Sunday, June 12, 2005

The infamous white doctor

Everyone on Guam is familiar with the example of the "white doctor." For those of you who aren't or who have forgotten about it, I'll refresh your memory.

When people on Guam want to position themselves as being people who are "really" aware of what's going on, or not colonized dupes, they invoke this story. We all do this. If we want to talk about the inferiority complexes of Chamorros or even other brown people on Guam, we bring in to hypothetical doctors, one brown (usually Chamorro) the other white. If a Chamorro patient has the option to see either of these doctors, they will almost always pick the white one.

The problem is however, that this story gets told as a sort of token. It gets told precisely so that what the story seems to question does not get questioned. People who tell this story, would probably want a white doctor nonetheless, even armed with the insight this story is supposed to reveal.

The dynamic here is stretched to cover nearly everything in Guam. Whatever comes Eastward from the United States enters Guam drenched and dripping in superiority. Whatever in Guam is identified as having its origin Eastward in the United States sits above all things tainted as local in terms of value. Whatever problems exist in Guam are defined and redefined as being local and the antidote for them lies in non-local things. To hear this point articulated one need only have a discussion with nearly anyone on Guam. From water privatization to "calling in the Feds." The colonization of Guam is maintained through these binary oppotisions which hold difficult to subvert or question values on local (bad,inferior, corrupt, dark) and non-local (good, superior, democratic, ethical, white). Decolonization of the mind (perhaps the most important) lies in learning to invert them and look awry of kitan them.

Here's where the basic crux of Guam's continuing colonization lies. Can the critique which seems to be present in that story, be widened, be transformed to reflect the larger political, social and ideological tendencies in Guam? Or will it just remain at this meager unproductive level, where one says something precisely to avoid confronting the thing you are talking about?

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