Friday, April 27, 2007

Thoughts About The Obligation to Blog On Certain Subjects

In spite of my three years of deconstructivist, post-colonial, race-conscious legal education, I hardly write about the stuff anymore. I have one paper coming out on Asian American employment stereotypes, but as far as I can see I'm going to be doing work on conflicts of law, employment discrimination, organizational theory, sociology of law, and gender discrimination for the foreseable future. If there is another shift, I'd go into administrative and regulatory law with a focus on welfare and benefits. I've blogged extensively on this shift, which I'm not entirely comfortable with. People I respect say that I have the right to change my mind, but I'm not sure that I am changing my mind per se. I'm changing my subjects. It's true that my thoughts on certain issues are becoming nuanced and thus unstable, but in general I'm keeping with most of my beliefs. It feels a bit like changing hats without changing the underlying mind. But most of the world will see only your shifting hats if you don't reveal to them your mind.

So it's pretty clear that despite my liberal bent, I've backed away considerably from race-conscious writing both academically and even casually. This blog is a major indication of this shift. In theory, I should use this space to write on whatever I want, almost especially if I don't write on it for work. But I dont' tend to anyway. I feel like this blog is an extension of personal and professional self, and I'm having a harder time telling those two apart lately. I can't blog about what I work on because I'm pseudonymous--unless it's under my own name somewhere, the ideas here will not attributable to myself, and I have some intellectually property issues with that. But I dont' want to give up my pseudonymity for the times when I want to write personally. So there is hardly any blogging about the regulation of child pornography or social network and organizational theory as applied to employment discrimination here, alas.

So what's left to write about? I sometimes write about the legal academy from an insider's perspective. I enjoy these posts, but they take a lot of time--particularly since I try to bring in references from pedagogical theory or sociological perspectives on the law. I sometimes write about my personal life, but I am growing more and more reticent in this area the more I'm read by future colleagues.

There is political blogging. But I have been avoiding that as of late. Why?

I can't say. I know it links back to the first point--I hardly write anymore from a race-conscious perspective, and the trolls out there make me somewhat cautious about gender-conscious writing. And while I could write about the French elections or other political news of the day, there are people far smarter than me and far more qualified who are better reads. They say, "write what you know." But should I? The part of me that now resists identity politics, as if I'm obligated to write on every racial issue--particularly if it's Asian-American--or every feminist issue (though here, I feel more keen to express my opinion and fee less tokenism), when I know there is no such obligation.

Or is there? Is there some responsibility I have as an Asian American woman to write about certain issues and offer my perspective in a predominantly white and male legal academy? Should I discuss, as if I was authoritative, the ethnic identity of Seung-Hui Cho and what that means, if anything? Should I discuss the XOXOth controversy and the general misogyny of the blogosphere? There were several articles in the NYT a couple of months ago on the Asian Americanization of campuses, with an almost "yellow peril" tone--and I passed up the subject. I don't know if that was irresponsible or just simply my prerogative.

It is strange, to have a voice and platform and wonder what to do with it. It's like holding some hammers and axes in your hand and wondering what they're for--to destroy or build? There is never such a stark dichtomy, but as it is I stare at my hands, typing away on the keyboard, and sometimes I don't know where they're going or where they should go.

I have several different hats on right now, a mind that is changing, and hands that seem almost wholly independent. But linking all of these is an undercurrent of feeling--responsibility, of tension, of resistance to I don't know what or whom, except myself past, present, and future.