TONIGHT! I will be reading journal excerpts from my first year in the US Navy as a gay man during Don’t Ask Don’t Tell - Including a play by play of how I lost my V-card with a fellow sailor. Come enjoy the show!
Making Out with Wes Perry and Friends
Wednesday February 20th at 8pm
The Upstairs Gallery in Andersonville
5219 N Clark St
FREE and BYOB! ($5 suggested donation)
December 22, 2010
Today, more than any other day,
I am proud to be serving in the US Armed Forces.
Camera: Polaroid SX-70
Film: Polaroid SX-70 Time Zero
(3/10 from my next-to-last box of last stock TZ film)
Learn about Filipino history!
The Filipino American Story via the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program
This is an important essay, and a very quick read. Everyone should find 2 minutes of their time to read this.
I don’t think that racism is defined only in terms of black and white. I also don’t think white supremacy is a simple vertical hierarchy with whites on top, black people on the bottom, and the rest of us in the middle.
So why do I expend so much effort on lifting up the oppression of black people? Because anti-black racism is the fulcrum of white supremacy.
Who is Mister Junior?
An Artist Profile by Kiam Marcelo Junio
Mister Junior (née Alberto Ramón Gutierrez) is a burlesque performer from New Mexico and currently in Chicago, who dances and strips his way into your heart. He is of mixed nationalities, bridging his Mexican heritage and American upbringing. He is in the company of Vaudezilla Burlesque and Productions, (named by Chicago Reader as “Best Burlesque 2011”).
What makes Mister Junior unique from any other male burlesque (often called “boylesque”) performer is his use of the art of burlesque to address larger conflicts. On the stage, his presence is commanding, eliciting cheers of excitement to see him remove the next garment. But it goes beyond this. Each of his acts seeks to question societal expectations of race and gender normativity and performance. He playfully adapts Hispanic stereotypes such as the Lover, the Bull/Bullfighter, and the expectations for a male body and subverts them before your eyes.
The second wave of feminism in the mid to late 20th century brought female empowerment into the social consciousness, asserting that women and men, though inherently different, should be treated as equals - that the woman’s place is not just behind the man, as a secretary, or housewife. That women have as much political, social, and sexual agency as men.
Today’s critical discourse surrounding gender and sexuality is no longer concerned with the binary distinction of male/female, but rather the blurring of these boundaries. Gender (a socially performed aspect of personality) is inherently different from sexuality (sexual attraction), and between these two tenets are infinite combinations.
Going to a burlesque show brings all of these issues into focus. On the stage, the performers take charge of their bodies, stripping garments to their own pace and desire to reveal their bodies, not as vulnerable submissions for public consumption, but rather as active assertions of power. Yes, these are breasts, and they are mine. Yes, these are curves, see what I can do with them? Yes, here is a male body, watch me fuck with your expectations.
Beyond the spectacle, Mister Junior uses the art of burlesque as a platform for addressing these social issues. How are Latinos stereotyped in the media? What is the difference between a man and a beast? Do puppets have agency? What makes a man, a woman, beautiful or sexy - can one use tools from the other, and still be as such?
Burlesque (which derives from the root “burla” or joke) is part parody, part caricature, part satire, in the format of a striptease. It began as an art form in the Victorian era, as an alternative to theater. In the 1860’s to the 1940’s, it gained popularity in cabarets, clubs, as well as theaters with its mix of comedy, dance, and striptease. The art remains true today in its current format, usually as a variety show, in which singers, comedians, magicians, and other entertainment acts punctuate the shows between stripteases.
If you’ve never been to a Burlesque show (and watching the Christina Aguilera movie does NOT count), I highly suggest going. If you’re in the Chicago area, check out Mister Junior and Vaudezilla.com for upcoming shows.
Every Asian-nay-everyone should read this.
(Inspired by the commentary on this post)
For the purposes of anti-racism struggles, that’s all you need to go by.
Yes, the term, “colored” is not normally associated with Asian people these days, but it was definitely used to label people of Asian descent in this country in the past. We have been and still are the targets of White racism:
Believing the fallacy that people of Asian descent are not authentically or legitimately ‘Colored’ or ‘People of Color’ is wrong because:
1) It ignores the long history of racial discrimination and persecution of Asians in the U.S. (e.g. the Chinese Exclusion Acts, the Japanese-American internment during WWII, explicit campaigns to drive Asians out of the American West, the lynching of Asian Americans. (Which is something that is not commonly known due to the fact that many Asian and Mexican victims of mob violence in the 19th c. were classified as ‘White’ in official records*)
2) It ignores the history of White European imperialism in Asian countries, which intersects with White racism against Asian immigrants in White-majority countries. I assure you that White imperialists certainly did not view Indians, Chinese, or Vietnamese as being anything other than ‘Colored’
Imperial map of Asia, source of map
White European man receiving a pedicure from South Asian servants
3) It plays into the White racist divide-and-conquer strategy.
Even a brief look at the history of race/ethnicity in U.S. law alone makes it apparent that a key aspect of White racism has been the classification of non-Whites according to (white-defined) categories.
Those hailing from Asia (as well as the Middle East, the Caribbean, and Latin America) have been legally categorized in a myriad of ways—very occasionally as White, but more often as non-White (e.g. Ozawa v. United States, United States v. Thind). In general, Asians have occupied a strange ethno-racial limbo as ‘Other’ (e.g. the Census prior to 1870). As far as Whites were concerned, Asians might not have been ‘Negros’, but we certainly weren’t White either. Our otherness made us targets for discrimination and violence, and—because our right to citizenship has constantly come under attack—we’ve historically had as little recourse to the protection of the law as African Americans have.
Massacre of the Chinese at White Springs, Wyoming (source)
Yes, Asian people have (somewhat more recently than you think) enjoyed certain perks due to our ethnicity/race compared to Black and AmerIndian people (e.g. ‘the model minority’). But that’s just a more recent aspect of the divide-and-conquer strategy, which the White hegemony has used to pit minorities against each other so as to distract us from the real problems facing our communities.
And yes, some Asian people are complete racist dicks to those who aren’t Asian or White, but that’s internalized White racism. If you’ve been kicked and beaten by your master for years, then suddenly given a few scraps from his table, would you throw them in his face? Or is it more likely that—as beaten down as you are—you’d give in to Stockholm Syndrome and play along? (To be clear: that’s an explanation for Asian racism, not an excuse.)
Even so, incidents of Anti-Asian bias (e.g. Vincent Chin, Wen Ho Lee) and straight-up racist violence occur frequently enough these days that Asians are hyper-aware of the fact that many—including non-whites—don’t view us as Americans, let alone ‘Colored’. We’re simply foreign ‘others’.
So if White is grudgingly treating you OK, while Black and Brown seem to hate and distrust you, then whom do you ally yourself with? More importantly, who benefits from this apparent alliance?
In the American black-white paradigm of race relations, ‘others’ like Asians get shit on no matter which side we’re on. So the Asian internalization of White racism makes a twisted kind of sense as a survival strategy, particularly if your natural allies (other victims of White racism) are treating you like foreigners and even equating you with the oppressor himself.
My point: Asians’ conflicted, sometimes tense, relations with African Americans and those who have been historically, categorically considered ‘Colored’ is an artifact of White racism. This means that if you exclude Asians from ‘Colored’ solidarity against White racism, you are reproducing a highly successful strategy of White racism.
Let that sink in for a minute.
To conclude: Anti-Asian exclusion from POC solidarity movements is ignorant, wrong, and just plain stupid. Asians’s current role as a prop of White racial supremacy is not our doing, just as our historic role as the foreign ‘Other’ is not our doing. The peculiar place of Asians in race relations today has been the result of the intersection of White racism, xenophobia, and imperialism. It is a mistake to think otherwise.
TL;DR: Questioning the identity of Asians as “people of color” reinforces White racial supremacy.