Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hair Is Anti-Black.....

Jerry's Dreads.....

Just when I thought that Asian-American progressivism couldn't get more mundanely absurd, a new source of angst has arisen over Jeremy Lin's racial offense of Donning Dreadlocks While Asian. The kerfuffle started when former NBA player, Kenyon Martin, voiced racially insensitive criticism of Lin's dreadlocks, seeming to take offense that Lin had a "black" hairstyle.

Lin's response was classy....
Hey man, it’s all good. You definitely don’t have to like my hair and [are] definitely entitled to your opinion.......Actually I [am] legit grateful [for] you sharin it [to be honest]. At the end of the day, I appreciate that I have dreads and you have Chinese tattoos [because] I think its a sign of respect......And I think as minorities, the more that we appreciate each other’s cultures, the more we influence mainstream society. Thanks for everything you did for the Nets and hoops…had your poster up on my wall growin up.
Martin subsequently did some backtracking - of sorts - but true to form, and as predictable as an Asian anti-white supremacy, anti-anti-blackness crusader who only dates white dudes, a grandstanding Asian progressive gets pulled from the anus of the white liberal media to spout meaningless rhetoric that lacks any logical cohesion or consistent train of thought.

Published in the ever more seemingly anti-Asian, xenophobic, liberal news site, the Huffington Post, Asian, Jessica Prois, and a black colleague, Lily Workneh join forces to enlighten us on the wrongness of Lin's hair and his response to Martin's attack.

The article's gist can be summed up by the following excerpts...
Neither of their actions ― culturally appropriating tattoos or dreads ― were signs of “respect.".......Yet there’s a certain reality that belies the accord the two reached: There’s a false equivalency in saying Chinese tattoos on a black man and dreadlocks on a Chinese-American man are the same type of offense...........................But borrowing a cultural marker like dreadlocks, which embody both joy and struggle unique to the black community, is not the same as having a Chinese tattoo, a symbol that doesn’t carry the same weight of oppression. Yes, appropriating Chinese culture through a tattoo is exoticizing and insensitive. But the the act of putting on and taking off dreadlocks ― which are related to the systematic economic and social oppression of a racial group ― demonstrates a greater level of disregard. 
What we have here is a failure to present any logically reasoned points in an article that makes sweeping assertions without offering any meaningful supporting argument. There are a couple of points forming the premise of the piece, which I have read as follows.....

  1. The use of dreadlocks by a non-black person is more heinous than Chinese letter tattoos on a non-Chinese.
  2. Dreadlocks are an embodiment of a political and social struggle unique to the African-American community.

The first point reflects the paucity of critical thinking exhibited by modern-day progressives in general and Asian-American progressives in particular. The assertion that wearing dreadlocks or sporting Chinese character tattoos are "offenses" is itself problematic, but the claim of a qualitative hierarchy in the severity of these supposed offenses is merely a subjective opinion elevated to an objective fact by virtue of mere assertion. The second point is a textbook example of irony.

The claim that dreadlocks somehow "belong" to black culture is simply untrue and ignorant. This is what the article says....
Dreadlocks, which are essentially twisted locks of hair, are more than just a hairstyle. They have become symbolic of blackness and black culture and while some wear them for aesthetic reasons, others can have a deep cultural and spiritual connection to them. The style itself is widely worn by many Rastafarians, a religious movement bred in Jamaica, and, for some among them, it can represent a resistance to Western or Euro-centric hairstyles while honoring their roots. 
Although it is true that dreadlocks have "become symbolic of blackness and black culture", how this argument supports the notions that Lin committed some kind of offense is not clear, since the article doesn't explain its claim. A key word here is "become". A simple google search of the term "dreadlocks" would have revealed that members of human societies have been dreading their hair for millennia and that this style has never been exclusive to black people.

Statues, hundreds of years old, exist of Buddha sporting what look like cornrows and dreadlocks, and an easy to find Wikipedia entry provides a brief overview of the use, and significance of, dreadlocks across diverse cultures throughout the ages. Of course, African cultures have used dreadlocks for thousands of years and for longer than there has even been such concepts as "Africa" or "Europe".

The irony here is that to give ownership of this practice to one specific group, existing at one particular time in history to symbolize their specific and unique experience dispossesses these other groups of their history and experience and excludes them from their own cultural rights. This process is only possible because of an attitude of Euro/western-centric primacy, made possible by an overbearing western media and culture whose influence is a residual outcome of colonialism.

This is a classic case of colonial appropriation that attempts to artificially give one group hegemonic ownership of a cultural practice that has diverse origins and arose independently across different cultures. While the use of dreadlocks has pre-dated the idea of the west, Europe, and Jamaica, it is merely by virtue of the fact that the use of dreads amongst Caribbean blacks in the west in modern times that makes it possible to claim ownership of this practice. It is because of the power of the western media and an overbearing culture that this idea of dreads rightfully belonging uniquely to black westerners exists. 

I can almost see the funny side to all of this - Western media power is utilized to dispossess numerous cultures of their historical cultural practice and give hegemonic ownership of said practice, all to promote the narrative of an oppressed group using a hairstyle as a symbol to resist hegemonic cultural ownership of their bodies and culture. You can't make this stuff up.

The HuffPo article exemplifies the reasons I can't get behind Asian progressivism, even though I consider myself liberal. There are simply major flaws in Asian progressive thinking due to an intellectually lazy reductionist pursuit of a black/white narrative to explain America's racial issues. Poor reasoning, flouting of logical thinking to avoid addressing facts that conflict with the narrative, all characterize progressive commentary, and I just have a general sense that Asian progressivism is driven by a fear of stepping outside the black/white dichotomy of the race dialogue, to the detriment of an autonomous Asian voice.

Pois and Workneh could so easily have conducted a simple internet search to learn that dreadlocks are a hairstyle that have spiritual, political, and stylistic significance for numerous cultures throughout history. Instead, they opted to stoke the flames of racial tension by claiming that Jeremy Lin had committed a racial offense because he chose to style his hair a certain way.

The article's authors, perhaps, did not notice that the interaction between Martin and Lin was, actually, of a mundane tone that ended with what seemed to be an acknowledgement of mutual respect, and an agreement of respect for each other's space and right to have an opinion that the other disagrees with. But, the article merely reinforces my observation that when it comes to promoting an Asian identity or point of view, Asian progressivism has little to say of value, and is, thus, largely irrelevant - even when it comes to a subject as mundane as a hairstyle.

Aside from the article's lack of basic research about the subject, the piece exhibits the same, tired, droning, lecturing, poorly reasoned style that is common to the vast majority of Asian progressive commentaries in the mainstream liberal media. Worse still, the article illustrates the most significant problem of the Asian progressive movement: an unwillingness, or inability, to uphold the voice of Americans of Asian descent. Asian progressivism can't even muster the courage, or intellectual nous, to make a stand for an Asian-American even concerning the mundane act of choosing a hairstyle.

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