I want you to take a look at the three mixed boys in this photo, and how their eyes cut right through you. You can see the shame and hatred. The distrust. They know they are unwanted.
The next thing I notice are their faces. I'm struck by how prototypically "half" their features are: a characteristic blend of East Asian and European features that I'd recognize in an instant. While this particular look is currently in vogue in Asia, it wasn't always so. This image was taken in the 1960s. The boys are half-American, half-Korean orphans, the sons of American soldiers and Korean women (many of them prostitutes). For a long time, in Korea, if you were half-white and Half Korean, you were racially impure garbage. Everybody hated you. Sometimes people forget that racial purity isn't a concept that is unique to Europeans. It's still incredible to me how, in one generation, a group of people can rise from a reviled to fetishized status (the "half" look features prominently in high fashion runways across East Asia). Although that's easy to attribute to the internalization of white supremacy that seems to follow globalization wherever it goes.
Much ink has been spilled talking about mixed race identity issues, what exactly identity means for a mixed race person, whether they can fully embrace both sides of their heritage, whether they can ever really be accepted, and so on. I was part of the first "generation" of young half-Asian kids growing up in the West. By "generation," I mean that I was one of the first kids to grow up where being "half" was starting to become increasingly common. There was definitely a sense of disorientation I experienced, of not fully understanding where I belonged. Psychologically, then, I've always thought of myself as a perpetual outsider, mercenary in my affiliations. I barely even relate to other half-Asians, at this point, our lived experiences being so contingent on a number of factors.
Ask yourself: are you the colour of your skin?
On some level, I've always been disgusted by the concept of ethnic pride. I've always thought this form of ethnocentrism a kind of weakness, an inability to determine your identity for yourself. Sometimes, for kicks, I'll read White supremacist blogs (it's a morbid kind of fascination). The most hilarious kinds of posts are the ones extolling the achievements of dead white people, as if they were one's own. It's ridiculous to me, this tribal chest thumping. Like monkeys grunting in the zoo. To be fair, this disgust extends to any person who thinks their skin colour carries with it some essentialist properties of nobility, moral constitution, or capability.
Ask yourself: who are you?
If your answer is something along the lines of "I'm a proud ___________ man descended from ___________ , a group of people who did ___________," then you're a piece of shit. It's the same thing as wearing a Packers jersey and getting into a drunken brawl with some idiot wearing different colours. I don't respect people who bleed for anything other than an idea.
Here is what really defines a human being: the choices that they make. Not the things imposed upon them by genetic chance, social constructs, or fate. If you allow yourself to be defined by imposition, that's a form of slavery. Ethnocentrism is a form of imposition, embedded within it a set of cultural expectations about what you can and cannot do. Ultimately, only those things self-determined are of any true value, because those are things you chose for yourself:
This is how fucked up the world is: computer modelling seems to suggest that racism had some type of game theoretic advantages in our evolutionary past. That may be why it's such a universal problem. The correct response isn't to be disturbed - it's to be indifferent. Why should we be constrained by the past? Who cares?
Look at the picture again. What do you see?
Don't tell me it's three half-Asian orphans and a full blooded Korean one.
I see children. Four children, none of them loved.
That much I know, from looking at their eyes, and not their faces.
people I admire
Bret Easton Ellis