The Amerasian is first conceived as some sort of “problem” in many people’s minds.
Soon, it, like all other labels of selves and communities and fictional nations, becomes an identity. Identity is political. There are positions, juxtapositions, conflicts. It’s a given, especially when it concerns a history of takeover, of overrun, of using and controlling nations. Call it “peace.”
The first reaction, therefore, may be to view the “happy Amerasian” as the goal.
In both of these, there is an unchanging state, an unchanging global racism and sexism, an unchanging violence. This violence is neither natural or foregone. But in any case, the issue of releasing an Amerasian identity from its conceptually framed configurations within a system of violence, goes largely unnoticed.
The American things of “picking oneself up by our bootstraps” is alive and well in the context of individualism and activism unconcerned with things outside of one’s comfort or identity. I hope that with these posts, I can make an inroad into re-thinking this.
Internalized oppression, which all of us practice and carry, is a part of being in the world as assimilated. Extreme individualism is extreme American assimilation. So this won’t allow any of us to excuse ourselves from the worlds we live in and are also not aware of. It is all LINKED. We must be accountable to our complicity. Let’s see that a change here can be changes somewhere else. An Amerasian life or two, are linked to your life, no matter who you are.
We live in worlds that were structured before you were born. You were raised in it. What of this and human rights? Is your happiness linked with this somehow?
If one is American, it is often automatic to read social justice issues and concerns through the prism of individualism and/or government/vs. people paradigms. Or perhaps through a morality that is so-called “self-evident.” Often compassion is condescending and has a certain kind of order, hierarchy. From on high, down. Then social justice, and caring and compassion, are practiced through that hierarchy. For there to be real change, the structure needs to be examined. The structure, the questioned aspects of caring and being cared for, desire and comfort, safety, good, and suffering, must be toppled.
At any moment, creativity may enter at that point where these structures are disturbed and gone, and moment arrives when we create care and love in a paradigm that doesn’t solidify and maintain the archeologies of injury, annihilation, disfigurement and defeat. Care and love, accountable, empowered, more attentive to diversity and difference in the world (not just in some group’s powerhead of control).
When we look at the role of European colonization and the creation of the United States through centuries of pillaging and killing, torture and assimilation and wealth production through various forms of coercion and mental colonization, then the creation of the hierarchy of the United Nations, the hierarchies of nations, is not a surprise.
In those nations and lands, whether before or during colonization and globalization, there were practices of domination that were in place, each land, region and cultural group and sub-groups in varying relations of power. Imperialism pre-dates colonialism. Globalization is a neo-colonialism. Often today, it is done transnationally beyond the borders of land and nation. Land, then, is distanced. Through internet structures, through socio-economic laws and contracts and deals and violences unseen by most, there is sometimes a false notion that colonialism is in the past. There is also a notion that most of us in the United States are not colonized. I’m talking about mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
In this configuration, if we are to take this rather harsh and simplified example, nations that practice land or blood notions of citizenship, can be seen as lesser, as not-modern, not-yet, depending on the system in which one’s system espouses–often without question. In the United States, particularly, where one is born an American if born within the borders of the United States, it accommodates the notion of a transracial promise. “Anyone” can be an American.
In Japan, Korea, and other lands of the world, what determines a national citizen is the father’s blood lineage. If one’s father is of that land/nation, then the child born in that father’s lineage is a citizen of the father’s land.
Now let us look at a major issue in the human rights abuses of Amerasians.
The United States ignores, by-in-large, children born of U.S. men–mostly of the U.S. military and stationed in the Pacific region, and local women of the Pacific nations, and left in Asia without those fathers present. There are an estimated two million (2,000,000) children and young people in Asia, although this is a low estimate based on little research-gathering in the Asian countries combined.
The Asian nations, by-in-large, abuse and exclude these same children in their own lands. In places such as South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Okinawa, and Japan, among others, the children are viewed as foreign, as American, even though these children have never left their land and have not known anything called “America” in their lives. When they speak the local language–their own language, they are sometimes hated even more.
Americans view these nations as racist and therefore should take care of them because these children are on their land.
The Asian nations view these children as American and therefore are the responsibility of America.
Now, from the legal point of view:
In these Asian nations, since the father is not a person of their land’s lineage, they are not citizens of their nation.
In the U.S., they are not born in the U.S. and therefore are not U.S. citizens. In some cases, if the paternity can be “proven” by the American “father,” then they may get a chance to apply for U.S. citizenship.
When the U.S. was an occupying nation after World War II or the Korean War, or the Vietnam War, the mixed-race children were reminders of the enemy and therefore intensely excluded and projections of hatred put upon the Amerasian bodies. Since those wars, the U.S. bases have remained and different generations view U.S. occupation as not particularly serious, from certain points of view. This may be because the behavior of the U.S. servicemen have changed from a postwar racist dominance idea to the more idealistic and democratic ideals allowed to grow after decades of war have ended. However, the position of the U.S. as dominant is still unquestioned. Otherwise, why is the U.S. still there with the military, in places where much of the citizenry do not want the U.S. bases there?
The local elites of these nations are also divided. Many of these leaders feel they need the Americans to protect them from future possible retaliations and invasion. For instance, fear of China’s growing military might is making Japan, Korea and Vietnam nervous. The U.S. as well. As we speak, across most of the Pacific, including California, Japan, Guam, Hawaii, South Korea and the Philippines, there is an intense movement of U.S. weapons and military goods are being added, often displacing locals from their own lands. But this is not in the U.S. media or the local ones. Why?
In this quagmire are the mixed-race offspring, left with their mothers. They are not considered citizens. They are stateless. What does this mean? Many things. But the main one I want to mention here is the lack of human rights. There is no appeal to local governments that is official and therefore assisting in relieving Amerasians and their families, who struggle through societal abuses. From governments, there is only apology and often being told to “ask the American government.” Of course, Americans don’t see this as an American issue. If so, it is to push the Asian governments to become “more democratic” and be concerned about Amerasians. Often, this attitude angers the Asian nations further because it is a form of racism, as well as an implied sexism (uncaring for different women’s lives in patriarchal systems of dominance.
So where shall this lead? It is up to people. The elites have largely refused to think on this issue or have thought of it and made their positions clear. In the middle lay these women’s lives, the children’s lives. In the future, this means people who grow up with resentment, rage, and isolation. The desire for America is also implanted, keeping the hierarchy of races and nations in tact. I do not desire this hierarchy.
Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that assimilation is desired and not painful. Let us not fool ourselves that this has more to do with how people and structures must struggle with difference without incorporation and cooptation as a dominant model. What is self-determination?
A “happy Amerasian” in America, singing and making money and raising a family—aaaahh this is happiness. No amount of happiness, really, will erase what has gone on. If one is born in the U.S. and hasn’t thought of much of this, does ignoring and not knowing, then, bring about some kind of condescending “pity” for those others like me and then on I go to ignore the issues of the ongoing violence that is creating cultures and relations?
What kind of societies will we have in the future?
Posted in: Amerasian アメラジアン, bụi đời, Commentary, con lai, De-colonization, emancipatory social justice, ethnic cleansing, Hapa, human rights, Intergenerational, Internalized Oppression, Mỹ lai, Neo-colonization, người lai, orphans, Patriarchy, Photograph, Racism, Sexism, Social Justice, transcontinental sexism, transpacific racism, transpacific sexism, U.S. military bases, women