Category Archives: east asian

Meanwhile On TumblR: Whitewashing Urban Fantasy And Anti-Asian Racism In Porn And Personal-Care Products

By Andrea Plaid

Two form of entertainment with passionate defenders garnered some great critiques that drew quite a bit of Tumblr attention this week, starting with Chronicles of Harriet’s Balogun spot-on post on the white-washing of urban fantasy:

Maurice Broaddus' King's Justice. Cover art by Steven Stone.  Via yetistomper.blogspot.com

From Maurice Broaddus’ King’s Justice. Cover art by Steven Stone. Via yetistomper.blogspot.com.

Come on, y’all…if you write a story and set it in a place like Broaddus’ Indianapolis, Chicago, Atlanta, London, or Las Vegas, basic demographic research will indicate the presence of people of color. To read and enjoy Urban Fantasy, I am expected to just accept that Black people don’t exist? You get the side-eye for that one.

Whether or not you like Urban Fantasy, the fact of the matter is that this subgenre of Fantasy has had an immense and global impact on people through literature, television and film.

It is because of this impact that we cannot ignore the messages that Urban Fantasy brings. Each time an author of this subgenre decides to tell a story, instead of working so hard to erase people of color out of existence, they should work just as hard to erase the problems that plague our society. And fanboys…do not say that writers should not have to be political; that they should be free to write merely to entertain. Every statement we make is political. Every sentence we write is potentially life-changing for someone. Such is the power of the word.

You cannot truly change culture without literature. We can pass a thousand laws saying that racism and sexism are wrong. We can make a thousand impassioned speeches to rouse the marginalized masses; but if everyone returns home after those speeches and sits down to read the latest installment of Twilight, or watch the next episode of The Vampire Diaries and their fictional worlds in which those same marginalized masses barely even exist – then how much change can truly be affected?

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Uh, Yes, Franca Sozzani, Racism Is A Problem In Fashion

By Guest Contributor s.e. smith; originally published at Tiger Beatdown

The cover of “Vogue Italia” has an important face on it this month: Chinese model Fei Fei Sun, who is the first Asian model to appear on the cover of the magazine. I’d note that US and British editions have yet to feature an Asian woman on their covers, although US “Vogue” did do a spread featuring Asian models in 2010.

Fei Fei Sun on the cover of Vogue Italia

Writing on the “Asia Major” spread that ran in the US, Samantha V. Chang said: “How I wish I could have seen the Asian models of today staring back at me from magazine pages or television screens when I was a Korean-American teenager in the Midwest, wrestling with foundation shades of ‘bisque,’ ‘honey,’ and ‘sand’ in my local Walgreens.” Diverse representation in fashion is important, folks.

2013 is high past time for putting an Asian woman’s face front and center on the cover of a major fashion publication outside of Asia, and I hope we see a lot more. The more, the better because Asian ethnicities are incredibly varied–and the more Westerners are exposed to–the better. The fact that we aren’t seeing Asian faces in Western mags is a serious problem, and it’s a problem rooted in–wait for it–racism.

This editorial, titled simply “Fei Fei,” features the model in an assortment of delicious retro outfits, complete with lavish cat-eye, dramatic hairstyles, and elegant hats. Some of them are, as a commenter points out, somewhat dangerously evocative of the “Dragon Lady” stereotype, particularly the photograph of Fei Fei Sun looking fierce with a cigarette, illustrating that simply including a Chinese model doesn’t mean your race problem is solved, but it is a step in the right direction.

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Meanwhile, On TumblR: The Under-Ten Set Styles Cute And Schools Hard

By Andrea Plaid

Since our sister blog, Love Isn’t Enough, ceased publication, the R’s Tumblr has taken on the delightful task of celebrating kids of color, like this little one in all of her being-ness, via Tumblrer wretched of the earth:

Cutie patootie via wretchedoftheearth

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Meanwhile, On Tumblr: Vogue Italia Puts Its First Asian Model On The Cover

By Andrea Plaid

Happy 2013 from Tumblrville! How quite a few of the R’s Tumblizens kicked off the new year is <3ing and reblogging this bit of news from People, via Disgrasian:

Vogue Italia, the magazine known for taking a stand against anorexia and promoting the use of black models in fashion, made another statement this week, putting an Asian woman on its cover for the first time.

Fei Fei Sun On Vogue Italia's cover. Image via People.

Fei Fei Sun On Vogue Italia’s cover. Image via People.

Chinese model Fei Fei Sun covers the magazine’s January issue (out worldwide Monday), a celebration of the multicultural, border-free facets of fashion. Editor in chief Franca Sozzani, who works as a Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations’ Fashion 4 Development Project, chose Sun for the honor.

The kicker about Sun’s cover is, says the celebrity magazine:

According to the Daily Mail, French Vogue was the first European magazine to put an Asian model on its cover–Chinese supermodel Du Juan, in 2011. And while both British and American editions of Vogue have featured Asian models in spreads, neither has selected an Asian woman for its cover…yet.

Color us unsurprised here at the R. And check out who and what else (un)surprise us on the R’s Tumblr!

 

Meanwhile, On TumblR: Miss Major, The Revolutionary Mom-In-Chief, And The Racialized Politics Of Teaching Chinese To Black And Latin@ Kids

By Andrea Plaid

I lucked out in following people (and people who follow people) who post about issues concerning trans*/gender-variant and genderqueer/intersex (TGI) people, especially TGI people of color–as well as TGI people themselves–in the Tumblrverse. One trans* heroine of color reblogged on the R’s Tumblr is Miss Major (pictured below),

Courtesy: womenwhokickass

who, according to womenwhokickass:

  • was at the Stonewall uprisings in ’69, and became politicized in the aftermath at Attica. She has been an activist and advocate in her community for over forty years, mentoring and empowering many of today’s transgender leaders to stand tall, step into their own power, and defend their human rights, from coast to coast.
  • testified at to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland about the abuses of transgender women of color in and out of the Prison Industrial Complex in the US.

Speaking of women of color kicking ass, Racialicious homie Tami Winfrey Harris went in on the “white feminist chattering class” in her Clutch magazine post on how they seriously missed the point on why FLOTUS Michelle Obama calling herself “Mom-In-Chief” is a revolutionary act:

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Racialicious Crush Of The Week: George Takei

By Andrea Plaid

Courtesy: wikimedia.org

Of course, when I think of this week’s Crush from the standpoint of my childhood, he’s forever Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, looking calmly into the starry universe and co-steering the USS Enterprise through it on the reruns I’d watch with my mom on Saturday afternoons. In my adult life, he’s the criminally underutilized character, Kaito Nakamura, on Heroes. And a helluva of a social media user and activist, boldly using the former for the latter.

The US government forcibly relocated Takei’s family from their home in Los Angeles to an interment camp in Arkansas in 1942, when he was 5 years old, and then to another internment camp in northern California. After World War II ended, his family moved back to Los Angeles. In junior high school Takei was voted student body president; he was also a Boy Scout at his Buddhist temple. After the jump is an interview in which he recalls his childhood:

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Reflections On “The Rise Of Asian Americans,” Or, Don’t Believe Hype

By Guest Contributor Esther Wang, cross-posted from her Facebook page

Courtesy: multiculturalfamilia.com

Thirty years ago in June of 1982, a Chinese American man named Vincent Chin was murdered in Detroit by two men who were angry and fearful about the decline of the US auto industry and the economic rise of Japan, and 20,000 Chinatown garment factory workers in New York City–almost all Chinese immigrant women–went on strike, after factory owners refused to budge over cuts in benefits and services.

These were seminal moments for Asian Americans, and galvanized a wave of organizing and activism in the US by and for working-class Asian Americans that continues to this very day.

A few months later in 1982, I was born in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, to two Chinese immigrant parents who had come to the US as part of the Taiwanese “brain drain” that accelerated in the 1970s, after the US government loosened its nativist immigration laws in 1965 and prioritized students and other educated workers.

And just this past week, on two separate occasions, I was asked, “How long have you lived in this country?” and told, “Go back to China.”

All of this (which is to say, the personal that is political and the political that is personal) was on my mind as I read the Pew Center’s new report, “The Rise of Asian Americans.” In it, the Pew Center details the growth of Asian communities over the past forty years, focusing on the six largest Asian ethnic communities; their median incomes, educational attainment levels, and immigration status; and the social mores that Pew deemed were most relevant when trying to understand Asian communities.

Like many commentators have already written (see here and here), the report grossly simplifies a diverse and complicated community and, more destructively, feeds into the myth that Asians in the US succeed by dint of hard work and cultural values brought over from our homelands (despite Pew’s own research, buried in the last chapter of the report, that showed Asians overwhelmingly favor a larger government that provides more services).

This is not to say there weren’t some interesting nuggets in the report, or that many of their facts were incorrect–what concerns me and others are the conclusions that were drawn by the writers and researchers at Pew, and how those ideas can and unfortunately will be used by others in the service of their own political projects. What is troubling is how reports like these feed into the dominant lens of how all of us, including Asian Americans ourselves, view our communities, and understand the politics of race – and therefore how power operates – in the US.

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The Friday Mixtape – Eurovision 2012 Edition

This weekend marks the only time of the year I let myself watch anything even close to a reality show: It’s Eurovision time!

For the uninitiated, here’s the gist of it: on Saturday, finalists from 26 countries will take part in what could be best described as a cross between American Idol, the World Cup and a political caucus: the winner is chosen by viewer voting, by phone, in real-time, across the continent. You can’t vote for your own country, and scores are added up on a sliding scale, so things can turn around quickly, if you impress people in enough nations. About 100 million people are expected to tune in, and that’s not counting the 39,000 people who will be watching live in and around the host site, the Baku Crystal Hall in Azerbaijan.

But there’s a whole host of stories around the event this year, including a couple of controversies that we were tipped off to by some readers, involving two particular finalists this year. Let’s start with the Ukrainian representative, Gaitana:


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