Category Archives: Whiteness

For your reading pleasure: comments from folks who JUST DON’T GET IT

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So I haven’t been writing on this thing for…hm let’s see…3 months?

I decided to stop blogging some time ago because I was sick of it. But then, something surprising happened. People started commenting on my blog! Hoorah!

But wait…it’s actually some fairly disturbing and racist comments for this post I have up called ‘Proud to be white? You’re a racist.‘ …which is actually an excerpt I cross-posted from the wonderful ladies from the Africana (I tried getting to their blog but it’s currently unavailable). I started getting said dubious comments that filtered into my email in November of last year and I just ignored them. But the more I ignored them, the more regularly I got them. So now, my ‘Comment’ inbox has about 27 comments from various readers who felt the need to ‘express their opinions’ on my blog. I wasn’t sure what to do with these comments at first but after much thought, decided that it would be best to showcase the best of the best in one blog post.

Before I expose said dubious comments for the world to see, let me be clear on a couple of things:

1. This wasn’t even an original post I wrote. So these people are commenting on a piece of writing I found to be powerful and true… on the wrong website. People, if you’re going to hate and be racist, why not try doing it on the right website and giving your feedback to the original authors?

2. I have re-read the excerpt. I do not regret putting it up and I still find it to be very true and powerful. I understand that white folk who have not yet interrogated their white privilege may find it difficult and painful to read and stomach but I am still not apologizing for something I find to be true.

3. TRIGGER WARNING. Some of the comments I’ve received below are very racist and may bring up strong emotions. Not to mention, potential wall punching, ranting, crying to the person next to you, puking and maybe even feelings of despair. If you do not want to read this post for fear of inviting negative energy into your day, please don’t do it. Otherwise, the comments can be fairly entertaining.

So here it goes. Because I’m only a semi-asshole, I have decided to remove the names of these people who have decided to ‘comment’ on this post and replace them with my own stand-in names for them instead.

Mr ‘Reverse KKK’ said:

Submitted on 2012/11/11 at 4:54 am

So your saying that because people who are white are all descended from the same stock. I am proud of my nordic heritage not only because of the strength and honour of my warrior ancestors but because of the great state of my home country. Thus I am proud of being white nordic. Are you proud of the Rwandan genocide, the fact that not only were blacks enslaved by whites in the slave trade but african tribes enslaved their own people and sold them to white british slave traders.

The attitude of those days was different in all people including blacks, if africa and the native americans got gunpowder and technology before britain, france, Germany etc then they would have done the same because LIFE WAS CHEAP for all cultures.

Why should all white people feel guilty just because of what ancestors that have slightly the same skin colour did? Also not all white people are rich. My family and the predominitaly white british familys around us struggle at the bottom of the income ladder same as anyone.

You say white people, just plain white people. You see no individuals in us. By taking away our individuality and calling us all white people and telling us to hate our culture and vye with each other for who can be most tolerant your no better than the KKK or the neo nazis

Yes. I am akin to the KKK and Neo-Nazis. I have always been taken with their effective ways of campaigning and the relative successes of their endeavors. Reverse-KKK anyone? Join the club!

Mr ‘Change Your Attitude Or Else’ said:

Submitted on 2012/11/15 at 7:50 pm

This is so ridiculously bias, but you might not be able to see it behind all of your ignorance and self-indulgence. Colored people are given the same amount of oppurtunity if not more oppurtunity than white people, I mean heaven forbid there be a white scholarship fund. Just because white people have found the way to be successful in the past and do anything to put themselves on top doesn’t mean that we are a HORRIBLE people. You’ve just found yourself being unsuccessful so you’re going to find anyway to blame that on something other than your lack of effort and abilities. I’m sorry that you may have been misled to believe all of this nonsense, but you really need to be educated on things before you go and make such an accusation at the white race. Good luck with this attitude when you get into the work force out of highschool. This type of attitude won’t get you far, especially since the last I checked, the white race is still the majority in the U.S. why don’t you show your boss this rant when you go into a job interview…
-Jesse Zwick,
Glendale AZ

Gee, thanks for telling me I have an attitude problem. I guess THAT explains why my life sucks SOOOO much. Oh darn. It’s nothing to do with me living in a capitalist, male-dominated, racist, homophobic, ableist world. It’s just my attitude! *life changed*

Ms. ‘We Gave you Rights Now Shut Up and Let Me Call You the N-Word’ said:

Submitted on 2012/12/30 at 3:29 am |

In reply to Syahidah.

I’m not white I’m european American is what I like to be called news flash everybody is getting sick of the racism bullshit. As individuals we did nothing wrong and every time a black person cries racism I just gouge my eyes out…. I was bullied and got my ass kicked everyday since 1st grade but I wasn’t allowed to say anything and the principal told me that he wouldn’t do anything because they were black….. I’ve been to a place where black people do get killed okay but everywhere is not that way 99% or black people don’t know how hard that life could be okay your equal to everyone else now what more do you want is that not good enoughBecause nobody really owes you…. And hey we even gave you your own appreciation month! But skin color doesn’t change the ignorance. Everybody will fukin tiptoe around the situation because they are scared of saying the wrong thing too close to a black person. So some people of similar skin color treated people in Africa badly but it doesn’t just give “black birth rights” to just be better than everyone but say there the victim cuz it’s long past bein the victim it’s really just sick yeah modern world here everyone gets it that no race is better than another but for. Example the stereotype that all white people are stuck up rich and educated or that all black people are on welfare or hood rats or criminals………a lot of black rich celebrities…….. As a personal example I’m white I did drugs I’m on welfare I had a child as a teen and I run the streets breaking into houses TRYNA make money and guess what…. I’m white….. It pisses me off so much that people can’t just let go of it ……. Black people aren’t victims….. Hey I’m scared to death of insulting a black person because that’s “prohibited ….fuq there’s no white appreciation month but hey it’s just all kewl and funny when it’s “black power”

By the way, I’m not Black.

Ms. Disappointed said:

Submitted on 2013/01/06 at 1:09 pm

So you’re telling me I have to be ashamed of being a certain race?

I never put much stock into all the “white guilt” garbage, but this post is really disappointing.

You know what, if it helps you feel better, I’m disappointed with lots of my posts too.

Mr Unsympathetic said:

Submitted on 2013/01/13 at 1:18 amOh god, another crying loser.

Get over yourself. Im proud to be white. Why? Because we’ve done lots of good things too. Like giving 660 billion dollars in aid to africa and curing diseases n shit. What have you done lately? Oh thats right, Nothing.

You’re totally right. I’ve done nothing with my life. I can’t even latch onto the successes of  a community that proudly claim it is helping destroy a whole continent by looting its natural resources. I am such a failure.

Mr ‘I Don’t Buy your bullshit just my own’ said: 

Submitted on 2013/01/22 at 5:24 am |

In reply to Syahidah.

Im proud to be white and dont buy your bullshit.White people have done awesome good in the world.Just one example is feeding aficans who are too damn stupid to feed themselves but keep breeding………

There were lots more of these comments but for the sake of time and at the risk of putting people to sleep with the same ol’ reverse-racism arguments, I’ll stop.

Poor whitey. Poor, poor whitey. Don’t you see? You are never going to get it if you keep denying it. But hey, it’s ok. According to Star Trek, ‘you people’ get better at this in the 23rd century! Yay!

I’m a skin-whitening, body-griping, anti-racist feminist. Yup.

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I might as well come right out and say it.

I have and continue to engage in skin-whitening practices.

Things I do include staying indoors when it’s too sunny out, worrying about my skin when I forget to put on sunscreen, carrying an umbrella or a hat around with me and yes, using skin-whitening facial products.

I have had to sort through many feelings of guilt and shame for engaging in these practices so I recognize that for me to ‘admit’ this in a public forum – on my blog, today- is an act of personal resistance.

I refuse to accept the shaming that happens to me and so many other women of color who most will label ‘race traitors’, women who hate our brown skin, women with low-self-esteem or women who have been victimized by the ‘system’. I reject the narrow interpretations and judgments of my actions. I reject the shaming of black and brown women who engage in skin-whitening practices.

What exactly is the point of shaming women for pursuing beauty when it is one of the few sites of power available to us while ignoring the sexist and racist systems that set up this situation in the first place???  It is unproductive. It robs us of our voices. It denies us the luxury of being contradictory and imperfect – like everybody else.

Skin-whitening has been a long running interest for me, both personally and professionally. Intellectually, I started engaging with this material in 2011 as a capstone paper for my Women Studies undergrad degree. Since then, I have presented my thoughts at several conferences including the F-Word conference at UBC on April 28, 2011 and the 12th International Conference on Diversity in June 2012. Un-intellectually speaking, I started skin-whitening much, much earlier.

As I did more academic research into this issue, I became increasingly upset. I would read tons and tons of articles written by self-identified feminists who would judge, shame, poke fun and generally caution women against skin-whitening. After talking it over with a good friend (shoutout to Jennifer!), I realized I was actually reacting to the massive shaming that was directed at women who chose to engage in skin-whitening practices. This type of ‘holier-than-thou’ critique typically comes from white women or lighter skinned brown women towards their darker-skinned counterparts. Some examples are Jezebel’s Lindy West who did this with her piece on groin-whitening feminine wash in India and Tyra Banks’ 2008 episode on skin-whitening among Black women from the Tyra Banks show. Just type ‘skin whitening feminist’ into Google and you’ll find more articles that tell you how bad it is to whiten your skin, how you are such a sellout/victim if you do it etc etc. Enough guilt and shame all around, really. Fun.

So I did what I usually do when I get angry – I wrote. And as I wrote, I came to realize my own stand on this issue. It is important I write this and put this out there for people to read. I want people to know that the issue of beauty, health and women’s self-esteem deserves more complex treatment than we have been giving it so far.

I feel it is important to shift the discussions around skin-whitening AWAY from the shaming and veiled policing of brown and black women and TOWARDS acknowledging that the issue is much more complex.

Skin-whitening practices are embedded in systems of capitalism, colonialism and male dominance. We need to acknowledge that women of color have to navigate through this ‘triple threat’ daily. We receive contradictory messages about how we should look and how we should be every fucking day of our lives and we are the ones who have to live with the imperfect choices we make. If we start to try to complicate this matter, we can start to do some justice to this issue.

First, we need to understand that the skin whitening phenomenon has a long history spanning Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the African continent. White women were actually the target of skin whitening from the Greco-Roman period up into the mid-20th century. Marketing for skin-whitening products towards women of color only started in the 1950s when the press began to notice use of skin whiteners among African-Americans.  Today, the skin-whitening market is estimated to be worth $5.6 billion in Asia alone.

It’s no secret that historical and ongoing colonization sustains the ‘white is right’ ideals of beauty. One of the most obvious ways that this ideal of whiteness has stubbornly persisted throughout the centuries are the systems of pigmentocracy that developed globally across many communities of color. A pigmentocracy is ‘a social hierarchical structure based on favoritism of white skin and European-looking features’ (thanks to Hernandez-Ramdwar at Ryerson University for this).  Basically, the less white and European looking you were, the lower you are on the social ladder.  Different pigmentocracies developed across the world – specific to the histories of colonialism, capitalism and male dominance of each location – although the underlying idea of ‘white is right’ is the same. The pigmentocracy in Brazil is different from India, which is different from Jamaica, which is different from the Philippines which is different from Singapore. You get my drift.

It is also important that we understand the pursuit of skin-whitening is not an aspiration to become white or ‘look like a white girl’. It is a quest to separate yourself from the Indigenous Black and Brown ‘look’. In insular South East Asia for example, rising through the pigmentocracy means separating yourself from the working-class, dark-skinned, Indigenous Malay look to an upper-class, lighter-skinned, Eurasian beauty. This is fundamental to understand because it adds more complexity to the issue versus simply thinking that all black and brown women want to become white. In a sense, we do want to ‘become white’ but it’s not the blonde hair, blue eyes or pale skin we covet…rather the gifts that come with whiteness. Its multiple and unyielding privileges.

Skin-whitening practices should be considered an “active strategy used by some groups to claim power over others in the same society’ (Lipsitz, 1998).  People who can ‘compete’ for the privileges of whiteness are those who can afford to participate. High-end skin-whitening products can cost anywhere between $20 – $500 a bottle and the ‘full range’ of products (facial wash, toner, moisturizer, day essence, night serum and spot-on correctors) can easily go up to $1000. Ironically, those who can afford expensive skin-whitening products are constantly reminded that we have to ‘keep this up’ because skin-whitening is rarely permanent. It takes money, time, dedication and constant vigilance to achieve and maintain fair skin and its privileges. A harsh reminder to folks of color that whiteness is not something that is earned, it is a privilege some are born with and others aspire and work towards.

If we start to look at skin-whitening as an ACTIVE strategy employed by black and brown women, we can start to move away from thinking that these women are PASSIVE victims of the systems who need ‘help’ and ‘advice’ from those of us who ‘know better’. Let’s be honest here – giving unsolicited advice, however well-intentioned and shaming women who choose to engage in skin-whitening is patronizing. I know, deep down, that I am fine the way I am. I know I shouldn’t fret over my freckles. I know I shouldn’t fret over my double A cup size. I know I shouldn’t think about the acne scars on my back. I KNOW all this. You don’t have to keep telling me.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the choices we make with our beauty routine have everything to do with the pressures we receive about it. For me, this angst comes from my mother who still frets over her freckles. To me, she will always be my beautiful mother but now I know that telling her to stop fretting or that she is ‘pretty no matter what’ denies her own experiences of living in this shitty world which insisted on telling her otherwise. Telling her to stop fretting would also mean that I am myself, in denial about my own gripes with my body.  I grew up not only watching my mother fret but my grandmother, my aunts, my cousins and my friends fretting. If it was not their dark skin, it would be something else about their bodies.

Does this mean that I blame the people around me for ‘making me’ think this way? NO. By choosing to go through with my weekly ritual of skin-whitening, does it mean that I don’t love my Brownness, or that I’m not thinking of the examples I am setting for the young girls watching me? NO. Does it mean I wholly blame colonialism and capitalism for making this world the way it is and abdicating my personal responsibility for continuing to practice skin-whitening? NO.

Women make hundreds of choices everyday, and unless we are walking around in their heads, we have no idea what led them to the decisions they make. (many grateful thanks to Renee from Womanist Musings for this nugget of wisdom).

So yes, I am a skin-whitening feminist. And I am also an anti-racist activist.  My world is not a binary. I do not have to choose one or the other or be put into categories. This is how I choose to see the world. Because of this, I can embrace the complex, the complicated, the messy, things that don’t make any fucking ‘sense’ and things that don’t fit into the colonial viewpoint of right and wrong, black and white, skin-whitening sellout or staunch anti-racist feminist. I can be both because I choose to be both.I can learn to live with my contradictions.

One day, I want to be able to stop griping about the freckles on my face, my flat chest, and my acne scarred back (among other things). Until then, spare me the guilt and shaming. PLEASE.

As long as we live in a society that experiences ongoing colonization, capitalism and male dominance, the skin-whitening industry will always exist. We need to start complicating the notion of choice while also recognizing the need to access it. When we can begin and continue to complicate, decolonize our concept of beauty and disrupt its connection to the value of a person, we will allow ourselves to imagine a world that is far different than the one we inhabit today.

Indigenous women and women of color RESIST

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I am featured in a blog post as part of blog series titled ‘ How Does She Resist?’ – Resisting Media Representations to End Violence Against Girls and Women’ hosted by the Battered Women’s Support System . The blog series commemorates Prevention of Violence Against Women Week (April 15 -April 21) and aims to engage the online community to resist media representations as a way to prevent violence against girls and women.

The author of the blog post is the co-founder of WAM! Vancouver, Joanna Chiu. She interviewed me for the piece entitled  ‘Indigenous women and Women of Color Media Makers Resist: How to Create the Media you Want to See in the World’. I talk about media representations of women of color and queer and/or trans women.

Here is an excerpt:

Today, as I was walking down the street to write at my favorite coffee shop, I received the usual afternoon greetings from my neighbours: “Hey baby!” “Konichiwa!” “Ni hao! “Look at that ass!!”

As all Indigenous women and women of colour know, if sexism wasn’t bad enough, we encounter racism on a daily basis as well—on the street, in the classroom, in the workplace, and in the media. (See the theory of intersectionality on how oppressions like racism, ageism and classism intersect.)

In media, women of colour are often hyper-sexualized, and depicted in racial caricatures: Kung Fu ladies, geishas, sexy Latina sirens, Pocahontas types, etc. That is, if we see ourselves represented in the media at all. According to Journalism.com’s State of the Media report, race and gender issues only accounted for 1% of overall news coverage. And how many women of colour lead actresses can you name in Hollywood, or who have graced the covers of glossy magazines?

Continue reading here!

Why I (and many others) won’t shut up about race

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It’s the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination today! (Try saying that 5 times fast)

March 21 is marked every year as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination to commemorate the anniversary of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa when police opened fire on hundreds of South Africans protesting against Apartheid’s passbook laws, killing at least 67 and wounding 186.

Racism is alive and well today. For those of you who’ve been living under a metaphorical coconut shell, please understand this. I feel like I’m going to make myself sick saying this over and over again. We are not post-race. Let’s chant this together and get this into our thick skulls. Post-race is a lie. It is a myth. It is as much a myth as money falling from the sky. When dollar coins start falling from the sky, I’ll maybe start considering that we might be post-race. But until then, I won’t shut up about this. You can count on it.

I was prepared to write a whole long spiel about how we’re not post-race blah blah blah but you know what? I’m sick of writing. I am sick of wasting my energy trying to convince people that just because their friends are black, or just because they claim to be part-Native or just because they have travelled to Africa or India or just because they took one course or workshop on racism or just because they are colorblind, that they are the best anti-racists in the world. You’re deluded if you think that and frankly, I’m not going to entertain delusion. I’m not a certified psychologist and even if I was, they get paid for that shit. I’m not getting paid for this. I am not going to waste any more energy trying to teach people, especially white people, that when I talk about racism and whiteness and white privilege, I am not talking about them as individuals. Please try to rise above your narcissism and believe that when people of color say they hate whiteness, it’s not you they hate. God forbid we have a life outside of hating individual whiteys. It’s the system we hate – remember? the system you white folks benefit from every single day of your life? Yea, that one.

So instead of a long spiel, I’ve given you a semi-spiel and a graphic below (cross-posted from here). Look at the graphic. Study the graphic. Nice graphic, nice. Now go and click on the links below the graphic. Good job! You just took one step to further edeucate yourself. And look – you did it all on your own.

Some writings of mine you might like to read:

White defenders and internalized racism

Interracial relationships for a post-race future? My ass.

Coming to terms with the whiteness in me

Negotiating my Muslim identity

Links you might be interested in reading if you gave a crap about the state of the intersectional political activism today:

Deconstructing White Privilege

No Feminist Wedding For Me, Thank You

Men, Sexism and Faux Oppression

Proud to be white? You’re a racist.

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An excerpt from the Africana – a blog started by two young black feminists in Toronto. Something I stumbled upon while on my adventures in the Internet. Thought I would cross-post and share.

————————————————————————————————————-

“Yes, being “proud to be white” makes you a racist.

Let’s go back to Sociology 101 here for a second. White people, you have this thing called white privilege. You’re born with it. You live with it. It benefits you every single day. When your car is broken into and you feel comfortable enough to call the police, that’s white privilege. When you take a standardized test in school that was most likely written by someone who looks and speaks like you, that’s white privilege. When you’re able to see that the vast majority of wealth in this world is controlled by white people, that’s white privilege. Whites have amassed a great amount of power in this world, both concrete power and abstract power.

Now let’s go to History 101. How do you think white people have amassed this power? Hard work? Self-reliance? Swag? Nope. The power whites have amassed is almost universally through the oppression, genocide, occupation, and imperialism of people of color.White people have accomplished some amazing things, but mostly because they’ve established a power structure that benefits them at the expense of other human beings.

And you’re proud of that? You’re proud of an ancestry that has slaughtered countless people of color for their own benefit? True, every race has violence in its history, but none of those situations are even close to being comparable to the worldwide white supremacist structure that has been responsible for the oppression of pretty much everyone else on the planet for pretty much as long as anyone can remember.

When you say you’re proud to be white, proud of white history, proud of what white people have accomplished, you’re saying you’re proud of the genocide of the Native Americans (of Native Folks the world over), the enslavement of black people, the colonization of Africa, the Holocaust, the internment of Japanese-Americans, the oil wars in the Middle East, and a host of other violent tragedies, tragedies perpetrated through white privilege and white supremacy.

People of color have pride movements because we have been so dehumanized by white people, we need to reeducate ourselves on how to take pride in our accomplishments. These accomplishments have been made in spite of white privilege, whereas white accomplishments have been made because of white privilege. It would be like if you were in a race with someone, and then before the race, you busted their ankle with a tire iron, and then after you won the race, you acted as if it was ingenuity and talent that won you the race. No, you won the race because you (severely disadvantaged) your opponent.

White people, you’ve spend your entire history (severely disadvantaging) every other race on the planet. You as in individual may not have done anything wrong, but when you say you have white pride, you’re explicitly stating that you’re OK with the tragedies that have been committed to create and maintain white privilege.

——————————————————————————————————-

Strong words. Powerful words. True words.

Interracial relationships for a post-race future? My ass.

I’ve not written on the subject of interracial relationship in a while but something came across my Twitter feed recently.

“1 in 15 marriages now interracial!” cited a new American study which purports that 8.4 percent of all current U.S. marriages are interracial.

So I did some research to the places I feel connected to and here’s the sitch -

As of 2006 in Canada, ‘mixed unions’ make up 4% .  As of 2007 in Singapore, interracial marriages make up 16.4%.

I always get mixed feelings when I read studies like these. On the one hand, yes it is awesome, it is amazing that interracial unions occur. But wait a minute. ‘Interracial unions’ have been happening since pre-colonial times. Heck, at one time, my mom being Bugis and my dad being Boyanese was probably considered an ‘interracial marriage’. Today, both my parents are known as Malays. Do I go around boasting that I’m a biracial kid? No, I don’t because I’m not deluded to think that my existence can bring about a post-race future. I am not deluded enough to think that race is ‘something personal’ to me. It is not something ‘personal’, it is very much public. Race is a social construct. Race is determined by power relations between people of different skin colors.Which is why my mom and dad are not considered ‘interracial’. Growing up, it was such a big deal (and arguably it still is for the Malay community back home). I’m half Bugis, half Boyanese or half Javanese, half Acehnese…if only someone had told me that most of the world wouldn’t give a flying frack what I was and just see me as another brown person.

What I really wanted to highlight was my mixed feelings towards people exclaiming how interracial relationships herald a post-race, utopic future filled with ‘Kumbaya’ love. They don’t.

‎An author writes (and I wholeheartedly agree): “I hate to admit that I share the pessimism of others — the supposed blurring of racial and ethnic lines will probably not translate into the end of race and ethnicity, rather simply a reformulation of racial and ethnic boundaries and hierarchies.”
Yes. As fracked up as it seems, even children (yes, can you believe it) of interracial unions are subjected to the racial hierarchy.
I see it happening in Singapore right now. If you’re half-White and half-Chinese, you are viewed as potentially more beautiful, more desirable than someone who is let’s say…half-Malay and half-Indian. Half-White, Half-Chinese faces dominate the local media as actors in TV shows, game show hosts, radio deejays… how many half-Malay and half-Indian faces can claim ‘local celebrity status’? Being half-White, half-Chinese  gives you self- identification with two racial groups who currently have huge political, economic and cultural influence on Singapore. This puts you near the top of the currently reformulating racial/ethnic hierarchies.
Mixed-race children in Canada are placed in a similar position where they are seen as ‘quintessentially Canadian’. I recently read an article on Kristin Kreuk, the Canadian actress on Smallville, and the first line of the article emphasized her ‘mixed heritage’ (her mother is Chinese-Indonesian and her father is Dutch) and how ‘quintessentially Canadian’ it was. I wonder if the same thing would have been written if the piece highlighted someone who was half-Tamil and half-Black? Or half-Pakistani and half-Filipino? Are only half-White Canadians seen as ‘quintessentially Canadian’? If I was to marry and have children with a Fillippino-Canadian, would my biracial kids be considered less quintessentially Canadian than if they were half-White Canadian? Again, as a half-White Canadian, you can claim self-identification with a group that has huge political, economic and cultural influence in Canada which again, as in the Singaporean case, puts you near the very top of the reformulating racial hierarchies.
Is any of this making any sense to any of you?
What I’m trying to say is that this belief that biracial children and interracial relationships will bring forth a utopic future is very very flawed. Just because we want to think that everyone is on an equal playing field now doesn’t mean that this is actually so. Just because we want to believe that everyone should just be colorblind now doesn’t mean that this is actually so. It is not enough to be colorblind and kid yourself into thinking that insitutional racism doesn’t exist anymore because you know someone or lots of people who are in interracial relationships. It is so veyr easy to deny that institutional racism still exists in all our national systems. In our justice system, our schools, our workplaces. How can we claim to be post-race when racism still thrives in our institutions?
And don’t for a second kid yourself into thinking that interracial relationships are free from racism. I’ve written about my personal experiences witnessing friends in interracial relationships who do, say and think really racist things while dating someone ‘outside their race’. And here is more evidence that despite people thinking they are the most progressive people on Earth by dating someone ‘outside their race’, they are actually just exposing how horribly racist they are. Again, I emphasize: Just because you’re in an interracial relationship, it doesn’t mean you are free from racism. People can be dating, kissing and banging the person they think they love and still be thinking really racist things about that person’s ‘culture’.
I’ve been in an interracial relationship for 4 years this year and let me tell you – it’s not easy. I know many people who have been involved with ‘someone outside their race’ for far longer than I have and their stories are the same. Both parties have to be able to confront racial privilege and racial oppression individually and as a couple….not once, not twice but continuously for as long as they remain together. Talking about race openly and honestly is fundamental. C has had to confront his racial privilege many, many times and he continues to do so. Conversely, I have had to confront my racial oppression. It has been a long and difficult process for us to talk openly and honestly about race…along with religion, nationality, citizenship and immigration.
I don’t kid myself into thinking that we’re first Malay-White union to exist in the history of the world because I know we are not. I don’t kid myself into thinking we’re solving racism through our relationship. Most importantly, I don’t kid myself into thinking that if we had kids one day that our kids would be harbingers of a post-race future. They won’t be and I don’t expect them to be. In some ways, they will probably be privileged seeing that they will be half-White but just like everyone else, they will be constrained by the racist histories that hold me, their father, their grandparents and their ancestors in place.
I get really sick of talking about interracial relationships and arguing with people who think that it will bring a utopic, post-racial future. Which is probably why this blog post has been longer and more rant-y than others I’ve written. If you are conscious in our world today, and by that I mean awake, alive, involved with what is going on around you, you will realize  that nothing can be further from the truth.
There’s STILL a lot of work to be done.

What it means when someone says they don’t see color

I’m not talking about people with optical disorders. I’m talking about ‘color blindness’. What I’m really talking about is racism.

Been reading lots of anti-racist works recently after writing White defenders and internalized racism. Stumbled upon this at Womanist Musing. Below are my favorite parts from the piece:

“Can we just be friends (or lovers) without you being black and me being white?” 

What is to be gained from such a scenario, wherein my white friend and I cast our racial identities aside and operate as friends outside of the construct of race? And who is set to gain from such a scenario?

To the white person behind the question, only they themselves matter within the friendship. No matter how much the POC’s racial identity means to him/her, if it makes the white friend uncomfortable, that POC should be willing and ready to shove his/her racial identity aside and essentially shove him/herself aside to accommodate the white friend.

This is what that question means when uttered from a white person to a person of color: “You don’t matter. My comfort is what matters.”

It is the narcissism of whiteness at its worst and most heartbreaking. I write this now because I’ve been asked this question numerous times, and I just realized how much I hate this question for what it reveals about the person asking the question. I hate it because it reveals something I either couldn’t see beforehand (and thereby anticipate such a question) or wouldn’t let myself see beforehand. It reveals something truly disturbing about the person behind the question, something we’d like not to see in our friends and lovers.

So what does it mean when someone says they don’t see color? It means they don’t want to. 

I’m still gathering up mental strength to write a piece on colorblindness versus racism. Stay tuned for that!

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