hello! as a chinese american i really appreciated your last post on #notyourasiansidekick, thank you for writing. i got a bit lost on the "~Asian~ identity that structures itself as exclusive to both Blackness and Indigeneity." are you referring to the fact that there are Black people and Indigenous people in asian countries who are oppressed, and are erased when we conceptualize, for example, chinese people as only being han chinese (the majority ethnic group)? just wanted to better understand.
Yes… but more than that.
On this note, I always like to think of my mother country, the Philippines since race/ethnicity, history, geography place us at fairly unique place within Asia.
The original inhabitants of the islands are called the Aetas. This definitely means that they are and have the best claim to being Indigenous to the PH.
However, as soon as the spanish saw them, they called them ‘Black’. While the austronesian/malay ethnic groups were called ‘Indios.’ At this point in history, there were no Asians (at least in the PH). Indeed, until fairly recently Asian and Malay were considered to be two distinct races until sometime in the early 20th century (so not even all that long ago). And for the spanish colonial period, ‘Filipinos’ were actually **spanish** settlers. and Chinese immigrants, within this system, also had higher standing than either the Indios (malays) or the Aeta.
after the us decided it was their turn to occupy the PH this is actually the period by which the old spanish classifications (still very much influential though) became replaced by a much more simplistic rubric of ‘Asian.’ And in this way, the larger ethnic groups like the Tagalogs, the Bisayans, etc. who recieved more proximal benefits from colonization became ‘Asian’ but the still marginalized, smaller ‘uncivilized’ ethnic groups became ‘Indigenous’ in a more modern sense (the Aetas too, became lumped into this).
and it was because, in the us, filipin@s became implicated in general yellow peril stuff (fun fact: in color coded racial classifications ‘malay = the brown race), that there was a conscious decision to assert that Filipin@s were asian and not, for example, Pacific Islander as means to revoke out citizenship as subjects of the us empire (i mean… no white americans actually wanted a flood of ‘yellow’ people coming into their country). it was to distinguish us from other us territories in the pacific (Hawaii, Guam, and Samoa), since the us never intended to permanently settle the PH (it is a weird unique bit of colonial history, since they said they would stay and, well, actually *left*).
essentially, what i’m outlining here is hundreds of years of history outlining out “Asian” for the PH is literally something that comes about by fundamentally understanding Indigeneity and Blackness to be something other than us. That these are properties that do not adhere to ourselves, which allows us to continue old colonial projects of exploiting some ethnicities at the expense of the smaller ‘Indigenous’ ones.
now that ‘Filipino’ no longer equals white spanish ppl born in the PH, but is rather an ‘Asian’ ethnicity, it is an identity that necessarily must define itself in opposition to Blackness and indigeneity.
but my comments go further than just the ways that ~Asian~ as identity structures itself as exclusive to Indigeneity and Blackness.
Pointing again to the history of my ppl… did you know that at one point (and still sometimes today, depending) the ‘malay archipalego’ was called the East Indies? You know, to contrast it with the West Indies?
This is important because the way that ‘Asian’ is imagined today, it always excludes people who, by all rights, ought to be included.
Example: I recently wrote to someone about that Chinese Jamaican woman who won the Voice? This person mentioned that Asian americans were all super happy to claim her and put her under the #NotYourAsianSidekick banner, despite her, um not even being american.
In my reply, I mentioned that it was definitely icky and not great because I have yet to see any Asian make the same claims about Nicki Minaj, who is West Indian. But because she is Black, nary a single asian american is going around claiming that Nicki Minaj is #NotYourAsianSidekick because she is never (and likely will never be) considered a proper part of the ~Asian~ community. Because she is Black.
this is relevant for the ways that i saw a bunch of Asians (esp East Asians) calling her out for asian appropriation and Orientalism in fundamentally anti-Black ways. because i’ve seen this used more than a few times as an example of how ‘Black people can oppress Asians’ or something to that effect. and while she doesn’t belong to the cultures she was appropriating from (I think it was Chinese or Japanese? I can’t remember), this disavowel not only reveals a disgusting lack of historical knowledge but the very deep running anti-Blackness that helps **define** what Asian means.
This isn’t to say that Nicki Minaj IDs as Asian or that she should (I wouldn’t if i were her, given how completely rejected and excluded West Indians are from any notion of ~asian~ are). This is about how, for most Asians, it never even occurs to us that this Black person could also be Asian, even in the cases where there are clear and obvious reasons to think so.
above all, it definitely is buying into white supremacy because we allow whiteness to delineate the boundaries of not only our lands (via geographical borders) but of our very identities.
and all efforts for solidarity will fail so long as we insist on maintaining an identity that rests on us being neither Black nor Indigenous (and definitely not all three).
This is the ideology of colonial imperialism, WORLD WIDE. I say if melanated people can’t get back to our own ancient ways, we still have to drop those of the oppressor and make something new.
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