Un-racialize; become more uncomfortable

Understand the particulars and rejoice in them.  Most are afraid.

I say I am ‘black-japanese’ or ‘afro-japanese’ or ‘african-american japanese’ or ‘blasian’ or ‘blackanese’ or ‘japanegro.’   These are racial terms.  Meaning: we create race-terms to point to differences.  We use the language and cultural milieu of our locations.   In the UK, or the Netherlands, Germany or Argentina…..wherever….the terms and meanings will change.   However there is one fact:  without it, there is the ‘color-blindness’ that makes many people disavow their racism and the racism of the national systems that perpetuate it.  ‘Normal’ is infused with ‘race.’   Racialization!

Periods and times make differences.  I think we have to dialogue between and across generations and social classes, gender and national and cultural locations, sexualities and orientations, size and occupation, abilities and other differences.   Being a ‘Konketsuji’ — which is the old terminology for Mixed-blood people in Japan in the 1950s through the 70s, is no longer in use and that is why I use it for myself.  To designate and point to the intense stigma and ostracization that has passed for Japan’s democracy, while hiding racism in the US against those like me in those days.

In the present, the multicultural movements have offered spaces for empowerment.  But as I have mentioned in previous postings, whenever there is a black-mix somewhere, it is seen as tainted.  Taintedness may not mean direct hate or condescension.  It could be as inocuous as subconsciously expecting a black-mixed-race person to be ‘better at playing drums’ or more athletic or a ‘mix’ of chitlins and the ‘other’ culture.  And black individuals may see that person as tainted (not black enough) with another ethnicity and/or race or just ignores that aspect and continues to see them as a threat if that person doesn’t say they’re ‘black’ and only ‘black.’

In being ‘accepted’ in multliculturalism, there is  the tendency to think of the humanist definition of a ‘fully-arrived’ human– which is usually very whitened.   Even though people may look different due to anthropomorphic features and skin color, the behavior signifies an upward mobility and/or perfection, or a downward mobility and a ‘tainted-ness.’   The European and American colonization that passes for ‘globalization’ is also quite hybrid and has mixed with elite governing peoples globally, joining the wishes for social control and wealth production in localities.   Transnational capital continues to also make things more complex.  In this, racialization plays a huge role in the positioning of a person, nation, community, area, people, group, corporation, business—–all in very minute and diverse shiftings that include the other ‘isms’ of difference (gender, size, socio-economic class, etc.).    So history is always with us in the present, as much as we  would like to think that we are progressing and the past is past.  But the past changes as the present changes, which then guides the future.

This is where ‘change’ comes into play.  Change may influence the past, present and future.  How we see the past and how we act in the present and how we change, affects the future.  There’s lots to be done.   Racializing must be seen as a way we see difference through the prism of 16th to 19th century scientific discourse developed in order to justify colonial rule and social engineering.

If we talk about cultural inheritances, legacies, then it’s different.  We can be proud of our people, but see it as socially contingent and resting on the problematics of social and cultural dominations, technologies of ‘difference-making’ in relation to domination and institutionalization, and is often the measure of how much and how far we ourselves are willing to shift in order to maintain or change these things.

I, will continue to racialize in the name of social justice.  But I understand that categories of ‘race’ are contingent, dependent on who I’m speaking with, and my own continual education on what ethics I bear in the world in relation to my wish for the lessening of purposeful and meaning-making structures that force a face-to-face clarity and negotiation toward working TOGETHER to alleviate suffering.

Nowadays some people still feel that majorities are ‘allowed’ more power and control, that the majority makes the rules and the minority must suffer.  I hope we begin to start understanding, at least, that suffering in some form, is a fact of life, but that decisions on the welfare of humanity cannot be expected to be democratic when the parameters of these decisions will FAVOR a few or even most.   Instead of deciding in relation to what WE KNOW, we should enter more complex and ethical forms of communication, understanding that tension and contradiction and conflict are inevitable.  Right now, capitalist finance controls and effects decisions.  What in the future?  Where are the questions?  What do we ask ourselves?

We must struggle to do it.  Here lies the issue in modernity.   We want it comfortable, safe, secure.   These three things are contradictory to social justice.

4 responses to “Un-racialize; become more uncomfortable

  1. I have always thought that comparing to half-white individuals, “blasians” have a harder time defining their cultural identity.
    With slavery and colonization, Blacks and Whites have had what I call a love-hate relationship that Africa hasn’t “enjoyed” with Asia for now.
    I say for now because I remember writing about the involvement of China in Africa and a new term is born; “Chinafrica”. Time will tell if it will change the way people think but from what I have witnessed while in Africa with the growing number of Asian workers, things are moving too slowly…

    • I like what you have said. I also think that we must scrutinize this ‘ease’ of ‘defining identity.’ If not, as mixed-race people (and more with those mixed with a ‘blackness’) are just called ‘confused’ and in need of help to define. The issue is that others who may appear to have defined themselves, have had the benefit of cultural and historical hegemonies. So one can call oneself this label or that identity in relation to a stronger historical link. This has to do with PRIVILEGE. Of course, when we speak of privilege, it will become more white in most of the world, even places such as Japan. For instance, the multiracial Japanese movement is mostly run by Eurasian Japanese. In diversity and anti-racism work, for instance, one is villified when you say something if you are more dark in color. The whiter one is, the more you can say certain things. In this way, the entire world demotes proximities to Blackness. I myself never had a confusion about who I was in the world. I knew that the world had a problem. Defining oneself is a problem. But for *political resistance* I think it is necessary to create movements with names that project out into the spaces where mixed-black persons do not homogenize themselves into an ‘only-black’ cultural form and/or identity, and are willing to create *new* and trans-generational, trans-national, transcultural and cross-cultural labels that defy its own proximities to whiteness.

    • This is a very interesting article, however, it is not ‘new.’ I have some critiques of this:
      1) Yes, the idea of ‘race’ and its formulations in our consciousness and relationships through ‘racializing, is CONSTRUCTED, who has the privilege to say it is a fantasy? To call it a fantasy EXCUSES people who racialize and practice RACISM. Remembering that most racisms in the world are unintentional or viewed as a defense of one’s own ‘group’.
      2) To call it a fantasy to a socially-dominant positioned person, will create instances where that person may call a person who is raising issues related to being demoted on the basis of ‘race,’ to be deemed a problem because ‘there is no race.’ So this relates to how my point #1 is practiced in relationship.
      3) The failure of a ‘humanism’ — a neo-liberal formation of it, defies hierarchies in the world and therefore, punishes anyone who suffers under the weight of racism. To call ‘race’ a fantasy is also a political act.
      4) Everything in life is constructed and created. So to call something a fantasy has dangerous implications for those who are constructed on the lower end of a construct.
      5) People are not equal. Usually, people who presume that we are ‘all equal’ are the ones who will not examine practices of domination.
      6) We must examine practices and critique and topple practices of assumed, unexamined, and violent notions of superiority that do not serve unracialization. This is NOT the same as denying racialization or race.
      7) There is no ‘end point’ to un-racializing. We do not become ‘equal’ at some ‘end’ of history. History continues moment-to-moment. Liberation is a practice, not an end point. If it isn’t race, it’s sexuality or size, or color or weight or culture or….
      8) Race may be a fantasy. Unfortunately, it is a fantasy we live and practice as historical relations. These fantasies, I think, will change and morph into new fantasies that require new strategies.

      What do you think?

      Thank you for this very provocative discussion!!

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