Dream of the Water Children: The Black Pacific

IMPORTANT NEW BOOK: Sanitized Sex (Sex Work & the Occupation of Japan)

Description from Amazon: Sanitized Sex analyzes the development of new forms of regulation concerning prostitution, venereal disease, and intimacy during the American occupation of Japan after the Second World War, focusing on the period between 1945 and 1952. It contributes to the cultural and social history of the occupation of Japan by investigating the intersections of ordering principles like race, class, gender, and sexuality. It also reveals how sex and its regulation were not marginal but key issues in postwar empire-building, U.S.-Japanese relations, and American and Japanese self-imagery. The regulation of sexual encounters between occupiers and occupied was closely linked to the disintegration of the Japanese empire and the rise of U.S. hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region during the Cold War era. Shedding new light on the configuration of postwar Japan, the process of decolonization, the postcolonial formation of the Asia-Pacific region, and the particularities of postwar U.S. imperialism, Sanitized Sex offers a reading of the intimacies of empires—defeated and victorious.

 

Mizuko – and Negishi Cemetery

a headstone at Negishi Cemetery. Photo from Debito.org credited to “CF.”

 

In 1853, Commodore Perry intruded the Japanese and Okinawan islands with demands, and finally landing and then the following year again, after repeated threats and failed negotiations with the Japanese Bakufu, demanded a gravesite for one of their sailors who died on board one of the American ships. This was the birth of the Yokohama Foreign General Cemetery in Kanagawa Prefecture,  just down the road from the future famous Elizabeth Saunders Home for Mixed Race Children, which was a well-known place where mixed-race babies were given up to during the World War II era. During subsequent years, through many battles with Russian and Chinese military, as well as trade relations, the number of foreigners dying in Japan, alongside Japanese soldiers, became too large and the cemetery grew to house the graves of many kinds of foreigners in Japan.

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Mixed & Objections – Thoughts

Occasionally, as people may guess, I get emails, or messages in my FB messages, and comments in response to my posts on Facebook, that object to and criticize my posts that “lean” toward “being against white people” or “being against Japanese people” or “being against black people.” In a world of words, and I–being a person who distrusts words but must use words to communicate certain things, it is hard to navigate what I consider to be colonized relations.  This includes how we use words, and how we *listen* or *hear* and how we filter and project. In social relations, our words and ideas as well as our ideals, are mixed up with personal feelings, kinds of traumas we’ve experienced, attachments and commitments in our subconscious, and how willing we are to change or to look at ourselves, as well as our ethical and moral dispositions. Yes, we are not simple beings. From all sides, people who are married to their own ideas of self (and cannot see difference), will accuse, accuse, accuse.

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Legacies – WASHINGTON POST 2015 – by Annie Gowen and Linda Davidson

This is an excellent, full article by Annie Gowen, with photos by Linda Davidson, in the Washington Post, dated April 17, 2015, entitled: Legacies of War: Forty Years After The Fall of Saigon, Soldiers’ Children are Still Left Behind. Click on the title to go to the article.

The Amerasians usually written about, are still being written about, from the dawn of men who travel and spend time in Asia, away from their domestic lives in the United States and elsewhere, to create babies and as often is the case, abandon them, with their mothers, in that homeland.  The Vietnam-Southeast Asia War is the latest, and perhaps most remembered of the Asian Wars in which Amerasians are mentioned, and usually languaged as a “social issue” or a “social problem.” Through this language, in the United States and in Southeast Asia, the “Amerasian” is rendered tragic and objects of literary skills that lock Amerasians into their caste positions to be scorned and left “tragic” and “obscure;” for stories like this to be repeated, and for nation-states and American militaries to continue with the conditions that give birth to, in purposeful ways, the maintaining of sufferings that most people seem to care less about.

This article is excellent, tracing new developments such as DNA testing, which allows Amerasian orphans such as those told in these pages, some hope to find their long-lost families, hoping to rise out of the conditions of poverty and longing in which they are forced because of Vietnam (and other Asian nations) entitling themselves to abuse, exclude, and demote the Amerasians and their mothers, to lowly status and to place them into lives of abject struggle. Their lives are not sad, but full of empowerment, strength, perseverance and skills so that they may survive and find. Some are successful in finding their lost fathers in the U.S., but may come to fierce rebuttals and the closing of doors on their hopes because their fathers, or their father’s spouses, won’t allow it. Others never find their fathers, while others find them and build new lives after their search is over, winding into new paths with or without their fathers bringing their relationship into a light that may grow. Military bases, sex, and the intercultural transactions made through bodies and minds, creating societies in far away places, that are directly related to the amount of suffering incurred on children and women, who then grow into teenagers and adults with certain experiences many cannot imagine and wish not to.  But perhaps some will read these stories, to understand the far-reaching consequences of war, occupation, and the concept of global military bases and the realities that American pleasures rest upon–the continuities and heartbreaks that must be, in these men and women’s lives, that seem so far away and yet our privileges are linked to.

Harbors

December 7th.  In any year, in the United States, it is memorialized.

Just what is memorialized?

Memory. . . . . . What is it? Memory of What?  For what?

pearl-harbor-mem-dayOf course.  We mourn. the loss.

Veterans of the U.S. military who were alive at the time, who experienced it, must remember it, perhaps simply to honor their friends and fellow military friends who perished, or whose lives were maimed.—But . . . . . . .

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“Babysan” by Bill Hume; and Japan Society Review by Kim Brandt

babysan-cover

 

One of the most interesting and revealing pieces of art and history, as well as what I think to be among the most “valuable” from the U.S.-Allied Occupation of Japan, is Bill Hume’s cartoon book: Babysan: A Private Look at the Japanese Occupation.

A great review of this book can be found at the Japan Society, written by Kim Brandt:

http://aboutjapan.japansociety.org/learning-from-babysan

This book gives a great glimpse into how American soldiers viewed their stay in Japan, as Occupiers, as boys who have left home, as military personnel, who were largely becoming intimate with a “Japan” through their relationships with their own ideas about “Oriental” women and Japanese women themselves. In my own work, I focus much on the more intense violent interactions in order to make points related to uneven relations, nation-building, and the tactics and thinking that create the will, desire, and the unspoken aspects of military occupation and empire-building in our world, whether past or present, and most likely the same building blocks that will be re-created in structural procedures and people’s minds in the future. Babysan looks at these these things in the intimate everyday, through their loneliness, need for affection and sex, and their position as conquerors, as male.

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In Order to Do Justice

Liberation - aboriginal

With an education system that teaches us to memorize certain facts, but not to analyze and think, and with a failing structure that deserts ethics and life itself, one does not have to be blind to see that there are incredible changes going on now that are disturbing our sense of peace and security.  For most of the world, there has not ever been “peace” and “security.”  The global cognitive dissonance is real. For Europeans, South and Central Americans, indigenous cultures, Asian nations, and almost everywhere, a rise in anger, confusion, and disillusionment is going on.  It speaks, from my point of view, at various levels of the success that the state (wherever and whichever) has had, in blinding people to the truths of history, culture, and certain factors of life.  In fact, there are many who will die with an understanding that war, victory, and narcissism are normal and perennial.

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Militarized Mama Amerasia – an International Women’s Day Reflection

Mama in our front yard in Albuquerque, New Mexico, circa 1972

Today, according to a few sources, there are an estimated two million Amerasians–children and adults of local women across Asia who have been sired by United Statian military and civilian men and abandoned by the men. If we are to include Ameri-Pacifics–those born in the Pacific and South Seas Islands, the numbers would, of course, be higher. Often, in these stories, the harrowing and rough stories of Amerasians are told, and must be continued to be told. But the stories of the mothers, are backgrounded.

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New Video posted on YouTube: “BLACK PACIFIC ELEGY”

Here is the second installment of my video series.

It is a visual poem.  Read, listen, feel, think.

Hopefully you will be curious, look up information and terms you don’t quite know or understand.

Be outraged?  Become more understanding? Curious?

Watch this in HD for the best view!

If you prefer VIMEO – the same video is here: https://vimeo.com/153967699

Controlling Amerasian Body-Minds: The American and French-Fathered Mixed-Race Children in Japan, Korea and Vietnam

amerasian-vietnam-2015-WshgtnPOST
Photo of Vietnamese Amerasians by Linda Davidson/Washington Post

 

 

For infants and children born to local mothers in Japan and Korea, fathered by U.S. military and civilian personnel during the U.S. occupation of these countries, their lives were not in their own or their mothers’ control. During U.S. occupations in Asia and the Pacific which began earlier—Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, the Mariana Islands, and the Solomon Islands—the same issues became prevalent, real, a struggle, continuing today.  It continues today because these places are still “occupied.” And then in the latest full-out colonial Cold War played out in Southeast Asia, the same for the children and their mothers. But let us not forget that before the U.S. arrived in Southeast Asia, the French colonized Indochina. They had state policies on how to control the issue of the Metís, as they were called by the French, which differed from the United Statians.

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