My brother Gary (on the right) and me at Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni, Japan circa 1965. Note that my brother is wearing a Cub Scout (or Webelos) shirt — we were both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts starting in Japan, and I was even an Explorer Scout! How American can we get!
I’ve watched in awe and appreciation for the past week as a Twitter hashtag created by writer and activist Suey Park, “#NotYourAsianSidekick, has achieved the impressive feat of trending on the social network, sparking a global discussion about Asian stereotypes, Asian American identity and especially, the challenges faced by Asian American women.
Park first used the hashtag on Sunday, December 15 to promote a Twitter conversation the next day about how feminism had minimized and marginalized Asian American women. “Be warned,” the tweet announced. “Tomorrow morning we will be have a convo about Asian American Feminism with hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Spread the word!!!!!!!”
The conversation couldn’t wait ’til the next morning. It began right away, and led to a torrent of posts from Asian American women who aired their frustration and anger, inspiring others to add their voices to the chorus. Continue reading →
I shouldn’t be surprised or disappointed anymore, and accept the fact that there will always be idiotic people in the United States who probably function perfectly normally most of the time, and then turn into stupid racist haters the moment there’s some sort of tragedy in the world that involves people of color. Two years ago, I was dumbfounded that Americans would rant and rave about the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan and claim it was somehow “god’s revenge” for Pearl Harbor. What?
But the glibness and ease with which such racist drivel finds its way from pea-brained individuals to the social webs is still shocking. Here I’ve been following the crash of the Asiana jetliner at SFO (an airport I often fly to and from) as a human tragedy, but a miracle with only two casualties. I’ve felt empathy for the families of the two schoolgirls who were killed, and the many survivors who were injured. But the fact that most of those onboard survived — and that 123 survivors were able to walk away without being hospitalized — is nothing short of amazing.
But of course, the human stories of the crash don’t matter to the racists who immediately feel the need to respond with jokes about Asian stereotypes (we’re lousy drivers, har har) and hateful cracks about North Korea (hellooo, Seoul is in South Korea, and this was not an attack by Kim Jong Un on the US).
That such a lowbrow, juvenile mentality switches on so quickly shows that racism and prejudice are still alive and well just beneath the veneer of political correctness that the haters always complain about. Scratch the veneer just a bit with a news event like this tragedy, and you’ll see nothing but ugliness ooze out.
Here’s a conference I wish I could attend, but my schedule and budget don’t allow a weekend trip to LA on Saturday, March 23. Organized by the tireless Jeff Yang, who has a long history as a chronicler of Asian America and is currently a columnist for the Wall Street Journal covering AAPI topics in his perfectly titled “Tao Jones” blog, “Beyond the Bad & the Ugly” is a first-ever summit on Asian American stereotypes.
It’s also a kickoff for the “Shattered” tour, a book-signing tour featuring Yang and various collaborators including Parry Shen, Keith Chow, Jerry Ma and others. The team have published “Shattered: The Asian American Comics Anthology,” a second volume and sequel to “Secret Identities,” the first anthology of comics starring Asian American superheroes, and written and drawn by Asian Americans.
The theme of “Shattered”/”Secret Identities” fits with “Beyond the Bad & the Ugly” because the comics are all about dispelling the wimpy stereotype of Asians in American pop consciousness, and pointing out that Asians are missing from the superhero pantheon. (Note: Stan Lee seems to have gotten the hint; he’s created a new superhero who’s Chinese named The Annihilator.)
Riffing off the comics anthology and the stereotype theme, Yang has assembled an awesome lineup of panels and speakers (see below for the schedule), and the day-long confab promises to be an empowering affair for all who attend.
For those of us who don’t live in La-La Land, and can’t afford to ever-increasing airfares (I’m starting to hate you, Frontier — a flight that used to cost a hair over $300 now costs over $1000!), Yang is trying to set up online livestreaming of the panels and is trying to raise money for the cameras and personnel through IndieGoGo: “Put Beyond the Bad & The Ugly Online!” Continue reading →
Taiwan’s Next Media Animation, which produces animated commentary on news events, has become a reliable source for grins after every big international news story for their… uh, slant on world affairs.
This time they’ve responded to a U.S. college student Samuel Hendrickson’s racist rant on YouTube, Why I’d hate to be Asian” (which has since been removed, but you can read his points on 8 Asians’ response). His video evoked memories of Alexandra Wallace, who produced an offensive video after the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami that made disparaging remarks, among other things, about Asian students at UCLA who were calling their families in japan to see if they were OK.
NMA’s response had me laughing out loud, though to be honest, it traffics in Hendrickson-style racist stereotypes by showing white women in Indiana to all be big fat farmers. My favorite responses are to “Most Asians look alike” and Hendrickson’s comment about pot-smoking Asians (the point he makes is that smoking pot makes Asians’ “Chink-eye” so small they look closed). (Language NSFW…) Also, NMA’s counter to Hendrickson’s crack about sweat shops is a little too approving of the reality of sweatshops.