|Auto-ethnography stands at the intersection of three genres of writing... (1) “Native anthropology,” in which people who were formerly the subjects of ethnography become the authors of studies of their own group, (2) “ethnic autobiography”, personal narratives written by members of ethnic minority groups; and (3) “autobiographical ethnography,” in which anthropologists interject personal experience into ethnographic writing. (Reed-Danahay pp.2)|
I. Childhood Story
It is second grade and Jasmine Murdock’s name
still brings images of fists clenched in threat at my face
Push shove and “I’ll steal your sticker book ho, I hate Lisa Frank”
She was light brown and really mean
Backed me into corners,
She’d get a rise out of people by opening the bathroom door while I peed
No one would ever like me again
I did not act, feeling too traumatized.
My friends said I must have done something to begin this vendetta. Ignore her.
One day she approached me
Ready to have my hair pulled, I pretended not to see her until it was too obvious
And she was in front of me with her “attitude” face.
She plopped a rainbow magnet with a heart at the bottom that said
“With Jesus, anything is possible” into my hand and walked away.
Got it from her church I’d imagine.
I didn’t like it very much because…my enemy gave it to me.
I was very suspicious of religiously denominational items
As they too were pushy, bossy, didn’t like me as I was.
For some reason though, it felt wrong to throw it away
It’s still on my refrigerator, holding the bills.
II. History Story
The tour bus windows are trimmed in haughty velvet, roped curtains to remind the seated that the window is actually a stage. Partnered up with a stamp-factory worker who happened to be a woman because the study-tour is titled “Women in Japan.” I try to connect with my Japanese “sister” through language barriers by proving bloodline. I point to myself smiling “Yonsei”
Fourth generation Japanese.
She cries out in Japanese accent “Beyonce! Beyonce! So Crazy in Love!”
And begins thrusting her butt and chest to an imaginary beat. She turns around to her seated co-workers and they begin a sing-along.
“Crazy in love! We are so crazy in Loove.”
“But I said-”
Oh Jesus, Buddha, my ass nevermind.
III. Love Story
I see him across the room
shiny shaved head, hoodie, trendy back pack
shaolin beatboxer I think I am
Interested in this boy
who just happens to be not white.
And of course, he has seen me across the room
I think. We have began talking and believe that magic, luck, serendipitous force has brought us to eachother. Maybe I was feeling good tonight. Maybe it was the music,
My boyfriend grows increasingly nervous as I speak to my new friend.
Oh Possessive male! I’m a feminist now (wearing gold flats) and he cannot keep me from slinking over to talk to other men
Oh capitalism! I respond with valueworld clothes
Oh. Alcohol! He gets me another beer. Wary, I decline and fill my own. Once introduced, he tells me the turmoil of his offer- that not asking would be to not speak to me at all, and a rejection would be better. I tell him I have a boyfriend so it’s not really a rejection.We refill drinks together discussing crimes in fashion like the return of the members-only jacket
Initially I play critical theorist, music mixer, fashionista the best I know how:
I throw around questions about the tabla rasa and mis-en-scene;
Words that upon hearing fly first class and go to parties, clubs, pools-
white changing tents fluttered in a wind of Getz samba music, the summer collection.
The towel boy is always ahead of everyone on his tan darling, you would too if you worked there!
We talk about photography.
We speak the same language about the fault
Of posing in pixels
Carefree in strange lands.
Cosmetic surgery and drug retreats, underground bands,
the queens of midnight of makeup satchels and kings black cups of coffee.
friends who consume thai and Indian food,
We concluded that we must be two kids who are trying too hard to be hipsters.
Sighing it’s not that we are “downers;”
Race is just so Fin.
Can I dance on your dashboard?
IV. Nation Story
I brought home a tape-recorder from my singing lesson to practice and my roommate
Lover of all things Asian and her international student boyfriend (flavor, Japan)
Enter the room in a silly disposition. I genuinely like them. We all make onigiri together, she gives me J-pop cds to burn, and he has really good alternative cds that I would never hear about from the fetishizing East Asian Language students. I say my name into the tape-recorder and speed it up to sound like a munchkin. “Let me try!” We record us being silly. She laughs, we make farting sounds and screams, and he says his favorite new adopted word “Jap.” “Jap Jap Jap Jap” again and again. A brief history on his use: like the “n-word” He discovered it somehow along with the other Japanese international boys and decided to adopt it. Everyone of Japanese descent of his liking was a “Jap.” So I am listening to this word again and again. I didn’t know my prom date restaurant was where my grandfather entered Ann Arbor, departure, West Coast internment, destination pots and pans in modern day South Quad U of M (where my mother would later work). I didn’t know the same foundation whose money put my mother on her study abroad put my grandparents in the camps. I didn’t know “Remember Pearl Harbor” would still be a running joke on The Sopranos in 2007, I just wanted to be with my friends.
V. Body Story
Someone made a joke about National Geographic breasts.
I laughed. I laughed because I knew that I did not have them.
The breasts would be brown, sagging, desperate, dry-
Trying to feed a child that they could not.
And that was certainly not me.
I smile at cameras and wear shirts.
I’m not desperate.
My white eighteen year-old boyfriend and I
Are engaged in body discovery
Not yet formed within or without, we probe
For places that feel good. He explores my breasts
And I complain, as I have been trained to do, that they are inadequate
“They are Japanese breasts” he answers certainly,
assuring me it was safe.“Don’t worry,” he “ loves me” I am beautiful as his lover in bed
as he as been trained to do, and continues to explore my body.