Wow, going to SFSU is always like a reunion. I was there yesterday to present my work within the context of history and expanding community, to Oscar Peñaranda’s Fil Am Lit class, and as per my usual M.O. these days (teaching Filipino American Arts with sign language interpreters in the classroom will make you rethink how you transmit information and how you translate), I had a power point presentation of ~60 slides all ready to go. I love that the first person I saw on campus was Ben Kobashigawa, and then Larry Salomon, both professors in the Ethnic Studies Department, a tad inquisitive about what I was doing back on campus.
Anyway. Some highlights include contrasting Rudyard Kipling’s “White Man’s Burden” (1899) and Carlos Bulosan’s “If You Want to Know What We Are” (1940), which, along with “I Want the Wide American Earth,” I firmly believe places Bulosan in the tradition of Whitman. Now I didn’t know this until I read it on the Fordham University Modern History Sourcebook, but Kipling had written “White Man’s Burden” specifically as a response to the Spanish American War and the USA acquiring the Philippines, a colony populated by the “sullen peoples / half-devil and half-child.” I’d originally thought Kipling wrote the poem as a general statement about how the civilized suffer and sacrifice in order to civilize the rest of us.Yeah, they’re the ones who sacrifice. Fucking missionaries.