Wednesday, May 16, 2007


At a recent dinner party, my host asked me what blogs I read (I had just announced that I was beginning to blog myself), and I realized that aside from the NY Times on-line and my various email accounts, I don't read anything regularly on-line. So. I decided to educate myself about blogs and read about half a dozen accounts. And I realized the obvious: the quality of blogs out in the world is extremely variable. And most if not all of them tend towards the solipsistic. Which, again, seems pretty obvious. I mean, most blogs have a single author rambling on and on about a topic that interests him/her. Autobiographical acts. Even if they have general themes or deal with abstractions, political interests, philosophical concerns, by and large they are mediated and framed by a single point-of-view, that of the author of the blog. So it's like reading someone's diary entries. And the quality of those entries varies blog to blog.

I naturally decided to look at ones that either had a race based or Asian American theme. And then some more personal ones. One of the better ones I found was by Angry Asian Man, the same guy who does the cartoon of the same name (which you can see compliments of AsianWeek), or you can just go to his blog:

In the category of "you have GOT to be kidding me" was a blog by a Chinese American girl, somewhere in the High School to College range. I am taking a guess about the ethnicity and age, but based on the Chinese pop song that played when you entered the blog site, the fact that it was a blog written in English but had user names that reflected Chinese surnames, and the fact that the discussion on the blog was of the inane variety of "OMG--I cannot BELIEVE he said that to her," I don't think I'm too far off the mark. This particular site had a black backdrop with hot pink hearts pulsating to the beat of the pop song (didn't know you could do such things--guess I'm really old school) and I didn't spend too long reading the posts, but all I could think about is: why would anyone who doesn't know this girl bother to post anything? And yet, she had people who visited her blog, who did post things--things she didn't like, things she did. And she commented on them.

But I suppose that brings me to my own reasons for blogging. And I have to admit that it's the way in which my remarks can be seen to be a form of narcissism that gives me pause. It's probably why I don't bother to read people's blogs and why I don't expect a lot of people (if anyone at all really, other than the few random friends who are interested) to ever find my blog or comment on it.

So again, why am I doing this? The public, journalistic, internet writing? The self-confessional mode? Ideally, I want a dialogue, a real conversation about race. Practically, I thought it would give me an outlet to write while I'm writing the BIG MANUSCRIPT. But if I dug deep and thought about it, wouldn't it just be part of my own self-interested way of spouting off, if only to an audience of one, myself? But secretly, or not so secretly since I am writing this in the most public of forums--THE INTERNET--what I truly desire is a mass world-wide audience to hear my ideas on race. To be validated that my ideas are smart, cogent, insightful.

Who knows? Tap, tap, anyone out there.....


Anonymous said...

Just a thought and you probably already thought about it as well but...
Isn't it a lot to do with the concept of acceptance, being validated, and belonging (being unconditionally loved) that create race issues to become salient, or the reason why a lot of people blog, or join religious organizations? I think it’s somehow related.

I think there is that constant motivation to understand where we stand in society, among people, peers, and family because people around us define who we are. We say we don’t care about what others think but I think it matters and we really do want to know and care about what others think to some level.

Maybe diversity makes us think/narrow our focus about our differences?

Jennifer said...

Thanks for your comment Kikonoko--I have to admit I was *very* excited to see that someone other than my boyfriend and best friend from high school was entering comments.

In terms of why people identify with groups, racial or otherewise, as a means of acceptance, I think that does make sense. That at heart, what we all want is to join others who will give us acceptance and unconditional approval and the surest way to that route is to find others who appear to be like us--who share things with us, whether that's an interest, a habit, a hobby, or a skin color/language/country of origin.

But I suppose part of the problem is when these identifications get too narrow and/or what happens when you don't really feel like joining? Personally, I've never been a joiner--always felt like I didn't quite get fandom or joining things--couldn't make the effort. And to some degree, even now, even though I'm a professor of Asian American literature, I don't feel a tug to join an Asian American group. I do value and appreciate my Asian American friends because of their Asian American-ness (along with their other wonderful qualities) but if given the chance to join a group...not sure I'd do it.

Perhaps diversity doesn't so much allow us to narrow our focus as to recognize that we can and perhaps should have multiple foci, multiple perspectives, multiple groups we can join.