hello i am feeling lonely and weird and i can only see like 3 of m.i.a.’s music videos in china and i can’t access twitter so i am going to write a very long long post
my life is strange i’m going to new zealand in two weeks to start graduate school and i don’t have housing, i’m worried that i will be very bored or alienated and that it will be all white people, again, and whenever i try reading about dunedin they mention its “active drinking culture” ew ugh — i hate drinking — i have emails to catch up on but i am tired of my identity :
i am changing my name when i get to new zealand but i’m not sure if i will change it on the internet
shanghai is hard to be in, i wrote in an email to jane cope yesterday:
i’m having a pretty dysphoric relationship with shanghai and its history —- like i’m realizing that maybe it’s a really foreigner/outsider perspective to mourn the rapid rate of destruction and change and capitalization here, like the majority of people seem to like it, they like newness, westernization, modernity, kentucky fried chicken, or at least that’s the impression that i get and that the media portrays (i’ve read enough/seen enough documentaries to guess that some of the old-time shanghaiese who are getting their houses torn down and who are being forcibly displaced from the city don’t like it!), whereas it’s the white people who want shanghai to keep its “culture” and “history” and try to “rescue” beautiful old art deco houses (that were built by racist europeaners who were occupying the country against china’s wishes) by buying them, and it’s making me rethink my nostalgia, whether it’s a nostalgia that just wants shanghai to remain beautiful and historical for me. i am slowly giving up my urge to master this city. i am afraid to attach to this city because of what the newness means — awful boring capitalism and materialism — and because of what will go away. it makes me want to avoid it altogether. but i also don’t want to be a complacent expat who just sits at home and reads american theory. ah.
i’m also a little bit heartbroken because my partner fell in love with someone else and broke it to me in the stupidest way possible.
i think i thought i could avoid getting hurt by being in a polyamorous relationship — but he never read any of the zines and he didn’t think of me enough to tell me until two hours before i left the country, bye bye austin, i hate you — whatever —
are we going to be able to be in a postromantic friendship or am i going to cut him out of my life, sometimes i feel very very immature and i just want to cut everyone who has ever hurt me out of my life forever but then i’m so lonely: lonely is a word
and it’s hard to talk to my white friends about their white privilege and i’m afraid our friendship won’t withstand it
and i hate that heartbreak is the only trauma that my parents understand and they think that it’s way worse than it is, i hate the word trauma and sometimes i can’t stand to be in my own life
but i had a good conversation with my mom yesterday about how she feels like even though she and my dad lived in the united states for twenty years, they mostly stayed within the asian american community and never really tried to enter into the white social order, so they couldn’t have prepared me for weird white social hierarchies that existed at the university of chicago.
“maybe if you had decided to go into science or economics that wouldn’t have happened,” she said
and i think she’s right, why were the humanities so WHITE?
reading about history helps me imagine these alternate histories, like maybe if the Chinese Exclusion Act was never passed, the United States would be 10% Chinese rather than 1.2% Chinese, or maybe if they taught Cantonese in universities instead of Mandarin, I would have had more access to Chinese American communities in the cities that I visited. Did you know that Cantonese is the third most spoken language in the United States, after Spanish and English? But every university only teaches Mandarin: which exacerbates the class divide between those Chinese Americans who go to university and those Chinese Americans who don’t and, as Austin pointed out, poses the question for me as a choice between two empires, the Chinese empire or the American empire, rather than making the Chinese American community a viable third option. It makes me really motivated to learn Cantonese, which is such a cool language anyways. Especially since Keishi says that activists in Oakland have a lot of trouble reaching out to the Chinese American community, partly because the Chinese mayor is really good at supporting Chinatown interests, but probably also because of communication issues.
also my period hasn’t come since August 1 — and i went off birth control because i felt like it was making me depressed — so it’s back to monthly googling of pregnancy symptoms, i guess?
oh but i also want to tell you about what i am learning about feminist history from reading maylei blackwell’s chicana power: contested histories of feminism in the chicano movement. i love her concept of “retrofitted memory:”
Retrofitted memory is a form of countermemory that uses fragments of older histories that have been disjunctured by colonial practices of organizing historical knowledge or by masculinist renderings of history… . It draws from other Chicano cultural practices, such as the rasquache aesthetic, or customizing of cars, that use older parts (or what is spit out as junk in global capitalist forms of production and waste) to refine existing bodies or frameworks. (2)
i feel like this must have something in common with immigrant memory, too, like why am i only encouraged to think of “my” history as located in china, because my family tree is located in china, when actually there’s a huge history of immigrants coming from china / other asian countries, that’s a suppressed history, because the narrative of the twentieth century american history that gets told is a history of white actors. white white white. Lisa Lowe writes in The Power of Culture:
Historically and materially, Chinese, Japnese, Korean, Asian Indian, and Filipino immigrants have played crucial roles in the building and the sustaining of America; at certain times, these immigrants have been fundamental to the construction of the nation as a simulacrum of inclusiveness. Yet the project of imagining the nation as homogenous requires the oreintalist construction of cultures and geographies from which Asian immigrants come as fundamentally “foreign” origins antipathetic to the modern American society that “discovers,” “welcomes,” and “domesticates” them. A national memory haunts the conception of the Asian American, persisting beyond the repeal of actual laws prohibiting Asians from citizenship from 1943 to 1952 and sustained by the wars in Asia, in which the Asian is always seen as an immigrant, as the “foreigner-within,” even when born in the United States and the descendant of generations born here before…. the Asian American, even as a citizen, continues to be located outside the cultural and racial boundaries of the nation.
maybe this is the tension of the asian american identity (n.b. i still hate the term “asian american”): that we are the race that’s been allowed, in america, to participate in white society and brought in large numbers to participate in the white collar workforce (we aren’t targeted by the prison industrial complex; Amid decreasing interest in medicine among American college students due to high rates job dissatisfaction, loss of morale, stress, and lawsuits, Asian American immigrants maintained a supply of healthcare practitioners for millions of Americans. It is well documented that Asian American international medical graduates including highly skilled guest workers using the J1 Visa program for medical workers, tend to serve in health professions shortage areas (HPSA) and specialties that are not filled by US medical graduates especially primary care and rural medicine.Thus, Asian American immigrants play a key role in averting a medical crisis in the US. )
ok back to women of color’s erasure from feminist history. blackwell writes:
Similarly, the second wave women’s movement is periodized and constructed through a narrative of 1960s radical politics in which feminism is seen to emerge out of both the black civil rights movement and the New Left. Even women of color who were involved in the women’s movement such as Patricia Bell Scott and Helen Zia critique the homogenization and the whitewashing of the women’s liberation movement, which is a process of historicizing, not a historical process. Janet R. Jakobsen argues that this is a way of hegemonic feminism to project its exclusionary histories as being resolved in the past and to continually reenact this erasure through the process of periodization. Because of this erasure within the waves paradigm, women of color second wave feminist consciousness is often narrativized as happening in the 1980s. Fortunately, scholars have begun to locate different genealogies…
Finally, some scholars have removed women of color feminisms from the second wave altogether, instead marking their emergence as the beginning of the third wave of feminism in the United States… . To put them only in the third wave is to adopt the “add-on” method and understand these feminist traditions as emerging only in response to the racism of the feminism movement, which recenters hegemonic feminism instead of providing an understanding of the diverse historical impulses that gave rise to women of color feminisms. Further, by erasing women of color in the second wave we miss the ways in which, Springer argues, women of color organizations contributed to “broadening the scope of the women’s movemnet by challenging Eurocentric and classist interpretations of women’s issues.”
I wonder if this is why bell hooks is so popular / the woman of color feminist that I see cited most consistently? Because her position in Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center is often one of the “add-on,” speaking to a hegemonic white feminism as though it’s already been constructed that way, “adding on” considerations of race. I am so tired of being added on. Why do feminism and queer theory have a monopoly on discourses about marginality, and why are both of them so shitty at talking about race? I want a discourse in which I’m the center. hello asian america. is this my discourse?
hello I am a schizophrenic veering between litblog vernacular and alt-lit self pity I guess. hello I am not in the right time zone. hello I want to be a pop star that raps in cantonese. hello i ALWAYS have cold feet. hello i think that part of the reason the pale and perfect hipsters at the university of chicago didn’t accept me was because of my sebaceous glands, I had banging acne and glare in my Facebook photos, shiny face — I always looked too real in these shots, just gave it all up with my one grin, I was “from” New Jersey and I just wanted to know EVERYTHING including the secret of cool; that’s how large my pores were. hello I don’t know how to talk about the hypocrite reader, still. hello hello i am going to call a caucus for asian american women and it is not going to be a fundraiser and it is going to be STRICTLY anti-capital even if ALL of us have mothers fathers sisters and brothers who are hella capitalists, or even if we ourselves are hella capitalists because that’s what it was given to us to be, because all the intellectual anti-capitalist circles don’t accept us and instead are working through their weird daddy complexes by talking about cops forever, m.i.a. is going to give a show, and we are going to use queer theory to talk about how weird it is to date other asians and we are going to use queer theory to talk about how weird it is to date white people even if the queers don’t want us to use it and i am going to find out what i have in common with an “asian american” investment banker and i am going to find out what i have in common with an “asian american” domestic worker but that’s never going to happen so i’m just going to sit and cry and blog on the 27th floor of the 25th building in this gated community with a fake pond in this weird city that won’t stop erasing itself that I don’t understand why it wants to have so much kentucky fried chicken.