1/3 Hi! All this Jeremy Lin talk has me thinking abt the evolution of cultural appropriation on tumblr. (For context/accountability I am half Asian half black, Caribbean American.) it used to be that as long as you were engaging respectfully, it was fine. But now CA criticisms seem to have become essentialist, prizing cultural nationalism above solidarity, w no context mattering at all. It honestly seems like an excuse not to engage w other ppl’s cultures and I’m torn as to who to listen to.
Lin wrote abt honestly engaging w black ppl, businesses and history. He didn’t ~get a pass~ he was invited in by a community. One of the original arguments against CA was that it took $ out of the pockets of communities who created it, but he got his hair done by a black stylist w a black friend after talking to many black people and being very transparent about his journey. He did everything traditional CA commentary recommends but still upset many. Is there just no room to share w each other?
I sympathize w Martin’s response but was stressed by the underlying anti-Asian sentiments. In the Caribbean Asian and black ppl have been learning and building w each other forever. I don’t see how, by any definition, Lin engaged in CA. I’m not particularly miffed by Martin’s tattoo, but am seeing a lot of ppl mad that Lin pointed it out when I think it was a fair point to make. Martin could have learned the language and lived in the country but by his own logic he wants to be Asian…
I sort of have that same issue with CA as well. And then the same people who call out CA are the same ones who give passes to certain people and celebrities lol. It’s selectively hypocritical. You see, I come from a very diverse community too so our take on CA is pretty similar.
My ethnicity is Mien and over here, the Mien community has built connections with the Laos community and the Chinese community. It’s pretty common to see a Mien person(s) at Laos parties, groupings, and etc. The same thing at Chinese parties, groupings, and etc. It’s also common for Mien people to cook “Mien versions” of Laos or Chinese food and vice-versa. You can also find Laos or Chinese folks who can speak Mien or understand it. Even some of our traditions are influenced by each other.
The same thing can be said about the Chinese community and the Vietnamese community; they’re very well-integrated with each other. It’s normal over here and no one cares. We’re not put into “boxes” nor made to feel like this person can only do this or that person can only do that. Now you might think it must be easy because we’re all Asian and I guess we’re “all are the same” right?
Nope. I know of small groupings of Laos and Black people that have established a sort of mini-community too. I also know of small groupings of Filipino and Black people that have done the same. They influence and share each other’s foods and cultures and it’s normal within these specific groupings lol. You read that right, it’s normal.
BUT at the same time, the problem with small communities is that they’re not representative of the larger community. The larger community often has no knowledge that these smaller communities exist. There are definitely Asian and Black communities that have established relationships with one another here and there, as you mentioned in the Caribbean. But in the US as a whole, we haven’t done that. As a whole, Asian Americans and Black people don’t know much about each other. I know it’s a little harsh to say that but it’s the truth. And I don’t mean this in any negative way, I’m just pointing it out.
So to go back on the issue between Lin and Martin, I don’t think either of them are trying to be Black or Asian. I think this could’ve been an opportunity for some dialogue but to be honest, it felt very one-sided. While I can definitely criticize what Martin said, I just feel like so many people came to Lin’s defense. It got to a point where Martin had to apologize when he wasn’t even in the wrong. I just felt like Martin got pushed out of his own conversation. And we all know this happens quite often with Black people.
Like I understand your concerns and what was said to Lin and why so many people defended him. But I just can’t find it in me to take Lin’s side, you know. Of course I don’t think any less of Lin, I think he’s a great inspiration but I just can’t in this situation. Sure Martin could’ve left some things out but I think it’s important to understand why he called Lin out. It’s not just about hair, it’s much bigger than that.
Angry Asian Guy