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When PoC say they don't mind your racist shit:
I used to be the one who said, “I don’t mind.”
”I’m Asian and I don’t mind”
“I’m a woman and I don’t mind”
“I’m queer and I don’t mind”
- So why don’t the rest of you just lighten the fuck up.
In fact, I’m Asian and I think it’s funny.
It’s just a joke.
You say it because there is a place inside of you that hurts and it shouldn’t.
You think it’s weak. You think, who the fuck cares?
Maybe you say it because you’ve heard it so many times that you’ve become desensitized to hurt, and you accept it as normal.
Or maybe you say it because you’ve made yourself blind to injustices so you never hurt at all.
I laughed. I laughed at the jokes and the stereotypes. I laughed because I made myself laugh, and the sound of it covered up my discomfort, and my shame.
When you laugh enough, laughing becomes second nature.
Not caring becomes second nature. And then, you eye everyone who does care with disdain. They have no sense of humor. They’re too sensitive. You’re better than them. They make the rest of us look bad.
They’re being a bad minority.
They’re so annoying. They’re the reason why people hate feminists.
What I actually meant when I said “I don’t mind” is:
Please accept me
Please think I’m special
Please make me one of you
And what they heard when I said “I don’t mind” is that it’s okay.
It’s okay to laugh at someone for being Asian - my mother, father, my grandparents; my cousins, my aunts, my uncles.
It’s okay to laugh at women - my mother, my sisters, my friends
It’s okay to laugh at queers - my friends, my lovers
Because they’re friends with a PoC, you see, so they can’t actually be racist, especially if their friend is okay with it.
I said it was okay. So it must be.
Everyone else is just oversensitive. Everyone else is just uptight.
What they heard when I said “I don’t mind” is that if you mind, you don’t matter. Your experiences don’t matter. Because they have this friend who said it was okay.
What I meant when I said “I don’t mind”:
I want to laugh with you; I don’t want to be laughed at.
And what I didn’t know was that just because I didn’t mind, it didn’t make me special. When you laughed at those people, that included me, too.
And what they don’t tell you when you say “I don’t mind,” is that from that moment on, you will be championed as a representative of an entire race/gender/orientation/identity. And your words of “I don’t mind,” or “I think it’s funny” will be used as an example, to put down countless others of other races/genders/orientations.
To say “I don’t mind” is not what makes you strong. It takes far more strength to care, and address the issues. It takes courage to look unpopular, to look “humorless” or to be a “bad minority.”
We should mind. It does matter. If more people minded, instead of feeling like they didn’t have to, then maybe people would start seeing that there is a very real problem.
“What I find very offensive and condescending about your statement is that nobody would say such a thing to a bunch of white filmmakers: how could you do this to 'your people'? This film has the right to be about these people, and Asian American characters have the right to be whoever the hell they want to be. They do not have to represent 'their people'!”—Roger Ebert at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001, speaking about Justin Lin’s “Better Luck Tomorrow”. This was in response to a white audience member who asked how Asians could be portrayed in such a negative light and how a film so empty and amoral could be made for Asian Americans and Americans.
What does it mean to be Asian American?
It means that you’re bi-cultural: both Asian and American, yet neither at the same time. In Asia, you’re American; in America, you’re Asian. You are also bi-cultural in the sense that you walk a fine line between being a person of color and being a token white.
It means that you’re a perpetual foreigner: it doesn’t matter that you were born here, or that English was your first language, or that your family has been in America for the past six generations—people see you and assume you’re a foreigner.
It means that you must be the same as the Asian next you and that you share the exact same identity and exact same problems: it doesn’t matter if as a Southeast Asian, you are an underprivileged minority because all Asians are model minorities.
It means that because of the model minority myth, other people of color don’t always see you as a minority, and at times you question whether or not you’re a person of color because you’ve internalized the racism and social constructs. You forget the context of in America and you forget the long history and future promises of discrimination. You forget the history of how and why model minority was created, that the white patriarchy used the Asian American identity as a counter to the civil rights movement of your black sisters and brothers in the 1960s, and again in the 1980s to justify the economic oppression of your Black sisters and brothers.
It means that in terms of compositional criteria for diversity, your identity is yanked around to serve the benefits of others. If we need to seem more diverse, we’ll count you as a minority. If we’re trying to obtain recognition for how we support our underprivileged minorities, we won’t count you because we haven’t given you any support and we don’t want to tarnish our reputation. Asian Americans are left out of the conversation of diversity and minority issues unless it serves others to include us. Ultimately, the issues of Asian Americans are not addressed because it is never about what you need and what is fair to you; it is about how your identity best serves others.
It means that people assume you’re silent and then block your voice when you try to speak. Asian Americans, they never protest or anything, so why should we listen when they talk to us about the inequalities they face?
Being Asian American has nothing to do with geographic lines or skin color or eye shape or any physical markers. Being Asian American has everything to do with the social structures that have been imposed upon us and the sociocultural expectations that are used to discriminate against us and marginalize us starting from the day we are born. Marginalization doesn’t happen by accident.
Edit: For a slightly different version, go here. I do want to acknowledge the two major weaknesses of this piece. I don’t celebrate the Asian American identity and I am only one person. I can not and do not speak for an entire group; my experiences do not represent the experiences of all Asian Americans.
“The racial category Asian lumps together widely diverse groups with no common language, phenotype, or culture who come to the U.S. under vastly different circumstances... How do you mash together Laotian war refugees and Japanese business investors and come up with an average or mean experience?... So let’s get it straight. The term “Asian” in the U.S. was chosen by Asian American activists as an alternative to the pejorative “Oriental.” The Oriental is the creation of Europeans for whom the Orient was an object of curiosity and a source of riches to be studied and exploited. In modern times, the study of the Orient, especially in contrast with the civilized world of the Occident (aka Europe), solidified an idea of Orientals as exotic, potentially dangerous Others. Activists back in the 1960s decided they wanted to reject the label Oriental and call themselves Asian American instead. Subsequent generations of Asian Americans have gathered as a coalition under the Asian American banner in order to resist being treated like Orientals. But don’t get it twisted, the idea of an Asian or Oriental race is a creation of white people, not of Asians.”—
“reports like this are powerful molders of Asian racial identity, popularizing ideas about Asian traits, capacities (and threats), and, of course, always in comparison with the supposed failures of Blacks, Latinos, and Native Americans.”
fuck. that. noise.
The Asian Competition
There’s a new stereotype of Asian women that I’m troubled by. It’s the image of the Asian female competition seen on these shows - Glee, Community and New Girl.
Exhibit A: Sunshine Corazon (played by Charice) on Glee
Sunshine comes to the McKinley High and proves to be a worthy replacement for some of Rachel’s solos. Rachel retaliates by sending Sunshine to some abandoned, sketchy house for a fake audition. I don’t really remember what the deal with her was, but basically, Rachel took her down.
Exhibit B: Annie Kim on Community
Annie Kim is Annie’s high GPA/overachieving nemesis in their Poli Sci class and is a threat in their model UN. White Annie’s team beats Annie Kim’s after White Annie’s team suggests a union of their UN’s, gets rejected by Kim and Kim is painted as the ruthless competitor who only wants to win.
Exhibit C: Asian Jess on New Girl
After Jess backslides and hooks up with her ex Paul, the experience makes him realize that his current girlfriend, “Asian Jess,” is the one for him, and Jess helps him propose to her. Both Asian Jess and Paul are also ugly criers. Clearly made for each other.
So, the first thing I will say is that all these Asian women look pretty much the same…big, plastic frames, “cute hair” (a.k.a. infantilized) with bangs and pigtails…and a not so happy white, female rival. They all have short/minor roles, and at least with Annie Kim and Asian Jess don’t have an identity of their own. The writers have clearly written them to rival their white counterparts. They don’t even get their own names.
The white women characters are threatened by these Asian women, not so much with Asian Jess, but she has taken something that was once Jess’.
These representations depict Asians as threats to the success of white women or just a joke, not real characters. None of these 3 women could have stood on their own in a scene, and were not given an opportunity to turn into someone to empathize with. Maybe Sunshine Corazon…but anyways, this is a harmful representation, especially given China’s crazy economic growth in the past couple decades, and the possibility of becoming the next superpower of the world. Couple that with the model minority myth, and how Asians are stereotyped to be smart, good at math, taking up all the spots in elite universities, these characters are a way of saying, “You can try to beat me, but I’ll still find a way to win.” After all, Jess takes the higher ground of putting Paul and Asian Jess together, because clearly she is so mature, and Annie proposes a compromise; what a team player!
I also feel like there may be an element of white fear of Asian women taking all the white men (i.e. Barney Stinson says in one episode of How I Met Your Mother that his type is “Asian”). All these representations can be seen as a fear of the loss of power of the U.S. empire and white women’s sexuality being threatened.
In conjunction to this, many Asian men in tv and movies are emasculated and are turned into awkward characters easily turned into comic relief (i.e. Ken Jeong in Community). Again, characters are not complete people, lacking the depth that makes a really compelling character. Yes, you can argue that Christina Yang’s character on Grey’s is a strong, empowering figure, but she could easily be white. Her character isn’t race-specific, and she’s within a whole class of competitive, cut-throat doctors.
This post could delve deeper into the implications of these representations, but for now, I’ll keep it simple, and maybe analyze more later. For another post, it’ll be interesting to factor in the rise Asians in commercials, to explore the disconnect/exploitation of Asians as a good economic demographic to market to, but aren’t represented in popular culture in the same way.
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On October 3rd, 2011, 19 year old Pvt. Danny Chen was found dead in his barracks from a gunshot wound to the head while stationed in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. He died supporting Operation Enduring freedom, but the circumstances of his death are still under investigation and the truth has not been released by the U.S. Army. In other words, the circumstances of his death are being covered up.
He was the only Asian-American assigned to his base. The Army has released information that Danny was subject to racially charged bullying and abuse by his fellow soldiers and his superior officers before his death. Whether this is murder or suicide, (And knowing Danny personally, I can tell you it’s not. He was happy to be in the army, it was his dream. And he never gives up half way.) his story is not getting the attention it deserves. His family, friends, and all the people who’s lives he’s touched deserve the truth.
Please, reblog and help spread awareness. Having a kind heart will not make your blog ugly.
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.
“People say kids always tease and that it's an innocent rite of passge, but it's not. Every time an Edgar or Billie called me "chink" or "Chinaman" or "ching chong" it took a piece of me. I didn't want to talk about it, and kept it to myself. I clenched my teeth waiting to get even. Unlike others who let it eat them up and took it to their graves, I refused to be that Chinese kid walking everywhere with his head down. I wanted my dignity, my identity, and my pride back; I wanted them to know there were repercussions to the things they said. There were no free passes on my soul and everything they stole from me I decided I'd take back double.”—Eddie Huang, “Fresh Off The Boat: A Memoir”
“It’s meaningful that a white woman can turn on a TV and find a broad range of characters, but Asian Americans are portrayed the same way over and over again. For someone struggling with self-esteem issues, this reinforces the feeling of invisibility.”—
Dr. Teresa Mok, a clinical psychologist who treats Asian American college women with eating disorders.
Eating disorders are often seen as a “white woman’s issue,” she says, a stereotype reflected in the lack of research on this topic among women of color. And interestingly, race not only ties in to how eating disorders are portrayed, but also how they develop. From the Asian American clients she sees at her private practice in Urbana, Ill.,Mok discerns a common theme that lies at the root of many eating disorders, albeit subconsciously.
“It’s not just about weight. There’s always a racial component to it,” she said. “There’s a general body dissatisfaction with eye shape, hair color, breast size, nose,” but, she added, “No client [overtly] says, ‘I want to be white.’”