Tag Archives: asian-american

Parsing the Politics of Caricature, e.g., Rich Lowry Is a Moron

by Guest Contributor Jeff Yang, originally published at the Secret Identities Blog

Oh, man. As if we needed another reminder as to why cartoon art is a medium that can be used for evil as easily as good, comes now the next installment in a series of racist National Review covers trafficking in Asian stereotypical imagery.

You’ll remember, of course, that back in March 1997, the National Review released the infamous “Manchurian Candidates” cover seen here (which, due to the fact that the Internet was just a tot when that slice of tripe hit the newsstands, I was only able to find in greyscale — embedded in a journal article written by Darrell Hamamoto, w00t!)

Asian Americans understandably reacted with stunned rage at the depiction of then-President Bill Clinton, First Lady Hillary Clinton, and Vice-President Al Gore in stereotypical Chinese garb, their features warped into exaggerated Asian caricatures (slanted eyes, buck teeth).

The National Review was unrepentant in the face of charges that the cartoon was offensive and inflammatory, responding, in part, that:

“Caricatures and cartoons … require exaggerated features and, where a social type is portrayed, a recognizable stereotype. Thus, a cartoonist who wants to depict an Englishman will show him wearing a monocle and bowler hat, a Frenchman in beret and striped jersey, a Russian in fur hat, dancing the gopak, etc.”

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Silicon Valley’s Bamboo Ceiling

By Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

Here’s an interesting article in the San Jose Mercury News that pokes some holes in the generally accepted notion of “success” among Asian Americans living and working in Silicon Valley: Despite their success, Asians not rising to heights of Silicon Valley’s corporate world.

asianssilicon

A survey of local executives reveals that while Asians make up more than a third of the work force at some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech companies, they only represent about 6 percent of board members and about 10 percent of corporate officers of the Bay Area’s 25 largest companies.

According to a new study, among the 25 largest Bay Area companies by revenue, 12 had no Asian board members, and five had no Asian corporate officers. Despite the growing prominence of Asians at Silicon Valley tech companies, they’ve made no gains in the share of seats on the boards of large tech companies since 1999. What’s up with that?

It’s the dreaded Bamboo Ceiling, of course. You’d think that of all places, the Bay Area, where Asians are at least 23 percent of the work force at Silicon Valley companies like Cisco Systems, Intel, Sun Microsystems and eBay, we’d see more Asians at the upper levels of management. But it’s
the same old story!


Photo of Palo Alto employees Buck Gee and Wesley Hom from
the San Jose Mercury News

Menace II Society (Allen and Albert Hughes, 1993)

by Guest Contributor Geo, originally published at Prometheus Brown

Sixteen years after its release, its easy to look back and pick apart Menace II Society, even easier to accept it nostalgically as the dope film we all thought it was back then. But the feeling of being in your early teens watching this flick, surrounded by folks who bang (pause) or did knucklehead shit remains, and it’ll always be a classic to me. Moreso these days for being a historical document than a dope film.

There are plenty of memorable scenes in the film affectionately known as Menace. But today, on the 17th anniversary of the 1992 LA uprsising/Sa-I-Gu, I’ll dwell on one in particular: the opening scene. For those not familiar: two young Black men, Caine and O-Dog, stop for some 40s at the cornerstore run by a Korean couple in South Central L.A. The lady spies em and utters the first of the films countless immortal quotables, “Hurry up and buy.” After a tense exchange at the counter, the Korean dude makes a fatal mistake, uttering the second quotable under his breath, “I feel sorry for your mother.” O-Dog turns around and asks “what you say about my momma?” before murdering them and robbing the joint as Caine watches in exasperation. O-Dog grabs the surveillance tape as a souvenir he’d later show to the homies.

A powerful, graphic scene (except for the fact that you can see the filming crew in the mirrors: FAIL). But what did the Hughes brothers intend to say with this? That Koreans are racists who deserve this cinematic execution, perhaps a fantasy retribution for Latasha Harlins? Or to jar and shock the viewer into feeling sympathy for the Korean couple who are merely trying to get by in the same fucked up conditions that the Black community lives in? Does it advocate or justify violence, or does it condemn it? Whatever their intent, this is the effect on others I saw: no sympathy for the Koreans, fanning the flames of Black/Asian tension (to this day: look at the comments on the YouTube clip) and convincing everybody that Larenz Tate is actually a G.

This scene reminds speaks volumes about how much those tensions still remained after April 29, 1992. In retrospect, mainstream media did everything to fuel this tension, which was a very real thing. And still is, even though it’s no longer evening news material. Too much of it bought into that myth that Koreans (and all Asians) and Black folk are just natural enemies like that. I refuse to think so, and though I question the Hughes brothers’ intent with this scene, I still find it telling and deserving of revisiting, to ask ourselves: how far have we really come?

Secret Identities: Parry Shen Unmasked

by Guest Contributor Jenn, originally published at Reappropriate

parryThe Backstory: This interview is the first in a series of interviews with the editors of Secret Identities, an anthology of comic short stories about Asian American superheroes from Asian American writers and artists. Secret Identities hit bookshelves last week, and in case you haven’t heard, it’s awesome.

In This Issue: I spoke with each of the editors one-on-one for about an hour, chatting about a variety of topics from the making of Secret Identities to their favourite comic books when they were a kid. These interviews are based on those conversations.

I thank each of the editors for taking time out of their busy schedules (and their jam-packed book tour) to chat with me.

I first met Parry Shen back in the spring of 2004, when he visited my undergraduate alma mater for a workshop on his experiences as lead actor in Justin Lin’s debut film, Better Luck Tomorrow. At his workshop, I learned a lot about Shen’s experiences as an Asian American actor in a predominantly non-Asian Hollywood. I learned about the difficulties for minority actors in the casting process and the sense of futility, cynicism, and defeat that many Asian American actors ultimately succumb to before leaving the industry altogether. And, I learned about the breath of fresh air that an independent film like Better Luck Tomorrow represented for a large community of struggling Asian American actors, directors and producers. Better Luck Tomorrow was a shot of pure adrenaline; it established to a disillusioned community of Asian American entertainers that a socially-conscious, Asian American-focused project could be made in a profit-driven mainstream Hollywood, and that our community would come out in full force to support it.

Six years later, Shen is hoping to do it again.

Although Shen is the first editor I interviewed for this series, he was the last editor to join the board of Secret Identities. A daily reader of Phil Yu’s Angry Asian Man blog, Shen was thrilled when Yu posted a call for submissions for a collected anthology of Asian American superhero comic stories written by Asian American comic book legends and fanboys alike. A long-time comic book fan, Shen immediately responded to the call for submissions (two of his pieces appear in the book: Hibakusha, a story about a group of young Hiroshima survivors who develop awesome powers, and 16 Miles, a story based on the death of real-life Asian American hero, James Kim). The anthology’s editors were so impressed with Shen’s creativity and enthusiasm, that they invited him to join the board as Managing Editor.

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DISGRASIAN OF THE WEAK! Hipster Runoff

by Guest Contributor Jen, originally published at Disgrasian

From time to time, we use satire to talk about race issues. Often we do so because life is so unfunny, it’s a joke. Or because the only way to get people to think about uncomfortable things is not to beat down the gates but to distract them with some kind of Trojan Horse. Other times, it’s simply the most expedient way to spit out the metallic taste of bile and blood that ignorance leaves in our mouth.

This week, Hipster Runoff, a satirical blog about all things “alt” and “authentic” (“What is the most authentic body part 2 do blow off of?”) that reveres hipsterdom while simultaneously underscoring how it’s just as full of mindless followers as the mainstream, published a post called “Should I h8 AZNs?” Here are a few excerpts:

Sad about the economic crisis, and how AZNs have been smarter than us about saving ‘money’ and only spending what they have. I think America is beautiful. We’ve had a good run, but maybe we’re not as special as we thought we were. Kinda sad. I still feel ‘cooler’ than a lot of foreigners, and like smarter…

Is it cool to ‘be better’ towards AZNs who live in America, or are they ‘one of us’? Or should we construct some ‘internment camps’ in the middle of the USA where we force all AZNs to live and do manual labor, even if they are respected within society? Not trying 2 be radical, just know that we have 2 hold some1 accountable for our crisis, and it might ‘unite’ our country if we single out a group of people who are responsible. Kinda like when they had 2 find communist actors in Hollywood.

I don’t really know much about China, except that they are ‘commie reds’, violate a lot of human rights, and pollute a lot. Learned that from the newspaper…

Should I h8 azns and hold them responsible for the destruction of my country? Or should I move out of the USA and move to an authentic city like Paris/Beijing/Tokyo/Cairo?

There are several Hipster Runoff posts that begin similarly with a question–“Should I Vote?” or “Is it ALT 2 watch the Super Bowl?”–where the answer is patently obvious, and “Should I h8 AZNs?” was probably intended to fall into that category.

Unfortunately, “Should I h8 AZNs?” is not satire. Continue reading

Interracial Marriage Rate Declines Among Asians

by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man

The Washington Post has an interesting story on recent trends in interracial marriage in America — specifically, a decline in the rate of Hispanics and Asians marrying partners of other races in the past two decades: Immigrants’ Children Look Closer for Love.

Sociologists and demographers are just beginning to study how the children of recent immigrants will date and marry. Conventional wisdom has it that in the open-minded Obama era, they will begin choosing spouses of other ethnicities as the number of interracial marriages rises.

But scholars are coming across a surprising converse trend. According to U.S. Census data, the number of native- and foreign-born people marrying outside their race fell from 27 to 20 percent for Hispanics and 42 to 33 percent for Asians from 1990 to 2000.

Scholars suggest it’s all about the growing number of immigrants. It seems that the large immigrant population fundamentally changes the pool of potential partners for Asians and Hispanics. Thus, the second generation is more likely to marry people of their own ethnicity.

It’s not quite like it was before, when there were only two Asian kids in your school — you and this other boy/girl — and everyone thought you two should go together to the prom. Forced coupling. Now half the school is Asian, so it’s not such a big deal. Something like that.

Binary Soul

by Guest Contributor John Jihoon Chang

I often feel as though I’m two men living one life. Many of my peers and contemporaries from an immigrant background have learned how to blend their twin heritages, their cultures passed down from their parents and their cultures locally acquired and somehow become a coherent whole. In my case, an Asian American or more specifically, a Corean American. I won’t say this is true for everyone or even most people, but many have navigated this tricky path or perhaps have chosen one culture to adhere closely to in neglect or abandonment of the other.

Growing up, I was one who had never nurtured the Corean in me, rather concentrating on the present reality that I faced as a young person growing up with almost entirely white American peers. There was little value in my Coreanness, especially as it served to distance me from the only society I’d known. It was an inescapable part of my identity, as my genes had mapped my Asian roots upon my face, but it provided little to no advantages in my daily life, rather often distancing me as a “stranger”, though the life I’d known was, outside of food, language and minor household traditions, largely the same as my peers. Nevertheless, the appearance of difference combined with the few elements that my household practiced always seemed to divide, even as each white American household, I found, had different sets of cuisine, traditions and even occasionally the use of language.

As such, I was an all-American type, as it proved the path of least resistance. My sister naively would label me as “whitewashed” or a “banana”, claiming my abandonment of my Corean heritage while she, all the same adopted the similarly American “AZN” identity, one of the Asian American subcultures defined by heavy adoption of urban mainstream American media tied together with that of a mainstream Asian media as well.
Such a moment left me defensive at the time, but to some extent, she was correct.

Back to that later.

After high school, I’d move on to college and discover my Asian American identity. I found myself socializing a lot more with other Asian Americans, built upon the shared experiences of being differentiated from mainstream white America and often (but not always) upon the shared upbringing by immigrant parents. It’s certainly a comfortable place, where those around you don’t expect you to be different and share the same racial angst as you. And it also created a space for a new part of me to grow: the Corean me. Continue reading

Quoted: Jaemin Kim on Stereotypes, Asian Women, and Hate Crimes

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson


During a one month period in Autumn 2000, the predators abducted five Japanese exchange students, ranging from age 18 to 20. Motivated by their sexual biases about Asian women, all three used both their bodies and objects to repeatedly rape – vaginally, anally and orally — two of the young women over a seven hour ordeal.

In Spokane, one of the attackers immediately confessed to searching only for Japanese women to torture and rape — and eventually all pled guilty and were convicted. It clearly was a racially-motivated criminal case. The victims also believed they were attacked because of their race, the prosecutor told me.

What is astonishing, however, is that the district attorney failed to bring an additional charge that would have tagged the crimes as motivated by racial bias. The police also neglected to report the crime as a “hate crime,” as demanded by the Justice Department to keep accurate statistics of all bias-driven crimes. Although the attackers all received long sentences, an important opportunity to raise the nation’s consciousness was lost. We, as a society, were told that it’s not a hate crime to rape an Asian woman because of her race. Continue reading