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shweta_narayan
11 December 2010 @ 03:49 pm
Coming from recent things, including but not restricted to (1) this comment thread on appropriation and (2) the noticeably small overlap in POC communities and non-American communities I'm in.

I see a fair amount of unconsidered US-centrism in conversations about race -- biggest to me is the assumption that the lines of ethnic difference are drawn identically all over (and for example being Irish in England is the same thing as being Irish American; being Jewish in Eastern Europe is the same thing as being Jewish in the US; more dramatically, default = privilege (implicit: = white) everywhere).

This one has tripped me up in a big way in my writing -- where what I've said means totally different things from the US perspective and the story-internal perspective that I'm assuming (in my own unconsidered ways, sigh).

I'm also thrown by some Native-US-English-speaker privilege things -- the assumption that we "just" all speak English (while in fact some of us speak different Englishes with different nuances. And some of us have paid dearly to pass as native speakers of this language of privilege, and sometimes fail to pass. And some of us can't pass and are dismissed or erased for that reason. And those of us who can are always working to pass. And might ask how a community speaks without meaning any offense, because we know there's no "neutral" version of the language, there are only privileged and less-privileged dialects. And and and.)

I need these conversations about race; but I also need conversations about non-US stuff that deals with issues of race and colonialism, and doesn't pretend (as some does) that all "International" stuff is equal, and... for example that Western Europe is just as Othered here (and in just the same ways) as India. 

Every generalizing narrative erases someone. 

...Including the one where I'm Indian (as Ashok Banker so sweetly put it last year, I'm not a real Indian.)
Thing is that I am invested in all these groups without not exactly being a central part of any of them.   And as part of an already-erased immigrant-type narrative (not that I'm an immigrant either, not unless I decide I want to immigrate, but we need more of a distinction between first-gen immigrants, white or not by US standards, and Americans of non-white immigrant descent.)
So I end up wondering if my tribe is the POC or the Internationals or my fellow Desis; but of course it's more complicated than that.  My tribe is all, and none. I need them all; they are important and dear to me.  And because they matter to me, I want to change them.  (ha).  Without any real notion of how a boundary crosser, a dweller in liminal spaces, can ever be "within" a group to the point of effecting change.

...so that was longer than I expected it to be, and doubtless more rambling.  I have Even Moar Thoughts on it, and want to open up the field for conversation sometime, but am drawing on tomorrow's spoon supply as is & need to stop talking now.
 
 
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