Tag Archives: asian

On Race and YA Lit

by Guest Contributor Neesha Meminger

Young Adult (YA) literature has exploded in recent years with the phenomenal success of the Harry Potter books, the Chronicles of Narnia, Tuck Everlasting, Lord of the Rings, the Gossip Girl series, The Princess Diaries, and the more recent Twilight series to name a few right off the top of my head. There are some who look down their noses at YA lit and don’t consider it real literature. But, given the success of the aforementioned novels and series, I blow a big, fat raspberry in those people’s general direction.

Kidding. But, seriously. My guess is that the reason all those titles, and many, many others in the YA or MG (middle grade) categories have been so successful is that they reach across age barriers. If you look at the audiences for Harry Potter, Gossip Girl, Lord of the Rings and Twilight – books and movies – you’ll find fans ranging from nine-year-olds all the way through to the middle-aged, paunch set. The same cannot be said for high literary novels, or children’s books. YA and upper MG novels are right smack in the middle and appeal to that vast swath of almost-adult to inching-out-of-adulthood readers. There are often subtle, mature themes, and usually no gratuitous violence or sex.

I write YA because that is a time that ideals were still strong and fresh.

When I write, it is as if I was on the cusp of adulthood where things were still simple: good and bad were easy to define, as were right and wrong. It was a time when my inner life was more vivid than my outer and there were constant, brutal clashes between the two. It was a time where creativity was wild, unencumbered by the expectations and restrictions of adulthood. Anger, pain, joy – all were raw, enormous forces. It is still the place I go when I am seeking unrefined, unfiltered Truth.

My first novel, a YA release, comes out in March, 2009, and the road to getting it published has been full of surprises. I belong to a group of first time authors with Young Adult (YA) and Middle Grade (MG) novels coming out in 2009. We are all working together to promote our first novels. We share resources, commiserate about bumps and bruises along the way, and rejoice in one another’s accomplishments. It is completely voluntary, and no one is obligated to do anything they don’t want to, except participate in whatever capacity they can. The group is a wonderful social and networking space with some amazingly talented authors and many future stars.

And yet, something about the group caught my notice.

I don’t have any hard data or statistics in front of me, but several weeks ago as I was answering questions for my first online author interview, I was startled to realize that I was one of three YA authors of Color debuting in 2009. Continue reading

You’re The Man Now, Dog!: The Racialicious Review of Slumdog Millionaire

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also posted at The Instant Callback

You could say Slumdog Millionaire is too cute by half. But you can’t say it doesn’t do cute very well.

Adapted from the novel Q and A, Slumdog follows “uneducated” street kid Jamal (Dev Patel) through a Dickensian collision of money, love, poverty and hope against all odds. It’s the kind of fairy tale Hollywood can’t do without tripping over its’ own commercialism anymore. But the relentless pace set by Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay and the direction of Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan sacrifices schmaltz (and practically everything else) in the name of the quest of this most improbable (implausible?) hero.

We meet Jamal, a perpetually wide-eyed call-center drone, as he’s being “questioned” by Mumbai police. The kid has been doing well as a contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? — too well for comfort, in fact. How could this urchin, this upstart, people are asking, be on the verge of winning the grand prize of 20 million Rupees when doctors and lawyers have fallen short? Continue reading

An increase in hate crimes during election season

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

SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together) has been keeping track of an increase in xenophobic violence and rhetoric against South Asians in the weeks and months leading up to the 2008 elections, including assaults targeting immigrants who either supported or were perceived to support President-Elect Obama. Here are a few examples of recent violence against South Asians and other communities of color:

  • Hardwick, New Jersey — On November 6, 2008, an incident occurred in which Alina and Gary Grewal found a cross burned on their front lawn. The cross was wrapped in a congratulatory banner the family had made which read “President Obama, Victory ’08”.
  • Carteret, New Jersey — On October 30, 2008, an incident occurred in which an elderly Sikh gentleman, Ajit Singh Chima, was punched and kicked repeatedly in the face, suffering fractures in his jaw and near his eyes. This occurred soon after a 10-year-old Sikh boy, Gagandeep Singh, was attacked on October 8, 2008, by an individual who pushed him to the ground and forcibly cut his hair.
  • Staten Island, New York — In early November, an incident occurred in which four white men beat a Liberian-American Muslim teenager, Ali Kamara, near his home. The attackers jumped out of a car and assaulted him with a baseball bat after shouting “Obama.”
  • Providence, Rhode Island — In September 2008, an incident occurred in which a Sikh-American man was accosted by an individual who said, “I have a gun in my car and since you are a hajii no one will care if I kill you. You know why the police won’t do anything? Because I got blond hair and blue eyes.” As the assailant left, he screamed, “F*** Arabs and F*** Obama.”

In light of these incidents, SAALT is re-circulating a basic factsheet on hate crimes with answers to frequently asked questions and resources for those in need. To learn more about the work SAALT is doing, and its services and resources for hate crime victims, visit the SAALT website here.

Message to the Candidates: “Black White Whatever” and “That One Bigot”

by Latoya Peterson

I recently had the pleasure of watching two amazing videos that really cut to the heart of the racial issues at play in this election cycle.

The first is “Black, White, Whatever” by Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai, a ridiculously talented spoken word artist who has appeared on Def Poetry. Her work and bio are found on her website, Yellowgurl.com.

In “Black, White, Whatever,” Tsai critiques the missing elements from the candidate’s political speeches – the fact that race in America goes way beyond black and white – and those who fall outside of the binary certainly aren’t just “whatever.” And as she says in the video, “Whatever doesn’t represent me.”

Also of note, from the Ill-literacy site comes a new(ish) YouTube video that really digs into McCain’s infamous “that one” comment from the debates. Unfortunately for McCain, vlogger Adriel Luis provides a hip-hop themed juxtaposition of clips and events detailing what “that one” really means – in the context of remarks and actions taken over the last eight or so years.

(Thanks to Joanna, Kai, and Nezua for the tips!)

University course not suitable for “oriental people”

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

Some racist news from abroad, spotted over at the Resist racism blog… In Wales, an Asian woman has accused a university of racism after she was apparently told that an accountancy course might not be suitable for “Oriental people”: University in ‘Oriental’ race row.

Odgerel Hatenboer, who is originally from Mongolia, attended an open day at Glyndwr University in Wrexham, with the hope of enrolling for an accountancy course. However, she was told my a staff member that the course might not be suitable for “people like you, Oriental people”:

She said: “The man said something like ‘I’m not saying you’re Chinese but people like you, Oriental people, tend to accept what is written in the books and what the lecturer says, whereas this kind of course is nothing like you have studied in the past, it requires more analytical skills, you will have to do more yourself.”

Right. Whatever the hell that means. The guy apparently didn’t even ask about her background or qualifications. Just one look at this Oriental lady and a quick judgment. Thanks for the advice, now kindly shut the hell up. By the way, she happens to have a masters in development economics from the University of Manchester and holds a diploma from the Association of Accounting Technicians. Oh snap!

Ms. Hatenboer completed the application form anyway. She was told it would be passed on to the relevant department and she’d hear from the university within a week… However, when she later checked on the status of her application, she found out it had never been received. Where did it go? It’s a mystery! That’s racist!

Asian hair for halloween!

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

Well, it’s October, and that means Halloween is coming. It also means we can expect to see the unending variety of typically racist Halloween costumes that pop up every year. You too can be Oriental, just for one night. Here a few ridiculous ones, with a hair-centric theme…

The above costume item was recently spotted at a Party City. Want to be a “China Man” this Halloween? Apparently, all it takes is a crappy-looking moustache. It’s easy. Just affix this nasty piece of hair on your upper lip, and there you go, instant China Man! Adding some fu to your manchu. (Thanks, Brandon.)

But hey, why stop there? There are other fun and easy ways to be Chinese. Just try on the Chinese Man wig, “an ancient style with bald front and long pigtail in the back.” But even at the low sale price of $41.48, the Chinese Man wig might just be a little outside your budget. That’s okay, because the Bargain Chinese Man wig is also available for just $22.05. Because nobody should miss out on the racist mockery. Continue reading

Vijay Singh: Categorically Black?

by Latoya Peterson

Over on the Hyphen blog, Erin writes about Vijay Singh, golf star and winner of the 2004 PGA Tour Player of the Year award.

In an entry titled What’s the New Black? Shifting Sands of Race, Erin takes a page from Jeff Yang (who made the argument that Barack Obama’s life story resonates with the Asian American experience) and speculates on Singh’s racial categorization:

In interesting counterpoint to that is a conversation I recently had with a friend who speculated that Vijay Singh — and not Tiger Woods — may be professional golf’s “colored person,” if by that we mean a category that renders invisible, unwelcome, or second-class those who are tarred with it. Singh has been cast as an uppity and hypermasculine threat to a gentleman’s game; he gets a fraction of the press he deserves, and seems to be the guy that the establishment would love to watch fall on his face. So, pointed out my friend Sameer, might it be said that Singh is categorically Black in a way that also transcends biological race?


Korean Mexicans And Korean Cubans Explore Their Roots

by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published at Guanabee

One of the things we love the most about being Latina is being able to claim ties with a vast and varied group of people. Of course, that’s only cool once we kind of gloss over some of the historical aspects of how it that some of these people came to Latino in the first place. With that in mind, let’s take a look at a segment of Latinos often forgotten – Korean Mexicans:

They were the descendants of Koreans lured in 1905 by ship to plantations on the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico. Instead of finding a better life, they were sold to plantation owners and forced to cultivate henequen, a plant whose tough fiber was used to make things like rope.

The Koreans and their descendants would come to be known as the Henequen, in part because they were so hardy and hard-working [Ed. note: Every last one? Really? That name wasn’t given to them because, like. They were forced to cultivate this stuff? No? Ok.]. They had fled a Korea that was under Japanese rule, and despite their struggle, they sent money back home, hoping to help their countrymen gain independence. But few ever saw their homeland again.

History is a funny, funny thing. The LA Times followed one group of Korean Mexicans as they explored their roots during a visit to Lynwood’s “Plaza Mexico:”

Plaza Mexico, which opened in 2002, was the vision of Donald Chae, a Korean American who grew up among Latinos and who has traveled throughout Mexico. Chae tells people that, “I don’t speak Spanish. I speak Mexican.”

“I am a Korean American Mexican,” he quips. “I’m still waiting for my pasaporte.” Continue reading