reappropriate

Monday, February 06, 2006

Confession

It's been more than just a bad race day. It's been a bad race week. It's been a series of bias-related incidents waiting to happen. It's been intolerably cold and cruel out there. I have a confession to make. I think I may be starting to hate White people. I say this with a sense of bitterness and self-loathing. I swore I would never get this far. I hoped I wouldn't find myself cultivating racial prejudice on the same level that I fight so hard to end against my own people. I know it's hypocritical and just plain wrong. But this week has been trying. After being called "not a minority", I have faced a series of situations in which White people have repeatedly refused to consider the positions of the oppressed minority. Basking in White privilege, I have consistently encountered White people who not only don't care, but revel in their not-having-to-care-ness. Most notably, I spent five hours yesterday helping to paint and build sets for the Monologues only to be confronted with a discussion in which two White people (one a castmember, one not) telling me that my objection to Miss Saigon, on a political level, was unfounded. (Miss Saigon tells the story of an American GI going to Vietnam and impregnating a Vietnamese woman, only to basically leave her in the lurch at the end and includes the role of an Asian male character that has historically never been given to an Asian male actor but rather to a White man in yellowface). This White privilege is so pronounced, that even in the public political arena, we're watching as White conservatives actually defend published hatespeech against Muslims as "free speech" rather than consider that the Muslim's rioting might actually have a valid reason for being so angry. By characterizing this as a hatespeech issue, Conservatives are telling Muslims not only that they have no reasonable gripe, but that in the face of ruthless racism, they and all people of colour should just shut up and deal. Yesterday, after finding myself in a position in which my race activism was questioned and, indeed, silently ridiculed by theatre majors who didn't want to consider that an actor or screenwriter might find themselves unintentionally racist, I found myself returning home and breaking down first into a seething fury and then uncontrollable tears. Like the cartoons published in the Denmark paper, it was a little thing, but it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was tired of it all. I was tired of repeatedly interacting with White people, all in good faith, only to be placed in situations where I had to deal with racially offensive comments and for me to be the fucked up one when I fight back. It's always the same: some White person makes some racist or insensitive comment, the people around me laugh, I try to counteract with some sort of "actually..." remark, they stare blankly at me and say nothing, they stop smiling at me for the rest of the day, and I'm forever-more characterized as the hyper-sensitive buzzkill with a chip on her shoulder. And so, I find myself hating White people. Perhaps hate is too strong a term, perhaps apprehensive. Perhaps weary. Perhaps just plain frustrated. And I know, intellectually, that it's not all White people. I know that to take my experiences and cast them upon all White people is wrong. But I can't help it. And I wonder why, in a world where White people take their experiences with a few people of colour and find no problem casting them upon the entire community, I should worry about doing the same. Perhaps hate is the right word, after all. In many ways, I blame myself. But at the same time, why do I consistently and repeatedly interact with White people who really don't care? Why are they never forced to be responsible for never learning, never interacting? Why don't they go home crying as I did? Why do they demand rationales for our anger, when they seek no justification for their own hurtful actions? And then they write editorials and blogs in which Whites claim to be just as oppressed as people of colour, while simultaneously, insensitively and brutally revelling in their privilege and mocking our own words and perspectives. Even when we present ourselves honestly, White people twist our words for their own entertainment and are never called on the racism and sexism of their actions. If not all White people are this insensitive, then where are the good ones? It's the cruelty and insensitivity of White privilege that gets to me the most. To me, being White must be about cultivating an environment in which you are always right. To me, being White must be about never being questioned. Always having the power. Always being able to walk away, over the backs of the fallen second-class, and never having to worry about authenticity, morality and ethics. More than the ignorance (that can be fixed with education), more than their numbers, my hatred stems from how often I've tried to approach White people in good faith to interject my own perspective and challenge the privileged dogma, only to have it spit back in my face as if I'm outside of my mind for even thinking of questioning a White person. Like a rat in a cage zapped one too many times, I feel as if the great big White world is conditioning me to hate and fear it. I wish someone would tell me how to end this feeling. I wish someone would help me find the innocence and optimism of my youth, in which people could do no wrong and I didn't feel this loathing for feeling this loathing. I worry that this hatred will consume all that I like about myself. Tomorrow, I will go to school. I will surround myself with White people. And I confess that I am wary. I confess that I will be steeling myself for another bad race day. And I'm pretty sure there's nothing if I can do to stop it.

58 Comments:

Blogger Gar said...

I think anybody seriously involved in social activism faces moments of frustration when confronted by how large, imposing, and dominant the issue of white privilege is in our society. White people can afford to be ignorant of racial issues, to kick back, relax while they go pop some popcorn and watch "Miss Saigon" and "Memoirs of Geisha" because they are the constructors of a skewed perspective of reality that makes their lives easy.

Dealing with all these problems by yourself is tough, hence the need for a community of like-minded people to help pick you up when you're going bonkers. Take comfort in the fact that you're not alone, especially in regards to the APIA and larger ethnic American community - are of us are in it together to maintain some sanity...

Keep your head up.

2/06/2006 03:29:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

I'm a white person, but I do think I have an understanding of where you're coming from. When I have to cross the street because there are some loud aggressive men walking my way, I quietly say to myself, "I hate men."

When men tell me that I should be happy to be a woman because I'm naturally a caregiver I think, "I hate men."

If your experiences with white people are like my experiences with men, I think I can get where you're at.

I've personally decided that I hate men, but with some exceptions to the rule. That way I can feel that way, but not totally eliminate all men from my life (there are a few good ones).

To comment on another section of your post, I agree with you as far as education and privilege are concerned.

All too often I find myself gravitating to books about me...about my life situation. I unconsciously don't seek out to learn about other people's experiences. That's not just in the realm of anti-racism, but also reading/watching/listening to material on disAbilities, transgender issues, Aboriginal rights etc.

Somehow, especially in the case of white people, it has become second nature that we all graviate to what we know. Which makes us scared and defensive about what we don't.

2/06/2006 03:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a "white female", I cannot begin to understand how it must feel to be an "Asian", however, we are all Americans here.

Unfortunately, if you feel that there is blatant racism of white against yellow (Asian), then you have to understand the "white" culture's reasoning. This reasoning occurred over 60 years ago. The United States will never forget the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, more specifically, the military and the white conservative administration. It may not be right or proper, but it is reality. According to them, all Asians have and will always be bad, evil people who cannot be trusted or respected. For example, I have been to Guam recently, and the Japanese who are 90% of their tourist monopoly, are not well liked. THe Chamarrons will never let any future island generations forget the senseless torture and human cruelty that the Japanese afflicted upon these island people, upon which the American Navy came to rescue them.

It is unfortunate that you, an innocent victim, have to live with this, but then, this is the reality of it all. The US military is currently in the process of vacating Japan to go to Guam, to prepare itself for any problems with China, again, another Asian population. However, you are not alone. The Middle East is not a well-liked race either.

2/06/2006 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Gar, thank you for your comments. It is good to know that some people are listening and understand that these dark moments do occur.

To anonymous, I wish I could say that you have a point. And indeed, some modern hatred of Japanese (which is then applied to all Asians in a racist belief that all Asians look or are alike) but hatred of Asians existed long before Pearl Harbour. There was no tolerance before WWII. In fact, mistreatment, bigotry and intolerance of my people had its origins when we were shipped to America as coolie labour (a replacement for the slave trade following Emancipation) only to find ourselves treated like animals when Whites began to feel the pressure of the post-Industrial Revolution and there were few jobs available.

During that time, there were hate crimes and lynchings against Chinese miners. Government-sanctioned economically debilitating head taxes that applied only to Chinese workers. Our women were kidnapped and brought here as prostitutes. We were repeatedly discriminated against by immigration laws, films showed us as mockeries and caricatures, we were unable to testify in court on our own behalf -- even in assault and murder trials of those who would kill us based entirely on the colour of our skin. Under the false pretense of Pearl Harbour, all Japanese citizens and residents of America were interned in what amounts to a concentration camp. Asians of all ethnicities and nationalities were unable to become American citizens because of our race until 1965. That's only 40 years ago. Now, we are the prostitutes, the whores, the greasy, sleazy economists, the model minorities, the spies, the asexuals, the hypersexuals, the tokens, the pets.

No, this dissonance must have originated even earlier between the East and the West when the East was first discovered and the Silk Road established. There are documents dating to the 16th century that describe the East as bizarre, barbaric, exotic -- full of hypersexual people and barbaric acts. Later, there was the Opium Wars when Britain interacted with China by trying to take their resources but, having nothing with which to exchange them (China was an affluent society that needed little from the West), addicted the Chinese to opium in order to create a market for the drug and thereby usurp all economic power the Chinese might have.

Was Pearl Harbour unprovoked? Perhaps. But that is certainly not the origin of Western distrust and mistreatment of my people.

2/06/2006 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Jenn, thank you also for those comments. I'm also from Toronto, incidentally!

I think you are right -- and I think I too am guilty of seeking to educate myself first and foremost on my own experiences. I read APIA literature more so than any other. I think the difference is that when it comes to White history and White culture, I inevitably learn about that as well because I exist in a society in which White is "the norm".

2/06/2006 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Anonymous - that was the weakest example of race hate apology since Mein Kampf. You're justifying anti-Asian American racism in the United States in 2006 by asserting bruised nationalism among White Americans whose parents where not born in 1941.

That's irresponsible and unintelligent.

Further, by your anemic reasoning, any group who suffers tragedy at the hands of another group or nation is justified in their continued racism. That's foolish, and antagonistic to the basic social nature of human beings. Americans are not justified in racism toward anyone, and those who say, "well, we've got history little Asian girl, so suck it up!" deserve the condemnation and social ostracism reserved for domestic terrorists like Timothy McVeigh or the Ku Klux Klan.

Perhaps you may find this harsh, but people like you do not deserve the freedoms Americans of all backgrounds and races have fought, bled and died to protect.

2/06/2006 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

james - that's your opinion, isn't freedom of speech wonderful? but reality is reality, "well, we've got history little Asian girl, so suck it up!"

2/06/2006 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

Sometimes it hurts to care. I can't count the number of times I've tried to talk to people of privilege, only to be brushed off simply because they didn't want to think that they could be part of the problem. There have been days I have gone home and cried, have been days when I just wanted to delete my blog, or avoid men completely, or cut off my family, or do something - anything - to escape from the pain caused by an insensitive world.

It sucks. It sucks really bad.

But in the end, I decide the lives that I do make a difference in make it all worth it. Even if it's just by being around to offer support to courageous people like you who go out there every day and fight for your right to be treated as a human being.

*hugs* You do great things every time you stand up for what you believe in. It may not seem that way sometimes, but it's the people who care that help change things for the better.

2/06/2006 12:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn - China is communistic - They control their population by telling their people how many children they are allowed to have. They kill female babies. They control their people's every thoughts. They cannot talk against their government or they are imprisoned or shot. If Asians who are not American citizens, but who come to the Unites States, who partake in getting educated here, and enjoy the freedoms that none of their ancesters fought or died for, then what's all the complaining and hatred about? You should be happy to live in the environment that these "white" people have provided for you. And if your anger continues, then go to China to live, where your "own kind" is. Do you think you can express your anger there? Maybe you would be happier there. A one-way airline ticket is cheap.

2/06/2006 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Dear Anonymous,

Wow. Thank you. You are my very first "Why don't you go back to wherever you came from" of the new year.

I feel special.

2/06/2006 01:45:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

By the way. I'm from Canada.

2/06/2006 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And.....

The cartoons published in the Denmark paper were published in December '05. Why such a delayed reaction? Hello, it's February '06 Do you think it could be politically motivated? Do you think that maybe these Muslims have to be guided into rioting? And why riot? The riots are not against the "white" people, it's against religion. 911 is religion based. This rioting and destroying embassies and "white" people's buildings does not show that they are disturbed over stupid cartoons, which are very cleverly depicted, I might add. It shows that the Muslim's are a disturbed people. The many European countries who were sympathetic in the Muslim cause, will not be sympathetic for long. So, which country will you be living in, when the next major war breaks out; the Unites States, or Canada which will have to succumb to the United States in the next 30 years anyway because they are going bankrupt with their ill-fated health care program, (you're ok while you are young and healthy) but you can go to Buffalo, New York if you need major surgery, or China or the Middle East? And the "white" people make you angry?

......Amazing.

2/06/2006 01:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't say for you to "go back to wherever you came from." I said for you to go to where your own kind is. You know, where there is less "white" people. And you are attending Cornell?

2/06/2006 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

Jenn, this pitiful Anonymous is an offensive troll. The points you raise in this post are serious ones, and that ... person (to be charitable), is not helping this discussion.

And frankly, free speech protections do not give idiots license to waste other people's time.

2/06/2006 02:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One more thing.....

I lived in Toronto for a year, where I visted the Toronto Board of trades every day, (Advest Bank), and I learned many things about Canada. The 18% tax helps pay for the health care plan, you can't litter anywhere because there is the plain-clothed litter police all around you which includes not throwing gum on the sidewalk, and if you talk against the Queen in the office, you get arrested. No wonder you are angry living there. Other than that, it's a beautiful country.

2/06/2006 02:21:00 PM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

Anonymouse,

Plz learn about Chinese culture before pulling out the sensationalism as proof that "omg Amerika is the bestest evar." Also, some education on Japanese history, cultural imperialsm, and racial relations between the East and West would be good before you try to spout your mouth off about how "Pearl Harbor" was unprovoked and obviously justification for continued bigotry and racism.

kthxbye,
tekanji, who has her degree in this shit and still doesn't know enough to make definitive statements about all of the above

2/06/2006 02:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pearl harbor was not provoked. It was sneaky and stupid. That's why for the past 60 years the Japanese has no real military to call their own. (It was against the peace treaty that they signed with the US). Oh, now that the US military is pulling out of Japan, we are teaching them how to defend themselves from China.

By the way, many Asians are not taught the truth about Pearl Harbor. They learn about it when they go to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Maybe you should go their sometime and then maybe you won't be so angry at the "whites".

Anyway,while the Japanese emperor was signing a peace treaty with the United States, they were doing a sneak attack on Hawaii, and then they tried to conquer all of the Pacific islands. Japan wanted to rule the world, so they started from the US West coast. Germany wanted to rule the world, so they stated in on the US East coast. Thank God for bombing Hirshima and Nagasaki or Americans would be either speaking German or Japanese as the major language. Tokyo would have been next, only the Japanese were forced to surrender. By the way, the "white" military saved China from horrible Japan. Check your history.

2/06/2006 02:38:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

Getting back to your post Jenn, I'm glad you had a youth where you didn't feel like White America was devoted to hurting you, to mischaracterizing you and your people as ignorant and criminal, to stereotyping you as a lifelong failure from birth. I never had a pre-encounter existence.

You know what though? Gar and Tekanji are right - solidarity with other people who experience this oppressive race hatred and excel regardless is really important. Maybe people like that can be found in your school (an Asian American graduate students association perhaps?), maybe they can't, but there's no reason you should ever have to endure racism alone.

In fact, that's why I always feel like in any situation where I've been racialized, where people who feel they don't have to care about me or my melanin speak or act in racially offensive tones around me, I speak up. If they don't like it, I can attack their positions in the marketplace of ideas. And win. Then they can take their tattered bigotry home to whatever Klan rally or GOP state convention is closest.

This is what the pitiful Anonymous missed in your post: hate is never justified. Hate corrodes the soul, separates people. Hate is not the answer. But there is nothing hateful about speaking your mind to others, so you don't feel anger towards yourself about accepting ostracism when White people decide intolerance is preferable to accepting their own bigotry as evil and un-American. You did the right thing in telling the people that Miss Saigon is offensive and racist and wrong; it's up to the audience to understand why. But don't you feel bad; as long as you stand up for yourself, you've done the right thing.

2/06/2006 03:22:00 PM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

This is what the pitiful Anonymous missed in your post: hate is never justified. Hate corrodes the soul, separates people. Hate is not the answer.

More insightful words were never spoken, James.

2/06/2006 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(must ignore troll, must ignore troll)

This gen-u-ine WASP thought that Madame Butterfly, the original play/opera on which Miss Saigon was based, was pretty smarmy, but at least the American bigamist was berated by another white character as an A-1 jerk for abandoning his teenage Japanese wife. The even smarmier Miss Saigon seemed to let the American off even easier. And the music sucks, unlike Madame Butterfly. About the only good thing I can say about the performance of Miss Saigon that I saw was that we had a real helicopter fly low over the outdoor stage in a park. Pretty bad when special effects are the only item of interest. Otherwise the evening was basically embarrassing.
NancyP

2/06/2006 06:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I get a 7-pack of musicals for 6 bucks each, and go with a bunch of friends, hence, bothering to attend Miss Saigon in the first place - it was part of the series.
NancyP

2/06/2006 06:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do what is expected of all Asian women: marry an American GI and then you will be supported for the rest of your life. Isn't that the story line of Madame Butterfly and Susie Wong?

2/06/2006 07:34:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Dear Anonymous, while this has all been extremely amusing to me and extremely depressing to most, I'm not too sure where to even begin with your ignorance, miseducation, and just plain stupidity.

Nonetheless, with your latest comment, I begin to suspect you are returning here not to participate in discussion but rather to troll. Please either resume reasonable discourse and quit resorting to mindless stereotyping, racist bigotry, and ad hominem attacks, or else please cease commenting on this post, or I will be forced to delete future comments.

If you read my about section, you'll know I hate to delete comments, so please, let's keep this conversation on a level that is worth the time of those still interested in participating in discussion.

To NancyP -- I appreciate your comments. On Saturday, the theatre majors contended that Miss Saigon was actually smarter and "more PC" than M. Butterfly. Having not had the opportunity to see either although familiar with both stories, I was hard-pressed to match their contentions. It's good to hear someone left Miss Saigon with something closer to my understanding of the story.

2/06/2006 11:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Bobby said...

That is why we need to confront white people aggressively. White people only understand force since that's been their modus operandi for hundreds of years.

How do you think blacks obtained their civil liberties? Martin Luther King? Ha! How about the militant movement of Malcom X and the Black Panthers.

If Asian Americans confront White Americans with 'i'm not taking your bullshit' attitude, a compromise will ultimately result. The end result is progress which is why race relations in America is always a constantly shifting terrain of battle-lines.

Asians American should not turn the other cheeck anymore, it gets us nowhere. We need to show White people that we won't be their little elfs and will not be used as a hedge against black and latino protests of racism. Asians in America have a role, we serve to perserve the status quo and are the keepers of the glass-ceiling. If we remove ourselve from perpetuating white bigotry through mindless pacism than true progress can be made.

Screw white arrogance. Asians own the 21st century.

2/07/2006 12:31:00 AM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

I understand being frustrated when people dismiss views that are important to you.I've been gulity of it myself a lot of times, even on this blog.However it's important not to become what you rail against,then you loose credibility.Not everyone is the same, but you already knew that right?Just take it easy.

P.S.
for some reason I can't post on firefox.......

2/07/2006 12:54:00 AM  
Blogger Lee Herrick said...

anonymous,

Why the veiled attacks? Who are you? Do you have a blog or a website? If so, what is it? What is your name? One ought to know her "accuser."

By the way, I thought your rhetoric/maze of logical fallacies was amusing.

2/07/2006 01:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happened to stumble upon this website and I want to thank you all for allowing me to partake in the interaction. I think that the expressions are marvelous, articulate and well-written and I wish all of you luck in whatever your objectives are in the immediate future.

I guess I was trolling a bit, but I do understand now that these are issues that do effect your lives, and these issues need to be addressed, so that the people who are effected can move on.

What I don't understand is why anyone will let a few people who make rude or nasty comments, to bother them to the point of emotional distress. If someone doesn't treat you right, let them know and move on. You can't change them, so change the way you react to it.

2/07/2006 02:22:00 PM  
Blogger Piig said...

I'd like to second Jenn's comments. I, too, am a radical feminist who mostly hates men. I have often thought that were I a woman of color I would most likely hate White people. Hell, I pretty much hate White people as it is, and I'm one of them! To paraphrase Sherman Alexie, White people are okay in theory, but in practice not so much.

Don't beat yourself up for hating White people. I think it's healthy to, at the very least, be distrustful of one's oppressor.

2/07/2006 06:15:00 PM  
Anonymous barb said...

I'd just like to say 1.) Jenn, you could block Anonymous' IP address can't you? Because this is a really important conversation and s/he is distracting and getting us off the point which is

2.) how to deal with the emotional burden of racism which sometimes seems unbearable and overwhelming. And as a white person I don't have an answer to that. I can't even imagine all the ways everyday life is made easier for me because of my genetic heritage.

All I can say is that your post here is the most heartbreaking thing I've read all week and reading it just hurts in a very raw, emotional way. Which is so important for white people as well. This is how racism hurts us too. I think about how many of my relationships with people of color all over the world are tinged with this and that because of the legacy of white racism sometimes we will just never be able to connect as two human beings should and I can't think of anything more tragic than that. Thank you.

2/07/2006 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

I have to admit.It sounds somewhat odd hearing people say they hate most men, or white people.I mean lets say men, and white people, was replaced with black or homosexual people.I mean were do you draw the line?

2/07/2006 07:59:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

See, this is where I begin to get into trouble.

"That is why we need to confront white people aggressively. White people only understand force since that's been their modus operandi for hundreds of years. How do you think blacks obtained their civil liberties? Martin Luther King? Ha! How about the militant movement of Malcom X and the Black Panthers." - Bobby

I totally disagree. Not only was Malcolm X more statesman than activist, the Black Panthers were in many respects a fringe group, even in the Black community, then and now. The nonviolent Civil Rights movement over twenty-five years gained Americans many of the rights they enjoy today. Excessive minority sub-nationalism does not work to affect social change.

Further, while aggressive Asian American politics would be a welcome change from today's generally apolitical stance, aggression without direction helps no one. White people aren't the only folk to misuse Asian Americans in identity politics. Black and Latino groups often judge their post-Movement militancy against assumed Asian American meekness. The point? Everyone overlooks the Asian American agenda, so continued vehemence against Whites from Asian America seems to this commentator, counterproductive.

"Hell, I pretty much hate White people as it is, and I'm one of them! To paraphrase Sherman Alexie, White people are okay in theory, but in practice not so much." - piig

First off, thanks for joining the discussion; I'd like to hear more. Secondly, liberal White guilt never helped anyone. I'm not using your quote to illustrate liberal White guilt, but rather to suggest that the progressive, radical, and liberal White penchant for total solidarity with oppressed racial minorities oft times does not make sense. Color matters in America, and when I find myself wandering into general anti-White hate after a racial slight or racist experience, I don't differentiate! Chris Rock's stand-up quote, "We don't have time to break up White people into little groups," is honestly how I feel in my worst anti-White moments. It's not like a White person, however leftist, can or wishes to discard their skin privilege to join me and mine in the American racial dung heap.

That's why finding constructive ways to channel the reasonable passion stirred from racially negative experiences remains key to life as a person of color. Hate is often a natural response, but its never a useful one. Hate never heals. And frankly, I don't think White people, collectively and individually, have the slightest idea what it feels like to hate White people over race. It's different for everyone, and I always cringe when a White person attempts "understanding" or empathy with reactionary race hate, the worst element of minority American life.

Again, I'm not presupposing that you were attempting this, but I needed to say something. I'd love to hear more though.

2/07/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

"Everyone overlooks the Asian American agenda, so continued vehemence against Whites from Asian America seems to this commentator, counterproductive." - James

Sorry, it should read:

"Everyone overlooks the Asian American agenda, so continued vehemence against Whites only from Asian America seems to this commentator, counterproductive."

Stupid typos. :)

2/07/2006 08:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Lee Henrick:

I liked you the minute I read your comments. Alright, I'll tell you a little about myself. I am also an educator. I teach High School English in New Jersey. Before that, I had an office in WTC, tower 1, floor 22, from which I was a top financial analyst on Wall St. for 15 years, prior to 911.

2/08/2006 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Piig said...

James, I'm glad you weren't using my quote to illustrate liberal White guilt. I don't view my hatred of White patriarchy as a guilt-based sentiment. Guilt is a pretty useless and paralyzing emotion. I come at this issue as a working class anti-racism and feminist activist. I grew up in a city where Blacks were the majority. I was usually one of two or three white students in a classroom. Most of the school administrators were Black as well. I say all of this not to play the stereotypical "I have Black friends" card, but to give you a sense of who I am and who I am not. I grew up with a window into the lives of my Black classmates which provided an understanding that I couldn't have gained otherwise. You're right, I can't truly know what it's like to live as a woman of color in the US, but I make a concerted effort to educate myself by listening to women of color when they voice their ideas, observations, pain, anger, exhaustion, and frustrations. It is my opinion that empathy is a good place to start on a journey toward understanding, respect, and healing.

And we can agree to disagree on this point - I don't have a problem with people hating their oppressor, even if that means hating me because I'm White. I'm not an anti-racism activist so that women of color will like me. I'm an activist in this arena because racism is unethical and hurtful. I'm not saying that I think all women of color should hate White people. I'm saying that if you need to hate White people to protect yourself in this world, then you shouldn't feel guilty about it. I approach hatred of men in this way as well. For my own personal protection in a patriarchal world, I hate men and distance myself from them because letting them in inevitably equals opening myself up to patriarchal bullshit. I can recognize that there are men out there like Cornell West who are working to dismantle patriarchy, but that doesn't mean I am going to automatically stop hating men. Until all men are working to dismantle patriarchy, I simply can't trust them as a class of people. And until all White people are working to end racism, I can't fault any person of color for hating White people. We all employ different tools to make our way through this world.

2/08/2006 10:45:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Thank you all for writing and leaving your comments, especially those who offered sympathies.

"What I don't understand is why anyone will let a few people who make rude or nasty comments, to bother them to the point of emotional distress. If someone doesn't treat you right, let them know and move on. You can't change them, so change the way you react to it."

Of course, but at the same time, I am inundated by racially insensitive remarks and uncaring attitudes from liberals and conservatives, men and women, old and young -- all White. Every day. And I'm just being honest that it becomes wearing to exist in a society in which you wake up in the morning and come to expect a bad race day.

It's hard to move on when you realize it's not really just one or two people -- that it's so pervasive it becomes your entire environment.

2/08/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn -
Then you have to be better than your environment. According to you, you already stand out of the crowd, so stand out in a positive way. Show them up, be better, go the extra mile. Maybe the people who surround you are afraid of you; afraid that you are smarter, or cuter or whatever. Maybe you are those things. Focus-in on being those things, and not on how others make you feel or what they feel about you. Until you channel your energy into this direction, you are going to continue to be miserable. And that is not a good existence. The only person that allows you to feel good or bad about yourself is you.

2/08/2006 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger Jenn said...

So the question I have, anonymous, is why I, as the minority, have to be better than my environment? Why shouldn't I succumb to some anger and hatred?

In some ways, is this not blaming the victim when ask that we not react humanly to the negative energy around us? Doesn't it let White people off easy to know that it is the person of colour, the oppressed minority who must "be the better man" -- in that scenario, the White person is free to be as maliciously racist and evil as they would like to be and I, painted into the role of the better person, exist to educate and subjugate my identity and my anger for the betterment of White people.

This sounds like a rip-off to me.

2/08/2006 12:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn:

Rip off? Not at all. Can I change the people who come in contact with you to act and think differently about you? No, and you can't either. You attested to that. Yes, you can feel all the hate and anger you want, but it's only eating you up, not them.

Changing your reaction does not let them off the hook; they are already baited. What it does is to cause you to be less reactionary and more in control as to what you expect. You can continue to fight for what you believe in, but you won't feel so exhausted and emotionally drained while promoting the fight. I'm not saying to ignore anything. I am saying that since you know it's going to happen everyday anyway,(that's what you said), then you shouldn't let yourself get bummed out about it. Like a boxer in the boxing ring, he continues to fight to win, and doesn't let the punches stop him from continuing the fight, even though it hurts.

Unlike the boxer, no one is hurting you physically. It's all mental.

2/08/2006 02:29:00 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

anonymous, by castrating the anger, and undermining its legitimacy, it seems to me that you are arguing that i have no particular reason to be angry. i cannot change my reaction any more than i could make myself more into an automaton, nor do i think is it genuine for anyone to ask me to try.

in other words, i should not expect a person to already know, be aware, or be sensitive to other communities and their issues.

it might be "healthier" for me to find some magical way to detach myself from the injustices of my world and my life, but i fear that would ultimately be worse for me, as a person, than this bitter anger.

when i write my conclusion paragraph, i do not wish to be more abiding and informative to the offending White person (a situation you don't actually address, btw -- rather you are talking about my mental health instead of the racial politics ramifications of becoming the calm, collected educator), rather i, in my darkest hour, kind of wonder whether this anger makes me a bad person. i acknowledge a certain level of hypocrisy - but i don't think that means that i should exist without it.

2/08/2006 08:06:00 PM  
Blogger the nut said...

phillyjay said...
I have to admit.It sounds somewhat odd hearing people say they hate most men, or white people.I mean lets say men, and white people, was replaced with black or homosexual people.I mean were do you draw the line?


The difference is all men oppress all women, all white people oppress all persons of color, all white heterocentric persons oppress all LGBTQ persons, all fundamentalists oppress all of whomever doesn't fit into their small fundamentalist world.

I can't remember who said it but, "You can't oppress your oppressor." Hence, white people generally hate those that force them to think outside their box. Same goes with any particular social group who has the majority power in society. Straight people freak out about gay people because it's something different and challenges the status quo.

My mantra is: white people will always be a little bit racist, men will always be a little bit sexist, straight people will always be a little bit heterocentric and so on. Not because we choose to necessarily, but because our experiences as these people are what shape our view on the world. This doesn't excuse any of it mind you, but it helps take the overwhelming feeling away a bit.

So, in theory, it's impossible for black/asian/hispanic/latino, etc. people to oppress white people and that whole "reverse racism/sexism/classism/ableism/heterosexist (and whatever ~isms I missed) are purely mythological.

Jenn, you said it perfectly: to be white is to always be right, to never be questioned. But mostly, it's to be a white MAN that gets to have the ultimate position of power who is never questioned. White women run a close 2nd though so don't think I'm denying my own place of privilege. I have to constantly remind myself every morning when I wake up and most of the time it works. It's so ingrained to see such racist/sexist bullshit that I can't turn it off (just so I can have some peace). Ever. And believe me, there are sometimes when I'd love to which I'm sure you can understand.

Also, Jenn, I've seen both Madame Butterfly and Miss Saigon. I wasn't impressed too much with the latter, fer reals. The music for Madame Butterfly existed way before the opera did (you can thank Puccini) so if you pay attention to the translations, most of the time the words make absolutely no sense.

But, there is something to be said for Japanese actors/actresses singing in Italian isn't there?

I also got to see a Kaboki theatre production of MacBeth and it was wonderfully different. My crush had a part in it as a man, lol.

Btw, I did see Memoirs of a Geisha but I had read the book when it was first published. The book was amazingly brilliant whereas the movie was lacking and not just in the fact they used Chinese actors/actresses to play Japanese parts. I had actually posted a movie review from the L.A.Times on my blog, which heavily criticized the movie for that very reason. Here's the link.

Be sure to pay attention to a certain commenter in that post who said Chinese persons representing Japanese culture was not that big a deal. I for one was disappointed in the movie for several reasons, namely for the way Hollywood romanticized it.

Anyway. I think I've taken up enough space for now. I have a biracial son whose father is from the Phillipines. The ex-husband moved to the U.S. when he was 15 and has since renounced his membership with the "flipipino's." I think it's sad because it means my son may never know where he truly comes from.

2/09/2006 12:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jenn:

I'm trying to use logic to help you cope and deal with your issues, but you fail to listen. Mental health is what makes us or breaks us. A person can either let things bother them to the point where they are overwhelmed, distressed, and depressed which can lead them to an emotional breakdown. Or, a person can understand the variables behind the issues, and love themselves anyway, despite the way others may think or treat them.
Just from our short dialogue, I believe that you choose to hate and be continuously angry, because you want to be that way.

According to you, the Asian race has been prejudiced for hundreds of years. I am not saying that it is right. I am saying that you need to let your beautiful self immerge inspite of it. Your beautifulness cannot immerge if your hatred and anger consume you.

Continue your schooling and your hard work; perform well in all your subjects; get high grades; get your degree(s) and get the position in a corporation or school system which you desire. Become successful monetarily and you will reach your goals inspite of others. Show others (and yourself) that you are an intelligent human being who can do anything that she wants and desires to do.

2/09/2006 08:56:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

The Anonymous Anti-Racism home Remedy: Stop and breathe. Remember your positive points. Challenge nothing. Suck up all anti-racist feeling and channel it into shucking and jiving for White audiences. They matter more than you, person of color. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Anonymous, I'm sure she already excels in spite of racist thought and action directed towards her. Most people of color finds ways to live with racism, so that it doesn't hurt their ambitions as much.

But, when you are trying to prevent yourself from hating your oppressor, simply because hate is wrong, while you try to call attention to racist thought and action from people who never seem to acknowledge their racism, a simple Stuart Smiley "I'm good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!" simply doesn't cut the mustard.

Anti-racism hate is more damaging than that. It's not a psychosis to be treated with Vicodin. People suffering from racism in their lives aren't just "unhappy". I feel you've tried to denigrate human responses to racism with your every comment here. It's really sad.

2/09/2006 09:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James..

It's a wonderful life being a college student. It's a plastic life filled with schedules, fast food, friends debating, late night talks, amazed at writing remarkable papers explaining the world away, challenging the administration, debating your existence, brain storming with remarkable ideals on how to change the world........

but the real world is a matter of survival. The only thing that your higher education gives you, other than a more intelligent way of looking at everything, is a desirable living through higher monetary means. And, when a person moves onto the real world with a job, obtaining the ultimate dream of a big expensive house, expensive cars, all the other material things that go along with it, marriage, kids, aging parents, death in the family, all of the college ideals are not what really matters. What really matters is family and being with and caring for the ones you love. Survival.
What you do before you enter the real world is up to you. You think you can change it? Go ahead. Exchanging thoughts and debating? Fine. Inciting hatred and anger, if you feel better about it? Do It. But, 100 years from now, it really doesn't matter.

2/09/2006 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

You don't know me, Anonymous. I haven't been a college student for years. But frankly, the anti-intellectual tone of your last comment displays in stark relief the real disconnect here. You believe people should not care about the racism that affects their lives so long as they achieve material comforts, so long as they participate in the American dream of conspicuous capitalist consumption.

I disagree.

American self-worth isn't that shallow. For many citizens, public tolerance and respect for their interaction with others as equal citizens regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. becomes incredibly important towards their support of this liberal democratic system. To pretend that others who grapple with the cosmopolitan concerns of group political recognition in an individualist society are unrealistic, to act like those who are reasonably upset by racist thought and action directed towards them in the public sphere are just oversensitive and over-intellectualizing remains the exact reason the United States of America never moves beyond the plantation and internment camp in its public discourse.

Turning a blind eye to racism just because you're busy with the sonic soma of whatever's playing on your overpriced I-pod is plain pathetic.

2/09/2006 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James>>

So tell me, what then do you do for a living if you are not a college student? Have you obtained the American dream with your acquired education, or are you marginally living in a slum apartment, trying to make ends meet, because your head is filled with your idealist thoughts of how everyone can be a better citizen to one another?

2/09/2006 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

"And, when a person moves onto the real world with a job, obtaining the ultimate dream of a big expensive house, expensive cars, all the other material things that go along with it, marriage, kids, aging parents, death in the family, all of the college ideals are not what really matters. " - Anonymous

American materialism at it finest. So naturalized into the belief that financial security is the only reward that matters, you are willing to proscribe such 'turn on, tune in, and cop out" dogma on people who are denied enjoyment of their financial security in the real world because at every turn the content of their character and their labor's production is never enough to ensure they are treated as equal human beings in the greatest country in the world.

Maybe you have no frame of reference for this, but try a thought experiment. Imagine being told you are sub-human everyday, that you and everyone like you suck the country's resources and deserve police brutality, that children are never safe in your presence, that the whole nation is justifiably afraid of you, that you are violent, uneducated, ignorant, and criminal, that you were born stupid, that you spread disease, engage in perverse sexual acts, can't hold down a job under the best of circumstances and are given jobs you are totally unqualified for because of the liberal White Democrat penchant for racist affirmative action policies, that you smell funny and look worse, that you're always too angry, too unpredictable, and too unreasonable to deal with politically, that you're always too dark to be attractive, that you're only good for comedy and pornography, that women who know you and love you only bring themselves and their families toward social ostracism and economic ruin, that you hurt everything you've ever touched in life because of what you believe and who you are, and that there's nothing you can ever do to change anything.

Now open your eyes. You are an Arab American man. And there are some things more important than money.

2/09/2006 10:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

James...

You still didn't answer my question: Are you gainfully employed?

2/09/2006 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

In the NYC Soho office of Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. Then my parents got sick. Since you are so inquisitive about my private life, check out the full scoop at http://www.jameslambjr.com. Feel free to comment.

And then quietly go to Hell.

I know I'm breaking all those rules of honorable discourse in online conversations, but asking to be treated like an equal human being in America by Americans in the public sphere should not be contingent on "gainful employment". Many housewives and children and poor and elderly people would be second-class citizens if that was.... oh wait.

"After being called "not a minority", I have faced a series of situations in which White people have repeatedly refused to consider the positions of the oppressed minority. Basking in White privilege, I have consistently encountered White people who not only don't care, but revel in their not-having-to-care-ness." - Jenn

I know what it's like to work for pay and fight to be considered human. I've even overlooked the striking irony between this quote from Jenn's Confession post and how you've acted during this entire discussion, Anonymous.

But now a question for you. How are you not part of the American problem of pervasive racism when you continue to "repeatedly refuse to consider the positions of the oppressed minority"? Or maybe you're too busy making Steve Jobs richer to deal with your passive racism and answer a fair question.

2/09/2006 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was right. There is no hope for you. It has nothing to do with "White America". You have caused your own demise.

2/09/2006 01:55:00 PM  
Blogger James said...

Please. You are a wonderful example of basic ignorance. Nothing about caring for sick parents negates any argument I have made here.

You continue to ignore reasonable minority perspectives if you choose. However, some groups are not as nice as Asian Americans and African Americans, as the uproar over the offensive Danish cartoons suggest.

Continued ignorance on your part does not help matters.

2/09/2006 04:49:00 PM  
Blogger phillyjay said...

"The difference is all men oppress all women, all white people oppress all persons of color, all white heterocentric persons oppress all LGBTQ persons, all fundamentalists oppress all of whomever doesn't fit into their small fundamentalist world."

That's a pretty broad statement you are making there..........

2/10/2006 01:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Bobby said...

Anonymous, let me break it down to it's most basic level...

Asians want the right to be as stupid and ignorant as their white counterpart.

Does that make sense? I don't want to be the better man and work harder or be smarter in order to get the job over the white man.

I want to be as ignorant and stupid as the white man and still get the job and not have my authority or proficiency questioned.


The bottom line is: we just want to live. Like anyone else without the bullshit.

2/10/2006 03:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bobby...

Point well made, point well taken.

2/10/2006 08:02:00 AM  
Anonymous tekanji said...

phillyjay: think of it as privilege rather than "oppression" and the brush won't seem as broad. We can never escape our privilege, but we damn well should be aware of it.

2/10/2006 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger yellowbaby said...

...and a dominant group's privilege depends on the decrease of a subordinate group's privilege.

2/10/2006 04:32:00 PM  
Blogger the nut said...

takanji - thanks for that link as that's pretty much what i was trying to say.

2/11/2006 02:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Dora said...

Hi there,

I've been following this blog for a couple of months now, and I read this entry when you first wrote it. I agreed and felt like I knew where you were coming from at the time, but ...

After recently dealing with some ignorance about privilege with some close white friends, this resonates more strongly and more painfully with me. I hate the idea that I have to "educate" people who are otherwise intelligent and caring. I hate that I am the only one who thinks privilege is enough to make a "big deal" out of. I hate that I have to spend time and energy coddling and preserving white egos just so I can get my message across about hurtful and destructive racism. Most of all, I hate this:

Why are they never forced to be responsible for never learning, never interacting? Why don't they go home crying as I did?

They don't have as much at stake as I do. What they can dismiss as bothersome or unimportant, I cannot forget. I'm the one who came home and cried that I had to hear these ignorant words from my friends - and I'm also the one who then had to calm down, think it through, and find a way to explain it to them so I wouldn't come off as "just" another angry POC.

I don't want to hate white people, especially not my friends. I think, given time, I'll feel less raw and liable to slip into hatred. But that underlying frustration and resentment doesn't ever quite disappear. You expressed almost exactly what my feelings are after all this. Like you, I'm tired.

3/09/2006 02:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is easy to blame "white people" for your sadness. Get over yourself. Every race experiences pain.

6/05/2006 06:05:00 PM  

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