Jul. 30th, 2011

azn_jack_fiend: (Default)
On my second to last post the note about Darren Criss reminded me to do this post, which I've been kicking around for a while as an illustration of the difference between race and ethnicity. People grasp the difference intuitively when it comes to white people. It's taken for granted that white people have different ethnicities. You can be Irish-American, Scandinavian-American, Cajun, etc. But for people of color, being racialized tends to collapse our race and ethnicity together. I like to make it clear that mine are quite separate.

Here are some examples of Japanese-Americans:

Let's start with an easy one! George Takei.



Pioneering Hawaii politician Patsy Mink. Note the Anglo name. 


Jero, who has a career singing a very traditional style of Japanese music. He was raised in the US and has a Japanese grandmother; that's how he learned to sing Enka. He's racially black, and ethnically African-American, and I consider him also ethnically Japanese-American. I don't believe one necessarily takes away from the other.


Scott Fujita, football player. He was adopted by a Japanese-American family and grew up in Berkeley. Just based on that last fact, he has probably had more contact with Japanese-American communities and culture than I have, and I'm not embarrassed to say that. He has spoken out about issues like internment remembrance. Racially, he is Whitey W. McWhiteperson, but I totally consider him ethnically Japanese-American.


Dean Cain. I don't know that much about him, or how he identifies. I just know he has some Japanese-American ancestry. I would call him multiracial and multiethnic and white.  I don't know if I'd call him Japanese-American or not, unless I heard that he identified as such.



Here are some examples of people who are NOT Japanese-American. They are weeaboos. Just trust me on this, OK?





I believe ethnicity is not about proving, or establishing a level of cultural competence. I would never demand to know anyone's particular level of identification. It's their right to communicate that or not. Ethnicity does, however, have a lot to do with claiming. Some people have a choice as to whether or not to claim ethnicity -- this is a choice that almost never exists for race, which is a much more externally enforced social category heavily dependent on visual markers.

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