The Woman, The Orphan, and the Tiger — An Important Documentary Film

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The following is the introduction on Vimeo for the documentary film The Woman, The Orphan, and the Tiger.  I present the link to the movie following this.

It is an excellent and much needed film speaking to issues surrounding trauma and women of the South Korean diaspora.

Although this film is of the South Korean women’s diaspora, sexualization and militarization, I feel that there are many parallels with women who are Filipino, Japanese, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian, and other dominant nationalities and the indigenous and ‘minority’ women who live within them, whose lives are connected to the presence of the US military in their societies following wars and conquests, and their connection to elite Asian governments today in relation to global imperialism.

The Woman, The Orphan, and The Tiger 
by Jane Jin Kaisen & Guston Sondin-Kung, 2010
Single channel video, 72 min. Color & BW, 16:9 DVCPRO 720p

The Woman, The Orphan, and The Tiger follows a group of international adoptees and other women of the Korean Diaspora in their twenties & thirties. It explores the ways in which trauma is passed on from previous generations to the present through a sense of being haunted. The physical return of the Diaspora confronts and de-stabilizes narratives that have been constructed to systematically silence histories of injustice committed onto certain parts of the population in South Korea. 
A genealogy is created by relating the stories of three generations of women: the former comfort women who were subjected to military sexual slavery by the Japanese military between World War I and II – the approximately one million women who have worked as sex-workers around US military bases in South Korea from the nineteen fifties to the present – and the around two hundred thousand children who were adopted from South Korea to the West since the nineteen fifties. 
The film exposes how military and patriarchal violence against women and children became central in geopolitical negotiations between South Korea, the United States, and Japan, and how this part of world history has been systematically silenced, but reverberates in the present moment.

Josephine Baker: Entertainer and Mixed Race Children as “Rainbow Tribe”

Josephine Baker Tribe

Josephine Baker, in the post-World War II atmosphere in the United States, was one of the many African-American entertainers that was part of the exodus to France.  France was sought to be kinder and filled with more opportunities for Black people, and entertainers in particular, than the 1920s were in the US.

The world over, knows of her entertaining days and thinks of her as trailblazer and entertainer extraordinaire. However, how she entertained, was becoming out-of-favor, and a beginning to wane as something she could rely on.  At the same time, she became more focused on her mixed-race heritage and world political racial culture, and began adopting mixed-race children from around the world, in her quest for the ‘Rainbow tribe.’

She was quite close with Miki Sawada 澤田 美喜, who opened and became famous for her work in the Elizabeth Saunders Home for Mixed-Race Children in postwar Japan.  Josephine Baker adopted from Sawada, and others from around the world.

Nowadays, especially in France, when her name is mentioned, some people chuckle, or look embarrassed, or frown. The reason for this is that she and her husband opened a chateau in France, to raise her “rainbow tribe.”  She had definite ideas on what her dream of the multicultural world would be, and that she could be that example–of bringing a ‘world’ of children together and raising them with love and strictness that would be emblematic of a global village. What made this disturbing, is that she charged admission for tourists and others, to come and see the villa, to see how she raised the children, and to watch them sing and dance for them as entertainment.

In retrospect, because of her waning career and retiring into the village with her children, she viewed this as both a teaching opportunity and a way to fulfill some sort of dream that she had, some sort of thinking process in relation to mixed-ness and the global village.  As those “rainbow” children grew older, this became impossible, untenable. It almost became a “joke” for the French public, and many others.

What sort of thoughts, or fantasies, really, did she have of mixed-race children? She did feel entitled to represent her fantasies through these children and the chateau and the money she made from their presence and her own work.

Nevertheless, this did present some interesting questions on power, the global village, resistance and assiilation, in a world that continues to make bodies and races and ethnicities, representations of something, always linked to larger socio-political cultural concerns and tactics  of positionality and difference, healing and empowerment, adjustment and ideas of love and society.

Here is a trailer and a short critical interview/review:

Michael Brown speaks to American fathers who have abandoned their own Amerasian/mixed children in the Philippines

The Amerasian, as a social phenomenon, began at the turn of the century, as extension of the ‘mixed-race’ issue in Asia with the arrival of Europeans and Americans.

There are an estimated 2,000,000 (million) amerasian children who have been abandoned by their American fathers, in the Pacific.

Michael Brown, in this video, wants American men, and the American military and government, to take responsibility. The lives of Amerasian children in Asia, in almost every case, is a life of being called outcaste.  This includes their mothers, who struggle in nations that consider these children ‘devils’ or ‘illegitimate’ or ‘non-citizens’ and other names that brings scorn and abuse. Mothers are often called ‘whores.’  In legal and institutional channels, many are stateless.  Which means they cannot get services from the state.  Prostitution and begging, and a life of stealing, as well as being targets of human trafficking and stealing global labor trade, are all the greatest possibilities for their futures. How are all citizens of the world to be accountable to this legacy?

MY BOOK will be released this Fall 2015!!

My Book — Dream of the Water Children: Memory and Mourning in the Black Pacific, after a year delay, will be released this Fall 2015.  So far, all is going well for a timely release!

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In Response to the Americans Protesting the Spanish-American War

Buffalo Soldiers, the 9th & 10th calvaries made of African-American soldiers, pose in the Presidio of San Francisco, ready to go to battle in the Philippines. circa 1900

Buffalo Soldiers, the 9th & 10th calvaries made of African-American soldiers, pose in the Presidio of San Francisco, ready to go to battle in the Philippines. circa 1900

There was large public outrage at the U.S. government and military, by the American public, against the American military presence in the Philippines islands, the Archipelago. By 1900, the Senate had to meet and the pro/con sides had to decide. Senator Albert Beveridge, Republican of Indiana, stood in front of the U.S. Senate to justify the continuance of Manifest Destiny in the Pacific. Although the law ending slavery in America had passed, the ‘secret’ slaving system had intensified across, through and on top of the Pacific Islanders and Southeast Asian tribal peoples. From the 56th Congress, First Session, January 9, 1900 of Congressional Record Part 3, Beveridge says (paraphrased using his own words):

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The Tagal people, after rising up to fight the Americans, are slaughtered in their villages by the Americans.

Distance and oceans are no arguments…. The seas did not separate us from lands of our duty and desire…..  Americans had world duties as a people imperial by virtue….. by right of their institutions, by authority of their Heaven-directed purpose….. would not the people of the Philippines prefer the just, humane, civilizing government of this Republic to the savage, bloody rule of pillage and extortion from which we have rescued them? ….. The true meaning was deeper than any question of party politics, than any question of the isolated policy of our country, deeper even than any question of constitutional power. It is elemental. It is racial….. Remember we are not dealing with Americans or Europeans but Malays corrupted by hundreds of years of savagery, other hundreds of years of Orientalism, and still other hundreds of years of Spanish character and custom….. What alchemy will change the oriental quality of their blood and set the self-governing currents of the American pouring through their Malay veins?

Blackbirding

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‘Black-birding’ is a British term which was used to speak of the 19th century Pacific labor/slave trade for the colonialists.  Australia, France, Britain, Germany and the United States were the main traders. Blackbirding mostly involved kidnapping and trickery (to sign contracts) for laboring in mines and plantations in South America, the U.S., Canadian West Coast, and Australia. In addition, many of the Pacific islands themselves had small plantations for workers to be transported to work from other islands. They often worked alongside Japanese, Chinese, and others in later years, tricked or stolen to do labor in farming. As you can surmise, there were many relationships and marriages between different groups as time went on.

During this period, similar to the most brutal of African slave-trade stories you have heard, the conditions and behaviors meted out to the islanders during capture, transport, and/or working life, were horrendous.

Many scholars and artists today, speak of the African slaves brought to work in places such as Peru, Brazil, Australia, and elsewhere.  Many of their research, I’m afraid, is influenced by the ‘Atlantic slave-trade’ consciousness, as far as the identity of darker-skinned people. In addition, many scholars including archeologists, are determined to collapse Asian dark-skinned people as original Africans.  I do not believe that this is so in every case.  I prefer to think of dark-skinned people as having been in many places. These people have been on earth for tens of thousands of years.

Many scholars also ‘white-wash’ and dilute, in order to refuse, deny, hide, and distort the histories of the Pacific slave trade, making it more of a ‘migration’ or ‘recruitment’ imagination, twisting history away from what was going on. It is true that many were forcibly taken or deceptively recruited and then thrown into manual labor and displacements to far away places in a way differing from the Atlantic African slave trade. However, the effects and violence were similar in many ways.  This cannot be refuted, as more research is done and we actually ‘Listen” to the stories of the indigenous and black-Asians that are alive today.  They know their heritages.

From colonizing Hawaii to slave practices that stole bodies and decimating communities in Fiji, Samoa, Guam, Tahiti, Micronesia, the Solomons, the Hebrides, and almost all islands in the middle to southern Pacific, massacres, using kidnapping and false promises for ‘peaceful and willing’ recruitment.  Of course, many died from contact with diseases from Europeans and Euro-Americans, as well.  Families were torn apart and the vulnerable–mostly women and children, were stolen to also toil in mines and fields, and then to survive.

Many indigenous tribal peoples in Australia and New Zealand, sometimes mixed with those of Southern China, Taiwan, and New Guinea, and the darker-skinned Malays and other related peoples.  Mixing of the darker-skinned also began during this period when they were often thrown together.  In fact, the Americans, because these peoples resembled the African tribal peoples so much, called them ‘niggers’ and treated them as such. In Australia, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands and the North and South American coast, they were often called ‘Kanaka.’

We should note that the Pacific slave trade intensified *AFTER* the laws freeing the slaves in the United States was passed.

These tribal people have not disappeared. Although decimated, they have been thriving and growing in numbers in recent years, as the world’s powerful nations have concentrated on other wars and colonial projects. There is a growing reality of linking various dark-skinned Pacific peoples with the other indigenous and native groups in Asia and the Americas and Europe (such as the Sami people of Finland) to form fourth and fifth world solidarities and fight for their rights in the present age, which they continue to have to do.  The world structure continues to purposefully or unintentionally through ignorance, be invested in making them a ‘people of the past’ and cannot see the Black-Asian peoples and other indigenous people as present now, here. My thinking is that this is due to the fact that most people do not know anything about this history.  Because of this, as mentioned before, there is an ‘African’ and ‘African-American-izing’ of Black peoples.  This is also a problem.

Blackbirding is also still present.  Many more Africans, Asian, and Latin peoples are being forcibly, in many ways and techniques, displaced.  In the present world system, more than any other, bodies are used for the labor-duties of the dominant.  Even pleasure, is made into this.  Making it worse, as is the case everywhere, this form of power and degradation is seen as something to access for gaining wealth and power and/or just to survive, as many non-Europeans mimic this and begin their own blackbirding for various reasons. The controversies surrounding ‘Human Trafficking’ are linked with this intensely.  History is not past.  It is now.

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PUBLISHING of my BOOK will be DELAYED

Dear all interested,

My book was slated to be out this fall.   I don’t think it’s going to happen.   Many things are going on at 2Leaf Press and many things still need to be done with my book before it is ready.   So please be patient.

There’s a very slight chance it will be OUT by the END OF THE YEAR, but most likely not until next year.

It is a big book with Japanese characters and all kinds of poetic/artistic forms, as well as footnotes and photos that make this challenging for the publishers.  They’re still very excited, but just taking a bit longer to get it done.

I hope all will still be excited and will pick up a copy when it comes out!!!