Vocals and recorded statement by Elsa Valmidiano
I wasn’t intending to post this but I feel compelled to discuss this at length as it’s been alarming and deeply unsettling.
After I viewed an Instagram story from a dear friend and sister—who describes herself as “a transgender FilAm girl with dual ethnic heritage and an ambiguous, western name”—it was from her stories that I first got wind of The Aswang Project’s creator, Jordan Clark, being white. It was the first time ever that I saw Jordan Clark as a white man, his picture staring back at me—not the man that I imagined behind our “friendly” correspondence on our Instagram DMs. It didn’t take me long to realize something was fishy as he has never been forthcoming about his race, which is odd. Instead of a human profile picture, a racially ambiguous cartoon picture of him continues to be featured in his bio on The Aswang Project website. For me, as well as I am sure many of you assumed, that Jordan Clark was Filipino-Canadian.
Due to my academic background and legal education, I can’t help but be very exact when I read articles, so the bio that Jordan Clark references on The Aswang Project’s Instagram post, posted on May 11, 2021 is not the bio I originally saw on May 9, 2021, after I was alerted of his white identity by my friend’s IG stories. Below is the original bio that had appeared up until then and as you will see, is vague about his ethnicity which continues to include a racially ambiguous cartoon picture of him that gives nothing away about him being white. Please note each screenshot’s date and time. It appears Jordan Clark has gone to great lengths to hide his tracks and changed his bio when he knew his identity as a white man was going to be outed.
It reminds me of a Junot Diaz moment. To acquaint you, Junot Diaz, an acclaimed author, published an article about his childhood sexual abuse before an all-out exposé was going to be published about his sexual assault, sexual intimidation, and sexual harassment of women in the writing community. He knew he was going to be outed, so as an escape plan, he outed himself as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, as if to excuse his own crimes that were about to be exposed. The same can be said about Jordan Clark.
Jordan Clark knew he was going to be outed as a white man as revelations of his white identity were swirling around social media, so he did what a desperate person does: he outed himself but with an apology claiming innocence, and then placed the burden on the Filipina/o/x community that we should’ve known and that he was always forthcoming about his race. As you will see from the evidence above in the screenshots, he has not been forthcoming and doctored up his bio to make us think it was always what has been posted.
I’ve heard comparisons that Jordan Clark is another white ally like Anthony Bourdain. I can tell you that Jordan Clark is not anything like Anthony Bourdain.
Like my own nieces and nephews who have an Anglo last name but are Filipino through their mother, I naturally assumed Jordan Clark was Filipino. When I saw his last name, I also naturally assumed that Jordan Clark was biracial, that the name “Clark” was his white father or white grandfather’s name and that he was somehow instilled with Filipino knowledge and culture with all of our nuances from his parents and elders. It’s not unheard of as there exists a plethora of Filipinos with Anglo surnames versus the more commonplace Spanish surnames, even within my own family. But this is absolutely not the case here.
Jordan Clark is a white man who misled me to believe his racial identity was Filipino during moments in our personal correspondence where there could’ve been clarification especially as he remains faceless on The Aswang Project website. Does anyone out there have any curiosity what he looks like? I’m enclosing one picture found under Google Images, which also matched the picture that my trans Pinay sister posted on her Instagram stories. It’s the only picture you will find as of May 12, 2021 besides another picture that shows the back of his head. You’d think with a huge and popular platform like The Aswang Project that you’d find a plethora of pictures of its founder. But you don’t, and the hiding feels suspect.
I cannot adequately describe my reaction when I saw his white man face staring back at me. There is no question he is white. In that one picture, he is standing next to a Filipino man which at quick glance if you didn’t know Jordan Clark who runs The Aswang Project, you might not have thought much about it.
The picture is from a blog called, “Captivating Capiz” here. It seems to be the only picture found when doing a Google search of “Jordan Clark of The Aswang Project.” I also have screenshots of the long continuous scroll that happens when you Google “Jordan Clark of The Aswang Project” and no picture of him pops up, except those two, and I don’t even count one of them as it is the back of his head. At least we knew how Anthony Bourdain looked like. Bourdain never hid his racial identity.
And here, Jordan Clark is to an extent “famous” among the Filipina/o/x community with his so-called educational resources about our culture, heritage, mythologies, and oral traditions, with tens of thousands of followers, and yet he still remains faceless. I will not be surprised if Jordan Clark finally posts a picture of his white face after the publication of this article, and I will not be surprised if the picture features himself and his Filipina wife and daughter to get sympathy from the Filipina/o/x community.
I was catatonic when I first saw that picture that dates back to 2009, the only picture one could find up until May 12, 2021, the publication of my statement. That is 12 years of not having a picture of The Aswang Project’s founder anywhere on a Google search. That just seems absurd.
I immediately thought of my book and my well-being and felt physically ill since an ad of my book had just run on each page of The Aswang Project website. My husband came into the room and was concerned as he saw how I looked and asked if I was alright. I couldn’t even speak except whisper, “It’s really bad.”
Usually the author of said websites post their pictures so their audience knows who they are listening to. The Aswang Project is immersed in only Filipina/o/x resources, which when I look back on later, has problematic language in countless articles. I won’t get into that here as that is a much bigger conversation.
Aside from my own private communications with Jordan Clark in the recent past since the publication of my book when I believed he was Filipino, Jordan Clark is a white cis man handing an analysis of our culture over to us through a white male gaze, and we’re supposed to be okay with that? I feel like I am having a Rachel Dolezal moment. I don’t think it necessary to even explain who Rachel Dolezal is, except it’s the case where I trusted a man behind the correspondence as an esteemed Filipino male colleague in the community—a Filipino brother you could say—but one whose face we never see.
While my book, We Are No Longer Babaylan, has benefitted from its exposure on The Aswang Project’s social media platforms—none of which I initiated with Jordan Clark as he always initiated contact with me regarding promoting my book on his social media platforms—I no longer in good faith can be associated with The Aswang Project.
On my own website, Slicing Tomatoes, there is no question that the featured artists are all Pinay even if they decide to provide an illustrated profile pic versus a human profile pic. And if they are one of my non-Pinay guest featured artists, of which I currently have 4, it is obvious that my guest featured artists are not Pinay and have real headshots, bios, and not a racially ambiguous illustration of themselves that would’ve left room for confusion.
Out of principle, I’ve gone ahead and scrubbed his book review and any mentions of The Aswang Project from my website and affiliations to my book. I am providing here the entire content of my Instagram DMs with Jordan Clark so you can see for yourself how easy it was for me to assume he was Filipino, which is problematic for so many reasons. For safety reasons, I’ve redacted the names of certain individuals who are mentioned in the correspondence. Those are the only redactions made. Otherwise, the complete correspondence stands as it is.
Jordan Clark may argue why didn’t I just come to him before this all blew up about his whiteness, but the personal correspondence we had leaves me greatly, to sum it up, creeped out. This is not something simply between me and him anymore. He has tens of thousands of followers, many of whom are Pinays, and this is no longer a private issue, but a full blown public one that demands his accountability and exposure as a white man who misled me, a Pinay-American author.
Jordan Clark has now involved his Filipina wife and biracial daughter into the conversation, which I am not surprised as it looks like he is using his own Filipino family members as leverage and as a reason to be forgiven by the Filipina/o/x community. I cannot tell you how disgusting I find that. It’s low. He claims he wants to raise his biracial daughter with a strong awareness of her Filipina identity, but his own failure to bring awareness about his whiteness to his wife and daughter’s Filipina/o/x community is a huge disservice and I feel like he is only using them as a pawn as a white man does. Also, the injection of his opinions and analyses as a white cis man on a website that claims to be decolonizing but isn’t forthcoming about his own whiteness in personal and public communications is actually colonizing.
It makes all the difference to share banter with a Filipino man versus a white man. Too many times I have been the victim of a white man’s advances, which a white man views as flirtatious, while I take it as predatory as an Asian woman. There have been countless instances in my entire life from adolescence to womanhood that I have been fetishized, exoticized, and hypersexualized by white male strangers, white male colleagues, and white male friends whom I thought were my friends. No matter how brief the encounter or correspondence, it doesn’t even take a complete two seconds to feel you are being objectified when it’s a white man. The realization that the banter between us was actually a white man behind those words and I didn’t know he was white completely changed how I viewed those interactions in hindsight.
Jordan Clark’s failure to clarify his whiteness to me in personal communication whether it was unintentional or intentional, was something that was very triggering to me as an Asian woman, and he should’ve known that. As we all know with the current racial climate that is happening to our Black and Asian communities across this country, you would think that Jordan Clark would have been more cognizant and considerate in knowing how his lack of clarification of his whiteness would’ve made me feel.
He read my book, wrote a book review, and he knows the piece, “Be, Not Be.” For those of you who haven’t read my book yet, “Be, Not Be” is a powerful testament of what the white male gaze does to an Asian woman and her body. For him to plead innocence and naïveté over our failure to see that he was white all along is inexcusable as a white person who claims to be an ally to our communities of color. He should have known better to reveal his whiteness when the opportunity presented itself. And he never revealed his whiteness to me when the opportunity was staring at him straight in the face.
One example when he could’ve clarified his whiteness in our personal communications is when I made inside jokes about “our sorcery” when I was joking about why I look young despite my age, but he kept silent about his racial identity, and instead went along with the joke, furthering me to believe he was Filipino and that he understood as a Filipino who knows these inside jokes.
I am not comfortable breaking open my privacy like this, but I feel it necessary to share my personal correspondence with Jordan Clark from my Instagram DMs. It’s not very long. I don’t have anything to hide and I’m only ashamed that I naively agreed to have him promote my book as I thought it would take place positively under the support of a Filipino male colleague on his Filipina/o/x platform. I want to apologize to anyone who was namedropped in these messages, and I’ve gone ahead and contacted each and every individual who became part of these conversations through my namedropping with Jordan Clark.
I feel betrayed and taken advantage of in a way that only a Pinay would feel from a white man in that gaslighting creepy way.
I myself am married to a white man born-and-raised in Oakland. In all of our 14 years together, I had never experienced any kind of fetishization, exotification, and hypersexualization, but this is not a “not all white men” argument that needs to be centered.
I don’t know if other Pinays in the community have been the victim of such behavior by Jordan Clark, and what’s horrible is that it was all in relation to the promotion of my book, something I worked on for a decade, and I feel like its credibility and dignity are being completely thrown away by this.
If anyone has the opportunity to carefully read the text and content of articles in The Aswang Project specifically published by Jordan Clark, I would highly encourage each of you to do so and please be very keen when reading the text as you will find language that is condescending and presumptuous about being Filipino, especially coming from a person who we now know for certain is a white man behind those words.
This situation cannot be taken lightly or glossed over just because you feel he provides an educational resource that no one else has. Quite honestly, there are Filipina/o/xs in our community who do provide the resource and are struggling to provide the resource but may be battling obstacles due to exigent circumstances such as lack of funding. I would hate to think if Jordan Clark was financially benefiting from all of this, of what could be going to a Filipina/o/x scholar. It was only when I discovered that he was white that I decided to read The Aswang Project articles very carefully. Especially with my academic background and legal education, I took the time to really read the articles and found disturbing language that is problematic to us as a Filipina/o/x community.
I advise for anyone who still follows him, please consider what I have said, what I offer here as evidence, and read the entire correspondence. It honestly doesn’t matter to me whether I will lose readers or followers over this, or the death threats that may follow, as the greater concern is that my Pinay sisters—cis and trans— and the larger Filipina/o/x community as a whole nationally and globally within the Diaspora and in the Motherland, do not ever have to be misled and betrayed like this, especially when one feels their artistic career or professional reputations and credibility are at stake.
Maybe you might feel that the correspondence I provide here is harmless and I’m taking it way out of context, but I know what I feel and I know what occurred and I know that I was misled to believe Jordan Clark was Filipino, which completely changes how I view our DM exchange now and the deception behind it.
It has gotten to the point that I’ve had to involve my editor at New Rivers Press to stop Jordan Clark from running further ads of We Are No Longer Babaylan in the future on The Aswang Project website. If anyone sees that an ad of We Are No Longer Babaylan is presently being run on The Aswang Project website, Jordan Clark does not have my permission or my press’ permission to run it. My editor supports and is equally appalled as he also assumed Jordan Clark was Filipino. My editor is also a white cis man. What a powerful statement being made that Jordan Clark, a white cis man, was able to fool another white cis man that he was Filipino. Take a pause and think about what that means. It says so much.
Much love and light, always. May the ritual and magic of our Babaylan ancestors always give us strength and always lead us Home, and particularly not at the hands of a white man who pretends to be a Filipino male colleague passing off educational resources about our culture, and yet pleads we as Filipinos have misunderstood him when we were misled by him from the beginning.
I have refrained from saying something very inflammatory, but I truly believe we stand victim to a white supremacist that has infiltrated our Filipina/o/x space on a platform that he has been building for nearly 20 years. White supremacists don’t have to wear white hoods. Interestingly enough in our case, we have Jordan Clark who also fails to show his face. Isn’t that like a white hood, figuratively speaking? Think about that. Really think about.
Maraming salamat. Agyamanak unay. Salamat kaayo. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for listening.
Related articles for cross-reference
- How the Founder of The Aswang Project, Jordan Clark, Infiltrated Our Sacred Ancestral and Academic Filipina/o/x Space
- Collaborative Statement: How Our Space Has Always Been Ours
- Investigative Statement: In Defense of the Culture Keepers, An Examination of Utang Na Loob, and An Examination of Filipino Protocol