links for 2006-11-14

Comic strip explores being a “Single Asian Female”

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

I just read about this new comic strip called Single Asian Female on Angry Asian Man.

It’s actually written by a man named Ethan Lee, but the protagonist is a 21 year-old fourth-generation Chinese American who goes to UC Berkeley. Check out this AsianWeek article about Lee and check out the comic strip’s web site.

I’m kind of disappointed that it’s not actually written by a woman. I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with writing a comic from a perspective that’s not your own, but as we know there are a lot of really dicey gender issues in the Asian-American community, and I guess I just hope that this comic will try to be as realistic and balanced as possible.

Update: Check out Jenn’s take on it at Reappropriate. I’m willing to give this comic benefit of the doubt since it’s just starting out, but I agree with this statement from Jenn: “With Asian American feminism in its nascency, we must be careful about the voices that are perceived to define our identity and voice our narrative.”
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single asian female comic ethan lee

Herbal Essences: Asian women can’t be blonde or Swedish?

by guest contributor Nina

herbal essencesThe new Herbal Essences commercial for hair dye starts with a blonde-haired woman’s back to the camera and the voiceover posits, “Not a real blonde?”

The woman turns around, there is a gong sound, and it is revealed that she is an Asian woman with apparently dyed blonde hair.

Later in the commercial, the voiceover says something to the effect of “they’ll think your parents are from Sweden” to which the woman says “yah” in what I guess is a Swedish accent.

The commercial just rubs me the wrong way. First the gong sound. Use of a gong to signify Asian culture is right up there with fried chicken and watermelon as an insulting race indicator.

Furthermore, the commercial only works if you agree with the following assumptions:

1) It is impossible for an Asian woman to have anything but jet black hair
2) An Asian-appearing woman cannot have a Swedish parent.

If you are a reader of this blog you already know that these two notions are just not true.

Hair dye has come a long way and most blonde women have a little assistance in obtaining their look. But to the honchos at Clairol (Herbal Essence’s parent company), an Asian woman with blonde hair is still a shocking sight.

Have you seen the ad? What did you think?

(Note from CVK: And if anyone can find a video of it online, please post a link in the comments. Thanks!)

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links for 2006-11-11

In case you missed it…

by Jen Chau and Carmen Van Kerckhove

Every Friday afternoon we sum up the week’s best posts from New Demographic’s various projects. Here we go!

race changersRace Changers
a community of people working towards an anti-racist future, one week at a time

conscious media makerConscious Media Maker
a blog for entertainment, media, advertising and public relations professionals who are committed to bringing about more realistic, three-dimensional representations of people of color

  • Budweiser: Bringing you smug white superiority since 1934: This is an old Budweiser ad from 1934. The white man smirks at the camera, bending over slightly to supervise as his black manservant serves up some Bud and cold cuts for the guests.
  • Double standard at The New York Times? Talented culture writer Lola Ogunnaike was suspended after appearing on “The View” even though other Times reporters appear regularly on television. Funny – her colleague Maureen Dowd…wrote the Rolling Stone cover story this month on Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.
  • OfficeMax bring sexy back? Uh… what does a naked, tattooed Asian woman have to do with office supplies? Anyone?
  • Magazine mania: Recently I’ve added some new titles to my Can’t-Let-Go collection. With the appearance of some newer magazines geared toward an Asian-Pacific-American audience, I find myself lingering for longer periods around the magazine racks at bookstores and newsstands.

addicted to raceAddicted to Race
a podcast about America’s obsession with race

anti-racist parentAnti-Racist Parent
a blog for parents who are committed to raising children with an anti-racist outlook

  • Gratuitous cute kid pic: This is Alex, the daughter of ARP’s very own columnist, Karen Walrond. As you can see, Alex is dressed up for Halloween.

a blog about the intersection of race and pop culture

  • The story behind “Flags of our Fathers”: Ira Hayes was a Pima Indian from Arizona who joined the Marine Corps shortly after the start of World War II. He was hungry and needed money, and not least, he wanted to bring honor to his tribe.
  • It’s bigger than hip hop: If we’re so hip-hop and the music is the music of the people, why don’t I see my people in those spaces? Could it be that my people are in a different place?
  • Musical yellowface: The bare title of this post might already be enough to summon, in your head, the ubiquitous musical phrase that says “chinky!” with as much self-conscious gusto as bamboo fonts and gongs.
  • Election racialiciousness roundup: Unfortunately, Bob Corker’s race-baiting tactics appear to have paid off. And so have Ward Connerly’s KKK-praising strategies to end affirmative action in Michigan.
  • I’m hung like a black man: I don’t know what’s worse: the shirt itself or the description used to sell the shirt: “When you’re fishin’ for ho’s with a rod like this, bitches can’t help but to jump in da boat.”
  • Superhead and Bobby Brown reality show? Karrine Steffans and Bobby Brown reportedly have a new reality series slated to air on BET.

Superhead and Bobby Brown reality show?

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

betBuffoonery alert!

Brace yourselves if this is true. From Crunk and Disorderly:

Wendy Williams on air partner in crime Charlemagne announced that Karrine Steffans and Bobby Brown’s new reality series is slated to air on BET. Shit, if they gave Vince Young’s semi-retarded ass a show I would not rule these two out.

The rumor is that Karrine “Superhead” Steffans (author of Confessions of a Video Vixen) is responsible for Bobby and Whitney’s divorce, and that she’s actually pregnant with his child.

Borat means Bigot

by guest contributor HighJive, originally published at MultiCultClassics

boratAnyone familiar with the Russian (a.k.a. Cyrillic) alphabet will immediately spot the typo in posters for “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” The letter serving as an “A” in the title figure’s name (see image above) is actually the phonetic equivalent of a “D” in the English alphabet.

The movie ultimately takes advantage of viewers’ unfamiliarity with the Russian alphabet — as well as our collective ignorance on a host of other cultural tips.

Borat’s skyrocketing popularity cannot be denied. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be disturbed by the rave reviews.

Critics have drawn similarities between Borat and MTV’s Jackass. The comparisons are an insult to Jackass. Yes, both entertainment vehicles share a level of crudeness and obscenity. But Borat is rooted in racism. Only a jackass would fail to recognize it.

Forget the proclamations that Borat is an equal opportunity offender targeting everyone and everything with biased barbs. It just ain’t true. There are no gags involving Latinos, Asians, Indians, Muslims, Native Americans and the usual suspects. Borat preys on specific segments in styles ranging from subliminal to slick to sick.

Aside from a cameo appearance by Republican activist Alan Keyes, the Black folks in Borat’s world are prostitutes and dice-rolling punks. It’s interesting that Sacha Baron Cohen forwards this negative vision, given that he’s made a fortune biting hip-hop via his Ali G persona. It’s also interesting that Borat is much more comfortable hanging with homeboys in the hood (and homosexuals!) than with a sweet Jewish couple in a suburban bed & breakfast. Continue reading

L.A. black firefighter gets $2.7M after coworkers lace spaghetti with dog food

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

firefighterI don’t know how it is in other parts of the country, but in New York City, the fire department is white, white, white. Let’s hope this case in Los Angeles will raise awareness of racial discrimination issues among firefighters. From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:

The city is paying $2.7 million to settle a lawsuit from a black firefighter who claims he suffered racial discrimination after co-workers served him spaghetti laced with dog food…

In his lawsuit, firefighter Tennie Pierce, 51, said after he took a bite of the meal two years ago, he noticed other firefighters laughing. He demanded to know what was in the food after a second bite but nobody answered.

Pierce said he suffered retaliation for reporting the incident and verbal slurs, insults and derogatory remarks, including taunting by firefighters “barking like dogs (and) asking him how dog food tasted,” the lawsuit said.

David Wellman, a professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz hired by Pierce’s attorney, said the association of a black man and dog food “resonates with the deep historical roots of slavery and the corresponding dehumanization.”

“It’s not just silly stuff. It’s racially motivated,” he said.

Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World