4.26.2013

Blackface as an extension of anti-blackness


This, good people of color, caught my attention. A bunch of Asian-American students at the University of California Irvine decided to put up a video of themselves dancing. In blackface. This riled me up good. I've had to face ignorance and a daily dose of bullshit from white people, but this? This takes the "estupido" cake. To top it off with a lil' cherry of irony, the melody is apparently taken from Lift Every Voice and Sing. The same song that epitomized the civil rights movement. Double kill in this case =.='''

I won't go into excessive details here, but there's a noticeable strain of anti-blackness amongst Asians and Asian-Americans. Be they from the Far East, the subcontinent, the maritime crossroads in between the continent, among others; it's there. Admittedly, it's not as bad as the prevailing system in the US, but noticeable enough that it cannot possibly escape one's attention. Initially I believed that folks in Asia are playing out their racism, which I disagreed to my detriment in some form or another. But browsing (more of lurking really =P) through the race relation posts online, particularly Tumblr, and a new vista opens up for me.

Essentially, anti-blackness is the driving force of white privilege and by default white supremacy. It's fulcrum and propelling thrust. How else can one explain the courteous and polite treatment a white person would normally get whilst in Asia, in contrast to a black person, even if said black person were more cultured, well-mannered, presentable, etc. ? For those of you my black sisters-in-arms who have been to Asia, this I'm confident is true in every way. Asia may no longer be under colonial power, but the damage and mentality still lingers like a stench that just won't go away.

The tragedy is, many Asian-Americans buy into this apparent hierarchy where yellow is below white, but above black & brown. As Russell Peters once put it, this is bullshit. The validity thereof, I mean. It serves no purpose other than to disenfranchise PoC of trust amongst each other. True, intra-PoC racism, prejudice and violence occurs. But is not the fact that all of us have a common cause against the very system and people that placed us here in the first place; be it subconsciously or otherwise. I've been asked before, what happens if the disease that is whiteness is successfully vanquished. Will we turn on one another? Honestly, I'll worry about that when the time comes.

26 comments:

  1. This video went completely to left field once "Jay Z" showed up. It just still troubles me that "blackness" is always conveyed by over the top dark makeup. Something simple like a different looking pair of glasses or maybe jewelry could have conveyed who was Jay Z (same suggestion for "JT" because everyone else had on same glasses and suits). The make up was just unnecessary and plays into the idea that dark (like charcoal) skin is the archetype of all Black folks. At first I wondered why not a single person spoke up to say this is a bad idea but then again I read a unrelated post by someone who was a former teacher who was told not to teach that gay ppl were killed during the Holocaust in Europe or to teach about slavery during American history lessons(...O.o). Either way fairly disappointing to see this in the video and some of the justifications (still bringing up White Girls movie <.<) on youtube are just annoying but it is good that there are a good number of people who understand WHY the Jay Z part is inappropriate. Good analysis in your post Zydar C.

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    1. "The OFFICIAL UCI Black Student Union Statement - PLEASE CIRCULATE!"

      http://thespeakingspook.tumblr.com/post/48941617005

      The things the Black students at University of California go through that were outlined in that statement will make your head spin. Just so frustrating and reminds me of the bs at my former college, glad I graduated in May 2012. But I'm glad the BSU wont stand for any more crap.

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    2. Wow, I read it and im just stunned. Thanks for showing this, its unfortunate that they have to ask for justice to be dished out when it already should have been. Just as I start to believe in the POC rhetoric, I feel hit with the reminder that it can be smoke and mirrors, smh.

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    3. Ack...delurking for the first time because I can't help but to reply on the incident seeing how im planning on transferring to UCI hopefully next year. Ive visited UCI a total of two times and its known as the asian college, no surprise to anyone there. This BS also is no surprise to me, I've decided if it comes down to it i'll just join the black student union to perserve my sanity.

      I don't know why other races are so obssessed with black people, they want to emulate us and like all our shit but demean us at the same time. Worse part is some think its a compliment.

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  2. These events are the very reason why many Asian cannot find support among other races. I know that not every Asian person is like this, but I will not deny the blatant anti-black, anti-dark hate nearly all Asian cultures cater to. They knew what they were doing with this video. I didn't see them powder themselves white to be justin timberlake. Well Asian people like them will continue to get their wake up when movies like Red Dawn and such show exactly how the white people they love feel about them. I'm not trying to make this a generalization, but it just reminds me why many Blacks are not willing to jump on for Asian struggles and with good reason.

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    1. They knew what they were doing with this video. I didn't see them powder themselves white to be justin timberlake.

      And you'd think they would, with all the anti-Asian youtube vids and the Red Dawns and Olympus flicks....

      But alas, no. They went with the blackface trend. *smh*

      @ Zydar

      Always good to have you back, man.

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    2. We all have our dirty laundry. And we all have a responsibility to clean our own houses. That said, I don't see people asking for help- certainly not those useless fools who obviously need it. No one asked for mine. Maybe asking for help isn't such a bad idea but then I wonder who would be willing to give it.

      I can say that I am burning out and can't even click play for something like this anymore. Gimme 5 minutes with those kids.

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    3. @ Amando O:

      I share the same sentiments Amanda. I've noticed Asian-Americans (which includes South Asian Americans) and to a extent Australian Asians possess this overwhelming desire to behave and/or act white. For every exception to this rule there are three or four stereotypes. The only place where this is not the case would have to be Hawai'i. This being the case, it's unsurprising why other PoC regard Asian-Americans with a somewhat dim view. I suppose the only consolation is that their mentality appears to be changing somewhat, notwithstanding this egregious video.

      @ Ankhesen:

      Thank you Ankhesen =] It feels delightful to be back.

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    4. Asian people know they aren't white, but they have a possibility of getting a foot in the door and they are willing to take it, but when it comes at the price of mocking black people its a no go. When situations like yellow face and Red Dawn happened most Asian people were hurt and confused as to why no one saw how those things hurt them. When the white students uploaded racist videos making fun of them, they again didn't understand how anyone could find humor in racism. They tried to compare it to the N-word and blackface. They have the model minority status, although it contains its own racism, and they are holding on for dear life. Those students in the video need to be suspended and publicly ridiculed.

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    5. Well, this is true to an extent. Kind of reminiscent of how the Irish, Italians & Jews eventually became white, so to speak. In the case of the Irish, they accepted the dehumanization of black Americans as a tradeoff to being counted as white. In certain instances, they proved to be apt pupils & eager students. In the case of Asian-Americans, they appear to be on the same level as the Irish et. al; but our skin tone and facial appearances mean that this will never be the case, unlike the Irish who faced primarily preconceived notions / traditional prejudices. But like I said, more & more Asian-Americans are realizing that playing the white man's house n****r (pardon my language) is self-defeating & humiliating. Case in point, this link:

      http://www.facebook.com/LambdaThetaDelta/posts/242294329244206?comment_id=997810&ref=notif&notif_t=like

      is a statement of apology from Lambda Theta Delta over the blackface video. At most, there are Asian-Americans criticizing their stupidity and raking them over the coals. And at least this incident has engendered intense debate amongst Asian-Americans. It wouldn't surprise me if such behavior were excused, ignored or outright defended as being "harmless fun" 10 to 15 years ago. I can see disturbing similarities between the defenders of the students and white folk who claim that they meant no harm when one of their own pulls a stunt like this. Still, at least the 3 of them will get flack for this for a good while.

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    6. Wow. I need four bingo cards to fill for the comments alone. "What are your credentials?", "Since I'm ignorant, then teach me. Give me a book title.", and my favourite : "I'm Black and I'm not offended. Quit playing the race card."

      Kudos to Billy Yoon and Bianca Oni (along with others I might have missed) for dropping serious truth up in there.

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  3. School don't teach anything apparently. I bet these punks don't even know the name of Yuri Kochiyama. Like you said up there, your ass is next. Hell, they have short memories.

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    1. From what I hear, the American public education system tends to...overlook certain things about the nation's history. The genocide of the Native Americans, the history of slavery in the US, the Asian Exclusion Act; all given at most a cursory glance. The venerable Madam Kochiyama herself notes this to several Hawai'ian students in 2008: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTzd2I1nyhE

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  4. Between the Lambda guys and moreso,the University of California-Irvine, they bare the bulk of this crap.

    Are the boys sorry? Sure, but I think they are sorry for being caught.Why? because some of the students tried to tell them the meaning behind blackface and not to do it,but went on and did it anyway. Supposedly, the President called the incident a Blackeye to his college, but from what I read, he's not as sorry about the incident as much as he want people to think. I was reading another blog about this incident and through his words, he basically said there is nothing he could do about it when an Asian student discussed the racism along with this incident to him.Was there nothing he could do about it or he DIDN'T want to do anything about it? I think it's the latter.

    Ironically, I was trying to look up some information about San Diego as a travel destination.Its funny how I came across such stories about UC-Irvine and some of it wasn't good in terms of the racial atmosphere there. I even came across a pen Air Force recruit that went there. She told me that she absolutely hated UC-Irvine. Not did she said she felt left out,but at times she felt that she wasn't totally welcomed at the school.As a result, she transferred to a University in Colorado.

    Some Colleges/Universities may have an infrequent problem with racism at there schools ,but it seems with this University, its more frequent. I've even read about the racism taking place there since 1989.That was 23 years ago and it seems to be the same story. If you ask me, I really don't think the UC-Irvine administration is being more proactive about diversity on the campus.

    Far as what those guys did they should have known better, especially here in the states ,but I dont judge what they did on the Asian community. I only judge the lambda guys and the school. I don't want to think of myself as giving more racial superiority to White (racist) society.You're correct in saying what you said about part. POCs really have damaged about the after effects of colonization, slavery, genocide by them.Just think about it.Because of their brainwashing we cannot appreciate who we are. The most beautiful woman in the world is always a blonde, blue eyed, woman (People magazine picked Gwyneth Paltrow.. I agree with the 80 percent who thought otherwise), in countries, as you mentioned, well go out of the way to be nice to White folks, but not to other POCs or even ourselves, and is taught that something is wrong with our cultures/races while White society is perfect.

    This may be a POC vs POC incident, but I'm not going to hate Asians or other non Black folks because of it.I'm like this: if POCs, including my own people ,think that they are superior to other POCs, eventually White society in some way, will remind them who they are in a not so good way. We're not classified as"minorities"for nothing.

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    1. Still, I dunno why they call us minorities sometimes; the West accounts for 14% of the global population. That leaves PoC as being 86%. Life, she is strange.

      But I digress. Amen, amen to every word M. God bless.

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    2. @Zydar

      Thanks!

      I don't get the "minority" status myself. There are more POCs than Whites.

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  5. Why do so many Asians and Asian Americans end up in these blackface incidents? I mean, I don't buy the argument that they don't know it's wrong - you don't see them dressing up as any race other than black at any time. It never even occurs to them to do that. And the Americans really have no excuse.

    Does white racism against them just flee their minds after it's over? Like what are all of these white excuses about? Don't they remember how these no-pologies sounded coming out of white folks' mouths? They didn't accept that crap from them, so why are they trying to act brand new about this?

    Like, do they hear the way whites talk about them, treat them in real life and in media? Hell, lots of times they get treated worse than blacks on television! And here they are defending mess? Why?

    I got to say, I'm glad to see that some Asian Americans have begun to speak out against this stuff in a serious way - I don't think us telling them to stop is going to have any more effect than it does when we tell white people to stop, TBH.

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  6. I'd like to think this incident has less to do with them being Asian and more to do with them being rich, overprivileged frat boys. But that might just be something I'm telling myself to make me feel better. Thanks frat boys for making my life shittier.

    Honestly, this is something I expect from Asian women, but not Asian men. Being an Asian man in white supremacist america fucks you up. And that shittiness is supposed to get you to empathize with other PoC. My only theory is that these guys have lived an overprivileged life and don't really know what it's like to be an Asian man in america. Suffering creates empathy. Lack of suffering creates lack of empathy.

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    1. Seriously, ballisto...email? Facebook...anything? Gimme something.

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    2. I'll send my email through the "contact us."

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    3. Indeed Indeed.

      *fist bump* A man I agree with. Welcome to the Blasian Narrative man! :D

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    4. I figured you two would get along. By the way ballisto goes...well, ballisto on some things, he reminded me of you.

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  7. side note: someone should talk about this series started on youtube about YELLOW FEVER http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_X1Mt5055c

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    1. I tried. I honestly tried, but I couldn't make it beyond a minute.

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