Fresh off the banana boat? Self-Perceptions and Dissociating from Other Koreans
Internalized racial oppression (IRO) occurs when racial minorities learn, adopt, believe, internalize, and reproduce white (heteronormative) supremacy and racial ideology and practices and view themselves and co-ethnic members (and other minority groups) through this lens. Common across other ethnic and racial groups, feelings of not fitting in or a lack of belonging, changing oneself to appear or sound more “Canadian” or “Korean,” living a double-life or hiding parts of oneself in a “closet,” and expressions and slang terms such as “FOB” and “banana” underscore the lines of acceptance and inclusion. Distinctions are constructed and enforced within oneself and within ethnic and racial communities, particularly where old and new immigrants interact, and these lines are systematically rooted in ideas of race and white heteronormative supremacy, settler colonialism, migration, language, accents, and nationalism. In Cathy Park Hong’s book, Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning, Hong discusses Asian racial self-hatred: “You don’t like how you look, how you sound. You think your Asian features are undefined, like God started pinching out your features and then abandoned you. You hate that there are so many Asians in the room. Who let in all the Asians? You rant in your head.” At this event, our panelists consider how IRO leads to concealing aspects of one’s identity and to intra-ethnic othering (calling Asians “FOB” or “banana”) and dissociating – distancing oneself from other Koreans or Asians. Through what lens do Koreans see themselves and other Koreans? How do racial and ethnic stereotypes (about Asians and/or White Canadians) impact our self-concept and how we think of other Koreans? How do they impact our behaviour and our interactions with other Koreans? In alignment with and building on the series of anti-racism conversations beginning in 2018, we again turn the microscope inward and ask how we might build more cohesion and inclusion within ourselves, within the community and across structural divisions such as migration, gender, language, and nation. As a community, do we experience self-loathing? Why are there very few Korean-Canadians on the Order of Canada (for example)? Do we do enough to lift up and support community leaders? How do we overcome these barriers and build an inclusive and supportive community? Open to all, this second Korean-Canadian Student Conference is co-organized by the York Centre for Asian Research, the Korean Office of Research and Education, the Korean Canadian Scholarship Foundation, York University’s Hallyu-Dongari and the Canada Korea Business Council in collaboration with the Korean Consulate in Toronto. Funding is provided by the Korean Consulate in Toronto and the Korean Office for Research and Education (KORE).