In response to these posts1
, colorblue wrote
And another thing that I find very strange is that I know more of what certain Singaporeans (I would say certain Indian-Singaporeans, but that will just reveal my own backwards thinking, giving such undue importance to race in such a progressive and strangely tolerant country) go through than someone who has lived there all her life, except a part of me doesn't find that strange at all, because this is another thing that racism does.
On my more tolerant days I consider people who mouthpiece diversity and equality while viewing the world in such a strange way foolish and useless. On my less tolerant days, and this is one, I think such ignorant, willful blindness is just as destructive as the more outright forms of racism, for those forms of racism are built on excuses and niceness and strange tolerances such as this.
She also said
the following to me about including those posts in the carnival:
And you are hosting and commenting on an Asian Women's Carnival focused on intra/inter/transnationalities and either you did not realize or you did not think or you did not care enough that people like me would read the posts you were linking to and expressing thanks for and find their experiences or the experiences of those they respect and care about, the injustices they've faced and continue to face, ignored and trivialized.
And this makes me wonder just who the audience for this Carnival was intended to be or pictured as being, what was considered important and what wasn't, and that is why right now I do not care about whatever you might have found in Karanguni's post that resonated with you and that is why right now your comment doesn't have much meaning for me.
First and foremost, I apologize for not only hurting people, especially people who are being oppressed and treated unjustly in Singapore, but also for taking what should have been a safe space for them and making it unsafe, painful, and a replica of the same power structures they face at home. My intentions in this do not matter; the result remains the same.
Second, on intentions. In my excitement over the Carnival, I included everything submitted. This is an illustration of how focusing on one identity (Asian women) can act as a means of excluding identities within that one (non-Chinese Asian women in Singapore), and how those excluded are almost always the people who have less power, particularly when the person directing the focus—me—has a privileged place within that identity. This is why my intentions do not matter: they were intentions that made it easy for me to focus on people like me to the detriment of people with less power than me
, and therefore, they are the antithesis of good intentions.
I do not think I was the right person to compile this Carnival. To create a space that is safe we must first and always focus on those who are most at risk, and instead, I focused first on those on top, those like me. As such, I also apologize for the overall lack of South and Central Asian women, for the lack of transwomen, lesbians, women with disabilities, older women, non-English-writing women, and lower class women, as well as the lack of ethnic minority women in Asian nations. Just like the unmarked state reads as white middle-class male, cisgendered and heterosexual, an unmarked Asian woman is also able-bodied and -minded, young, middle class, cisgendered, heterosexual. Going top down by necessity reinforces these unmarked states and furthermore divides us into "default" and "default" with added widgets of oppression, none of which interact, all of which we tack on after the fact when they should be first and foremost.
No one single post in the Carnival created that type of space; my framing and compilation and editorial choices did.
To go back to colorblue
's words: "[T]his makes me wonder just who the audience for this Carnival was intended to be or pictured as being, what was considered important and what wasn't[.]" I believe for less privileged voices to be heard, the first thing is to find those voices and support them in what they are already doing, to prioritize them and to listen to them and to not speak over them, and most of all, to not subsume their identities into your own.
And that is what I failed to do and what I apologize for.
Please do not comment saying I should not apologize, didn't do anything wrong, etc., or that colorblue
is using the wrong tone or whatever. It is not true.
Also, do not comment in thanks for this; it is not something to be thanked for. What matters to me is going forward and not doing the same thing.
However, critique, privilege checks, etc. are very welcome.
1. As problematic as karanguni
's posts are, she did not submit
them to the Carnival; that they are in the Carnival is my fault. back