MANIFESTING SINCE FEBRUARY 27 AT 1:38 P.M.
Since being in Asia, I have notice that my self esteem has risen because I am treated as a person more often than not, and not as a skin color. In Japan, I noticed this when I came home on visits. Things that would be racists in nature or just ‘business as usual’ would not upset me. I could blow it off because I now knew how it felt to be treated with respect. But it was inevitable that I would encounter some familiar themes in race relations during my time in Japan. Ironically, I always experienced them when dealing with Japanese who 1) had spent time in a Western country or 2) had a lot of white western friends. I could be lax in my anger when dealing with the attitude I encountered, dismissing it as ignorance or whatever. Where I was less forgiving was the racism I encountered from my peers. It would dig deep under my skin that even thought it was proven, de facto of my being there with them, that I was not what who ever told them what about blacks. This would cause me to have occasional bouts of self doubt because I wonder if I was more concerned with being accepted rather than me dealing with authentic racism.
This week I have been dealing with more racism than I have care to or have been aware of. Beginning with being told by a man, that I wasn’t’t attractive because I was born with black skin.(He should take that one up with God, since I have no control over that. Nor the money to change it) to the images I see in stores, and the unspoken stuff that is in the conversations between myself and someone who’s Taiwanese. In the old days, having dark skin marked you as a person who worked outdoors, therefore marked you as lower class. This still holds true today, as old beliefs die hard. You will see ladies who work in the streets, bundled in clothing to protect them from the sun, even on the hottest days in Taiwan. Skin whiting products are everywhere in stores and on TV some model with near ivory skin is the epitome of beauty. Suddenly my rage has come to surface, and I find myself snapping at everyone, and very suspicious of every Taiwanese I encounter. Old wounds have been reopened and I’m feeling a “cussin out” coming on. But before I go that route, I asked my language exchange partner for some insight.
To ask for insight on why the Taiwanese have racist beliefs(or any face-losing subject) is akin to talking about that big pink ass elephant in the middle of the living room. After much prodding, he finally gave me the answer I was either looking for or something to shut me up. He told me that most of the Taiwanese take their cue from the West, particularly American culture. Alas, as far as I go, I seem not to be able to remove my grasp from it’s racial tentacles, yet it undeniable. I see it when I go to the night clubs, where Taiwanese boys dress like 50 cent, Snoop Dogg, etc and give me a nod and shake my hand like I’m a brother meeting another brother from da hood. I see it in their newspapers, in the sport section where the cartoon icons for the articles, have big lips, afros, dark skin-updated versions of sambo. Or recently in the news where an African was divorced from his Taiwanese wife after 2 years because ‘he was verbally abusing her’. Be that as it may, whether he was or not, having such an mundane activity in the news was their way to send a message to other Taiwanese girls about the dangers of being involved with blacks.
When I lived in Kaoshiung, I would occasionally watch MTV and noticed how much rap and hip hop was being played here. At first I was impressed, but then seeing how the TW interpreted that culture it began to wear on me and piss me off. I wanted to strangle someone and it wasn’t the TW. It was more like Puffy Daddy and clan because I could see the impact of the portrayals of blacks in these videos were having on blacks in the real world. For a race of people who don’t have vast amount of experience with dealing with blacks, they will take whatever is given to them. So, image having to deal their own beliefs combined with western beliefs via movies,videos or politics grounding itself deeper with time. I think I would fare better at a blue blood, old money republican family reunion than here sometimes. I realized that it is our responsibility as to how we are represented in the world. I can do my best to present another side of the coin, but I feel it’s a two steps forward and 10 steps back when you add in majority thought to the equation.
Blacks aren’t the only ones being singled out for this treatment. Ask any foreigner here, and they can tell you their own experience. Fact is Taiwan is an incredibly race/color conscious society. They even differentiate very distinctly between people of similar ethnic origin (sic). Yet, they are very resistant to acknowledging this reality. They find it okay to use stereotypical icons and ideals to represent foreigners or foreign ideas as if to supplement their low esteem or to sell their products. Problem is they can’t take it when it’s dished out to them. Point in case. Last Friday, I saw “Dodgeball” with a friend. The movie humorously and visually explains that dodgeball is an ancient game invented by the Chinese(who came up with idea while doing opium. The idea was to use decapitated heads as the ball. The entire theater was silent, expect for myself, my friend and a few other people(probably foreigners) who found this hilarious. Why couldn’t they have a good laugh at themselves I wondered? Maybe its because they could be so wrapped up in the belief that ‘they’ aren’t the outsiders, that it’s hard to see their own behavior mirrored back to them. I have yet to hear of any complaints about that part.