Mogais: "our queer ancestors fought tooth and nail for the normalization of "queer" Also mogais: *create MOGAI as a 'more inclusive' alternative to LGBT*
They just don’t understand what queer theory is or what implications and connotations the word “queer” has. “Queer” has always been a political term, used by more radical LGBT activists to signify a distinction between moderate/liberal politics and radical/revolutionary politics. HIV/AIDS activists, prison abolitionists, anti-imperialists, etc, would all use “queer” to distance themselves from white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchal hegemony.
But this history is missing from the way the term “queer” is used now, largely because of neoliberal social justice which advocates for “inclusivity” all the time regardless of context. People who think that “queer” is about parsing a “radical” sexual orientation from a “regressive” one are fundamentally misunderstanding the political utility of the term, and the historical context from which it emerged. “Queer” has always been a slur, but its political reclamation was meant as a “fuck you!” of sorts to cishets, especially when gay and bi men and trans women were dying and the government was doing nothing to help LGBT people.
Now, though, because so many LGBT youth are completely disconnected from LGBT history (and public schools typically don’t incorporate LGBT liberation as part of history classes), they think “queer” is a replacement for “sexually fluid” or “open” or “modern”. That’s why they think “queer” is a better term than lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans. In actuality, the way it’s used now does not signify whether you’re a marxist and anti-imperialist or a liberal. Plenty of liberals and marxists alike use the term, for different reasons. Thus, I’ve noticed that in primarily white social justice/white LGBT circles, “queer” has lost its specific political utility because it’s become mired in intracommunity identity politics.
Of course some cishets also try to capitalize on this transformation by shoving themselves under the “queer” umbrella (cishet asexuals, kinksters, polyamorous men, etc).
There are also some valid arguments for why some LGBT people self-identify with the word queer: genuine political self-reclamation, a word that encompasses your questioning identity if you don’t know exactly who you are, a word for trans/nonbinary people who don’t have clear-cut terminology to conceptualize their erotic/sexual relationships. I know some people in my life - lesbians, gay and bisexual men, trans people, nonbinary people, bisexual women, pansexual women - who call themselves “queer” all the time.
The problem is, though, that these sincere reasons are obscured because so many people take a sanctimonious and self-aggrandizing approach to “queer”. People either believe that it’s a completely useless and insignificant word and that if you’re LGBT and identify with it that you’re “fake”, or they ignore that it is a slur that carries with it traumatizing history and that to this day, it’s used as a homophobic slur against LGBT people. In the latter category, too, those people also try to advocate for post-modern “everyone should be as enlightened as me and use the term Queer for everything in their life, or they’re all not as intellectual or progressive as me”. So the discourse on “queer”, its history, and its usage, becomes lost within these arguments.
Another problem I have with the word “queer” is that people seem to think that only bi women are responsible for its misuse. Of course there are bi women who harmfully idealize the term without understanding its gravity or impact, but this problem is not limited to bi women, and as I said earlier, “queer” as a slur is targeted toward all LGBT people, which means that all LGBT people have the potential to reclaim it and all LGBT people have the potential to misuse it. And trust me, I have seen multiple LGBT people who aren’t bi women misuse the term or falsify the history surrounding it.
So “queer” and “mogai” symbolize attempts to parse a non-existent, identity politics-based, neoliberal difference between “regressive” labels and “open-minded, progressive” labels, all grounded in the blind inclusivity approach that I mentioned early on. Yet within the community, they’re also used to group some LGBT people into the “good, radical, authentic” category, and the “fake, bad, deceptive” category, which to me is hilarious because even as people try to argue against making this word more significant than it is, they themselves make it significant by lashing out viciously at others and centering their argument on the word “queer”.
The word “queer” has a specific history, but it also has a lot of historical and modern pain within it. And as I’ve always said, my stance on it is neutral. I respect those who hate the term and do not want to be called it (because of trauma or exasperation or respect for the specificity of language), and I respect those who self-identify with it and have reclaimed it for themselves. I only balk when cishets use the term or, worse, when they call me queer, and I also get irritated when people think that “queer” is a more radical term than the labels within the LGBT acronym, and when people blame one portion of the community for certain problems with the term and ascribe roles based on who likes the term and who doesn’t.
just gonna add in my personal fandom grandma opinion to THIS post
this new interest that showrunners have in engaging fans and “supporting” and endorsing fanworks is actually really insidious
because it diverts fan attention towards canon and canonical authority
it keeps fans watching and hoping and advocating for their ships to be canon
instead of generating creative and expansive fanworks.
think about the decline in fanworks for “crack ships” and rarepairs
think about how many people won’t produce content for ships that have no chance of becoming “canon”
because we - especially queer and/or woc fans - are being baited and led on by showrunners, so that we’re focusing our fanworks and fan efforts on canon rather than on subverting and expanding canon to include new and exciting possibilities.
meanwhile showrunners will queerbait and shipbait like no tomorrow, show up at comic con, laugh about shipping and fandom in a supposed show of support, but go home with their bank accounts growing and canon hegemony - read white, straight hegemony - intact.
it also makes for less exciting and rewarding fandom
because we’re focused on canon - which will ultimately never reward or satisfy any of our efforts - instead of on our creative potential.
this new shift in showrunners interacting with fan culture isn’t about valuing or rewarding fan efforts.
showrunners and writers realized that trying to eradicate fandom spaces was a wasted effort. and so they co-opted them/us instead.
it’s sad when tumblr takes very real problems like internalized misogyny, unconscious colorism, white cultural hegemony, or whatever and completely invalidates them just by applying them to the wrong situation. like it’s just really sad because these things do exist and people do studies on them, but some fucking 14 year old decides to attack someone else and throw all these words and concepts around and then that person will forever not believe any of these things exist. ya’ll just throw all your hottest social justice buzzwords around instead of actually trying to change someone’s mind and the second you do that is the second all the moderates just see you as a crazy liberal who’s got no firm grounding in reality. It just drives me fucking crazy because I’m an anthropology major, I KNOW the worst structural violence has to offer, and ya’ll are here comparing a tumblr blogger who said otherkin is stupid to trans kids being murdered by their peers.
It’s just maddening because you lose your chance to actually be helpful because you just need to assert your moral superiority to everyone.
Known as KA-Day, when all queer women all over the world
suddenly developed superpowers. Within months, the world order had been
upended, boring cis white men saw their hegemony toppled, and peace
reigned throughout the lands
(Because twenty seconds of Korra and Asami holding hands gave us all so much life and energy, 70+ pages of actual kissing and affection will make us immortal. Those of us who survive the heart attacks we get reading it, at least!)
i’ve written before about how i believe fma03 was designed to Unsettle the audience, which i mean literally in that it’s supposed to hold up a mirror to ourselves and make us feel uncomfortable. for those of us who are white, i would hope that ed’s journey of realizing his own biases against ishbalans, and certainly roy’s journey of realizing he can no longer remain complacent and complicit in the system, is something that resonates with us and moves us to examine our own internalized biases and how we interact with a (sorry in advance!!!) within the white nationalist heteropatriachal hegemony. which i can unpack if that’s unclear but i think the creation of the “other” thru means of de-humanizing, removing, and containing ishbalans communities, which is justified by nationalism (they make up rumors that the ishbalans pose a Threat to amestris, which in the eyes of amestrians makes their extermination a ok) is………..deeply resonant and important
anyway that’s a wall of text for a slow monday i’m done lmfao i promise
Respect my Ratchet: The Liberatory Consciousness of Ratchetness
Recently someone interviewing me asked me to define ‘ratchet’,
but I couldn’t at that moment. A few days later though, I found myself urging a
group of Black students standing in solidarity with Mizzou to be free and
embrace their ‘ratchet’. Both of these incidents made me think a lot about what
I mean when I say I’m ratchet. Today in a Black feminist panel discussion with
the nonpareil Dr. Linda Carty, I figured it out: ratchet is the embodiment of
Black femme liberatory consciousness.
Academics like Barbara J. Love define liberatory
consciousness as the ability to live life in oppressive institutions with
intentionality and awareness, rather than internalizing the socialization those
institutions have imposed. A liberatory consciousness enables us to maneuver
through oppressive society without giving in to self-pity and dejectedness… and
if that aint ratchet…. What is!??
Being a Black woman in a white patriarchal society positions
Black women and femmes in unique relation to power and privilege. Being seen as
attractive, professional, intelligent, or successful is a fight when those
attributes are saturated with Whiteness, maleness, and heteronormativity. In
order to find some piece of acceptance into these systems, Black folks welcomed
respectability politics – basically values and beliefs that police ourselves in
an effort to impose dominant White values. You know them: dress nice, work
harder, pull your pants up, don’t eat watermelon in public, close your legs,
get a perm, speak like you got some sense, tuck in yo Blackness! These politics
are especially impossible and violent to Black women and femmes who are most
regulated and silenced by them. Respectability leaves Black women and femmes
walking a tightrope of trying to appear worthy of being respected by Black men
and everyone else. It’s a suffocating place to be, and as a fat Black lesbian, I
fell off of that tightrope a long time ago. What was the safety net? RATCHET!
Awareness is the first element of a liberatory
consciousness. Ratchet awareness? CHECK! From the moment I stepped foot into a
college classroom I was aware of how I was different and why. My hair, my
clothes, my skin, my growin up in the hood… and the way I talked! When trying
to change all that failed, I embraced ratchet. I repped Queens harder than I ever
had, proud of Sutphin Boulevard that equipped me with a language my white
classmates couldn’t understand and my English professors tried to erase. I
learned quickly that under white supremacy, Black English must be devalued –
relegated to ratchet. If we laugh at and devalue the way Black folks talk, we
internalize that we don’t have our own language… but we do! Yeen never seen a
white muh fukka try to figure out what the hell we talmbout? They be lost! And
beyond that, awareness is the ability to notice, paying attention to our
language. Ratchet makes room for the art of shade, a good read, and all the
other nuanced ways we communicate as Black folks. Ratchet is also the
undercurrent of awareness of other black folks. How is it that we ALL know the
electric slide? The Cupid Shuffle? To close grandma’s door because we ‘lettin
her good air out ‘cause we don’t pay no bills round here’? It’s the ratchet! The
awareness and ways of knowing we hide from the white gaze.
Analysis is the second element of a liberatory
consciousness. Ratchet analysis? CHECK! Analysis is all about ways of being
that will yield the best results in a given situation. That’s that code
switchin’ that is embodied in the ratchet. I can always tell who my momma is
talking to on the phone based on her voice – white voice, the power company;
loud voice, her sister. We don’t talk to hegemonic institutions the same way we
talk to each other. Within community we have freedom to show our range of true
selves – laughing, crying, twerkin, sewing our bundles in. We feel the
liberation we strive for as a people and we run wit it! This element of ratchet allows for creativity
in the way we express ourselves, body positivity, and subverting gender
binaries. Ratchet analysis tells us we can behave however the fuck we want and
switch it up whenever we damn well please – because we are free. Big ole
booties, crooked smiles, rainbow bangs, all excluded from the hegemonic
standards of beauty that tell us our bodies are wrong. Ratchet makes room for
it all, telling us our bodies aren’t wrong, they just is what they is.
And there’s something particularly feminist about being
ratchet. It’s not a term I hear ascribed to men or used too often by men – even
though it leaves room for expressions of masculinity that respectability just
won’t rock with – like Young Thug. Ratchet asserts that women don’t have to be
Michelle Obama or Janet Mock to be influential, feminists, or revolutionary.
Ratchet allows Cardi B to be just as influential and feminist – wholly embracing
sexuality, herself, and other women makin’ shmoney however they can.
Ratchet is revolutionary in the way that it does not play to
being palatable for whiteness. Unlike respectability politics, ratchet is
attainable for black folks of all social class. Ratchet provides the space for
Black folks – women and femmes especially – to subvert the white gaze and explore
the presentation of self that they truly feel comfortable with. Ratchet is the
freedom to laugh out loud, dance in public, cuss somebody’s ass out, bring your
entire self into all you do. Ratchet is knowledge that can be shared across
Black communities and is not bound by geography, social class, or level of
traditional education. So why are Black students, activists, and student
activists so afraid of ratchet? Because white hegemony has told us we can’t love
ourselves or be free to be who we are and respectability still has us falsely
believing that if we are good enough negroes, we will ‘make it’. We know that
respectability fails us… so what do we have to lose from forgetting that shit
and defining ourselves? I’m here for embracing the gutter glam liberation of
Thousands of people were at the Atlanta airport Sunday protesting the Muslim ban. It was peaceful but because there were so many protestors, it was also disruptive. Muslim+black+brown+asian+white+etc etc etc folks; all genders, all ages, were there. Protestors were joyful & screaming. It was a defiant, furious show of support & love. We are in a time where showing love is a radical thing.
Whites make up only 63% of America. White hegemony is unsustainable. These conservative policies aren’t coming from a position of strength. I believe these are the last desperate attacks of a weak, scared, desperate thing. They don’t have the numbers. They don’t have the power.
Folks are scared. Me too. But not when I’m at a protest!!! When I’m protesting I feel great!! To put it in the language of our people: protesting is a form of self-care.
Lawmakers are watching these protests. It will affect if they’re emboldened to fight against Trump, or made scared of cooperating w/ him. Trump & Bannon are going to tell America to be fearful. They are going to say protesters are crazy, anarchists, a risk to national security.
PLEASE PROTEST. If you’re “safe” seeming: white, older, female, cis femme: I believe we have the RESPONSIBILITY to protest. If the frightened parts of America sees people who look like them protesting they will be less likely to believe that protestors are the enemy. It’s wrong that the Women’s March is seen as “peaceful” while BLM is seen as “dangerous.” This is racism. It’s also the reality we live in.
If you’re white, support PoC at protests. Every time you put your body out there it screws over these white supremacist assholes. Dangerous maniacs are running our huge, complicated, hopeful, monstrous, precious country. The tools you & I have to fight with are simple.
Don’t be silent, don’t stay home. Come together, find one another. Not all battles are winnable but this one is. They are not strong.
There will be more protests. Join a group to keep you updated. Buy posterboard & markers. Get your body out on the streets.
We need a black counter culture for us black people who are sick of this cishet, male, patriarchal, Christian, capitalistic centered blackness. Black people trying to imitate white hegemony does not work for us as a whole.
At the end of “What Is an Author?”, Foucault predicts that in the future “the author function will disappear.” All discourses “would then develop in the anonymity of a murmur. We would no longer hear the questions that have been rehashed for so long: Who really spoke? Is it really he and not someone else? With what authenticity or originality? And what part of his deepest self did he express in his discourse?” (119). But these questions that Foucault consigns to the “anonymity of a murmur” are the very questions that have been, and still are being posed by women, blacks, Chicanos, and others who have been consigned to silence and invisibility within traditional representations of American history and literary history.
“Why is it,” Frances Foster asked at the 1989 ASA session on the authorship of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl “that white people have such a hard time accepting the fact of a black woman writing a book?” Foster’s question (re)locates the question of authorship not in relation to the historical rise of capitalist individualism, but in relation to the historical silencing of black women. And within this narrative of black American Women’s history, Foucault’s consignment of the question “What difference does it make who is speaking?” to the “anonymity of a murmur” might be read as one more historical instance of white western male hegemony seeking to stop black women’s mouths by (re)colonizing them under the sign of invisibility, anonymity, and silence.
Betsy Erkkila, Theory in the Flesh: Questions of Race, Questions of Resistance
Louder Than Bombas: A Zines Rasquache Creation on Raza, Morrissey and The Smiths is now up on my Etsy page!
This Zine does not exist to prove that Morrissey is a racist. It is not meant to discourage people from continuing to build their love for Morrissey and the Smiths. I made this Zine in order to further understand the obvious relationship we Brown Folks, Raza, Xicanas y Xicanos, have to both the man and the music.
I’m writing to place the music that’s saved so many lives into context with the reality of white supremacy, of cultural hegemony and unrelenting patriarchy. Because if you don’t already know, these things are alive and well!
So before you hate me let me state that I do this out of love, love for Morrissey, the Smiths y mi gente. My ideas and opinions have been shaped by my own experiences, and this is what I speak to. I write because I must; it is how I release this itch deep inside me that if not pushed out, would debilitate my ability to function. I do this to connect to you and to bring to life our shared experience.
And in the case of this Zine, I do it to embark on the next stage of my tumultuous affair with Morrissey and the Smiths.
re: my url + whiteness as a concept (not an identity)
note: this is extremely long-winded and was written pretty much as a stream of consciousness. if you don’t want to read the whole thing here is the tl;dr version: whiteness is a construct and not an identity. it is not an ethnic identity and therefore no one can be ethnically white. whiteness is a construct of privilege which determines how you navigate and operate in the world; how the world interacts with you; and how you interact with institutions (i.e. education, government). white is a man-made racial category, as are all racial categories. they are all constructs which operate as the antithesis to whiteness. people are white not because of their ethnic background, but because of their whiteness.
I hope people realize that my url is a joke, it’s sarcastic. I’ve had many people criticize me for my url and write analyses on it, but none of these people know me or what I talk about. my url is not a means to deny my white privilege. I know that in mainstream American society, I am operating as a white person. I have been awarded a set of privileges due to this. I am also operating in mainstream American society as a Jewish woman. for this I have not been awarded any privileges.
I think it goes without saying that whiteness is a construct, and this construct has allowed white supremacy and hegemony to thrive. it has created a hierarchy of races which has no actual basis.
when I talk about conditional whiteness and how it applies to my life, I am still not denying my white privilege. all I mean is that in certain contexts I will either be seen as white or “other” (not necessarily non-white). it is this otherness that has led to me and my family receiving death threats from the KKK and antisemitic attacks. my family in the holocaust were definitely not white and I have many of the “ethnic” features that they had, which resulted in their categorization as a non-white ethnic other. this is what contributes to my conditional whiteness. most people living in my city can identify me as a Jew. while this is due to antisemitic stereotypes, this is also due to Ashkenazi normativity. the stereotypical image of Jews are based on Ashkenazim, especially Ashkenazi jewish men. so, many stereotypical images of Jews are fueled by Ashkenazi normativity that is prevalent in media and every day life. people living in Ashkenazi-majority places tend to use those Ashkenazim as the prototype for all Jews.
I acknowledge all of this. I acknowledge that my url may be misconstrued as me saying that because I am Jewish, I am not white, and therefore can deny my privilege or even claim that I have no white privilege at all. but it was never designed to deny my white privilege or how I benefit from Ashkenazi normativity. it is a commentary on the complex relation between “white”** Jews and whiteness. how do “white” Jews fit into whiteness? it is through assimilation. in some cases it can be that Jews wanted to access the privileges white non-Jews had. why be Jewish when you can be white and reap all the benefits? but that’s not me.
how white am I? in many ways I do not fit into the construct of whiteness. I can be simultaneously excluded by whiteness and benefit from it. sometimes it’s either/or.
I think my url captures the complexity of being both white and not-quite-white. in the United States I can more or less “pass” (using that term lightly here) for a white non-Jew. I know that if I were to go somewhere else (I.e. Europe) that whiteness would be stripped from me. of course the concept of whiteness is much different in Europe, but I would be identified as a Jew and treated as such. even in my city, my whiteness is often compromised by my jewishness. i do not look like the average white person in my city and they do not look like me. the combination of my features and when i get tan leads to people calling me “exotic” and thus othering me, and treating me as a non-white person. when i am treated as a non-white person it becomes harder to access that white privilege (it doesn’t go away, it’s just inaccessible when i am not being treated as a white person).
when you consider that whiteness is a construct, it would lead you to think that no one is truly white. how can you be a construct or a concept? however, whiteness has not been eradicated. in order for no one to be white or non-white, whiteness would have to cease to exist. when we abolish whiteness we can abolish the man-made racial hierarchy; we can abolish white supremacy and hegemony; we can abolish racial classifications.
so am I white? no and yes. I am not white because whiteness is a construct. but I am white because this construct has been used to maintain white dominance. I can benefit from white supremacy because sometimes I “look” white. I can perpetuate white supremacy because many of the values and attitudes we learn are rooted in white supremacy. in fact, benefiting from or perpetuating white supremacy has nothing to do with being “white.” a non-white person who believes in white supremacist ideals is complicit in white supremacy and can use it to their benefit.
“I’m not white, I’m Jewish.” this can mean many things. it can mean that I genuinely don’t believe I’m white because I’m Jewish (which i don’t). it can mean that I’m conditionally white. it can mean that I reject the construct of whiteness and choose to identify ethnically as Jewish. in Europe, this statement can be true; I’m not white I’m Jewish, because Europe’s long history of othering and persecuting Jews has led to Jews being considered non-white (or non-European).
this url means different things to different people. this url can be interpreted in different ways. some people think it’s negative, some people are just neutral towards it. I don’t think the url is negative. I do truly think it relates the complexity of whiteness and Jewishness. I think it’s a silly joke. I think it encompasses how other “white” Jews feel about their identities. I think the way you interpret my url is based on your experiences and what you know about whiteness.
so just let me reiterate: this url is not a way for me to deny my white privilege. this url is not a way for me to shrug off my whiteness, conditional or otherwise. this url is not a way for me to co-opt non-white identities. when I made this blog I wanted a funny url. at the time I did not realize its implications, but even now that I do, I still hold the belief that this url is not negative or problematic. if I actually believed in what my url says then it would probably be very problematic.
“I’m not white, I’m Jewish” is a simple phrase with an underlying complexity. there is no one singular meaning of it. I know what it means to me, and I’ve seen what it means to others. I neither agree nor disagree with you. each “white” jew has a unique experience and relationship with whiteness. I am always open to these discussions of how whiteness and Jewishness interact. I am open to discussions of whiteness and white privilege. I identify as conditionally white because that is my lived experience; due to how people have treated me and perceived me, I feel that it is accurate and applicable to my life.
not all Jews are conditionally white and I think we should acknowledge that as well. I think there are some Jews who want to shrug off their whiteness because it makes them uncomfortable; recognizing your own white privilege can be hard and no one wants to admit to being complicit in white supremacy. I think recognizing your whiteness can also be hard; people only view it as an identity rather than as a concept. whiteness isn’t just having white skin or certain facial features. it’s how you interact with the world (and how the world interacts with you) and different institutions. it determines what schools you get accepted to, which jobs hire you, which opportunities you’ll have.
it isn’t merely an ethnic identity because we need to abolish the construct of whiteness. you can’t abolish ethnicities, so white is not an ethnicity. it is a race. all races are constructs, with white being the default and all other races being the antithesis to whiteness. non-white racial categories exist because whiteness as a race exists. it was Europeans who first classified people into different races. if we abolish whiteness then there will be no need for racial categories. without the limits of race we are free to recognize the nuances of ethnicity and culture. race is too broad and general, it lacks nuance, and it is man-made.
to reiterate: whiteness is not an identity, it’s a concept. it is a concept that put “white” people at the top. if we abolish whiteness, no one will be white and no one will be non-white. you will just be your ethnicity. and without whiteness, the arguments over whether or not “white” Jews are white will cease. my url would need to be changed because it would no longer make sense. there would be no white-poc dichotomy which severely limits discussion of ethnicity and also lacks nuance. the people who do not neatly fit into this dichotomy (i.e. Jews) would be free to have real discussions about their ethnicities, without having to “pick a side.” there would be no sides.
once you recognize whiteness as being a mere concept, and recognize how you fit into or benefit from whiteness, it will be easier for you to acknowledge your own whiteness. it doesn’t necessarily define who you are, but it defines how you are and how you operate in the world. having whiteness doesn’t necessarily mean you’re white; it means that you live in a way that is privileged. whiteness is a concept of privilege. whiteness is the way you act, think, and are treated by the world.
I can acknowledge my whiteness and my privilege. I can acknowledge that it will be easier for me to get hired, it will be easier for me to be respected, it will be easier for me to get away with many things. my whiteness is conditional. it is there and then it isn’t. then it’s there again. it’s a constant shift between being white and being not-quite-white. I am not non-white because I am not a person of color. I’m white, sorta white, kinda white, almost white, and in-between. whiteness doesn’t define me because it’s not real, it’s an invention. whiteness only defines how I can navigate the world. my real identity, my ethnicity, my culture is Jewish; to be more specific, litvak Jewish with Italian from my mom’s side. that is what defines me. my Jewishness defines me. the way I’m perceived by American society doesn’t define me because that’s not really who I am. some people think I’m white but they don’t know that; some people think I’m non-white but they don’t know that; some people think I’m non-Jewish but they don’t know that; some people think I’m Jewish but they don’t know that. only I can define who I am; what I cannot define is how I am, that is out of my control.
I’ve never made an in-depth post about my url because I never really felt that I needed to, but I know people judge me based on my url. they automatically think I’m a white-privilege-denying Ashkenazi with no understanding of privilege. like I said, my url means many things to many people and no interpretation is right or wrong. however, the moment you think you know me and what I believe in simply based on looking at my url is where you go wrong. I would also like to remind you that this is just tumblr, it’s just a website on the Internet. not everything is so serious on the Internet, especially a blog url. if you dislike me or judge me because of my url then that’s your problem and you need to do some serious self-reflection. I hope this has made some sense and cleared up any misconceptions you have about my url, my blog, my identity, or my opinions.
** “white” is written in quotations because if we are operating on the belief that whiteness is a construct and therefore not real, it wouldn’t make sense to call someone white without further investigation into what whiteness really means.
The deal with Peter Liang being convicted while white cops go free is undeniably dodgy, but I cannot support any of the Chinese-American community protests I’ve seen, which claim Liang to be a scapegoat and call for his acquittal.
The discrimination of Asian-Americans is a real thing, as is police brutality against black Americans. This sort of protest, in the name of Asian solidarity, trivializes police brutality and advances its message at the expense of the black community. Although it may not directly demonize Akai Gurley, calling his death a tragic “accident” glosses over the problem of American police and how black Americans continue to be criminalized and brutalized by the police. In turn, citing the double standard of white cops versus Asian cops essentially boils down to asking why Asians cannot brutalize in the same way white Americans can, which is downright disturbing in its implications, that Asian equality can be achieved through being equally brutal towards black Americans.
In short, calling for Liang’s conviction to be overturned does not address the real question of privilege. Instead of attacking white hegemony on privilege in this country, it seeks to advance Asian rights through further black oppression.
Could a person use the term brown if they're white passing?
Yes, I think so. “Brown,” like “white” and “Black,” isn’t really a descriptor of individual skin tone so much as a description of a specific position under white supremacist hegemony based on a broadly-defined colour metaphor for race.
Is it wrong for me, a Chinese person, to feel uncomfortable seeing white people cosplay Chinese characters(though I don't mind if they cosplay Avatar characters since Avatar was created by two white men- I'm referring more to cosplaying anime characters)? I mean, I know one of the most important points(if not the most important) of cosplay is fun, so I feel bad for feeling this way, yet at the same time it feels like erasure when they could've just picked a racially ambiguous or white character.
I just want to add that though it would feel weird for people of other races to cosplay Chinese characters as well, I don’t mind it because of colorism and the fact that they are underrepresented in media.
Well I understand where you’re coming from and this is an issue I’ve thought of for a while, but I do disagree.
1. What is always a complete no-no of course, is people yellow-facing (taping up their eyes or changing their skin colour to look more ‘Asian’) in cosplay. Perhaps the prospect of that happening is what makes you uncomfortable. But if they’re just putting on normal make-up, contact lenses and clothing and doing it because they like the character, not to mock- I don’t see why not.
2. Here’s the thing…I feel if we restrict cosplay this way, it accepts and perpetuates the idea of whiteness as the default that everyone else is supposed to feel capable of stepping into. It kind of makes non-white characters into a niche of sorts. So many of us East Asians already cosplay characters from other series who are white (i.e Marvel movies). Whiteness is already everywhere, we are already made to feel capable of seeing ourselves in white characters. I would love for it to be the other way around too, otherwise all this does is continue the hegemony of whiteness in popular culture. That’s why I think it’s great that series like Avatar, for example, respectfully and creatively incorporated references from Asian cultures to a Western audience. Same way how I think it’s nice that anime and manga is also read more widely outside Asia- the way I see it, it diversifies what has otherwise been the domination of US/Western popular culture around the world. People wanting to cosplay these characters is a natural outgrowth of it, and I don’t see why they shouldn’t, even if the characters are canonically of a different ethnicity. There are weaboos yeah, but if people are just dressing up for fun to show their appreciation for the series and not fetishising Asian cultures, I’m all for it.
3. Also, somebody deciding to cosplay a canonically Chinese or other Asian anime character is different from Hollywood casting a white actress to play an Asian character. That’s why I don’t see it as erasure. The person wanting to cosplay is dressing up for fun, Hollywood directors are making a movie to sell a story to the audience, they’re making money from it. They can and have the luxury of selecting somebody most appropriate. It is one thing for Ridley Scott to cast light-skinned actors of European ancestry as his ancient Egyptians. But the cosplayer themself is the performer and they can’t change their ethnicity or features. Not to mention, people also have the original character as a point of reference- people cosplaying La Muerte, for example, would follow a specific colour scheme and costume that people would recognise as “oh, the character from the Book of Life!” and would know it’s a movie about a Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead. Same thing with anime characters. So while Disney should for example, pick people of the correct ethnicity to play their princesses in Disneyland, it’s totally different when it’s a cosplayer dressing up for fun.
4. Especially for me because I live in Europe…and like the idea of whiteness and non-white is so fluid? For example, there are many Central Asians who look “white” to me but they aren’t exactly seen the same way by other Europeans. So it feels extremely arbitrary if it were only “POC” who could cosplay non-white characters when for many people, their identity doesn’t fit into a white/non-white dichotomy… Bottom line, whether the person doing it identifies as white or POC, they have to be respectful if their cosplay involves clothing from somebody elses’ culture or a character of a different ethnicity. Therefore, the distinction isn’t exactly a white/non-white thing.
In conclusion, whitewashing is a serious problem, but I feel a white cosplayer cosplaying an Asian character =/= the type of erasure in Hollywood whitewashing when white actors are cast to play characters written to be Asian or non-white. There is a totally different motivation and amount of power a cosplayer has, compared to a film studio- and therefore different attendant obligations and responsibilities.
one more thing about casual racism and then i'll shut up
At Jimmy John’s I was told to try and avoid delivering to black people because they wouldn’t tip. That was a lie, incidentally, because they tipped just as well as anyone else and usually better than more sheltered dorm folks.
At Menna’s they made fun of “Saudis” on the first day. Those guys tipped extremely well and they were very grateful. Their accents are not hard to understand either, since most of them have been living here for a long time.
On the first day of my history course the professor said we had a diverse class. There were two visible POCs if you count me and one student who said anything about not being American (although I later found out there were more). This is what passes for diverse at this school.
People mock the queer corner. People talk on the phone about “that little Mexican lady at Fuel” whose name is Rita and who is a very nice person. People casually assume everything is white and that’s fine.
What does this mean? It means privilege, as well as the dominant systems (heteronormativity, patriarchy, white hegemony, etc), has objectives and goals. Things are achieved through it. Such as white people getting ahead in jobs over black people. Such as women of color having much lower wages than men.
BUT - and this is the most important part - it is not individuals doing these things intentionally. There is no individual malicious intent involved with privilege. It simply is. Privilege just exists without any individual intending anything. You don’t have to do anything to have privilege. It just is.
No individual does privilege. Privilege happens upon them. There is only the deed, no doer. When we say you have privilege, we don’t mean that you are actively doing something to have this privilege or actively oppressing people with your privilege. We’re saying that this systemic privilege has happened upon you, whether you like it or not.
(the quote is from Foucault’s History of Sexuality)