On a certain You Tube video I found randomly on that site in my search for videos about Pearl Harbor to see how there were patterns on how information and memory are represented, I found some comments by viewers on a couple of sites, that mirror those of comments on Hiroshima 1945. Some of the people on these sites, commented that the Japanese deserved the Atomic Bomb. This echoes thoughts and sentiments expressed by many people I’ve known from the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam, and other places where Japanese imperial forces committed atrocities. So as we all must know and understand by now, is that the past is never gone. The past lives in different ways and forms, in the present.
When I was eleven and twelve years old, our family lived in Hawaii, in an area called ‘Halawa’ in Aiea. Until this time, we had moved from Japan to Albuquerque, New Mexico, then to Hawaii. During these times, I remember that my mother grew steadily despondent and quiet. But in Hawaii, my mother began to feel enlivened by company and a social life. All around were families that were of Portuguese, Saamoan, Caucasian, Japanese-Hawaiian, Hawaiian, Black, Puerto Rican, and other ethnic groups that defied the notion of separate and divided. Our neighbors immediately closest to us, with our front doors not even a meter apart, were the Aiu family. I was close with the four kids of theif family. They were Caucasian. Mrs. Aiu, the mother of the nuclear family, was very friendly and kind and I remember her helping my mother with many adjustments to living in our new home.
She was in her teens on the morning of December 7, 1971. When I asked her a couple of times, about that day, she would say how horrific it was and terrifying, and she would describe their run into the bomb shelters near the house. We lived in a housing complex that had been through that attack and remnants of that day are seen in the bullet holes and craters created by Japanese pilots with their planes that day.
One day, I heard my mother crying in her room. I went to see what was happening and she said to go back to my room and nothing was wrong. I was afraid and sad. When I was in my room I heard the front door open and Mrs. Aiu called out to us that she was in. In those days, in Hawaii, people rarely knocked on doors of friends. Just as it had been when I was a child in Japan, we enter homes without knocking or doorbells, announcing our presence. That day I told Mrs. Aiu that Mama was in her room crying and I didn’t know what was wrong. Mrs. Aiu went in to find my mother in her bed, crying, yet nothing was physically wrong. Mrs. Aiu pulled my mother’s head gently into her chest and rocked my mother while stroking her hair. I felt sad, relieved, and inept, not knowing what I–a twelve year-old could do in this situation. My mother’s loneliness as a military bride in the US had not sunk in for me.
Later that same night, Mrs. Aiu returned with a pot she held with pot-holder gloves. She carried this into my mother’s room and she opened the lid. It was oka-yu, or as my mother called it: okai-san (rice gruel). Mrs. Aiu had also placed an umeboshi (preserved Japanese sweet plum) in the middle of the okayu, with its distinct purple pink color. My mother again began to sob and Mrs. Aiu held her for awhile, tellilng her that everything will be okay. I remember this as a photo in my memory. And soon, Mrs. Aiu began to feed the okayu to my mother as she cried and ate. My mother said in her broken English: Sank- U, Sank-U.
I remember asking Mrs. Aiu a couple of weeks later why she was so nice to us, since she was a white-American who had been bombed by the Japanese. She told me that governments and military people play games with people but that is no reason to hate a whole people. She said that my mother did not create the war and did not make any hatreds and obedience on her own. So she felt that we should all be taking care of each other as people.
December 1941, Hiroshima 1945, the fire-bombings of 66 major Japanese cities, the devastation of war on all sides of the Pacific and inside of it–all did not begin in 1941 or 1939 or 1925. The dates are markers of certain events that are used by the people writing the stories. They may all contain elements of a ‘truth.’ However, it’s never the way are told or shown. We must think. Japan’s rise to imperialism had a whole array of reasons that explain (but do not justify) its complexities in the international racisms that existed. Elite militarisms in desperate contexts as well as moral superiorities. No American or European group of men in world government, took any Asian nation seriously. They were inferior. This creates a certain kind of ‘blowback.’
But I remember Mrs. Aiu’s kindness and sober way of carrying herself in thoughtfulness. The memories of December 7th, for her, were to be lived with increasing self-education, thought, care across difference. This contrasts strongly with those who view vengeance as the priority. However, pain is pain, memory is memory. How will we, in the world, move forward. It is easy for those who do not understand the horrifying life of living in war and domination, and who would admonish others to forget and ‘be peaceful.’ This is also violent. We must work together to forge memories ‘with’ these pains of history in life and to transform them. Others are still more attracted to violence and the only way they can attain their self-mastery is through the mastery of others. Violence is a tool.
My mother. Mrs. Aiu. Hiroshima. Pearl Harbor. But there’s always more behind the representations. Shanghai, Nanking, Brussels, San Francisco Peace Treaty, Manchuria, Taiwan, South Korea, European colonialism, US economic and military wealth, Christian missionaries, racism.
In memory of soldiers who sacrifice themselves in the name of the game of governments, in the name of the military’s game of vying for supremacy or being killed, in memory of those families who suffer. In the memory of deaths that make our nations and realities. There is not much else in the world but that we are alive because of people who have died in the name of nation and its constructed honor. The honorable, the valiant, the inescapable link between valor and violence. In memory, can we construct different memories?
Thoughtfulness. Kindness. Commitments to forging peace across differences.
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.
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.
Singer-songwriter Malvina Reynolds (1900-1978), was a sensitive and powerful, straightforward singer-songwriter who wrote against the machine. There are so many in this world, who are unaware or just don’t care enough, that we live in systems in this world. Systems are created. And for those people who do resist, a problem comes up: the commodification and assimilation of resistance.
Writers such as Malvina Reynolds, understood this well, and sung against it. Her songs have been sung by Pete Seeger, Joan Baez, and featured as a theme song for the hit television show “Weeds.” She sings to Americans and their easy willingness to think of themselves as “individuals” and “free” when in fact, there is so many brainwashing and levels of control. There are forces that control us—especially, the ways in which we think: the contours, the frames, the terminologies and “natural” ways in which we think we are in the world, are given to us by the cultures into which we are born. When we benefit from what is there, we rarely think of this as being brainwashed, being privileged, or being stupid. We think that we are “free.”
And often, when people speak and relate to each other, we think we are “free” individuals that are “freely” expressing “our” freedom. So-called.
Think about it people.
We are grown in a culture or cultures.
We are grown in certain particular ways. When we say “human” and “humanity” — what is it are we referring to? Who has the power to speak for everyone?
And does our own morality become automatically better than others? And if ours is “better,” then what hierarchies are formed? What allows a person or group, community, institution, state or nation-state, to allow, to ignore, to make, to create, to change, to resist, to create that through which we work, play, relax, “have fun,” react, fight, cling, let go, hide from, jump into, speak against, speak for?
I also understand that those sensitive to democratic ideals, will understand what I mean here. Others could care less about democratic ideals. Those others only care about being right and above, looking down and being happy. Or ignoring and being “care free,” silently colluding with those who are happy with other’s downtrodden or less privileged, or suffering positions. It’s usually the individualists who often think that it’s “those others” who have brought on what they have brought on themselves. It is truly sad that those people who think this way, do not understand the contours and histories and development of such an “individualism.” And it’s made stronger by resources, beliefs, institutions and others who may reinforce and protect our ideology. Yes it’s an ideology. Whenever one is not willing to re-think the suffering of others, or our refusal to think, then we should question that thought as an ideology implanted in us.
Malvina Reynolds speaks to many of these problems. I include one of her songs, via video below, entitled: It Isn’t Nice.
I also include the lyrics to her song: It Isn’t Nice.
This song is particularly interesting to me, since it was BANNED IN JAPAN. It was banned only in the Japanese translation, but not in the English version. Hmmm….. and make no mistake, there were people arrested and jailed for singing and or passing this song around, in the Japanese language. Japan’s “peaceful” quality–which so many people I know believe in, hides the tremendous violence of suppression and bullying and marginalization that the so-called “civilized” countries practice. Japan is one of the most brutal. I am interested in this because I was born and partially raised there, and have Japanese background. This doesn’t mean I hate Japan. I love it, like I love the US. This doesn’t retract from the violences that the US perpetrates. And what I mean by “the US” doesn’t just refer to “those others” in governments or elsewhere.
I know that many people have barely heard of any political issues in Japan aside from the Atomic bomb of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pearl Harbor of 1941, or geishas and samurai and manga and anime. Japan has been a country built, as all other powerful nations (yes all), on suppression. Smoke and mirrors, violence and hidden truths. It is no secret. And hello– it is not “natural.” Those of us sitting on sidelines and just making it “natural” and therefore focused only on personal “success” and struggling to free oneself from something, have bought into this game and are just as much culprits as the elites who govern and make the contours and choices that we choose from and call “free.” But I am not “against” these material or capitalist freedoms. What I am against is that we spend too much time on these things at the cost of real freedoms and liberations, and democracy. Democracy has been founded on exclusion and violence. Democratic ideals are a constant struggle that we live every moment, everyday. Democratic systems and nations have been built on genocide and marginalization.
The system creates enemies within and without, in order to valorize it’s own system. The system itself, doesn’t care about people. It is created for itself to survive. A system is created by people who benefit from that system. Can you see it? The system is not out there, we live through it and with it. How can we make new systems while we live in our current ones? It must be. We can never be truly outside of it. Anyone who claims to be “outside” can claim this position if they, again, develop a colonizing, missionary-style mindset of “those people should follow us–we are right” kind of thinking. It is ugly and ultimately cold. There are those who are naive enough to think that everyone who joins “us” will be “good” and those others are “bad.” Does this sound familiar? This kind of thinking does not take diversity into account. It assumes that their own cultural and historical ways of thinking and ordering reality, is universal, cancelling out difference. In order to create new societies, there must be negotiation and dialogue and struggle together, with difference, not in spite of it.
Powerful countries, the media and educational systems and now the internet, play a large part in how we come to believe in “our” democracy, event though as a people and nation, it is no such thing. However, it becomes difficult because there are “democratic elements” in our societies. We have to recognize these democratic elements and learn how to nurture and fight for them.
Make no mistake, there are reasons why people would want to harm. They do not happen “by themselves.” Society—all of us, in whatever circumstances, culture or nation-state we live in, play parts—both as victim and as perpetrator, in our system. In order to now, deconstruct and re-evaluate, and re-think and respond in a changed way, acknowledging that it cannot be perfect but the path becomes slightly more clear, we must realize that it is a battle.
It’s not going to happen in safety, comfort, privilege, high morality, and laziness.
Please visit YouTube to listen and hear her other wonderfully playful but serious songs.
It Isn’t Nice
– by Malvina Reynolds
It isn’t nice to block the doorway,
It isn’t nice to go to jail,
There are nicer ways to do it,
But the nice ways always fail.
It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
You told us once, you told us twice,
But if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
It isn’t nice to carry banners
Or to sit in on the floor,
Or to shout our cry of Freedom
At the hotel and the store.
It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
You told us once, you told us twice,
But if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
We have tried negotiations
And the three-man picket line,1
Mr. Charlie2 didn’t see us
And he might as well be blind.
Now our new ways aren’t nice
When we deal with men of ice,
But if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
How about those years of lynchings
And the shot in Evers’ back?
Did you say it wasn’t proper,
Did you stand upon the track?
You were quiet just like mice,
Now you say we aren’t nice,
And if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
It isn’t nice to block the doorway,
It isn’t nice to go to jail,
There are nicer ways to do it
But the nice ways always fail.
It isn’t nice, it isn’t nice,
But thanks for your advice,
Cause if that is Freedom’s price,
We don’t mind.
The First International Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference was held at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois in the USA on November 5-6, 2010. According to reports (sadly I could not make it because I’m too poor!) — all programs were packed and/or standing room only and provided a vibrant atmosphere for community-building, alliance-building, critical discussion and thought, and efforts to think and re-think racialization in the context of issues of identities, gender(s), sexualities, class, nationalities, allegiences, fissures, parallels, disjunctures, and their relation to geopolitics, dominant narratives and the trope of the self.
From a privileged standpoint, and especially in the United States and the global north, issues of race, racism and racialization are couched only in the realm of identity and access to higher privilege, a sort of normalization of the current world system. The question of social justice was raised by certain keynote speakers and others within various presentations and discussions, asking people to think about how the creation and process of racialization may repeat and maintain the current systems of domination, in the world. How can a ‘mixed race pedagogy’ begin to address and actually begin and thoroughly intervene into the maintance of current traumas, violations, genocide, and invisiblization that passes for security, comfort, safety, and nation along with a privileging of being ‘mixed race’ and or monoracial? How does ‘race’ and the process of creating racial categories and re-ifying ‘race,’ carry the impetus through which racisms could be practiced in our lives and between communities and nations? How does NOT speaking about race also create further demarcations that make racism ‘normal’ and ‘tragic’ and ‘sad’ and ‘natural,’ thus portraying it as an aspect of life that has nothing to do with our own realities and/or ignorance and refusal? How can these dynamics be shifted?
Congratulations to the conference organizers: Camilla Fojas, Wei-Ming Dariotis and Laura Kina, for pulling off what I gather, was a highly successful and promising event that we hope will become an annual event!!!!
Shanghai Express is an American film which came to the public in 1932, starring Marlena Dietrich. I remember myself, watching this movie which was replayed on televisions in the US over and over again , as I grew up in the 1960s in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Halawa, Hawaii after having moved from Japan in 1962.
I thank Kartina Richardson (her blog: http://www.mirrorfilm.org/) for this commentary on being mixed race and the ‘Eurasian’ (in this case White American/Chinese) character ‘Chang’ played by Orientalized Swedish actor Warner Oland. In the movie, the Eurasian character Chang was mysterious, trecherous, untrustable because he was not purely one nationality/race or the other. I remember those same accusations of me while I was a child in both Japan and in the United States. In this movie, Chang is presumed/assumed to be a traitor to American-ness and Chinese-ness and plays a shady revolutionary. I remember my friends asking all the time: ‘what are you??” I never thought that their curiosity was curiosity. I felt that behind the question, there was always a question of control and ‘goodness.’ In the beginning of this video clip below, there is one who characterizes the rotten-ness of both a white (European/American) soul and a yellow (pan-east Asian) soul as rotten in the case of two of the characters he refers to. His listener then questions the ‘locating of a soul’ and then supposing that this so-called ‘soul’ can be defined with a moral character.
Thus, the issue of assumptions of both an essential soul, un-changing ‘self’ within a body (a ‘soul’) or the absence of one, cover the fact of the dominance of others defining how an ‘other’ is live-able. Whether one attributes static and ‘original’ and essential markings of a person or people with or without the using of the soul, have both submerged and sought control over the bodies (including bodies of ideas) of difference. We create identities (of ourselves and others) through the identities that our cultural/institutional surroundings and education and families give us in order to show up as somehow having an unchanging essence and that others have these unchanging essences. Then we are able to control what happens in relation to this.
In the case of my statement on the maintenance of control and goodness–let us ask first: What do I mean by ‘goodness?’ Well, I think that there is the question of controlling the ‘other’–which in this case was me–the multiracial person or in the movie–Chang; and there was the control of the ‘self’ in order to be good. To be good, one must exercise control over one’s behavior for the kingdom of heaven or God. So saying something ‘wrong’ or ‘hurtful’ was not something a person ‘should’ do, so one carefully choreographs one’s behavior to ‘not hurt’ and ‘not say something stupid.’ Even saying something ‘uneducated’ or ignorant, could be ‘planned’ in the subconscious, in order to stack up the excuses one has learned in order to prove one’s non-intention to harm, even if in some ways, we wanted to maintain our superiority or privilege as far as the configuration of racial identity and color, nationality and domination/subordination positions. Being good also controls how one is responded to. We don’t want to deal with our own histories and views and impulses and shadows because we don’t want the responsibility of being attacked or accused or understanding that identities have been constructed an in fact, are not eternal and fixed. After all, we aren’t born with these things. We learn how to be ‘good.’ As much as we learn how to control the other through our knowledge of ‘their’ culture or nation. Controlling, then, our own knowledge in order to appear and present ourselves as ‘good’ and ‘knowledgeable’ is an important aspect of why racism persists. Racism is never dealt with, worked on, transformed, disfigured, and seen for what it is–a construction of the imperial/colonial enterprise of expansionism which excuses itself in the name of what it constructs for itself. So Christian ‘goodness’ and ‘progress’ conveniently covers over the racism of the past and brought into the acceptance category. However, it still hides in the subconscious. Ignored. Or for many people, un-healed. It is maintained as dormant but always alive and ready. It also corrodes in perhaps passive-aggressive ways. Many think that by ignoring it, it will go away or does not exist. It matches the nation-state’s forms of domination and control, and is criminalized for its rebelliousness whenever it is provoked and abused and begins to respond in ways that the dominant does not like. It is called ‘rebel’ and criminalized and pacified. Our ‘self’ does much of the same.
In the un-healed and the unexamined, it is either repressed and expressed later at times when the subconscious is pressured in some way (psychological-political), or it maintains an individualism (an ideology opposed to individuality) that keeps us from being able to understand and therefore be an ally to our friends and relations that are of ‘the other’ race/nationality, culture or color etc that undergo structural oppressions. It also leaves us blank in working with our own circumstances of oppression. It also forces a muteness, being silent/dead in situations that may want us not to be. In other words, the denial and submersion helps to maintain individualism (which serves capitalism and control) and also includes the repression of creativity that exists that allow for alliance-building with others–because it is never acknowledged. If we were to discuss individuality, instead of maintaining individualism, we would have to unpack our assimilation into becoming the morons the capitalist-elitist system wants us to be.
Being mixed-race has always been an affront to easy understanding. We are one thing or another, not two, three, seven, ten. How can that possibly be? In today’s overwhelm-society, with the culture-technologies of the digital age, complexity is still unaccepting. Perhaps it is even intensified. A single nano-part of a mechanism functions in one or two certain ways. That is that part’s distinctive form of being. Another part acts as another single or set of single actions. To make a whole, the parts come together. Each part can be defined in a bounded and specific way. Otherwise, it’s crazy!! How can that be? We have to get to the bottom of anything that is not acting the way it must or how we have created it? As there are hundreds or thousands or millions of parts, we can take things apart to form something. It is a very un-organic way of organizing thought and things. We have inherited this way of seeing and investigating, to look at people and cultures. Mixed-race-ness is seen in a similar way. We borrow from a self-understanding of a single race, or a single people or a single nation. We forget that these ways of seeing reality have been constructed in order to do violence, no matter how benevolent, to what is in the world in sacrifice and transform it into what is promised in a future not-yet-here. Progress and modernization have also re-inforced pre-colonial ways of looking at difference.
Mixed-race and multi-racial are much needed categories. How we use these categories and what is exactly changing or being prioritized and submerged is also an interesting question. I am one for not-forgetting. Forgetting the construction of our national and exploitative world in order for most of us to wind up with crumbs, is something I refuse. I am more than one culture and legacy. I sometimes will say ‘yes, I’m multiracial’ or ‘multi-national’ but do not define myself as such. They are constructs that restrict the reality of who we are. And on the other scale, if we are a conglomeration of multiple parts, then we’re all the same. We are *not* all the same. Nothing even within our own mind-hearts, if I can use this term like the Japanese ‘kokoro,’ is the ‘same.’ The efforts to reconcile and flatten worlds into something that doesn’t churn, contradict, challenge, shift, grow, change, transform–a one-ness, a singular object, is something I will die opposing. Nations, racial categories, cultures, are certain ways of seeing the world because this is what we have been taught. When someone takes these categories away, we become either anxious or more commonly, humanists who destroy diversity in the name of some ‘universal’ and/or ‘single’ humanity that erases differences and subsumes it under a human-ness that usually replicates white-dominance, or another national dominance that seeks to resist white-dominance.
So the mixed race person, a form of exotic beauty that is envied–begets violent resentments and self-hatreds. The mixed-race person, a form of something that contaminates simple, pure single cultures and nations and histories–begets violent resentments that seek assimilation and sameness. The mixed-race person, a form of something complicated–begets people simplifying worlds into questions learned and assumed from one’s own education or worldview (do you eat rice everyday? you must be confused! oh you’re so much more beautiful than most people, etc.). Do people know their own histories? Mixing is too fetishized? Yet I see that in our world of singularities and mainstream dominance, that it will have its advantages as well. I will use them to topple all the self-hatreds that visit selves that eventually want revenge and violence, dominance and submission. To drop the prioritizing of ‘goodness’ and to drop the prioritizing of ‘badness’ and to drop the fear of those ideas to be differently performed by different persons because of different cultural heritages and legacies, is to at-once begin the journey to alliance-building and creative new cultural formations and homes. As of now, we repeat over and over because we refuse the multiplicity and changing our priorities. Fearing a different good and bad, fearing the work of non-maintenance of those histories, leads the way to a forgone conclusion to be confirmed. And this confirmation, for many, is their self-congratulatory moment. For the rest of us, we wish that this confirmation were to be destroyed in the favor of new communities of justice which have existed and are fighting for survival. Fighting for survival because that reality is being repeated and managed by many of us and through our leaders. It is neither universal or natural.
The survival of the fittest has gone too far as a perpetuating series of actions, institutions, education and worldviews in the march of history. Perhaps this is where mixed-race people can truly work on our own forms of assimilating to easy cultural definitions or being happy being exotic–to truly really strongly resist the squeezing of definitions of any difference into dominant categories of perpetual war. Decolonize our self-rendering and the rendering of others. It isn’t enough to talk about identity and whether they should/could be ‘accepted’ or not. It is not about this incessant need to be accepted into the dominant which ‘allows’ acceptance–either psycho-culturally or nationally. It is important as a way to survive, yes. But this is also about legacies of perpetuation. Legacies of categories and worldviews that have long proven to be inadequate and failures. The legacies in this 1932 film are alive today, walking around, masquerading as enlightened selves and selves that know truths and ‘good’ people who are themselves but do not know how or even desiring alliance-building across identities. This bridge can and must be crossed.
As in most first world national languages and from their former colonies and others, the French language showcases/expresses some great rap and hip-hop and what may be called ‘black’ urban music. On my blog, I have previously shown some from Japan and Korea and will continue to show my favorites from the world over.
Soprano is one of the best in present-day France. Here is a socially-conscious hip-hop song ‘Hiro’ (hero) which brings in the pride and heartache of black and non-white histories in the world and the wish to have changed history and what creates suffering today. Many of the persons and situations mentioned in this song/video are probably unknown to most Americans but we should know them as Americans. Do our research. There is more to the world than what we see in our small worlds. As such, the song mentions 9/11, Princess Diana, the making of African nations, Gandhi, Mohammed Ali, tragic airplanes that fly despots to their locations, etc. A character from the US television show ‘Heroes’ is a foundational character in the telling of this wish, this story. I love this song. In honor of knowing history and to be in the present to ACT!
Lyrics translated originally by 15 year-old French guy (SchezMusique) from Youtube.
I have modified as best I can. IF ANYONE CAN READ FRENCH and HELP with TRANSLATIONS– I will continue to modify…….
English translation followed by the French lyrics.
If I had had the power of Hiro Nakamura
I would have left reliving the birth of Lenny and Inaya
I would have been in Sanaa
Boycott the takeoff of A310 from Yemenia
I would have been there to see my grandfather one last time
Say to him I’ll take care of his daughter, so don’t worry
I would have left seeing Martin Luther King
After his speech, show him the photo of Barack Obama
I would have been in the temple of Harlem
Push Malcolm from the scene before a bullet reaches him
I would have been in the prison of Mandela
To say to him ‘hold out, your ideas will be of a president of south Africa’
Lover of Lady Diana,
I would have created a gigantic cork under the bridge of the Alma
I would have been in the Bahamas
Not for the holidays but to empty the hold of the plane of Aaliyah
I would have liked travelling through time
I would have liked travelling through time
I would have liked travelling through time
If I had had the power of Hiro Nakamura
I would have been there for the fight from Mohamed Ali to Kinshasa
Then, I would have been there to celebrate the independence of my Comoros
In the arms of my grandfather before his death
Then, a small tour in the Paris-Dakar in full savanna
To boycott Daniel Balavoine’s copter
I like the truths of those who wear a red nose
I would have been there to burst the tires of Coluche’s motorcycle
I would have been there to meet Mahomet in Medina
Then go to see the Red Sea, let myself pass to Moses
I would have been for the birth of the son to Mary
Two hours later, take the walking of the salt with Gandhi
I would have been there to sit down with Rosa Parks
Then to Woodstock to see Jimmy Hendrix live
I would have been at the birthday of Motown
To see Mickael make the moonwalk
I would have been in New York
To activate at 7 am a bomb scare in 2 towers
I would have been in Iraq
Teaching the journalists to shoot better with their shoe
I would have been in Afghanistan
Throw the cameras of the last interview of commander Massoud
I would have been in Angola
To go to tell the team of Adebayor not do the trip
I would have been in Clichy-sous-Bois
Disconnect the transpo of EDF before Zyed and Bouna comes
I would have been at Kunta Kinte or on Gorée
To give them guns before the colonists came
I would have been there to see the African infantrymen
To say to them that we treat their children like nasty immigrants
I would have been in Austria,
I would have done anything so that the parents of Adolf Hitler never met
Even if I had the power of Nakamura
What would I have been able to do for Haiti, the tsunami or Katrina?
What would I have been able to do for Alaska?
Everything that nature gave us
Nature will take back
So these are things which I would have wanted to change or wanted to live
So these are things which I would have wanted to erase or to relive
But are all impossible my friend
Thus I inspire a big breath and I blow on my 30th candle…
I would have liked travelling through time
But we can live only the present
We can live only the present
Many of the world’s issues come from ignorance. Indeed, that is what the Buddha was to have said according to the Buddhist religious doctrines. The self, the world, suffers due to ignorance. The self, itself, is also the world because of it being ‘one’ (interconnected realities). In this sense, I would like to link this perspective on social change and social justice, with postcolonial and post-structural frames of mind and action. The structures through which we find ourselves living, are largely followed and we navigate in some way, shape or form, through the maze. We resist, we dominate, we proclaim, we reflect, we pause, we run, we build, we destroy. Every moment is like this.
I feel that we must pay attention more, to what we discard and ignore. In a more intense way, I would like to put forward that our laziness in our middle-class wanna-be (or are) ways of living and goal-setting, we oftentimes don’t have the capacity to realize we set ourselves in boxes. Furthermore, the boxes can be realized, seen, and felt, and that we can step to places outside of a certain box, into other boxes eternally. There lies the significance of thinking and imagining with a certain intent.
In most first-world, wealthier countries, we have been taught through our schooling and through contact with the world, that there is a truth of things and that we can access. Usually, however, we don’t realize that these ‘truths’ are political. No matter how lofty in principle, this truth that we attempt to access or ignore, interrupts and disrupts life and we beg to struggle with how it acts upon us and through us, against us and with us. So for social justice and social change matters, it may be helpful to look at the mechanics of box-making, or to put it in other words, to look at our our processes of making truths and certainties and categories, identities and structures that cohere together and seem real and isolated and true. If not, we just re-create the issues.
To make it more complex, I feel that as we begin to want to ‘deconstruct’ and to understand how deconstruction may work in the world, we must confront the fact that there is no ‘outside.’ Many spiritual people approach the world through the idea of ‘transcendence.’ Indeed, the enlightenment project of the western world in the colonial period, has continued to emphasize this mode of expansion and conquering and overrunning as the modus operandi of capitalism and globalization. I, for one, love contact with difference. However, not all of whatever we contact, is pleasurable, desirable, and/or necessary. But in normal US American, European and Japanese worlds, touring and co-opting others’ ways and other countries is a given. It is a privilege. It has never entered our mind that the locals do not want us there.
Our assumption of eternal identities and histories, and of ethnically and racially categorized nations and cultures, is in fact, a dangerous and very limited way of living and seeing and judging. Cultures are not static. Cultures move and change and grow and adapt. There are some that move faster than others. Movement, is not always positive. In the first world, movement and change is a hidden tactic of domination. As this kind of thinking dominates, then actions such as displacement and destruction are normalized. It is ‘normal’ to move and change. We say things like ‘get over it, it’s time.’ Or we get tired of a certain place and we move and say ‘it’s time for a change.’ Just for the fun of it. When we were infants, we did not say these things. We have learned to say and think these things in particular cultures. Then we assume it’s ‘human’ and ‘good’ and ‘natural.’ Just because something is familiar and forceful in our lives, does not mean it is good or having to do with human nature. Just because many or even most people think and do it, doesn’t mean it is ‘human nature’ and therefore ‘good.’
The map of the world that we live in today, is politically structured through centuries of violence and subjugation. All of the strongest nations were built through some form of slavery and exploitation, marginalization and destruction of pre-existing cultures and peoples. There is no ‘prettiness’ about it. Our beautiful buildings and cultures and things are, in fact, based on blood and fire and mutilation, tears and grief and the labor of others. The people who enjoy the fruits of the most beautiful things on our planet have done the most exploiting.
Europe, the United States, China, Japan, the Middle Eastern and Eurasian regions, the African continent, and Latin American regions, are fraught with tensions of memory and displacement. Many people around the world think that this is because brown people are ‘by nature’ more violent or troubled or poor. However, more and more people have begun to wake up to the historical roots of our maps. They are fictitious and based on violence. Anyone who has visited Latin America, the Middle East, Transcaucasia and Eastern Europe, China and the African continent, and who have studied and have spoken with elders and the young, will understand the tension and troubles that are the present. These tensions and troubles are from the domination of foreign and local links that have visited them through history.
We have asked for peace and yet peace seems far. There cannot be peace unless our maps begin to dislodge themselves from the intention of maps and map-making. Linked with control and boundaries, isolation and manage-ability, coercion and exploitation, these maps are just continual reminders of the fictions that the most dominant elites of the world, want us to proceed from. It is no wonder that others want to violently destroy the figures drawn on these maps and the separations and hierarchies forced upon them. Our imagination of ourselves and the world are castles of ignorance.
For us to move into new realms of cooperation, compassion, wisdom, ethical actions of difference, new forms of education based on the ignorance-eradicating processes in continual modes (because life continues and so must its processes), where will we begin the path toward it? In what ways? Of course there are many who are already doing the work toward this. There is no one way or one action. Indeed, ideology is a huge problem. Not everything is an ideology. Some have claimed that ‘freedom’ is an ideology. If this is the case, then we know our road ahead will be clashes of ideologies. If we do not think in terms of warfare and universalizing ideology as some natural force, where can each of us begin the work. First we must understand that we must do individual transformation. But this cannot be something that we rest on. We must do our work in communities and movements.
The map of our minds, the map of our communities, and the map of the world, must shift. We’ve gotten ourselves here–from our ancestors to the present. We can move out of it. How long will we live in exile from ourselves, each other? That is what colonialism and nation-states have done for us. Some of it has been good and necessary. The processes, however, of mutilating our pasts and our communities, have been unnecessary. What forms of self-governance must we construct? Painstaking it may be, but what are the choices? What are you living for?