White people do not understand PoC’s existential angst.

Existential angst is portrayed and experienced as individual suffering. In white-majority countries, white people tend to think of other whites as individuals with individual identities, but they tend to think of people of colour as a collective with a collective identity. Thus, white people from white-majority countries tend to think that people of colour cannot experience existential angst.

However, the problem is that people of colour think of ourselves as individuals with individual identities. (Or at least I do, and I assume that other people of colour do too until proven otherwise, because I consciously reject stereotypical assumptions of questionable origin, not because I actually have access to the minds of other people of colour.) Individuals of colour can experience existential angst, and in addition, our consciousness of ourselves as individuals regularly clashes with our consciousness of how society views us as a collective.

Blogger, regular Racialicious commenter, and occasional Racialicious guest-poster Atlasien apparently loved my post White people’s family roots are deeper than those of ethnic minorities, and connected it with white people’s implicit framing of existential angst as a uniquely white problem (Atlasien’s emphasis is bolded, my emphasis is highlighted in yellow):

I can think of another, more subtle effect.  White people often talk about being cut off from their roots in the context of feeling a kind of existential angst that propels them into a desperate search for meaning.  That’s quite understandable.  Modern American life increasingly isolates people.  Extended families are scattered all over. Family and community ties break apart.  The problem is that people often don’t realize that these isolating social forces affect minorities just as much and even more. I think in a lot of movies and books and art, the angst of middle- and upper-class white people is cast in a really portentous, heroic, important light.  Take that George Clooney movie Up in the Air, which I didn’t see, but I heard it was about an angsty white business traveler.  Nobody makes big budget movies about angsty Mexican landscapers or angsty black postal workers or angsty Korean convenience store owners.  When you get into more independent movies, you finally start to see portrayals of people of color addressing complicated psychological pain: Michael Kang’s “The Motel” is a great example.  But usually, any minority in a lower-class job is stereotyped as hard-working but happy, or oppressed and sad and noble.  Often, they help the angsty white character discover what’s really important in life.  Because they are simple people and they have roots. Gah!

One movie that disgusts me is Lost In Translation (2003) and its associated white perspective and white privilege. A typical white liberal may assume that the problem with the film is that existential ennui is an alleged “white” problem, and that white existential angst is trivial to the harsher, material struggles of people of colour. This critique is partly true, in that if existential ennui is your only problem, you have it easy.

However, what disgusts me about Lost In Translation is that it centres on the lives of white people in a country where they are the minority, and it suggests that the social isolation that comes from being a minority is something that could only happen to white people.

This notion makes absolutely no sense, except to self-absorbed white people who are completely oblivious to their white privilege, to the point where being a minority in a non-white country only amplifies white navel-gazing, and leads to zero empathic recognition for the condition of people of colour in white-majority countries.

Additionally, depression is underdiagnosed among racial minorities in the United States, and U.S.-born Asian American women are more likely to attempt suicide than other Americans. The stereotype that racial minorities are always happy with our circumstances or motivated to survive—because we are ostensibly simple people ruled by only primitive compulsions—may contribute to racial discrepancies in diagnosing depression.

Anyway, Atlasien also discusses the impact of the “deeper roots” stereotype on her life. (She also recommends my “takedown” of libertarianism, and wrote some great guest posts at Racialicious.)

Update: In complain about ‘racism’ against white people, fromthetropics writes:

For example, white students who come back to Australia after finishing an exchange program in Japan complain about minor inconveniences there; that leaves me thinking, ‘You’re complaining about that?’ One such student told a Japanese lecturer to go watch Lost in Translation because it oh-so-perfectly describes what it’s like living in Japan as a foreigner, as though she had just endured the most difficult thing at the hands of these Japanese beings.

I heard about this. So I went and watched that movie, wondering what in the world the student meant. After watching it, my conclusion was: I don’t need to watch this movie to know how that feels — its portrayal of life as an outsider in a foreign country is the story of my life. And it’s a much milder version of the story of many migrant lives.

Obviously, life in a foreign country is hard and everyone deserves to be cared for. But it’s hard to sympathize when white residents of Japan frame it as, ‘Oh-my-gosh, the Japanese people are sooo [insert negative adjective], and oh-my-gosh, our struggles are oh-so-unique and difficult.’ It’s hard to sympathize when they have little understanding of how many more foreigners, migrants, and POCs in their own country go through it too, often in much harder circumstances. Tell me your experience and I’ll empathize, but don’t try to ‘educate’ me about it because I already know.

Also see fromthetropics’ comment on this post.


Mountain photo: Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons

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64 Responses to “White people do not understand PoC’s existential angst.”

  1. urbia Says:

    “However, what disgusts me about Lost In Translation is that it centres on the lives of white people in a country where they are the minority, and it suggests that the social isolation that comes from being a minority is something that could only happen to white people.”

    Someone should make an indie film about Asian-American backpackers backpacking with a group of white trust fund kids in a country where white people are the minority, and bring out the irony of the social isolation that comes from being a minority within a minority group, which itself is complaining about isolation being in a country where they are the minority.

    If you have a hard time following the above, just pick up any Lonely Planet travel guide. Usually, the book is written with the assumption that it is a white male backpacker reading it. There might be a one-paragraph blurb tucked away in the back for female/gay/lesbian travelers, but the overall tone of the book suggests they’re talking to white male backpackers that want an ‘exotic’ and ‘authentic’ experience, and it’s pretty othering for an Asian-American that might purchase the book for a visit to their ancestral country.

  2. Restructure! Says:

    I remember reading some blog post on advice for Westerners travelling to Japan, which was linked from Digg or something like that, and it told me that Japanese people could see that I was a foreigner from a mile away, and that Japanese people will not expect me to know how to eat with chopsticks because of my appearance.

    It actually used the pronoun “you” throughout the post. And it also assumed that I was a guy.

  3. urbia Says:

    I see the pattern in a lot of things, from programming books to scuba diving and gaming magazines. A lot of my hobbies and interests tend to be male-gendered, I guess, so it really sticks out to me. I’m constantly thinking, “Hey, I’m a paying customer, dammit. Talk to me.”

    But it’s the travel books that really stand out – the ones that cover my country of ancestry. In the previous examples, you’re othered by being ignored. With the travel book, you’re ignored and totally exoticized, and I’d go as far as to say almost like being packaged as a product (the book has to convince people to visit the country, after all).

    That said, I gloss over that and use the books for the bare-bones information about places to stay and sights to see. And in a lot of countries, the locals treated me better than some of the fellow backpackers sometimes. I noticed with some foreigners in their later stages of culture shock, they’ll sometimes seem to take out their frustrations on me just because I have an Asian face – and the thing is, by that time, they know that I’m not a local.

    Don’t let this deter you if you’re thinking of going, though. Backpacking gives you a lot of freedom and you can easily avoid these people when you run into them. I’ve also had positive experiences with backpackers, including some Swedish guy who gave me his mosquito net because he had a change in traveling plans. Most people have the decency to recognize you as another tourist and not part of the woodwork because you have an Asian face. And you get a few that actually treat the locals with respect.

  4. Complex Magazine: The 50 Most Racist Movies You Didn’t Know Were Racist | Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture Says:

    [...] taking it one step further, our friend Restructure! recently articulated this superb critique: One movie that disgusts me is Lost In Translation (2003) and its associated white perspective and [...]

  5. fromthetropics Says:

    Hi Restructure. Thank you so much for writing about Lost in Translation. I was so angry/annoyed at the end of the movie because of the reason why I had watched it in the first place. Because some young undergrad told her 60-something Japanese lecturer (who later told me) who had been living in Australia as a foreigner for some 30 odd years to go watch it in a way that implied that she thought it was “something that could only happen to white people”in Japan, and that this lecturer needed to go watch the damn movie to understand. OH MY GOSH. Just say, “Gosh, I didn’t know it was so hard living in a foreign country,” and I ASSURE you that your lecturer will understand in an INSTANT.

    I was soooo annoyed that I was made to spend 2 hours watching that movie just to experience the same feeling I experience everyday anyway.

    And, and, and, more recently one white friend (the kind who doesn’t ‘feel white’) and his white friend started talking about Lost in Translation. Both of them are well traveled and have many poc friends. I immediately told them how I felt about the movie. They both had a surprised look on their face. And boy, was I surprised that they were surprised. I mean, is it that difficult to understand that there is nothing unique about the experience depicted in that movie? That heaps of people in your own country experience so much of it everyday?

    And when you’re white in an Asian country, many a times people try to treat you better than what is normally expected because they know that you’re in a foreign country. But when I’m in Oz, and I meet someone who goes out of their way to be genuinely nice to foreigners with an understanding that it’s hard to be a foreigner, it half moves me to tears because it’s so rare. I’ll think, “Really? You actually understand and empathize? Wow. Thank you sooooo much.”

  6. Restructure! Says:

    Thanks, fromthetropics! I’ve updated my post to include a quote from your post. I remember reading your post, but I forgot it mentioned Lost In Translation. I love it.

  7. Chicago Says:

    “Additionally, depression is underdiagnosed among racial minorities in the United States, and U.S.-born Asian American women are more likely to attempt suicide than other Americans. ”

    I originally jumped to this article from Racialicious for the commentary about the movie, but as an Asian woman, I have to say I find a strange comfort in the above information. I don’t struggle from depression (I don’t think) nor have I attempted suicide, but I do struggle from the cultural confusion (to put it in very simple terms) I feel as a first-generation American-born Asian.

    Back to the movie: I remember upon first completing the film, I thought to myself, “That was really boring. I’m not sure what I think about it.” I couldn’t explain why. At the time I was less aware of all these wonderful blogs that can open my eyes to blatant and subtle racism that I apparently willfully ignored before. Long after I had seen and forgotten about the film, I did a quick search and read this article — http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2004/jan/24/japan.film — I was able to articulate the problem I had with it all along. All Japanese characters were one-dimensional caricatures of themselves. Apparently the only people who were able to feel deep, complex emotions were the White Westerners.

    And back before I watched the film, it came highly recommended by friends while I was in college. Looking back, it was clear why: I hung out with a bunch of White, privileged, superficial hipsters, complete with token Indian kid, Mexican kid, and me, Asian kid. They all ate the Wes Anderson and Coppola Family shit up. I guess I’m becoming more of an adult now. Thank goodness.

    Thank you for this.

  8. Chicago Says:

    I should clarify, I was the token Vietnamese kid. Kind of embarrassed I typed Indian, Mexican, then Asian, as if Asia is a country. :/

  9. fromthetropics Says:

    I just read an article from the LA Times:

    “And there’s also the mixture of the super modern and the old,” she [Coppola] points out. “There’d be a temple next to some crazy TV neon screen building — it’s really unique. It’s not like anyplace else I’ve ever been.”

    Unique??? Really? REALLY???? REALLY???Does the West not have massive churches from the 13th century right next to neon lights??? Or Irish pubs with neon lights outside?? And don’t they do heaps of ancient rituals inside churches? What, does the pope wear jeans and t-shirts now? Old English homes with flat screen TV in the living room? Ancient university buildings with Power Point projectors and flat screen computers inside? Really, we don’t have that do we? We still do our assignments in long hand do we? Don’t the profs wear medieval hats and robes for our graduations? Don’t British judges wear wigs and ride modern day cars and use iPhones? Did I not see a guy in a cowboy hat in the Denver airport ready to board a Boeing 747? And oh, the Japanese Harajuku and cosplay phenomenon must be unique too huh? What about the stuff people wear for the Mardi Gras?

    But of course, all of that is NORMAL for Coppola because only everybody else except her is ‘exotic’. She seriously rubs me the wrong way with her UTTER OBLIVIOUSNESS.

  10. Olive Says:

    I am a white woman living in southeast Asia since my pre-teens. I didn’ t like Lost in Translation either. Both main characters were closed-mind and annoying. However I disagree with some comments here.
    – For one thing, it’ s strange that a blog article that intends to “Restructure” issues of race starts out, in the first paragraph, by stereotypically assigning to me an opinion that I absolutely don’ t hold : “White people tend to think of people of colour as collective”. If this is in fact a trend in US pop culture, why not just say that.
    – OK, so it’ s a trend in the US that people of colours’ angst is not sufficiently recognized. There are similar trends here in Southeast Asia where white people are regarded as a coherent, rather homogeneous group. We are expected to ” immediately recognize each other, prefer to hangout among each other” etc. There are many stereotypes of white people that are very alive here: about our money, our rudeness, etc… but none of them are about our angst.
    – To reply to the comment: “Nobody makes big budget movies about Korean convenience store workers’ angst”. I say many really good movies portray existential angst in Asian people. Have you seen Singapore Dreaming, Tokyo Sonata, Happy Together or Tropical Malady?
    – Finally, about living as a white minority in an Asian country. I think this is indeed a situation where the kind of exclusion and discrimination endured is quite unite, although it definitely is not the worst form of immigration. After so long in Southeast Asia, I still constantly need to legitimize my presence here. Although I’ ve lived in Thailand nearly 8 years, I speak Thai, I cook Thai, but no Thai person will ever accept to call me a Thai. I could pay and buy citizenship but I will never be Thai ‘symbolically’. I agree that white people always receive differentiated and preferential treatment as compared to locals, but to me, that is part of the problem, and part of my existential angst!

  11. Restructure! Says:

    Olive,

    Sorry for the Western-centrism. I tend to notice U.S.-centrism, but I am probably guilty of North-American-centrism and Western-centrism.

    I don’t think it applies to just white people in the United States, as I think it applies to other white-majority countries like Canada and Australia. However, I have updated the first paragraph to specify that I’m talking about white people from white-majority countries.

  12. fromthetropics Says:

    >I think this is indeed a situation where the kind of exclusion and discrimination endured is quite unite, although it definitely is not the worst form of immigration. After so long in Southeast Asia, I still constantly need to legitimize my presence here.Although I’ve lived in Thailand nearly 8 years, I speak Thai, I cook Thai, but no Thai person will ever accept to call me a Thai. I could pay and buy citizenship but I will never be Thai ’symbolically’.

    Olive, was that a typo for ‘unique’? But how is it unique? I’ve lived in Australia for more than a decade. I speak English as my first/native language. I am Westernized. I eat burgers and sandwiches. I grew up on Sesame Street (in English). I like the beach and do my barbecues too. I’ve been an Australian citizen for more than a decade. I was encouraged by the Aussie government to become a citizen through legal means. In addition, I’ve always been a Canadian citizen from birth. And people still praise me for speaking good English or why I have a North American accent. And ask me where I’m from and ask me questions about the country where I supposedly came from and expect me to represent countries I’ve hardly lived in. Australians pride themselves on ‘multiculturalism’ but the image of the ‘True Blue Aussie’ is still very white (despite the fact that they are not even indigenous to the land, whereas most of the Thais are).

    So, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘unique’ (assuming I correctly interpreted the typo), in the same way that I don’t understand why Sophia Coppola seem to imply that the experiences of her characters are unique to Caucasians, and that the juxtaposition of the ‘modern’ and ‘traditional’ are unique to Japan.

    If there is anything unique about the white experience in Asia or other non-white majority countries is the preferential treatment that they often (though not always) receive which non-whites in white majority countries don’t (or rarely) receive.

  13. fromthetropics Says:

    ps. Did Olive just (unintentionally?) do exactly what the original post was about?

  14. thean0nym0usman Says:

    It’s simple. Diversity is just a scapegoat today.

  15. lula Says:

    first and foremost you are being very hypocritical, i say this because you are generalizing all white people in the same bag at the meantime complaining about “whites” generalizing all “non-whites” in the same bag. i hate when people put all non-whites in the same bag, as if they all had the same culture. i agree with you that people do that a lot but its not exclusively “white ” people who are the only ones doing it. i also hate when people put all “whites” in the same bag too. there are no double standards, generalizing all whites or generalizing all non whites is the same ignorance. you complain about “whites” generalizing with all non whites and putting them in one bag but you use the term “people of color” i absolutely hate that term!
    “people of color” is a complete fabrication of the u.s.a , no where else in the world do they use it. the term “people of color” reflects how stupid americans are,i hate that term because it puts all “non whites” in the same bag. its ridiculous how they use that word, nigerians, chinese, cherokee indians etc. are all different peoples but in the u.s all these people will be lumped in the same blob “people of color. its ridiculous because every human has a color, and on top of that the people who are referred to “people of color” are of white complexion also, in the case of east asians. the “people of color” term is something the government and the politicians created to lump all people of diverse backrounds into one blob as if they where all the same. they did that so they can form a stupid made up group so politicians can turn it into a voting strategy, you see thats what politicians do, they make up these made up groups, then once they make them then they will have a group to kiss ass to so they can get more votes. also it was made for marketing purposes too, to sell products and advertise them to this made up group of people to make more sales. have you seen all the products marketed for “people of color” i mean theres books, lotions, soap, hair clips etc all marketed for “people of color” it just idiotic. so many stupid americans like to go under this umbrella term. real chinese, real nigerians, real cherkees would never embrace this “people of color” stupid political made up group. a real chinese will not see any thing in common with a nigerian as a nigerian to a chinese but these stupid americans put them in the same group.

  16. Restructure! Says:

    lula,

    What white people in the US/Canada/Australia/UK have in common is white privilege. What people of colo(u)r in the US/Canada/Australia/UK have in common is the lack of white privilege.

  17. fred Says:

    lula-

    I agree with you on both points. Restructure’s hypocrisy was the first thing that jumped out at me, too. And I’ve similarly criticized the use of “people of color” for the same reason you did. It’s a fictitious term to represent something that doesn’t exist. And it’s particularly hypocritical for her to bemoan minorities being lumped into groups when she continuously lumps minorities into a group that doesn’t even exist.

    I appreciate your hypothesis on the origin of the term ie politicians and advertisers. And I definitely think they’ve latched on and exploited the term. But I think it was started by leftist, multi culti race hustlers. At least, that was the first group I heard using it. And its still the group I hear throwing it around the most. Restructure uses it continuously to piggy-back off of blacks. But let’s get real, when was the last time you saw an asian socializing with blacks? It almost never happens. No doubt she’ll now respond with some made-up crap about her “black friend”. LOL!

  18. fromthetropics Says:

    @lula – first you said we shouldn’t generalize:
    there are no double standards, generalizing all whites or generalizing all non whites is the same ignorance.

    then you said this, which sounds like generalizing: …reflects how stupid americans are…

    and this: …so many stupid americans like to go under this umbrella term…

    and: these stupid americans

    Contradicting much?

    And mind explaining what you mean by “real chinese, real nigerians, real cherkees”? What’s a “real” Chinese? Is there a certain language that they should be speaking? (Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, etc?) Are they still real if they can speak English like a native speaker? Are they still real if they wear jeans? Are they still real if they live in China but listen to hip hop? Are they still real if they were born and raised in China by a Chinese mother and speak nothing but Chinese (perhaps Mandarin and Shanghainese), but look like this because her father, who she’s never met, is black?

    Lula, how would you define “real”?

  19. goaler Says:

    as our great former mayor said we would wind up in a pot of stew if we went to the congo!

  20. fred Says:

    fromthetropics writes, And mind explaining what you mean by “real chinese, real nigerians, real cherkees”?

    You didn’t address the question to me but I can answer it because lula’s meaning was obvious. “Real” refers to someone who’s identity is both genetically and culturally authentic. There are genetically and culturally authentic chinese, nigerians and cherokee. But there are no genetically and culturally authentic “people of color” because, for the most part, the term originated as a euphemism for “foreign”. And I can’t imagine that designation superceding one’s ethnic identity.

    Regarding your photo, there was quite a bit of controversy in China a while back about whether Lou Jing should be considered “real chinese” since her father was black. Unless, I’m mistaken she was the target of racial abuse with the overwhelming concensus being that she was not fit to represent china. Since you asked, my opinion is simply that Lou Jing is racially mixed but culturally chinese. Whether one considers her “real chinese” or “black” is subjective.

  21. Restructure! Says:

    But there are no genetically and culturally authentic “people of color” because, for the most part, the term originated as a euphemism for “foreign”.

    Wow.

  22. fred Says:

    You consider “person of color” to be your ethnicity? Really? That’s what you wrote on your census forms?

  23. fromthetropics Says:

    @fred – Okay. A couple more questions then –

    Based on your definition, ““Real” refers to someone who’s identity is both genetically and culturally authentic,” then what is a ‘real’ Israeli like?

    And what does a genetically and culturally ‘real’ American or a ‘real’ Australian look and act like? Or a ‘real’ South African? Or a ‘real’ Mauritian? Or a ‘real’ Singaporean?

  24. fred Says:

    fromthetropic-

    Your question confuses ethnicity and citizenship. In normal discourse this might sometimes make sense. But not always. For example, I might move to China and acquire Chinese citizenship but it wouldn’t make me ethnic Chinese. In the case of South Africa and Singapore there is no such thing as national ethne. Each consists of multiple ethnic groups. In the case of the former, the major ethnes are Xhosa, Zulu and Afrikaaner. In the case of the latter, the major ethnes would be Han, Malay and Tamil. They would all have citizenship and consider themselves South African (or Singaporan) nationals. But they wouldn’t be of South African or Singaporan ethnicity. There’s no such thing.

  25. fromthetropics Says:

    @fred – Okay. Let me rephrase – what is a ‘real’ Jew/Jewish person (in terms of their ethnicity, and not religion)? What do they look like, and what are they like culturally?

    And given that China covers a vast area with 50+ languages (which sound more different from each other than Spanish and Italian), and millions in the diaspora who identify as ‘Chinese’ – What is a ‘real’ (Han) Chinese? And who gets to decide what that means?

  26. fromthetropics Says:

    @ fred – Wait, hold on. You’ve already acknowledged that ‘real’ is subjective:
    Since you asked, my opinion is simply that Lou Jing is racially mixed but culturally chinese. Whether one considers her “real chinese” or “black” is subjective.

    In that case, can’t you also say that ‘poc’ is also a subjective term, and you can’t really just dismiss it as ‘fictitious’? In certain context using the term ‘poc’ may be appropriate to refer to certain sets of experiences (e.g. racism in a white majority country) in a succinct way. This is the way I see Restructure use this term. But just because someone identifies as ‘poc’ in those contexts, it doesn’t mean that that is their be all and end all ‘identity’. (Similar to how one identifies as a mother or an accountant – these roles may have large impact on their lives, but it doesn’t define their whole being.)

    If you dismiss the use of the term ‘poc’ as fictitious, then terms like (real) Chinese or (real) Nigerians is also fictitious, no?

  27. fred Says:

    fromthetropics-

    Your question of what constitutes a jewish person in terms of ethnicity rather than religion is a special case. And one in which jews frequently disagree. The answer may be beyond the scope of this thread but I’ll give it a shot.

    Ethnicity consists of both genetics and culture. Both can be a bit fluid since they both evolve. For example, if half the population of one island were transported to a neighboring island for a thousand years there would be some divergence in both genetics and culture. They would both have their origins in a common ethnicity. And they would be very similar. But there would still be some minor differences in appearance, dialect, customs etc. In the case of jewish, there are also some divergences. So it might be better to describe jewish as a super containing various subs.

    Extending this to Chinese, I agree that there are a number of regional variants. And so the model described above might also apply here to an extent. With one or two large demographics broken into smaller regional ethnics. For example, I’m aware of a major division between north and south Chinese. Where the north Chinese tend to cluster genetically with north east asians and south Chinese tend to cluster genetically with south east asians. Though I’m sure it gets a bit “blurry” at the boundaries.

    As for who gets to decide what constitutes “real chinese”, I would probably say that “real chinese” depends on what we’re talking about ie genetics, culture or ethnicity. So Lou Jing might be culturally Chinese but not genetically Chinese. Whereas an ex patriot would be genetically Chinese but probably not culturally Chinese. To be ethnically Chinese one would need to be both culturally and genetically Chinese. I would say that there is a norm for both genetics and culture. And that anyone varying significantly from this norm might be considered outside the norm for what constitutes ” real Chinese”.

    The subjectivity comes in to play by choosing whether to consider genetics, culture or ethnicity. This is not the case for “person of color”. There is no genetic, cultural or ethnic trait connecting those being described as “people of color”. It’s a purely arbitrary designation. In other words, it’s fictitious.

    Now, I agree that there could be other aspects to one’s identity and that a common experience could be one of those aspects. But the example you provided was a canard and hints at the motivation behind using such a term.

  28. fromthetropics Says:

    Let’s go back to where we began. Lula’s statement:

    a real chinese will not see any thing in common with a nigerian as a nigerian to a chinese but these stupid americans put them in the same group.

    I identify as ‘Chinese’ (though I am ethnically and culturally mixed). And I share the experience of racism with Nigerians, Ghanaians, etc. Our experiences may not be identical, and the nuances may be different. But I sure have a lot to talk about with them on this matter because we have something in common. And using the term ‘poc’ makes discussion real easy, especially when we’re talking about the experiences we share while living in a white dominant country. It’s not like I go around saying, my identity is ‘poc’. But it is a useful term to talk about things.

    That’s all I was trying to get at.

  29. fred Says:

    fromthetropics-

    Were you ever hospitalized from an attack? Any broken bones or stitches?

  30. goaler Says:

    its canada day, do us a favour and get out!

  31. Restructure! Says:

    Dear goaler,

    You and fred believe that “people of colour” is a euphemism for “foreign”. However, I, like most people who identify as people of colour, were born here and are not “foreign”.

    You people think that white people are the rightful owners of Canada and the U.S., and that non-white people are “foreign” only on account of our non-whiteness. However, if we’re talking about race and ancestry instead of the foreignness of individuals, white people are “foreign” too. This land belongs to indigenous people.

    This is why fred’s assertion that “people of color” is a euphemism for “foreign” is so incredibly stupid. It’s wrong in so many ways.

    Why don’t you get out? Why do you think white people belong in Canada more than people of colour?

  32. fromthetropics Says:

    Were you ever hospitalized from an attack? Any broken bones or stitches?

    hahaha. Resorting to personal attacks, eh?

    @Restructure – thanks for pointing that out. I forgot he had said that…which, incidentally, makes little sense as you said.

  33. fred Says:

    restructure writes, “You people think that white people are the rightful owners of Canada and the U.S., and that non-white people are “foreign” only on account of our non-whiteness.”

    “You people”??? Oh, that’s real nice. Maybe non asians should start referring to themselves as “you people” now. It makes as much sense as you referring to yourself as a “person of color”.

    Regardless, I’m not the one saying “people of color”. You are. That’s the whole point behind your blog. You don’t feel like you belong so you’re engaging in a bit of good, old-fashioned race baiting to make up for it.

    ==========================

    fromthetropics-

    How is asking if you’ve been injured “resorting to a personal attack”?

  34. Restructure! Says:

    fred,

    “Person of color” was never a euphemism for “foreigner”. That’s racist, and that misunderstanding comes purely from your own racist views.

  35. fred Says:

    restructure-

    Is there any discussion for which your primary argument isn’t to simply call someone a racist? Also, does your employer know that you’re running an internet hate blog instead of doing your job? No wonder you can get any promotions.

  36. fred Says:

    can=can’t

    I figured I’d better add that edit. Because you don’t sound bright enough to figure it out.

  37. fromthetropics Says:

    How is asking if you’ve been injured “resorting to a personal attack”?

    Well, it came out of nowhere and didn’t seem as though it had anything to do with the discussion. Nevertheless, I could be wrong (if so, I shall apologize for jumping to conclusions, but not yet), so if you did have a point to make, then please go ahead.

    Btw, why are you getting upset with ‘you people’ when previously you did not seem to have a problem with lula’s repeated ‘stupid american’ comments? I’m not saying it’s not problematic, just a bit confused with the inconsistency of your responses.

  38. fred Says:

    fromthetropics writes, it came out of nowhere and didn’t seem as though it had anything to do with the discussion.

    You said you “share the experience of racism with Nigerians, Ghanaians, etc.” I was just asking what that experience was.

  39. fred Says:

    Almost forgot…

    I saw lula’s comment as criticizing people for using the term rather than attacking the people themselves. But restructure has a long history of attacking whites. So when she says things like “us”, “them” and especially “you people” its pretty obvious she’s being racially condescending. Over here that’s widely considered insulting. They even make references to it in movies.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ervDAXPgmKk

  40. Restructure! Says:

    fred,

    IRC, I only used “you people” to refer to you people like goaler and yourself and racist CBC commenters who want people of colour to “get out” or “go home”.

    A White Canadian stranger (before Tropic of Thunder) also said to one of my parents, “We’ve done so much for you people!” and my parent wondered, “What do you mean, you people?”

    Racist white people have a history of calling people of colour “you people”, so I think it’s perfectly fine if I do the same thing to you people, so you know how it feels. By “you people”, I mean racist white people who obviously Other people of colour.

  41. fromthetropics Says:

    You said you “share the experience of racism with Nigerians, Ghanaians, etc.” I was just asking what that experience was.

    Why? Do all or most Nigerian and Ghanaian women experience physical attacks that are motivated by racism that they end up with broken bones and stitches?

    Here’s a Nigerian writer speaking at a TED event. I’ve never been to Nigeria, but I can totally relate to pretty much everything she says here.

  42. goaler Says:

    hey restructure if you hate the white race so much,
    why choose to live amongst us ?

  43. fred Says:

    fromthetropics-

    No. I don’t imagine “most Nigerian and Ghanaian women experience physical attacks”. But when they do it’s usually from other africans.

    Though I wouldn’t be surprised if one could remember an occasional slur. Or feeling like an outsider. Or like they’re not “understood”. Which probably happens to everyone from time to time. And though certainly not pleasnt, it’s not the worst that could happen.

    So when someone says they’ve experiences “racism” I’m just interested to know how. Because I have had broken bones and stitches. And I do know people who have been hospitalized. I even knew someone who was raped and murdered in a racial attack.

    So from my perspective, an occasional slur or feeling like an outsider is pretty small. Compared to being raped and murdered a few stitches is pretty small, too. It reminds me of an old saying, “I complained I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet.” But people being what they are, ie self centered jerks, they think their problems are the only ones. Or at least the only ones that count.

  44. goaler Says:

    bang on fred!
    that restructure sure complains a lot about the white canadians, she seems to forget we let her in!
    im not sure what country she is loyal to but i know it is not this one!
    she claims to be canadian but will never be viewed as one, she has to much HATE!

  45. Restructure! Says:

    goaler,

    What do you mean “White Canadians” “let me in”? I was born here.

  46. goaler Says:

    still not a true canadian in a lot of peoples books!

  47. Restructure! Says:

    goaler,

    Because I’m not white, right?

  48. goaler Says:

    no because you hate and try to stir up shit for no reason!
    i have many friends from all over and we all get along, and
    give respect to one another. you look to cause trouble in the greatest and most fair country on the planet!
    you are most definately not a canadian but a LOOSER!

  49. Restructure! Says:

    goaler,

    If you’re not racist, then why did you assume that I was from a different country, and why did you say I should give credit to “White Canadians” for “letting me in”?

    If you’re not the one trying to stir up shit (troll), why did Canada Day prompt you to tell me to “get out”?

  50. fromthetropics Says:

    she seems to forget we let her in!

    wow. just wow. @Restructure – I think we’re wasting our time with these guys.

    But alas, just one last thing – if you’re having a hard time understanding where Restructure is coming from, but seem to be interested enough to keep reading her blog, I’d suggest you try reading other race blogs too. That’s if you are, as you said, interested in what I mean by ‘racism’. e.g. Racialicious, Choptensils, or Stuff White People Do (where you can find links to all sorts of other stuff. e.g. What Tami Said). I don’t run these blogs so I obviously don’t endorse everything they say. But there is much to learn there.

    And btw, if racism was occasional, I really wouldn’t have much of a problem with it. And if it’s just about ‘not being understood’, well it would be a bit silly to complain. But it’s more about how it affects our everyday behavior, how I modify my behavior to avoid racism, but still not being able to fully avoid it. It’s about being seen as inferior (which is completely different from ‘not being understood’) on a regular basis. etc. etc.

    For example, sexism – almost all women experience this, but does that mean they all get raped and get broken bones? No. But does that mean sexism doesn’t affect them in a significant way? No. Same goes with racism.

    And if I could avoid by simply getting out of Canada, then I would. But the thing with ‘white privilege’ is that it has global currency. So I kinda have to deal with it no matter where I go in the world (at least in urban areas), especially if I want to hang out with English speakers (which is my first language).

  51. fred Says:

    fromthetropics-

    I understand exactly where you and restructure are coming from. The world doesn’t kiss your ass and give you everything your own way so you make up bogeymen to blame it on. That’s nothing new. People have been doing that for ever. They blamed their problems on everything from luck, magic, and evil spirits to secret conspiracies. And now you knuckleheads have invented a new bogeyman to blame it on. It sounds like there is definitely a problem… and it’s between your ears.

    But if you think I’m here because I’m interested in her blog or think I can change minds then you’ve grossly misjudged my motives. That would indeed be a waste of time. Believe me when I say I don’t really care what any of you think. I have other reasons for being here. And they’re nunya.

  52. goaler Says:

    explain youre crime rates among youre male population then? BRUTAL!

  53. Restructure! Says:

    fred,

    So you don’t see goaler as an example of a racist white person?

    Nice vid, though. How did you discover these guys?

  54. goaler Says:

    not white so there!

  55. fred Says:

    No, I don’t “see goaler as a racist white person”. Even if goaler were racist and white it would still be a smear to call him (her?) a “racist white person” because you’re doing it to stigmatize whites.

    I grew up in a majority black area and it was common for blacks to call others “racist chink”, “racist honky”, etc. The use of the slurs makes the hypocrisy obvious. But the hypocrisy would be there whether the slurs were being used or not.

    Though racism and hypocrisy may occur among blacks I don’t think all blacks are racist or hypocrites. Because, unlike you, I don’t engage in those kinds of smears. So, no, I don’t think goaler is a “racisty honky”. oops! I meant “racist white person”.

    I do, however, think he assumes you’re black. I’m guessing its because he’s observed more anti white racism from blacks. But it was still wrong to make the assumption. Just as it was wrong for you to assume he was white.

    ====================
    PS- Why are you avoiding my comments on the other thread?

    http://restructure.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/women-of-color-earn-53-cents-for-every-white-mans-dollar/

  56. goaler Says:

    north american!

  57. Restructure! Says:

    goaler,

    Wait, wait–If you’re not white, why did you say, “that restructure sure complains a lot about the white canadians, she seems to forget we let her in!”? Why do you refer to White Canadians as “we”?

    fred,

    Sorry, I have to open the pdf again to address it. I’ll get around to it…

  58. fred Says:

    restructure-

    goaler’s sentence sounds fishy. But we could still be reading too much into it. After all, this is the internet and not everything makes sense.

  59. Kathy Says:

    not to butt in or anything, but Goaler might be a white person who doesn’t like to be called white, I have met a few fellow white people on line who think it’s offensive, they don’t like to be labeled, hence, “north american” Of course, Goaler probably has no problem labeling people, as long as it isn’t Goaler.

  60. vanesa Says:

    This is typical of the industrialized anglo countrys (like u.s.a, canada, uk, australia) These countries are full of political bull sh*t, these countries are way over politically correct that it is at a point of ridiculousness. Its very typical of these countries to group all “non” whites in the same bag and its only for political reasons and nobody seems to see that. the media of these countries always make race an issue, the politicians, the media the government always tries to blow up a racial related story and commercialize it, and the idiots from these countries believe everything, don’t you see how the politicians, media and government are playing you all,they purposely blow up race stories of “the racist bad white guy” through the media to brainwash everyone, but they would never blow up the story of the racist black man or the racist chinese etc, so all these idiots from these countries have a stereotype that white people are the only racists, and a black, a chinese etc cant be racist even though that is far from the truth, heres the rule of thumb “if you dont look like the rest then your shit” and that rule apply’s to every one from the white tourist in vietnam to the indonesian maid in arab emirates. but the industrialized anglo countries purposely trigger racial madness through their media and dirty politicians. You think white people are the only racists , ha you are so ignorant, why dont you talk to the chinese immigrants in southeast asia, why dont you find out what everyone thinks about them, go ask the indonesians, the malaysians, the filipinos about how much they hate the dirty sneaky chinese, hey dont get mad at me, i’m not the one saying it , or why dont you talk to blacks in mexico and how the mestizo mexicans call them monkeys and shout out racial slurs every time they pass them on the street or how about the chinese in guatemala , they guatemalans know them as the sneaky rat eating chinos, every time the mestizo guatemalan see a chinese they always start shouting chi chon chino culo, dont believe go ask the chinese immgrants in guatemala and other central american countries. I challenge you to go to a non white country but it has to be a country where you would be the racial minority, live there haha, i bet you they will all be calling you chin chon chino culo

  61. warden Says:

    white people are the least racist!
    all these others are closet racists!
    Chinese are the greatest offenders!
    Blacks are hated the most by east indian and chinese!
    whites tollerate the most!
    Go to the middle east and see racism!
    Those who bitch about canada are only doing so because they can get away with it!
    Pull youre whiney shit off in one of these other places see what happens!

  62. robyn Says:

    Can I make it easy for discussion. I never heard “POC “until a few hours ago when I was introduced to this online subscription. I see there is great debate on topics of race. Please continue to do so as I am learning with each article I read.
    May I suggest Racialized person, and drop the “POC”. I was unaware that the term is used as an euphenism for f’oreinger’

    Peace

  63. obzerv Says:

    “You people think that white people are the rightful owners of Canada and the U.S., and that non-white people are “foreign” only on account of our non-whiteness. However, if we’re talking about race and ancestry instead of the foreignness of individuals, white people are “foreign” too. This land belongs to indigenous people.”

    I’m really confused by this statement. Based on what criteria did you determined that “indigenous people” own all of North America? Can you define these so called indigenous people? Are you speaking of the people who crossed the Bering Ice Strait approximately 8000 years ago, or about the Europeans who crossed the Atlantic Ocean 10,000+ years ago (research the Kennewick Man). See its really not about the land. Its not about the rocks and soil. Its about the wealth which exists on top of the land. The roads, the buildings, the entire infrastructure. The people who own that are the people who built it, which would be primarily people of European descent. There was no civilization before the Europeans came, only wilderness.

  64. Dan Says:

    Your arguments don’t make any sense. Stop polluting the internet!


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