Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | race
60
archive,paged,category,category-race,category-60,paged-3,category-paged-3,qode-quick-links-1.0,ajax_fade,page_not_loaded,,qode-title-hidden,qode-theme-ver-11.0,qode-theme-bridge,wpb-js-composer js-comp-ver-5.1.1,vc_responsive

sueypark 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.

hawaii-five-0 We're fans of the CBS series "Hawaii Five-0" for lots of reasons, including the fact that it's a showcase for Asian and Pacific Islander actors such as Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park, and the entertaining "bromance" relationship between Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) and Danny "Danno" Williams (Scott Caan). I always loved the original series that ran from 1968-1980, and think it's great that this reboot uses pretty much the same arrangement for the theme song, and even uses quick-cut images that evoke the look and feel of the intro sequence from the earlier Five-0. And finally, who can't love a show that celebrates the coolest and best-looking of all the United States, with loving b-roll shots of both its glistening city life and its incredibly beautiful natural scenery? This week, we get a whole new reason to appreciate "Hawaii Five-0" and tune in regularly. The producers are focusing on an aspect of American history that still remains under the radar of most mainstream American pop culture: The American imprisonment of people of Japanese ancestry in the wake of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor.

snowfallingoncedars-BenandArleneMany Japanese Americans who've grown up since World War II -- myself included -- dreaded December 7 every year. As kids (and sometimes as adults) we've been taunted with hateful calls to "Go home, Jap!," "Go back where you cam from!" and the classic, "Remember Pearl Harbor!" As if we could forget. The war happened decades ago, and as Japanese Americans we had nothing to do with the attack on the U.S. military on Hawaii that sparked America's entry into WWII. Hell, today, most people in Japan had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor. Yet, I still feel wary when I go out on Dec. 7. Although I haven't faced a dumb remark in years now, I know that feeling is always there, just beneath the surface of civility. The ugliness comes out, perversely, when a tragedy occurs in Japan, like the "It's God's revenge for Pearl Harbor!" comments that were tweeted out after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeast Japan. So we decided this year, we'd face our trepidation directly. We bought tickets for "Snow Falling on Cedars," the stage version of David Guterson's award-winning 1994 novel about the after-effects of post-war racial hatred against Japanese Americans in a small Pacific northwest community. The book was made into an atmospheric film in 1999 starring Ethan Hawke that was nominated for a cinematography Oscar. Seeing the play at the Vintage Theatre in Aurora would help exorcise the Pearl Harbor demons, we figured, even as it reminded us of the hysteria that the bombing caused. That hysteria led just a few months later to the imprisonment of almost 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry -- half American citizens, born in the U.S. -- in concentration camps away from the West Coast.

asiangirlz Los Angeles-based rock band Day Above Ground made a big deal of its July 27 debut video release of "Asian Girlz," but it's backfired and led to intense condemnation from Asian and Asian American groups and individuals. Add me to the list, please. This song and accompanying video is offensive on so many levels I'm practically speechless. It traffics in lowbrow racial stereotypes and low-bro sexual braggadocio about its subject line, Asian women. The combined IQ of the group must be abut 10, given their pre-teen horniness and neanderthal attitudes. It's hard to imagine any other intent -- social satire commentary, a criticism of sexual objectification of Asian women, clumsy attempt at post-racial parody -- than a bunch of dudes who fantasize about Asian women and their "creamy yellow thighs... slanty eyes" and other body parts. I hate the ching-chong wonton font that's used for the title credits. I hate the ching-chongy intro melody that evokes Asia Hollywood-style which crops up at various points in the song. It's an aural code as immediately identifiable as buck teeth and squinty eyes. I hate the smug white privilege that oozes from the singers' faces as they croak "You're my Asian girl." And I hate the creepy strip tease participation of model Levy Tran as she goes from enjoying these pint-sized pinheads' attention as they sing to her from a birdcage to letting them jump into the bathtub with her and swim between her legs. Yuck. I mean, really yuck.

(Note: KTVU attempted to use copyright law to remove this video clip even in instances, like mine, where the clip is essential to the discussion about it, for critical journalistic purposes. The station said it was removing the clips to protect the Asian community: "By now, most people have seen it. At this point, continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community who were offended. Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through on our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others.” It didn't take long for the attempt to fail.)
See Updates at bottom
Seriously? San Francisco TV station KTVU aired a monster of a mess, when its anchor read the purported names of the pilots on Asiana flight 214 that crashed at San Francisco Airport. During the noon newscast, anchor Tori Campbell said the pilots were Captain Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow. Really? Seriously? Think about it -- look at the names. Use one or two brain cells. And no, they're not even close to being Korean names. Ugh, this is as bad as it gets. It's not funny, and it's a sad and unfortunate reflection of the state of the news industry. This is a tragic FAIL on a couple of levels: 1. Who would submit such a nasty, racist "news release" to media? Do they think it's funny? 2. How could a news organization -- especially in San Francisco, which is not only where the crash occurred but a city with a very large and diverse Asian population -- accept this kind of claptrap without either confirming it, or just plain LOOKING AT IT? (Here's an AP story that ran, among hundreds of papers, in the SF Examiner from July 8 that lists two of the pilots' names as released bu Asiana.) 3. What's the chain of evidence that sees these names when they're submitted? Producers? Directors? Reporters? Anchors (she obviously didn't catch it)?

asianarecisttweets 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. That's why I write about these issues over and over.