Asian American Actors Are Missing On Broadway Stages

Courtesy Reuters

By Guest Contributor Marissa Lee, cross-posted from Racebending

It’s been over twenty years since Asian Americans rallied on Broadway against yellowface and “racebending” in Miss Saigon–the same protest that inspired our work against The Last Airbender here at–but Asian Americans are still not getting roles on Broadway.

Enter the Asian American Performers Action Coalition (AAPAC), a group that has organized to help actors of color overcome obstacles to bring more inclusive casting to New York City stages. AAPAC is focused on changing Asian perceptions and opportunities within the New York theatre industry only. It was created by a group of Asian American performers in 2011 in response to what was perceived as a lack of access to opportunities within mainstream New York theatre. Continue reading

M.I.A. And The Real ‘Bad Girls’

By Guest Contributor Thanu Yakupitiyage, cross-posted from Hyphen Magazine

Courtesy of

By now pretty much everyone knows M.I.A. as the bad girl who flipped off the Super Bowl halftime camera. But her fans are more preoccupied with her new music video, “Bad Girls”, in which BMWs and Mercedes Benzes race in a desert we presume to be in the Middle East, tires burn in nameless oil states, Bedouin-styled men ride stallions à la Casablanca, brown rebel-types tote guns, and backup dancers appear in not-quite-accurate hipsterized niqab and hijab.
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Risky Business: The Racialicious Review Of The Shadow Line

Courtesy The Telegraph

By Arturo R. García

The feel-good hit of last summer…this was not.

During its original run, some people called The Shadow Line “the British Wire,” which isn’t quite fair. In fact, it’s more accurate to call Chiwetel Ejiofor’s seven-part miniseries, currently airing on DirecTV’s Audience Network, an appropriately somber example of British gangster fiction done right. Some spoilers are under the cut

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Excerpt: Sylvie Kim On American Idol’s Heejun Han

I must preface this by saying that my disagreement has nothing to do with the fact that I love Heejun Han. I am able to disassociate the emotional swell of my crush from my crush object’s actual abilities. [I just happened to luck out with this year’s season of Top Chef in that my TV husband Paul Qui did deserve to take home the crown] Do I think Heejun has the strongest voice? No. Do I think he will win American Idol? Not really. But I do think he’s become an Asian American pop culture revolutionary?


And Jimmy Iovine’s mini-rant about Heejun’s class clown persona and that the show is not “American Comedian,” just further cemented that belief for me.

Let’s face it, Asian Americans have not fared well on American Idol. The contestants of Asian descent who have made it past Hollywood Week have typically been … boring. Technically skilled, but not as captivating as they could have been, whether it was due to song choice (i.e. snoozy ballads) or lack of stage presence (Oh, Thia Megia…). Season 3’s Camile Velasco (who awesomely sang the hook to The Fugee’s “Ready or Not” in her audition) was just too hip to conform to Idol’s staid routine even in its early seasons and even AI’s resident Asian stud John Park (the one who set Shania Twain’s loins afire during his audition) failed to excite audiences. It’s been argued that singers who receive little screen time during the Hollywood Week episodes are facing one hell of an uphill battle to capture the hearts of America once voting begins, especially if they don’t have a maudlin backstory to tug on viewers’ heartstrings. I think that’s true for a show like Idol — and its competition The X-Factor — which put a large emphasis on creating a “package” star.

And who had a ton of well-deserved Hollywood Week time? Heejun Han. Since his audition, he’s been giving America some of the best deadpan one liners that reality TV has ever seen. Even his facial expressions — though, often bordering on the absurd — are genius. Plus, he really can sing. So while Jimmy and the increasingly joyless Ryan Seacrest question how seriously Heejun is taking the competition, they’d be naive to think he’s not taking his career seriously.

– From “Sticking It To The Man: The Significance Of (A Funny) Heejun Han”

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Keni Styles

Racializens, you know we love some serious, head-sharpening news and analysis around here. But, shit, sometimes we gotta cavort and kick up our heels (to bite a phrase from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine‘s Avery Brooks). And Friday is that day!

Sometimes it involves some interior-design loveliness (blame/credit that on me because I’m sometimes found daydreaming about what a brick-and-mortar Racialicious office would look like), some booty-shaking (that’s Arturo’s department, being a DJ and all), or some sort of smoove mischief (all Latoya, ’cause she rolls like that).

Somewhere in all of this, we’ll shoutout folks we wanna love up–heretofore to be known as The Racialicious Crush Of The Week.

Our first Crush is none other than porn star (and Tumblrer–so NSFW) Keni Styles.


::slow clap::

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Wyatt Cenac Turns The Tables On PETA

Okay, I have to take a late pass for this one, but Wyatt Cenac took aim at PETA’s latest publicity stunt: claiming that the orcas at Seaworld are actually slaves, and should be freed under the 13th amendment. Wyatt justifiably gave that idea the side eye, called in civil rights activist Elaine Brown, and basically said a bunch of things we’ve wanted to say to PETA for a while now.

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Reminder: Asian American Writers Workshop, Monday @ 7 PM in NYC

The line-up for the Asian American Writers Workshop sponsored event is up, and it looks amazing!

AFTER 1989: What do we talk about when we talk about race?: The Canon, PC and Racist Show-and-Tell
Monday, March 5, 2012, 7PM
Featuring: HAROLD AUGENBRAUM (National Book Foundation), ROBERTO BEDOYA (Tucson Pima Arts Council), SACHA JENKINS (Ego Trip Magazine), ASHOK KONDABOLU (Das Racist), JEFFERSON MAO (Ego Trip Magazine), LATOYA PETERSON (Racialicious), HIMANSHU SURI (Das Racist), THUY LINH TU (NYU), VICTOR VAZQUEZ (Das Racist)

Exhibits: The Canon, NEA Litigation

Much of ‘90s multiculturalism was less about race than inventing polite ways to talk about racial taboos. Terms like “diversity” and “political correctness” blunted the unsavory aspects of dealing with racism, even as the right struggled to make English the national language and tamp down transgressive art, multicultural threats to the canon, and Ebonics. To kick off AFTER 1989, Ego Trip Magazine, the folks who gave us The Big Book of Racism, curates a slideshow of racialized advertisements–with call and response by hip hop trio Das Racist, who will judges the caliber of the images from quirky, race-conscious to downright, “Yo, that’s racist!” National Book Foundation Executive Director Harold Augenbraum, early proponent of Latino and Asian American literature, discusses the canon. Roberto Bedoya will discuss the litigation between artist Karen Finley and the National Endowment for the Arts at the height of the Culture Wars–for which he was co-plaintiff. NYU Professor Thuy Linh Tu interviews Latoya Peterson, editor of Racialicious–the preeminent blog at the intersection of race and pop culture–to break down how the Internet has unleashed the Pandora’s Box of racial discourse.

A project of The Asian American Writers’ Workshop, where we’re inventing the future of Asian American intellectual culture.

@ powerHouse Arena
37 Main Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201

Free and open to the public

And as amazing as this event is going to be, AAWW is not done – the After 1989 series rolls on, with “White Noise: Vanilla Ice, Grunge, and Stuff White People Like,” “Why can’t we all just get along?: Integration, Assimilation, and Fantasies of American Society,” “Are Asians Black?: LA Riots, Model Minorities, and Affirmative Action,” and “I LOVE THE 90S” with all of these awesome people (Racialicious faves and friends in bold):

KAZEMBE BALAGUN (Brecht Forum), ELIZABETH MENDEZ BERRY (The Nation), JEFF CHANG (Can’t Stop Won’t Stop), HUA HSU (Grantland), HIRAM PEREZ (Vassar College), JAY SMOOTH (Ill Doctrine), SALAMISHAH TILLET (A Long Walk Home), DAN CHARNAS (The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop), CHRISTIAN LANDER (Stuff White People Like), DAVID ROEDIGER (Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class), REIHAN SALAM (Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream), LISA ARRASTIA (principal at United Nations International School), PAUL BEATTY (White Boy Shuffle, Tuff), ANNE CHENG (African American Studies, Princeton University), EDDIE HUANG (Cooking Channel), NICHOLAS LEMANN (The Big Test), WESLEY YANG (New York Magazine), SOPHIA CHANG (B-Hive Management), CAROLINA GONZÁLEZ (WNYC), DREAM HAMPTON (Jay-Z’s Decoded), VIJAY PRASHAD (Trinity), RINKU SEN (Applied Research Center), JOHN KUO-WEI TCHEN (NYU)

Please come out and support!

3-1-12 Links Roundup

While Leon previously revealed to The Huffington Post that he has held small workshops with Shakur’s mother, Afeni, he also mentioned during an interview with PBS that he has always wanted to direct a production inspired by the rapper’s illustrious discography.

“The idea was always to make a musical inspired by his music and not to do an autobiographical approach to his life or anything like that,” he said. “And because I always thought that Tupac was a prophet and I thought if everybody could hear his words and hear his stories, they would see what I see. So we are going to probably do a big workshop in New York this summer and I’m going to try to bring it to Broadway in the next Broadway season.”

The lawsuit filed late Tuesday in U.S. District Court in New Mexico alleges trademark violations and violations of the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act, which makes it illegal to sell arts or crafts in a way to falsely suggest they’re made by American Indians when they’re not.

The tribe has about 10 registered trademarks on the Navajo name that cover clothing, footwear, online retail sales, household products and textiles. Tribal justice officials said they’re intent on protecting what they believe are among the tribe’s most valuable assets.

“The fame or reputation of the Navajo name and marks is such that, when defendant uses the ‘Navajo’ and ‘Navaho’ marks with its goods and services, a connection with the Navajo Nation is falsely presumed,” the lawsuit states.

Urban Outfitters set off a firestorm of criticism last year with its line of Navajo-branded clothing and accessories — particularly underwear and a liquor flask, which the tribe said was “derogatory and scandalous,” considering the sale and consumption of alcohol is banned on the reservation that spans parts of northeast Arizona, southeast Utah and northwest New Mexico. The company removed the product names from its website after acknowledging receipt of the cease and desist letter.

The racial disparity in the application of the death penalty is staggering. In 96% of states where studies on race and the death penalty have been conducted, there was a pattern of discrimination based on the race of the victim, the defendant, or both. When race factors so heavily in whether or not someone will be sentenced to death, we know we are dealing with a biased, unjust system. People of color face inequality and discrimination at every step of the criminal justice system. African Americans and Latinos make up an overwhelming majority of those who are stopped and frisked in New York City and elsewhere around the country. We also know that White prisoners are four times as likely as people of color to be granted Presidential pardons. Troy Davis’ death is a recent, heartbreaking reminder of the tragic consequences of a racist system.

The fight to save Davis’ life showed the power of Black Americans and our allies. We worked with partners at Amnesty International, the NAACP, the ACLU and to gather online petitions. More than 100,000 ColorofChange members signed petitions, and we raised more than $30,000 to run radio ads in Atlanta asking the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole to halt the execution. Some ColorOfChange members wrote letters to the editor to help spread the word about all of the doubt surrounding Davis’ case, and others involved in the effort led rallies and vigils all over the country. Together we were able to show that the world does care about what happens on death row and that we are watching.

Turner said the recent vandalism reminded him of a cartoon about reparations that ran in The Exponent near the end of his freshman year. The cartoon was deemed racist by most black students.

“That was even more upsetting because people who are supposed to be educated thought that it was OK to print that,” Turner said. “Again, I don’t think they hate black people, but their lack of experience with black people made them ignorant to the fact that we would be offended.”

For some black students, even making the decision to come to Purdue is difficult because of the assumption that the area is behind the times when it comes to race relations.

“I’m from New Jersey, and when I was looking at schools the Midwest wasn’t even an option,” freshman Brandon Davis said. He ended up at Purdue thanks to the Business Opportunity Program founded by Bell. “The stigma in Jersey and on the East Coast is that the Midwest is kind of racist. That’s just kind of what we think.”

The women are 39-year-old Zakia and 25-year-old Rukhsana. Zakia’s husband threw acid on her after she filed for divorce, and Rukhsana’s husband and in-laws threw acid and gasoline on her and then set her on fire, simply because her husband didn’t want to hear her speak anymore. Despite the trauma they have faced, the women enlist the help of the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF) in Islamabad, as well as sympathetic policymakers, in an attempt to bring their assailants to justice by pushing the Pakistani government to enact new legislation that imposes stricter sentencing of perpetrators of acid attacks.

The film also follows Dr. Muhammad Jawad, a Pakistani-Born, London-based plastic surgeon, as he journeys back to Pakistan to perform reconstructive surgery on these two women. Dr. Mohammad Jawad returns to his home country to volunteer his skills and assist victims of what he calls his society’s “disease.”

Acid burn attacks, prevalent in Cambodia, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, are just what they sound like. The victims, usually women, are doused or sprayed in the face with acid, resulting in permanent physical and emotional injury. According to the Acid Survivors Foundation, which aims to eradicate the practice in Bangladesh, acid attacks are a gender specific crime resulting primarily from disputes regarding dowries, land, property, money, marriage, and sex. The organization estimates that from January to October of 2010, in Bangladesh alone, there were 118 victims of acid violence. According to ASF statistics, victims tend to be females from 25 to 34 years old, although there are some cases of male and children victims.