By Guest Contributor Lindsey Yoo: originally published at Filthy Freedom
Disclaimer: The discussion of inclusivity and solidarity is relevant to many constituencies in different ways; this is my unique take as an Asian, female-identified individual.
I’ve come to a curious, heightened recognition these past few weeks: My ethnicity is something to laugh at. When an Asian woman is denigrated and exoticized by a group of white men in an offensive video
entitled “Asian Girlz”, I am told I shouldn’t be so upset because the woman clearly enjoyed it and the video was clearly just a joke. When the lone Asian character in the critically acclaimed Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” perpetuates negative racial tropes
through easy, cheap humor that capitalizes on her awkward silences and accented, broken English, I’m supposed to double back in laughter, shake my head, and say “Well, at least they have Laverne Cox!” When I express my anger at careless, racist reporting of an Asiana Airlines crash that killed two teenage girls–KTVU fired a producer
after the network broadcast the pilots’ names as “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow”–the immediate reaction I get is a giggle and a laugh.
was a worldwide trending hashtag originally created to expose the tendency of feminism to exclude the experiences and narratives of women of color. The hashtag led to robust and much-needed discussions that unmasked the tendency of all progressive circles to work in silos instead of calling for true
solidarity across multiple race and gender identities. Filthy Freedom founder Bea Hinton and I both participated in the discussions and watched as they yielded hashtags such as #blackpowerisforblackmen
, which highlighted the privileging of black male voices in discussions on black empowerment, and #fuckcispeople
, which called out the tendency of all social justice narratives to focus solely on cisgender struggles. Through the steady stream of well-formulated tweets (and angry trolls), I kept wondering: Is my voice, as an Asian, female-identified individual, relevant at all?In Matthew Salesses’ “How the Rules of Racism are Different for Asian Americans
,” Matthew recounts how he came to realize that Asians seem to have no place in discussions about racial hierarchies:
For my day job, I organize a seminar at Harvard on the topic of Inequality. I attend these talks both out of responsibility and out of interest. But after two and a half years, I can only remember Asians being mentioned twice, once in direct response to a question by an Asian student. I remember sitting beside another Asian American student and listening to a lecture earlier this year. He said something like, “Nobody ever talks about Asians,” and I said, “Asians don’t exist in Sociology.” We both laughed. It was a joke, but it stung with a certain truth.
I also learned that Asian-Americans occupy a very limited niche in conversations about social justice. In my sophomore year in college, after I learned of Japanese-American activist Yuri Kochiyama
’s role in the civil rights movement and asked a sociology professor why none of our classroom discussions included any mention of her role, she told me that “bringing an Asian into the discussion on civil rights would just confuse people.” When I pointed out to another sociology professor that the statistics we were studying that day, on the parenting styles of black and Hispanic parents versus white parents, did not take into account the unique perspective of Asians, she told me bluntly that “the Asian perspective can be found in the stats on white people.” Continue reading
By Andrea Plaid
Considering last week’s foolishness, no thanks to Day Above Ground’s “Asian Girlz,” we need some pop-culture interruptions around here–and our anti-racism-and-pop-culture compatriots at Racebending helped out.
This week, we reblogged their post featuring the digital photography of Kim Navoa and Donnie, who reimagined the Disney Princesses as Asian American women. Check out the great results:
By Andrea Plaid
Recall the previous post about Guante’s vid and its takeaway about being PC is really about not being a jackass. Well, this next pop cultural item is exactly why political correctness came into being in the first place.
Longtime Racialicious homie Angry Asian Man tweeted this:
The shit he’s referring to is the latest anti-Asian vid called “Asian Girlz” by some band called Day Above Ground. Well, one person didn’t listen…
Sis, I learned from your example. I listened and didn’t watch, but I did try to read the lyrics to understand why AAM said what he said. All I’m going to say is prepare yourselves for gross amounts of fuckery.
It’s a predictable pattern: Tragedy strikes, and the volume of racism gets loud on the Internet. After Asiana Airlines Flight 214 crash-landed in San Francisco last weekend, leaving two dead and many others injured, some folks thought it was appropriate to resurrect the dated trope that Asians are bad drivers. The pilot flying the plane when it crashed was identified as Lee Gang-guk, according to Korean authorities.
The stereotype that Asians aren’t great behind the wheel isn’t new, of course. I mean, it’s been featured in Family Guy. It has its own special place in the revered Urban Dictionary. It’s entrenched enough that it’s been the focus of multiple studies, which compared crash rates of immigrant drivers with those of native drivers. (One Canadian study from 2011 found that immigrant drivers — the biggest groups of whom were from China and India — actually had fewer accidents than “long-term” drivers.)
What’s confounding, though, is that the whole “Asians are bad drivers” stereotype clashes with another beloved Internet meme: that Asians are good at all the “hard” things, especially things that include math, technology or coordination.
Some folks might ask, Wait! Isn’t a positive stereotype, like the tech-wizard ninja one, actually kind of good? Some folks might also never have been asked to calculate the tip at a restaurant because of their assumed Asian math prowess. (Ahem. I’m just sayin’.)
How can a group be stereotyped in such diametrically opposite ways? If folks are going to say racist things after a fatal tragedy, is it too much to ask that at least the stereotypes be consistent? Because, you know, we can’t possibly be bad drivers and good at All The Things.
But I’d prefer neither.
–Kat Chow, “Dueling Stereotypes: Bad Asian Drivers, Good At Everything,” Code Switch: NPR 7/11/13
By Andrea Plaid
While I’ve been away adjusting to my new professional position(s) and some intensely lovely life changes, Owner/Editor Latoya Peterson has been so gracious in taking care of the R’s Tumblr. This week, she found a post that, to say the least, is a conversation-starter. From 8asians’ Akrypti on the how Asian fraternities and sororities are failing to live up to their activist history and principles:
The first Asian American fraternity was formed in upstate New York around the time of World War I to combat the racial discrimination that Asian college students faced. Basically, because Asians were excluded from the white people’s clubs, the guys decided to form their own. In the late 40s, a group of Japanese American women in Southern California formed the first Asian American sorority to support one another in the face of anti-Japanese sentiments and racism.
After the murder of Vincent Chin in the 80s, Asian American fraternities and sororities were at the helm of college-level coalitions pushing for federal prosecution of the perpetrators. They organized vigils, raised money, passed out pamphlets to inform people of what happened, back before the days of YouTube, Facebook, and blogs, and led protests.
By the 90s, the idea of starting your own cultural interest Greek (“Asian Greek”) went viral and today there’s a gazillion of them. In the 90s, Asian Greeks led the charge on many campus political fronts. They had the clout to round up crowds of Asian Americans to rally for change. Many of those fraternity brothers and sorority sisters were activists. They challenged white-dominant student associations when minority interests were subjugated. I recall one incident during my stint in college where this happened and the Asian Greeks united in a positive and uplifting way that did bring about change.
So where are the Asian Greeks today?
Are they the superheroes that the Asian community turns to when shit gets racist? Heck no. The Asian Greek voice has been silent in the wake of the last decade’s eyelid pulling, Asian-men-shoot-up-schools stereotyping, racist receipts, abysmal APIA voter turnout, and the other daunting social and civil issues Asian Americans face in 2013. I do not deny that individuals who happen to be affiliated with an Asian fraternity or sorority have contributed, but there has been no national scale mobilization, which these organizations are highly capable of if they’d only give a damn. Re-imaging popular (effeminate) conceptions of Asian masculinity is still unfinished business for APIA activists and I would think Asian fraternities would feel a personal stake in doing more to be positive public Asian male role models.
I do not write this to condemn Asian Greeks. I write this to critique them. There needs to be an active engagement in the politics and social issues that involve Asian Americans. These fraternities and sororities are in the best position to mobilize on a large scale in response to iniquities and offenses against Asians.
I’mma leave this here for people to chime in on what Akrypti said. And please check out what and who else are starting conversations on the R’s Tumblr!
By Andrea Plaid
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer and author Sheryl Sandberg has faced quite a bit of criticism about her new book, Lean In: Women, Work, And The Will To Lead, a “feminist manifesto” for professional women in the workplace, namely that her book and feminist movement wouldn’t appeal to all women. Racializens really liked what Dr. Angélica Pérez-Litwin had to say about Sandberg’s book:
I did what Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, encourages women to do in her book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. In a self-proclaimed feminist movement to address current gender disparities in leadership, Sandberg aims to galvanize women with a call to action to lean in and step up in the workplace.
I did step up. I leaned in at staff team meetings, sat at the table and contributed to the dialogue. I explored and pursued research opportunities. I asked for mentorship. I scheduled meetings with key players, and asked for their support and guidance in moving my research career forward.
But leaning in has its limitations for women in the workplace, and especially for Latinas.
When Latinas lean in at work, they are often examined through a lens blurred with ethnic prejudices, and socially prescribed roles and expectations. God forbid she has a Spanish accent…
By Andrea Plaid
Sung Kang. Via celebrity-baby-names.blogspot.com
Y’all can thank Racializen Michelle Kirkwood for this week’s Crush: Sung Kang.
By Andrea Plaid
Russell Wong. Via celebritux.com
I need this to be as much as an official record as to what may happen as a Crush post.
See, Senior Editor Tami Winfrey Harris and I are planning an upcoming Table For Two about Downton Abbey and period pieces in general. (The hold-up is my fault: I’m slogging through all three seasons. And I do mean “slogging,” like it’s a this-is-boring-the-hell-out-of-me-and-there-are-no-hawt-ass-people-on-this-show-to-at-least-alleviate-the-tedium struggle. I’m doing this for you, Racializens. Remember that, hear?) And I mentioned the dearth of sexy on the show to Tami. She contends that Thomas (Rob James-Collier) is all pale and dark hair and angular cheekbones and bad boy. And I’m, like, naw, Thomas got that Crispin Glover coloring I can’t get with (and looks like Glover’s socially well-adjusted younger brother). There are just no Colin Firths on this show, I whined. (And I said that as I don’t really think of Firth as spank-bank material–again, just me–but I know he turns the Masterpiece crowd all the way on.) We started trading sexy-in-an-unconventional-looking-way white dudes’ names (Benedict Cumberbatch for Tami; Adrien Brody for me) and hairy-chested white dudes (Hugh Jackman and Scandal‘s Tony Goldwyn for me; neither of them for Tami, though she ‘fessed up that she’s down for the plush upper torso). We happily concluded that we’d “never throw down for a man.”
Then, just to make sure that she and I were solid on the “never throw down for a man” guideline, I ran this week’s Crush by her. Do y’all know what she said?
“I’d cut you for him!”
I was all, like, “Can we at least get out our calendars and arrange days or something?”
So, yeah…Russell Wong.