Observations and ideas about race, ethnicity and mixing.

Month: April 2018 (Page 1 of 3)

Hybridity at Dickinson

The article on hybridity caused me to reflect on the types of hybridity seen on campus here. Although Dickinson is a predominantly white institution, I believe there are great efforts made both consciously by the administration but also subliminally by students and staff that promote a diverse and accepting environment. However, it is the implementation of hybridity that needs to shift. While the administration promotes structural hybridity, there needs to be greater strides taken to promote organic and situational hybridity.

Intentional hybridity is often the point of contention on campus and can be seen through actions made by the administration. This can be seen in their recent decision to cut the New York Posse Scholarship program to promote more scholarships to other students of color, Mixing It Up Mondays, and through diversity summits and lectures. While these forced efforts promote diversity, they are not the most effective. It often occurs as a “resolution” to conflict, such as the blackface incident with the men’s lacrosse team. While their efforts encourage conversation, it is up to the students and staff to promote hybridity through other initiatives, which are more effective.

Situational hybridity often occurs amongst students through sports, clubs and organizations where the interests of students being people of different backgrounds together to become friends to unite and accept each others’ differences and unite towards something they all share in common. One such club is the International Club that promotes cross-cultural communication and embracing people’s backgrounds. Through events of celebrating holidays such as Holi and through their cooking series, situational hybridity occurs and is cherished. These elements of campus life promote situational and organic hybridity among students. We need to promote these more to make Dickinson more inclusive and accepting, creating a more positive environment for everyone.

General Amin as a Leader

I really enjoyed reading Hasu H. Patel’s article, “General Amin and the Indian Exodus from Uganda.” The text was easy to comprehend and the information was laid out very clearly. I was initially shocked at the beginning, after learning that General Idi Amin Dada announced a mass expulsion of Asians. I think it’s surprising that a leader would do that, so soon after taking office, and I was also surprised that most of the African press did not comment and wished to adopt attitudes of non-interference. Another point the article touched on, which made me confused, was that General Amin believed racial intermarriage was the best form of integration, but did not exempt children of Indo-African parents from the Indian Census. I feel like if he genuinely believed that racial intermarriage would help rectify the situation, he would allow these people to be left out of the census. Overall, after reading this text, it seems that General Amin was a leader who did not get much support or respect from the public, which was definitely expected based on his actions and statements.

Hip-Hop Desis and music

I found the conversations around this book and hip hop in The United States to be so compelling because of how so many different groups perform this style of music. It is interesting how in this case south asian identities used music to perform and incorporate ideas of blackness into their own identities. I think this idea of mixing takes shape in many styles of music. For instance, many white american musicians are rappers, and are often critiqued for trying to mix in this sense. Terms of appropriation and stealing cultures arise, as many do not feel that should be performing something that belongs in a black space. This instance is much different than what we see in hip hop desis, and I think many people need to be more aware of it. IT is unique because those rappers in the book are also apart of marginalized minority groups, and through music are trying to face and combat that. These concepts work outside of hip hop also, and the mixing of groups and music comes up in the world a lot. I first think of reggae, and how many groups try to embody that music and lifestyle. It is quite unique that some forms of music are associated with different races, and all the things that arise when other races and ethnicities try to make that music a part of their identity.

Black Panthers Red Guards

Looking at this reading was very interesting because I had learned about the Black Panthers in high school but never heard about the Red Guards. In this reading I learned that the Red Guard Party strategically adopted methods used by the Black Panthers to make a stand about Asian discrimination in America while simultaneously creating solidarities with other oppressed minority groups in segregated America.  With this historical plagiarism, Asian Americans pushed against their stereotype of the model minority and performed blackness in order to refrain from assimilating to whiteness.  Although one could argue that adopting anything other than an Asian identity could be interpreted as assimilation, adopting the culture of the oppressors in society was rightfully avoided. David Hilliard, chairman of the Black Panther Party is quoted as saying, “if you can’t relate to China then you can’t relate to the Panthers.”  However, through Chin’s The Chickencoop Chinamen we see organic hybridity between Asian Americans and African Americans, as one of the characters (Kenji) explains “maybe we act black, but it’s not fake.”


Dickinson shift towards Intentional Hybridity

Hybridity on predominantly white institutions rarely happens and when it does happen, people don’t want to recognize it explicitly. They would rather prefer it to be subtle. Administrations always tries to implement hybridity. Most of the time, the kind of hybridity that institutions such as Dickinson tries to enforce ends up being an intentional hybridity, where the administration brings people who are in conflict together in the interest of their own benefit. Just recently, Dickinson administration decided to suspend accepting bright New York Posse students. In their defense, they made this decision because it wanted to “attract” more students of color. They want to prioritize their intentional hybridity where they stop accepting NY posse students and give partial scholarships to recruit only students of color while those students pay the rest of the remaining fees. They want to gain more money and students for their own benefit. Instead of allowing organic and situational hybridity to foster naturally on this campus and find other means of making money, the administration made a big wrong move to target Posse. It is really unfortunate that NY posse students had to be the ones to suffer from decision of the administration. And it seems that Dickinson for a long time has also mistaken Posse scholarship as an affirmative action scholarship for students of color, which is basically a slap to the face of all posse students on this campus. Posse is not a scholarship meant for student of color but rather a leadership and merit based scholarship for students of all backgrounds. I question if Dickinson partnered with Posse in 2001 with the intention of only attracting students of color or young leaders. Sometimes intentional hybridity works and other times, it doesn’t. I really hope this intentional hybridity works and foster a healthy organic and situational hybridity environment for all students on campus.

Organic Hybridity

Bhavnani’s piece on hybridity and its application to the film Mississippi Masalawas definitely super interesting as it made me think about the ways in which society constructs identity and culture, and the situations in which culture and identity coexist separately or fuse to form something new. “When elements of identity and culture are present such that each element remains as a discrete and a distinct unit,” Bhavnani defines this as being situational hybridity. On the other hand, organic hybridity is the “fusion of identities and cultures which create a mixture in which it is difficult to specify the significance of any one individual axis of inequality.” I can see this organic hybridity in my home through my mother’s cooking in the states. My mother cooks with spices that are very traditional to her Salvadorian heritage, but she has also acquired new spices that are in her signature dishes now due to our Mexican neighbors who introduced her to them. Her Argentinean best friend, has also introduced her to making pasta dishes the Argentinean way, but of course my mother never fails to manipulate the dish and add her own twist to it that is very much rooted in the flavors of her home abroad. I think that organic hybridity happens on an everyday basis, but we fail to notice it or make anything of it because it has become the norm.

‘Hapa’ in Today’s Society


NPR has a section on their online site called, “Code Switched: Race and Identity, Mixed”. I found an article within this section called “‘Half Asian’?’Half White’? No – ‘Hapa'”, by Alex Laughlin. Hapa is a word that originated in Hawaii to describe mixed-race people, and is short for hapalua, meaning “half”.. I thought this was an interesting example of what we have been covering in class about what it truly means to be mixed, and the struggles associated with finding a balance between them. This internal argument of feeling inadequate and not belonging to any race is a common theme as we’ve seen in Yun’s Signifying  “Asian” and Afro-Cultural Poetics and in Lord Invador’s song, “Rum and Coca Cola”, just to name a few. Laughlin delves into his own identity, half Korean and half white. He says, “If I were to volunteer my identity though, I would tell you I’m hapa.” It was also mentioned that haps was once regarded as a derogatory word, but today it is just another word. “In identifying as haps, Ive found a way to normalize my in-betweenness.” I was reminded instantly of the word “coolie”, and Singh’s Per Ajie and I am a Coolie. All three of these readings emphasize changing one’s perspective on being mixed, instead of being ashamed, being proud. Laughlin interviewed Kip Fulbeck, a mixed white and hawaiian artist who said “I think [hapa] is a much more interesting and accurate word than ‘Amerasian’ or ‘Eurasian’ or any words that are two words combined, because I don’t think of myself as half Asian and half white. I think of myself as a whole.” Beautifully said.

Integration Through Marriages

When reading Patel’s work, and learning about the First Indian Memorandum, I was particularly interested about the idea of integration through marriages. I instantly began to think of the music video we viewed, and how the leading female was contemplating whom she was going to marry. She knew that messages and consequences would follow, no matter if she chose the Indian man, or a man from a completely different race. I think both of these cases show how powerful marriages are, and how the act of marrying someone from a different race is so controversial. I would argue that these notions have not changed in contemporary times, and many people face backlash when choosing to marry people from different races, religions and backgrounds. I find it very impressive that the people behind the memorandum at that time had the awareness to see marriage as a distinct tool and factor of integration.

Comparing Guiana and Uganda

Reading about the Indian/African conflict that occurred in Uganda was very reminiscent of the Indian/African conflict that occurred in Guiana. In both incidents the Indian population was manipulated by British colonists. In Guiana Indians were used as indentured laborers and in Uganda they were used in the commercial bourgeoisie to “keep the African out of the marketplace” (Mamdani 31). In each case, racial conflicts arose based on which race inhabited that country first, and which race had more rights to the land. This goes back to the idea of givers and takers, and the intentions of colonizers to remain in control. In Uganda, a large proportion of Indians were denied citizenship after a certain period under the rule of Amin. Also in each community creolization and integration was intended. Creolization was very successful in Guiana, however in Uganda less creolization occurred. We see the stark similarities between both countries whose economies have their origin in the colonial period.

Why are black men more likely to choose white women over black women?

After reading a chapter titled “African American Family” in my Africana Studies: A Survey of Africa and the African Diaspora textbook, I was left with some questions regarding the relationship between black men and women. “In accordance with the official 2000 census count, black men are 2.82 times more likely to marry outside of their race, predominately to white women, than black women are to marry outside of their race” (392). This statistic resonated with me because previously noted in this chapter was that black families were dominantly matriarchal. After reading this, I came to the conclusion that since during slavery “woman assumed authority over the children while the father, fear and relegated to the fields…” (386). Given the fact that black women were responsible for raising children and served as concubines to their slave masters, they in a sense acquired more power and privilege than the black men during this era in regards to having more access to resources and having the privilege to reside within the residence with the master. Given this history, I wonder if this is one of the prominent reasons why black men have a preference for white women opposed to black women. Do they think that black women are too strong? Do some black men subconsciously resent the independence and resilience of black women, for it forces them to question their masculinity?

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