Posts tagged racism.
Wondering what movie to see this weekend? Look no further than the film about North Korean terrorists invading the White House, Olympus Has Fallen!
What’s that you say? Oh, you’re one of those people who need to hear some reviews first? Not to worry! These fellow movie goers’ tweets are sure to sell you on the film:
Whenever I see someone use that specific slur, I wonder how old could they possibly be.
“Good Mercian movie.” Mitt Romney gives it two thumbs up.
(P.S. The villains in the movie are North Korean.)
There are a ton of these “now I hate all Asians” tweets on Twitter now…
…but that above tweet specifically led to this amazing conversation:
At least she knows what she is, I guess?
Wait a minute…take a close look at who “favorited” that last tweet.
Fuck this movie. Fuck these racist assholes. Post-racial Merikkka strikes again…
Me: *stands up in sweater and button up to say goodbye to friends at the far side of the table*
White Guy: “ARE YOU GUYS OPEN OR WHAT? JEEZ, I NEED SOME SERVICE HERE!”
Me: “The fuck? I don’t work here.”
White Guy: “I….”
Me: “Fuck you, whatever. You order from the front anyway…”
White Guy: “I… uhhh…”
Me: “Fuck you, whatever.” *sits back in my seat and goes for the last piece of shrimp tempura
When Japanese Americans call bullshit on Dr. Seuss cartoons with racist depictions of Japanese Americans, and your defense against our calls of “that shit hurts and is racist as fuck” are “But he felt bad after the atomic bombings [massacres], and even dedicated a book to a Japanese friend!”-
You are just as involved in the same bullshit we were calling out in the first place. You don’t shit on a person, say you’re cool with their cousin, and everything is peachy. It doesn’t work like that.
some of my favorite #IfSantaWasAsian tweets
oh yes let’s not forget
Yup… Even on crimmis they stay with this racist anti-Asian fuckery…
“Positive” stereotypes still function under the rubric of white supremacy.
That is,White racism is a pathology looking for a place to land, sadism in search of a story. — George Lipsitz
Being interpreted as cute or sexy, and yet still dehumanized, results in harassment and assault that is considered “flattery” rather than what it is — racist.
“I repeat: these stereotypes are dangerous. Reducing Asian women into a sexual object is not funny, it is not flattering. It is perilous. We can see this when Asian women are subject to race-targeted sexual violence. The racist nature of the crimes go unrecognized and unpunished, as if there is nothing wrong with choosing a rape victim because she is Asian.
But in rapes and sexual assaults targeting Asian women, I can find no instance of prosecutors or police bringing “hate crime” charges. It seems our society frowns on the rape itself, but accepts the racial motivation behind it. Mainstream society simply is blind to this type of racism. Indeed, the Spokane police detective handling the case wrote in an email to me: “It was felt that there was no hate involved instead he [the lead rapist] was very infatuated with the Japanese race.” (sic).”
That the stereotype was “positive” or “negative” makes no difference to the victim.
On Institutionalized Anti-Asian Racism…
One of the things that sat with me earlier was around the idea of systemic anti-Asian attitudes in the same structures of white supremacy. Note that this post is not to position as a wedge or derail from discussions of institutional racism and, specifically, anti-Blackness. This post is more intended as a reminder about Asian American history, historical structures of anti-Asian racism in the US with a view towards the impacts that they hold in structures persisting to this day. If I do overstep in any way, please check me on it. I stand unequivocally against anti-Blackness, from white folks and from communities of color.
I think that it’s important to recognize that racism in Amerikkka is not strictly a Black/white binary. White supremacy functions at differing levels of oppression for different groups as a structural way to “reward” light skinned folks and endow some privilege on certain groups as a tool against Black folks, and in part against the communities upon which they are conferred. Do Asian (specifically, light skinned east Asian American) folks have privileges that Black folks don’t? Yes. Absolutely, and we need to recognize and deconstruct our complicity in white supremacist power structures. Do east Asian American folks hold privileges that are not afforded to South, South East, and PI folks? Yes. Does immigration status play a part in the exercising of these privileges and relative privilege? Absolutely. Are those privileges an equality with white folks? No, and I don’t think that we should be complicit in aspiring to anti-Black privileges of white supremacy.
Do API/As still experience the effects of institutionalized discrimination? I think that there is something to be said for that.
A lot of privilege comes from institutionalized and inherited privileges. Looking at our enclaves (something that came up before), can be illustrative. Chinatowns, Nihonmachis, Manilatowns, K-Towns and other communities did not arise out of a desire to be kitschy white tourist attractions. The latter part of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, particularly in western state, had heavy impacts from anti-Asian discriminatory policies and outright racism. Things like the Alien Land Act in California restricted the rights of Asian immigrants to own the land they worked, or the homes they lived in. A lot of the racism faced by early migrants to the US (a large portion of them agricultural workers) limited their access to housing and, as a result, inherited wealth- something consistently shown as a privilege of whiteness. A lot of these same communities still suffer from access to public services, poverty, and a host of other issues. Many of the communities that popped up were for protection, mutual aid and provision for a community faced with rabid anti-Asian racism. These images are both from the early 20th century:
Anti-Asian riots were common and violent occurrences during the same period.
There are lots of other examples of where Asian Americans experience the ‘bamboo ceiling’ or the recurring inability of the entertainment industry to believe that Asian Americans can play Asian/Asian American characters convincingly (see also, Miss Saigon Controversy). Let alone seeing Asian Americans in leading roles or positive, affirming and complex characters other than stereotypical tropes and side-characters.
Disaggregating our communities is also an important part of seeing the complexities of our communities. Checking out the realities of some Asian American communities, particularly South East Asian, is a very different reality from the privileges that east Asians have (y’all should check out PrYSM, and support their work if you are able). Looking at the profiling and police-immigration enforcement that occurs in some of our communities that leads to massive deportations of refugees or being gunned down by police while unarmed, is also something we need to be aware of.
Alongside this, we have the desexualization of the Asian male, they hypersexualized fetishization of the Asian female (as broader categories, though gender and sexuality shift some of these narratives, but still usually towards a position empowering white fetishization of APIA bodies). The perpetual foreigner and fear of a yellow planet that constantly reappear in public discourse. Obviously, there are a lot more pieces of racism that are so diffused throughout the structuring of US society, that it probably isn’t relevant to enumerate them all.
I think that as APIAs, we do experience structural racism, but in a different way than Black folks. We also need to remember that there are Black folks that are APIAs. We need to remember that, and fight the anti-Blackness that does appear in our communities. We need to remember that a lot of our politicization came from solidarity with Black folks and Black Power- that we should be standing in support of Black folks, rather than fighting for a place in white supremacist power dynamics that shit on all POC, but specifically on Black folks.
My apologies. This post probably could have, should have been written better- too many distractions around right now.
ETO- there should also be additions around the realities that South Asian folks face to this. I’m not the best to address these issues, but Islamophobia, anti-Desi violence, and the impacts of a lot of the same legislation that targeted east Asian folks in the late 19th/early 20th century also targeted them. This should probably be a whole post. One that i’m not qualified to write.
A HISTORY OF LINKAGE
By Yuri Kochiyama
Shades of Power: Newsletter of the Institute for Multi-Racial Justice
Much of the history of African/Asian and Black American/Asian American inter-actions is not as well known as it should be. All peoples of whatever race or color have criss-crossed into each other’s lives more than we think. But such history, like all true history, has often been hidden, lied about, or distorted. Malcolm X used to admonish: “Study history. Learn about yourselves and others. There’s more commonality in all our lives than we think. It will help us understand one another.” We also need to remember that history, depending on how it is told, can be used as a weapon to divide us further, or as a vehicle to seek truths that might bring us to greater mutual understanding.
Unfortunately, thanks to the mass media, we are more likely to hear about ways that we are divided. We hear about attacks on African students at Nanjing University in China, the killing of 15-year old African American Latasha Harlins by a Korean shopkeeper in Los Angeles, and anti-Korean actions following the verdict in the beating of Rodney King. These events also reveal the social and economic gaps between peoples of color.
But there is so much that unites us, which we do not learn. As Gary Okihiro observed in a paper he wrote: “Africans and Asians share a history of migration, interaction, and cultural sharing. They share a history of European colonization, decolonization, and independence under new colonization and dependency. Africans and Asians share a history of oppression in the U.S., successively serving as slave and cheap labor…”
The first Asians who came to the United States were Filipino slaves, who were originally taken to Mexico by Spanish and Portuguese merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries. They escaped to New Orleans, Louisiana, where their descendants live today, in their own communities. Also in that period, people from China and India were sold to European and American ship captains as “coolies” in the same way the pigs were sold: they were put in pigpens, nearly naked and filthy, with their destinations painted on their chests. Many Chinese workers were sent to Latin America.
Between 1870 and 1890, when Congress was debating the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act barring Chinese immigrants, African American leaders like Frederick Douglass and Augustus Straker spoke out against the bill. They considered the objections to the Chinese “in kind and principle” identical to attacks on Blacks, and said that their opponents were the same as those of the Chinese. Senator Blanche K. Bruce of Mississippi, the only African American in the U.S. Senate, voted courageously against limiting the rights of the Chinese people by the Exclusion Act.
During the Spanish-American War of 1898, some 6,000 Black soldiers sent to the Philippines with Theodore Roosevelt’s “Rough Riders” were repelled by American atrocities (600,000 Filipino civilians massacred). Feeling kinship with their “brown brothers,” as they said, the Black soldiers risked their lives by joining the Filipino guerrillas.
At the turn of the century, a Japanese man named Sen Katayama became the first Asian to attend a Black college in the southern United States. He went on to be an outstanding labor leader and friend of the acclaimed Black writer of the Harlem Renaissance period, Claude McKay. Together they organized the Communist Party in New York. U.S. labor history has ignored Katayama, probably because racism marginalized workers of color.
In the early 1920s another Asian came to the U.S. while in exile for his work to free Vietnam from French colonialism. Ho Chi Minh lived in the ghettoes of Chicago and Harlem, became an admirer of Black leader Marcus Garvey, and wrote one of the earliest books on racism in the United States (it was published in the Soviet Union). During the U.S. war on Vietnam he was seen as a hero by Blacks and other Americans opposed to the war, who often considered it a racist war and identified with its victims.
In the 1930s the Black historian and leader W.E.B. DuBois visited China, Manchuria and Japan. DuBois met Mao Tse-tung and other Chinese leaders. Famed Black Americans who have visited the People’s Republic of China also include Langston Hughes, Vicki Garvin, Robert Williams, and several members of the Black Panther Party.
Inter-action was common between African-Americans and the Japanese as well. In the midwestern United States, immigrant Japanese related to the newly emerging Nation of Islam (NOI), and some made ties for the purpose of friendship and trade. In early 1940, Elijah Muhammed and others of the NOI went to jail because they would not support World War II against Japan and spoke out against it; they also opposed the concentration camps where Japanese Americans were sent at the time. First generation Issei Japanese worked with militant Black nationalists in those years.
The historic 1955 conference of non-aligned nations held in Bandung, Indonesia brought together African and Asian leaders in a historic gathering. The U.S. was irked at not being invited but many prominent Blacks attended, including Adam Clayton Powell and Margaret Cartwright, the first Black reporter assigned to the United Nations. The Bandung conference was organized by Indonesian president Ahmad Sukarno, whom Malcolm X held in high esteem because he would not bow down to the white man.
The 1950s also saw the United States getting embroiled in the Korean War. At a huge rally in New York, the distinguished and charismatic Black leader Paul Robeson declared that “it would be foolish for African Americans to fight against their Asian brothers.” He urged Blacks to resist being drafted and said that “the place for the Negro people to fight for their freedom is at home.” Despite worldwide recognition for Robeson’s many talents — as a football hero, lawyer, actor, singer, and speaker — he came to be seen as a threat by the United States. In reality, he was an anti-imperialist internationalist and lover of humanity.
The 1960s brought many acts of solidarity involving Asians and Blacks alongside Latinos and Native Americans. We find these in protests against the Vietnam War; support for the “I” Hotel in San Francisco; student struggles for ethnic studies. There was much interaction between Black Panthers, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Young Lords, I Wor Kuen, Brown Berets and other Chicano groups, the Red Guards, and Manila Town Filipino activists. Together Asian activists supported Wounded Knee in the West and the Attica Brothers on the East Coast; the fight to bring the People’s Republic of China into the United Nations; and support for Third World political prisoners throughout the country, including Puerto Rican independistas.
Beyond our borders, Mao Tse-tung, leader of the emerging People’s Republic of China, said during the 1968 urban riots by African Americans: “I hereby express resolute support for the just struggle of the Black people in the United States.” In that same period Mao sent thousands of workers to help build the railroads between Zambia and Tanzania in East Africa. Chinese workers also helped to construct the national sports stadium in Zimbabwe and a library in Harare. In addition, Zimbabwe received work teams from North Korea. An outstanding Korean woman writer, Pak Sunam, always referred to Franz Fanon — the Martinique-born psychiatrist who became a powerful voice of anti-colonial, anti-racist struggle — as “her brother.”
There are many stories of solidarity featuring Malcolm X; he probably impressed Asian Americans, in particular youth, more than any other Black leader. In June, 1964 Malcolm met with Japanese atom-bomb victims who came to New York for plastic surgery and toured the U.S. speaking out against nuclear proliferation. They were deeply impressed by Malcolm’s graciousness and openness. Malcolm also spoke of his admiration for Mao Tse-tung and his support for Vietnam’s struggle, which he saw as the struggle of the whole Third World.
Another important area of Black/Asian interaction has been music, primarily jazz. Coltrane, Max Roach, Milford Graves, Herbie Hancock and other jazz greats made periodic tours to Japan, as did reggae artists such as Jimmy Cliff. At the same time, Asian American musicians like Fred Ho, Mark Izu and Francis Wong have created jazz combos. Dancer/singer Nobuko Miyamoto and poet Janice Mirikitani are heralded by Black audiences.
There are still more examples of Black/Asian interaction. But much remains to be done to build bridges and create a united force that can challenge the system in which those with wealth and power live high off the toil and desperation of the marginalized. We must all work to break down barriers and phobias and build working relations, while understanding that each group has its own primary issues and needs its own privacy and leadership. If we want to change society, we must begin by transforming ourselves; learning from one another about one another’s history, culture, dreams, hopes, personal experiences. We must become one, for the future of humanity.
Kochiyama is a Japanese American born in California, is a longtime community activist living in Harlem who has worked on many issues, in particular supporting political prisoners. She worked closely with militant Puerto Rican groups like the Young Lords Party and was a member of the Organization of Afro-American Unity as well as a close friend of Malcolm X.
“We must all work to break down barriers and phobias and build working relations, while understanding that each group has its own primary issues and needs its own privacy and leadership. If we want to change society, we must begin by transforming ourselves; learning from one another about one another’s history, culture, dreams, hopes, personal experiences.”