Friday, February 5, 2016

When White Racism Turns Fatal....

...Asian-Americans Change The Subject.

A reader sent me an e-mail drawing my attention to yet another Asian-American article on the apparently rampant anti-blackness within Asian-America. It was nice to hear that there are others out there who agree that Asian-American progressive thought has become complicit in white supremacy and largely irrelevant as an advocating force for their community.

The piece, written by Kim Tran at the "Everyday Feminism" (also on Hyphen's Facebook) website is titled "6 Ways Asian Americans Can Tackle Anti-Black Racism in Their Families", and illustrates what is so wrong about Asian progressive thought.

She begins thusly.....
The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Ty Underwood, Mya Hall, and so many others have brought waves of protesters to the streets................Yet many of us who have our boots on the ground in solidarity with Black community dread the prospect of bringing our anti-racist work home to our parents, siblings, and friends......... 
What a strange juxtaposition of ideas; police killings of unarmed African-Americans, and alleged anti-black racism amongst Asian-Americans. It's almost as though Tran is presenting her case in a way that seems to elevate this unsubstantiated Asian anti-blackness to the same level as extrajudicial police killings. She goes on.....
Asian Americans have a different challenge than other non-Black people of color when it comes to uprooting anti-black racism. The model minority myth and the criminalization of Black and brown folks in our communities have given many Asian Americans a false sense of honorary whiteness and severed us from building coalition with other communities of color.
Of course, it is never a good idea to make assertions about people's motives unless you have solid evidence to prove it. Sadly, Tran fails to present any actual evidence to show that Asians have adopted this sense of "honorary whiteness", or even that this is the reason for this apparent barrier that prevents Asians from towing the progressive line. Whilst it would be silly to deny that there exists a fair degree of separation between Asians and blacks, Tran offers little evidence for the implication that Asian attitudes are largely responsible for it. Assertions don't count as evidence. As one might expect, Tran fails to mention the "other", perhaps, more significant, factor that leads some Asian-Americans to, apparently, assume honorary whiteness.

Does it really require explaining why this is such a poor start? Tran has diverted the conversation away from an extremely serious issue (police killings of unarmed African-Americans) and implicitly elevated this supposed Asian anti-black racism to an equal parity with what some are calling extra-judicial murders. Even worse, perhaps, Tran makes sweeping, but unsupported, assertions about the motivations and attitudes of Asian-Americans in a process otherwise known as racial stereotyping. How any of this helps to address the far more serious issue of murder is never specified by Tran.
Almost impossibly it gets worse......
A surprising aspect of the class was troubleshooting about how to bring anti-racist work home. Within the specific context of Ferguson, we wondered how we could shift the “vandalism” or“looting” narratives popular in news coverage........Finally they were frustrated enough to ask, “What would make you angry enough to break a window?”
I don't agree that news "narratives" about "looting" were actually mere "narratives", but the problem here is that several local business were looted  and destroyed and there is some suggestion that Asian stores were specifically targeted whilst black-owned stores were spared. Tran seems to suggest that those Asian business owners who lost their livelihoods over incidents that they had no part in should merely be thought of as necessary collateral damage. We should avoid all of the clues that at least in some cases, there may have been racial motives in targeting Asian stores.

Thankfully, Tran is willing to ignore it all on behalf of the looting victims although I doubt that she ever bothered to actually go down to these neighbourhoods to investigate these "looting narratives" or even to speak to any of the Asian business owners whose ruined livelihoods she seems so willing to gloss over. In short, I suspect that Tran has absolutely no idea what actually happened in any of these neighbourhoods - nor what the day to day experience of these Asians who live there might be - but while she decries "narratives" as mere "narratives", she seems to create one of her own off the top of her head that dismisses both the experiences of Asian victims of looting and denies them a voice in their own story. Asian business owners be damned - sad, but too bad.

Tran goes on to suggest that Asian progressives bombard their racist families with stats and history lessons, tailor their assaults to each family member, and to be persistent! Being around Tran sounds a lot like being around an uncharismatic, pushy, Evangelical Christian Amway rep who tricked their way into your house with the promise of salvation but then assails you with a sign up spiel that suggests that multi-level marketing is closer to Godliness. I would not be surprised if family gatherings at the Trans' are becoming few and far between as family members politely decline the invitations to be around such charming company.

One point in particular stands out for me. Number five reveals, perhaps, more than Tran expected. Under the title "Tailor that shit!", she says.....
Who is your mom, aunt, uncle, parent? If the fancy numbers, data, or plain ol’ anger don’t work, consider what makes sense with this specific person? What resonates with their story?
Here’s my all-time favorite personal example. Once I was talking to my mom about welfare when she went on a super anti-black racist rant about a time she was in line at the social services office. There was a Black woman in line behind her who she said was “lazy.” Swerve.
The thing is, the only reason my mom even had this story was because she was in the welfare office herself! Collecting a welfare check!
The mental gymnastics required in that moment for my mom to stigmatize someone in the exact same situation as her took her a minute to realize, but when she finally came around to seeing the personal similarities, the tide of the conversation began to shift.
Finally! Tran tells us the nature of this insidious anti-black racism that runs rampant through Asian veins - and to be quite honest, it's extremely difficult to muster too much worry for such a trite example. Yes, Tran's mother goes on a rant about a black woman being lazy so let's shift focus away from police killings of unarmed people and talk about this serious problem!

Another problem here, though - and perhaps more significant - is the swift over-simplification of the motives and drives of Tran's poor mother. Based on Tran's tale, I can see several different interpretations of this event - perhaps her mother feels embarrassed and ashamed to be drawing welfare, or views it as some kind of personal failure, or maybe she simply feels some sense of injustice at being in a circumstance that she feels is undeserved. Perhaps Tran's mother's words reflect a need to separate herself emotionally from such a humiliating situation, perhaps she was merely projecting onto others what she thinks people might be saying about her.

Of course, I cannot possibly know what prompted Tran's mother's words, but I do know that it seems as though Tran has ignored these possibilities and ridden rough-shod over the nuances of human drives and motivations in her efforts to label her mother (her poor, poor mother!) as an anti-black racist whose actions (like ranting about someone at the welfare office) warrant shifting the focus of our attention away from extrajudicial police killings and charging entire swathes of our community as racists - all without a shred of evidence to support her claims. This is known as dehumanization.

That, ultimately, is the issue that Tran seems to not even bother trying to overcome - she never once makes a successful case that Asian-American attitudes towards race (particularly towards African-Americans) are driven by any internalization of white racism, any appropriation of the model minority stereotype or whiteness, and she certainly provides absolutely no evidence that there is a problem of rampant anti-black racism amongst Asian-Americans that comes anywhere near the kind of racism that prompted the formation of the BlackLivesMatter movement.

Despite Tran's grandiose, quasi-messianic claims to possessing special knowledge on how to bring Asians to atonement for their supposed anti-blackness, she founders on this foundational concept in her failure to provide any support for the claims she makes about the inner workings and psychological framework through which Asians form their attitudes towards blacks. She simply cries racism and makes up a causal relationship between various aspects of the Asian experience and anti-black racism and asserts that this is the truth.

The relationship between blacks and Asians and any tensions arising from it are far more complex than Tran and other Asian progressives would like us to believe. It is not only dishonest, but it is morally questionable to address any black/Asian subject matter by hand-waving away the Asian experience and hence the Asian voice. Even worse, is the absurd brow-beating of Asian immigrants with a progressive ideology that itself marginalizes and, often excludes, Asians.

Just like all the other Asian progressives I have written about, it seems as though Tran cannot be bothered to actually do the work necessary to understand the Asian community. Instead, such progressives merely rely on stereotyping of a community that has very little media opportunities to answer the charges being made against them. In that regard, Asian progressives are becoming the main source of negative stereotyping of Asian-Americans such that both conservatives and liberals draw on this myth of rampant Asian racism to push their agenda, allowing white America to shift attention away from its own deeply rooted racism.

It is no wonder that, thanks to our friends in the progressive movement, white supremacists - and Bill Maher - love Asians. The shrill manner of Asian progressive unsubstantiated assertions of anti-blackness within our community provide a superb excuse for white America to deflect attention away from their own racism. If I wasn't a rational person, I could almost ponder the possibility that Asian progressivism might actually be a Ku Klux Klan funded infiltration movement charged with the purpose of changing the focus of the race dialogue by accusing Asians and providing an excuse for white racism to rationalize its existence.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Emma Stone Whitewashing Saga.

Asian-American Cognitive Dissonance.

I had to stifle a mirthful laugh last year when the movie "Aloha" was released amidst outraged criticisms of its casting. Critics griped at the lack of Asian main characters in the film despite the fact that it was set in Hawaii (a place swarming with East and South East Asians), but the main issue concerned the casting of Emma Stone - a blue-eyed and occasionally, blonde red-headed Caucasian woman - in the role of a mixed-race Asian woman.

Naturally, I understand the sentiments - Asian-American actors are discriminated against in film and television (although this past year has seen a significant improvement) in that so many Asian roles are implicitly racially demeaning, Asians have been largely absent from lead roles, and, of course, some roles are whitewashed. The favourite argument given for this state of affairs is that Asians actors (particularly men) cannot carry a lead role and bring in major returns, or that there simply are no well-known Asian-american actors who can carry these roles - of course, not being given opportunities may contribute to the fact that there so few well-known and bankable Asian actors.

Yet, I could not help but wonder if the actions of some Asian-Americans in the industry might be damaging the credibility of these complaints aimed at white film makers. The reason I say this is that some Asian-American film-makers are doing a piss-poor job of doing the very thing that they demand of white film-makers. Of course, I am speaking specifically about Asian-American female film-makers whose record when it comes to diversity considerations may actually be far, far, far worse than that of white film-makers.

As I wrote in a previous post - here - a study of largely independent films made by Asian-Americans (both male and female) reveals that whilst Asian male film-makers create content that provides significant opportunities for Asian female actors to gain experience and showcase their talents in lead roles, Asian female film-makers do the exact opposite. I found in my study that Asian female film-makers follow the same standards of discrimination of white film-makers - Asian men are largely non-existent in lead or romantic roles (an important point since many of themes of their movies are of a romantic nature), and are thus not afforded opportunities even by their own community to showcase their acting abilities and hone their acting skills.

Even worse, although white film-makers have a poor track-record when it comes to providing non-demeaning roles to Asian men, I found that in cases where white film-makers created serious content about Asians, they provided more opportunities for Asian male actors than Asian female film-makers. Hence, my laughter about the "outrageous" crime of Cameron Crowe in giving the role to Stone instead of an Asian woman.

In short, it is hard to take such complaints seriously when Asian female film-makers adopt the same approach to their craft as the racist white male dominated mainstream in which white men are afforded starring roles whilst minorities are somewhat relegated to the periphery. Furthermore, there seems to be little meaningful pressure within the Asian-American community to change this proclivity to uphold white racist practices in the film industry amongst Asian female film-makers.

I don't see it as unreasonable to expect Asian-American film-makers - many of whom seem aware of the discrimination faced by Asians performers - to do their utmost to provide the platform that would give Asian actors (of both sexes) the opportunity to showcase their talents. If we don't offer that to our community, then who will? Most importantly, if Asian female film-makers have no problem with maintaining the racist status quo, then how can we demand that white film-makers use more diverse casting? Why are they obliged to cast Asian leads when Asian female film-makers feel perfectly justified in imitating this discrimination in their own projects? It naturally follows that white film-makers have no obligation to make their casting practices more diverse - particularly when it comes to casting Asian-Americans.

What has become apparent to me is that there may be a fundamental difference between the genders in Asian-America on what they want from the film industry - Asian men seem to want to see an improvement in representation for both Asian men and women so that neither are demeaned or discriminated against. Asian women in the industry seem more interested in maintaining the status quo.

Equally problematic is the silence of Asian-American actors and others in the industry who participate in projects - both in front and behind the camera - that contain racially dehumanizing content. Two recent shows come to mind here; Make It Pop, and Dads.

Make It Pop garnered considerable controversy when its producer apparently exclaimed during a boardroom meeting that having Asian guys on his show was "not gonna happen" even though the show is inspired by K-Pop, and half of K-Pop artists are Korean men whose predominantly non-Asian female fans drive the industry's success. The show has three Asian-American female leads, and Asian males in supporting roles, but no leads as such. The show "Dads" was met even more hostility as it seemed to set out to racially provoke minority audiences. Although it was criticized for its general insensitivity to race, Asian-Americans objected to the show for its racialized sexism and its demeaning jokes on Asian men's penis sizes.

I have come to expect the white media to propagate demeaning and dehumanizing stereotypes and depictions of Asians, but it is the reaction of the Asians involved in these shows that disappointed. As far as I know, not a single one of the actors involved in these two projects opted to make a stand against the racism in their productions. Worse still, they ignored or defended their shows and their participation in them.

Speaking about the criticisms of her show, Make It Pop lead Megan Lee had this to say....
As for the Asian male lead, I heard some things about that and some people kind of misunderstood and got slightly offended. We do have Asian male characters in the show, I want to make that clear, we might not have an Asian male lead, but that was not specifically cleared out that way. We're not trying to exclude Asian males in any way. The casting kind of went that way. It was an open-ethnicity casting call. It was not even meant to be three Asian female leads either. It was all open ethnicities and, from what I've heard, whoever portrayed the role right got the part. It's not specifically "This is a Caucasian role, this is an Asian role, this is a whatever role."
To paraphrase, Lee pleads ignorance - she only "heard" some things about the producer refusing to entertain the idea of an Asian male lead - and then outright contradicts the straightforward statement of the show's producer when he said he would never have an Asian male in the show. That's quite a remarkable set of comments considering that on the one hand Lee claims to have only "heard some things about that", yet she is able to make specific claims about about the casting process. In short, Lee's defence/explanation of the producer's racist comments seemed like mere dismissive excuse-making.

Seth Macfarlane's "Dads" presents those Asians involved in the project with a far more significant problem. The show was overtly and unapologetically racially provocative - not provocative in any positive sense, but only in an ignorant, childish way. Two issues in particular raised concerns amongst Asian-Americans: firstly, an Asian-female lead, Brenda Song, was deemed to have been racially stereotyped and hypersexualized by being made to wear a "Japanese school-girl" outfit; secondly, Song's race became a running joke throughout the series, and, of course, the infamous gratuitous scene in which Asian men were sexually denigrated

It is worth noting at this point, that this kind of sexual denigration is not only racially dehumanizing, it is actually sexist. This is a remarkable phenomenon that rarely gets noticed; Asian men are regularly the object of sexist denigration in American culture and are subject to a sexual mockery that would not be accepted if it was applied to women of any race. This fact alone should warrant some serious discussion, but the fact that none of the Asian actors (not just the two Asian female leads - Song and Vanessa Lachey - but also the Asian men who had bit parts in the series) spoke up about either the racial jokes about Song, nor the racialized sexism directed at Asian men.

I've said it before, but it apparently needs to be said again - Asian-American efforts to end discrimination against Asian actors and racially demeaning stereotypes are pointless unless Asian-Americans in the industry draw a line in the sand and refuse to participate in these kinds of projects. It's not an unreasonable suggestion - Native-American actors walked off the set of an Adam Sandler movie recently complaining of racially denigrating depictions of their characters.

So why do Asian-American actors continue to legitimize these racist projects not only with their continued participation but also with their lack of condemnation? Doesn't it make sense that if Asians consistently refuse demeaning roles that the industry would stop creating them? Wouldn't it have sent the strongest message to the industry if Song, Lachey, and the other Asian bit part actors had simply refused to be racially demeaned and had chosen instead to simply walk off set? If they don't advocate for better depictions for themselves and others, then why should the industry bother changing?

Sadly, Lachey seemed to make no comment on the issue at all, whilst Song actually defended the show's casual racism. Talking to Audrey magazine, she had this to say....
“With the controversy, I found it interesting,” says Song. “People took a 30-second bit and, in my eyes, blew it out of proportion. Our show isn’t for everyone; that’s why I was so attracted to the character of Veronica. On a show like that, we’re able to poke fun at stereotypes. It’s empowering to get ahead of the joke......Something I might find funny, my dad may not find funny,” she adds. “But we’re not out to please everyone.” 
The problem here is that Song has actually defended every racially demeaning stereotype ever produced by the white racist media as though somehow, it is the duration of the racism that gives it its dehumanizing power. In fact, it is certainly not one single brief racist scene that is the problem, it is the fact that there exist a multitude of such brief media moments that together amount to a cultural norm. Stereotypes and demeaning slurs are designed to be a kind of shorthand dehumanization, a condensation of profound philosophical racism into a single word or idea that expresses the most fundamental idea of racist thinking; that non-whites are lesser beings and not worthy of consideration as individuals.

It is the brevity of such stereotypical depictions that prove the pervasiveness of the racist thinking they have distilled. The ideas expressed are common and widespread - they wouldn't have meant anything to anyone if the ideas being expressed were vague and not widely known and it only takes a brief moment of airtime to remind audiences of a wealth of racist ideas and beliefs.

Yet, Asian actors - as Song does later in the same interview - continue to wonder why they cannot get better roles. I would say that if they continue to help create the demand for demeaning roles by participating and then defending them, then producers will be unlikely to be motivated to change their attitudes.

If Asian-Americans want to overcome media racism (both in its portrayal of Asians and its discriminatory casting habits), we have to hope that those Asians already in the industry stop defending demeaning depictions. Most importantly, we have to hope that female Asian-American film makers stop adopting white racist practices when it comes to casting otherwise they continue to undermine the demand for diversity and equality in film and television.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Wanted To Be White.....

LOL!!! Psyche - No I Didn't!

An article in the Guardian this past week caught my attention and I thought it would provide a good excuse to start the blogging year on a lighter note!

A Filipino priest has been suspended by his Diocese for giving the welcoming blessings for Christmas Eve Mass while singing a hymn - all while gliding up and down the aisles on a hoverboard. The Diocese was not amused and accused the priest of "capriciously" trying to get the attention of the people. Although I don't know for sure if the priest is Pinoy, to me his actions are Filipino-esque and are certainly culturally appropriate - which should be taken into account when judging him.

I say culturally appropriate because Filipino culture - and hence Filipino people - tends to look favourably on extroversion. Of course, this stands in stark contrast to the solemnity expected for Catholic worship practices, but it also contrasts with the traditional racist view of Asian cultures being introspective and reserved. In fact, not only do Filipinos have an extroverted streak, we are, sometimes, the biggest cheerleaders for any Filipinos who exhibit this trait.

It so happened that my family was the cheerleading-for-Filipinos type. Of particular interest for this blog was that I grew up hearing extremely positive things about Filipino men, both those in my immediate family, but also positive things about the character and masculine qualities of Filipino men in general.

In short, I developed a general sense that being Filipino was just awesome and being a Filipino man came with a proud and powerful history to both live up to and strive for. Whether the stories were true, partially true, or embellished I cannot know, but that is not really all that important - it's the possibilities for aspiration that these kinds of stories present that gave them significance. For someone like myself growing up in a society that demeaned Asians - particularly being the only Asian around - this positive image of Filipino men was hugely instrumental in creating a foundation to mentally resist racial denigration that most of us are exposed to.

Thus, when this article came out last year - and has just been republished as one of 2015's Best Personal Essays by Salon - I found the piece to be strangely familiar, but also at odds with my own experience. Describing his racialized childhood experience, author Tom Phan recounts how his identity as an Asian made him stand out from the white people he lived amongst and how much angst this caused for him. His obvious racial characteristics, various microaggression-type incidences, and even his own Asian name, all served as obstacles to his desire and drive to fit in with his white peers.

The result was that Phan distanced himself from his Asian-ness and from other Asian people, rebelling against the stereotypes placed upon him by consciously trying to embrace behaviours and activities that he felt could set him apart from other Asians. Phan describes this as internalizing his racism and bias so that he could look down on other Asians and be more like the white people he lived amongst.

I am always saddened when I see Asians expressing these kinds of sentiments, and I think that if some of these guys had only taken a solitary first step toward looking at their white peers more critically they might have saved themselves from years of identity issues. Don't get me wrong, I understand and have experienced what it is like to grow up in a culture that dehumanizes Asians but I still wonder why it seems so hard for Asian-Americans to take that leap from wide-eyed adoration to disillusionment about the object of their aspiration.

It's a natural personal process and a common cultural narrative to yearn for something or someone for so long, only to find that once you attain it it was merely an illusion. Asians who have described the process of wanting to be white and who reject their Asian-ness usually get to a point where they choose to embrace their race, but never do they describe the process of being disillusioned with the whiteness they craved. Never do they seem to reach point where look at whiteness with an edge of cynicism about the presumptions it makes about itself.

Cynicism has a bad reputation, but I think that for ethnic minorities, it can be a rational stance to adopt. Even when Phan realizes that he has internalized his experience of racism, I am left wondering if he has made that leap into disillusionment that might finally rid him of the drive to venerate whiteness. Has Phan - or any other Asians with similar experiences to him - started to look at whiteness and the white identity and wonder what the fuss was all about? Is there any inkling of disappointment at having striven so hard to fit in only to find that the fitting in might not have been all it was cracked up to be? That seems to be the part of the journey that we never seem to arrive at.

It is almost a classic journey of self-discovery in which the protagonist yearns for something he perceives some other group possesses, only to achieve his goal and discover that the people he looked up to are a disappointment. That element almost seems to not exist in the Asian-American narrative - or perhaps it does and we are just too polite to mention it. But, it is not just individuals that seem to never reach the point of disillusionment.

I find myself looking at Asian-American culture and I wonder if we are ever sufficiently cynical of the mainstream that we are marginalized from. Are Asian-Americans ever cynical about their conceptions of mainstream sensibilities in their own creative output? It might be hard to find such a theme of disillusionment in Asian-American culture, which is sad because that seems to be the very thing that young Asian-Americans who are struggling to find themselves need. We need the disappointment of seeing the warts in whiteness so that we can distance ourselves from its overbearing and intrusive monopoly on defining the Asian identity.

It is worth mentioning on this point, that Fresh Off The Boat may become the most successful Asian-American centered show to date and its premise seems to be fundamentally critical of whiteness. Cynicism and disillusionment sells.

My disillusionment with whiteness was inherited as a by-product of the positive stories I was hearing about Filipinos, and the disappointment it fostered in me was liberating. The cynicism that followed in its wake knocked the pedestal out from under the mainstream sensibilities that put whiteness up there. My disillusionment was also circumstantial - I experienced anti-Chinese racism because people thought I was Chinese. I could not help but look at these people and be disappointed for them. The result was that I did not internalize racism, but instead found that I was comparing myself favorably against the majority and was happy to look and be different in the ways that Asians look, and are, different.

The gist of all of this is that Phan's rebellion against his background, and his desire to set himself apart from his Asian peers was a good and normal process. Wanting to not be like those you come from is actually normal also. The only negative is that he seems not to have gone far enough in his rebellion because he seems not to have cast an equally critical eye on whiteness.

But, what does all of this have to do with being proud of my Filipino heritage? Being on the receiving end of racists who thought I was Chinese, but who were confounded when they discovered I was Filipino - a people they apparently had never heard of - only reinforced my sense that there was nothing in principle that necessitated my placing white folks on a pedestal and I developed a cynicism about, and disappointment with, notions of white awesomeness. Being inundated with stories of strong Filipino men and the attitude that being Filipino was just awesome gave me a rich inner narrative that went untouched by the ignorance around me.

My unsought advice for young Asian-Americans who struggle with identity and who see whiteness as a Shangri-La is to simply say; look for the warts and the dirt around the edges of the whiteness you see around you. Notice how the system is set up to foster the illusion of white awesomeness and then notice and laugh at the ways that it certainly is not. My hope for Asian-American culture is that it, too, will develop as a critical iconoclastic endeavour that sweeps through the places of white worship in the minds of Asian-Americans, smashing the idols of white perfection that reside there.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Asian Guy Nearly Lynched.

Tim Tai Versus Southern Mob.

A recent NY Times article covering the student protests at the University of Missouri brought to light some fascinating aspects of early 21st century racial dynamics. The story goes as follows; in the aftermath of a series of racist incidents on campus in recent years, students have begun staging high-profile protests culminating in the college's foıtball team going on strike and a protest led by a group calling themselves "#ConcernedStudent1950" in which they camped out in a public area of the campus.

It was during this camp-out that the following incident occurred.....

 

Naturally, the video caused quite the stir, with publications right across the spectrum of political leaning coming out to condemn the stupidly petulant and self-defeating-if-you-want-to-get-your-message-out act of hampering press freedom. From the video, you can see that a herd of rebels without clues attempt to intimidate a freelance photographer into leaving a public space that he had every right to be in, and then use physical force to eject him (which I suggest might be illegal) and deny his rights as a journalist and citizen to report the news.

The reaction of the photographer was admirable in that he refused to be cowed or intimidated and held his ground until he was faced with an increased level of aggression and the very real possibility of physical violence. Although it is racial issues that underpin the whole incident, there are - in my opinion - unique racial dynamics about it that deserve comment but which seem to have flown under the radar of people's awareness.

Keen-eyed readers would have noticed that the photographer was Asian, a guy named Tim Tai, and that his primary confrontation was with a woman named Janna Basler who turned out to be an employee of the school. Towards the end of the confrontation, the intimidation was amplified by a black student whose aggressive posturing encouraged the rest of the mob to increase their own levels of aggression.

During the course of the confrontation, Basler sets the example for the students by standing in the photographer's way and preventing him from getting closer to the camp. Then, she crosses her arms and pushes him - and at this point things become extremely disturbing. Having obviously and clearly nudged the guy - the recording captures her doing so - she immediately replies (lies) that "he had pushed her". Somewhere off camera, a guy can be heard indignantly asking "did he touch her, did he touch her?" What was going on here is clear - some guy was looking for an excuse and reason to be aggressive, perhaps violent towards the photographer.

In and of itself, it is disturbing that a college employee would incite students to violent aggression, yet, in the context of America's race history it assumes an even more dark and disgusting tone. One of the foundational pillars of white racist violence towards minorities (particularly men) has been the inviolacy of the white woman and the drive to protect her purity - as well as the purity of the white race - from contamination by non-white men. The primary way that this was achieved was via anti-miscegenation laws and segregation, but also through social acceptance of violent retribution towards any minority male who loved across the race divide. An even darker aspect of this normalization of violence against minority men, was the phenomenon of the false accusation.

American history is replete with incidences of minority men who had been falsely accused by white women of rape, and violence. This incident is a sinister echo of those dark times and it speaks volumes about the profound scar on America's racial dynamics that even in 2015 a white woman - Basler - participating in a protest against racism could clearly and blatantly lie that a minority man had physically accosted her in some way and have minorities jumping to her defence. There was a time when that would have gotten the photographer killed and quite frankly, it sounded as though there were some guys in that mob who were willing to commit violence to defend her sanctity. It is with the most ironic appropriateness that Basler, when asked by Tsai to reveal her identity, replied "My name is 1950" - a fitting reference to her use of 1950's racial dynamics to intimidate and incite aggression against a non-white man.

What this says about how America's races interact and conceive of each other offers us the opportunity for intriguing analysis. Could it be that despite years of ethnic studies courses, and a greater awareness of racist thinking, we (minorities) are still somehow conditioned to think of a white woman's word as more sacred than that of minority men? Could it be that we (minorities) still place a higher value on white women such that we are willing to ignore her false accusations and be aggressive on her behalf anyway?

But, don't get me wrong here - I'm not saying that Basler was cynically, or even consciously exercising the privilege of false accusation, merely that we as a society may have gotten so conditioned to behaving in certain ways based upon racial hierarchies that we accept the word of white people as authoritative and probably truthful even though our eyes are telling us the opposite. We are simply accustomed to accepting behaviors determined by racial privileges. Perhaps, on some deep level, conditioning leads us to understand that any accusation made against minority men by white people must - by definition - be true. Maybe the minority members of that mob felt some kind of afterglow, or sloppy seconds of white privilege by being allowed to participate in the charade, drawn by the power in knowing that they stood behind someone who, seemingly, had the power to redefine a lie as the truth.

Whatever those involved were thinking, the scenario played out like a classic of pavlovian conditioning in which no-one seemed to grasp that they were actually reinforcing the racial hierarchies of America's past with their unquestioning response to a white woman's false accusations. It, thus, may be no surprise that the group of students, teachers and Basler, for the most part, ignored the white journalist who was recording the incident and focused their aggression and false accusations on Tai - the minority.

As for the overly aggressive black dude at the end, I couldn't help but be reminded of the lyric from this song, and I quote - "black pohleess showing out for the white cop" - in which it is implied that black cops become overly aggressive when dealing with minorities just to impress, or prove their credibility to, their white peers. There is a lot I could say about that, but that is not necessary since it pretty much speaks for itself.

On a final note, it is worth mentioning another dynamic of the incident. Over the past few years, higher education and the courts have been considering the issue of affirmative action. A common refrain amongst supporters of AA has been to push the racist stereotype of the test-taking-wizard-but-unthinking Asian automatons who are unable to think critically, challenge authority, or lack the flexibility of thought necessary to contribute to a diverse intellectual environment that colleges supposedly strive for. Yet, what we see in the above video illustrates more clearly than any study, that it is the non-Asian students - at least at Missouri - who lack the critical thinking skills to challenge authority, and interact with their learning environment in a way that fosters a challenging and progressive intellectual environment.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Dalai Lama And The Cult Of The Emasculated Asian Mystic.

A Halo Slips.

Since being forced into exile by communist China in 1959, the Dalai Lama has become probably the most beloved - and accepted - Asian man in western history. His position as the leader of the Tibetan government in exile that opposes Chinese occupation has also endeared him to political elites who oppose and fear China's rise to economic prominence. Most notably, almost alone out of all the world's religious leaders, the Dalai Lama has been publicly embraced by America's celebrity caste whose endorsement of his stated pacifism has been - in my opinion - the driving force behind his elevation to a celebrity himself.

Yet, His Highness's halo seemed to take a knock last month when during a BBC interview he was asked about the potential for a female Dalai Lama in the future and he replied that such a woman.....
"...must be very attractive.."
...otherwise she would....
"...not be much use..."
Naturally, the response from women's rights activists has been one of disbelief and disappointment. For me, it merely confirmed the adage that expectation leads to disappointment - particularly when it is applied to those proclaiming unique religious knowledge. Even though I have no issue with men who wear dresses or with the religious, men who wear dresses whilst simultaneously proclaiming religious piety and spiritual expertise tend to set off my skepticism alert. Thus, the Dalai Lama displaying a distinctly backward and a spiritually archaic attitude towards women merely confirms my suspicions that religious types wearing flowing robes and dresses should not necessarily be placed on pedestals.

What is most interesting here, though, is that the Dalai Lama fulfills the fantasies of America's apparently spiritually bankrupt celebrity elites who seem willing to buy into the stereotype - created by none other than the apparently spiritually bankrupt celebrity elites - of the slightly more than human Asian mystic whose lack of sexual prowess and possession of arcane spiritual knowledge renders void the seeming normative distaste for Asian men that our American culture routinely exhibits.

I have long maintained that the stereotypes of Asian men in American culture reflects a deep-rooted xenophobia that limits acceptable western conceptualizations of us to the harmless mystic who fulfills a spiritual void in the western elites who accept them, and the harmless buffoon type whose antics and fundamental childishness allows them to serve as examples of how men should not be but who Asian men cannot help but be.

Yet, just like all fantasies, these dehumanizing stereotypes distort reality and reflect the depths to which people will go to hold on to their prejudices. In the case of the Dalai Lama, the fantasy of the advanced spiritual Asian mystic has obscured some very uncomfortable concerns about the nature of Tibetan society prior to the Chinese take over. Worse - but strangely unsurprisingly - these distasteful aspects of a society long upheld by western Orientalist fantasists as a utopian paradise on earth, only seem to warrant criticism when westerners (western feminists in this case) have their feelings hurt.

The problem is, that for several decades there has been significant evidence that Tibet prior to the Chinese take over was a theocratic hell that oversaw horrific human rights abuses committed by the religious elite against the extremely poor majority. Don't get me wrong here, I do not accuse the Dalai Lama of committing atrocities against his own people, but merely say that the fantasy stereotypes created by the west of the spiritually advanced mystic which has been applied to him has helped to obscure discussion of a brutal history that is at odds with both the stereotypes of morally advanced Tibetan monks as well as the stated claim of advancing democratic principles for the benefit of the Tibetan people.

Viewing the Dalai Lama through the filter of the racial stereotype of the harmless Asian mystic who will lead his people back to some utopian nirvana only obscures the fact that Tibet was never a utopia but was to many accounts a hellish society ruled by wealthy aristocrats and buddhist monks who kept the vast majority of the population in a condition tantamount to slavery.

An article written way back in 1992 by a man named Michael Parenti outlines the extremely harsh conditions under which the majority of Tibetans were forced to live. Bonded servitude from which there was no chance of escape meant that the majority of Tibetans lived as slaves whose lives and bodies were subject to the whims of their owners. According to Parenti, runaways were treated with extreme cruelty sometimes resulting in death, and thieves and criminals were subject to brutal reprisals that included cutting off of limbs and mutilation. Religious beliefs taught by the monasteries reinforced this social system....
The theocracy’s religious teachings buttressed its class order. The poor and afflicted were taught that they had brought their troubles upon themselves because of their wicked ways in previous lives. Hence they had to accept the misery of their present existence as a karmic atonement and in anticipation that their lot would improve in their next lifetime. The rich and powerful treated their good fortune as a reward for, and tangible evidence of, virtue in past and present lives.
It says a lot about the status of Asian people in the west that it is only when the representative of this cruelty "offends" white feminism that the halo of spiritual superiority comes under question - forget the thousands of Tibetans who lived as slaves, that is easily overlooked in a society that normalizes dehumanizing conceptualizations of Asian people. What is important is the fantasy of spiritual advancement that the Dalai Lama purports to offer that can give meaning to privileged western lives.

In some ways the Dalai Lama is the ultimate representative of the model minority; the stereotypes that place him on a pedestal allows those who support him to cloak their virulent xenophobia towards the Chinese just like the model minority stereotype allows the denial of racism in American society. Furthermore, the uncritical acceptance of what the Dalai Lama represents - a peaceful, harmless spiritually advanced society where everyone (every Asian that is) is complacently and unquestioningly contented with their lot in life - seems to act as a counterfoil to the other stereotype about Asian men; wicked, grasping, inhumane and de-individuated hordes who consume everything in their path.

What is often termed as harmless and "playful" dehumanizing stereotypes has manifested in a very concrete way - both as the unquestioning embrace of  spiritual figure whose pre-1950 society seemed as brutally repressive as the communist regime that replaced it and the equally unquestioned acceptance of the Chinese as brutal savages destroying the western fantasy of Shangri-la. Put another way, this juxtaposition of un-nuanced attitudes can be viewed as a reflection of the two most powerful and largely unchallenged stereotypes that have been applied to Asian men. On the one hand we have the stereotype of the harmless, desexualized mystic who is unthreatening and beneficial to white people by virtue of his harmlessness and lack of libido, being played off against the bestial, grasping Asian man whose inadequacies manifest as angry oppressiveness.

As I have suggested, this inability - or lack of desire - to formulate a more nuanced understanding of the facts simply means that the spiritual aspirations of white America, founded as they are on a flawed and delusional historical narrative, supersedes the experiences of Asian men and women who suffered brutal conditions in Tibet's feudal society. This in no way denies that Chinese communism has itself acted with brutality both towards the Tibetans and their own people, it merely acknowledges that the western narrative of the simple dichotomy of good, passive Asian man pitted against wicked, inhumane Asian man is founded on racist thinking that reduces Asian peoples' experiences to figments of the western imagination and in the process obscures justice and truth.

The absurdity of this situation can be summed up thusly; it is through dehumanization of Asian people - since the neutered mystic and the angry aggressor stereotypes are both dehumanizing - that the west seems to somehow believe it can foster freedom and justice.

A more nuanced - and truthful approach - would be to, well, acknowledge the truth; while communist China has acted with brutality in Tibet (just as it has done so with its own people), there is compelling evidence that pre-1950 Tibetan society was as bad if not worse. Furthermore, there is also evidence that Chinese rule has brought benefits to Tibet that are simply too embarrassing for western ears to apprehend, and that the rhetoric of Chinese attempts at genocide are exaggerated if not completely false.

What seems clear to me is that so long as the issue of Tibet continues to be viewed and understood through the implicit framework of racial stereotypes, the only people who will benefit are western spiritual mysticism junkies who seem to think that nirvana can be attained via the practice of ignoring history and the suffering of Asian people under the Tibetan theocracy, but also creating more suffering by upholding racial stereotypes that inhibit any possibility of approaching the subject objectively and with the understanding that all parties involved are human rather than dehumanizing stereotypes.

What has to happen is that our society has to become aware that racial stereotypes are damaging - extremely damaging - by virtue of their very nature and are not only damaging when they backfire and offend white people's sensibilities.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Defence Of White Anti-Blackness..

Acts of Contrition In Asian Progressivism.

In my previous post I suggested that Asian-American progressivism and so-called advocacy seems to be pushing a narrative that exaggerates alleged anti-black racism in Asian communities and elevates it to a level that is equivalent to the white racism that seems to be at the root of the oppressive policing in black communities. I came to notice how Asian progressive commentary in mainstream media outlets seems to be little more than a tactic of deflection away from the far more serious and deadly issue of white racism that supports a contention amongst some ethnic minorities; white liberals and the liberal media are merely racists in denial.

How else can one explain the platforms given to Asian progressives that have little to say about the deep-rooted anti-black prejudices in police forces that seem to induce unreasonable levels of violence towards blacks, and lenient local judiciaries that offer impunity to police officers who engage even in obvious abuses? A recent article in the Huffington Post gives such a platform to white liberalism's latest Asian-American Progressive Useful Idiot to divert attention away from white racism.

Entitled "What Asian Americans Owe African Americans", the piece - written by Christopher Punongbayan - serves as an example of what is wrong with Asian-American contributions to America's racial discourse.

The first point is that it is difficult to determine how to categorize the piece. It cannot be called "news", or "investigative" since it provides no news per se (i.e. we are not being informed of an event or series of events, and neither are events being described), and there is no evidence of an investigative element - i.e no information was gathered and presented as an argument that makes the case for the piece.

Instead, what the piece presents is an inflammatory generalization about Asian-Americans - with a heavy implication that it is Asian immigrants (yes, the wicked FOB's again!) who are being referenced - that asserts the existence of a "problem" (Asians "distancing" themselves from killings of unarmed blacks) but never gets around to specifying exactly how, where, or when this "distancing" has taken place. It never builds a case to support that initial assertion, choosing, instead, to assert - again without a supporting argument - a vague claim that Asian-America "is what it is today" because of an African-American led civil-rights movement.

Finally, the piece ends as it started - by not making any sense and without any kind of significant conclusion. Having riled up its readership with wild, unsubstantiated claims of Asian-American distancing from black suffering and (of course) a general attitude of anti-blackness within the community, the article leaves us limp and flaccid by offering absolutely no meaningful solution to this apparent problem.

In other words, having made inflammatory statements about Asian-American racial attitudes - that are never substantiated with meaningful examples of how this hurts African-American prospects in society - the article has nothing useful to say about how Asian-Americans can approach this problem and find a solution. The reason for this is obvious; Punongbayan has presented no reason to believe that his assertions are true or - even if they are true - that they have any detrimental effect on African-American social and economic aspirations. Thus, without a rational and reasonable argument to support the case that "Asian distancing from blacks" is a real phenomenon, it is impossible for him offer any real world remedy.

Put plainly, Punongbayan has presented an article that serves no purpose, has no meaningful input into real-world solutions to America's race issues, seems not to be even capable of presenting a rational (or intelligent) description of his own community's racial attitudes. Furthermore, he seems to have only a very rudimentary and simplistic understanding of the complicated racial and geopolitical circumstances that informed America's shift towards liberalization of its race and immigration policies.

What can be taken from Punongbayan's piece is that it reinforces two negative aspects of the Asian-American racial experience: firstly, it utilizes the same racialization strategies used by the mainstream by making wild, unsubstantiated generalizations about the community and representing them as facts; secondly it reinforces the notion of Asian immigrants as insular ignoramuses who have no concepts of justice and equality - like the Asian cultures they come from - and who are thus, different in fundamental ways from the Americans they live amongst.

I would have loved to have been able to dissect  Punangbayan's piece point by point, but sadly, he has not made any reasonable arguments that can even be seriously addressed. This makes me wonder who the article was aimed at. As the Executive Director of the Asian-Americans Advancing Justice Asian Law Caucus I have to believe that Punagbayan is well acquainted with the history of Asian-America's contributions to the civil rights struggle and thus should be aware that other Asian-Americans would find his contentions troublesome.

Yet he seems to willfully ignore the significant contributions made by Asian-American civil rights activists since the early days of Asian immigration independently from the black struggle which laid the groundwork for many of the subsequent rights enjoyed by Asians and non-Asians alike in addition to laying the groundwork for non-European immigrants to be given the same rights to citizenship as their European counterparts. It can be easily argued that Asian activism was a major factor in bringing about the liberalization of America's draconian and racist immigration laws that has benefitted millions of non-white immigrants - mainly non-Asians.

Since it is already obvious that the gist of Punangbayan's piece is not to advance any positive perspective on Asian-Americas, or their contributions to the civil rights struggle, then I can only assume that his article is aimed at non-Asians who are not interested in the Untold Story of the independent Asian civil rights struggle. Worse still, Punangbayan seems to want to reach an audience that comfortably accepts wild generalizations about Asian people told in a manner that is insulting to both rational thought and intellectual integrity.

Punangbayan claims the following.....
The 1960s is perhaps best known for laws like the Civil Rights Act. But 50 years ago today, on October 3, 1965, the Immigration and Nationality Act was also passed in the midst of the social upheaval of that period. This immigration law has been absolutely transformational for American society because of the drastic demographic shifts that were brought about in its wake. 
From 1820 to 1965, only 1.5 million Asians immigrated to the US. After 1965's immigration act, more than 10 million Asians have immigrated to our shores. Were it not for the centuries-long struggle led by African Americans on behalf of all excluded communities, we as a nation would not only have a lot fewer civil rights, we would not have nearly the racial diversity we do today.
The irony here is that Asian-Americans are almost never included in questions of diversity when it comes to America's race dialogue. In fact, Asians are explicitly and unabashedly excluded from considerations of diversity when it comes to issues such as college admission and attendance rates and diversity in the tech industry. If anything, the significant presence of Asian-Americans in education and the tech sector are largely viewed as not reflecting diversity at all and even viewed by some as an impediment to "true" diversity.

More pertinently, the subject of the liberalization of immigration policies carries a far more nuanced history than the article would like us to believe. Punangbayan's piece does not deserve a reasoned rebuttal on this subject since it offers no reasoned case to support its single-minded focus on the black civil rights movement as the primary reason for immigration reform. Suffice it to say that I would suggest that other, equally necessary factors influenced the US administration of the time to appear less despotic in its racial attitudes towards non-white immigrants.

Furthermore, it is Hispanic immigration that has seen the most dramatic increase since 1965 - surging past Asians to the tune of 55 million. Thus, by Punangbayan's reasoning Hispanic's owe a huge debt to black America. Of course, though, Hispanic's seem to never be invited to publish articles in mainstream liberal publications that deride their own communities and make gross generalizations about them. The reason for this could well be that Hispanic commentators don't seem to generally have negative perceptions of their own community and they are able to place the Hispanic experience into a reasonable context of the human experience that is sympathetic to the concept of an autonomous Hispanic identity and worldview.

Asian progressive commentators eschew this kind of self-conceptualization and condemn it as implicitly anti-black. Hence, whilst proclaiming diversity, Punangbayan effectively diminishes diversity by ignoring diverse historical experiences. Thus, the question of who is the target audience for the piece becomes one of great importance that sheds light on the limitations that seem to shape the content and scope of Asian-American commentary in the liberal media.

To answer this question it helps to point out that Punangbayan's points are fundamentally trite. What could possibly be a more significant issue than extra-judicial shootings of unarmed citizens and the failure of the courts to provide justice for victims and their families? What could be more significant to all communities than the failure of our democracy to insist on accountability of those entrusted with carrying out law-enforcement? According to Punangbayan - and other Asian progressives - an equally serious problem is the "distancing" of Asians from blacks that has to be addressed, thus diverting the discourse away from the actual issues. If it was not as serious as extra-judicial killings by law-enforcement that has equally deleterious effects, then why write about it at all as a related subject to these killings?

It may have escaped Punangbayan's notice, but since the spate of high-profile shootings of unarmed black men - and women - by the police in recent years, Asian-Americans have been (cloyingly) prominent in speaking out against it, participating in efforts to organize and attend demonstrations, and have dedicated the efforts of many of their "justice" organizations to supporting black rights.

Yet, Asian progressives consistently engage in self-righteous moral grandstanding in mainstream publications insisting that anti-blackness in Asian-America is a peril that threatens to swamp our society. This is insulting not only to the FOBs that progressives continually target for character assassination, but also for those Asians - and they are many - who do and have supported the black cause.

What all of this is suggesting to me is that the liberal media seems intent on pushing a narrative that elevates claims of anti-blackness in Asian communities - which to be honest upon investigation appear to be trite and parochial prejudices - to the same level as police shootings and alleged judicial complicity in enabling them. What this looks like to me is that there seems to be a process within the liberal media to create a "liberal model minority" that shares the burden of white accountability through primally screaming the apparent horrors of Asian anti-blackness. Yet, never are we made privy to the actual incidences that provide us with a reasonable cause to believe that "Asians distancing themselves from blacks" has anywhere near the detrimental effects that Asian progressives and their white liberal media johns seem to want us to believe.

I happen to believe that alleged police oppression and unexplained killing of unarmed citizens is a serious issue that deserves thorough investigation and that nothing should deflect attention away from the main issues. Yet, trite and nonsensical moral grandstanding by Asian progressives that actually permits the discourse to be shifted away from the issues at hand seem to be the custom of the liberal media. Not only is that insulting to our intelligence, it is a morally reprehensible act of self-aggrandizement,

Thus, whereas conservative media only mentions Asians when their experience can be used to bolster claims that racism is no longer a factor in our society, the liberal media permits Asians to have a voice when they somehow agree to make fantastical insinuations that Asian anti-blackness is as serious an issue as police murders of innocent people. In other words, articles like Punangbayan's serve only to deflect attention away from far, far more serious issues of racialized social injustice and suggests that the liberal media is equally invested in using Asians to deflect attention away from white racism. Fortunately for them, there seems to be no shortage of Asian-American useful idiots willing to act as the assuager of America's racial sins. Salvation through Asian progressive idiocy, indeed.

But, there is another potential outcome that I find extremely disturbing. The narrative of Asian immigrant anti-blackness may be sowing the seeds for more racial discontent between black and Asian communities and exposing Asian immigrants who do business in black neighborhoods to more violence and hostility than they already face. Whilst self-righteous Asian progressives cast judgement on working class immigrant Asian communities from the comfort of their safe-neighborhoods that are well-protected by predominantly white police forces who may well use the tactics of intimidation and harassment of blacks passing through in order to "keep the streets safe", it is the working-class immigrants who live and work in poor black communities who will no doubt bear the brunt of any negative reactions to these sweeping moral proclamations.

It is becoming ever more apparent that hostility to Asian immigration and anti-immigrant sentiment is an implicit part of Asian progressive discourse. The relentless (but never substantiated) accusations of endemic anti-black racism amongst Asians has placed the Asian progressive movement into a strange position - claiming to be speaking up for the the black victims of police violence and murder, instead it deflects the dialogue away from that very issue by making a mountain out of the molehill of "Asians distancing" themselves from blacks. This places them very firmly in the category of de facto apologists for the racism that makes police abuses inevitable.

But none of that matters, let's just point the finger at the Asian FOBs - it is easier than actually formulating an original perspective on America's race discourse.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Dylann Roof And Asian Racists.

Asian Progressives Again!

One of the unusual footnotes in the recent tragic Charlotte church shootings perpetrated by Dylann Roof was the revelations of his complex racial thinking as recorded in his so-called manifesto. Of special note was Roof's attitude towards Asians - while he voiced hatred for African-Americans, and a somewhat love/hate attitude towards Hispanics, he absolutely adored Asians.

He had this to say.....
I have great respect for the East Asian races. Even if we were to go extinct they could carry something on. They are by nature very racist and could be great allies of the White race. I am not opposed at all to allies with the Northeast Asian races.
Naturally - and appropriately - Asian-American commentators reacted with horror to these assertions. Some pointed out the prejudices faced by Asian-Americans and argued that racism is present in all communities. Others took the road of contrition and sought to lay bare the apparent depth of anti-black racism in Asian communities. My take is that both of these perspectives missed the most significant question raised by Roof's assertions about Asians - why does, or would, he believe that Asians could be allies in anti-black racism?

This question is significant because there are no reports of Roof ever having had any Asian friends, or even having lived amongst Asians, he does not seem to have traveled to Asia, or in any way been exposed to Asian-Americans to any great degree. His friends seemed to have been either white or (strangely) black and there is simply no evidence that he had any significant exposure to Asians either on a personal or acquaintance level. Yet, Roof had formed this opinion - no, this certainty - that Asians would, by nature, support his racist beliefs.

To me it is extremely bizarre that the question has not been raised of why he would assign these qualities to a demographic that he seems to have had no exposure to. If Roof (apparently) had no Asian friends and had no significant personal interactions with Asians, then discovering why he would hold a belief about a people whom he simply is unacquainted with would seem to necessarily be the predominant question that needs answering rather than reacting with contritious angst, or merely reacting.

If Roof truly had little or no exposure to Asians that fostered his beliefs about them, then obviously, he formed these beliefs based upon secondary sources. In other words, his beliefs about Asians must be based on information he read or was exposed to either in the media or, far more likely, the internet. The internet as a source for his formation of these attitudes seems more likely because it is there that we see issues of race, accountability, and complicity being most vigorously discussed amongst Asian-Americans, whereas the media general portrays Asians monotonically negatively, the internet affords Asians an opportunity to be more integral to how they portray themselves.

This raises intriguing possibilities for this discussion; is it possible that Roof formulated his beliefs in the acute racism of Asians by reading Asian-Americans' own commentaries about themselves that they post to the internet? I would suggest that this is, indeed, the case and that Roof's ideation of Asians as soul-mates in racism may derive from these commentaries rather than from other sources.

I won't argue here that there is no racism amongst Asian-Americans, but I will argue that the idea (an idea that is rapidly becoming a stereotype) that Asians are a virulently racist group is one that has been formulated and exaggerated by Asians themselves.

Now there are a number of different avenues where this notion of virulent Asian racism could derive: firstly, there are the various Asian forums where racist attitudes seem to crop up from time to time; secondly, there are websites that are accused of being racist, although such sites seem explicitly against whites as much as anyone; thirdly, there is the racial commentary by Asian anti-racist writers who offer an Asian perspective on America's racial issues in the wake of instances of anti-black racism.

The question is; which of these platforms could offer the most accessible and plausible source for Roof to formulate his belief in virulent Asian racist attitudes? The first two options seems like weak contenders - in my experience, racist attitudes on Asian forums are rapidly isolated and condemned, and any supposedly racist/nationalistic Asian websites are few and far between, if they exist at all. Furthermore, there are certainly no nationalistic/racist Asian-American groups that operate within society that have formulated or propagate any racist theories or perpetrate racist crimes. That leaves the third option; Asian social commentary on larger issues of race in America.

Logic would dictate that any commentary on a platform with a larger readership potential than those with niche participation are more likely to have their ideas more effectively propagated throughout the culture. Put another way, a commentary written for a national or internationally read internet publication will probably have more influence over social opinion than a one sentence diatribe posted onto a web forum, or a blog post written on an alleged racist website. Thus, race commentary written by Asians in widely read and accessible news and magazine sites will reach a wider audience, meaning that it is reasonable to assume that commentary on race written by Asians in widely read, mainstream platforms will be the most likely to shape society's beliefs about Asian and Asian-American attitudes towards race.

If Roof believes that Asians are inherently race-supremacists and we accept that he could have formulated this belief based upon Asian-American race commentary then might we expect this commentary to be racist in nature? While that would make sense, you would struggle to find any Asian-American commentary in mainstream publications expressing white supremacists leanings. On the contrary, Asian commentary on race in mainstream ( and, therefore, most readily accessible) publications are almost uniformly anti-racist. So, why could someone like Roof form the opinion that Asians are racist by reading anti-racist Asian commentaries?

Content may be the culprit. Although thematically, Asian-American commentaries follow anti-racist notions, they often also tend to use the opportunity to simultaneously highlight anti-blackness in Asian communities. So, what we tend to find is that a piece written in response to instances of - usually - oppressive policing, often ends up being a diatribe against Asian anti-blackness. It's almost becoming a cliche and there are numerous examples.

Of course, Julia Carrie Wong's piece in Al Jazeera, is a good example of how the Asian experience is framed such that it forces Asians into the black/white narrative and denounces them - by virtue of their achievements - as collaborators in anti-blackness. Another piece, from March of this year and also authored by Julia Carrie Wong, in the mainstream liberal news magazine, Salon, again refocuses our attention away from white racism in order to spotlight what she terms, "ongoing", and "unchecked" anti-black racism within immigrant (it's those rampantly hateful, unenlightened FOBs again!) Asian-American communities.

A piece written in another online magazine by Liz Lin that was also published in the Huffington Post mulls over the reasons for "Why Asian-Americans Might Not talk About Ferguson". Lin has this to say about her experience of being given the benefit of the doubt by the maintenance man when she tried to break into her friends apartment (for benign reasons).....
....he unlocked the door and immediately left, not bothering to wait around and make sure that I didn’t ransack the place. He let a complete stranger into an apartment that wasn’t his and walked away.........As I entered the apartment and started looking for the box, I was incredulous — and I was never more aware of the privileges I have as an Asian American woman.
That is weird, but maybe the maintenance guy was merely not very bright, or just didn't care, or did not like the tenants who lived in the apartment. Was he making a judgement based on race? Can we be sure? But at least she acknowledges that being an Asian woman in this culture confers privileges.

She continues....
Would this person have ever let me into the apartment if I were a black man? I’m not a betting person, but even I would put serious money on the answer being no. I probably would’ve been asked to leave the premises, too.
The problem here is that she implicitly presumes that her privilege as an Asian woman is conferred on all Asians and, therefore, she cannot even conceive of the possibility that an Asian man could also have been treated differently. But then, after running through a gamut of racial presumptions about Asian passivity, single-minded focus on out-competing others, and the tired and completely unsubstantiated notion that Asians are somehow culturally predisposed towards political disengagement, she finally gets to the real gist of her piece; Asians are racist. Yes, Asians have and do experience racism and prejudice, but, we are racist........
And then you have the anti-black sentiment that pervades Asian and Asian American communities. In Asian countries, where the overwhelming majority of people have black hair and brown eyes, it’s especially easy to generalize about those with different phenotypes, either positively or negatively. And immigrants bring those attitudes with them to the States.
And there you have it, Asians are racist and they bring it with them from the old country. In and of itself it is odd to claim a race's racial characteristics makes it easier to generalize about others who have different ones. Could she really be meaning to say this? Phenotypal homogeneity makes it easier to stereotype others? Because Asians all look the same, that makes it easier to generalize about others?

Caucasians are certainly not phenotypically homogeneous (and neither are Asians for that matter), yet they don't seem to have had any trouble generalizing about others, and I see no evidence that it was ever harder for them to do so because they are phenotypically diverse. I hope this assertion sounds as silly to you as it does to me. Worse still, remember that this piece made it to publication with the HuffPo. Plus, funnily enough Lin's piece doesn't actually talk about Ferguson.

Influential progressive magazine, Colorlines, also weighs in with this notion of Asians as passive and active participants in anti-black racism. Commenting on some problems it found with a Time article written by Jack Linshi, the piece, written by Julianne Hing, says this...
Asians have actually been the subject of quite a lot of public fascination, mainly as props used to denigrate blacks and Latinos and programs designed to support them and other people of color--including segments of the Asian-American population. All too often, Asians are willing to play along.......Asian-Americans are subjected to the model minority myth, and yet also reap the social, cultural and economic benefits of not being seen as black......In the end, Linshi's article reads more like an extended whine for Asian-Americans who've bought into model minority-buttressed myths of white supremacy but wake up from entitled slumber surprised to find themselves stifled by it.
There you have it; Asians reap rewards because they are not seen as black and Asians play along through their achievements. In other words, just by virtue of the fact that any given Asian has "succeeded", they have played along with white supremacy. Despite the numerous progressive assertions of this "playing along", I am yet to actually find evidence for it.

But the list goes on - blog posts, Twitter, online magazines, literary websites, news sites, even cartoons, all written by Asian-Americans, and all testifying to the rampant racism that, apparently, is gushing through our veins and seeping out of our pores as we scheme and connive with white power to prevent African-Americans from owning their own Seven-Elevens and becoming computer whizzes.

Those who abhor Dylann Roof's conclusion of a commonality between white supremacy and inherent racism amongst Asians and wonder why such an opinion could exist, need only look at the wisdom of Asian Advocacy to find out from where such ideas derive. We cannot blame the white media for this one; this is the one stereotype that the white media is not propagating - Asians are the one's propagating this idea of a rampant and implicit anti-black racism in our communities. Asians are themselves denouncing their own communities as inherently and rampantly racist.

The irony is that this merely "takes the heat" off of white racism, and acts as means to deflect attention and the discourse away from it. On this point, should we have suspicions that the white media seems so open to these kinds of Asian confessionals? Doesn't it dilute the gravity of white racism to have Asians make arguments to the effect that "we do it too"? Isn't it suspicious that in the midst of self-evident instances of severe and deep-rooted anti-black prejudice in America's local governments and police forces, white (and often liberal) media sites are publishing articles that deflect attention away from it and onto Asians? Sadly, to quote Julianne Hing, all too often, Asians are willing to play along with this.

What this implies is that Asian activist commentators are colluding with the white media and ultimately with the white patriarchy (nudge nudge, wink wink!) to create this stereotype about Asians and their inherent racism. Asian activism is contributing a narrative of Asian complicity - which is mostly overly simplistic, and often unreasonable and vague - that runs parallel to white racism and may help to divert our interrogation of it.

Some sociologists have suggested that in the wake of increasing Asian and Latino immigration, America's racial hierarchy is evolving from white/non-white into black/non-black in which immigrants who are neither white nor black assume a social positioning that places them above blacks in a kind of pseudo-white category that maintains social inequalities based upon race. But all this does is squeeze non-black minorities into the black/white dichotomy without consideration of the possibility that such a black/non-black "divide" could evolve away from the implicit injustices of white superiority and is in no way subject to unassailable determinism.

There is nothing implicitly wrong with the idea of a non-black identity - what makes such a thing anathema is that it asserts that any black/non-black categorization must follow the rules of white supremacy. And here is where we see the damage caused by Asian activism's insistence on conceiving of the Asian minority in terms of black or white. One can be non-black without being anti-black, and non-black without adopting whiteness. This implies that the nature of the relationship between blacks and non-blacks (Asians or Latinos) is one that can be shaped by blacks, Asians and Latinos without the baggage of white supremacy. In other words, it is up to us to decide what it means and how it will affect racial justice.

The obstacle to this - an obstacle that Asian activism is already reluctant to address - is that an actual healthy relationship of peers between Asians and blacks would require one, an autonomous Asian cultural identity (which is defined as anti-black by Asian activism), and two, reciprocity, that is, an acknowledgement that black/Asian tensions are far more complicated than merely "Asians are anti black".

By ignoring the obvious non-blackness and non-whiteness of Asians, our activists are preventing this necessary dialogue from taking place and in so doing upholding the power of white supremacy to shape black and Asian interactions. By insisting on framing Asians as complicit in whiteness simply because some succeed - or merely want to succeed - activists are shutting down the very avenues for dialogue that disempower white influence over how minorities view themselves and interact with each other.

It is because of Asian activism's narrative of rampant racism in our communities which have the effect of shielding white racial crimes, as well as its refusal to advance an autonomous Asian narrative not derived from the black/white dichotomy, that white supremacists like Dylann Roof are able to form the belief that Asians are brothers and sisters in spirit to white racial ideas. Asian commentators have created a narrative of Asian-American attitudes based on little more than their subjective impressions and reframing of the Asian immigrant experience as implicitly anti-black.

How creating stereotypes through the over-generalization of Asian-American attitudes helps to alleviate racial injustice is by no means clear. Asian activism needs to do better and if it is unable to do better, it should probably keep mum.