Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Why some Asian & South Asians dump on Blackfolks

The war stories, the grumblings, the stereotypes are legion and legend, from Korean store owners aiming judgmental, haughty eyes at patrons, to Japanese collectors of old Jim Crow memorabilia, Chinese grad students questioning your intelligence, to that rude immigrant Indian or Pakistani doctor who won't return your sick gran-mama's calls. Like I said, legion and legend. Largely myth and reverse Archie Bunkerism or perhaps hypersensitivity on our part. But...sorry...they're often grounded in some unpleasant facts. Ask Beyonce how much L'Oreal paid her to keep her mouth shut about them lightening her skin, bone-straightening her hair for their ads to Middle America.

And sooooo...consider this upcoming BBC report ( here ) THE INCREDIBLE WHITENESS OF BEING IN ASIA, on the booming skin lightening cosmetics/plastic surgery industry in Asia and South Asia. Yep, from India to Indonesia, to Sapporo and Seoul and Shanghai and to Bobby Jindal (hahaha): folks wanna look like Hugh Jackman (who ironically has two biracial kids) and Nicole Kidman. Yep, you heard me. Producer and blogger Philip Martin reports: "The desire for whiter skin is nothing new. But as Asia's middle class has expanded, and with greatly raised incomes, so too has the demand for whitening skin care products." Check out Philip's blog here. You can also catch him on Huffington Post.

Comments? Observations? There's nothing so creepy as a Malaysian millionaire or Chinese factory boss's wife with surgically altered blue eyes. No wonder African Americans aren't often on their radar unless someone's bootlegging a Jay-Z CD, or has a c-note on a Cavaliers-Lakers game (or needs Kobi for a Kobe beef commercial. Mony talks).

Nat's part "coolie" by the way. If you're from T n T or Jamaica, holla...


craig said...

Oh man. There's SO much I want to say about this. Thanks for relaying the info. Let me collect my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I know you are using a brand of satire rather than true Post hoc, prompter hoc, but still, I don't see the first paragraph having even a satirical link with the BBC-website segment. The self image dysfunction of people in Asia is far attenuated from immigrants here in the States, and non-existent regarding Asian Americans (with some exceptions admittedly). I am using the European definition of Asian--inclusive of India/South Asia to East Asia and Indonesia.

Do I get a prize if I know that "coolie" does not = Chinese? It means South Asians brought to the West Indies by the British after slavery was abolished.

Anonymous said...

Chris, I have always felt that some Asians have this "Singe White Female" attraction to the white race. On one hand they (primarily North Korea and China) could flat out annihilate the Western World, we owe them boat loads of money and they could easily buy or sell us but on the other hand they seem to be so beholden to the image that is the Western (White)standard of beauty and lifestyle in general.

Sometimes I wonder if they really hate blacks on face value or if they just dislike blacks because white people have issue with us so they feel like they have to dislike us as well.


Lisa said...

I co-sign. I DO think there's a linkage, Anonymous 6:42PM

I hope you here from Asian people.

Lisa said...

"Kobi doing a commercial for Kobe beef!!!"


rikyrah said...


wrap your mind around this.

as messed up as we, as a community are, STILL, about race and colorism, I believe we're about 40 years ahead of the rest of the folks.

Your average Latino wants to lecture the ' Black' community in America about race, while looking at their television, you would never believe that 85% of the slaves sent to the Western Hemisphere landed somewhere else other than the United States of America. Sit and watch Univision and Telemundo for 24 hours and tell me how many BLACK Latinos you see, that aren't in subservient roles.

Then, we can hop over to India. Got 1 Billion folks, and is as color coded as you can get. Sure it's a coincidence that skin color, caste and poverty seem to be so directly linked, and that they sell tons of skin lighteners there.....but, it has nothing to do with White Supremacy.

Go a little North, and you'll find Asian girls getting eyelid surgeries, yet fighting with you when you ask if they're doing it to be more White.

Is there any wonder why they come here and stomp on us?

This is the main reason why I've never subscribed to the ' rainbow coalition' theory. How you going to be in a 'coalition' with someone that treats their fellow countrymen that look like you- in their country of origin- like crap. They share a CULTURE with those folks, and dog them out. So, of course, they come here racist against us.

craig said...

Rikyrah stole my thunder! But what's at the root? Is it truly colonialism? Not all of these places were colonies or beholden to Chez Whitey. Many cultures also considered themselves superior.
So what gives? Is it Hollywood? TV? Bay Watch?

Regarding India, I have seen them darker than I and they are worst ones!

tchaka owen said...

rikyrah - my only concern with your post is the part about "the average latino lecturing.....". That so-called avg. latino is here, not back in country of origin. To assume that person has the beliefs of the country s/he fled isn't right. That aside, the rest of your comment is spot on.

Chris, having lived in Asia I do agree with your post. Koreans and Japanese are xenophobic but when they open up, white is what is preferred. I will say that Japan loves American culture and embraces in full on, which includes hip-hop. Keep in mind I am generalizing here, but none of this is really that big a deal.

What I do find to be of great concern is the lightening of skin. We had a lady who worked for us (cooking/cleaning) in Jakarta who came to work one day with slightly exposed skin on both of her cheeks. After several occurrences of this, my mother confronted her out of concern. To our astonishment, she was using a razor to gradually skin away the dark areas of her cheeks because that caused her to be darker than she wanted. My mom (being black) was like WTF? I recall this woman as SE Asian dark, but not like Irian Jayan or anything.

The true sign of beauty there was (is) the mixed, 1/2 Indonesian, 1/2 Dutch. That's the ultimate. For obvious reasons I'm biased towards mixes myself (hahaha!), I'm just not down with 1/2 white being so important. Don't get me wrong, such mixes are often gorgeous, however there are so many beautiful mixes (and non-mixes) that it's crazy to have that bias towards light only.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever heard of Lee Kuan Yew's theory of racial
hierarchy? He essentially try to organize Singapore around the idea of Mongoloid racial superiority.

Robert M said...

I can't access the link for the surgically altered blue eyes. You see the fanatasy in anime but that takes the cake.
In '88 I witnesses a Hong Kong born Chinese(she was early 20's) girl go beserk over a chinese guy whom dyed his hair blonde(then it looked like burnt orange). Listening to her talk about how pure black her hair was just too much.

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

check out a fake satirical advertisement i made, mocking White Beauty/lightening bleach shit.

as an Indian, I am ashamed to admit, yes, many Desi people are racist toward Blacks and they'd rather have white friends.

Bollywood is so obsessed with white women, they always hire white dancers to slink around in slutty clothes, but they would NEVER hire black dancers. Oh, you know, they're very, very famous, then it's "safe" to use Black people.

I hate Bollywood and most Indian folks.

Monica said...

How is this different from what dark-skin black folks do everyday?

Don't we straighten our hair to step closer to the Caucasian ideal? Do you really think that one day the companies who produce Palmer's fade cream and Ambi that "evens out you skin tone" will ever go out of business?

It's kind of hard to talk about the pathology of the Asian and South Asian middle class, when the bougie (and the poor) among us are engaging in the same sickness.

Don't believe me? What would happen if Michelle Obama stopped straightening her hair and threw in some cornrows or twists?

Black folks would lose their damn minds. She would be labelled a race traitor.

Anonymous said...

Damn now you can surgically alter your eye color?? That's insane! On topic you're absolutely right about the Asian bias towards white culture, beauty, etc. I think it has alot to do with the fact that Asians are trying to follow the Western capitalist model to enrich themselves and most of them have succeeded. So now they think that besides following Western economic and/or political styles, they should follow Western culture too. And they've bought into the White ideals of beauty big time thanks to Hollywood's brainwashing. It's just terrible every way you see it.

Pebbles Flintstone said...

Anon. I think he meant her eyes were surgically "rounded." The contact lenses were blue. As a matter of fact I'm certain of it and will find a link.

skaye said...

"Regarding India, I have seen them darker than I and they are worst ones!"

So Craig collected his thoughts and this is all he could come up with-this nuanced and thoughtful comment?!

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist, I can't understand why you need to be ashamed about other Indians' attitudes. You are not responsible for other Indian people's behavior.
Saying "I hate most Indian folks" doesn't solve anything and it won't endear you to any other group of people. You seek to disassociate yourself from other Indians-do you think anyone will give you a prize for being "better" than "most Indian folks"?
It doesn't work, as Craig's comments above have shown.

Anonymous said...

I think it is more complex than merely wanting to be white. There is significant bleaching in West Africa - at least when I lived there as a kid but it REALLY was not an attempt to be white as such. Obviously, white folks are not in the consciousness of most Africans generally and at most exist on the periphery (officers of multinational companies etc). TV is black. Audience is black. Movie stars are black. rockers are black. Rappers are black. President is black. So is maid. you get the gist.

So bleachers in my estimation are not trying to be white. And if I had to examine the psychology of it, I would say it is more trying to not be ordinary, i.e. brown/dark which is what everyone else is. To be sure it reflects some psychological phenomenon but it is probably more akin to white folks wanting to tan than an self-oppresive desire of wanting to be "other."

Also, it is more prevalent (in Nigeria at least) to Igbos who have a rather significant natural occurrence of light skin, so it might simply be conformist behavior on the part of bleachers. Oh, i should also say bleaching is generally not seen as desirable (or to even work).

As to Japanese and Korea being more open to white, it is less these peoples hatred of blacks (I'm sure thats some of it) but more the "white is right" phenomenon but don't blame them. Africans do it, South Americans do it...pretty much everyone outside of the West. The problem is that the white media machinery has successfully, through colonization and otherwise, swindled minds and planted seeds that are sowing ill cultural effects today.

craig said...

OK Skaye,
As I said Rikyrah stole my thunder, so why don't you read it? Indians Skaye. Dark skinned Indians. As Nat Turner said: in the the healthcare field. More dismissive, rude, racist than any white person I've ever dealt with. Why is that?

But you know something they at least are forced to interact due to their roles as physicians, lab tech and assists. The lighter skinned immigrants who are of so called higher caste are more aloof and dismissive. Why is that?

Don't come back at me with any notion that this is not representative of how "South Asians" feel about African Americans. I think such attitudes, at least empirically, are the rule, rather than the exception and that Chambers is merely tagging a little piece of the controversy.

lincolnperry said...

Damn Rikyrah, you are on a roll...I'm tried of motherf**kers whose ancestors didn't pick cotton, fight the Klan, establish Civil Rights, and laws THAT they benefit from, tell us black Americans what we NEED to do to get our act

The reason they are able to come to America, is because of our sacfrices, have you been to India of Pakistan, or Thailand. I know Indians that don't want to go back to India. But they all come here, my criticism of black folks is simple...stop going to people that don’t respect you and spend your money.

All my doctors are black and competent, and provide quality health care; I refuse to be seen by indifferent foreigner!

Black Americans set the tone culturally for people all over the world; no other group has contributed the likes of James Baldwin to Duke Ellington Kennedy, like us. So if those ignorant asses want to succumb to white supremacy, fuck em!

Don’t let me get started on those Latinos and there bullshit!

lincolnperry said...

But those sames Indians would be untouchables back home, and really don't have a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of!

tchaka owen said...

Anonymous, do you really give a rat's ass what Lee Kwan Yew thinks? Every Singaporean I know detests him for his stupid way of life crap. The only reason he lasted so long is because he developed the country economically. "It's the economy, stupid!" really does have merit.

The Black Snob said...

I think it's pretty typical that when you move to this country from another country you learn rather quickly that the worst possible person you could is a black person. It's so ingrained that you'd think it was written on the citizenship papers.

Wanting to assimilate, some immigrants don't bother to look any deeper in this ad hoc assessment of all black people and politely make it known that they do not want to be associated with the US's historical "beasts of burden."

That said, I went to a pretty decently mixed school with lots of Persian, Arab, black, white, Korean, Indian and biracial/muliracial students. Most of the Persian and Arab kids I knew hung out with the black kids. Many of the Indian kids did as well.

Later, when I moved to California I continued to befriend many Latinos, primarily Mexicans, and Filipinos. Many of my doctors have been Asian women (one Japanese, two Pinoy) and I've gotten along well with nearly all these people.

This is not to say that the "black is bad" mentality doesn't exist for some, but I would like to state that many quickly realize that disliking black people doesn't curry any favor from the larger white majority and in many cases the children and grandchildren of these immigrants figure out quickly that the racial hierarchy is mythology and everyone who is not white is one act of violence away from being treated like a black person ... or worse. (Re: the Japanese interment during WWII and the arrest and harassment of Muslims, and "Arab-looking" Latinos, post 9-11).

I believe I've had more conversations with Asian and Latino people about our commonalities more than I've caught attitude and flack. Hell, I had an African-American literature professor who was born in India and she had such a PASSION for all things African American because she saw the similarities between slavery and colonialism and would tell us how colorism infiltrated the caste system there. She saw the African American struggle as a model struggle that should be taught and immulated by others who find themsleves "undesirables" in their country of origin.

She was one of the best professors I ever had.

So the attitude is real in some cases, but I've personally had some rewarding friendships with Asian-Americans and Latinos.

The smart ones realize they're being fed lies and know they are not immune from the same treatment.

The others? Screw 'em. It's their loss.

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