Blacks and Asians: Revisiting Racial Formations
Volume 3, Number 3
Transforming Ethnic Studies
Tokyo Bound: African Americans and Japan Confront White Supremacy
Yellow Power: The Formation of Asian-American Nationalism in the Age of Black Power, 1966-1975
Jeffery O.G. Ogbar
East of the Sun (West of the Moon): Islam, the Ahmadis, and African America
Linking African and Asian in Passing and Passage: The Pagoda and the True History of Paradise
B-Boys and Bass Girls: Sex, Style, and Mobility in Indian American Youth Culture
Sunaina Marr Maira
Building the Antiracist, Anti-Imperalist United Front: Theory and Practice from the L.A. Strategy Center and Bus Riders Union
Adding: ‘Left or Right of the Color Line: Asian Americans and the Racial Justice Movement’ from ChangeLab
Ah yes. This thing.
Slanty eyes? Check.
Nón lá knock-off? Check.
Buck teeth? Check.
Engrish? “OKAY FERRAS, LET’S ROCK DA JOINT.”
Reference to fortune cookies? Check.
Mock Chinese? “Shanghai-HongKong-Egg-Foo-Young, Fortune Cookie Always Wrong! Hehehe, dat a hot one.” BIG check.
I mean, I always knew this part of the Aristocats was extremely racist, but when you lay out all the different pejorative Asian tropes, it’s AMAZING how much they crammed into a three-minute musical number.
what I mean when I say I hate white people
- the most important thing to remember is that I don’t actually hate white people. I just hate White People.
- I hate white people because it’s so fucking easy for them - easy for them to be racist and easy for them to point their fingers at other, ‘more racist’ white people, while asking me if, you know, they did well, waiting expectantly for me to give them a fucking honorary-POC get-out-of-jail-free card for the next time they make a joke out of my culture and my history.
- the expectation that I have to teach them about my culture, about my anger as an Asian American woman, and why am I so offended anyway when they ask me how to tell the difference between Asians? Why is it so offensive to perpetuate stereotypes if they’re ~*true*~?
- and if I don’t explain my anger calmly, in a way that makes it clear this is directed towards those other, actually racist white people and not the person I’m speaking to, who is clearly an enlightened exception to the rule who just didn’t know the proper terminology, then I am an angry, bitter, reverse racist, spitting seething POC bitch and I surely can’t expect people to listen to me if I can’t even talk civilly!
- oh but wait DO I EVEN COUNT AS A REAL POC? I’M PRETTY LIGHT SKINNED, RIGHT? ASIANS ARE TAKING OVER THE UCS, RIGHT? WE’RE PRETTY WELL OFF, RIGHT? THE MODEL MINORITY ISN’T JUST A MYTH, RIGHT? Don’t fuck with me, I know what you think and I see your skepticism, and, you know what, if other PoC want to debate this with me, I’m all ears - I am well-aware of the racism within the Asian American community and the tensions between Asian Americans (especially East Asians/light skinned Asians) and other communities but, white people, you, of all people, do not get to make that decision for me.
- white people having. it. so. easy. I have lived and will live every day of my life always hating myself a little bit even though I have finally learned how to love myself and cut the bullshit, I will always remember that, to some white person, I am not good enough, not smart enough, and definitely never American enough.
- I also hate white people for making me hate myself for the majority of my life thus far - I have learned to always second-guess myself, to always undervalue my worth because that’s always the safer route, to soften my anger when I always need it sharp, to believe and buy into, even for a second, the stereotypes, to find it hard to believe in myself, because my race has always meant everything. I will always know I amAsian American thanks to every fucking white person who has asked me where I’m from, no, they mean, where I’m really from.
- for worrying that I’m not being fun, that I’m being the party pooper of the privileged white kid party, that when I don’t find mildly racist and classist humor offensive, it’s because there’s something wrong with me, I am too serious about hating white people for me to ever truly be funny, because caring about issues is so UNCOOL and God, when I do my “Asian thing” - it’s just so awkward, you know? Everyone at the table feels awkward, why can’t I just let it go? It’s not like there’s real racism here or anything, right?
- And, God, just - white people. Having it so easy.
today’s anxiety attack was brought to me by this asshattery IRL.
Why the model minority myth hurts Asian Americans
Roughly a third of all Hmong, Cambodian, and Laotian Americans do not have high school diplomas. These three are among the poorest ethnic groups in the United States. These disparity is due largely to unequal access to resources, discrimination against immigrant groups, and lack of multicultural awareness. Yet, the model minority myth would have you believe that we are all affluent. It leads people to believe that Hmong, Cambodians, and Laotian Americans do not need help obtaining resources. The myth convinces people to turn a blind eye on our social problems, problems that are caused by structural discrimination.
An AMERICAN movie about KOREANS?!
If I told you that there was an American comedy movie in English, with an entirely Asian cast, about a Korean family, would you believe me? What if I also told you that Epik High Tablo’s wife, Kang Hye Jung was in it… would you believe me? And also, if I told you that the entire movie was written and directed by a Korean American woman would you believe me? Well… you better, because there actually is. This is not exactly related to my personal adventures here in Korea, but it’s something that is really important to me as a Korean-American. And as the clever tagline says, THIS (for once) IS NOT A FOREIGN FILM.
Al Leong is one sexy beast who towers over Hollywood!
Help us bring Al back onscreen by sharing this pic and supporting our Awesome Asian Bad Guys Kickstarter campaign!
Chinese American actresses wearing qipao/cheongsam, 1920-29
"As one of 15 advisors to the project, I felt blindsided by the press release. Words failed me as I read it for the first time, as we had not gotten a chance to review it. The dominant narrative in the release reinforced the frame of Asians as a model minority, stereotypes that the advisors had strongly objected to in the only meeting of the group two months ago. What we contested in private then, and what others are challenging in public now, is a monolithic frame that often renders invisible the struggles of many who fall under the Asian American label.
What made this press release particularly troubling, however, were the invidious comparisons it seemed to invite, of a racial group that is overtaking Hispanics and other Americans in a metaphorical race for national supremacy. As many critics have rightly noted, this zero-sum frame has been invoked time and again since its formal articulation in 1966 — when Japanese and Chinese Americans were valorized in relation to other minority groups, and yet still viewed as perpetually foreign. And the model minority myth has often had detrimental effects, from inviting resentment and violence against Asian Americans to masking problems internal to the group."
Beautiful series by HBO called East of Main Street: Asians Aloud
[tw: perpetual foreigner stereotype] An Incident
Colorblinding I luv yew
This morning, there was a woman in the elevator with me as I headed to my office. I’ve never met her before. We make small talk, and she was friendly. We get off the elevator and walk in the same direction.
Then she asks me, “Where are you from?”
I get that a lot because I’m Asian-American and I’m not a native New Yorker.
I say, “California” because I really am from California. I grew up there.
Then she says, “No, no, where are you really from? Where are your parents from?”
Excuse me? What?
Now, here’s the thing. She wasn’t being racist, or malicious, or anything like that. She seemed geniunely interested and asked nicely. She really sincerely did not know that question can be offensive.
I tell her, and she replies, “Oh, I’m from Montreal.”
She went into her office after that and I went on my way, but it got me thinking.
Even being in a diverse city like NYC, this random woman still viewed me as someone who didn’t originally come from this country. Now, look, I get a lot of racist shit, usually from some drunk guy, so I don’t let the comments bother me. But today was different. I truly think this random woman did not know the non-offensive way to ask me where I was “really from.”
This incident reminds me of the stories the Jeremy Lin coverage generated, and how the Asian American Journalists Association had to put out a document to the media about the difference between Asian-American & Asian, Jeremy Lin & Yao Ming, and Taiwan & China.
I try to see the best in everyone, I believe that almost everyone has good intentions, and I try not to let this city’s craziness get to me. Today with this random woman, I choose to view her question as she was simply curious and didn’t know the right way to ask me where I was “really from.”
UGHHHHH. A couple of times I’ve actually said to people, “I know what you’re ACTUALLY asking, so just ask it.” Or sometimes they’ll say, “No, where are your parents from?” To which I truthfully say, “San Francisco and Tracy,” or just “also California.”
Of course, it depends on the person and the tone of the conversation at the time, but generally people get the hint.
(What I thought was interesting was while on a cruise in Australia back in 2005, was that when people asked this, they were Australians who had never actually met an Asian American who wasn’t from Hawaii. And I was happy to indulge/educate. It wasn’t that they doubted our American-ness. They were just genuinely intrigued. North Americans from/in North America, you should know better.)
Because being Asian in America means being a perpetual foreigner.
i have this happen quite a lot. i feel like the appropriate response for me should be like this:
“where are you really fr-“
“kentucky stop asking this shit it’s racist”
“Me love you long time” came into prominence with Stanley Kubrick’s “Full Metal Jacket,” (from 1987) as a Vietnamese prostitute tries to pick up Matthew Modine’s character with broken English. The phrase was then popularly picked up by 2 Live Crew in the song “Me So Horny.”
“It’s so many different kinds of slurs in one,” comedian Margaret Cho said. “It’s instantly putting you in the position of being a foreigner, an outsider and a sexual stereotype. It’s an all-in-one combo.”
~naturallaw for yahoo questions
The popularization by Mariah Carey’s ‘Love You Long Time,’ Fergie’s ‘London Bridge,’ and Nicki Minaj’s ““Muahhhh me love you long time like I’m asian” demonstrates how this exotification of Asian/A.American women is constantly recycled in the media, perpetuated by celebrities to obtain the hyper-sexualized image needed to make it big, especially if you ain’t got the talent.
And let’s not forget that the Black Eyed Peas also did a song called “Love You Long Time.” The chorus showcased the band’s traditional lyric genius:
Boy I’ll let you love me let you love me long time
Boy I’ll let you love me let you love me long time
Boy I’ll let you love me let you love me long time
Boy I’ll let you love me let you love me long time
In the velvet lounge
Can we also just take a second and look at Nicki Minaj’s geisha/samurai getups?
Even very vehement anti-racists on Tumblr deny Asian racism or consider it benign; and even many Asian folks who are open to anti-racism but have never deconstructed thoroughly their own experience being an Asian will make half-arsed remarks that reek of self-flagellation and internalized racism. I’ve even been told that there are privileges to being Asian like there are privileges to being white and that’s why I shouldn’t get offended at people being called ‘white identifiers,’ cos most Asians are.
I include myself in these critiques because I am only recently starting to understand the turmoil of being Asian in America. Note that I never deny relative privileges afforded to different populations but think you shouldn’t boil down the oppression of one group to their relative privileges. Whites have pretty absolute privileges so this doesn’t open up an ‘anti-whiteness’ discussion.
But the point I want to briefly make is that ‘ASIAN PRIVILEGE’ is the same thing as ‘WOMAN PRIVILEGE’.
When those misandrists like ryking blew up at feminists a few months ago, many touted a ‘WOMAN PRIVILEGE’ checklist. This included things like ‘lesser chance of being murdered, assaulted, exposed to direct violence, lesser likelihood that you will go to jail for things, be removed from your children,etc.’
We shouldn’t boil down the experience of being a woman to these extremely finite and relative privileges. In fact, we should try to understand how these things end up being framed as privileges in the first place.
Taking a page from Angela Davis’ analysis in, Are Prison Obsolete, the problem with women privilege is that we assume the same model of civil liberties, tendency towards civil engagement, and mode of civil participation for women and men.
Davis discusses how imprisonment arose as a mode of punishment geared towards men because only men were (and still are) understood as people who should be punished by the state directly. Why? Because men are understood to have full civil liberties and are fully afforded the opportunities to participate in civil society. This means they are more likely to violate the law because only they are understood as fully participating in the arenas of life that the law regulates.
Meanwhile, while imprisonment was being used as a tactic primarily against men, women were relegated to the domestic sphere and faced their own types of punishments vis a vi abuse, torture, rape, etc. These punishments are more ‘private’ whereas men’s are more ‘public’ because they are understood as whole citizens. So just like men are more likely to die through random assault and murder, more women are likely to die during the period of time they break up with a partner.
This is the same problem with ‘Asian privilege’. Society and most people- including poc and Asians themselves- do not regard Asians as full members of civil society. Their participation is erased and they are relegated to a very narrow professional field; they are interpellated as passive political beings and many Asians act accordingly.
So if Asians are not understood as whole citizens (which is certainly the case if you consider the very Asian dilemma of being a perpetual foreigner in the US), I have to scoff at ‘Asian privilege’. Asians are less likely to be systemically brutalized through the prison-industrial complex- a relative privilege for sure that Asians must recognize as their fellow brown and black poc are being slaughtered by the police.
But it’s also worth pointing out, in discussions that have devolve to ‘Asians don’t have any problems and only experience benign racism’ that they will not be systematically brutalized by the police because they are not recognized as full citizens.
If you accept this as a relative privilege constituting a lack of racism, then you have to also accept women as privileged because the state does not systematically kill them via imprisonment the same way it does men. Even in an age where everyone and their mama in the US is in jail, women make up a small percent of the imprisoned population. Think about how this population rose dramatically in the 1980s and after, when America became entrenched in post-race and post-gender rhetoric and thus at least falsely considered women to be equal to men.
There has been much written on the subject of women in civil rights’ movements, and this has been a point of conflict within groups like the Brown Berets and the Black Panthers. It has given rise to a mythology within many poc activist groups that men are the only ones targeted by the state and women need to acknowledge this burden that men shoulder. This is often used to minimize domestic or partner abuse, or other types of gendered violence, though. It might be statistically true but there is always a reason behind it.
This is a fantastic post. I’m too tired to write a full response to it right now, but I just wanted to reblog it. And another thing that really bothers me is the way in which the term “Asian” is mobilized — as though all Asian groups and experiences are exactly the same. As though we can somehow group together Southeast Asians with South Asians and East Asians and Pacific Islanders.
As though migrant workers from Asia or undocumented Asian workers working in illegal sweatshop factories and restaurants and laundromats in America somehow experience the same exact kind of racial tensions that middle-class east Asians living in Southern California experience.
This is just another way in which non-Asians manage to erase us and our experiences by homogenizing us and undermining our experience and struggle, and denying the history and reality of our people and ancestors.