When I told some people about it, their response was - I kid you not - “Oh, well I’m not very international” or “But I’m not an international student”. SMH. I really question whether college will help some of these people.
On another note, I ran into some Arab international students I had met before and some I hadn’t and I sat with them for awhile. This made me realize just how much I need to practice my Arabic. Or maybe it was just the fact that I never had very many Egyptian friends. Anyways, the conversation very quickly turned to politics (for my non-Arab and/or non-Muslim followers, most Arabs’ and Muslims’ conversations are centered around politics). It was the first time in a long time that I actually felt comfortable just discussing politics, but, more importantly the first time in a long time I felt comfortable, as a woman, voicing my opinions in a mixed setting. I’m not naive enough to assume that my experience is the same as all Arab or Muslim women. I do think it is important to note, however, that while I was in the Middle East, I never felt that my opinion was devalued because of my gender (because of my age, maybe, but never my gender). It wasn’t until yesterday that I really realized how societal expectations of women in the US have impacted my personality. In the last two years I can count on one hand the number of times I openly discussed my political views, and it was mostly among family and close friends. And when it wasn’t around people close to me, my opinion was dismissed - at least until a guy reiterated what I had just said.
Anyways, aside from maybe pointing out how messed up the world can be, I’m not really sure what the point of this post is, so I’ll stop rambling.
“I feel that I now know what Jewish women went through before the Nazi roundups in France. When they went out in the street they were identified, singled out, they were vilified. Now that’s happening to us.”—
Kenza Drider, a 32-year-old mother of three, was famously bold enough to appear on French television to oppose the law before it came into force. She refuses to take off her niqab – “My husband doesn’t dictate what I do, much less the government” – but she says she now lives in fear of attack. “I still go out in my car, on foot, to the shops, to collect my kids. I’m insulted about three to four times a day,” she says. Most say, “Go home”; some say, “We’ll kill you.” One said: “We’ll do to you what we did to the Jews.” In the worst attack, before the law came in, a man tried to run her down in his car.
Since France introduced its burqa ban in April there have been violent attacks on women wearing the niqab and, this week, the first fines could be handed down. But a legal challenge to this hard line may yet expose the French state as a laughing stock.(source)
“Quiet Asian kid.” Someone called me that while I was in university in Canada. I hate that term, that stereotype. I am introverted, yes. I am Asian, of Chinese descent, yes. But must one necessarily follow the other?
I like this.
I consider myself an introvert, but I can be really confrontational (evidence: loudly calling a young, tall, drunk white kid in a crowded elevator in New York City a racist, in front of all his friends). I think part of it has to do with my mom (never one to not speak up about bad customer service) and my dad (who had come to the US from rural China at the age of 11) regularly encouraging me: “Don’t be a typical Chinese! Speak up!”
So yes, he encouraged me by both enforcing stereotypes and convincing me to break them!
I think if you are Asian and you happen to be quiet, people may attribute it to the culture of your upbringing. A quiet white kid is just a kid who is quiet. And white. A quiet black kid is just a kid who is quiet. And black. But a quiet Asian kid is The Quiet Asian Kid. It just plays well into stereotypes.
This is important to residents of Ontario, but really should be a matter of concern to everyone.
A U.S company called The Highlands is seeking to build North America’s second largest open pit mine on a crucial piece of Ontario farmland.
“From the area around the proposed mine site spring the headwaters of river systems that are important drinking water sources for more than one million people downstream. The Nottawasaga River, the Grand River and the Pine River systems will all be threatened by the mine’s 600 million litre per day dewatering pumps. Massive amounts of toxic demolition explosives will be used to smash the limestone and hundreds of dump trucks per hour will enter and leave the site – 24 hours a day, 360 days per year. The company rightly points out that this is all allowable under Ontario’s aggregate extraction laws but the problem is that those laws couldn’t be more favourable to the industry or more rigged against communities that want to protect their water”
More information available here as well as at the link I provided. We should NEVER support such movements. The well-being of a corporation is by no means more valuable than the lives of farmers, citizens, and the state of the environment.
“The clearest example is the repeated use of the word “tolerate.” Students would write that we must not persecute homosexuals, prostitutes, mental patients, and others, that we must be “tolerant” of them. But one tolerates only those that one considers less than equal, morally inferior, and weak; those equal to oneself, one accepts and respects; one does not merely allow them to exist, one does not “tolerate” them.”—
Ching-chongy Oriental music riff? Check. Big gong sound? Check. Over-exaggerated mock Asian-Y guy accent yelling at you about picking up your phone and calling you “Gay” and “Carpet Muncher” and calling you a “Niggah?” Check, check, and check.
Who knew that a ringtone with a horrendous mock Asian accent could be THE funniest and top-selling comedy ringtone on iTunes today! (Well, gosh, if just doing an Asian accent makes you top in Comedy…I really should’ve taken that advice from those hack comics when I first started doing standup comedy, huh?)
For a mere $1.29 you TOO can have your iPhone have an “Asian” guy telling you that your ”Asian Sister Calling.” The “artist” is called “Ringtones!” on iTunes and “Ringtone & Ringtones” on Amazon.
So one answer to the question What can I do? is simple: Listen. Believe.
"I had to stop talking to white people about race, because I kept getting retraumatized," an African American friend told me about her days as a diversity trainer. "They just wanted to talk about why they weren’t racist."
"It’s really important to recognize that race affects everything you do—and that to act otherwise is just naive," says Julie Nelson, the director of the Seattle Office for Civil Rights (she’s white; her predecessor was an African American woman).
What Nelson says is this: If you’re white, you have to own it. None of this I’m-not-white, I’m-beyond-it-and-I’m-Norwegian stuff. White people have to see race according to the terms they actually benefit from. Not that whiteness is a monolith, any more than nonwhiteness is. As Mab Segrest writes: “Women are less white than men, gay people are less white than straight people, poor people less white than rich people, Jews than Christians, and so forth." But what might matter, what should matter, is that whiteness is a real force that you’ve personally benefited from in one way or another if you’re white.
Mad politics center self-determination and self-definition of our needs and ways of living. We have stories — of how the medical interventions we encounter are scarier than our own nightmares (daymares?). We have poetry — and comic strips, films, and zines — that describe our experience in terms contrary to the theories of our “helpers.” We accept that we do not need to be functioning or “productive” all of the time, though sometimes we are forced to be. One tenet of the Mad movement is a belief in fostering non-clinical, non-therapeutic, community-based support systems outside of mainstream mental health. As one mantra goes, “friends make the best medicine.” Interdependency is nurtured as opposed to independence. For example, when a close friend of mine in the community is struggling, one strategy is to offload little responsibilities that crowd our lives: I’ll offer to do her laundry, stay over and cook dinner. Toronto and New York City are two hubs of Mad organizing.
I was born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles. If you heard my voice without knowing what I looked like, you’d probably assume that I was a teenage white girl. My idea of fashion is a pair of skinny jeans, not a kimono. My parents are immigrants, but I am, for all intents and purposes, American through and through. Yet I wasn’t even out of high school when men began greeting me with “konichiwa, beautiful” on the street. (I am not Japanese). As I got older, the catcalls took a turn for the lewd: “Me love you long time!” “Sucky sucky!” I’ve lost track of the number of times a guy has gotten in my face and yelled the name of a random Asian country as a primitive courting strategy: “Hey, Korea!” “Vietnam?” “You Thai?” Even seemingly respectable men in respectable settings would introduce themselves and ask, “Where are you from?” only to frown and follow up with “No, really” when I responded with “California.”
The less you know your own language and the more you speak English with a foreign accent the more you are looked up to. This distinction continues in every social and professional sphere of life. Your social climbing is greatly facilitated by your fluency of expression in English, your job prospects become almost 100 times brighter if you have a smooth and fluent expression in this language, your entry into many clubs and networking forums becomes automatic and your presence in the virtual and social media world gets noticed.
[To add to an already contentious issue, schools in Sindh, Pakistan will make the learning of Chinese mandatory.]