Saturday, August 26, 2006

Would half-White people live?

This week is the 175th anniversary of Nat Turner's slave rebellion. Turner was a Black slave in Virginia, USA in the early 19th century who organized an uprising against White slaveowners. During the rebellion, he told his followers to kill all White people. And indeed, they travelled all over town; freeing slaves while killing White people--not only the slaveowners, but they murdered women and children as well.

How did they determine if someone was White? Obviously they just looked at them and then thought "Black or White?" before killing them or not killing them. This would be much harder today because not everyone looks completely Black or completely White. (What if Nat Turner encountered a Latino, Asian, or mixed-race person?).

What's also interesting is that during the rebellion, Turner encountered a White slaveowner who was protected by his slaves. His slaves thought of him as being a good master, and they were actually willing to fight Turner and his men.

What's even more interesting is that one of the White people in town was a childhood friend of Nat Turner, and he (Turner) told his men to spare the guy's family. But wait, I thought he said "kill all White people"? hmm...I guess that White guy was lucky that he knew Turner personally, huh?

One of the victims was a White woman who was known to be a kind person to Black slaves. So why did they kill her? hmm...maybe because Turner never had the opportunity to meet her. C'mon race obviously has nothing to do with your personality!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

"Macaca" doesn't sound like "mohawk"

A 20-year-old Indian-American named S.R. Sidarth was videotaping Senator George Allen (Virginia) making a speech, when suddenly, the Senator singled him out of the crowd and called him "Macaca." "Macaca" is the French-African equivalent of the "N-word." (wow And this Senator might run for President in 2008!)

You can see it happen by clicking the picture below.

George Allen denies he meant "Macaca" as an insult. He says it was a nickname that his staff members gave to the 20-year-old Sidarth, and that they gave it to him because of his apparently mohawk-like hair. Allen's communications director said they nicknamed him "Mohawk," and the word probably transformed into "Macaca."

"Mohawk" and "Macaca" sound too different from each other, so I don't think it was an accident. And George Allen's mother immigrated from the same region in Africa where the word "Macaca" is used as a racial slur, so I think it's unlikely he consciously used it as an insult. What could've happened (it's just my opinion) was, someone among George Allen's staff called Sidarth "Macaca" on purpose as a racial slur, and then the other staff members started calling him that (without knowing that it's a slur). And pretty soon, the Senator himself started using the slur (also without knowing it).

Sidarth is visibly dark-skinned and he could likely be mistaken for an African-American (picture above), so that makes it even more likely that someone called him "Macaca" on purpose as a racist insult. Not to mention that this happened in Virginia, where Blacks are the largest minority group.

Not only does the Senator call him "Macaca," but he also tells him "welcome to America." (You can see it in the video). You can say he's not being racist because he said welcome to America, but Sidarth was born and raised in Virginia! Either the Senator assumed he just came to the US or someone assumed it and then told him. If it was the latter, then I'd like to see him try to become the next US president.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Multi-angle Phenomenon

This week's topic is familiar to many mixed-race people. Have you ever glanced at someone, and then when you saw them again...they looked like a different race from when you first saw them? I'm talking about how a person's racial appearance can change depending on the distance, lighting, and angle from which you're looking at them. This works better in real life than in pictures, but I'll try to illustrate.

What ethnicity does this woman look like?

To me, she looks Latina or southern European (she looks Italian or some kind of Mediterranean ethnic group in my opinion).

Ok, how about the woman below? What ethnicity?

Asian? Most people would say she looks Asian (maybe Chinese or Japanese).

What's interesting's the same woman in both pictures!

Let's do a guy now.
The man below (on the left) looks like what ethnicity?

Most people would say he's Black.

And the guy below?

Yes, it's the same guy in both pictures. In the 2nd photo, I think he could pass for Filipino, or maybe a Latino with strong American Indian blood.

"So what's the point?" you're probably asking. My point is, people will not always look like their ethnicity. The woman above is Tammy Duckworth, who is currently running for congress in Illinois, USA. She is half Thai and half White. The guy above is Will Demps, who is a football player for the NFL (New York Giants). He is half Korean and half Black.

Did you notice how their races changed? (In my opinion at least). They're the same two people, but their ethnicities changed because of the lighting and camera angle. This could cost them their lives if they looked like a certain race at the wrong time.

What if Will Demps was in a dark room and then he encountered a racist Filipino who's killing Black people? Do you think the killer's gonna go "hmm...I don't know"?

Or what if that same racist Filipino person saw Will Demps in bright sunlight? Let's just say, Demps would look more Black in a dark room.

This isn't just a case of "what if." This has happened. After 9/11, Middle Eastern people weren't the only ones who experienced racism, but also "dark-skinned Latinos with goatees." In many cases, these Latinos were mistaken to be Arab and then were attacked based on that. I guess the angle and lighting made them look more Arab at the time.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Jim Crow in Japan

For a country where one ethnicity makes up over 99% of the population, it's understandable why racism isn't a such a big deal. But when I saw these signs, which are common in modern-day Japan, I couldn't help but feel shocked.

This kind of thing is accepted?! One of the most industrialized and developed countries in the world is actually fine with racial discrimination!? Don't they realize that there will ALWAYS be some sort of gray area about who is Japanese and who isn't? Not to mention, this kind of thing could damage foreign relations with other countries. And not everyone is going to be either 0% Japanese or 100% Japanese. Not only am I talking about mixed-race people, but also Japanese citizens who aren't ethnically Japanese.

The website where I got the pictures above from belongs to a Japanese citizen who isn't Japanese by blood. At one point, he tried entering a club that said "Japanese only," but they wouldn't let him in--even after he showed them his Japanese passport. Obviously, those "Japanese only" signs are referring to race and ethnicity rather than nationality.

It makes me wonder how they react to part-Japanese people. Most likely they would consider them to be non-Japanese.

Most people would agree that racism is outdated, but in no way is it gone. Even in the racially diverse United States, where Jim Crow laws for segregation no longer exist, ethnic bigotry lives on quietly among the few hate groups that still exist. Japan is an even more fertile ground for racism because it's not diverse. Even if Japan is one the most successful economies in the world, and one of the most advanced countries on Earth, its race relations are anything but successful and advanced.