Not Everyone Who Looks White is White

If you look beneath my skin tone, you will see
My indigenous Armenian marginalized reality
Granddaughter of pained survivor
1915 Armenian Genocide by the Ottoman Turks

Black, brown, red, yellow skinned indigenous people
Share the same fate
Of genocide, displacement and racial hate.

It is not my people’s shame that Ottoman Turks
Wore necklaces of Armenian women nipples in 1915.
Just like American soldiers wore nipple necklaces
When they killed Native women in Sand Creek 1865.

Demented conquerors deny genocides
Offer no reparations, just fake history
Leaving millions of ghost spirits
Seeking justice.  

When I say that I am a Woman Of Color
I am sometimes ignored, mistrusted and
Mislabeled white by those who know little
About world history and geography  

Whiteness is just a construct
So many try to fit into for the privilege it accords
My indigenous origin, though not obviously visible
Survives inwardly in infinite depth 

My light skinned African American, Latina, Native, Asian
And mixed race sisters also face identity challenges,
But unlike them, I have no fixed category
Western Asian, Native of Near East?

Some WOC groups just put Arab and mistakenly
Leave out other Near/Middle Eastern peoples of color
I do not want to be other.
I want my WOC herstory included –

I arise indigenous Armenian
Birthed from sacred Mt. Ararat
Cultural identity of all Armenians Guardian spirit
Apricot blossomed Anatolian plain 

Ethereal duduk flute music
Wandering like Armenian refugees exiled
Forced death marches by Ottoman Turk murderers
Who savored the stench of 2 million dead

Stolen indigenous land and homes
Eastern Turkey is really Occupied Western Armenia
3,000 years of culture wiped out
Barb wired Mt.Ararat under Turkish control 

Escaped, terrorized Grandmother refugee
Hiding her secrets in the oven
Circles my inter-generational trauma
Displaced identity

I cringe when I am mislabeled European
Mistakenly connected to US slave past
My grandmother was a sex slave in a Turkish harem
The naked slave master whipping her tears 

Under pretext of holy jihad against Christians
Ottoman Turks tried to wipe out all Armenians
Armenian school teachers hung from mulberry trees
Police skinning Armenians alive screaming 

Traumatized refugee survivors came
Under Asian quota changed to white
So they could have homes prove they were ok
Real identity, there but not there  

Tried to bury past humiliation, shame
Under blending/passing,
While the spirits of raped slave brides
And stolen Armenian children keep surfacing

Lost memory of indigenous past
Offerings to river and tree Spirits
Little acknowledgement of whose
Genocided indigenous land we occupy now

In the US I am a light skinned woman of color privilege
I am not profiled, harassed or murdered by racists
But I am not in denial of my indigenous heritage
Have to constantly explain my non-white ancestry and responsibilities 

If you put me in the “white boat” you are just
Helping white supremacists who are afraid
Of dark-skinned people taking over and
Want to claim light skinned people of color as white.

I have jumped out of the boat
In solidarity with all indigenous freedom struggles
Hoping we can help each other resist assimilation
I welcome support to counter Turkey’s constant attempt to squash the truth

So called democratic US covers up and hides Turkey crimes of genocide
Who knows that US white controlled
Corporations doing business with Turkey
Like Coca Cola, Pfizer, GE and Lockheed
Lobby US Congress not to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide? 

I choose to elevate my ancestral truth
I resist assimilation to honor my ancestors
Who died to save Armenia 

Treasured interviews of Armenian Genocide survivors
Like Vartouhi with blue tattoo marks on her face
Signifying Kurdish abduction.(2)

My body damaged by bomb/mine explosions heavy metal
In 90’s when joined armed  self-defense struggle
To liberate Armenian Artsakh (Nagorno Karabagh) from Azeri control  (3)

Our blood soaked homeland

Far flung diaspora of exiled descendants
Swinging between language/culture
Connections/ disconnections
Remaining small Eastern Armenia Republic
Blockaded, impoverished, needing aid

Migrating storks still returning building
Magnificent 10ft rebirthing nests
Storks nests in our hearts
Opening and closing Armenia

  1. Armenians are now being driven out of Middle Eastern countries they fled to after the genocide like Syria, Iraq, by anti-Christian extremists. 
  2. Some Kurdish tribes helped Turks kill Armenians.
  3. Azerbaijan, an ally of Turkey, is currently attacking Armenians in Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh)
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Anoush Ter Taulian

Anoush Ter Taulian is a graduate of the University of California Berkeley. In 1992, she decided to relocate to Artsakh where she volunteered in the liberation struggle alongside Monte Melkonian. She has depicted the Armenian struggle for freedom in poetry, paintings, videos, and radio. A lifelong activist speaking in schools, churches, and at anti-racism conferences, Anoush continues to bring up current attacks on Artsakh at indigenous, women's, and political conferences.

16 Comments

  1. Powerful and piercing.
    Tremendously affected my senses, feelings and thoughts.

    Anoush, wish you well and hope you feel at home in Artsakh.

    Vart Adjemian

    • Vartjan,I was so happy to see some of the coruption in our homeland being brought to light. Coruption is a plague of the world and usually there is a heavy price to stand up to it. I stood up to theft of aid.
      Also like most countries in the world there was the problem of violence against women. The Armenian Weekly on June 30, 2991 published my article “Fighting Against the Abuse of Women.” It was very hard for me to decide to take an abuser to court. There was no Me Too movement to make it more acceptable and important or any way to feel secure against future attacks for revenge. But I did it for all the Armenian woman who couldn’t hold their abusers accountable because they would go though character assassination or possibly be targeted for the rest of their lives.
      I also went through it because of this incredibly brave and dedicated detective Sash Zakian who was send to protect Artsakh soldiers. At the end of a year the abuser was found guilty and given probation. My punishment was his slandering me and telling people not to associate with me.
      We hope the truth has a healing power. Armenians wonder where justice is in so may instances. I Praise everyone standing up to corruption and violence against women everywhere. The price to pay is scary and remains constant but somehow we must get rid of greedy criminals strangling our beloved homeland.

  2. Stop playing victim Amot kez. You are white and Armenia. You are not a person of color. You are not black your are not Latino you are not Arab. You are literally Caucasian. Armenians faces many tragedies throughout history and what kept us alive is not playing victim but standing up and riding the horse again. Stop with this horrific identity politics. To the world you are white. Armenians are white just like Greeks are just like Italians are just like Serbians are. Do not brainwash the Armenian youth with your victim mentality and try to be a “POC” in which you are not.

    • Armenians are Caucasian in the general sense, but we are not actually a Caucasian people like Kartvelians, Chechens, Circassians, etc are. The cradle of Armenian civilization was Vaspourakan, which is the Lake Van region.

  3. What kind of radical left wing article is this? If you aren’t “white” what are you? Black? Brown? Arab? Stop playin Victim. You speak a European language one of the oldest. Your culture is Christian you are Caucasian and not a person of color, you’ve been brainwashed. Amot kez. This anti European garbage is getting out of hand. Other Europeans have been our only friends surrounded by Islamic countries that want us dead and gone. We have never been oppressed by other Europeans but we’re almost completely wiped out by “Middle Easterners” the label you want to put yourself in. You are not middle eastern. You don’t have middle eastern culture religion or language. I understand some western Armenians are confused because most fled to the Middle East taking in some of their culture, but you are NOT a middle eastern. Your genetics are not even close to most middle eastern populations. Your language is most closely related to Greece and other European languages. Stop this BS and please don’t even post this garbage.

    • “I understand some western Armenians are confused because most fled to the Middle East taking in some of their culture, but you are NOT a middle eastern.”

      I take exception to this and the implications of this statement. Western Armenians did not really change all that much when they went to Arab countries. It’s not like they weren’t eating “Arab” foods (as they are called in Armenia)–dolma, baklava, etc.–before they went to the Middle East (conversely, nobody was eating borscht or bonchik in Armenia prior to the Russians introducing those foods). You have to remember that we have had a 3000 year relationship with Mesopotamian/Semitic peoples (Jews, Assyrians, Syriacs, Arabs) and Iranian peoples. Conversely, we haven’t even had a 200 year relationship with Russians. We were always closer to Greco-Romans, Assyrians, and Iranians than we ever were to Russians. Before the Russians invaded Armenian in the 1820s, Eastern Armenians were closer to Iranians culturally.

      Genetically we are closer to Assyrians, Pontic Greeks, Jews, and Kurds–all of whom, besides Pontic Greeks–are generally considered Middle Eastern–than we are to the people of the Caucasus or Russians.

      Remember too, that the Republic of Armenia only accounts for 10% of the land that comprised of ancient Armenia. Most of Armenia WAS WESTERN ARMENIA.

      Are we Middle Eastern? Not really but kind of. It’s debatable. Not like Arabs, but we are certainly closer to Middle Eastern peoples than Georgians or Russians are. We sure as heck are not Caucasian or Eastern European. But that being said, we are not people of color.

  4. So is the only thing that signifies a “person of color” having dark hair/dark eyes or having a background of struggle? So are European Jews people of color? What about Basques? Ukrainians? Czechs? Dark haired Irish (Paul McCartney and George Harrison are/were of Irish descent and have dark hair–they are people of color too, right?) And how are Armenians persecuted in the US or outside of Turkey and Azerbaijan?

    “Color” is a term that was imposed on dark skinned people (primarily African-American) in the United States in the 19th and 20th century. It wasn’t a self-designation. How does this term apply to Armenians? Are Armenians marginalized in the US? Were they marginalized any more than Greeks or Italians in the US historically? I’m certain that Armenians were not persecuted as much as Jews in the US were and certainly not as much as African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics, and Japanese. We were never killed here or put in camps, etc.

    By the way, Arabs are Caucasians (white) as well. Additionally, many of them have Greek, Roman, French, and even British ancestry. Arabs are not people of color. But Armenians–as a Christian, Indo-European speaking group–certainly are not.

  5. Armenians and Armenia are not a playground where you can dump any liberal ideology and expect us to eat it up. Most Armenians I believe are not brainwashed liberals; we are not going to dance the tango of political correctness for the glory of multiculturalism and globalism. We indigenous Armenians are not going to change or redefine our identity because many Armenians choose to intermarry with others. We are native caucasian (aka WHITE) people, stop spreading this kind of nonsense.

  6. It’s important for us as Armenians to recognize our history as a colonized people- while our colonizers were Turks and Persians for most of our history (also non-white peoples) it doesn’t mean that we don’t have much in common with many other groups that have been colonized by white western powers. In addition, when Armenians first came to the US, they were most definitely not considered white and had to raise a case against the government to gain legal status as “white” people as a method of securing their ability to remain and become citizens. Essentially, we were unwanted and discriminated against like many other immigrant groups- a trend which is evident in how immigrants of this day and age are still treated. All that being said, it seems natural to feel solidarity with other people experiencing discrimination the same way we feel solidarity with other people who’ve been subject to genocide.

    • But that is basically any group in the US that was outside of the Anglo-Franco-Scandinavian sphere, including Greeks, Italians, Jews, even Irish and Germans.

      It’s fine to recognize the plight of oppressed people, but to suggest that Armenians were historically treated the same way as African-Americans or Native Americans in the US is absurd.

      As far as being colonized, most people were colonized at at least one point or another in their history.

  7. What kind of garbage article is this? Are you really trying to be a victim for no reason? We have been victims long enough and not at the hands of these so called “white” people you are trying to act like your not one of “news flash” you are, but rather “POC” who genocided us time and time again. These “White” people are our only friends when the world wanted us dead. They helped us time and time again. Armenia has far too many problems to listen to your left wing propaganda on how just because your white your not white lol then what are you black? Jesus how far will you go to be a victim?

  8. As Ted Tourian correctly stated in his article, “Narratives: Between East and West”, “Armenian culture has long sought validation and acceptance as being European. This mentality needs a surgeon general’s warning: hazardous to your family and the values taught as a child”.

    Armenia is not located in Europe, nor has it ever been a European country. Armenia is located in Western Asia, which therefore means that it’s a West Asian country. Why is that so shameful? What is it that’s so honorable about being a White European? The White Europeans, along with the White Anglo-Americans have no honor whatsoever. They, along with their Zionist brothers have made an enormous mess out of both the Middle East and the rest of the world.

    Sadly, there are just too many Armenians out there who desperately attempt to be less than Armenian; and because of this obsession with adopting the values and lifestyles of White Europeans/White Anglo-Americans, it’s therefore producing a devastating effect on the Armenian Nation (almost the equivalent of another Armenian Genocide).

    As for me, although my skin color is white, I most certainly do not view myself as being White; I view myself as being only one thing, and that’s Armenian. I have no need whatsoever to attach myself to any particular “color group”. By doing that, it would make my Armenianness a whole lot less.

    On the subject of being a victim, how can it be possible to say that the Armenian people are not victims of severe human rights abuse? After 103 years gone by, Turkey (the successor state of the former Ottoman Turkish Empire) was never punished for the horrifying genocide it committed against the Armenians, and not the slightest bit of compensation has ever been rendered to the Armenians (by Turkey as well as Germany) for the enormous damage inflicted upon their people as well as their homeland. After 103 years, where’s the justice owed to the Armenian people? Where were our “White friends” when we needed their help? These “White friends” of ours, never did a damn thing to stop the Ottoman Turks from slaughtering our people. As a matter of fact, our “White friends” encouraged the Ottoman Turks to commit genocide against our people.

    What about Azerbaijan’s endless campaign of terrorism against the Artsakh Republic, in which our precious Armenian soldiers are being killed at the LOC (Line of Contact) by Israeli military weapons? As always, Azerbaijan never gets punished for any of this? Again, where’s the justice owed to the Armenian people? And where are those “White friends” of ours to provide us with help?

    The Armenian people are indeed victims of severe human rights abuse!

    • Great reply, the only person that makes any sense, the rest have identity crisis. There’s nothing wrong with this article,we Armenians stay aside from the rest of the group,we don’t want to be bundled with any colour groups as that will deminish who we are and fade into the “White genocide” that we most fear. The fact that these comments are written in English is in itself a tragedy.

  9. This comment is directed to Mr yerevanyan, first of all, Armenia has always been a European country culturally and geographically Armenia has always been the border country of Europe. We are white like it or not, we are ARMENIAN first but our race is white. you are not a “POC” you are not brown black or Muslim Turkic Arab North African or even Iranian Indian. Armenia is one of the only European languages that has its own branch as linguists have confirmed. Armenians are genetically isolated from any middle eastern population and are much more related to our European and Caucasian neighbors. Throughout history our oppressors were not from “white” people but were from Muslims and Turks who almost completely wiped us out. America and Europe helped us tremendously. The near east relief foundation for the Armenians who fled to the Middle East, Russia helped us France helped up and many more. It’s the reason we have a country to call our own today. This liberal radical left wing ideology is the most dangerous thing to Armenians. It will be our end. No one is attempting to be less than Armenian we are Armenian first before anything but we are also white in other white countries. We are not victims. Everywhere we go we are successful as a group. We make the most monkey we are the most educated and are not oppressed by the “white devil” this leftist racists keep pushing. It’s a dangerous game this identity politics. It’s group think mentally and if Armenians keep this up it will end bad for us.

  10. I am sad to read this kind of “article” on the weekly. It is a waste of time, divisive, and accomplishes nothing. Nor did I “learn” anything from it. In fact the opposite. (Will explain this below). But this is typical of the self-defeating leftist mentality that is spreading in the USA and Europe (compliments of guess who) like a disease. There are claims that liberalism and leftism is a mental illness, and sorry, more and more I am inclined to believe this.

    I want to touch upon the line from above: “Whiteness is just a construct”. So Ms Ter Taulian, you make this claim and also claim that “White Privilege” exists. So which is it? Do you not see the self-defeating, contradictory argument you are trying to make? And you want “people of color” to be proud of who they are and fight for their rights, but not Europeans? Seriously?

    For your information, you have fallen victim to a misinformation campaign by a vile, pseudo-scientific force that has taken hold in colleges and social circles in the USA. In particular, the claim is “race is a social construct” which is where I’m guessing where your claim came from. They have taken this outrageous lie and with bold audacity spread their propaganda.

    Regarding this, I will only say this, without spilling the beans as to what force is exactly behind this. I will let the reader make their own informed decision. One of the so-called “scholars” who pushes this BS is of a certain “ethnicity”. And of course he claims that “race is a social construct” (as it applies to everyone else) – except that the ethnicity to which he belongs is “unique” and “special” and therefore not a “social construct” but with clearly defined DNA.

    You as Armenians can either engage in that “suicidal for you but not for them” cult, or reject it and fight against it if you want to preserve your own heritage. I choose the latter. The choice is yours.

  11. kirk,

    Exactly what do you mean when you say, “We make the most monkey”? Are you actually suggesting that the Armenian people are monkeys?

    In terms of Armenia’s geography, I would highly suggest that you head over to your local bookstore to purchase a world geography book, which will render you the opportunity to discover exactly which continent Armenia is located in. If Armenia is a European country as you foolishly claim, then that would automatically mean that Turkey is a European country. So, whether you like it or not, Armenia is not and has never been a European country; Armenia is a West Asian country. As for the Armenian language, it’s an Indo-European language, which has absolutely nothing to do with being a “European language”.

    In terms of culture, you are really degrading the Armenian culture by labeling it as “European”. The Armenian culture is nowhere close to being like German culture or French culture or British culture or Spanish culture or Italian culture or Polish culture or Dutch culture, etc. In my opinion, the Armenian culture is much higher than the Europeans; furthermore, the Armenian culture happens to be thousands of years older than the Europeans.

    In terms of being “White”, if you really desire so much to be from the “White race”, then go right ahead and be “White”. On the other hand, those Anglo-White supremacists will never accept you as being “White”. As a matter of fact, in greater Los Angeles (which contains the 2nd largest Armenian population of any city in the world), Armenians are certainly not viewed as being “White”; they are viewed as being “Middle Eastern”.

    So again, just because a person has white skin, does not automatically make him or her “White”. There are many Latinos out there who have white skin; do they view themselves as being “White”? Hell no! There are even African-Americans out there who have white skin; do they view themselves as being “White”? Hell no!

    “You are not a ‘POC'”.

    When did I ever say that I was a “POC”? Once again, I have no desire to belong to any particular “color group”. In other words, I do not belong to the “White group”, “Black group”, “Brown group”, “Yellow group”, “Red group”, or any other “color group”. I view myself as being only one thing, and that’s Armenian. That’s good enough for me, and it should be good enough for every single Armenian on this planet.

    “Throughout history our oppressors were not from ‘white people’ but were from Muslims and Turks who almost completely wiped us out”.

    Well, just like you, the Turks also view themselves as being “White”. Furthermore, the White Germans were the backbone of the 1915 genocide that the Ottoman Turkish Empire inflicted upon the Armenians. As for the chief architect of the Armenian Genocide, Talaat Pasha, he happened to be a Donmeh Jew (more precisely, a Turkified Jew). On the other hand, the perpetrator of the Hamidian Massacres, from twenty years earlier, happened to be a Muslim Turk (Sultan Abdul Hamid).

    “America and Europe helped us tremendously”.

    Well, the “tremendous help” rendered by America and Europe certainly did not prevent the Ottoman Turkish government from successfully wiping out the entire Armenian population of the six Western Armenian provinces. America, very easily, could have stopped the Armenian Genocide within the first month without even using any kind of military force against the Ottoman Turkish Empire. With the exception of Germany, it was America who was the Ottoman Turks’ only other friend, providing them with large amounts of guns and ammunition. And even when the first World War ended with a defeated and powerless Ottoman Turkish Empire, what did America and its European allies do to help the Armenian Nation obtain its justice? The answer is nothing; instead, they provided a massive amount of help to the Turks in rebuilding their “country”, which led to the formation of a new country by the name of “Turkey”. America and its European allies, didn’t even attempt to stop Kemal Ataturk when he attempted to finish off Eastern Armenia. Exactly what sort of “tremendous help” is that supposed to be?

    And the only reason why there is an Armenia today (only ten percent of the overall Armenian homeland), is because, for its own survival, it had no choice whatsoever other than to become a Soviet republic, back in 1920.

    “We are not victims”.

    Well, whether you like it or not, until the day that our long-overdue justice is rendered to us (either by peaceful means or violent means, which therefore translates to the concept of “by any means necessary”), we will therefore continue to remain victims of severe human rights abuse.

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