deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
[personal profile] deepad
You know, in five years of being in the United States, there was only one time I answered the "where are you from" question with "right here", and I felt like a liar and traitor to my country after I said it.

It wasn't worth it for me to try in solidarity with recent immigrants to assert some kind of right to be a putative or aspirational USian, though I had legal residence, filed state tax returns - participated in the daily nuances of being a habitational American. And because I ‘passed’ for Desi American with relative ease I had to be rather vocal in reiterating – No, I’m not from here (yes we do speak such good English in India) and No, I don’t want to belong to here (it’s not just my culture I’m attached to – it’s my physical sourceland).

And having spent the better part of three days recently in airports and cities across three continents, I have been reminded of what the politics of transience looks like, and I am tired of it. The privilege and peril of citizenship becomes starkly evident in ports; the machinery of that conceptual creature the ‘nation-state’ in full evidence. Unhoming oneself, if one is afforded the luxury and privilege of willingly choosing to do so, is a profound experience in self-definition. I am still grappling with the effects of displacement doubled over. But one fear I have been able to disprove -- that I would somehow have been diminished into a foreigner; returning to a ‘home’ that was more exotic than familiar.

Look, I am back! I am home! And this choice brings me closer to myself.

But meanwhile, other friends in the country I left behind are saying some important things about the choices of their homeland.

[personal profile] glass_icarus: On the Politics of Possession
I find it easier to embrace and explore my Chineseness than I do my Americanness, because there is a chasm between the reality of my identity and the perception of what is American that I do not know how to cross, that I cannot cross alone. Because citizenship, like identity, requires a negotiation between lived experience and perception. Because true citizenship, to me, is a matter of mutual respect and acknowledgment more than it is a legal status; because last I checked, belonging wasn't a unilateral decision.[...]
I say that a patriotism that only demands and never asks, only takes and never offers, is at least as terrible a thing as a love-relationship that does the same.

[personal profile] yasaman: Citizenship
I will not let go of my mother tongue. I spent four years in college making sure I would not let go of it, learning to read and write in it, because that opportunity was not available to me as an assimilating immigrant. But I will cling to Persian with my fingernails if I have to, I will not let it go. I do not require anyone else's forebearance to continue speaking, reading, and writing my mother tongue in my own home.

[personal profile] sanguinity: on the use of native peoples as a rhetorical flourish
you using Native people for your agenda -- as if Native people of course agree with whatever you have to say! -- erases the actual positions of Native peoples in this fucked-up snarl of nationalism and xenophobia. It silences and erases the points that Native people are actually trying to make [...]Native people are also being harmed by nationalism and xenophobia, and they're being harmed right now, not back in the 17th and 18th centuries. It'd be good if your references to Native peoples in this discussion were actually cognizant of that.

[personal profile] yeloson: Hate
Socialized sociopathy- a complete erasure of empathy for the targeted group, and you just do the actions of hate, not for hate, per se, but because it was a thing to do.[...]After all, as long as you can tell yourself you didn't start it, and that you didn't "hate them", you're totally ok, right?

[ profile] shweta_narayan: Dissimilation
And these are, surely, people who knew they weren't racist. They had an Indian friend! And she had never told them they were being racist, so obviously they had nothing to worry about. I'm sure they had that warm smug fuzzy that makes me so sick when I see it now.[...] And that abject, miserable, ashamed person, with that deeply ingrained insecurity and this rejection of family, is what Elizabeth Moon wants Muslim Americans to be. That person, hurt so badly that even talking about it half a lifetime later brings back shame to the point of nausea, is what she wants others to be so that she isn't inconvenienced.

ETA (21/9/10): A few more -
[ profile] saladinahmad: Some Darkness, Some Light
I'm thoroughly convinced that Arab and Muslim life is pretty worthless to the average American,and that this was the case long before 9/11. The first Gulf War, which costs thousands and thousands of ordinary Iraqis their lives, is nostalgically remembered by most Americans as a practically bloodless video game war (because, y'know, hardly any REAL people [ie, Americans] died). The Clinton era, when 'we' bombed or invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, etc, etc, and a MILLION Iraqis died from US-pushed sanctions while Madeline Albright yawned, is remembered as an era of peace and prosperity. 9/11, when 3000 innocent human beings were murdered by vicious shitheads, still holds a place in most Americans' minds as an unprecedented, unmatchable tragedy which was the first act of America's back-and-forth with Islamic fundamentalists. This despite the fact that American foreign policy before and since has produced a Muslim body count that dwarfs that number -- and despite the fact that British and American foreign policy is the single biggest factor in the Wahabbis fuckheads getting into power in Saudi Arabia, Saddam getting into power in Iraq, and the Taliban getting into power in Afghanistan.

[ profile] sajia: Non-violence for thee but not for me
"Everybody does it" is not a rational moral excuse, but when the expectation all over the world in male society is that you settle your differences with your fists, it is not surprising that Muslims have waged war to enhance their power, just as Christians, Hindus, and yes, Buddhists have.[...] The connection between singling out Islam as uniquely imperialistic and oppressive and attacking the moral character and personalities of the left may not be obvious, but they are linked in the way that the modern Western right gives itself the freedom to be douchebags and denies others the freedom to be human.

[ profile] saraswati: Out of the mouths of xenophobic asshats
Immigrants adapt in many ways, more ways than a lot of people realise. The problem comes when people stop seeing the similarities and only see the difference.[...]With attitudes like this, it's often no wonder that ethnic groups tend to segregate themselves when emmigrating. The culture they move to claims to greet them with open arms, but then in the next breath turns around and tells them that they have to get assimilated as quickly as possible so that their differences don't make anybody else uncomfortable. [...] In order to be themselves, to express themselves and bit of the familiar culture they came from, what choice do they have but to create pocket groups in which they're more likely to be accepted?

[personal profile] ciderpress: About citizenship
the narrative, the experience and the painful and yet sometimes forcibly, sometimes willingly taken upon process of immigration, cultural assimilation and multiculturalism should not be defined and controlled by members of a dominant group which is domestically and internationally powerful and destructive and yet, inexplicably fearful, that has flawed perception and endlessly judges, with shallow understanding, everything and everyone but their own selves.[...]Instead of letting those who have power, those who wish to control the state control our minds and actions with fear and hatred and anger and competition, instead of letting them create divisions between us and drive us into isolation, instead of serving the business of the state, we should be challenging the state to serve the people, all the people.[...]We should not talk about religion, immigration, economy and society and not talk about our own history and its effects, of personal responsibility of the state, of the citizen, of the individual. We must pass judgement on ourselves first, no? Otherwise, it is not judgement, it's simply an excuse and a weapon.

ETA (23/9/10):
[personal profile] trinker: Pay no attention to my assimilating self...
I am a member of an ethnic group that has been called "a model minority", and yet...because we're not white, we're still treated as interlopers. How much is enough? Japanese Americans don't live in enclaves - most of us are spread out through the suburbs.[...] My father hid the bonsai in the back yard. And even that didn't appear until I was ten. We drove GM cars until I was 13.
Was the error in speaking Japanese when we were shopping, rather than having my mother stumble in her best-as-she-could-manage-then English? Was it in my going to Japanese school on Saturdays, in a desperate attempt by my parents to keep me literate in a difficult language? [...] Tell me, what else was I supposed to do so that I didn't offend? There's a discussion over at Making Light about the alleged cycle of hazing and acceptance. I believe it's a lie that only serves white-assimilable groups. Please tell me where the goalposts are, so I can attempt to set my aim correctly.

[ profile] tithenai: Thoughts on Elizabeth Moon and the Wiscon ConCom's Response
But that gratitude should be telling. That gratitude is part of the problem. That gratitude is indicative of the fact that the status quo is so dire that I perceive basic human decency as Moon's "bending over backwards," and that some part of me was afraid that the ConCom would see no problem at all with what she said. After all, millions of Americans don't.
I was okay with the ConCom's statement because I was afraid there'd be no statement at all. I was okay with the ConCom's statement because it didn't sweep this under the rug, because they offered me something I could engage with. Because my reality is that when people threaten my family with racialised violence and call us terrorists, I have to stay calm and swallow it down and be a Model of Good Citizenship and the Better Person and the Teacher, because that, you see, is how we change opinions! And yet my reality is also that to want to talk about such incidents publically and in detail could open my family up to more threats and more violence, could polarise our lives into only dealing with threats and violence to make a Point -- but, that's our purpose, of course. To be Makers of Points before we are people. To be valuable and acceptable additions to Moon's commonweal. To be pattable on the head.

[personal profile] nyarlathotep: On being Muslim
It was like listening to a friend suddenly decide to, in front of your face, slander and bad-mouth you, and threaten to hurt you for what they thought you personally did; with the implied statement that you were better off dead and gone from the face of the Earth.
Yes, it felt that way. I don’t care if it was you personally. When I heard someone talk about how Islam was “inherently” violent and no one stopped them… none of the people who I thought were my friends… that hurt, okay?

[personal profile] jhameia: Malaysia Day
The main driving point I want to get here is the idea of assimilation being a categorical good. Moon actually posits the residential schools, that severed Native Americans from their culture by forcing them to adopt the culture of colonists and imperialists, is in any way a social good because now everyone can speak English! Ms. Moon, under the influence of colonialism, I cannot speak my own mother tongue nor my national language properly. This is not a social good. This is a personal tragedy.
Nor is assimilation in any way a social good in a multi-cultural society. The idea of multiculturalism implies multiple cultures. Assimilation is the effacing of one's own culture in the face of the dominant culture. Not exactly the idea of cultures living side by side. That assimilation is in any way conducive to multiculturalism is deeply insulting to countries and past civilizations that have been able to muster the state without making the same demands that white American supremacists make of their immigrants.

[personal profile] tielan: Australian, but never quite Australian enough...
I was born here. This is my country, my culture. I have no 'back home' to go to other than Australia. And yet, far and away the majority of people ask me, "So where do you come from?" And the answer of "Sydney, Australia" is not good enough. Oh, a few people see the pit they're at the brink of walking into and stop. But most people just plunge on.
But they're just interested in your background!
Maybe so, but it's my background. What if I don't want to share it? What if I want to be taken for who I am in the here and now, and not for my ancestry? What if I'm not comfortable with justifying my being here in Australia as [...] will never have to? Or should my comfort zones be sacrificed for the right of the nice white person to know my citizenship and ancestry status to satisfy their curiosity?[...]The truth is that our broader cultural understanding of 'Australian' really means 'white Australian' - and I'll never pass as white.

[personal profile] urocyon: More on xenophobic BS
Trying to set yourselves up as the true spiritual descendents of the folks your ancestors mugged? Deciding you should be in control of who can come and go--not to mention how they should behave while there? Further bad behavior on the part of guests.

ETA: (25/0/10) [personal profile] noldo: assimilation stories
Explaining to my uncle -- naturalised a United States citizen for three years now, born in an Indian city whose culture was almost entirely informed & enriched by Islam -- what the British National Party was, and he came right through all of their vicious racism and said, well, perhaps it's justified, perhaps they need it in those countries, you know. And I asked him, what countries. And he said, you know. With high populations of those people.
See, this is assimilation. This is how you teach us to other even ourselves. When you get right down to it we are all Those People. But it is more convenient for you to outsource the burden of maintaining that disgust to us, no?

(no subject)

Date: 18/9/10 12:18 pm (UTC)
kass: white cat; "kass" (Default)
From: [personal profile] kass
I hope it's not presumptuous to offer you a "welcome home."

And thank you for these links. Most of these posts are new to me, and I am looking forward to reading them.

(no subject)

Date: 18/9/10 01:06 pm (UTC)
swatkat: knight - er, morgana - in shining underwear (Default)
From: [personal profile] swatkat
Welcome home! It's rainy and pleasant now, mostly - a good time to be home.

(no subject)

Date: 19/9/10 10:18 am (UTC)
swatkat: knight - er, morgana - in shining underwear (Default)
From: [personal profile] swatkat
Ah, noted. I'm not at Delhi either - I will be there for a week (flying in later today), and maybe again for some time in November, but I'll be spending most of this academic semester at home doing nothing. *g*

(no subject)

Date: 18/9/10 01:41 pm (UTC)
princessofgeeks: (donut stack by hsapiens)
From: [personal profile] princessofgeeks
thank you for continuing to speak and to post about this.

(no subject)

Date: 18/9/10 01:54 pm (UTC)
loligo: (jumptina [Kalupe Jewelers])
From: [personal profile] loligo
In the now-deleted comments, Moon further emphasized her claim that European immigrants were quicker to break their ties with their native lands and assimilate to their new home (with bonus Latin@-bashing, as if the Islamophobia weren't enough). From personal experience, I call bullshit. My mother and grandparents were immigrants. The close-knit ethnic community they lived in is mostly disbanded now, but when I was a child in the 1970's, it was still very much in force. They had native-language social clubs, native-language churches, native-language scout troops, native-language summer camps, native-language newspapers, and (my least favorite of all) native-language Saturday morning school for kids. They ate their native foods and celebrated their native holidays (sometimes loudly, all night long). They kept in as close a contact with their relatives left behind as the Soviet government would allow them to.

They loved America, but they considered themselves a nation in exile, and they were intent on recreating and preserving their homeland in as much detail as possible. How is that assimilation? The main difference between them and the people that Moon wants to criticize is that they were white -- their supposed assimilation is all in the eye of the (bigoted) beholder.

(And thank you for the thought-provoking links.)

(no subject)

Date: 23/9/10 03:49 pm (UTC)
willful_zephyr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] willful_zephyr
Moon further emphasized her claim that European immigrants were quicker to break their ties with their native lands and assimilate to their new home

She said THAT?! I'm from Central Texas, where she is from, and the area is littered with enclaves of the Czech and German immigrants from over a hundred years ago. The annual cultural festivals are a big part of the social fabric around here.

I guess she spends too much time on her ranch.

Semi OT

Date: 18/9/10 03:27 pm (UTC)
willow: Raspberry on black background. Text: Original Unfiltered Willow (Willow:Unfiltered)
From: [personal profile] willow
You're home? Already? Why did I have October in my head?

Anyway, take a deep, deep breath in remembrance of me, please, especially if home still feels like home. 'Cause it might not be my home, but I applaud someone getting the chance to go to theirs and put their feet in the soil and taste the rain (and possibly pet the bamboo).

Re: Semi OT

Date: 18/9/10 11:00 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sajia_kabir
You used the word tubelight! God I miss that. Does your region have the expression "he's a tubelight", meaning he takes a little time to be fully cognizant, just as a tubelight takes a little time to get fully lit up?

(no subject)

Date: 18/9/10 06:01 pm (UTC)
yasaman: picture of jasmine flower, with text yasaman (Default)
From: [personal profile] yasaman
Thanks for linking! And I am glad you are safely back home ♥

(no subject)

Date: 18/9/10 08:39 pm (UTC)
thistleingrey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] thistleingrey
Yay, home. And it was lovely to meet you briefly. :)

(no subject)

Date: 19/9/10 03:34 pm (UTC)
glass_icarus: (angel/katie)
From: [personal profile] glass_icarus
one fear I have been able to disprove -- that I would somehow have been diminished into a foreigner; returning to a ‘home’ that was more exotic than familiar.

Look, I am back! I am home! And this choice brings me closer to myself.

*\o/* Welcome home! &hearts :)

(no subject)

Date: 21/9/10 12:41 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] joannkatana
Thank you for the links.

(no subject)

Date: 22/9/10 11:40 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] shveta_writes
Welcome home, welcome home. :) As always, you inspire.

(no subject)

Date: 23/9/10 04:54 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] angiereedgarner
Surfed here and so glad for these links. Thank you.

(no subject)

Date: 24/9/10 12:04 am (UTC)
skywardprodigal: Beautiful seated woman, laughing, in Vlisco. (Default)
From: [personal profile] skywardprodigal
Oh, joy, you're home!


And, thank you for this list. Plain thanks.

(no subject)

Date: 24/9/10 12:05 am (UTC)
phi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] phi
Thank you dear for compiling these links. I salute Shveta and Saladin and Amal and all the rest for writing beautiful responses to this mess, since I just don't have the spoons for an essay right now.

(no subject)

Date: 24/9/10 02:26 am (UTC)
allochthon: by Allochthon. Please feel free to take, just credit back. (spectacular fail)
From: [personal profile] allochthon
Thanks so much for this list.
Nisi recently made a post regarding this on her blog. It might be worth linking in?

(no subject)

Date: 2/10/10 04:35 am (UTC)
sparkymonster: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sparkymonster
Thank you for doing this collecting especially from Muslim people. I'm going to be spending some time reading (and re-reading).

The stories of assimliation always break my heart. I see myself in some of those destructive behaviors. I also now really see how white supremacist culture actively tries to....hrm. Just disappear. Assimliate, disavow your own culture, disavow non Christain beliefs (non-Christain is non-American obvy). It's such a profound erasure of personhood. It's terrifying.


deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
Deepa D.

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