Wendy Cheng previews my upcoming book: Dream of the Water Children

cloyd - COVER - FINAL -v2

A Black-Japanese Amerasian reflects on life in the present, with the traces of wars and their aftermaths. 2Leaf Press is pleased to announce the publication of Fredrick D. Kakinami Cloyd’s first book, DREAM OF THE WATER CHILDREN, MEMORY AND MOURNING IN THE BLACK PACIFIC, in June 2016. In Dream of the Water Children, Fredrick Kakinami Cloyd delineates the ways imperialism and war are experienced across and between generations and leave lasting and often excruciating legacies in the mind, body, and relationships.

READ The Preview Here:   http://2leafpress.org/online/preview-dream-of-the-water-children-wendy-cheng/

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SULTANA: Sings Turkish woman-rap, banned in 2000. Now back with a vengeance!

Turkish pop/rap star Sultana, was deemed “dangerous” by the Turkish government and the media in 2000 when her song Kusu Kalkmaz came out.  The Title means:  “Birds Can’t Fly”  — which is a euphemism for “Can’t Get It Up.”   The song suggests a failure in the men who leave their wife and family behind while they go out to clubs to search for women and prostitutes for elicit sex, hiding their impotence as men, not just sexual bodies.

When radio and television stations were told not to play her music or music videos or her performances in Turkey because of the song, Sultana was disgusted.  She is quoted to say that Turkey has a problem with freedom, that creativity means freedom and that Turkey’s “Thought Police” is ridiculous because it actually tries to control thought and that creativity will always resist control.  She moved to the United States at that point and continued to record some beautiful “woman-rap” songs in Turkish/English hybrid, mixing Turkish traditional instruments, modern rap and hip/hop sensibility and Europeanesque melodies.

LINK to a short article

 

Some words from her song:

‘Kuşu Kalkmaz’

I am a-kick it for my girl while you ask how
’cause people in the world are living so foul
I manifest a tune about this, aye:
‘Kuşu kalkmaz’ means: ‘your bird can’t fly’!
While wife and kids are locked up at home
And you are at the strip club
headed for the zone,
Brizzle and ice sucked up all your stones
And by the time you get back home
your baby done grown
‘Cause you were stuck at the spot
like a fool to rasclast
Trying to get at what the new girl got
Not conscious of the family
Not acting like a father
When you’ve seen her in the light
Man, that’s your daughter

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

Afro-Japanese Historical Project: a call to participate

I am beginning an outreach for persons of African-American, Japanese, or Afro-Japanese mixed descent, for three different purposes.  I am especially interested in those of the above heritages who have experience, or are a child of those who experienced living during  the US/Allied Occupation of Japan in the post-World War II period or were raised by people who were.

I am also interested in meeting people who have had friendships and relationships with those who are from that heritage/background and history.

I am interested in putting out this call for two purposes:  1) To connect with others, like myself, who are of the heritages mentioned and who have experienced life in Japan during the post-WWII Allied Occupation, or who are children of those who have, to share stories and concerns and memories; 2) To find those willing to participate either as interview subjects, or would like to participate in a research project on Afro-Asians and their relations from that time-period.  This research project will become aspects of a book(s) and also possible multimedia projects on the history of Afro-Asians, Blackness, and Asian-ness in the Asia-Pacific experience and impacts on social justice and history.  This project is only in its infancy and will be crafted as I go along in the coming months with other Afro-Asians in the San Francisco Bay Area.

This project is just beginning, in the idea stage.  It will unfold more in the coming months and into years.

At present, there have been no volunteers (as of March 27, 2012).  I have made this part of a larger project I am concentrating on, entitled:  The Black Pacific Project.

Please see my blog and videos at: http://waterchildren.wordpress.com/

Youtube videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/BlackPacificMemory?feature=watch

For information/connection, you can EMAIL:  blackpacificmemory@gmail.com

Comments on Joss Whedon’s blogpost regarding Women in society

This post is dedicated especially to those who struggle to live in a world dominated by heterosexism, patriarchy and its various violences (i.e. everybody).

Link to Joss Whedon’s excellent post follows my commentary.

Joss Whedon is perhaps most famous for his show-runner/creator role in the US for television shows such as ‘Angel’ and ‘Buffy the Vampire-Slayer.’ He enjoys a large cult following globally. I feel he is an excellent producer/writer. In a blog post he wrote May 20, 2007, entitled: “Let’s Watch a Girl Get Beaten To Death,” he speaks strongly about heterosexism and the control of women in the world. His words are sparked by the broadcasting of the stoning-death of a 17-year old Yezidi Kurdish girl from Iraq.

Dua Khalil Aswad, a 17-year old Yezidi Kurdish girl from Bashka Ninawa in Iraq, was stoned to death on April 7, 2007. Her death was broadcast on the internet via recordings from a mobile phone. Her stoning has been said to have sparked several ‘reprisal’ attacks and massacres by Sunni Muslim fundamentalist extremists against certain Yezidi villages. Dua Khalil was a girl from the Yezidi culture/worldview, which pre-dates Islam. Much like Alevism, Yezidism has also been a persecuted religion by certain more fundamentalist Sunni and Shi’a groups. The division between Sunni and Shi’a has also sparked some violent antagonisms through history. Let us not forget that fundamentalism and extremism create these licenses to torture and kill. For women and children, this is even more pronounced.

Fundamentalism and extremism exist everywhere and in many forms. In the US and Europe, most of it is hidden behind closed doors and plays out violently in domestic spheres hidden from the public or inter-personally, and in the more poverty-stricken neighborhoods where most news programs and citizens of wealthy countries do not spend much energy or time. Much of it plays out unseen to the public in policy-making wars in government. Exclusions and dominations are everyday aspects of our lives.

When I was doing research on Kurdish groups in Europe, the United States, and in their traditional homelands in the Middle East, I often questioned my Kurdish friends on ‘honor killings.’ I was always mindful to not blame or speak from a feeling of being ‘better’ as an American or Japanese, which is always the risk in bringing these things up when one is ‘a westerner.’ In most cases, most Kurds think of honor-killings as horrendous and needing to stop. In many cases, Muslims who did not agree with honor killings, were correct in understanding that certain tribes, pre-dating Islam, practiced these killings, much like certain tribes in Christian areas. Those traditions have been carried on in certain families and Islam cannot be the blame. In a few cases, there were those who were quite open with their anti-female attitudes and told me that if they are dishonorable, they should be punished. They sounded the same as some of my American friends who felt that all gays should die or that the ruin of the world was when women were allowed to vote and work alongside men. One can imagine the non-heterosexual boys and the girls who are being raised by these men. We, the other people, know what goes on.

Intensifying the questions and investigative energy that I acquired when asking my Kurdish friends about honor killings, various kinds of anger and blame had to be side-stepped in the name of academic research and my own willingness and desire to get through to depths beyond the superficial and the spectacular of such horrific actions as honor killings in society. In the west, sudden gun-shooting rampages, Columbine, and daily rapes and tortures unseen and unreported, are also questions I have spent the last decades on deciphering. I do not believe in original sin, so the sickness of humanity, as far as I know, is not because we are born sick and twisted and violent. Things develop. But things also have pre-texts, histories, traditions, legacies. We are born into these. My thinking/feeling is that as long as they have been developed in history, they can also be undeveloped, shifted, constructed differently, albeit most of the time, in slow trajectories through our small, urgent, and sophisticated actions.

When asking leaders of certain Kurdish, Islamic, or Persian organizations regarding the traditions of honor killings, they were quick to blame ‘poor’ and ‘uneducated’ people on this. It was interesting, then, to discuss how, in certain cases, their own family members practiced this on a sister, or a niece, or another female member. In some of my friends’ cases, they may have grown into certain middle-class wealth but originally came from poor villages. Others, had come from wealthy families where perhaps one or two of the boys participated in honor killings. In some cases, I have also heard of honor killings against men, most for being homosexual. This points to another aspect of the violence of our societies. Our heterosexism also plays into the ignoring of male-targeted violence and publicizing anti-woman, anti-girl violence. The invisible killings of gays in culture, whether spiritually or physically) and male-to-male violence are normalized and therefore unattended to, while in the western nations there is a certain glorification of our horror at violence against girls and women. This system keeps everything in tact.

When speaking of these intense issues of violence, what we hear cannot always be assumed to be ‘truth’ or ‘lies.’ It is difficult, at this juncture, to get a feel for when things were down-played or made to ‘sound’ democratic and caring, when in fact, they did not believe their own words in wanting to dispel honor killings; or whether they truly wanted it to end. After all, I was an American and they wanted to be seen in the best light. I have questioned US Americans on their gay-bashing weekends where they tortured a gay boy behind a bar, and they were sometimes apologetic but I did not believe them. I am sure in some cases, they did change their thinking on this, but one can never be sure in the reality of face-to-face politics. However, in knowing most of my Kurdish friends and being with their families, I am certain that they held nothing back in their belief in the respect of women, simply by watching the consistency between their actions and beliefs while I spent time with them and to watch how Kurdish girls and women responded to them.

One Kurdish political figure I interviewed, became angry with me for questioning her (yes she was a woman) on honor-killings among the Kurds. She accused me of being an American who always wanted to present Middle Easterners in a bad light. She said she was tired of it, and began to name events and attitudes of the Americans that would qualify as the same–the denigration of women and its structural elements in the present world society. She was a strong woman who worked among the Kurdish and Middle Eastern elite and worked for human rights, gay rights, women’s rights, and Kurdish rights in the diaspora and in the Middle East. She was right in the sense of the ‘honor killing’ concept to be barbaric, yet propped up differently in the West and often ignored. Women in the US are often killed ‘spiritually.’ Internalized oppression also plays into how women play these dynamics out themselves.

This brilliant political woman, also told me that honor killings was a general Islamic problem in certain areas and was not a ‘Kurdish problem.’ I found this comment to be half-true. Yes, it is not a Kurdish problem. I responded back: “But Kurdish girls, women (and some boys and men) are dying from this. So don’t you think Kurdish leadership should work on it within the Kurdish community?” She agreed but she said that it is at the risk of being accepted by the West. In her logic, she said that if they began to work on it as a Kurdish issue, the four countries that rule the Kurds at the moment, as well as Europe and the US, would use this as a way to demonize the Kurds in world politics, just as they were trying to form more Kurdish empowerment in the community. The West, she believed, would quickly allow the Arab countries to continue what they do, while they could get more oil from them, while blaming the Kurds for honor killings and strengthening Turkey and the other Middle Eastern countries in their efforts to annihilate the Kurdish culture. I would also add here that for Yezidis, Alevis, Dersimians, Christians etc. who are also Kurdish, there are even worse pressures to consider. Mainstream Sunni and Shi’a Kurds would also join with Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi and Iranian mainstream Muslims in the denigration of them as ‘other.’ There is, in many cases, violences visiting them from other Kurds because of mainstream Islamic domination. In my experience, this was intense, as well as meeting many Muslim Kurds and Turks who felt that religion should be about peace and that those forcing violence on non-Muslims were wrong. In working on sexism and violence against women, as well as against gays and lesbians and non-heterosexually identified peoples in conflict zones, how do we respond?

She is right about the political strategy, I feel. But also, she was side-stepping the honor-killing issue. In the middle-class oriented culture of state-making, and elitisms, the honor-killings continue to work in many societies. It is not just a moral sexism issue. It becomes geopolitical, which holds racism and nationalism to be at play in this.

It is indeed easier for a westerner to criticize quickly and to not think of history and relations when intervening. Certainly we must criticize honor-killings and violence against women. But as a westerner, we must be respectful of painful family histories and politics. We can easily get someone killed even for speaking with us about these issues. We are easily racist and nationalist in having condescending attitudes toward those who practice honor killings. It has been a long road of violence. When a culture or community faces annihilation by western nations, dominant local nations (n this Yezidi case we can speak of the Middle East and Central Asia, as well as diasporic communities around the world) how can we intervene without the communities feeling encroached upon (western racism and moral high-grounds)? Do traditions easily change by our wishes in other communities? If not, do we just let things be? How do we work together? How can we empower stateless communities such as the various Kurdish cultures including the Yezidi, who are also oppressed by local communities? These are not easy answers. We must work urgently yet compassionately. Understanding histories and power-relations and thinking creatively would be a good start.

Photo of Du’a Khalil Aswad

In the West, women are, on the most part and often, still acting as objects of patriarchy and violence. This also allows male-to-male violence to be seen as ‘normal’ and ‘boys-will-be-boys’ continues unspoken and rarely paid attention to. At the point when the gun shoots, or the knife is wielded or the fist is thrown, it is too late. Hundreds and thousands of hours have constructed that moment. What I mean to say is that what people consider ‘violent’ is just the final act. Violence is in words, thoughts, motions, worldviews. Women also play into their own subservience through internalized oppression. Just today, I heard the ‘I’m sorry’ by women twenty times!!! For just stepping past me in the elevator or some other act I consider everyday. I consider this to also be a form of internalized oppression, internalized violence.

I remember a woman-friend in college who was always speaking of men being violent and macho and that just once, she would like sensitive caring men in her life. However, one day when she saw a man crying because his dog died, she called him a ‘fag’ for crying. I pointed out to her that a sensitive man was perhaps the last thing she could take. What would happen to ‘womanhood?’ When women take the place of the man in an already-patriarchal and violent system, do they become like men? What would be the requirements for de-violentizing our society? What would be required to live differently in a world not propped up by our own internalized oppressions and legacies? Our fears? And as we, perhaps, back-down from dreams and actions toward change and hope, we re-create the violences and oppressions. What are our choices? Can we respect women while disrespecting men and boys? How does this need to be shifted?

Joss Whedon’s excellent post from 2007, is an excellent example of admonishing ourselves to step-up, step-forward; not succumbing to brutalizations that happen through us in the largely heterosexist-dominant world systems into which we have been born. We have the power to change things. We must.

Read JOSS WHEDON’s excellent blog here:

http://whedonesque.com/comments/1327

For more information on Du’a Khalil Aswad: wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stoning_of_Du%27a_Khalil_Aswad

Yezidi / Yazidi people/culture: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yazidi

Joss Whedon blog: http://whedonesque.com/

Nation & Person – Bullying & Difference: The Bully Project

I am a person who has been bullied.  As a child in both Japan and the United States, I was the target of bullying.  Both of my parents were also targeted.  The imagined ideal, given to us by our cultures and societies, in the context of certain times, when certain things are happening, allow bullying as a fabric of  legitimizing ‘survival of the fittest’ memes that circulate as universal natural sciences, masquerading as social science as well.

We handle being targeted differently, according to severity, our personalities, the communities we live in or transition into, the time period and circumstances, as well as an effect that anyone hardly mentions:  accumulation.  Bullying is not just about a person or group targeting someone for their looks and/or behavior or race and other factors perceived as ‘go’ lights to offend and abuse, maim and kill spirits.  It is mixed with national and cultural histories as well.  It is usually repetitive because it is the relationship between dominant and subordinate.

As an example; in my mother’s case, she was born in China, then her family fled to Japan when she was little.  Her mother was assassinated by national Japanese soldiers.  My mother’s mother was Chinese and Austrian.  All non-Japanese in Japan in the late 1930s and early 1940s, were suspect and were mostly accused of being spies.  In Japanese schools and neighborhoods, under the fascist dictatorship of Tojo, the police were basically terrorists.  In addition, some people in every neighborhood would be branded ‘good citizens’ by being the neighborhood watch, reporting to authorities and being free to hold people and situations they deemed ‘un-national’ and unpatriotic.  Of course.  As one can guess from this scenario, the racism intensifies, legitimizing very harsh penalties for Japanese who even socialize with or are seen with a non-Japanese, much less being free to marry or whose parents and relations were from different nations and cultures.  This scenario also legitimates all sorts of lies and stories that could be made as a tool of power if one simply doesn’t like someone.  Someone may invent a sordid story which suddenly becomes more true and believable at this point, legitimizing violence.  This scenario, is not too different from other areas and times around the world, when the building of a nation rests on certain intensifications of racism and other forms of marginalizations including local stigmas, legitimating superiorities and punishments.

In addition, my mother experienced being bombed by the Americans and having an older sister killed in Hiroshima.  Another older sister of my mother’s committed suicide after social stigmatization.  She had been kidnapped and made a comfort woman for the Japanese imperial army.  My mother was bullied in elementary and junior high school in Japan, for being non-pure Japanese.  In high school, my mother became a bully, belonging to a band of girls feared at her school.  It is not that one decides, necessarily.  The circumstances warrant some response.  In any case, violence does not just go away.  It always has effects.

One can imagine this tender beautiful, funny woman who is my mother, at certain times, would become an ugly and scary, violent woman.  I would sometimes fear her as much as love her as a mother and confidant.  The fabric of all of our lives are made of this.  Those people who experience non-violence in the home, have most likely been shielded from the exploitative violences that have shaped privilege.  Privilege is sometimes un-thought, unspoken.  For instance, a Japanese woman who has experienced fascist governments, suicides, daily humiliations by classmates, abuse and being ordered around by a stepmother and older brother and is bombed by the Americans everyday and a host of other things, cannot be told to be peaceful and quiet and good.  While that is true, many Americans think that they should, while their families were the ones building the bombs and making the American war effort succeed without bombs to run from or fascist government dictates.  They have been told that the Japanese were bugs that should be smashed off of the face of the earth and that Japanese knew nothing of democracy.  It was a sham, a propaganda, a way to be superior.  The Japanese would also make stories of the Americans and this would keep the violence at a high level in both countries.  Whether one was a soldier or not, it doesn’t matter.  The racist hate-mails I receive in the present day, are not from former US soldiers in the World War fighting the Japanese.  People calling me ‘Jap’ and slant-eye that should die, often come from young people.  Their grandparents have passed it down.  There is a certain worldview.  It is politically incorrect so it is not around on postcards and bugs bunny cartoon shows, or in magazines as they were regularlyduring  the war.  The hatred is kept private, and comes out towards people like myself, unseen to others.  It is often a surprise to classmates and friends and sometimes those racist-carrying people would be defended and I would be labeled a paranoid lunatic who is making it up.  This scenario is one such generalized example of the legacy of racism and legitimate bullying and how it is carried forward.  It looks differently according to climate and circumstance, etc. but it is still there.  Other people have gone through changes about this.  In my mother’s case, being told to be ‘good’  by people who are in a privileged position in relation to the history between the Japanese and the Americans, the being told is a furthering of the bullying.  It already establishes a positioning in relation to violence.  The privileged who carry out the violence, then continues to tell people how they should act in relation to the violence?  This is violence as well.  My mother did not invent fascism.  She was a little girl in a country that was ruled by fascist leaders.  It was not pretty.  But neither was what Woodrow Wilson and the other bankers and corporatists and the military leaders of the US and England did, continuing to fabricate reasons to amass finances and resource-power through militarization and superiority over the Asian nations, attempting to colonize before the World War.

Bullying has many faces.  The inter-personal bullying is a part of how nation-states can become strong.  Bullying is a way in which we may choose ‘the strong’ over the weak.  The CIA recruits people who do not have feelings and who can carry out orders with a smile.  They know how to smile and be charming.  Being detached from compassion is a part of smiling and being charming.  They don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  Some of the coldest and calculating people are the most charming.  Yet they are the quiet bullies.  Some are more overtly aggressive while others do it covertly.  Torturing is a learned thing.

In the movieThe Bully Project ( http://www.thebullyproject.com/_/Bully_Project_home.html) one notes in one of the stories that even after a youth kills himself, the bullies come to school wearing fake nooses around their necks as a furthering torment.  It is continuing fun.  It is not thought of as something bad or wrong.  There are smiles and laughter and joinings in. The school board continued to ignore it, because it was embarrassing to them.  They wanted it quiet.  The parents had fought long and hard and yet the school officials kept it hushed.  These parents, however, did not give up.  It is sad that so many of the parents of the other children (the majority), did nothing but listen to the speeches like it was entertainment, telling their children to stay away from the families of the bullied.  In this way, the institution, the school, condones the bullies.  It knew it was.

In doing anthropological/sociological research on prison systems, and the spread of US systems into Turkey and Japan, for instance, which I have done, it became clear how prison systems are related to bullying and the spread of military superiority.  Time and again, when interviewing prisoners and former prisoners as well as prison guards and interrogators, whether reading their accounts or interviewing them myself, that it was important that the military had those who are expert bullies who felt nothing in relation to perpetrating interrogations and torture.

Nowadays, in the television programs and the most popular movies, violent and malevolent speech and physical brutality as a way of communicating distaste and devaluing the other is commonplace.  Smartass comments are funny, even though it is often violent.  Often, nothing different can enter.  As much as we think that every individual makes their own decisions, every individual is in a different position in relation to violence, and depends on class, race, and behavior in relation to masculinity and femininity continuums, body motion techniques (do I walk right? eat right? talk right? etc.).  So the connection between violence, heterosexism and homophobia, patriarchy and militarism are very close in American society and most of the wealthier nations.  Most likely this is becoming more true as we speak, in a globalizing world, in the wannabe countries.  There is less diversity than ever before.  More violence in the world than ever before.  Why?

I want to applaud and support The Bully Project for being one of the strongest voices to speak to bullying and its connection to nation-state, masculinity and manhood, and the non-acceptance of difference.  If we cannot co-opt and/or recruit into our own fold, then we antagonize and destroy.  These are the only options increasingly in the globalizing system.  And we know there are most of us living, who fake it.  Then we wonder why we are depressed, seeing therapists, destroying our families, getting drunk and doing drugs all the time, having addictions, etc. etc.  I do not believe we need more drugs and therapists to cure.  These are social problems related to the violence that is our modern and postmodern cultures, constantly being created by either our actions or our inactions.

My mother turned to bullying for awhile, to combat being swallowed by bullies.  that aspect of her has not changed, even though she is no longer throwing her weight around in school hallways.  Others like myself, chose more silence.  However, later it caught up with me and I tried to take leave of this world.  It didn’t work. Suicide is an ultimate harm to oneself.  I chose other routes afterwards.  My father took the route of trying to assimilate.  As a Black man in the US, he wanted to be the fairest, well-spoken and educated, open-minded man and was truly a humanist.  But he gave up so much in order to be this.  And humanism has so many problems insofar as diversity is concerned.  And there are some things he does not understand because of it.  Short of accusing my father of being ‘white,’ how can we communicate through difference?  My father feels (at least the last few times we spoke) that all humans are alike with trivial differences.  His actions also speak to this philosophy.  My mother is the opposite.  She feels that people are very different and this cannot be reconciled and we have to live with it.

The Bully Project, which is a movie that shows the crisis in which US society shows itself in young people, yet is mostly ignored.  This Project addresses questions about what is legitimated socially and about community and nation.  How can a nation have nice and compassionate kids while everyday we know that bombs fall representing us, onto families who are not running governments, being killed as pawns of difference-equals-expendable?  All the moral preaching won’t work.  It is a lesson in hypocrisy and illegitimacy.  It is a lesson in the violent underpinning of Empire and nation-building.

The Bully Project is about all of us, whether we believe so or not.  Where do you stand? What do we do?

The Bully Project website:  http://www.thebullyproject.com/_/Bully_Project_home.html

No Bully website:  http://www.nobully.com/

Impunity and the Fabric of Society: commentary

This is a commentary for the previous post – on the 108 Judo class deaths in Japan.

Kobayashi Yasuhiko skipped his judo class at a junior high school in Yokohama Japan.  Later that day, he was pronounced dead.  According to the way this plays out in the courts, as well as in Japanese popular society, it is ‘an accident.’   What happens to people when they are not persons with lives and histories, but are a part of a large society, culture, nation and are nothing but statistics?  It favors refusing to take care.  It favors ignoring.  It favors ‘life as usual’ for most of us.  In this way, as our so-called ‘free’ societies such as the US, Japan, most Western European countries, Turkey, South Korea, and all those so-called ‘democratic’ and almosts, create an illusion of freedom as bestowed upon us by a kind and benevolent, well-intentioned society.

What happened to Kobayashi Yasukhiko was that the judo teacher had to punish him for being undisciplined, for missing a practice.  So when the student arrived at the school, the judo teacher demanded a match with his ranking judo superior and champion in a punishing and grueling match.  He was choked by that champion to the floor, then choked again by the teacher while they grappled him and threw him violently onto the floor.  The boy experienced severe internal bleeding (subdural hematoma) and died.  This is an ‘accident’ in Japanese society.

Now there is an association in Japan called ‘Japan Judo Accident Victims Association.’ http://judojiko.net/eng/

Do we not find this perverse? I am not questioning the group itself, it is needed.  What I question is the violence of a dominant society that makes the forming of this group necessary.  In all countries, this is a problem: the state’s refusal to take care of its subjects.  In this sense, the violence is a monopoly of the state and it can ignore citizens if it needs to protect itself.  The state, being an imaginative outline on a map with its police, prisons, military, and industries and institutions, imagines itself as having to protect itself.  The people who work for the state, imagine themselves to BE the state! Imagine this!  So victims of legitimized violence must suffer enough to found an association so that their voice can be taken seriously by the state.  What harm does the state see it taking in when a group of parents say that there is a strange legitimizing of violent and abusive behaviors that pass for normal and okay in society?

The problem starts with the silencing of ‘being killed’ and the replacement with the term ‘dying’ (assumes non-intention by a person or group and blame is placed on a disease or accident)  or ‘death ( just a statistic somewhere).  People are being killed by active agents that are most often a complex nexus of legitimate events, things, spaces and cultural systems (such as ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘survival of the fittest’).

Silence is a weapon of the rulers.  Silence must be counted upon as a major factor in maintaining a society.  Making something as an individual anomaly, an individual issue, is counted upon and is effective in most of the first world nations today, and others as well.  On the other spectrum in these societies, there is also the parallel motivation to blame everything on the state and the government.  So on the one hand, it is individualized, made an individual case.  On the other hand, it is something that the government and the state must take care of, it’s not our individual fault.  Both of these trajectories, dualistic poles of behavior, are from the issue of individuals in increasingly individualizing societies, that disempower by disengaging.  The self has tremendous pressure and the only thing it knows is that it is under a system, but at other times it is never that system (ignoring).

In another instance, Japan was at the center of an international controversy surrounding increasing numbers of people dieing while at work.  This phenomena, called:  karōshi 過労死  ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karōshi ) became almost an embarassment for the Japanese, once internationalized.  At the beginning, when the first few had died, the Japanese government used the excuse that if this were a workplace problem, then all people who are over-worked while working, should be dying.  But since they are not, it is not the workplace or the government who is responsible, but this is specific to those individuals.  On these grounds, there was no compensation.  What the hell??  But doesn’t this sound familiar?  As the state and corporations run most of our lives anyway, when convenient, they have the lawyers and thinkers to have logical defenses such as those, to make individual lives suddenly not their responsibility.  Individual differences in increasingly individualizing societies, are individually more free to roam around and make personal choices and have personal opinions, but the body, the health, the worldviews and the movement of the body in certain ways here and there, and in this way (think of brushing teeth every morning, then jogging, then eating breakfast, then going to work, then stopping for a drink after work, then going home and seeing family, then watching television, then waiting for the weekend–over and over again and over again)  seals our bodies in certain ways and repetitions.  Mechanized lives that we don’t recognize as mechanized, routine-ized.   For the wealthy, they rarely follow these routines so they are totally unconcerned about the bulk of the people in their own societies.  There is NO RECIPROCAL relationship in individual societies.  Each of us do what we do.  So in BEING KILLED, we just call it one person’s death in this way, or he or she or that dies in this way.  Oh how unfortunate.

Well, unfortunately for Japan, at least, more and more people are questioning this disconnect between the people working for and caring for certain things but this care NOT BEING RETURNED, not being reciprocated.  I can almost hear some people now reading this—–‘who says it has to be reciprocal?  We are FREE TO LEAVE.’   Such is how individual freedom goes.  Leaving something we need, or leaving something we love, or feel connected to is Painful, and perhaps life-killing.  But we rarely acknowledge this.  Increasingly, especially in the world’s wealthiest nations, all that we are is in our heads and our bodies are just there to carry our heads around.  We stomp on the earth, we pollute, we say whatever, think whatever, other people have their realities, I have my own, what else is there…… etc. etc.   To me, this is what the Buddhists call the ‘Age of degeneration.’   The Bible calls ‘The End times”.   Self-hatred is there.  It is not natural but certainly foretold and followed.

Yasuhiko’s story, being killed by his judo teacher; and the Japanese salary-men’s deaths at work, seem to be ‘the way things are.’  They supposedly are not killed by the silent and abusive modern society we live in, by our ignorance.  Even if we understand it, we don’t seem to have any creativity enough to fight it so we may succumb to silently going about our business.  Others find ways to begin subverting, and then changing things for the better.

Corporate and government leaders, and all leaders of anything in society, must be held accountable for how things are.  At the same time, we ourselves, whether leaders or not, must be held accountable for whatever we do to disempower ourselves, or become arrogant in thinking that we do not need guides and teachers in our lives.  We must continue to think and perhaps think better than we do now, in our complex world, to navigate the various mental and emotional games we have all learned to play in the modern world to get by.  That, I feel, is the most challenging aspect of social change.

I pray and work hard for people to begin thinking about what kind of societies we live in and therefore participate in the killing of ourselves and others and the ecology willingly.   And I pray that we become empowered instead of paralyzed by our sadness and rage, to empower ourselves to work differently.  First, we must recognize the difference between ‘being killed’ and ‘dieing.’  Silence by a nexus of gendered notions of toughness and legitimate forms of disciplining, which can allow abuse and hatred and condones it, and how this spreads to all aspects of society in the family , the workplace and leisure and to human relations and nations–must mean that these are not natural but made-up and that these can be changed through equal amounts of work in new directions.

In what various ways and methods does your society, culture, nation, neighborhood, family, participate in the collusion of violence that passes for silence and manhood, ‘bad’ personalities and nature?  In what ways can we begin to seriously look at this issue, bring discussions and come to formulate ways to stop maintaining the fiction of these things as ‘nature’ and inevitable?  In what ways do masculinities become linked with violence as natural?  In what ways does this masculinity, then, become beneficial to strong societies that want to maintain themselves (military strength and the militarization of society)?  In what ways are women and non-males inscribed in an empowerment that is falsely viewed as such but in reality is a patriarchal form of power, a violent-ization of power; and is an intensification of sexism?  How do women internalize patriarchal violence in order to be ‘equal,’ and perpetrating violences? In what ways can all of these things be changed?  How could Yasuhiko still be in judo classes, perhaps performing the sport that he loves, without being killed, then labelled an accident?