Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | stereotypes
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[caption id="attachment_5550" align="aligncenter" width="520"]My brother Gary (on the right) and me at Kintai Bridge in Iwakuni, Japan circa 1965. 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![/caption] This has been a good week for sometimes contentious but bracing conversations on Facebook. The latest one started when I posted a link to an excellent Forbes article by Ruchika Tulshyan titled "'Where Are You From?' And Other Big Networking Racial Faux Pas" The article raises the oft-aired complaint by Asian Americans that asking "Where are you from?" (sometimes linked to the even more irritating "You speak English so well...") is a social, racial no-no. I certainly can't argue with that. I've written plenty about this very topic. I once criticized Martha Stewart for pulling the "Where are you from?" card, and in the post also included the conversation from my book, "Being Japanese American" that so many Asian American are all too familiar with, which starts with "You speak English so well" and veers off into "where are you from?" territory. The Forbes piece quotes a South Asian news producer making a point that many Asian Americans should learn by heart and recite whenever we're asked the question:

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.

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.

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"...

Major props to University of Colorado ethnic studies professor Daryl Maeda for calling out the Fox Network for a racist video "report" that has since been pulled from the Fox website. The video shows comedian Bob Oschack, who's identified as a "Investigative Reporter" and holds a Fox Sports microphone, interviewing Asian students on the campus of the University of...

JC DavieHoly cow -- I just read about this on Jezebel.com, and it goes way beyond the pale. J.C. Davies, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker and blogger who's published a book about inter-racial dating, "I Got The Fever: Love, What's Race Got To Do With It?," was a panelist on the NPR show "Tell Me More" for an episode about dating unemployed men. The other panelists on the program were Danielle Belton, author of the blog "The Black Snob", GQ magazine Washington correspondent and TV pundit Ana Marie Cox, and the host is Michel Martin. Davies began riffing off the topic at hand, and spouted off some incredible stereotypes as if they're indisputable facts. Here are some passages from the NPR transcript:

"Ancient Chinese secret, huh?" In honor of the final day of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, I wanted to share an iconic classic television commercial. I grew up with the accusing tone of the white woman who catches the affable Asian laundry owner in a lie, ringing in my head. The TV commercial was for Calgon water softener, and the scene is in a Chinese laundry shop, run by "Mr. Lee." Here's the quite accurate description of the 30-second flash of Asian stereotype from the YouTube page that features the video: