9.18.2012

Ethnocentrism (and my very first post)

     Greetings to one & all. The name's Choong Boon Siew, but everyone calls me Boon. I've been invited by Ankhesen to contribute to The Blasian Narrative, and I spent some time mentally wrangling on what to write, before I decided to settle down on ethnocentrism. I might veer off into other topics as I'm doing this as we go along, so excuse the odd randomness here & there as well as the length of this post. Loosely defined, the term ethnocentrism denotes judging others, in most cases other cultures within the criterion of one's own culture. Since race & culture tend to (but not always) be intimately linked to one another, this phenomenon deserves proper attention.

     I've been following this blog for some time now, and the very first thing I noticed is that the Blasian Narrative is a blog by people of color, for people of color. In this case, Asians and Africans (and/or their American counterparts) This being unusual by itself, what makes it even more so is that thus far TBN has kept a decidedly neutral tone to the majority, that is to say, white people. Although admittedly it does poke fun at them from time to time (<chuckles> who doesn't?) it avoids using denigrating language and racist thought dé mode. This is especially significant, as a number of blogs geared towards PoC often tend to have blurred boundaries, occasionally or even frequently spilling into hate-filled dialogue & borderline supremacist ideologies. In short, they become the very persons they despise. But I digress.

     Speaking from a personal VP, the relations between PoC has never been the easiest field in which to maneuver. The United States (and to an extent, the Western world) is one thing, but outside the West (or rather, the Anglosphere really) things take on a highly different, and sometimes bizarre dimensions. In Malaysia for example, the presence of black people is a relatively new phenomenon. Up until several years ago (I'd say 7 or 8 at the earliest) the only black people to be found in the streets of our capital city Kuala Lumpur were either diplomats, loaded tourists, or the odd entrepreneur whom in most cases would be South African. But with the Continent (as in Asia) rising to the fore, more and more persons of African descent come to our shore, either to pursue their tertiary education or to seek employment opportunities wherever it may be found. But as mentioned earlier, this has its drawbacks. As some of you may know, Asians can be notoriously prejudiced. It's doubly ironic considering that Malaysians take pride in their hospitality, something that's eroded with the passage of time & progress of our nation. Well, unless you're white. Then most would probably bend over their backs to be of any assistance. Deplorable, but unsurprising.

     I can scant recall the number of times I've been questioned by my local friends about the company I keep. Thankfully they merely question, not criticize. Not so with people such as my mother. Bluntly put, she never fails to amaze me with her incessant "advice" on staying away from "them Negroes" I'm sure she means well as all parents are wont to but such interactions raise that question, among others. Are we thus guilty of judging others by our own standards, as opposed to the more nuanced approach of wait & see? Certainly. Admittedly, no one's truly free of such prejudices, including black people AND particularly myself. The person I was five years ago is markedly different from the person I am now. But as a Malaysian I feel ashamed when my friends & acquaintances lament with either distress and/or varying degrees of bitter cynicism about their treatment by my fellow countrymen/countrywomen (jumping out of the park bench the moment someone sits next to you) I take it upon myself to help others whenever it's possible for me (I'll be damned if anyone says Malaysians are a hostile lot) not so much because I feel sympathetic towards them as opposed to feeling a sense of rapport with PoC. Again this is a Western cultural construct more than anything, seeing as how the two A's are larger than the West combined several times over.

     Another (I presume) amusing aspect would be sexual relations, academically speaking. The amount of Asians, in this case in point men, who find women outside their race as being beautiful are relatively few & far in between. And sadly, black women are the least desirable amongst them. Imagine my silent consternation when my friends discovered I have a thing for black chicks & proceeded to tease me (albeit gently in comparison to others) but regarded whomever among our lot who could manage to snag a white girl (hasn't happened yet) as something akin to a champion. An insult to everyone's intelligence IMHO, this vestige of colonial mentality. I'm therefore thankful that I shed such inhibitions behind me, and am now in the company of like-minded individuals. But there are blessing(s) in disguise. It is precisely because they poked fun at my infatuation for black women that my eyes were opened to what was happening; I lusted for black women. While this is not unusual & we can all agree why this desire is understandable, I did so at the risk of objectifying them as nothing more than pliant, nubile sexual playthings than to perceive them as human beings with emotions, hopes & dreams. Essentially I damn well nearly became the age-old stereotype of a WM/AF, fetishizing someone based on their ethnicity. Fortunately, I learned through trial & error on how to remove such condescending patterns of thought.

     Well, that's all for now. I can't wait to seen what comments this post'll rack up.

16 comments:

  1. Hi Zydar, nice post.

    "Essentially I damn well nearly became the age-old stereotype of a WM/AF, fetishizing someone based on their ethnicity. Fortunately, I learned through trial & error on how to remove such condescending patterns of thought."

    So, will this be the next topic of discussion? What made you have that Hmmm moment.

    http://www.comicbookdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Things-That-Make-You-Go-Hmmm-Arsenio-Hall.jpg

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  2. I knew some day you'd come.

    Zydar, thanks for joining the Narrative and thanks for this kick-ass debut on the blog.

    Imagine my silent consternation when my friends discovered I have a thing for black chicks & proceeded to tease me

    When did this start and how did it come about?

    I take it upon myself to help others whenever it's possible for me...not so much because I feel sympathetic towards them as opposed to feeling a sense of rapport with PoC. Again this is a Western cultural construct more than anything, seeing as how the two A's are larger than the West combined several times over.

    We're going to get along juuuuuuuust fine.

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  3. First of all, I must extend my greetings to you on the BN.

    Being on here have made me become better educated about the Blasian world. Honestly, I would have never known about Black-Asian relationships( romantic/non-romantic) if it weren't for sites like this.It's enlightening to read stories written by the many of these brilliant writers and posters on here. You're no exception and enjoyed your story.As long as you keep writing on here, I'm quite sure that I will always learn a lot from you as well as the many people on here.

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  4. I'm not the same person I was 5 years ago either. It's a very good thing. Welcome indeed.

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  5. Awesome post!

    It may seem a bit immature to say this but I sometimes wish we were blind to the colour of our skin. Not gonna happen, right?

    Its always great to know that another brother or sister (I consider us to all be family) has opened their eyes to what really matters.

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  6. Welcome to Blasian Narrative. I enjoyed this post. I'm definitely not the same person I was from 5 or 10 years ago. Can't imagine what life would be without evolving.

    Thanks for sharing this post & your thoughts.

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  7. based upon your post, you will be a delightful addition here. I look forward to your posts

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  8. Glad you could drop by, Boon. Your commentary was welcome on several levels. Thank you. In the future, I'm sure I'll engage you regarding some of these issues. Having spent my entire adult life in Asia has probably made me willfully "blind" to many of the norms.

    Essentially I damn well nearly became the age-old stereotype of a WM/AF, fetishizing someone based on their ethnicity. Fortunately, I learned through trial & error on how to remove such condescending patterns of thought

    When time and energy permits, please share with us how you overcame this way of thinking. Before I joined the Blasian Narrative, I was completely disgusted by many of the AM/BW sites, which seemed to thrive solely based on this mentality.

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    1. Right on schedule. Thursday arrives, and Hateya returns.

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    2. It's Friday afternoon on this island and it's my off day, so here I am. :D

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  9. "Essentially I damn well nearly became the age-old stereotype of a WM/AF, fetishizing someone based on their ethnicity. Fortunately, I learned through trial & error on how to remove such condescending patterns of thought."

    with self awareness, monitoring ones thoughts and just thinking/treating people like human beings with their own personal agency one can avoid fetishzing

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    1. with self awareness, monitoring ones thoughts and just thinking/treating people like human beings with their own personal agency one can avoid fetishzing

      I hear you loud of clear, Modest-Goddess. In a perfect world, people would understand this this concept. As it stands, they need a twelve-step program or at least have someone write a life-changing gut-wrenching testimony about how they turned their life around. The whole fetish thing escapes me.

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  10. "The whole fetish thing escapes me."

    I don't understand it either. You really do have people out here who find it impossible to view Black folk/women as human beings. It's scary out here sometimes.

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  11. Hi! I'm glad you're contributing and I love your post but I have one teeeny tiny little suggestion and that is to avoid using terms like racism in a non sociological manner.

    "Although admittedly it does poke fun at them from time to time ( who doesn't?) it avoids using denigrating language and racist thought dé mode"

    Well POC don't have to do anything to avoid racist thought besides being POC. Racism = prejudice + power thus there is no such thing as reverse racism or "being racist to whites" it would just be prejudice. Prejudice would still be bad, I totally get what you're saying: that it's great the writers here avoid that prejudice and pretty much just focus on our issues.

    I'm only saying because using that word in the common sense might cause some misunderstanding in the future but yeah good post! =)

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