Dishonorary Whiteness

dishonorary whiteness: my experience as an asian american women
february 2019

i piece together different historical landmarks, culture, clothing while using my body as an Asian American women to showcase two modes of extremes (and it’s complexities) that weighs heavy on me despite wanting freedom for myself and Asian American women. This freedom to simply just be with visibility and existence throughout the whole spectrum of the extremes. I constantly struggle with my own internalized racism or feelings of “dishonoring” and finding forms of resistance for myself or letting go wanting to be “white.” At the same time, the Asian American Women’s experience remains invisible in so many ways: the negotiating/struggle of these two modes and everything in between:

ERASURE MODE – Triptych 1/3

When I think about a historical landmark with a sense of belonging for Chinese Americans and immigrants in Boston, Chinatown is one of the most iconic place that celebrates my community and who I am.

Despite grounding myself in the love and sacrifices of my community, I grew up not knowing this and internalized the only messages I see in dominant white culture where my own community, culture, history remain either invisible or shown in a negative light. And so internalized racism becomes a painful, numbing process of self whitening, erasing and silencing my own identity in order to feel an illusion of belonging in system that it is not created for people like me.

On the flip side, this is also my own journey in navigating a system dominated by white supremacy, where I and Asian American women have to work with this system to resistance and make change hence the all the white suit.  

INVISIBILITY – Triptych 2/3

I left this part blank because there is so much more to Asian American women that is beyond myself. We are absolutely not all “exotic,” “obedient,” “quiet,” model minorities, honorary whites and yet we remain invisible and condemned for not upholding white supremacy.

On the flip side, this is a space for imagination, creativity, vision of what freedom can be. I find myself often in modes of erasure and resistance. 

RESISTANCE MODE – Triptych 3/3

When we think about a historical landmark that symbolizes great political power in MA, the golden dome of the State House is also iconic and symbolizes one of the many ways in which white supremacy operates. In a system of oppression, I constantly have to do the resistance work to remind and convince myself that I belong and I have a place here while knowing people in power often excludes people like me. In working in this system, I often have the responsibility to bring as much as my identity, culture, history and experiences as I can all while standing firmly wear my traditional Chinese jacket/culture as well as western accordion skirt.

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