Asians Not Studying
"Im 20, a Filipina, and a mom of a baby girl. I was absolutely brokenhearted when I got these lines but when I finally held my baby, it turned into an amazing feeling that I just can’t explain. I love my lines!"
I leave Tumblr for half a day and then find Hong Kong all over my dash.
All I have to say is
- I am very suspicious of people saying “stop a second Tiananmen Square Massacre happening” because wow way to conflate the two and ignore the different factors in each. Not to mention people love holding up the Tiananmen Square Protests as a “students’ fight for democracy against communism” and that’s just so overly-simplistic? And then they use this as a reason to “help fight democracy by getting the US gov involved” and it’s like NOOOOOO do you understand what you’re doing, you’re just making things worse STOP STOP ABORT
- On that note, don’t sign the whitehouse petition. Again, no US intervention wanted nope.
- PLEASE don’t compare this to Ferguson. Repeat- don’t compare this to Ferguson. Ferguson has a different situation that is centered around anti-blackness and black genocide in the US, for gods sake don’t compare it to what’s happening in Hong Kong
- What’s happening in Hong Kong is serious, no doubt about that, and yes we should support the protestors there. But NOT in a way that misrepresents the issue and helps foster US imperialism.
OK.. but… the Hon Kong protestors have been actively using Hands Up Don’t Shoot. Obviously the issues at stake her shouldn’t be compared but I really don’t see the error in comparing the strength of oppressed people fighting for what is right. We saw the same with Gaza— two completely different issues, but there are comparisons/connections to be made in the peoples’ struggle, and above all else in the way these oppressed people connected with each other— by sharing via twitter for example tips to dealing with tear gas in the eyes. I mean certainly no one is going to compare anti-blackness to the democratic issues happening between Hong Kong and Beijing but I don’t see why people are so opposed to the very idea of connecting these events. It’s important to realize the difference between the peoples and politics and axes of oppression involved, I know, but I think the unification of oppressed people is a powerful and touching thing. Of course perhaps I’ve entirely misunderstood the post, wouldn’t be the first time for me…
Most of the Hong Kong protestors who are holding up their hands aren’t doing it purposefully as an act of solidarity towards Ferguson. Most people in Hong Kong have never heard of Ferguson. Instead it came out of training where the protest leaders taught everyone to hold their hands up so that they don’t appear threatening to the police. So no, it’s not like Gaza and Ferguson where there was an intentional bond of solidarity.
The problem I really have with HK<->Ferguson is that a lot of supporters of the HK protestors have been circulating this photo:
Do you see what’s problematic about this? It gives the Hong Kong protesters a good rep but it does so at the expense of pretty much every other protest that has happened or is happening- including Ferguson.
There’s also this article which has been going around a lot too.
Read between the lines. When people say “Look at these people who are getting hurt by the police even though they clean up after themselves and don’t cause vandalism, etc” they’re also saying “You only deserve civil treatment from the police/ government if you behave civil”. When the Ferguson Protests happened, a common argument that people used to justify the Police Brutality was that the protests were causing looting and vandalism. The Ferguson Protesters DESERVED police brutality was what they were basically saying.
Plus, the reason behind the strong bond created between the people of Ferguson and Gaza is not just because of “police brutality”. It goes deeper than that. It goes into White Supremacy and Western Imperialism. It goes into the systematic connections between Black Genocide (The Prison Industrial Complex, Stop and Frisk) and the Israeli Apartheid. I recommend these two posts if you haven’t read them already.
The situation in HK is slightly connected to that, when it comes to Western Imperialism and infringement on Civil Rights, but all in all it’s not as linked as Ferguson and Gaza are. Until the HK protestors themselves decide that they stand in solidarity with Ferguson, we can’t call that solidarity.
Crowd of protestors in Hong Kong.
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My friend Maggie, at the young age of 34, just found out she has a twin, and now it’s up to all of us to help her find them!
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Unlearning How White People Ask Personal Questions
When I met my fiance’s African-American stepfather, things did not start well. Stumbling for some way to start a conversation with a man whose life was unlike mine in almost every respect, I asked “So, what do you do for a living?”.
He looked down at his shoes and said quietly “Well, I’m unemployed”.
At the time I cringed inwardly and recognized that I had committed a terrible social gaffe which seemed to scream “Hey prospective in-law, since I am probably going to be a member of your family real soon, I thought I would let you know up front that I am a completely insensitive jackass”. But I felt even worse years later when I came to appreciate the racial dimension of how I had humiliated my stepfather-in-law to be.
For that painful but necessary bit of knowledge I owe a white friend who throughout her childhood attended Chicago schools in a majority Black district. She passed along a marvelous book that helped her make sense of her own inter-racial experiences. It was Thomas Kochman’s Black and White Styles in Conflict, and it had a lasting effect on me. One of the many things I learned from this anthropological treasure trove of a book is how race affects the personal questions we feel entitled to ask and the answers we receive in response.
My question to my wife-to-be’s stepfather was at the level of content a simple conversation starter (albeit a completely failed one). But at the level of process, it was an expression of power. Kochman’s book sensitized me to middle class whites’ tendency to ask personal questions without first considering whether they have a right to know the personal details of someone else’s life. When we ask someone what they do for a living for example, we are also asking for at least partial information on their income, their status in the class hierarchy and their perceived importance in the world. Unbidden, that question can be quite an invasion. The presumption that one is entitled to such information is rarely made explicit, but that doesn’t prevent it from forcing other people to make a painful choice: Disclose something they want to keep secret or flatly refuse to answer (which oddly enough usually makes them, rather than the questioner, look rude).
Kochman’s book taught me a new word, which describes an indirect conversational technique he studied in urban Black communities: “signifying”. He gives the example (as I recall it, 25 years on) of a marriage-minded black woman who is dating a man who pays for everything on their very nice dates. She wonders if he has a good job. But instead of grilling him with “So what do you do for a living?”, she signifies “Whatever oil well you own, I hope it keeps pumping!”.
Her signifying in this way is a sensitive, respectful method to raise the issue she wants to know about because unlike my entitled direct question it keeps the control under the person whose personal information is of interest. Her comment could be reasonably responded to by her date as a funny joke, a bit of flirtation, or a wish for good luck. But of course it also shows that if the man freely chooses to reveal something like “Things look good for me financially: I’m a certified public accountant at a big, stable firm”, he can do so and know she will be interested.
Since reading Kochman’s book, I have never again directly asked anyone what they do for a living. Instead my line is “So how do you spend your time?”. Some people (particularly middle class white people) choose to answer that question in the bog standard way by describing their job. But other people choose to tell me about the compelling novel they are reading, what they enjoy about being a parent, the medical treatment they are getting for their bad back, whatever. Any of those answers flow just as smoothly from the signification in a way they wouldn’t from a direct question about their vocation.
From the perspective of ameliorating all the racial pain in the world, this change in my behavior is a grain of sand in the Sahara. But I pass this experience along nonetheless, for two reasons. First, very generally, if any of us human beings can easily engage in small kindnesses, we should. Second, specific to race, if those of us who have more power can learn to refrain from using it to harm people in any way – major or minor — we should do that too.