by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian One thing I did not get for…
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:
- 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.
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? Read the Post “Yes Man” Says Yes to Stereotypes
by Guest Contributor Neesha Meminger, originally published at Neesha Meminger
This weekend, I was interviewed for a magazine article. Nothing to do with my book, or even writing, for that matter. The topic of the hour was body image. This is a topic I could go on and on and ON about (and have, on several occasions), but I’ll refrain just this once.
Before the interview, all sorts of thoughts went through my head about what I might talk about — will I do the usual issue of weight and body size/shape? Would I go to the more familiar topic of areas of my body I’ve waged war with? Or would I go into the skin shade territory? So many areas to cover (no pun intended), not enough interview time . . .
So, when the lovely interviewer called me, we had a fantastic, lively, friendly discussion. It was fun and hilarious. We were about forty-five minutes through when I realized all I’d talked about was my hair. My hair. Not the usual trilogy: butt, boobs, belly. Not flab, sag, and lumps. Hair. And not body hair, either.
I had no idea what a huge issue hair has been all through my life. But as I talked to Ms. Lovely Interviewer, I realized that as a Sikh girl-child, then young woman, so many battles over control and power in my house were fought around the territory of my hair. I was not allowed to cut it, there were certain hairstyles I could not wear, and there was just so much IMPORTANCE placed on what I did or did not do with my hair. Read the Post Hair’s To Freedom
by Guest Contributor Joanna Eng
In Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood plays a bitter old man who’s basically the only white person left in a run-down neighborhood somewhere in the Midwest. He (reluctantly, at first) gets to know his Hmong neighbors, and ends up getting intricately involved in their lives, as they deal with issues caused by a local Hmong gang that some of their relatives are a part of.
There are plenty of things about the movie that might make for great posts on Racialicious:
1. Like most Hollywood movies that are about a community of people of color, Gran Torino features a white protagonist who not only saves the day, but also has the most layers of complexity to his personality.
2. As the first major Hollywood film about Hmong Americans, how did it do at depicting this community? Does the exposure of Hmong culture and the opportunity for Hmong actors outweigh the possible inaccuracies and negative representations? (See some of the commentary about this on AsianWeek.)
3. Clint Eastwood’s character’s constant racist remarks serve as a running joke in the movie. Just because he uses outdated and blatantly un-P.C. language with an “equal-opportunity discrimination” approach, is it OK to use this deeply offensive language as comic relief?
But I don’t really want to write about those things. I want to write about another reaction I had. Read the Post Gran Torino and Hmong Gangs in the Midwest
by Guest Contributor Lisa Leong, originally published on the AZN Television blog
“That’s colonialism all over your face!”
The quote is from one of my favorite Asian American Studies professors on eyelid surgery, nose bridge implants, and any other kind of cosmetic surgery that transforms Asians physical features into more Caucasian ones. She meant that there is one standard of beauty—the Western one—that gets imprinted on our faces, our bodies, and our senses of self.
It’s easy to see that the Western ideal of blond-haired, blue-eyed, All-American (or Ayran, if you’re more sinister) beauty is the dominant standard. Look no further than the all-present world of popular media. Advertisements, TV, and movies glorify beautiful faces, but these beautiful faces don’t look anything like me—or you, probably. Every billboard says, “This is Beauty, and you are not quite it. Envy my bag, my hair, my look and my, uh, eyelids.”
Racialized plastic surgery is a popular topic on talk shows like Tyra and Montel. They raise the question: does eyelid surgery erase or enhance race? The audience nods along in agreement that eyelid surgery is a way for Asians to conform to white prettiness. The plastic surgeon and his patients say that they are just enhancing Asian looks. I may not have big, round eyes, but I can see perfectly well what’s going on here. Read the Post Assimilated Beauty
by Guest Contributor (and regular commenter) Atlasien
*Warning: Strong Language*
– Although the family structure is an important site of resistance to racism, research highlights that many minority ethnic children do not discuss their experiences of racial abuse with parents or other family members.
– Ethnic minority young people are not passive recipients of racism – they employ a range of strategies when confronted with racial abuse.
– It is important to produce integrated strategies, involving a number of agencies, to combat racist abuse both in the school setting and in the local community.
– To date, the majority of responses have focused on the victims of racial harassment, but the effectiveness of these programmes is debatable. Agencies also need to undertake both preventive and interventive programmes focusing on perpetrators.
– There is a need for approaches which are based on children’s actual experiences and perceptions rather than adult constructions of the problem.
Did they ever tell the black girls to go back to Africa?
Back then, I didn’t know. And I had no idea how to ask.
There were a few of them at my middle school, maybe around ten. For some reason, I don’t remember ever seeing any black boys. The middle school must have been between 95-99% white. It was about .001% Asian (me).
The black girls stuck close together. I had no interaction with them, with one exception. One girl was in my Honors class for a year. She didn’t fit in well. She seemed very loud and very insecure (I was quiet and insecure). One day for show and tell, she brought her little sister to school. She was obviously proud of her little sister, who was extremely cute. But the girl’s first name was the same as a certain household product and the rest of the class couldn’t stop saying how crazy that name was. Why would any parent name their kid something so crazy? They must be stupid. I watched the big sister get frustrated, almost to the point of tears. Either her family moved after that year, or she transferred to another school.
I always looked at the black girls and wondered: what did I have in common with them? I took this question very, very seriously. If I found something in common with them, maybe I wouldn’t have to feel so horribly alone. As it was, junior high school race relations felt sort of like The Omega Man/I am Legend, with me being Charlton Heston/Will Smith.
When I was five and six, we lived in Japan with my father. Then my mother moved back to America to be close to my grandparents. We started off living with them, then moved to a house in the suburbs. I quickly forgot all my Japanese, but I kept ties in other ways. I refused to eat sandwiches for lunch; I had to have my bento with noodles or rice.
I was as close to my father as is possible with a non-custodial parent in another country. We talked on the phone, I flew out to Japan in the summer, he got copies of my grades in school. My grades were always good. I really liked school. I played soccer and swam and rode my dirt bike. I liked living in America. I was American because my mom and my grandparents were American and I was born in America and I lived in America.
Then, starting about second grade, I noticed that other kids started calling me names and singing funny songs at me. The other kids started telling me I didn’t belong. I looked weird and I talked funny. I wasn’t a real American. I should go back to China. My mother had always stressed the importance of logic, reason and peaceful conflict management. I tried logic. I told them I’d never even been to China. I didn’t even know anyone from China. Nobody paid attention. I started getting frustrated and depressed in school. Read the Post Getting Past the Bears: Racist Abuse in Middle School and the Formation of People of Color Consciousness
by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man
In November, the University of Maryland’s Asian American Studies Program, with support from OCA, released a major new study on Chinese Americans in the United States. Based on extensive U.S. Census data and independent interviews, A Portrait of Chinese Americans offers the most comprehensive and current portrait of the country’s diverse Chinese American population: Major Study of Chinese Americans Debunks ‘Model Minority’ Myth.
According to the study, Chinese Americans, one of the most highly educated groups in the nation, are confronted by a “glass ceiling,” unable to realize full occupational stature and success to match their efforts. The returns on Chinese Americans’ investment in education and “sweat equity” are “generally lower than those in the general and non-Hispanic White population.”