I was recently involved in this thing, and I won’t go into specifics about the org, names, people (because in some ways it’s not important and I also said I wouldn’t do it because there are still good things about it), but it was outside of my work routine and it pointed to how Asian American Men–that we are still challenged and not given the same respect, typically (albeit not always)–by White Men–even in “community” based settings where there are other BIPOC.
And this isn’t something that’s really unknown in so many ways, but at the same time, maybe it gets forgotten, or we say “X and X have this from a representation standpoint. We have Y and Y in this government position or this position”–the same things we point to when we talk about progress”–and then it’s either forgotten, or just not acknowledged that it even exists.
I think it’s important to remind ourselves of that, and myself specifically, especially in regard to “community”.
Part of what happened to me was that I got skipped over in a final rehearsal type setting, and a lot of it in part because multiple White Guys decided that because they were running short on time, my thing (along with co-creators, but I was the only one able to be there that night) didn’t deserve the same treatment as others. And they still did one other person’s after mine.
So I had to ask/remind them, even though everyone knew I was there, and then when they did do it–they didn’t even do the full thing. They half assed it. And while I’ve been in rooms where I’m the only POC and Asian American and Male, I just wasn’t prepared essentially get swept under the rug like I didn’t matter–and to something I was selected for.
In many other worlds and instances, I can dialogue, argue, and help sway the sides if I need too, but this time, I was only able to voice some of my frustration–in part because I was just shocked how everything went down.
How I was just treated as a person.
But as an Asian American Male, Vietnamese American Male–and you know when it happens to you–this feeling of being discarded, that your work doesn’t deserve the respect that everyone else gets (and maybe it’s more familiar in a work or professional setting)–it was completely disrespectful.
And it’s just systematic in many ways.
But I know better too–I know I should keep my guard up–it just takes effort and energy I don’t always want to emit.
And I really don’t think I should have to either right?
Because some of it should just be base.
And there was this component to it which was that it was a multitude of White Guys that imposed their own sense of what art is, and the merit of that art.
Who we revere in the “West”–as we all know–many times has not taken into account other voices, specifically those of color, immigrant voices. Artistic merit (as well as in the sciences and politically)–what is good–versus what is technical (and even then we can have debate)–has been decided upon pimarily by White Men up to certain point (as it is changing but only because of BIPOC and Immigrant Voices pushing this more).
In this respect, artistic merit, which made the decision in whether or not my final product got the same treatment, was largely decided because of hubris and Whiteness.
Of course–I’m still gonna say something later–there were discussions after this–and I pulled it from the project. There were so many things after that as well, the follow ups that just were typical White Guy responses and actions that didn’t take into account being who I was as an Asian American male.
They were rectified.
The mistakes were understood.
There was reflection. And that’s promising.
But it all still happened.
Advocate For Yourself At Every Level. Do What You Feel Is Right. But You Don’t Have To Take All That Shit
I just say advocate for yourself in the way that makes you feel comfortable and that gives you the power and control that you need for the situation, and to not let others go ad homien on you, or try and put the onus on you.
And don’t let them try and push the Whiteness on you. Like they are the victims who need help. Don’t let them usurp the situation–whether it’s someone who’s White or not. Because you don’t have to be White to help/keep White Biased Tendencies. We see it all the time, and I will guess that at some time, this has happened at least once, in an individual’s life who’s from a community of color, and I’ll include myself in that because no one is born with all the answers or exactly what to do right away.
You still have to call it out.