Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Being "Better Than"

I have to say, it sometimes amazes me how people can fail to recognize how offensive and racist they are being.

I occasionally read a blog called Angry Tibetan Girl (warning: NSFW Language), and she reads OT as well (thanks for the blog shout-out, ATG.)  We have the same opinion about each other's blogs. To quote her: "I'm not down with every post, but I like it for the most part." We also express ourselves very differently, specifically since she's angry Tibetan girl, it's a lot of ranting.  But a lot of her stuff is interesting and on point, even if we don't agree all the time.

Now, other than pointing out an interesting blog, why is this here?  A western reader on her blog sent her quite a diatribe (linked here and copied below) in response to another post.  We've seen our fair share of diatribes here, so it's rare that one actually surprises me with it's venom and racism.  This one did.  It seemed to come down to two overwhelming points:  White people are better than Tibetans.  Tibetans are lower than white people.  How is this not racism?  Read it for yourself below:

Response to Hypocritical Tibetan Poster Girl: Don’t see her point. She doesn’t address what I said at all, only hurls insults. She brings up the “ungrateful” bit but doesn’t comment on how it’s not true. To wit: “failed at living in their own community..” — Angry Tibetan Girl clearly fails at living in the West, in fact her blog is a good example of that.
And many Tibetans fail at living in Tibet, India, and the West, in a myriad of ways, I certainly didn’t fail at anything,
I would be great either in the West or here in India. In fact,
I sacrificed a nice life in the West in order to preserve Tibetan culture and religion.
“Feel important and valued” — same idea, the racist and hypocritical Tibetans like ATG want to believe that they are somehow superior and special based on their ethnic background and that they are inherently better than everyone due to their race, and resent the people that help them, how much help they and their community has received from the West and how much they themselves actually know about Tibetan culture and religion
(probably not much, who wants to bet I can read Tibetan better than ATG?).
“Helped individuals perpetuate their ‘entitledness’” — maybe by acting like jerks like her and thus making us realize just how unsophisticated some Tibetans can be.
“Whiteness” — just a clear example of her racism.
This girl is the Tibetan equivalent of an Alabaman KKK member.
Proves my point. Unless, she’s jealous of “whiteness and entitlement/ privilege”… “Enji” —
it’s spelled Inji,
and it’s a totally retarded and inaccurate word anyway. That she doesn’t realize this shows the depth of her lack of deep thinking about the issues.
Of course we can forgive most Tibetans for using the word, but someone who is fluent in English and lives in the West?
“I’m not saying all Injis are crazy” —
I like to joke that to some Tibetans “Injis” seem crazy because they can hold a logical argument together without resorting to superstitions and stereotypes, and are capable of having more than 10 original thoughts in their heads a day.
This girl must have had some pretty redneck backward parents to talk this way, unfortunately not uncommon in the Tibetan community,
as I am saying. Her response proves all my points quite nicely.

According to this writer: Westerners are better at living in the west and east, and we shouldn't forget his brave sacrifice in coming here! He is better at reading Tibetan! He knows more about Tibetan culture! He is more sophisticated! He has better spelling of phonetic interpretations of Tibetan words which are based on individual dialect and accent. He is a deeper thinker! He can hold more thoughts in his head than a Tibetan! He doesn't believe in superstitions or stereotypes!  And here's the clincher: the Tibetan community is full of "redneck, backwards" Tibetans.

And of course there is the whole "they resent me for all the help I give when they should be grateful" mentality.  Regarding that, I want to leave the last word to a Tibetan in Tibet, who may have summarized it best:
"We don't need your 'help', you are not here for 'helping' us. You are here to benefit yourself as well. We don't want you guys to 'save' us.  We are developed in our standard, you are developed in your standard. No one is lagging behind or backwards."

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Using Tibetan martyrs for shameless judgmental self-promotion

Wow. I'm nearly beyond words on what I found today, which was enough to make me write my first contribution to this blog in over a year. I was looking on Facebook for updates on Jamphel Yeshi's condition after his self-immolation, and I found this:

Not only does this person find himself entitled to judge Tibetans' political actions, but he's made a very emotional space that was intended to be for those following and praying for Jamphel Yeshi-la's condition into an advertisement of his own pet project, delusions of grandeur, and patronizing claims that he can teach Tibetans to "speak to the world" better than their direct action and acts of extreme self-sacrifice have already done.

Wow, I really don't know what to say beyond this...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

More on the immolations...

The ongoing immolations seem to be bringing the worst out in foreign "supporters." I know we talked about this before, but I am seeing it again. Specifically, I've seen several foreigners on forums like twitter and facebook, demanding that Tibetans not only stop the self immolations but stop showing any respect for the immolators, such as calling them Pawo and Pamo (hero and heroine) or martyr.

I use the word "demanding" for a reason. These aren't requests or advice, but demands. These people will quote lamas such as HH Karmapa completely out of context in order to "prove" that they have the right to demand Tibetans follow their ideas of political activism. In addition, these are almost uniformly people who have few, if any, deep connections within the Tibetan community. Needless to say, not one of them could communicate successfully in Tibetan if they tried. None of them, to my knowledge, had ever set foot in Tibet.

But even if they had, even if they had lived in Tibetan communities for years, spoke fluent Tibetan, had dozens of very close Tibetan friends who were practically family: they would still not have the right to demand Tibetans conform to their ideas of correct activism. How many times does it need to be said? Tibet is a Tibetan issue! Tibetans are the only ones who should decide how to take it forward. We are supporters. Our job is to support.

In a case of violence, such as a bombing killing civilians, outsiders would have the right to object to the violence and stand in defense of the victims. However, in the case of immolations the victims are the perpetrators. These young men and women have decided to take their own lives in a form of protest that shares a long history across many cultures.

Does that mean outsiders should condone the immolations? Not necessarily. Tibetans are the ones who decide how to take their activism forward. We, as foreigners, can try to be respectful supporters and voice our opinions, but we can make no demands in either direction whether saying "you must do this" or "you must not do this." And everyone, Tibetan or foreigner, has the right to their own opinion. Therefore, it is absolutely okay to choose not to condone the immolations. But the difference is this: If we, as foreign supporters, do not agree with the actions of Tibetans; we must recognize that it is not our country, not our lives and therefore not our choice. As abhorrent as one might find the immolations, and as many do, we are not the ones who need to deal with the Chinese on a daily basis.

So it comes down to this: We can accept that we support Tibetans and their rights to decide their own future for their country and their rights to decide how to achieve that, even if we find a certain tactic distasteful, or we can walk away and give up our self declared, innacurate title of "supporter".

If you truly believe that your right to object is more important than the Tibetan people's right to self determination, whether for their country as a whole or even just in terms of deciding how to protest, then you object to Tibetans' rights to decide for themselves. The whole goal is for Tibetans to regain that right to self governance. If you object to that, you have no business here.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Aaaand we're back!

Sorry, guys. The past few months the authors of this blog have been scattered in different locations, and with commitments, life and the amazing ability to procrastinate, no posts have been published. BUT, we're back. Seriously. There is absolutely no shortage of inspiration for posts (sadly.) That said, if you want to talk about something that we haven't covered, by all means, contact us!