"Disappearing" at CUPSI 2013 Prelims
in gym class
my white best friend points to the flat of my face
and says “you don’t really have a nose.”
it’s the first time i notice the difference
in the geography of our faces
i wish for a tall, delicate nose like hers
like my white boy punk idols
like the girls the boys see as beautiful
7th grade is a year of disappearing
the boys lounging in the breezeway
cackle about how i don’t have an ass
the department store jeans sag over the thin of me
it’s the first time i learn my yellow body
does not exist here
i’m in college
the first time a man old enough to be my father
hollers at me on the street
"sup lil mama!
me love you long time,
his words lick the back of my neck, slow
there’s a part of me that takes it as a compliment
there’s a part of me that wants to falcon punch the lecher out his face
it’s the first time someone makes me understand
how my yellow body shouts
across the sidewalk
port of nagasaki thighs
for you to commodore perry open
cambodian countryside cunt
to bomb in silence
in the mirror
i want to skin the chinadoll off of me
these almond eyes
flushed porcelain cheeks
that betray me
look how cute you did yourself up today
you were asking for it
the halloween store sells costumes called
"geisha beauty to ninja cutie"
modeled by white women in black wigs
cleavage bursting through strategic seams
my skin a little something sexy to don for one night only
they wear the fantasy of it
but never know the itching
how we asian women
carry a certain insanity
with the yellow of our skin
tiptoeing the ghostland
between invisible and undesirable
visible and easy victim
i’ve learned to speak steel trap
when talking to white men
keeping my smiles from showing too much interest
because the air is heavy with ghosts between us
chinese women abducted into new world prostitution
british opium ravaging pearl delta apart
in 2008, the 16 asian women in oakland victimized by police
in 2000, the 2 japanese women in spokane
raped by 2 white men “infatuated with the japanese race”
i’ve learned i can’t trust anyone to see me
under the histories this country
has mapped onto our skin
the paper pale english major next to me in
seems too interested
in whether or not i have plans for the weekend
i can’t tell if he’s just friendly
or viewing the beginnings of a porno
in the corners of my smile
i want to tear the “undemanding”
the “passive” from my skin
i leave the classroom
hoping walking away
is enough to not disappear
I know it’s hard for a lot of ppl to understand why black people are so deeply affected by racism and it’s hard for people to understand why so many of us live in impoverished, run down places.
So here are some numbers that I think make the picture clear.
Black Americans as a group have spent more time in slavery than out of slavery.
Slavery lasted for 245 years, it has only been 149 years since we were “freed”.
And as you all know, we were freed without any money or land or any kind of support. And I’m gonna just glaze over all the share cropping and slave like labour that continued to happen to just point out that segregation didn’t even end on paper until the 1950s, meaning we’ve only been legally allowed to share the same spaces with white people for 60 years. Our grandparents/parents were living during major civil rights movements. (My grandmother couldn’t get a job that she was RECOMMENDED for because they didn’t realize she was black until she showed up in person)
So, 245 years of being chattel, 77 years of fighting for basic human rights, and 60 more years of still fighting against discrimination and trying to level the playing field, all while being told to forget that the majority of the time we spent in this country, we spent as slaves and/or being sabotaged by the government.
Just a little perspective
After seeing several submissions from fellow Filipinos, I thought I’d share my own experience growing up Filipino in America. Some of this may become ranty and incoherent, but hopefully I can reach those of you who have experienced something similar or at least can relate.
I remember when a Korean-American classmate in my orchestra class asked from what country in Asia my family came from. Of course, I said that I’m from the Philippines.
Lo and behold! His treatment of me changed from pleasant to utmost disdain. At the time, I did not understand why he suddenly didn’t want to interact with me anymore.
You see, back then (this was when I as 14/15 years old), I was very naïve and I thought Filipinos are just as Asian as all other Asians. I thought this way because both my parents instilled in me that we ARE Asians because of language, cultural, and political influence.
I did not know about the unspoken hierarchy that Filipinos were at the bottom of the Asian Hierarchy. Or were seen as “the wrong kind of Asian.”
And so, I wanted to really make friends with the other Asians at school, but I was often frustrated and ended up becoming a loner because I was often told these things:
“You’re too dark to be Asian.”
“You’re Pacific Islander because Philippines is an archipelago.”
“Your people do not have a clear cultural identity.”
“Filipinos are ‘Hispanic’ because they were colonized by Spain.”
Well, it did not end there. The worst part was when it came to dating and I saw my Asian-American schoolmates dating fellow Asians (most of the ones who dated their fellow Asian Americans were the pale-skinned ones) and/or white people.
I thought, “If they can date other Asians or white people, so can I!”
I was wrong.
So very wrong.
As a matter of fact, these guys, whether they were white or Asian American, won’t even look at me or see me as someone attractive, interesting, funny, and intelligent because all they saw is this dark-skinned girl from the Philippines.
At first, I couldn’t articulate why I was always felt so frustrated and dismissed or just seen as a place holder until they get their “Dream Asian Girl.”
Japanese girls were always at the top. Chinese and Korean girls were always a close second.
But I noticed Filipino girls were always some kind of “consolation prize” for these guys who can’t get a girl from the “East Asian Trifecta.”
Then it dawned on me that this is happening because I’m the “wrong” kind of Asian. I do not belong in the hierarchy that was established by whatever powers that may be out there.
I completely resented it. And for the longest time, I hated being Filipino because my heritage is always the butt of jokes!
That routine from Donald Glover didn’t help: http://thisisnotpinoy.tumblr.com/post/32867024237
What Lucy Liu said on the David Letterman Show http://youtu.be/s5NCE71wV5s didn’t help.
Why is being Filipino such a bad thing? Why is having a deep tan such a bad thing?
Why is having dark skin disqualifies Filipinos from being Asian?
Why is it so bad? Why do people hate us so much? Why do people not want us?
Even our own selves; we hate ourselves.
Growing up in the Philippines, the media that I saw had fair-skinned movie stars, news casters, and models. There were some dark-skinned actresses but they were few and far in between or they’re often type-casted as the punchline for the fair-skinned protagonist.
Then there’s an abundance of skin whitening products! How can we escape from this madness when we are deeply mired by our own self-hate?
I even hate myself to the point where I do not go outside in the sun, slather SPF100 and wear big sun hats so that I won’t become “too dark.” I am also very guilty of being flattered when relatives tell me “Oh, you’ve become so fair-skinned, you’re so pretty!”
I’m a full-grown woman now but I still find myself being petty about not disclosing my cultural background to people and doing my best to look East Asian as much as possible.
And going back to interacting with white people, they just see Filipinos as “good servants.” Is that how we all are? We just exist to merely serve?
I’ve encountered the question “No, where are you REALLY from?” followed up by a mangled version of some Tagalog phrase they try to use on me to impress me?!
Oh, here’s another “classic” pick up line from white men. They’d tell me they were stationed in the Philippines for quite a few years and talk about how the hospitality of the people and how “docile and submissive” Filipino women are. Then they would even go as far as talk about how they were offered a Filipino bride to take home to America!
That truly annoys me to the Nth degree!
It’s really irritating, frustrating, and tiring battling my own self-hate, discrimination from white people, and then discrimination from fellow Asians.
It is really complicated, being Filipino. I see myself and identify myself as an autonomous Human Being and yet I am always reduced to a caricature of my culture and heritage—not just by other people, but by my own self, too.
White people get so angry at the phrase, “You cannot be racist towards white people.”
I will never understand why.
Why are you so angry that you are being treated as actual human beings? You are not reduced to caricatures, but portrayed as characters. You are treated fairly, judged not by your skin tone, but by the ways that you carry yourselves, by your actions.
Why do you want to experience racism so badly? It is not fun to be mocked, dehumanized, attacked, killed, incarcerated simply for daring to exist. It is not fun to know nothing of your history or family because it was torn apart, whether through distance or death. It is not fun to hear, at every turn, comments reminding you of your lesser status as humans.
Do you really want to turn on the tv, open a magazine, watch a movie, play a video game, and not see yourself? Or, even better, to only see yourself as a criminal, as a drunk, a mocking stereotype, or as someone to be killed off? Or would you rather see fleshed out, well-written characters with lives and personalities and feelings? I know which I’d rather pick.
If I were a white person, the phrase, “You cannot be racist towards white people,” would be the best thing I could ever hear.
Overall, MTV confirms the general view of millennials: Compared with previous generations, they’re more tolerant and diverse and profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness. At the same time, however, they’re committed to an ideal of colorblindness that leaves them uncomfortable with race, opposed to measures to reduce racial inequality, and a bit confused about what racism is.
When you hear MTV, you don’t think “research.” But, for the last few years, the music television channel has been building a public affairs campaign to address bias called “Look Different.” Aimed at millennials, it seeks to help them deal with prejudice and discrimination in their lives. And as part of the project, MTV has worked with pollsters to survey a nationally representative sample of people ages 14 to 24 to measure how young people are “experiencing, affected by, and responding to issues associated with bias.”
All of this is apparent in the findings. Ninety-one percent of respondents “believe in equality” and believe “everyone should be treated equally.” Likewise, 84 percent say their families taught them to treat everyone the same, no matter their race, and 89 percent believe everyone should be treated as equals. With that said, only 37 percent of respondents (30 percent of whites and 46 percent of minorities) say they were raised in families that talk about race.For this reason, perhaps, a majority of millennials say that their generation is “post-racial.” Seventy-two percent believe their generation believes in equality more than older people, and 58 percent believe that as they get older, racism will become less of an issue. It’s almost certainly true that this view is influenced by the presence of President Obama. Sixty-two percent believe that having a black president shows that minorities have the same opportunities as whites, and 67 percent believe it proves that race is not a “barrier to accomplishments.”
It’s no surprise, then, that most millennials aspire to “colorblindness.” Sixty-eight percent say “focusing on race prevents society from becoming colorblind.” As such, millennials are hostile to race-based affirmative action: 88 percent believe racial preferences are unfair as a matter of course, and 70 percent believe they are unfair regardless of “historical inequalities.” Interestingly, the difference between whites and people of color is nonexistent on the first question and small (74 percent versus 65 percent) on the second. But this might look different if you disaggregated “people of color” by race. There’s a chance that black millennials are more friendly to affirmative action than their Latino or Asian peers.
For all of these aspirations, however, millennials have a hard time talking about race and discrimination. Although 73 percent believe that we should talk “more openly” about bias, only 20 percent say they’re comfortable doing so—despite the fact that a plurality of minorities say that their racial identities shape their views of the world.
Millennials have a hard time talking about race and discrimination.
What’s more, for all of their unity on tolerance and equality, white and minority millennials have divergent views on the status of whites and minorities in society. Forty-one percent of white millennials say that the government “pays too much attention to the problems of racial minority groups while 65 percent of minorities say that whites have more opportunities.” More jarring is the 48 percent of white millennials who say discrimination against whites is as big a problem as discrimination against racial minorities. With that in mind, it’s worth a quick look at a 2012 poll from the Public Religion Research Institute, where 58 percent of white millennials said that discrimination against whites was as big a problem as discrimination against minorities.
It’s hard to say which is the “true” number, but there’s no doubt that a substantial plurality of young white people believe their race is a disadvantage, which is ludicrous given the small number who say that they’ve felt excluded because of their race (10 percent) or say that they’ve been hurt by racial offenses (25 percent).
But while this reaction doesn’t seem to have a basis in reality, it makes perfect sense given what millennials writ large believe about racism. Let’s go back to the results on colorblindness and affirmative action. Seventy-three percent believe that “never considering race would improve society,” and 90 percent say that “everyone should be treated the same regardless of race.”
From these results, it’s clear that—like most Americans—millennials see racism as a matter of different treatment, justified by race, that you solve by removing race from the equation. If we ignore skin color in our decisions, then there can’t be racism.
The problem is that racism isn’t reducible to “different treatment.” Since if it is, measures to ameliorate racial inequality—like the Voting Rights Act—would be as “racist” as the policies that necessitated them. No, racism is better understood as white supremacy—anything that furthers a broad hierarchy of racist inequity, where whites possess the greatest share of power, respect, and resources, and blacks the least.
And the magic of white supremacy is that its presence is obscured by the focus on race. When a black teenager is unfairly profiled by police, we say it’s “because of the color of his skin,” which—as a construction—avoids the racism at play, from the segregated neighborhood the officer patrols to the pervasive belief in black criminality that shapes our approach to crime. Likewise, it obscures the extent to which this isn’t just different treatment— it’s unequal treatment rooted in unequal conditions.
Millennials have grown up in a world where we talk about race without racism—or don’t talk about it at all—and where “skin color” is the explanation for racial inequality, as if ghettos are ghettos because they are black, and not because they were created. As such, their views on racism—where you fight bias by denying it matters to outcomes—are muddled and confused.
Which gets to the irony of this survey: A generation that hates racism but chooses colorblindness is a generation that, through its neglect, comes to perpetuate it.
People say “professional”
when what they really mean is “not having visual/behavioral markers of being poor, disabled, or culturally ‘other’”
which effectively shuts out of professional careers the very people who are most likely to be in dire need of income
I see your bullshit
Here, from the non-profit Economic Policy Institute, is a snapshot of how segregated public schools are, starting in kindergarten. It was written by Elaine Weiss and Emma García. Weiss has served as the national coordinator for the Broader, Bolder Approach to Education since 2011. García, who joined the Economic Policy Institute in 2013, specializes in the economics of education and education policy. EPI was created in 1986 to broaden the discussion about economic policy to include the interests of low- and middle-income workers.
My university has this Facebook page for confessions and it’s usually a cool place but there have been some posts about having “yellow fever” and liking half-Asian girls or “white-washed Asian”. This is fetishizing right? I want to put something in the comments but I don’t know how exactly to respond. Any ideas?
(I submitted this already but for some reason I was logged out)
OK, so I can’t exactly answer this the right way, but I go to the University of Vermont, and our “confessions” page is all “Yellow fever” and “bang an asian chick”, etc. The ONLY racialized posts are about Asian women and how hot we are and “how to get one”.
It sounds a lot like your situation.
At first, I thought that these people would care if I explained how fetishization of a race is dehumanizing. I explained safety, how it feels to be preyed on, etc.
I wrote literally pages and pages, including statistics, talking about how this hurts us.
Other Asian women chimed in, liked those posts, supported me. Who better to talk about being an Asian woman than Asian women?
And the men told me that we were the problem. They told me that choosing who you are attractive to isn’t a choice. They told me that it was oppressive to tell them who they can and cannot be attractive to. They told me that I was “using feminism for covert sexism”, meaning that my “feminism” was oppressing their desires and ultimately, them.
So that’s when I stopped looking at these confession pages.
I can’t look.
No one will give up power voluntary, and if the very words and testimonials and stories of Asian women will not affect these “yellow fever” men, I can’t change them.
Now I have a better picture of how unsafe I am, and that knowledge is power.
Also, I’m leaving this college.
I admire both of you for taking a stand because I didn’t in college and it’s something I regret. Now when I talk about how fetishising of Asian women is hurtful and oppressive, I too get defensive responses about how we should be flattered and how I shouldn’t trample over people’s fantasies. I tried to make them see how they would like it if they were treated as a sex toy and made to feel unsafe everywhere. This might now make people change their opinions, but don’t let them silence you.
I would suggest responding in any way that best preserves your mental wellbeing. I pretty much had the same experience in college. When I politely explained that yellow fever stuff made me and other Asian women uncomfortable, I got a lot of “well it’s just natural” and “you’re a prude” and “you must be some kind of fascist to dictate what turns people on” and “why can’t you take a compliment (bitch)” and “you’re racist.”
Although it seems like I’m arguing speaking up is counterproductive, in fact, it’s not. Because although the person you speak to is 99% of the time going to lash back, you’re reaching so many other people that you never know and changing the environment that allows this kind of harm. Fifty people might read what you wrote, and even if they don’t respond, they get a positive impression of you and a negative impression of whoever lashed back. And maybe tomorrow or a week or a year in the future they are the ones who speak out. Also, other Asian women will feel like they’re not as alone. If you can get strength from imagining the intangible future benefits, enough to offset the stress, then I suggest you speak out, but it’s a calculation you have to make with your wellbeing foremost in mind.
A few days ago, my white roommates opened my bottle of Korean aloe juice for no reason, sniffed it, and said it smelled gross. Apparently, my juice is gross, but it’s okay for them to cook as much “normal” food as they want and leave rotting fruit and old cheese in the room for sometimes weeks. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?
YES. I’ve been told my food was strange, asked me what the hell I was cooking, and all kinds of dumb shit. Meanwhile, they’re cooking hamburger helper and leaving their food out for hours then eating it the next day. -Kat
YES. one time my asian roommate’s white boyfriend walked into our apartment and said it smelled foreign or some bullshit like that and asked if i recently cooked anything. one, i was quietly minding my own business in my room doing homework and two, it wasn’t even me who cooked something. it my other, white roommate that did.
and recently one of my best friends said the food we eat in my country was gross and disgusting because of a food challenge on survivor.. cool.
93 years ago on this day May 31, 1921, the Tulsa Race Riot began. It is marked as the deadliest race riot in the history of the U.S. & destroyed what was known as, Black Wall Street.
Black Wall Street was the wealthiest black community in the United States, full of black owned businesses consisting of:
a bus system
its own hospital.
Racial tension boiled over on May 30, 1921 when a white woman accused a black boy of sexual assault. Late that night, a mob of nearly 10,000 white men launched an all out assault on Black Wall Street systematically burning down every home & business.
Attacks came from both the ground and the sky as the mobs used planes from World War I to drop firebombs and shoot at residents. African Americans that were captured were held in internment camps around the city by local police & National Guard units.
Blacks who were injured during the 16 hour attack couldn’t seek medical care because the mobs torched the only black hospital in the city.
The attack left about 10,000 African Americans homeless and 35 city blocks burned to the ground. In total, 1,256 houses & 191 businesses (including churches, a middle school & a hospital) were burned.
In the aftermath, it was estimated that 300 African Americans were killed and many of their bodies were buried in unmarked graves.
The Tulsa Race Riot was taught for the 1st time in Tulsa public schools in 2012. #NeverForget #BlackWallStreet #BlackHistory
"why don’t you just make your own"
this is what happens we when make our own
Let me break this down:
- Race is a social construct invented by Western Europeans to justify chattel slavery. Preferences aren’t biological or something you are born with, because race didn’t even exist until about 500 years ago.
- Among PoC, there is no race/ethnic group/country where all the people have anything in common besides being from a certain part of the world. Among PoC, there is no race where every member has the same skin color, hair color, hair type, eye color, language, clothing, culture, etc.
- The only race whose members all have something in common is white- all white people have to have light skin in order to be white. This rule was created by white people themselves, and is intentionally exclusive.
- Don’t even pretend that you don’t know there is a racial hierarchy in beauty. Everyone knows that in Western culture white women are seen as the most desirable, black women are seen as the least desirable, and everyone else is in the middle. Funny how these “innate” and “random” preferences seem to line up perfectly with white beauty standards/white supremacist ideals.
- No more false equivalencies. PoC not wanting to date white people is not the same as the reverse. PoC almost never believe that white people are unattractive/ugly, they just find it too difficult to meet a white person who is actively unlearning and working to dismantle white supremacy.
- Stop trying to defend yourself. If you have racial or ethnic preferences, whether they are positive or negative, you are the problem, stop blaming it on everyone else. You have to acknowledge and unlearn whatever stereotype you’ve absorbed.
Like a previous post I made, this post is also not a place to try to debate whether racial preferences are bad or not. I’ve made my statement based on pretty obvious facts about Western culture and white supremacy. If you don’t agree, move on.
However, feel free to share your experiences with this (either involving you or someone else).
I see y’all
"I don’t think that my work is actually effectively dealing with history. I think of my work as subsumed by history or consumed by history." —Kara Walker
New episode from Art21’s Exclusive series: An in-depth look at the creation of Kara Walker’s monumental public project for Creative Time, A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby (2014), at the Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn, NY.
IMAGES: Production stills from the Art21 Exclusive episode, Kara Walker: “A Subtlety, or the Marvelous Sugar Baby”. © Art21, Inc. 2014.
She is right.
I went to see this and wasn’t prepared for the amount of random inexplicable whiteness in the crowd. Here I am thinking only black folks concerned with this will be viewing this and it was a whooooooole lot of white folks. It only made me uncomfortable because I couldn’t figure out what would make them want to view it, what led them to it, and for that reason, I was positive the message would be but a whisper to them. Something they couldn’t understand at all.
Now I’m not sure what reaction she expected/wanted, but walking through the empty, haunting venue, I was annoyed that I couldn’t separate my viewing pleasure from the consuming white gaze. It was everywhere. I could barely take in the pieces of work because I was surrounded by jeering white people. Watching them consume these little black bodies and feel nothing like the sorrow that took me instantly. And then they were walking through the puddles of liquid sugar that was part of the art. Letting their children touch it. But in a way they became part of the artwork. It was like a presentation on the white gaze and their consumption of PoC.
Anywho, that shit was hard for me. I’m telling you old white couples stood by the grand ass of the mammy sphinx and smiles arm-in-arm for photos. SMILED. Hee-haw, a big ol’ butt y’all. Like the irony hurt. It hurt. Probably don’t even know what a mammy is. So yeah, the work isn’t critical of history is a sense that these oblivious people learn something. It’s kind of a product of history, or an example.
The Educational Testing Services and College Board invited thousands of teachers to Salt Lake City to grade the 2014 AP World History exams. Unfortunately, those in charge of educating and evaluating our children apparently are idiots.
(photo credit for AngryAsianMan)
The event unfolded as it had every year before with commemorative t-shirts for those who graded. This year, those t-shirts were inspired by a certain essay question involving the Chinese Communist party. The t-shirt as seen here had caricatures of past Chinese Communist party leaders and featured a crude Oriental font.
(photo credit for AngryAsianMan)
During orientation for graders, the AP World History chief reader had made jokes regarding the Tienanmen Square Massacre while wearing a Red Guard Cap (he apparently wasn’t the only one sporting such head gear). He revealed the design during orientation and complaints and protests against these designs followed quickly. Still, the organizers went ahead and t-shirts were distributed anyway. And yes, some teachers still went ahead and wore them.
It is disheartening to see that an established and credible organization that holds such power over our education and youth is marred with such ignorance and point-blank racism. One would think that specializing in World History would bring more cultural sensitivity, but perhaps then, we must look at how we, in fact, teach World History. Looking at our American education system which is, in fact, a Euro-centric and white-centric one, maybe it isn’t so surprising that there are educators who can produce such ignorant actions.
ETS and Collegeboard have made a joint statement, apologizing.
It’s 2014 and the people in charge of our education still think this is okay.