By Tsechi Chuzom
[In response to "Conflict at US-Tibetan Exile Event Symptom of Widening Rift" , published at Huffington Post]
According to this “author,” I, Tsechi Chuzom, child of Tibetan refugees who fled Tibet during the communist Chinese invasion, president/board member of SFT MHC & Lakeside for multiple years, cannot “understand” or “speak on the behalf of Tibetans in Tibet” (don’t worry, I’ve been there and still don’t claim to do so). But somehow she, Adele Wilde-Blavatsky, whiter than crack,* has the moral and cultural authority to say that we in the US Tibet movement advocate “a particular pseudo-intellectual, Occidentalist, hyper-nationalist brand of identity politics” that is bad for Tibetans in Tibet.
I know this is just an insecure troll, and I don’t like dignifying her accusations and embittered rants with a response, but I also cringe at the thought that others might read this or her other “writings” on Tibetan culture and society, thinking it is an accurate or fair portrayal of the Tibetan diaspora.
She holds onto the notion that living in Dharamsala and choosing to study Tibetan Buddhism and language gives her credibility in determining all things Tibetan. What she fails to understand is that whether or not I identify as Tibetan isn’t so clear a choice for me as it is for her. It’s very easy to sit back and criticize a community to which you are not fundamentally attached. Unlike her, I don’t have the privilege of deciding one day that I don’t want to care about Tibetan issues anymore because they are not necessarily mine to care about. Being Tibetan is a fundamental part of who I am. When there is criticism, I and my fellow Tibetans bear the burden of resolving those issues; she chooses whether to be affected or offended by it or not. Being a self-proclaimed “Tibet supporter” does not automatically give you the cultural context and authority to constructively– and respectfully– criticize our community and cultural heritage.
God forbid the Tibetan community make any mistakes. In her article, she argues that any Tibetan who does not “present a Shangri-la version of Tibetan society… is demonised and isolated.” Yet, she seems to hold us to that very same impossible Shangri-la standard that she is so eager to denounce. Of course Tibetans are going to be hostile when an outsider is speaking half-truths and taking a verbal dump on our culture. While I admit Tibetans, especially our elders, are fairly conservative and unresponsive to criticism, this is an understandable result of losing one’s own country and having one’s traditions completely ripped apart.
What we Tibetans are witnessing is the active cultural desecration and dilution of our ancestral homeland and way of life. It is comprehensible that some hold onto the very justified fear of cultural extinction, which may translate into what is perceived to be a certain strain of xenophobia and/or conservatism. I am not saying this is okay, but at the same time, this reaction is not unique to Tibetan society. Are we not allowed to work within our own community to resolve our issues on our own terms?
I don’t claim to have a clearcut solution. All I know is, I will not chastise nor distance myself from my community simply because certain aspects are seemingly flawed or imperfect; I will recognize the responsibility and privilege I have as a Tibetan to try to work through these issues for the greater good of our people. And most importantly, I will always choose to be a positive force in whatever I endeavor.
*Is crack even white? No disrespect to white people– much love to my white friends!