Some Things I Heard This Week

For your enjoyment:

Chink (not directed at me)
God Hates Fags and he hates you too (directed at me)
If you make a move on her, I will kill you, because I love her (said in an Austrian accent to me).

Isn't life grand?

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Some things I head this

Some things I head this week:

-Wtf, look, they just turned up in blackface... (PrivateSchoolBoys at a Bollwood-themed Law stein)
-Uh, I know your sister's 15 but I really think you should bring her along.
-Rememer when I said they couldn't kick us out?...They kinda can.

*
Does anyone think that our generation is way more sensitive to slurs than the next hyphenated littlies? I know my sister would care way less if someone was racist/ sexist/ homophobic towards her than me.

Sometimes I think it's all a little bit wanky crying out for the right label...why do we need other people to call us something different if they may be the same people calling us something very non-PC in their heads?

Thanks! I didn't think it

Thanks! I didn't think it was. That was an interesting thread. What we call ourselves can be so confusing. I mostly stick to Native American, but know that some don't like that and prefer First Nations, American Indian, Aboriginal, or their nation/tribe.

Sorry to hear that, dr

Sorry to hear that, dr anonymous. If I meet these people, I hope I get around to punching them in the face.

"desi" hegemonic? perhaps

"desi"
hegemonic? perhaps (see here)
derogatory? not that I've ever heard

I sometimes get the feeling

I sometimes get the feeling while speaking with or typing online to white allies that they are clueless to just how pervasive racism is in America. They don't understand that it is often a daily experience or at least weekly for us. Alot of times the one I want to throttle isn't the racist, it's a friend who tells me that I shouldn't be upset over a minor incident. Well, that "minor" incident might be the last straw in a week of many many "minor" incidents for me.

OT. I was reading another blog and someone in comments said that she thinks that desi is a derogatory term. I doubt it, since Desi Italiana uses it in her handle, but maybe she is being ironic? So I couldn't answer. The blog is here. Is it or could it be?

I'm totally on board with

I'm totally on board with Donna's comment. Often, the derogatory remark hurts than the feeling of being marginalized, being made invisible by being told that we're being "overly sensitive" and that it's more productive to let it go. It's as though the assumption is that if it's not an overtly horrible act of discrimination, it doesn't really count.

Vivek: If I meet these

Vivek:

If I meet these people, I hope I get around to punching them in the face.

#1 is actually a fairly cool guy that I work with and it was just jarring to hear the Indian use of "chink"--which totally threw me off. Cognitive dissonance. We haven't talked about it other than when I sarcastically pointed out that he was using the wrong racial slur because he was referring to a Korean public figure.

#2 I almost punched in the face. Then I handled it with humor and by being really, really nice to the guy. He apologized to me the next day and gave me a hug.

#3 I was terrified of. I slept with my hands by my side and a foot and a half between me and the woman. The guy apologized to me the next day, but I'm still scared :)

Donna: Don't assume everyone is in the U.S.

Tash:

Sometimes I think it’s all a little bit wanky crying out for the right label.

It's a fine balance, right? On the one hand, the PCness is used to actually prevent people from engaging in real dialogue about racism and other issues or to provide a guise for corporate power structures or other such things. On the other hand, sometimes speech IS an action (to put it in grossly liberal terms) that can have ramifications, emotional and otherwise. And somewhere in between those two things is generally where we live.

Donna: I was reading another

Donna:

I was reading another blog and someone in comments said that she thinks that desi is a derogatory term. I doubt it, since Desi Italiana uses it in her handle, but maybe she is being ironic?

Hello!

No, I'm not being ironic. I have an ambiguous feeling about the word "desi": on the one hand, I do think that the term "Desi" slides into a hegemonic usage, referring primarily to Indians. And really, you could apply that to the term South Asian as well: India is collapsed into South Asia, and most of the "South Asianism" is actually Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladesh. You rarely hear about the other countries in South Asia, and even then, it's usually from an Indo-centric point of view.

On the other hand, from my own familial experiences, I grew up hearing my parents refer to anybody from Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as "desi". I realize that others don't apply such a liberal interpretation, despite their best intentions.

But "desi" being derogatory? Nope. But if you call me a "coconut," "brownie," the n-word (which I heard quite a few times growing up) or a racial slur, then that's derogatory as hell.

***

Tash:

Does anyone think that our generation is way more sensitive to slurs than the next hyphenated littlies?

I think maybe you might see it that way because of the current political and social climate. But I think that others before our generation were equally sensitive to other slurs, such as "chinks," the n-word, "japs" and so on. We just don't see it or have been exposed to it due a variety of reasons: maybe it was before our time, the current geopolitical climate isn't making certain people into boogeymen, causing people to come up with inventive ways to denigrate groups of people. I don't really think it's a generational issue in terms of a human being getting sensitive and pissed off at degrading, demeaning, and dehumanizing words.

On the other hand, I think one of the differences our generation has is this PC culture in the West. I have often found PCness to be a way that allows white middle class liberals to retain their racism without coming off as racists. PCness can also mask racism. In other words, PCness doesn't actually do away with racism; it permits racism to have other expressions.

On the other hand, calling someone a racial slur is downright messed up. Getting mad at something like that isn't a cry for PCness or an attempt at being PC, it's about not being dehumanized.

Donna: Don’t assume everyone

Donna: Don’t assume everyone is in the U.S.

ARGH! I recently posted that I have a tendency to be blind to my colonial privilege as an American/Canadian and there you go pointing it out to me. I did assume everyone was either American or Canadian. I am trying harder to be more aware of it, but obviously not trying hard enough.

Tash Does anyone think that

Tash

Does anyone think that our generation is way more sensitive to slurs than the next hyphenated littlies? I know my sister would care way less if someone was racist/ sexist/ homophobic towards her than me.

I think this often has more to do with the degree of politicization and the extent to which one feels shame/embarrassment in regards to a racial incidence. For example, in high school I was loathe to talk about my experiences of racism, though they were constant and plenty, due to both the shame associated with that experience as well as a desire not to be perceived as someone with a 'chip on their shoulder.'

At this point, I'm not sure how and why I react to certain racial experiences in certain ways. I have lived places (Prague) in which race is a direct physical threat to my body and racism is obvious and violent. I have also lived places (American Northeast) where racism is often (but certainly not always) subtle and couched in politically correct language (after high school). I have also been places in which racism is obvious and direct, though I didn’t feel physically threatened (American South).

They are all frustrating for different reasons. But at this point, since race has not been a threat in absolute physical terms since I left Prague (a little under three years ago), I would say that I have the greatest problem dealing with the subtle politically correct racism of the Northeast. At least in the third example (American South) I could return the dirty look, bitch out the offending remark or just flat out call someone a racist. I have heard many southerners remark that in the South people actually 'know what the word racist means.' Some people are avowedly racist and others are not, but the actual term has some content that people will not always refuse to identify with. Whereas in the Northeast, nobody thinks that they are a racist, which often produces a subtly articulated racism that leaves one angry but unable to respond. This also puts the burden of explaining your frustration and anger in terms other than 'he just called me a fucking towel head/cow worshipper/terrorist etc.,' which often leads to well intentioned white friends saying things like 'its not a big deal,' 'don’t worry about it,' ‘I don’t understand.’ Basically, obvious racism elicits more sympathy and solidarity.

To go back to the original comment, I have for the most part stopped really caring when I face obvious racism that does not provoke physical fear. I can deal with someone hurling racial epithets quite well. What I cannot deal with is more subtle forms of racism, for example when an individual reduces a long discussion (for example on racism) to an 'emotional reaction,' thus counterpoising himself, the 'rational white man' to me, the 'emotional irrational brown man.' Those are the kinds of actions that send me spiraling into rage, that provoke an image of my fist and their face.

To respond to your generational question....well, how old is your sister? Sometimes I think that actually, people about 10 years older than me (I'm 22), are much more sensitive to blatant racial comments and are much more likely to be 'politically correct' (and even if they recognize the problems with political correctness, they will still use the politically correct term and frown on racial humour). Maybe its because the discourse on political correctness was much more normalized by the time that I went to school, maybe it has something to do with how racism against brown people has changed post-Sept 11th...I'm not quite certain. Nor would I really defend this observation about those half a generation older, because it’s made on quite shaky ground that I don’t have much commitment to. But I would be interested in hearing everybody's reactions.

ARGH! I recently posted that

ARGH! I recently posted that I have a tendency to be blind to my colonial privilege as an American/Canadian and there you go pointing it out to me. I did assume everyone was either American or Canadian. I am trying harder to be more aware of it, but obviously not trying hard enough.

omg, you're adorable :) It's okay.

Anyway, imo the importance is not really in your own feelings about "colonial privilege," which are for you to work out, as much as showing people respect for existing (though obviously connected etc. etc.). Don't burn yourself out censoring your own attitudes at the cost of ignoring the world around you.

gah, you got the "god hates

gah, you got the "god hates fags" people? the original Phelps clan, or have they started a franchise now?

Sometimes I think that

Sometimes I think that actually, people about 10 years older than me (I’m 22), are much more sensitive to blatant racial comments and are much more likely to be ‘politically correct’ (and even if they recognize the problems with political correctness, they will still use the politically correct term and frown on racial humour).

I'm about 10 years older than you, give or take, and I've noticed generational shifts too--from people above me who are about 7-10 years older than me, both South Asian and Asian. A good example is how Harold and Kumar is received--people who embrace it who are about my age are moronic (making exceptions for geography/personal experience...see below)--people who embrace it who are a little older than I am tend to speak about it as a revelation for themselves to see an Asian and a South Asian in roles like that. They're still looking for the politics of recognition (Nancy Fraser), which is totally legitimate in my mind. It just doesn't do much for me :) The same analysis might apply to something like Namesake and Jhumpa Lahiri in general--she's about the 10-year-older-than-me age group I'm describing, and she rights in the more closed-off, appeal to the mainstream way that a lot of people my age rail against.

My other point is banal: a lot of people who grew up in different areas of the U.S., at least, have different experiences with racism and recognition. I'm not sure what it was like in Nebraska, frankly, or even in a hub of South Asians like Houston or Los Angeles (Los Angeles less so). Hell, I don't even know what it was like in Queens. So some--but not all--of the the "generational" shifts are primarily rooted in personal experience with the culture around during the time of identity formation.

Which, as we know from this blog, lasts from about age 13 to death for most ABCDs.

And yes, I said ABCDs, not ABDs. Deal with it.

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