What does it mean to be a person of color? How can we think about communities of color as also yellow and brown? I am attempting to put together an online colloquium/dialogue series on Tumblr consisting of Asian American bloggers (APIA/SEA/SAALT). While discussions of race amongst people of color frequently take place on Tumblr, like most discussions of race that occur in the real world, these discussions oftentimes are not concerned or interested with Asian American issues. This call for bloggers is attempting to create a coalition of Asian American bloggers on Tumblr to begin a dialogue centering upon Asian American issues, history, and identity as people of color in the West.
The focus of this dialogue is to begin as a starting point by calling attention to Asian Americans and members of the Asian diaspora as people of color, in order to raise awareness of Asian American issues and include Asian Americans within the larger community of color on Tumblr.
Possible topics of discussion may include (but certainly are not limited to):
- Model minority myth
- Undocumented workers and working class issues
- Sex and human trafficking
- History of Asian diaspora in the West
- Fetishization and exotification
- Hypersexualization of women/desexualization and emasculation of men
- Interracial relationships and conflict
- Intergenerational conflict
- Anti-Asian hate crimes and experiences
- Interracial coalitions and political activism
- Western imperialism and colonization in Asia
- Citizenship and nationality
- Coolies/indentured servitude in the West
(This list can keep on going on and on, but this is just a starting point)
If you are interested in participating, please reblog or send a private Ask to colorblinding here. I am hoping to get a good group of bloggers who do work in this area together so we can organize, plan, and figure out how to start this dialogue!
i’m all in favor of a space for thinking through asian/asian american identity/issues, but in all honesty i’m feeling kind of troubled about how this is being framed. “rethinking race in yellow and brown.” i can’t quite pin it down or articulate what i feel yet — but i do hope that in this attempt to “rethink race in yellow and brown,” we don’t disavow, erase, belittle, forget, or deny the relevance of understanding past and present race relations in the terms of black and white. and not just in the way of, “oh, where are we, we’re so confused… neither black nor white… forever triangulated… being a model minority sux 4 ever and always…. i know i’m oppressed racially cuz people look at me and think i’m not American but i was really born and raised in california making me just as American as they are…. i h8 being perpetual foreigner!!!1” either. but in the way of critically engaging with the histories of race and domination in the US, and understanding that we can’t understand “asian american” without also understanding what slavery and genocide were/are for black and indigenous peoples. the identity of “asian american” isn’t just founded upon migration or imperialism in asia, but also upon this land that had to be properly colonized before we could even conceive of being here and forming an identity in this country.
speaking from my own experience, i think sometimes people can be a little quick to say they want to “rethink” or “complicate” race when most of what they think they know about race (“in terms of black and white”) is from learning about slavery and the civil rights movement in their high school or college history classes, and then they think that’s all they need to know about that. and clearly it’s insufficient so thinking about race in black and white is outdated and needs a makeover. but what they don’t recognize is that 99.9% of the time, that knowledge we’re receiving about “race” in the terms of “black and white” was packaged in a way to make us think that that’s all there is to know about racism/black/white; to make us think it’s all over or stale or out of fashion or irrelevant to today’s world.
i’m interested in what asian ams have to say about rethinking race in yellow and brown; i am particularly interested in what asian ams have to say about rethinking their own conceptions of race in the dynamic, not intentionally deadened, terms of black and white. what has been bringing me more clarity, personally, has been the latter. but i’m still working through it and i get confused often too.
apologies if this is jumbled, but anyway, in spite of my discomfort/hesitance i’d be down to contribute if i have the capacity to (which i don’t know at this point). and i’d be interested in suggesting a topic or two as well. :)
I’m interested. Even though I usually do my blogging outside of Tumblr (which I mainly use for signal boosting). I would like to say that I also second @miswritten, since it is important to remember that an argument of inclusion into racial dialogues should be careful to ensure that we don’t appropriate the histories and/or experiences of others. Nor should this become about the oppression olympics. More importantly, I believe an community wide discussion is desirable but that we should not argue from a place where other PoC should start focusing on our issues too. They have their own to worry about.
Oh… One note, while I am interested in this… I am also Canadian, not American. And I don’t identify as Asian American (even if I do identify as Filipina and, if pressed for my other ethnicity, French Canadian).
bolding mine for emphasis!
and i generally don’t like identifying as asian american… it makes me feel kind of strange, like i’m part of a nonspecific, nondescript, unappealing multicultural concoction that’s about to be mixed into a vat of limp ass asian vegetables and soggy white people. and i feel uncomfortable with a good majority of what i understand to be (mainstreamed) ‘asian american politics’ too. but it’s unfortunately more convenient for me a lot of the time as well. :|
Bolded mine for emphasis!
I agree with everything that’s been said in this dialogue. When I first saw the call, I was pretty hesitant. Probably because I’m healing from a lot of trauma(s) from heterosexism, gender policing, and other forms of devaluation within Asian American politics/organizations. I think feminist, queer, and trans* submissions are welcomed but you never know if everyone’s on the same page. I’ve also been accused of “Pilipino nationalism” for wanting to talk about our differences within an Asian Am space, like I’ve been in an uncomfortable situation where us “Pilipinos” (I quote Pilipinos because we were lumped together awkwardly by the accusers as such) left an Asian American caucus within a POC Conference. Maybe those of you reading this post were there to witness that incident, but anyways…
I like what miswritten said right here:
but in the way of critically engaging with the histories of race and domination in the US, and understanding that we can’t understand “asian american” without also understanding what slavery and genocide were/are for black and indigenous peoples. the identity of “asian american” isn’t just founded upon migration or imperialism in asia, but also upon this land that had to be properly colonized before we could even conceive of being here and forming an identity in this country.
YES on those points! On a side note, I identify more under the politics of Asian Pacific Islander (API) more so than Asian American, and to me that is a huge difference, especially remembering the ways Pacific Islanders are overlooked and too have been colonized by Asian Americans such as Hawaii’s history. Or those engaged in the military industries…tourism…and much more.
Ironically, I am an Asian American Studies major for the past 4 (going on 5) years at UCLA, and contemplating grad school under Asian Am. Putting that out there to understand where I’m coming from with this. I also feel uncomfortable with most mainstreamed Asian American politics like this point right here:
- Hypersexualization of women/desexualization and emasculation of men
I instantly cringed and got triggered when I saw this. You have no idea how much heterosexist, patriarchal, and cissexist scholarship came out from Asian American Studies, and other forms of earlier knowledge production to “critique” that point. Read “Assembling Asian American Men in Pornography” by Celine Parrenas Shimizu as she calls out male Asian American scholars who think replicating heterosexist sexual violence would solve their anxieties and “racial injury” around “emasculation” (the abstract from the link sums it up nicely). Also, all the “hey it’s up to us heterosexual cisgender Asian American males to save our brown and yellow sisters and take back what’s rightfully ours” savior shit makes me sick. Who in the Asian American community defines how Asian Americans are “hypersexualized” or “emasculated?” What about the API queers and trans* folks? Is there a way to talk about hypersexualization and emasculation without shaming and erasing others? Though I feel it is crucial to still talk about that topic, but there better be a critical analysis on API gender and sexuality, rather than fighting for “normal” inclusion into hetero-patriarchal structures to remedy the problem.
I want to write more but so tired and jumbled right now. I seriously need to write my Asian Am papers…but I’d rather do Asian Am things on tumblr…but then my Asian Am paper is about my tumblr. ARGH!!
Still not sure how I’ll contribute, but I would like to see how this call for bloggers will grow!
bolding for titotibok’s points about the heteropatriarchal project of recuperating straight cis asian male masculinity. i think white colonialist constructions of asian gender and sexuality are complex and important to think about/combat for the purpose of addressing violence done in and against our communities, as these tropes of hypersexualization/emasculation/etc. do serve to justify certain enactments of oppression (in queer and trans communities as well — for example, how queer and trans asian men are often exoticized, racialized, sexualized, and gendered by white men in similar ways as asian women often are).
however i think that this preoccupation with being “desexualized” and “emasculated,” from straight cis asian man, often has less to do with taking note of the nuances of gendered and sexualized violence in/against asian communities and has more to do with his grievances about not having the same patriarchal authority as a white man. the straight cis asian brother bemoaning the phenomenon of asian women dating white men (and not asian men) is usually the first one to judge those women and deem them stupid, self-hating, naive, ignorant, sexually loose, and disloyal — demonstrating what his issue TRULY is. not that white men often prey on asian women, not that asian women experience so much violence at the hands of white men AND asian men, not that asian women face some intense misogyny and racism from white AND asian men… nope. it’s the, “wait, why not me?” syndrome, aka the “nice guy” syndrome (aka rape culture pretending to have your best interests at heart). one more asian nice guy condescendingly judge an asian woman for dating a white man without checking their own misogynistic entitlement that leads them to think that asian women rightfully belong to them…….. one more.
and the whole thing with being emasculated/feminized… how can they make it into a thing about how whitey is taking away their manhood and they need to TAKE IT BACK by DOMINATING THEIR WOMEN (which they never stopped doing lol), and NOT about how misogyny is incredibly destructive, and NOT about how white masculinity is really oppressive, violent, and impossible to obtain? the point. you’ve been missing it. for decades. upon decades. and it’s women, queers, and trans people who have to deal with your self-pitying trash while bearing the brunt of the actual violence.
anyway, r, i really like what you asked in this: “Is there a way to talk about hypersexualization and emasculation without shaming and erasing others?” and when you said that inclusion into white heteropatriarchy won’t solve shit. it’s ridiculous and telling that so many straight cis asian american men see “emasculation” or someshit as the root of ~*~~*gender problemz*~*~~* for asian americans and not. you know. anti-queer anti-trans and anti-woman misogyny.
my bad if this is rambly/repetitive lol, it’s 3:34am
oh and edited to add:
on asian am vs API, i don’t really like identifying as API either because i haven’t ever seen an API space actually have more than a couple pacific islanders vs hella asians. i think there are bridges to be built but the ‘PI’ is so often tacked on without really thinking about what we may be erasing in the process.. and to be honest, i don’t know as much as i should about PI communities. to me, putting asians and pacific islanders together seems like it would be more convenient, but when even just the category “asian” is so complicated and vast, i feel like it further invisiblizes PI’s to throw them into that mix. maybe this is different where there is more PI presence, though.
I just wanted to have this entire conversation on my Tumblr. The longer I stay on this continent, the more curious I am as to how As-Ams construct identity, especially given the pervasiveness of white racism and how I’ve seen light-skinned Asians take up / assimilate white racism as a class marker. I’m quite leery of a conversation that appears to have no delineation on the terms of engagement besides “let’s all talk!” because I was modding a comm where that was pretty much the case, and it resulted in a huge breach of trust.
One of the challenges I’ve seen thus far in having “Asian American” discussions is that it’s really effin’ difficult to parse the wholeness of “Asian America”. Asia is a pretty fucking huge place, and we all have different, and intersecting experiences and oppressions that do not mesh well into a coherent singular experience. All this talk about “yellow” and ‘brown”… some of us are a different kind of yellow, and many are yellow and something else (we have half a ton of Blasians on Tumblr… do they count, forex??).
When Jose Munoz came to my uni to speak about his conception of brownness, there was a feeling that he was trying to create a racial experience separate from blackness, implying that blackness was limited and/or inferior to use to articulate the brown experience. It’s an easy trap to fall into (especially for us academics!) when trying to articulate / theorize our own racialized experiences.
I’m definitely curious to see what comes out of this conversation (if anything, I could always use more Asians on my Tumblr dash) but the replication of white-dominant discourse is something I’m wary of, and don’t trust myself not to reproduce in an effort to be “neutral” and communicable.