Asian american religiosities j3 | American history homework help
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below are two of the sample journal entries that acheieve 10/10 full credit
This entry received a 10/10 for fulsome meaningful engagement with assigned reading and original creative analysis.
I originally signed up for this class thinking it would be more of a survey of Asian Religious Traditions – apparently, I was wrong (as stated in the syllabus.) Originally, I was disappointed, but after having completed the first readings and watched the videos, I’m both glad and interested that it is not. I must confess that this class will likely be difficult for me, as a straight white male (otherwise known as “the devil” in these current times) but that doesn’t deter me. I grew up in the Bay Area and feel fortunate to have been raised around a very diverse group of friends. I admit to thinking that racism was something I read about in the history books as it wasn’t something I overtly experienced. In 1996 I joined the military and spent a lot of time in the South (specifically Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia) where I realized racism was still occurring, while watching my friends get treated differently than me depending on what neighborhood we were in. Those feeling came rushing back as I continued the readings today.
One of the recurring thoughts I had today revolved around the people who were writing the history books at the times, and how they were unable to see people that were different from themselves through any lens but their own. In the article by Professor Lee, he explains that “explorers and missionaries have claimed indigenous peoples of the New World ‘lack knowledge of God’ or ‘have … no religion as we understand it” (Lee et. al. 130). This, to me, is one of the fundamental problems we have today: the inability to appreciate someone or something that is different from what we “know” without viewing it through the lens of our own understanding. This still happens today. Those who are writing the history only see it through their own eyes. I know this is not a uniquely American trait, though. As an example, throughout my time in the Navy I had the opportunity to travel through some amazing places. One of which, and I will never forget this, was Nagasaki, Japan. My shipmates and I had the privilege to tour the museum there dedicated to the lives lost in WW II. I will never forget the emotions I felt that day. One thing we all noticed, is that the history that lines the walls of that sacred space was very different than the way we learned it in the States. In our opinions, there were a lot of things completely left out (like the Pearl Harbor invasion for one.) Initially I was a little angry, but it didn’t take very long for understanding to wash over me. The people I met there (including a survivor who happened to be lucky enough to be behind a cement pillar in his workplace) were amazing. I saw them for who they were: human beings. I’ll never forget that day for a couple of reasons: 1) meeting that survivor made the events of that war human to me, and 2) we all (as humans) tell the stories as they relate to us, no matter how different it may be to others involved. I understood why the Japanese people tell the story of WWII differently than we do.
I realized while reading the second article, that I’m not any different – I see things through the lenses I was given, although I’m trying very hard to remove them. I was struck by the understanding that I didn’t think of Indian Americans as Asian, as discussed in the excerpt from Mr. Khyati Joshi where he says, “Even within the developing dialogue on Asian America, Indian Americans are the other, often invisible or marginalized because of the widespread popular understanding of the term “Asian American” to refer primarily or even exclusively to East Asian Americans” (95). When I thought about it, I knew where India was located (as I verified it on Google), but it just never occurred to me as I fell into the trap that Mr. Joshi discussed. Again, seeing things through the lens that I have constructed. This was confirmed even more for me, when I listened to Prof. Lee’s lecture on “Race and Racialization” where he defined race as being a “social construct,” or something of human invention, thus being unstable and changing over time. Today was also the first time I have ever heard the term “racialization.”
I have always considered myself relatively “woke” (to use the vernacular of the day) but I am quickly realizing that I have a lot to learn, and I’m happy to be here to do it. All of the readings today, including the lecture and the video, “A Class Divided” have shown me that, even though I’ve felt for a long time that we, as a society, need to stop seeing things that are different from us through our own lenses only, that I am just as guilty as those I call out. Even after the first day, I’m starting to see things differently – which excites me for the rest of the course!
Joshi, Khyati, “What Does Race Have to Do with Religion?” 2006. Pdf.
Lee, “Race and Racialization”, week 1.
Lee, Jonathan, et. al., “Religion, Race, and Orientalism.” 2015. Pdf.
In the text “Religion, Race, and Orientalism,” I learned how strongly Western influence changed my people’s (Pilipinx people) religious beliefs. I learned that religion was defined by western thought and defined during the 18th century as requiring a canon, a God, and a covenant that can be made with said God: “the dominant conceptual model…refers to a covenant that entails obligations between individuals communities and their God.” (Lee 131) Western religion focuses solely on a singular God, and this leaves other religions out of the picture, including shamanism, and other religions that believe in multiple deities.
This is an interesting fact to me as a Filipino American who’s practiced Catholicism (which believed in one deity, one canon) all our lives and is aware of Pilipinx indigenous communities belief in multiple deities/spirits. As our Spanish colonizers (and later our American colonizers) forcibly converted us to their faith, we’ve essentially forgotten our old religions. Many Pilipinx-Americans in the diaspora don’t know of the pantheon of deities that the indigenous people of the Philippines kept – and still keep. (Miller) The majority of the Philippines had been converted to Catholicism by our Spanish colonizers and remained to this day. Though a handful of indigenous people that still practice the pre-Hispanic belief system – the majority of our people in the mainland, Manila, are Catholic! I find it sad that our colonizers so deftly managed to sweep away my people’s old traditions, beliefs, and customs because of their “crusade” to rid our people of our more “inferior” religious practices. The only reason I know of our pre-Hispanic religious/belief system is because I actively sought out more information about it. The superiority of Christianity essentially rid our Pilipino culture of its own belief system.
I also learned of the strong interconnectedness of race and religion in “Race and Racialization.” Specifically, I learned how racialization of religion has greatly influenced how we individuals approach our own faith. This is experienced by many Indian Americans who are immediately assumed to be practicing Hindu just because their skin is “the color of mocha.” (Joshi 96) It results in religion being one dimensional, and thus amplified the idea of “othering” religious groups and individuals. Ultimately, it seeks to oppress minorities who may/may not fit in to their “standard” religion.
One example I can remember is when I also went to a private, Baptist Christian high school. I always felt as if I was always going to be a “foreigner” though I classified myself as Christian like everyone else – though my family was notably Catholic. Though I said I was a born again Christian just like them, it didn’t stop them from asking questions such as: “where are you really from,” or seemingly innocuous remarks such as “you’re Filipino? I love lumpia!” It creates this one dimensional, stereotypical picture of me that was hard to steer away from. I was always going to be defined by my race despite accepting white Christianity. It’s ok wonder that after high school I was drawn back to my Catholic Church – because it was filled with people that looked like me and where I felt like I belonged. Racialization, in my personal experience, has affected the way I view white Christianity – as being seemingly “accepting,” but subtly oppressive.
I also learned in the video “Race and Racialization” of the importance of critically defining race as a social construct. Race was a human invention that essentially classified people in to a social hierarchy and gave rise to legitimizing white oppression and gave whites people the excuse to exercise their supposed superiority over another. (Frontline PBS) In the documentary “A Class Divided,” an experiment on creating socially constructed hierarchy (where a teacher deemed that brown eyed kids were inferior) leads to this false identity of superiority; one child when asked why he was so eager to discriminate, he says that it made him feel “like a king.” (Frontline PBS) This false sense of superiority defined by race gives white people the excuse to discriminate. This is exemplified in the way the Spanish approached their crusades- under the guise of “indigenous people are inferior, and we know better.” Because of this false sense of superiority, they managed to find an excuse to rape, pillage, and colonize brown people and take away their land and belief systems. It’s crazy for me to think that giving a group of people the excuse to exercise authority over another immediately leads to hatred – in a classroom setting it can be as small as teasing, but when applied in a larger context it leads to mass colonization, death, and oppression of a minority group for generations.
Frontline PBS. “A Class Divided.” Youtube, 18 Jan. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mcCLm_LwpE&t=12s
Joshi, Khyati. “What Does Race Have to Do With Religion?” New Roots in America Sacred Ground. New York, Routledge, 2016, pp. 89-117.
Lee, Jonathan, et. al., “Religion, Race, and Orientalism.” Asian American Religious Cultures. Santa Barbara, ABC-CLIO, 2015.