Great POST by Mauro Sifuentes – Defining from where we are speaking

My colleague on his blog, has written a very straightforward piece, defining some terms.  When reading posts and comments, those of us who have invented/invested time, energy and commitment into the techniques of oppression that we and others practice as individuals, communities, groups, organizations, nations, etc., it cannot be taken for granted that we are speaking about the same things in the same way.

Especially terms that are ‘loaded.’  The issue is that when people bring certain words up, there are shields and defenses and attacks.  There is a wall that goes up.  When you, the reader, are reading my posts, please understand that all language has underpinnings and differences and purposes, no matter how ‘common’-sounding.

So Mauro Sifuentes has done a fantastic job in presenting what I feel/think/understand to be what I am speaking of when I talk about racism, for instance.  Other ‘ism’ terms are similar.  The issue is how our ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ emotions about these things, work to protect ourselves from being ‘bad’ and therefore not dealing with how it works as a STRUCTURE, not ‘inside’ like some kind of cancer.  That is the common psychological language that keeps people in denial about how the structure is what we live within, through, with, as, and also in resistance to these ‘ism’-forms in various ways and amounts and intensities.

People who have been a target of isms, and have experienced more violence, and/or have seen it expressed upon others through physical, emotional, institutional, legal, military, and other ways in which violence is transmitted, will feel more urgency.

There are many factors in the maintaining of oppression that we practice everyday ‘without meaning to.’

Being mobile, being ‘good,’ equalizing, making people feel good, charity, and a whole host of other things have links to oppression (they aren’t necessarily maintaining, but play their part).  For example, being mobile–both physically and emotionally/mentally/spiritually, are conventient roads to escape and deny.  Being mobile is connected to privilege (some can move further and faster and easier than others due to socio-economic class/caste, race, gender, nation, etc.).

Individualism itself, embedded in individualities and corporate capitalism and western religious ideals, are also a factor in how racism and sexism and heterosexism, for instance, functions.  In other words— have we, as persons, grappled with how our individual sense of self, our individual lives and philosophies, are individualistic, or alienating, or isolating, or without history of community, etc.?  We are individuals, yes.  But individualism is not the same as individuality,  Individualism privileges American-centric, capitalist, community-destroying forms of relations.  Individuality is another thing altogether.

The issue of the ‘survival of the fittest’ in relation to science and progress, is very much an unquestioned aspect of the ignorance and escape from dealing with racism by the so-called ‘good’ people.  So the targets are sad, crazy, or cured through therapy.  The other end is that the targets are all equal to us and these are just isolated events that can just be taken care of with ‘don’t worry, be happy’ or with the understanding that an ism effects ‘them’ and not ‘me’ so I will feel sorry and do what I can for ‘that friend’ or ‘community’ but it really is their business and not ours.

One, and perhaps the most important point of Mauro’s posting, is forgetting and alive-ness.  Being alive is mere surviving when it is cut-off from history.  Our forgetting of where we’ve come from and the processes that create our current world is a primary reason why our lives are the way they are and increasingly smaller and smaller–personal joy and expression and comfort.  This fits in with the current state of the cultural malaise of the ‘meaning of life’ that has been trained into us in the United States, globalizing itself.  Colonialism plays out continually through us and our values.

They are not really ‘our’ values.  However, they are dependent on our forgetting the patterns and structures and powers that create our world and what we have to do or not do, survival, happiness, understanding and knowledge. Or not.

Understanding is the first open light towards change.

Here is the link to Mauro Sifuentes’ post:  Turning Our Backs On History: Internalized Racism and Class Oppression

Video Trailer: ”Tokyo Ainu 東京アイヌ”

The Ainu people are a people who have inhabited the northern regions of Japan and what might be called Russia by some, as well as the areas now disputed, between Japan and Russia.  The Ainu are a caucasian group who were, as per the everyday norm of today’s most well-known nations, displaced and killed (physically, or culturally/spiritually) and assimilated (which to me, are all forms of killing in some way), what nations do to those who are different to create a “majority.”

This new documentary focuses on the Ainu people who are living in Japanese cities.  In this documentary, the focus is on those living in Tokyo.

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!

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

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.

First International Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference! A Success!!

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!!!!

More information can be seen here:

http://www.mixedracestudies.org/wordpress/?cat=13

Excellent reflection on the conference by Laura Kina, one of the organizers of this conference:

http://laurakina.blogspot.com/2010/11/watershed-moment-for-critical-mixed.html

“Calling it Home” Documentary Video by Zeynep Uygun: Displacement & Democracies

Tarlabasi is a district in Istanbul, Turkey with a long history of housing non-Muslims and other displaced persons such as trans-identified persons, Armenians and Kurds, Christians, Romani, and others. There are a few neighborhood districts in the huge city of Istanbul that are like this. They are home to these thousands and provide safety and diversity in a city that is continually mobilized (in people’s minds and therefore actions) as one that tows the dominant ideologies and meanings of the Turkish state. The Turkish state has long afforded many of the elites with the controls to navigate its global identity through the late 19th century and early 20th century political worlds, imprinting it into the present. In that period in the 1800s and through the 1950s, the Turkish model of citizenship included everyone as long as they became ‘Turkish.’ The single mode of identity was crafted as a defense against encroaching European colonial powers in their times. But to the popular masses, no mention of ‘Turkishness’ was spread.  Only after the establishing of the republic in 1923 did the ideas of cleansing move into full force to create national unity.  Through tremendous and bloody wars against many fronts, the Turkish mono-identity politics was formed as a resistance to a certain domination. It was done at such costs considering the general poverty and exhaustion of the large Ottoman population that earlier, stretched from the edges of Spain and the African continent, into the edges of China and South Asia. Centuries of warfare left its people exhausted and wartorn. Yet, through tremendous efforts, it fought off completely being swallowed by the French, British, American, Greek and Italian encroachments, among others. The region’s peoples gained their strength of spirit, through warfare as defense of itself. In empowerment, how does this play out as identity? However, its ideological center, which usually creates the nationalist unities necessary in order for people to fight against something against all odds, was borrowed from those foreign ideologies that were popular and powerful at the time, which had totalitarian and fascist elements, mainly the French and Italian forms of ideologies and their forms of ‘science.’

These elements have been called ‘Kemalism’ –named after Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who was the military officer who is credited for saving what was left of the former Ottoman Empire and creating it into the new Turkish Republic. This authoritarian form of rule, mixed with its secular Muslim Turkish ethnic identity written into the Turkish Constitution, has created its violent political clashes ever since. Although Woodrow Wilson’s democratic ideals were forced upon the new Turkish government, its wordings and its lack of protections created a diverse array of dominating tactics along mono-ethnic and mono-religious lines.  Difference existed in relatively more harmonious relations in the Ottoman period, have been hammered into violent political differences in the nation-state system of Turkey. Today, the diverse population tries to navigate and make life live-able with its diversity, while the laws and policies remain very typically staunch in its single ethnic, and particular forms of secular Islamic qualities that defined the earlier periods of Turkey. Those who have gained prominence and power in this system, will not let that go, even though their changes may bring about more love from some of its people. On the other side, it will bring about exile, imprisonment, and assassination at the turn of a dime, as have the many coups and right and left-wing assassinations in the streets and even in Europe, have proven, in the name of maintaining the structure of what is considered ‘the Turkish state.’

Tarlabasi is one of the beautiful, poor neighborhoods of Istanbul where the marginalized have crafted lives and learned to live with each other, complete with disagreements and harmonies, sharing and autonomies. While cities in modern nations are crafted, the marginalized are apparently equal to everyone else, and must find their own way. As those in this great video state, the neighbors know each other and respect each other. If they are displaced, how will they live? Where will they go? What will happen to them? Often, people do not realize how social ostracization works in countries where they are heavily more politicized than in, let’s say, the US or the UK. But even in these two western nations, the marginalized are still invisible and their voices are the last to be heard, if at all. Oh well, the city wants to build new apartments here. So we’ll give you a couple hundred or a thousand dollars, go find your new home….

Tearing people and communities apart is only the beginning of a series of fears, isolations, loneliness and the sheer exhaustions of starting over again in new places. In places such as Turkey, which are communal, much of the ways people survive are based on relationships formed, the places frequented, etc. In new places, without those places and people, starvation and stress and ill-health begin to form. In many nations, these are blamed on the poor and marginalized themselves. In effect, the elites and governing forces, along with the over, tacit or secret agreements of the more privileged, create these circumstances.

Please watch and listen to this wonderful video. This is a glimpse into Tarlabasi, but also a glimpse into a way of making and displacing and creating suffering, that is common in every nation, especially those that are ‘modern’ and supposedly civilized.

Photo by Tesstantrum at Flickr.com