Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Groove Magazine on MBC stuff

Groove Magazine has a multi-page spread response to the MBC racist video thingy. It's a pretty great set. You can also spot an article I contributed to it.

I was talking with a friend the other day about this magazine thingy, and she was cynical about it all. "Like the Groove piece is going to change anything."

And she's right. But she's also wrong.

See, if my Korea life time horizon is two years (longer than the average English teacher's stay), then no, this isn't going to change everything. It'll make me feel vindicated, and that's nice, but that's about it. But responses like this to race-baiting media? On a two-year time horizon, no change will likely be observable. So my friend is totally right.

But my friend is also totally wrong, because that isn't -- can't be -- why we launch responses like this, on the blogs, with youtube videos, on the it's not a blog it's totally different I swear's, and elsewhere. The reason we put forward a response like this isn't because racism in Korea can be fixed in one single media news cycle. Of course not. After all, the latest Oscar opening ceremony STILL got dinged for making a blackface joke, at least two generations after American people of color started saying "hey. We actually don't like it when you do this."

The reason we do this is because we are here, and we have a voice, and this is part of how we demonstrate to the homogeneous part of Korean society that we aren't going anywhere, and that we ARE stakeholders, and that it MATTERS to us, and to Korea at large, how the "other" is treated in Korea, in the long run. So has this changed anything? Nah. No change that'll be observable from the way things were in 2011 to the way things will be in 2013. But the game we're playing has to be a long game, not a short one. And we have to be ready next time (hopefully a little more ready than this time) and we have to have resources ready to activate (hopefully more, and more easily activated than this time) and we have to have allies among Korea's own citizenry (hopefully more, better connected, and more vocal than this time), because social change isn't like flicking a light switch, and some watershed moment happens, and then everybody pats each other on the back for fixing Korean racism. It's a slow, ongoing, frustrating conversation, where a new idea, or a new identity, or a new group, or a new version of what it means to be Korean, starts on the far outside fringe of mainstream thought, and slowly slowly, the mainstream first becomes aware of it at all, then decides it's not quite so bad as they initially thought, then decides it'd be OK to coexist with it -for other people to hold those values or be that way, but not me - before they finally decide it's time to embrace it.

There are other conversations going on -- let's remember among ourselves that...

1. the cure for racism isn't more racism (Korean men made this video because of their tiny penises and because some whitey stole their girlfriend; Korean women choose western men because western men are just superior in some way)
2. the cure for racism isn't sexism (we made this video because Korean women are out of control!)
3. the cure for racism isn't racism PLUS sexism (Korean women can't resist foreign men because we don't hit them or make them quit their jobs to make babies)
4. it isn't just about Korean women and western men. And the more western women's voices, and Korean men's voices, are welcomed into these conversations, the more useful this conversation will become.
I'm sure there are more of these, but for now, I'm going to hit "publish" now.

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