Tag Archives: racism

does it get better?

posted by jroselkim

I’ve been thinking a lot about growing up lately, especially growing up as a minority identity after watching Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” project unfold. If I were influential enough to start a similar campaign for young girls of colour everywhere, would I be able to confidently tell them that it will in fact get better when they get to be 18, 22, or 35?

The truth is, life gets more complicated as one’s racial consciousness awakens, and the burden of being a visible minority never gets lighter.

In a way, perhaps it has the potential to get worse as we learn the ways of the world, about concepts like institutionalized racism. How can I express the feeling of betrayal and hopelessness I felt when it became crystal lear that racism is so embedded, so naturalized within society that we are trained to not see it, to self-hate and hate others for not being a blank slate?

How can I describe the fear I felt at reading about hate crimes targeted towards interracial couples that happened in Canada as recently as this summer?

How can I articulate the shame I felt about having an egg-and-ketchup sandwich at the age of 12, when these things mattered all the world, and couldn’t help but hate my own mother for trying, trying so hard, but failing to be “Canadian” like other mothers? How can I express my guilt and sadness for hating my parents for where they came from for so long?
I can’t.

So how should I go on, and how should we all go on? I have no answers, and I cannot, with good conscience, look at a camera and say confidently that life will get better.

But I can say this.

Dear young woman of colour,

I apologize that I have no real words of comfort for your future.

But please know that I understand:

every ounce of shame you’ve shed for feeling different
even though that person only was curious,
only had good intentions when he or she reminded you of your otherness.

I know

that you may question your motive for being attracted to someone who is
outside of your race
because if you may wonder
does he/she like me for me?
or my skin colour?

(and you’ll never know, or at least, never trust the answers)

And your friends and family may wonder out loud:
is she a traitor to her culture?
does she just want to move “up”?

And maybe you just want to give up because it’s easier
to follow everyone’s expectations;

you may not know what makes you happy anymore,

amongst mixed messages that say you should be both

obedient and integrated

but still

separate.

So,
I don’t know if it gets better

as you grow older, as you grow into the othered consciousness

that you express mostly through self-deprecation,

uncomfortable smiles

and distractions.

And I’m sorry that we may fail you in battling racism
that difference is (still) more or less a dirty word.

But please know that there are allies. Others who feel the same way as you do.

Of course, nobody feels the exact pain that you had. Do not let anybody tell you that they know exactly how you feel, and prescribe a solution.

More importantly: do not let anybody tell you that your emotions are not real. Never ever succumb to those that want to rationalize your legitimate hurt. Because if they succeed in doing that, they succeed in taking your history away. They succeed in quashing the uniqueness that makes you powerful, just so they could sleep better at night.

And please know that while life may not get so much better, it does get better when you can find your voice, and others like yours.

I still make do because other stories from women of colour opened my eyes to tell my own.

And your stories will inspire others that come later to continue fighting, and hopefully exist in a society where our skin colours, our cultures, and our languages are no longer a burdern

but just a part of you.

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free canada!

posted by andrea

It pains me that this submission is purely a rant. A straight-forward rant with few complexities and structure. But here goes …

Not long ago, there was, and possibly still is, a pretty heated debate on this year’s Nobel Peace Prize award receiver, Liu Xiaobo, for his long and non-violent diplomatic struggle for fundamental human rights in China. He is, however, put in jail by the Chinese government for “inciting subversion of the state power”. Many criticize the Chinese government for violating human rights, and generally the lack of free speech for residents in China. I’m sure one can find tons of information on this issue on the world wide web, so I don’t wanna get into this. But today, I am not ranting against this, instead, I am ranting against the delusion Canada is creating to citizens, residents, and immigrants that similar violations don’t happen in this “democratic” stolen land.

Throughout my years in Canada, I have definitely heard many people saying they like residing in Canada because it is a liberal, democratic country. Well, here I am, saying “bullshit”. Numerous G20 activists have been arrested. Alex Hundert and others were discouraged from speaking to the media. Aboriginal issues are constantly being ignored by the government. Hate crimes, including racism and homophobia are still prevalent. Murder-by-suicide rates on queer youth is a fact in Canada (and don’t begin the “but gay marriage is legal in Canada…”, because if you do, you miss the point).

In my humble opinion, Canada government is engaging in similar levels of human rights violations and information control to the public as the Chinese government. So, my questions are: why do most people hold different perceptions regarding equity and human rights towards China and Canada? Why are people more reluctant to affiliate with the Chinese than the Canadian government? Because, to me, they are both, fucked up.

All I want to say is, back the fuck off. If I see another “Free Tibet” shirt or if some white dude comes over to hand me a “Free Tibet” flyer, I might blow up and engage in very violent behaviour. Somewhere along the lines you’re sticking your head in places where it shouldn’t be. Because, if you are going to criticize, do it locally. Don’t point fingers at countries you don’t know shit about.

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yet another racist site: black out korea

posted by jroselkim

I read about Black Out Korea on Racialicious the other day and had to share this. A group of foreigners (English teachers) takes pictures of drunk, passed-out Koreans and post them for all to see and mock. I’m so glad that the Korean government and agencies pay these people to make fun of us so incessantly.

I plan on writing an angry email to the anonymous writers of this website today. It’d be great if you can too.

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how white patriarchy stays afloat

posted by jroselkim

missmsian already wrote a great post about the negative press about too many Asians trolling Canadian universities, so I won’t talk about the offending articles from yesterday in detail. I do, however, want to discuss the growing trend in this paranoia-mongering “research” that The media’s obsession with asking whether Asians are going to dominate the world and make the whites suffer is not unlike its other obsession: whether men will be less successful than women because education is becoming more and more “feminized”. The Globe and Mail ran a week-long feature on the “failing boys” syndrome series last month.

My first reaction to these questions, as both a woman and a person of colour, is to say, “seriously?”

Let’s do the math.

How long did it take for people to notice that maybe women should also receive the same accessibility to education as men, and civil rights?
Centuries.

How long did it take the media to worry that boys were falling behind the women?
About 2 or 3 decades.

How long did it take the governments to realize that people of colour deserve the same rights as the whites, and apologize for their past wrongdoings to minority groups?
Centuries. And sometimes, never, if we’re talking about apologies.

How much time does it take the administrators to get nervous about this so-called takeover of the people of colour?
Much, much less than a century.

Don’t get me wrong, it worries me too that Quebec’s male adolescents have a 40% high school dropout rate. Studying how demographics shift in institutions can be a very interesting study. But what I really want to point out is the sense of urgency and panic that many of these articles seem to have about the threat to maleness and whiteness. When there’s even an inkling of a chance that maybe the white patriarchal hegemony is maybe kind of on the way out, society is IN DANGER, people. And of course, when one asks “is XXX too white?” the answers always tend to be “you’re so sensitive,” toward the interrogator, but when the question “is XXX too [insert minority group here],” the response seems to give the interrogator more rational credit.

One day, I hope to open a newspaper or a magazine and not be compelled to throw it out the window. One day.

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yellow peril remix

posted by missmsian

In a throwback to the Yellow Peril days, Maclean’s ran a “report” this week about how there are a heckuva lot more Azns in school than there should be. The Toronto Star took it a step further and told Azn parents to stop encouraging their kids to get an education.

To Maclean’s, briefly: you bring up the fact that “U.S. studies suggest Ivy League schools have taken the issue of Asian academic prowess so seriously that they’ve operated with secret quotas for decades to maintain their WASP credentials” but spend the rest of the four-page article essentially saying the opposite. Are Azns being kept out of universities or are there too many of them in university? You can’t have it both ways.

I think it would have been worthwhile in your piece to look at the issues of (real or perceived) race-based quotas and merit-based enrollment, both of which were raised with that Ivy League statement. What a wasted opportunity.

To the Star, equally briefly: your online version’s headline, “Asian students being forced into university,” implies that students like me are incapable of making our own choices. The tone of the article suggests that it’s wrong for Azn parents to have dreams for their kids or encourage them to work hard–qualities we would call “good” in any other parent. You reported on an internal conversation some of Toronto’s east Azns had about parental expectations and university students’ mental health. That’s a discussion I think parents of every ethnic group should be having. Way to generalize.

You also said people like me don’t have social skills. That’s a low blow.

I’m not going to deconstruct these articles further because, frankly, it’s a waste of time providing a thoughtful response to two thoughtless pieces.

For a great response, check out what angry asian man wrote about the Maclean’s piece.

And look at what these crazy Azns are doing (hint: not studying!)

Are they ... partying? (Photo credit: Asians Not Studying)

Final thought: see any similarities between this and the time Don Lewis proposed an all-white basketball league because he thought the NBA was getting “too black”? Harharharharhar.

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do i wear a poppy?

posted by andrea

Do I wear a poppy on Remembrance Day? Or, do I remember? According to Wikipedia, Remembrance Day is a “Commonwealth holiday to commemorate the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and of civilians in times of war.”

Shortly after the bombing of Pearl Habour, Hawaii in 1941, Executive Order 9066 was ordered by the president of United States to “relocate” members of the Japanese ancestry to “internment camps”. More than half these people, were American citizens, born and raised in America, they simply happened to look like the soldiers who bombed Pearl Habour. According to George Takei (an internment camps survivor), there were no trial and no charges laid upon the Japanese-Americans, they were all, just taken without much justification.

These camps involved barb wires, machine guns pointed to the face. Let’s face it, they were nothing but concentration camps. These Japanese-Americans were held there throughout the war, in which, many decided to join the U.S. Army Force. In 1944, the 442nd combat team, an Asian-American unit, which consisted mostly of Japanese-Americans suffered over 800 casualties in the “Lost Battalion”. The 442nd had a casualty rate five times higher than average. While these soldiers were in war, their families were still held in “internment camps”, facing daily discrimination and struggle to survive. When they came back to America, discrimination continued and many towns overtly expressed the need to “keep their homes free of Japs.”

Canada was not better, the government relocated Japanese-Canadians to similar “internment camps,” stealing their rightful claims to properties, freedom, innocence and dignity. Similarly, many Japanese-Canadians also served in the war, only to find out later that they would be repatriated or resettled back to Japan, or East to the Rockies. Both were lands that they knew nothing about.

Though I can never be sure, these Canadians and Americans also had a high chance of suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, survivors’ guilt, etc.

At the same time, many Chinese-Canadians (after the ridiculous history of the “Chinese Exclusion Act”, 1923) joined the army but the Canadian government was unwilling to send these people to action because they didn’t want them to ask for enfranchisement after the war. In my opinion, since the Chinese came in so handy (and disposable) when it comes to explosive during the building of the CPR, they made a terrible decision.

Knowing these unsettling histories, I went to the Veterans Affairs Canada website, specifically, to the “Whom do we remember” section. Not surprisingly, none of the above was mentioned, and I only saw pictures of white faces. I, hereby, am in no way making statements that European-Canadians shouldn’t be remembered for their efforts and sacrifices. However, it is disappointing that the Canadian government doesn’t seem to remember other ethnic Canadians who made the same sacrifices and experienced the same sufferings.

So, no, I do not wear a poppy, not because I refuse to acknowledge the sacrifices of Canadian soldiers and civilians, but because our government doesn’t.

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salt

by Celine/ellephanta

These are reasons why I cried (way too often to admit) when I first immigrated to Canada:

I wanted to express how all of this felt (the rude culture shock and other consequences of uprooting one’s entire life and throwing it on foreign soil) to someone who might hear me, but I didn’t speak the language. I wanted to understand what was going on around me and be an active member of my surroundings, but I didn’t understand the language. I wanted to be able to read my textbooks and get the right answers to teachers’ questions, but I couldn’t read the language. I wanted to write, because it was my favourite thing to do and one ability I prided myself for having, but I was illiterate. I wanted to be popular and loved – who doesn’t want to be popular and loved at that age? – but I was alone, locked inside myself with no way out. I watched TV and felt ugly. I wanted to be the best at everything, because I am and have always been a ridiculously ambitious girl, but I was slow and stupid and “god, you don’t understand anything I say!” and “why do I have to be paired up as partner with someone who doesn’t even speak English?” and “tell the class about your life back home” and “go home”.

But all that salt water was not wasted, so it’s okay. It fell on my skin and hardened there, left a mark. Some of it I swallowed and it dripped all around my heart and made a shell of crystals. It taught me to give a damn about people who are miserable (way more miserable than I have ever been) and indifferently left out in the cold. It taught me to be angrier for better reasons. It taught me to be less selfish. It taught me how to say “fuck you and your condescending asshole”.

And now I love it, this salt on my skin and around my heart. I love it most, sometimes more than anything else in me. It is my comrade-in-arms. It is my best friend. I used to resent it, thought it was proof that I was weak, but I don’t anymore. Now I know better. I feel better.

 

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