With a crooked grimace I will probably have told you at some point about the relationship i had with a white man twelve years my senior when i was 18, such a disclosure of an experience serving to exemplify much of what’s wrong with white supremacist patriarchy. But I leave out the part about how Koreans responded to this, particularly Korean men who, with scathing eyes and tongues, have the tendency to construe my involvement with white men as the unequivocal proof of my apparent self-loathing, while they endow my brother with words of praise for his popularity with white women who sit at the top of the sexual hierarchy. It’s laughable to see that men of colour actually have the gall to engage in the hilariously ignorant presupposition of their own exemption from perpetuating misogyny. Men of colour, who, under the guise of attacking white supremacy, shame and vilify women of colour who don’t appease their pathetic male entitlement. Trauma for me has come from men of colour too, so the perpetual doubt with which I look on at men is not limited to the white ones. In the struggle against oppression, men of colour do need to be reminded that they are indeed still men.
I am also disheartened by the Korean immigrant families who eagerly approach my North Shore property owning parents, who, to the newly migrated, signify a repository of immigrant tips and pointers with which they hope to find out which schools and neighbourhoods are the good schools and neighourhoods, which we all know is thinly veiled language for less brown. They eagerly seek these answers, asking my parents all of this over the dinner we eat on stolen land. A reminder that white supremacy does not need solely white bodies to continue to rear its ugly head.
The fragmentation of our communities and the challenging fight to work for our own safe spaces points to how much racism and patriarchy undermines us and wants to keep it that way. It’s hard to support each other when the support we receive from outside of our communities can be as fleeting as the brief appearances of politicians who pay lip service without action at our events, scurrying away after an amount of time they’ve deemed acceptable has passed, while we hope for the day they’ll be as invested in our issues as they are in their visibility. Structural racism and sexism becomes underscored by the violence of capitalism’s emphasis on money as the ultimate value form, rendering our groups vulnerable and our services dry of funds which institutions are happy to starve us of. How can we support ourselves and each other within our communities when the capacity for it is forced to be contingent upon the support from the outside which we are not always getting?
I want to remind my friends of colour that we have a lot to address ourselves if we really want to mobilise in our common goal of abolishing white supremacist patriarchy. When all we have in common is not being white men, a commonality situated in a negative space in relation to what we are not, that is fragile grounds for a coherent mode of collectivity. Amidst the array of colours that we are, there is great multiplicity of conditions and being which must be respected which we are not doing all the time. For people outside of our communities, I still believe in solidarity and hope for the numbers to build day by day, as more and more people realise the ugly web that is oppression in all its forms. Connected and entangled and bound up in what seems like a destructive but indestructible mess, but one we all want to destroy. For nobody is free until everybody is free. For all my fellow comrades who will commit to living for the struggle, for whom the emancipation of the marginalised is of paramount importance, I stand with you and implore you all to engage in constant self-reflection as will I, as we work to build inclusive collective solidarity that will fly in the face of the white supremacist patriarchy that is both fragile and pathetic, weakening with every break in which we are those ruptures.
Last Friday, Shakti and partner organisations hosted an event to mark International Women's Day at Mt Albert War Memorial Hall. It was a lively event, with a shared brunch, speeches, panel discussions amongst researchers and politicians and the launch of “Break Free,” a handbook for migrant and refugee youth experiencing family violence.
The resource, which is the first of its kind, provides practical information on topics such as housing, jobs, study, relationships and immigration to help migrant and refugee youth navigate through the challenges in life after breaking free from family violence. The handbook covers culturally specific examples of unacceptable behaviours and practices so that youth can recognise the signs of an abusive relationship. It also includes personal anecdotes and supportive messages shared by migrant and refugee youth.
“There is a clear lack of support and culturally specific resources available for migrant and refugee youth who try to rebuild their lives after experiencing family violence in Aotearoa/ New Zealand. We hope this resource will provide practical knowledge as well as support,” said Mengzhu, who presented the handbook with a speech at the launch.
“Even though we specifically focus on the experiences of migrant and refugee youth, there is no doubt that family violence happens across cultures. However, there are specific experiences, issues and practices that need attention in immigrant communities, such as intergenerational cultural conflicts, forced marriage, and what has been called ‘honour-based’ violence. This handbook covers in more detail what this looks like,” continued Mengzhu.
The handbook is available for purchase through Shakti here, and it is free for young people who access Shakti’s services.