UPDATE, 1/16/14, 11a.m.: Commenters have pointed out to me that there were numerous errors in this post. I apologize for the errors and my ignorance on these differences.
Last night’s episode of CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” is under fire for the racist decision to depict three of its white characters in “yellowface” — that is, dressing up like they are Asian,
in this case Japanese in this case Chinese. Alyson Hannigan and Cobie Smulders both dressed in kimonos Chinese gowns, their hair pinned up geisha-style, and ate using chopsticks; Radnor wore a silk jacket and a long Fu Manchu mustache. There were fans, references to Shanghai and jokes about noodles. Keep reading »
May I present to you the most WTF music video ever made for the month of July. Day Above Ground’s “Asian Girlz.” Girlz with a “z” because “s” isn’t gangsta enough. Imagine if 311 and Nickelback had sex. This band would be its gay love child.
In the first three seconds, you come to the realization that this may be tongue-in-cheek. But then after a full 30 seconds pass, you realize that the lyrics are so asinine that it may have crossed the line from tongue-in-cheek to borderline offensive. With lines like, “I love your sticky rice, buttfucking all night” and “It’s the Year of the Dragon, ninja pussy I’m stabbin’,” it’s hard to argue otherwise. I mean, sick rhymes, bro. Said no one ever. Read more on The Blemish…
Casual racism is really having a moment these days. The next pseudo-celeb to stick their foot in their mouth is Kate Gosselin, of “Jon and Kate Plus 8″ fame. Take a gander at this picture. It’s confusing, I know, so let me break it down for you. Kate Gosselin, white woman, mother of eight lovely multi-racial children, is wearing a plastic geisha wig and pulling her eyes back in the manner of playground idiots since time immemorial. What gives, Kate? Maybe she felt her star slipping, and, seeing the “success” Paula Deen is having a of late, was inspired to attempt a curated controversy. Maybe she’s just not the brightest star in the sky. Naturally, the brouhaha she created necessitated a response, so Gosselin took to her personal blog with a response, writing:
Evidently, a fan sent [the wig] for me to wear so that I too could “be Asian” like the rest of my family. At that time, a common topic of our show was “everybody’s Asian” — except for mommy, so a thoughtful fan figured she’d help me look Asian too! It’s normal to talk about and even “exaggerate” the feature differences between family members of a biracial family as they are noticed by curious growing children within the family. These types of discoveries and at home discussions are a normal part of being a loving accepting biracial family and it does not make any of us prejudice!
Keep reading »
I am biracial, borne of a Taiwanese mother and American father. My features are decidedly not Caucasian, but hard to pin down to one specific category, a tiny frustration that gets at the heart of humans, because subconsciously, we all live to categorize. I deal with a host of questions pertaining to my background from “What you mixed with, girl?” to the timid “What … background are you?” I will entertain these questions, my response varying on the scale from begrudging to enthusiastic. It’s a conversation that I have a lot, and I’ve come to just suck it up and deal because people do not deal well with ambiguity. To categorize, to separate, to push things into clearly labeled boxes soothes the mind. It sets expectations, dictates how to behave, and prevents you from making statements like the ones I’m about to discuss. Keep reading »
As a kid, I was used to standing out for lots of reasons, like my “Star Wars” obsession or the black eyeliner and vampire chic that made up my high school wardrobe.
I never expected my race to be one of those reasons.
I grew up as an Asian-American among Asian-Americans, so I certainly wasn’t used to being viewed as what we English Lit majors call “the exotic other.” Even when I went to college in St. Louis, it wasn’t that much of a problem. I did go on a date with a guy who went on about his trip to Japan and the extreme “femininity” of its women, but that was about it.
It wasn’t until I moved to the UK that it kicked in: men – and it was always men – shouting “NEE HOW MA” or “KOH-NEE-CHEE-WAAAH” or even “Me love you long time!” as I walked down the street; starting conversations with “Soooo … are you from … China?” before they’d even asked my name; playing up their supposed interest in Asian culture while going on about how “feminine” and beautiful Asian women are. Keep reading »
It was a workday of minor annoyances. Everything at my temp job had gone normally, except for a snippy email from IT and a laminator malfunction that forced me to dig out a half-laminated page with a fork.
So why was I crouched in a bathroom stall, hyperventilating, sobbing, and trying not to scream?
A coworker insisted I see a doctor, who said my meltdown was probably due to anxiety and depression. I was shaken – but not entirely surprised.
I was born and raised in a majority-Asian community in Hawaii, where mental health issues are not discussed. Granted, since most of the people in that community are second- to fourth-generation Asians, there are some exceptions, although these exceptions are determined by an unspoken code. (It has to be an unspoken code. If you can’t discuss mental health, you can’t discuss discussing mental health, either.) As far as I can figure, you get a pass if you’ve tried to kill yourself or at least been hospitalized. Anything else is something that you just get over eventually. Don’t dwell on your emotions all the time. We must endure. That was the message. Keep reading »
CBS’s new fall show “Elementary” has not even premiered yet, but already nerds everywhere are boycotting it. Why would people write off this modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes story starring Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller so soon?
There are a bunch of (not very good) reasons. Keep reading »
Last month, the world imploded (for a little while anyway) when ESPN writer Anthony Frederico penned a headline about Asian-American basketball player Jeremy Lin with the phrase “chink in the armor.” He said he simply meant that Lin had screwed up his winning streak for the Knicks, but was promptly fired amid cries of racism. Federico said he didn’t realize “chink” was a racist slur, certainly didn’t intend to use it that way, and had used the phrase “chink in the armor” a bunch of other times when referring to non-Asian players messing up their game. If you missed the giant-ass kerfluffle in the media, you must have been in a coma.
This Tuesday, Jeremy Lin took Frederico out to lunch to chat. ”It went incredible,” Federico told Newsday. “The fact that he took the time to meet with me in his insanely busy schedule … He’s just a wonderful, humble person. He didn’t have to do that, especially after everything had kind of died down for the most part.” Keep reading »
Jeremy Lin is not just the basketball player who has launched a thousand bad “Lin” puns — and prompted a refresher course on why the word “chink” is unacceptable for an ESPN headline.
His sudden emergence in pop culture has also underscored how strangely acceptable it is in America to make make racial comments about Asians, whether they are considered complimentary (like “all Asians are good at math” or “all Asian women are hot”) or insulting (like “Asian men are not sexy.”)
The thing is, if you’ve never seen an attractive, sexy Asian man, you probably ought to check either your eyes or your prejudices — like all hot men, they’ve been all around us all along.
Keep reading »