Aswang Poetics, Continued

Continuing thoughts on Aswang Poetics.

Who created the word, “unfuckwithable,” because that’s so much of what this is about.

Whether it’s about having gender expectations pushed upon us, ethnic/racial expectations, any combination of gender and ethnic baggage we are expected to carry. To work primarily for the white gaze, to have the goal of pleasing the white gaze. There’s this wonderful piece about Ta-Nehisi Coates, discussing the imperative to please white publishers and white readers, versus writing from your own historical and critical perspective, from your own value systems, writing for your own people.

Regarding writing for the white gaze: We worry about our people creating a ruckus. We try to use shame — hiya — to rein them in. We experience that hiya ourselves, when we see our people acting out of line. We police them when they misbehave. We fear their unruliness will jeopardize our own tenuous good standing. How do we unlearn this. How do we liberate ourselves from this. Do we want to be liberated from this. Or is it our goal as a community to be respectable, on their terms, not our own.

Is class a part of this? This expectation to be a “Lady,” to exhibit gentility, to be genteel. I feel like this is class informed as it is also gender informed, the expectation that I do not speak out of turn, that I do not speak my mind, that I do not speak loudly. This expectation that I allow others to speak for me as a default. The expectation that I forego my own certainty, self-assuredness, and intelligence, that I subsequently accept and normalize bullying and victimizing and the myriad ways in which we are disempowered.

So then, being viewed in binary opposition, as part of an unwashed, unruly, ill-bred brown horde, or to be granted conditional acceptance as a good colonial.

I should say, this is all a process. Please do not think I am coming from a place of transcendence. This is messy. The work can be contradictory. I am well aware of my English, my credentials and achievements, how these are valued by whom. I am well aware of my American middle class comfort, how this shelters me from difficulty.

Bob Marley: Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds … 

Audre Lorde: … poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams ...

This is where I’m at today. Thanks for reading.


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