Dream of the Water Children: The Black Pacific

Human Zoos: Subconscious Global Color Lines

African mother and child in the African exhibit in Paris.
African mother and child in the African exhibit in Paris.

 

One of the strongest global collective memories, still operating in our world today as “the global color line between white and other,” is the Human Zoo.

These “zoos” were planned and constructed to exhibit “aborigines,” native “tribal” peoples, and “indigenous” darker-skinned peoples from around the world, for white and white wanna-be people to be amused and entertained and “discovered” by. Often, they were just added exhibits to existing animal zoos.

From the Asia-Pacific and Pacific Islands, African, European and American continents, the white formation of a “world” was being formed via the consolidating of global mapping and human social ordering through race science (white at the top) and the self-structures of modernity (future-oriented and primitivity connected to the past, ecology and less rational), through which the assumptions of superiority and inferiority are silently or overtly proven.  From Burun and Aeta people of Formosa (Taiwan), Igorot from the Philippines, Native American tribes including Inuit and Sioux from North America,The Sami of Finland, Egyptian and Congo tribal peoples, and many others, were exhibited.

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Dewayne Everettsmith, Aboriginal Singer

Dewayne Everettsmith is one of the most popular singer-songwriters in Australia today. He speaks and sings passionately to the continuing struggles of his people and brings light to the histories that he feels people must know, and to pay tribute to the ancestors and the lands that birthed him and the Aboriginal peoples on the Australian continent and the diaspora.  The song is entitled: Melaythina, and is available on I-Tunes. Here is the quote from the music video: “celebrating the Tasmanian Aboriginal people’s connection to Country. This is an edited version of a song written by Roger Sculthorpe, Heather Sculthorpe, June Sculthorpe, Chris Mansell, Di Cook and Theresa Sainty from the Tasmanian Aboriginal community and sung in palawa kani, Tasmanian Aboriginal language to school students on a TMAG program.”

Aboriginal Music Group from Australia: Black Arm Band

 

Black Arm Band is a group of some of the best-known music artists of Aboriginal Australia. Their piece: Dirtsong, giving homage to Australia’s land and spirit, has won worldwide acclaim.

If one understands the destruction of the Aboriginal communities that are ongoing in Australia, from the colonial period and continuing through today, we can understand the intense feelings, connected to land and memory, invoked in these presentations that have touched millions around the world.

Scars: Inter-generational Perpetration

 

Ginza 1951 - Men's Shoes - Werner Bischof
Black-American soldier waiting for a shoe shine by Japanese in the Ginza district of Japan during the Occupation of Japan, 1951. One should think of what this means for people and cultures. Photo: Men’s Shoes – Werner Bischof

 

Currently, there are many articles regarding the passing down of trauma in DNA. I am particularly focusing on trauma as a result of war, genocide, mass violence, and social oppression leading to refugee-making and exile, as well as such things as domestic violence. Inter-generational trauma is real. I did not need a scientific research paper to tell me this. However, as usual, I find that this kind of research, and these kinds of articles, have contradictory effects, like mostly everything in public life. Especially, if it has to do with oppression. Thinking about my own life, and the trajectories from what I know of my father’s life and mother’s life, and their parents’ and the conditions through which they survived and thrive, I see many issues, but I want to discuss five (5) distinct ones first, in relation to this “thing” we are beginning to mainstream: intergenerational trauma, the internal scars passed through time. The five I want to mention here are:

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Blog-post by Mark Makino – on the Japanese term: “Gaikoku-Jin” which translates: “Outsider-foreigner”

Mark Makino‘s post on the embedded aspects of race, nation, colonialism, and Japanese identity in the term: Gaikoku-Jin (Outsider-Foreigner):

Foreign? Western? White? Non-Japanese? Occidental proboscis monsters?

https://futurealisreal.wordpress.com/2016/09/07/foreign-western-white-non-japanese-occidental-proboscis-monsters/

Black, Yellow, White in Japan and Asia

JPN - Black Sambo - Ufu and Mufu - Robert Moorehead
Black Sambo characters: Ufu and Mufu, popular in Japan – photo by Robert Moorehead

 

My need to think about Blackness in Asia goes far beyond the fact of my father being an African-American soldier stationed in Japan during the Korean War. It goes beyond anti-Black attitudes among Asians that I have experienced, and the anti-Asian attitude I have experienced among African-Americans today. I knew that a superficial and very American notion of anti-black racism in the United States would not do to understand my own place in history and the languages I would use to uncover and do my part to undo its power in the world.

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Thailand Blackface

Advertising for making our skin white in Thailand.
Advertising for making our skin white in Thailand.

There is a blogpost posted by UndertheRopes from January of this year entitled: Blackface and Racism in Thailand.

Similar to Japan, China, and Korea, the specter of performing White dominance within a culture by presenting a ridicule and lower-positioned Black in the social fabric is alive across the world.

As anti-Asian racism is often ridiculed and trivialized, the intensities of anti-black entertainment and racism is highlighted as a path for a nation’s people to gain global currency and legitimacy.

The reason it is there is that the global system, created by colonial and post-colonial tools of nation-building, have within itself, wherever it may be, the anti-black, anti-brown, anti-red, and anti-yellow.

So in Asia, what we call yellow supremacy, is the social hierarchy where the East Asian “yellow” (the color assigned by westerners to the peril, danger, and strangeness of “the Orient”) is made close to white and valorizes “white” in their national consciousness.

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