(same post as in blogroll)
There are beautiful things in this world to see, to be, to experience. We love to watch babies explore the world because they do so without prejudice or shame. They explore in a pure way, perceiving phenomenologically, responding as a mirror and not a lens. They are present in the moment and no place else.
This kind of direct interface, which suffers no interference from judgmental and self doubting thought, produces possibility and wonder. I believe when we seek peace through meditation, astral work, prayer, or what have you, we seek a state of mind like this.
The process away from raw perception and in-the-moment mind and toward one of prejudice is a necessary one for interacting with the physical and surviving new experiences. We learn to identify by differentiation because it’s a useful way to describe objects in 3-dimensional space.
“Things that are hot and hurt to touch,” versus “things that are not hot and do not hurt to touch.” for example. In formulating the categories, the active mind groups them together for efficiency and can make educated assumptions about other potential experiences in the world. “I’ve never seen that before [looking at burning coals], but it seems hot, and most things in that category hurt to touch, so I’ll just leave those alone.” This, I think, is the birth of dualism in the mind. Interacting in the corporeal universe almost necessitates it.
Our mistake, personally and socially, is to extend this dualistic mode of thinking (that a thing does or does not exhibit a property) to people, e.g., “Americans are prideful.”
I’ll leave a long Russellian rant on the confusion caused by multiple uses for the word “is” for another time, but suffice it to say, there are two common (and I believe conflated) uses: (1) the is of identity (describing the identity per se, e.g., “No, Superman is Clark Kent.”) and (2) the predicate is (describing a nonessential property of a thing, e.g., Gemma is intelligent.) The word is used in the descriptive sense runs the risk of being an is of identity – a character trait inherent to the group. I think it’s fairly common to encounter in lay discussions concerning race.
The second, independently compelling, reason that it is a mistake to apply a dualistic understanding to people is that it is inaccurate (and thus inefficient speech). It is inaccurate because a person’s mind is complex and subject to change. It is possible for a person to feel the inward draw of shame and outward expression of joy at the same time (schadenfreude) or to love and hate simultaneously (familial abuser). It also fails to convey the changing nature of people and cultures, that they evolve, advance, and improve. Dualism is an embarrassingly simplistic model to use on persons.
Finally, to assume that a racial characteristic is true, ignores the huge variety in a “racial group” and ignores a huge population of persons who occupy ambiguous regions of the demography. Have you seen the phenotypes common to Kazahkstan? When you talk about “Asians,” do you include other Central Asian steppe peoples? Do you include fair skinned Turkic persons when you’re talking about white people? And what about all the mixed race persons? The continuation of dualistic mono-racial models threatens to push their already overlooked experience to the extreme margins.
I digressed a bit there. I’m long winded. Let me wrap it up.
Here’s the point: there’s an unanswered simplistic message that dominates the conversation on race and sex about Asian men – They are not sexual, and they have small penises. Social and sexual standing are related, and as such, to those who accept presentation of the world in terms of race and essential racial qualities, Asian men are undesirable socially and sexually.
That’s something I’ve experienced my whole life. It has been difficult and my life has been worse for it. Imagine in your social circle, it was rumored that you weren’t desirable sexually and had a small dick or wide-set vagina. Whether true or not, I’m guessing it might be detrimental to you. Now imagine in the whole world, every single person has heard this rumor even before you talk to them. That’s the kind of narrative that exists.
For me, it’s not pleasant, but I also don’t have a problem with saying fuck you and doing my own thing. I’m okay with seeking more individual experiences with women who can appreciate me for the whole package. I speak my mind, I like women a lot, and I think that my particular personality type (perpetually horny) has made it easier for me in the sex department.
It’s not the same for everyone though. I know a lot of eligible guys sidelined because they’re maybe less assertive (Asian + less assertive = wimp; White + less assertive = geeky). They shouldn’t be penalized for a personality trait. Still now in 2015, it’s commonplace in our society to trash Asian men publicly and ridicule them for an assumed physical racial trait. Which other group of people do we do that to?
Still, none of this by itself compelled me to write. I was fine letting people go on in their ignorance. I have a nice big cock, and I was fine sharing that in just the bedroom (or bathroom, or kitchen, or wherever, but you get my point).
It is my young nephew, a fine young boy of nearly 4. He is bright, happy, curious, and sensitive. He’s the only boy in his ballet class, loves pink and purple cars and all utility trucks, and he asks me if I am feeling okay. I love him, and everything about him, and I think it should be okay that he express himself growing up in the world instead of scared into isolation through compounding social rejections. But he will grow up as an Asian man in America, and right now, the chances of going through that without injury and self-hate are none. Zero. I’m serious. I know this, and this is why I write.
And I thank you for reading,
ORIGINAL COMMENTS TO C. JIANG’S ARTICLE BELOW
This was a touching piece from writer Christie Jiang’s own life. It was heart rending to hear her talk about her little bro internalizing all of the self hate broadcasted to him as an Asian American male.
A less scientific study decided to tackle the question of representation more broadly: What would the U.S. look like if it mirrored the main characters on prime-time TV? Well, for starters, an estimated 57% of the population would be men. Accordingly, white men would make up more of this hypothetical population than white women (50% compared to 34%) as would black men than black women (5% compared to 3.8%). However, there would be fewer Latino and Asian men than women – 1.9% compared to 3.8%. In fact, this television-based US population would have just as many supernatural creatures or robots as Latino and Asian men.
Considering these reports together, I probably shouldn’t have been so surprised last year when my then 11-year-old brother told me that the reason why he wasn’t cool – and why he would never be popular – was simply because he was Asian.
There is some heavy shit in that article. Recall the sociological study that moved the SCOTUS to abolish racial segregation in public places? The result of that study purported to show the effects of internalized racism and self hate… in children.
That’s where we drew the line as a country, when it was clear that the adults’ fighting were fucking up the kids. When they grew up thinking their race made them inherently worth less. We said that’s it, this is too far. That’s when we mobilized the National Guard, that’s when toxic racial barriers began their gradual recession.
What Christie wrote about isn’t an isolated incident, and it’s the same internalized racism. It’s how Asian boys feel as a matter of common occurrence – daily. It’s plain to anyone who would care to look.
Only no one cares to look – so no action, no SCOTUS, no National Guard… just some shitty blogs trying to sway public opinion. I looked at the end of the article to see her comment count – 2 comments. The author’s other article (about hair styling) garnered 8 comments with a week less time. No one cares to look, or no one cares to comment.
So Christie Jiang’s little bro – this post is for you. Hopefully you and my other little Asian homies won’t have to feel like a nobody before you even start.