Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Now this is why I read the Fighting 44s

you may not agree with it, I'm not entirely decided on what I think about it yet. But agree or disagree, I'm willing to bet that you'll find it kind of interesting. There's even a small amount of humor.


Magniloquence said...

Hmm. I'm only halfway through, but I'm struck by how very, er... white-centric the construction of 'non-asians' is.

"You have found that you relate best to someone who is not Asian, and you have gained stronger access, willingly or not, to some of the advantages of colonial racist privilege which you are supposedly struggling against."

"But power and public presence comes with a price, and that price is a limitation of freedom, because you are now a symbol, and as a symbol, you now “belong” to a greater group, and you are now representing something larger than just yourself."

(emphasis mine)

Over and over, out-dating or out-marriage is cast as assimilation into the dominant (white) group. There isn't any mention of out-dating into other minority groups, which, while they might certainly confer some types of status and/or cred, don't have the same kind of effects.

I also find the idea that out-marrying automatically confers status or privilege kind of suspect. I think that it can be true, especially for APIA women marrying white men (and particular strains of mostly-light-skinned brown women) ... but I think, particularly with inter-minority pairings, the opposite is far more likely. And for particularly visually (or otherwise) marked pairings.. really dark women with white men, dark brown men of any sort with white women, poor men with rich women, etc.,.. it can make you a target for just about everyone. Standing next to privilege doesn't always mean it'll bleed over onto you. (Likewise for shedding it, as certain wayback issues brought up ... just because you have a minority partner doesn't mean you automagically shed your privilege and don't have to think about it any more.)

Heh. Reading further I found that they actually do explicitly frame it that way:

"Dating, incidentally, is probably even higher, and on a humorous note, you can play the IR punching game, where one of you looks for white male/ Asian female couples, and the other looks for Asian male/ white female couples on the street, and you punch the other person’s shoulder whenever you spot your particular combination. The AM/WF spotter invariably ends up with a very sore shoulder, and the WM/AF spotter usually ends up with a more toned and muscular arm."


"If you advocate for hybrid cars by day and drive an SUV by night, you lose credibility. If you advocate for organic products by day and eat processed foods by night, you lose credibility. If you advocate for African-American unity by day and go out with white Americans by night, you lose credibility. This reasoning is not a product of insecurity, or patriarchy, or of somehow “giving in” to a colonized mentality, it’s a product of practicing what you preach"

Paragraphs like this made me wince. Advocating for hybrid cars and advocating for racial or ethnic group unity are not the same kind of thing. And while the credibility argument isn't entirely wrong (people will think what they'll think, whether it's logical or not), the way this is constructed kind of raises my hackles. "You should do this thing (drive a certain kind of car, vote a certain way, etc.)" has an automatically implied "instead of what you're currently doing." With things like environmental activism, those things are as much about arguing against as arguing for, and the available options are often genuinely dichotomous. With things like group advocacy, they're not.

(Then again, I might just be annoyed because I'd rather not think of my dating habits as being akin to recklessly destroying the planet.)


"With regard to what an AA women chooses to do with her life being less relevant than the consequences for “the cause,” any compassionate and socially aware AA male would never state or imply that. As I say above, an AA woman or man not directly involved in advocacy can and should date whoever s/he wants. One who actually fights and advocates and embodies “the cause,” however, stands for something more. It’s not that advocacy is more “relevant” than personal romantic decisions, it’s that personal romantic decisions are relevant to advocacy."

I have more issues with this paragraph than I can puzzle out right now. I think it's largely a focus issue, though. What are you advocating for? I'm not APIA specific, I know.. but my advocacy is for substantive equality and context-appropriate responses in everything. And that means that, among other things, I want every damn body out of my pants except the ones I specifically let in there, and that means The Movement too. I want to change systems, not people; I want to make a world where out-marriage and in-marriage are both good things and neither is privileged over each other... a world where the detrimental effects of privilege are taken out of the equation. Blah blah.

My arguments don't have anything to do with the behaviors themselves, they have to do with the reason some behaviors are less easy to commit to than others (including, yes, problems within the in-group; all the racial privilege leveling in the world isn't going to help if there's still rampant sexism in the community), and the frameworks that privilege certain people and actions over others. While it's a good thing to be aware of how I personally am playing into (or working against) those structures... it is quite beside the point whom I invite into my life.

*sighs* I don't know. There's a reason I don't go into these particular arguments too often. It's like talking to the radfems, only about race instead of gender. (With gender taking the elephant-in-the-room spot that race usually does in those same conversations.) Keeping one's group functional is a good thing. Maintaining tradition and culture are good things. In-marriage is a good thing. But it's more complicated than that... and tying it down solely to activism (more specifically, reducing it to one's "symbolic worth" or whatever) is both galling and counterproductive, to me.

Hunh. I reacted a lot more strongly to that than I thought I would. Weird.

lovelesscynic said...

clearly I was correcting in predicting that you would find it interesting.

Nien said...

oi~ asian men have nothing to gain from talking about interracial relationships, especially from that perspective.

dude needs to take a cooking class or dance or something and stop thinking about this stuf.