Wednesday, September 14, 2016

DOES COMING 2 AMERICA 2 WIN MEAN WINNING AT WHITENESS?


More than a few people have begun to wonder if  QUANTICO actress Priyanka Chopra is taking the 19th century Irish route to whiteness.

As described in an earlier post -- 
In the 19th century when Irish were being depicted as monkeys and definitely considered not worthy of being considered "white," not worthy of being added to the constructed "whiteness" along with the English, Germans, and French.  So what the Irish did was change clothes, change accents and swear that they looked down on black people just like every-white-body else. And soon the Irish were white too.  
The 21st century version of the Irish route to whiteness must necessarily use white colorblind ideology with a a sprinkling of **the frenemy of my frenemy is my friend** type networking.

Part 1  Coming 2 America 2B Winning



Lately, actress Priyanka Chopra has made a couple of statements that made people of color in general, and black people specifically, upset with her. Apparently the only racism she's seen fit to mention in detail after going to a predominantly white school regards the racist treatment she received from a girl named "Jeanine." The other thing she's done is say that she doesn't want to be referred to as a "woman of color" because she "doesn't like labels" and doesn't want to be "put in a box."



Some people think that Chopra is foreign and doesn't really understand what's going on in America, racially speaking, that she doesn't understand where the various terminologies spring. But I'm not so sure.  I've met a lot more than a few first generation Americans growing up on military bases. And people from other countries understand the racial hierarchies better than the people that live here do. And a lot of them make advantageous choices to align themselves with the winning team (white people) before they cross the shoreline.


And maybe you probably would too if you were them, if circumstances were right.  I'd like to think I wouldn't. But it might depend on what I was running from in the country I left -- for a while anyway.

Even some dark-skinned foreigners/new Americans do this aligning themselves with winning white people of the United States -- until white racism draws back its fist and bashes them hard enough to break their nose a few times. Other foreigners, dark-skinned and damn near white, come from countries where they understand and accept racial, ethnic, caste hierarchies and they willfully with full awareness walk into the white way of thinking so as to make assimilation easier.




Raised by two doctors, Chopra reportedly went to a mostly white school and was racially(?) comfortable there  -- except for the black person.  Again, it's been reported that one of the few specific things Chops had to say about racial prejudice in America has to do with a black girl named "Jeanine" in high school.  

While I have no doubt that black people make "racist" statements, my experience tells me that when black people do this, out of the blue, without provocation, is when they are the majority -- not when they are a small minority at a predominantly white high school.   .

So I'm thinking Chopra's story about Jeanine is leaving some critical information out. 


Yet, it could be that I am simply being biased as a black person. And Jeanine could just be nonstandard or insane. Maybe I just don't want to believe that Chopra's biggest and most significant experience with racism came from a black person in a predominantly white school. But even card-carrying. feel-like-they-own-everything-they-see white racists don't racially attack racial-others out of blue without safety in numbers

So I'm back to thinking Chopra's story about Jeanine is leaving some critical information out. 

And my experience of foreigners attempting to align their minds to white perspectives lines up with the sociological research that's been done: Foreigners coming to the U.S. try join the winning team. And in America, sociologically speaking, that means aligning with whiteness as quickly as you can. 

One of the fastest ways to join whiteness since before this country was founded is to be anti-black. The other quick, fast, and in-a-hurry ways to join whiteness is to feign colorblindness (not wanting to be identified as a woman of color. I just want to be brand X and raceless like white people who don't consider themselves white while having white perspective).

So what if Chopra's behavior triggered Jeanine? What if Jeanine is an average black girl who had an average reaction to something Chopra said and did while she was at a predominantly white school where the white people never said anything racist to her that was worth mentioning in detail? What if  Jeanine is nothing like Azaelia Banks (who she's been compared to due to Banks' racist ramblings at somebody she was jealous of) What if Jeanine is nothing like the sometimes unbalanced and shock-jockish, not-average, voting for Trump Azaelia Banks?  

Racist behavior, covert or not, from non-white people is particularly galling to Black Americans. And some black teenagers reacted with their own bigoted statements with an alarming, non-stop intensity when in high school.  So Jeanine may have attacked Chopra just the way Chopra said. But in my experience going to predominantly white schools? It's seems more likely than not that Jeanine was being reactionary in some way. 

Bigoted remarks hurled in hatred rather than in the form of ignorant jokes (yes black people can do this too), is usually reactionary to not just to anti-black attitude but poor treatment though some might claim otherwise.


In one Clutch article an African author said,
“African booty scratcher,” I remember a group of African-American students taunting a boy in the sixth grade. His family had recently immigrated from Nigeria and he barely spoke English. Typically, he ate lunch by himself and cowered at the sight of other students.
http://www.clutchmagonline.com/2016/05/priyanka-chopra-right-must-address-black-american-prejudice-xenophobia/
I don't agree with the author's conclusions in the article captioned above -- especially since another one of the paragraphs within the same article seems to be a lie of epic proportions (Black Americans claim the U.S. as the greatest country in the world) 
Yet, I have no doubt the "African Booty Scratcher" story is true. 

In elementary school, I was bullied quite a bit. I was a nerd. And I read a lot. I got the "You sound white" all the time. And I simply was not cool. By the time I was in junior high school, I no longer cared about others opinions as much and was able to look back at elementary school a little more objectively. 

When I was in junior high I commonly referred to elementary school as "the animal years" because small children really are vicious animals toward other children they perceived as different. 

The vicious name calling etc. seemed to calm down as we all got a little older, maybe 13 years old and older. And it wasn't just "calmer" Children who were horrid little monsters bound for hell at 10 years of age had grown some empathy by 13 and 14. Of course there were still bullies who cared for nothing and nobody but their own clique. But once we hit junior high most of my age group would not allow someone to be hounded mercilessly for being different (after a few jabs)


Maybe that's just my specific experience.   


As a rule, however, I haven't heard of Black American parents having an opinion on Africans one way or the other. And since ethnoracism is taught and learned, this is significant.  

I mostly hear of Black Americans wanting to belong to Africa because they feel so unwelcome in their home country of the United States. That's why black people from Africa and black people for the Caribbean looking down on American Blacks is so painful. 

Therefore the insult described in the Clutch article is not likely Black American children repeating anti-African racism of Black American parents. It's more likely that the "African Booty Scratcher" insult was created whole clothe out of white depictions of Africans always in the jungle running behind somebody like Tarzan or waiting on white people in loin clothes  in white television and in white movies. 

 In other words, I would be reluctant to call this particular example of 6th grade behavior "racism" or "xenophobia" because it was not constructed in the way that "racism" and "xenophobia" usually is. 

But high school is different from elementary school. High school students know what ethno-racism is, taught by parents or not. By high school, a child will have learned who is racially in and racially out from their peer group. And the kind of racist treatment that Chopra described receiving from Jeanine was pure hatred.

Chopra being foreign (or appearing to be foreign) all by itself doesn't seem enough for even the most ignorant of black teens to racially attack a person unprovoked White teens, however, expressing their white parents views in an unfiltered way, are the ones who think they own everything in this country. It is white people who will attack you just for being present where they haven't given you express permission. 

Still, Chopra expressing her own racism does NOT have to be THE reason for Jeanine's "racism." There could be a myriad of reasons why Jeanine hated Chopra and reached into the bigotry bag for insults. Fights and hatefulness often don't have a logical basis; Azelea Banks has proven this more than once.  But **how dare you be different and be in my presence without my permission** simply isn't likely to be one of them.  

**********************
The other thing that makes me suspicious of anything Chopra has to say on race and racism is that she says there's not "shade-ism" (colorism) in her home country -- which is pure nonsense according to more than one article I've read by dark-skinned women from India.  


Over the past year, I've become a lot more aware that the pale people from places like 
India, Mexico, South America, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic 
dominate and oppress the dark people from 
India, Mexico, South America, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and the Dominican Republic 

And Cubans? The Cubans in this country came from the upper classes of Cuba. And they straight up identify as "white" to the tune of 85%. Therefore Rubio and Cruz running for president within the party of Trump should be no surprise to anyone.  
Brazil actually had a reputation in the 1970s and 1980s (among ignorant white America) for not having a race problem at all, when Brazil was the last place to get rid of slavery in the Americas, when the past and current colorism alone is as plain as the nose on your own face in the mirror.  And the Brazilian police still like to kill black people for little or no reason. 

In other words, the pale from all of these countries/areas and more, just like the white people in the U.S., rarely see very much of a race problem or a colorism problem because they aren't the ones being targeted due to their skin color

And Chopra is pale. 


*****************
So now Chopra has expressed the beloved white colorblind ideals. She said that she does not want to be identified as a woman of color.  In a New York Magazine article she says that she hates labels. She doesn't want to be put in a box, she says.

Some might think Chopra simply doesn't understand how race and racism is constructed in this country. But I think it's might funny that she has the standard white colorblind racism based excuses down pat if she doesn't. 
 
In fact, I'm not sure Chopra hates "labels" and "boxes" at all. I think maybe she's perfectly fine with the colorblind-white-feminist box.
The title of this NY Mag article is
  • "Priyanka Chopra Is the Celebrity Feminist We Need" 
but the words in the internet link are
  • "Priyanka-Chopra-Doesn't-Like-Being-Called -A-Woman-Of-Color" 
See the content of the link for yourself before you click the link--  
http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/09/priyanka-chopra-doesnt-like-being-called-a-woman-of-color.html

Of course Chopra isn't responsible for the above. She didn't even write the article. But I think it's more than possible that Chopra is being claimed by colorblind racism swilling white feminists because her dog whistle is calling them to her.

Chopra's allowed to hate the term "Women of Color." Heck, there are black women who don't like the term "Women of Color"  My own preference is "Black American" or "Black American Woman" as my ethnic/racial identity. But when I want to be joined with other non-white races "People of Color" or "Women Of Color" is the ticket.

"Women of color" sounds clunky, but it joins me to other non-white women oppressed in this country. And I want to be joined.




I want to help myself, to help me-and-mine, and to help others toward equality. And I want racial others to want to help me. I want to watch all of us be raised up. That requires a joining. And a joining requires a terminology for joining.  I want white people being outnumbered in the year 2050 or 2060 to mean something as far as black and brown people having access to equal treatment before the law, equal access to power, equally good and bad images being pumped out into American culture. 

My desire to join and uplift women of color is the reason why I wanted to like the show Quanticco
   At least three women of color were in it, and one of them, Chopra, is the lead character. However, I was kinda forcing myself to watch it.  

While the story line sounds like it should be excellent, the execution is mediocre to poor. Frankly, I'm surprised it was renewed for another season. 


Quantico's  pacing is just bad. And Chopra's acting skill is kinda on the soap opera-ish side. But weak acting can be improved over time or simply overcome by a great story (Think: Keanu Reeves). So I had hopes for her future. 

But now I'm not sure I should care one way or the other about the future of Quantico 

For example, I have no idea if the other actresses, Yasmine Al Massri or Anabelle Acosta are Americans or not, or consider themselves women of color or not. But I do know that the black woman in 
QUANTICO, Aunjanue Ellis, isn't getting enough screen time to satisfy me. So if the show ends, she will be freed up to do other things.

To be honest, I can't really come to a solid conclusion on Chopra being anti-black as some random folk on the internet have claimed. However, even if she's not anti-black she smells a lot like Tiger Woods in the early days. 



I gave Woods the benefit of the doubt way too long after he told Oprah he doesn't like being identified as an African American. I knew he was announcing he was going to marry a white blond trophy wife in that moment. And that's exactly what he did  -- then he went on to dozens of other white women that resemble neither his father's people or his mother's people. 

Ultimately, my biggest problem with Chopra are her own words. I just don't think the reason behind the "women of color" identifier is any harder to understand than the word "consent" is for men. I just don't.  I think Chopra came from the dominant group in her own country and is aligning herself with the dominant culture here -- just like Cubans tend to do ( ID 85% white, not Latinx, not Hispanic," not Other but yes republican.)

The simple-minded words "I hate labels" are usually a way to distance oneself from X.  And in this case, X is "Women of Color" Whether or not this is a way to join whiteness, to me this is an expression of me-me-me. And if this woman is only out for me-and-mine (herself only or Indian woman only), if she has no interest in being joined to women of color so she can raise up women of color then I have no reason to support her as a woman of color. 

I think I'm done trying to watch Quantico.  However, I'm kinda in the same position with her as I am with Nate Parker.

 I want Nate Parker's "Birth Of A Nation" to succeed without Parker succeeding. We need movies where slaves are victorious and act on behalf of themselves and others.  But I can't support someone I consider a rapist.  
And I want a show with multiple women of color in it, like Quantico, to succeed so it breaks glass ceilings for other shows.  But I don't I have any interest in supporting someone, feminist or not, who doesn't want to BE WITH women of color.  So, I don't think I have any use for Chopra or her show --for now.

Some of what I find objectionable in her interviews really may be from her being ignorant of how race is shaped in the U.S. But not-seeing the colorism in her own country is not. And even if the not wanting to be identified as a woman of color IS simply preference, with or without ignorance of  how race plays out in this country, I can't help but think that this ignorance of hers was willfully formed and is being held in place by a desire to align herself with the winning team.

I'm not going to support her for now. I've seen pale foreigners do the Irish two step into whiteness  one too many times.  



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