Human Rights — dreams, contradictions, violence, and hope

 

Human Rights - AAASDNAposter

Human Rights is a mechanism that we need in our world, even though it is impossible. It is impossible because the nations that enforce and “protect” it, demand it, are the nations that committed genocide and exempt themselves from war crimes, fomenting distrust from other nations.

Internally, national and local police systems, judicial structures, school systems, and the dynamics of domestic life, maintain and create as well as change and make invisible, the contours of oppression and the hierarchies of the local culture, whether it be racial, gendered, class and caste-ist, homophobic and heterosexist, or along the lines of patriotic and nationalist. In this landscape, human rights becomes a distant ghost for some people and communities deemed outside those deserving rights, including those criminalized or made to become “insane.”  Who creates insanities and criminals but the dominant systems?

In this scenario, to argue for human rights is a spectacle, yet is necessary, fraught with contradiction, hope, despair, memory, and imagined futures.

CHINA Police - In Uygur minority Region - December 2014

CHINA Police – In Uygur minority Region – December 2014

 

 

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CORRECTED: New Blog about the historical Black Pacific

My new Blog site focused completely on my work in the world:

NEW BLOG SITE  (click here)

Some folks have noticed that I am not posting as intensely as I was a year ago.  This is because I am focusing increasingly on my presentations and work on my multimedia project and book: Dream of the Water Children.

I will continue to work here, on my ainoko blog but I will be posting on my Water Children blog, which means I will be on this ainoko site a tiny bit less frequently.  Please continue to follow me.  If you’re interested in following progress on my book and to hear the underpinnings of the project, the historical and cultural legacies and thoughts that will continue to form this multi-layered project, please visit both my website on the book, and the blog.

My Dream of the Water Children WEBSITE  is on the tab at the top of this site with the title Dream of the Water Children along with an overview.  You can ALSO CLICK HERE.

NEW BLOG SITE:  CLICK HERE

Please stop by, support, spread the word, come to my presentations, make comments, “like my posts” and whatever else you can!  Thanks!

Social Justice is not………..

Some people are confused……confused about “social justice” and what it is.

I am not seeking to define it.  I am seeking to carve some intelligence into the word, term, concept, action.

So much of the US notion of social justice is from within the reality of living in the Empire.

It is a crumbling empire, no less.  But it is empire.

When Americans think of people who are “activists,” they think of a whole array of people who seem to be shouting out for things that they feel are morally right, necessary, necessary for their particular concerns and people and political persuasion.

Disconnectedness—it is one of the main effects of extreme individualism.  Individualism, is different from empowered individuality.  Individualism is somewhat of an ideology, something made superior.

With US concerns for individual freedom, communities suffer.  Since most white people and wealthy people in the US, as well as a good portion of the middle class and the homeless, do not think of themselves as being part of any community, it even gets more precarious when working with struggling for a different world. The legal structure and the institutions in the US, provide legal freedoms to some degree, for individuals.  For groups, communities, there is very very very little, if any, recourse.  Case after case is thrown out in favor of 5000 individuals having to file individual claims to right a wrong done to a whole community.  In most cases, these individual cases are drawn out over years.  For the economic and social underclass, funds run out and energy is sapped and the three jobs they may have to go to becomes priority.  The cases become weaker.  Or the powers hire the attorneys that are high-powered and block any power that the underclassed individual may have.

Disconnected individuals (a fair amount of “normal” and not-so-normal people in the US especially–and increasingly in all first-world countries) tend to sabotage works and solidarities and political commitments that could be good for everyone, or at least a larger population of different kinds of people of differing socio-economic, ethnic, cultural, genders and sexual orientations, etc., feeding into division and conflict, violence and rupture.  They become “identities” which are separate from other “identities.”  So goes the ongoing disconnectedness. But I do think there are those forces that create these isolations need rupturing.

And when we speak of activism, those people wanting their “rights” to privileges, and the right to maintain them, are put on equal footing with those fighting for difference, for survival.  Fighting to MAINTAIN PRIVILEGES is NOT social justice.  Privilege and how it operates, makes invisible and priority, over those who have and are considered less, must be looked at and actions taken in regards to what is seen and realized, for a “social justice” to actually happen.  In other words, as many US Americans seek to access privileges of something that is defined as the “freedom to get, the freedom to be….” social justice is diminished because privileges cannot afford an “other.”

Here, we see the link between what many Americans call “Freedom” and the middle class ideals.  As I’ve mentioned before, people often confuse the access to middle-class, European elite (white), masculine and militarized material, emotional and spiritual values, as “freedom.”   Then this gets confused with “Liberation.”  Going on vacations, to “get away from reality” and “rest”—which are bourgeois leisure ideals made socially dominant as a desire in life by elites during the colonial days between the 17th to 19th centuries, becomes somewhat like the popular confusion about “liberation” these days.  Social liberation means, in this scenario, some kinds of escape.  And then guess what? Things deemed “in the way” of this escape, is deemed as some word exaggerated and confused with non-liberation.  We learn to block anything that stands in the way (or seen as standing in the way) of our disconnected and individualized freedom to escape, as needing to be disappeared, violated, jailed, tortured, maimed, stopped, killed.  Psychologically, culturally, intellectually, with the variety of arms and weapons of mind, heart and body that we have learned in the system of continual disconnection and valorized individuality (above solidarity, community, living with difference).

So in these ways of thinking and thrusts of behavior that I have mentioned above, social justice is suffering.  It is definitely not dead or gone.  It is in pain.  It is in pain because fewer and fewer people have the inclination, desire, time, and/or energy, to struggle with self and community enough.  Fewer and fewer people have the creative thinking enough to get out of the box that the Empire holds us in.  As the social-political forces that we have all internalized, confuse us and run our bodies as “spectacles” —as Guy Debord (December 1931-November 1994, French postmodern philosopher) has pointed to for us, we have a harder time interpreting the difference.

It is made worse by the crash of cultures, values, times and places that are incoherent.  Incoherence is NOT THE PROBLEM!!  It is our inability to not do violence to incoherence that is the problem!!!!  We incorporate, assimilate, violate, manipulate, imprison, sequester, make sick, make knowable–and therefore no longer that thing itself but our own other interpretation of that thing–person–place–time) that we create.  Now the world seems smaller and more alike.  Less diversity.

Put them away, make them criminals, make it hard on them, annihilate them, torture them, jail them, make them sick, control those people and those communities, feel sentimental about it after they are dead, it makes us good and holy.  On and on.  Refugees from ourselves—as we see refugees and the stateless, as if all of us were states.  It’s a joke. But we have definitely internalized the state.  There’s no escape.  How about starting with a realistic assessment and then assessing how we may do things differently?

The reactionary definition of “community,” in the eyes of many individualists, is that communities are like herds of cattle and animals, without minds, aimless and not able to think for themselves.  This dualistic notion of community has been developed through years and centuries of learning that the communities our ancestors killed or destroyed in order to create the wealthy “global” in favor of an individualism that was able to “capitalize” on making money for itself (not others).  And furthermore, when we try to make communities and join them (because we sense our loneliness, disconnectedness and isolation), we (US Americans) tend to get very very uncomfortable with the differences, the conflicts, the games, the political jostling, and general psychological violence that is practiced in groups, no matter how lofty.  If we don’t feel those things, it is usually because we have learned to ignore–or perhaps learned to become oblivious because no one is bothering “ME–THE INDIVIDUAL” and this asserts a “satisfaction” in the name of escaping the difficulty of being together with others of differences, and also the higher position of being alone and therefore “trouble-free.”  This is an illusion.

Mourning but knowing that there are so so many in this world who understand enough and care enough about this in the world, to begin steps and to empower toward social justice.  It is arduous and difficult and tedious, but must be done.  Individual heroes will be squashed.  Communities of difference, across different backgrounds of histories, etc. must learn to come together without the escape mechanisms we have all learned well.  Empowering toward social justice is tedious, arduous, precarious, uncertain, not attainable in a finality, but is a pathway that is immensely more loving than the loneliness of dieing in an old folks’ home somewhere in a desolate urban landscape. Some are working now and we must work together, learn how to.  The rest will most likely just wait for those few to do the work while they enjoy the fruits of empire, and maintain global injustice.

March 10: US Military, Race & Sex in Japan

CRG Thursday Forum Series presents…

DEPLOYMENT, BASES, AND

THE U.S. MILITARY IN MOVEMENT:

Imaginging Japan and the Self through Race & Sex

Thursday, March 10, 2011

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

691 Barrows Hall

UC Berkeley

******

We Call It ‘The Rock’:

Circulating the Imaginary of Okinawa in the Military Diaspora

Mitzi Uehara Carter, Anthropology

My paper will explore how U.S. military personnel and their families, currently or formerly based in Okinawa (re)create and circulate narratives of Okinawa within military communities both in and outside Okinawa.  I will focus on how those narratives are shaped against their own identities as US soldiers, veterans, racialized/gendered citizens, spouses, and tourists within Okinawa.  Michael Taussig described the cultural productions of fear and the processes of sustaining Otherness in his work on colonial Colombia as a mix of  “Indian understandings of white understandings of Indians to white understandings of Indian understandings of whites.”  Likewise, I argue that Okinawan militarized and transnational space is a mix of military understandings of Okinawan understandings of US/mainland Japanese understandings to Okinawan understandings of military understandings of Okinawans.

This presentation will point to some of my general findings thus far, focusing on the framing of Okinawan difference.  For instance, I argue that local Okinawan difference from mainland Japan is emphasized and celebrated within military literature and welcome videos/blogs about Okinawa for military newcomers to Okinawa, a long used political and cultural tactic that was so effectively encouraged and orchestrated by US military administrators directly following WWII to try to quiet Okinawan dissent and slow the popular momentum to revert to mainland Japan.  However, when military and Okinawan relations are enflamed, the framing of difference is erased and the discourse shifts to a more global scale and fits in more with the US-Japan power bloc configuration of power.

~~~

Being a Black MP in Postwar Japan:

Memory and Identity through Resistance and Accommodation

as a Subaltern Occupier

Fredrick Cloyd, California Institute of Integral Studies, Anthropology

The positioning of the US as a victorious occupier over the subordinate and pliant people of Japan as the defeated was a carefully choreographed affair after WWII with its precursors in imperialism, colonialism, and neo-liberal capitalist expansionisms. In Japan and Okinawa, during and following the official occupation, steady anti-US violence by the Japanese was barred from being reported in the strictly controlled military and civilian media while the different racial groups in the Allied and US military were also living in violent relations with one another on and off bases in Japan, Okinawa and Korea. In this atmosphere of the occupation, my father re-imagined himself from poor African-American man to occupying military police. My mother wanted desperately to escape the ruins of Japan, both imaginatively and literally. In researching for a book on my family’s life and legacies, in thinking/writing nation, culture and race–colliding together through war and re(de)-construction, how has my father viewed himself through the lens of race and nation/husband and father? What becomes prioritized? What becomes linked with frames and thoughts previously unrelated? What becomes new forms of dominance and resistance that continue or resist certain forms of justice and survival?

Delicious refreshments served!

More info: http://crg.berkeley.edu/content/deployment-bases

CRG March10_flyer

Black-Okinawa in flux: Race/Space -February 11, Friday. Event in California

 


Event:  Blackness in Flux in Okinawa + Black Japanese Guest Artist

Time:        Friday, February 11 at 4:00pm - 6:30pm
      
Location:    UC Berkeley, Barrows Hall, Rm. 691

Organizers: PHD students, Co-recipients of UC Center for New Racial
Studies Grant,2010-11

Eriko Ikehara (UC Berkeley Ethnic Studies)
Mitzi Uehara-Carter (UC Berkeley Anthropology)

"Making Race in Between Racial "States of Being"

Two black-Okinawan graduate students at UC Berkeley will
present some of their research findings and their works in
progress on race, space, and US militarization in Okinawa.

This forum will also bring together several black- Japanese
who will share their poetry, art, and other creative works
which speak to blackness in flux in their own lives.


Guest performers:

Fredrick Cloyd
Sabrena Taylor
Michael James
Ahmed Yamato
Ariko Ikehara
Mitzi Uehara Carter

Program A: 4-4:45 pm

Mid-Year Grant Report

Ariko Ikehara: “Situating black-Amerasian Okinawans in
mixed space/race history”

Mitzi Uehara Carter: “Nappy Routes and Tangled Tales of
Blackness in Okinawa”

Program B: 5pm-6pm

Guest Performances

black-japanese-forum-flyer-final

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.

Crude – the movie

“From the mid-1960s until the early 1990s, Texaco (now Chevron) dumped 18 billion gallons of oil and toxic waste into the Amazon rain-forest of Ecuador, creating a 1,700-square-mile “cancer death zone” the size of Rhode Island.”   –  from wikipedia

This movie is of the quest of activists to bring accountability and conscience to our world.  The plight of ecology and the people of the world who have not severed human relationship to earth and creatures, should not be something sensational but should be seen as something we have chosen or willed to forget, or do not understand as having been ‘forgotten out of us’ –meaning that sometimes our forgetting is not personal, so much as having been a strategy by larger forces, so that we may drive our cars and keep our lights on and party in all-hours of the night without a thought to the violence this attests to.

Our world, a neo-colonialist world, has made natural the exploitation. Of each other, of others, of ourselves.  We make the abusive corporatocracy unapproachable in our self-hatred.  Our ignorance is a child of self-hatred and ineptness.  We shrink and sometimes feel paralyzed and small.  That’s what many of the elites who are exploiting our earth and communities want us to do.  Are we that obedient?  Are the indigenous people just people with colorful clothes that we think are behind us in history?  I am certainly not.  I have Cherokee heritage.  All of us are indigenous.  The indigenous communities who still lived as linked with the earth thrived in all of Europe and Asia and the Americas and the Middle East.  Those ties have all been systematically severed in one way or another and at different speeds and intensities that usually mirror the amount of modernization that has accumulated.  The Irish and Welsh Celts and the Ainu and the indigenous of Okinawa and others continue to battle.  Are the indigenous people of the Americas indigenous?  All of us come from earth.  Why is it that the ‘brown people’ with colorful clothes are left to fend for a life on this planet that doesn’t equal plunder and genocide while the rest of us have ambivalence about all of it?  We are humanity, we are earth.  Do we ignore our mothers and foremothers and forefathers as a ‘progress,’ as some kind of maturity?  Who taught us these things?

Instead of guilt, there needs to be a reckoning.  A courageous facing, shifts in behavior, but not a reconstitution of a heavy punishment-as-morality, but a compassionate turn, a vigorous turn to actually care for our ancestors, for our planet.  Not just in our own recycling projects and moral superiority in not driving SUVs.  I’m talking more about working with those, like the gentlemen, women, children, ladies, lawyers, and all others who are struggling and need our creativity, alliance, knowledge, privileges.  Act.  And hopefully movies such as this, can inspire, inform, shift you and those you know, with a ruthless love of life and diversity.