White American Culture is General Tso’s Chicken and Chop Suey

by Guest Contributor Restructure, originally published at Restructure!

Finally, somebody summarized the myths that non-Chinese Americans have about Chinese food. Most of what White Americans consider “Chinese food” is mostly eaten by white people, and would be more accurately described as “American food” (and perhaps even “white people food”).

Jennifer 8. Lee has a great video on TED Talks titled, Who was General Tso? and other mysteries of American Chinese food.

Here are some important points from the video:

  • Fortune cookies are almost ubiquitous in “Chinese” American restaurants, but they are of Japanese origin. Most people in China have never seen fortune cookies. Fortune cookies were “invented by the Japanese, popularized by the Chinese, and ultimately consumed by Americans.” Fortune cookies are more American than anything else.
    • General Tso’s chicken is unrecognizable to people in China. It is the quintessential American dish, because it is sweet, it is fried, and it is chicken.
    • Beef with broccoli is of American origin. Broccoli is not a Chinese vegetable; it is of Italian origin.
    • Chop suey was introduced at the turn of the 20th century (1900). It took thirty years for non-Chinese Americans to figure out that chop suey is not known in China. “Back then”, non-Chinese Americans showed that they were sophisticated and cosmopolitan by eating chop suey.
    • Continue reading

    Did The Tardis Miss The Boat? Looking At The Latest Doctor

    by Special Correspondent Arturo Garcia

    MattSmith

    A message-board buddy of mine summed up my reaction perfectly: “And just who the hell is Matt Smith?”

    Turns out the 26-year-old has been cast as the newest lead in Doctor Who, as confirmed Saturday. But, on one level, Matt Smith will represent, to me, a wasted opportunity.

    Not that I think Smith will make a bad Doctor, necessarily; despite what some old-school Whovians may tell you, the series is hardly ever bad. But at a time when both the oddsmakers and popular opinion were backing the idea of the first Doctor of color, or the first female Doctor, this was the perfect chance for incoming executive producer Stephen Moffat to finally make good on the idea that “The Doctor could be anyone.” Continue reading

    “Yes Man” Says Yes to Stereotypes

    by Guest Contributor Jehanzeb Dar, originally published at Islam on My Side

    I really wanted to like this movie.

    With its heartfelt message of optimism and living one’s life to the fullest, I thought “Yes Man” would be a film I could enjoy and appreciate after a week of exhaustive finals and papers. Yet it turns out that the film is filled with thoughtless and ridiculous stereotypes that make me feel anything but optimistic.

    Before I saw the film, I already detected some suspicion about the film. A good friend of mine had read the book of the same title and told me the author was motivated to “say ‘yes’ more” by an Indian man he met on a bus. The Indian man’s religion is not disclosed, but it could be argued that the Indian man was Muslim since the author searches for him at one point in the book and finds himself in a predominately Muslim part of town. Oh, and did I mention the book takes place in England?

    Not only does the film adaptation take place in the United States, but it also removes the Indian and potentially Muslim character. Instead, the man who inspires the protagonist to “say ‘yes’ more” is a White English man played by Terrence Stamp. The producers must have felt that the audience wouldn’t have made a connection with a wise and inspirational Indian/non-White character.

    After Jim Carrey’s character starts saying “yes” to everything, we see him checking his e-mail at work and one of the spam messages reads: “Persian Wife Finder.” An Iranian woman wearing a pink hijaab (headscarf) appears on the screen, while puffy clouds are on time-lapse in the background, and says “I am Faranoosh” as if she’s some kind of character you can select from a “Tekken” video game. As she rotates her body to make herself look alluring, the wind blows her scarf into her face, mocking the way Iranian women supposedly dress and drawing ridiculous laughter from the audience.

    What was up with that, Jim? Continue reading

    Was There a Race War after Hurricane Katrina?

    By Special Correspondent Nadra Kareem

    Herrington, Alexander and Collins. 

    It’s unlikely that these names ring a bell, that upon hearing them a knot will form in your stomach as often happens to those who hear the names of another trio—Goodman, Schwerner and Chaney. The latter threesome received worldwide recognition after a lynch mob executed them in 1964 for trying to register black Mississippians to vote. On the other hand, the former threesome was shot during Hurricane Katrina by a group of men described as “white vigilantes.” Unlike Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney, however, Herrington (pictured above), Alexander and Collins survived to tell their tale.

    Now, A.C. Thompson, a writer for The Nation, has launched an investigation into the shootings of Herrington, Alexander and Collins. In an article called “Katrina’s Hidden Race War,” which was published online Dec. 17, Thompson asserts that at least 11 blacks were shot as the hurricane unfolded—all by white men.

    “So far, their crimes have gone unpunished. No one was ever arrested for shooting Herrington, Alexander and Collins—in fact, there was never an investigation,” Thompson writes. “As a reporter who has spent more than a decade covering crime, I was startled to meet so many people with so much detailed information about potentially serious offenses, none of whom had ever been interviewed by police detectives.” Continue reading

    Links – Weekend Edition

    Kabobfest – First Poll on US Opinion on Gaza: Democratic Politicians Ignore Public Opinion

    In one of the more interesting analytical writings on the American (non-)debate on the Israeli assault on Gaza, Glenn Greenwald considers how alarmingly out-of-step Democratic politicians are with their party’s rank-and-file views. He cites the first poll on American public views of Israel’s attack. While there is a general tie between those supportive and opposed, Democrats are against Israel’s onslaught in Gaza by a significant margin.

    The New York Times (Op-Ed) – The Evil Behind the Smiles

    Western men who visit red-light districts in poor countries often find themselves surrounded by coquettish teenage girls laughingly tugging them toward the brothels. The men assume that the girls are there voluntarily, and in some cases they are right.

    But anyone inclined to take the girls’ smiles at face value should talk to Sina Vann, who was once one of those smiling girls.

    Merced Sun Star – Hollywood, Race, and the Age of Obama

    As “Crash” was earning plaudits (and a Best Picture Oscar), any number of much knottier and more daring movies were being ignored by viewers entirely. Spike Lee’s “She Hate Me” (2004), a freewheeling, vastly underrated consideration of, among many other things, white America’s anxiety about black male sexuality, managed to earn only $366,000 at the domestic box office – by far the lowest-grossing movie of the director’s career. Alan Ball’s brazen and compelling “Towelhead” (2008) – a portrait of a Lebanese-American girl molested by a white neighbor, who also has an African-American boyfriend – died a similarly quick death.

    Even more mainstream efforts have had trouble connecting. The movie I tend to regard as the most important one made this decade about race relations is a knotty romantic comedy-drama called “Something New” (2006), about a black woman (Sanna Lathan) who believes she can’t find a decent black man to date and who eventually decides to go out with a white man (Simon Baker). Its mixture of tenderness and severity, cynicism and hopefulness, proved consistently arresting – and yet it pulled in only $11 million.

    New York Times (Op-Ed) – Bleeding Heart Tightwads

    Liberals show tremendous compassion in pushing for generous government spending to help the neediest people at home and abroad. Yet when it comes to individual contributions to charitable causes, liberals are cheapskates.

    Continue reading