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.
Human Rights is a mechanism that we need in our world, even though it is impossible. It is impossible because the nations that enforce and “protect” it, demand it, are the nations that committed genocide and exempt themselves from war crimes, fomenting distrust from other nations.
Internally, national and local police systems, judicial structures, school systems, and the dynamics of domestic life, maintain and create as well as change and make invisible, the contours of oppression and the hierarchies of the local culture, whether it be racial, gendered, class and caste-ist, homophobic and heterosexist, or along the lines of patriotic and nationalist. In this landscape, human rights becomes a distant ghost for some people and communities deemed outside those deserving rights, including those criminalized or made to become “insane.” Who creates insanities and criminals but the dominant systems?
In this scenario, to argue for human rights is a spectacle, yet is necessary, fraught with contradiction, hope, despair, memory, and imagined futures.
CHINA Police – In Uygur minority Region – December 2014
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.
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.
Pat Parker (1944-1989), poet, teacher and activist, wrote this poem: For the White Person Who Wants to Know How to Be My Friend and had this wonderful line:
The first thing you do is to forget that i’m Black. Second, you must never forget that i’m Black.
For any social difference that exists in any society, we can place it there, in the space of “Black.” In any case, color-blindness, gender-blindness, mixed-space blindness, sexual orientation blindness, socio-economic class blindness, neighborhood blindness, body-size blindness, nationality blindness etc. etc. — we have to pay attention to how quickly we may subsume, make invisible, refuse (ignore), make trivial, something that makes a difference. Sameness is too valorized in the globalizing society. It’s not about any particular choices we have in holding on and letting go—-because even this is an action and a series of action (holding or letting go, that is), that come from political positionings that rely on privilege, luck, ability, amount of trauma, fear, violence, and a host of other things that come from oppression and social constructions of society.
Let us not forget how completely and utterly different we are from each other. This way, we truly understand diversity. If we “understand,” then perhaps we do not understand difference at all. We just consume, co-opt, and bring into our own history and culture and language and values, that OTHER. This is a violence to that Other.
But in saying they are different, do we automatically become AFRAID? Or do we automatically become ANGRY? Do we automatically IGNORE? Do we assume we can translate, communicate? Yes we can communicate, but understanding its partiality is important.
Honor you. Honor me.
In our difference. Utterly different. Utterly ourselves. Yet somehow, we are related as humans, as that who has experienced pain.
Perhaps other things. But do not assume equality.
There . . . . . . Can we allow difficulty, struggle, powerful connection and dissonance?
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.
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.