exotic east

1/13/17 @coldsunnyday The ducks aren’t actually green. They’re untrustworthy creatures, and they’re lying about what color they are. Don’t listen to them.

It’s an optical illusion called “structural color.” Their feathers are black. The fluffy side bits of the feathers (barbs) are also black. The little hooks that keep the barbs all lined up (barbules) are also black. There are microscopic little ridges (tubules) on the barbules that are also black. But the tubules are exactly the same size as a wavelength of green light, so instead of absorbing green light the way a black object should, they reflect it and the ducks look green. 

If you put one of the ducks under a good enough microscope, you’d see that no individual part of it was actually green in any way.

Avian biology generally can’t produce blue or green pigments. Birds that look blue or green are lying about it. Don’t trust them.

Except for turacos. They’re actually green, and very pleased with themselves about it. Look at this guy, here’s a bird you can trust:

Filipina-British-American Immigrant

Hey everyone! I’ve been following this tumblr for a while and I love it. Not only has it addressed problematic representations of Asian people in the past, I have also learned a lot on portraying other non-Asian people of colour. I’m currently working on an alternate universe-dystopian novel where the Cold War turned “hot” but with people of colour as the main characters. I have come across novels that portray this, but it’s often from a white person’s perspective.

While I am fully Filipina by blood, I identify as a Fil-Brit-Am: born in the Philippines, lived in England for 12 years and currently live in America. Below is what I have experienced and/or observed.

Beauty Standards

Just like what some people have said on here, whiter = more attractive. In the Philippines, walk into any beauty store and you’ll instantly see tons of skin-whitening products. With women, pale skin was a beauty staple; with men, being handsome meant being “tall and dark”, but not “too dark”. In England, it was such a double standard. I went to a mainly white secondary/high school where for white girls, it was attractive to have tanned skin (the more tan = more attractive) while girls of colour were seen as the opposite. In America, you were “exotic” (my situation) or shamed.

Daily Struggles/Culture

Oh man. Balancing conservative Filipino values with those of the less conservative English was a struggle, especially going through puberty. While it was normal for my friends to hang out in the park after school everyday, date who they wanted and just get home before it was dark, my parents gave me a strict curfew (always way earlier than when my friends would go home) and pressured me to not date until finishing college. Back then, I resented my parents for what I saw as my lack of freedom. Looking back now, I understand why. We lived in a neighbourhood where crime was relatively high and during the time, it was also where a surge of immigrants from East Asia flowed into the UK. As you can imagine, our presence wasn’t welcomed. My parents were simply trying to protect me.

Dating and Relationships

For a lot of immigrants, education was THE way to progress to a more secure future. During my teenage years, my parents emphasized this with the whole “no dating until you finish college and have at least some form of a stable job”. They mellowed out after some time. In some talks with my mother, she said that my dad and her would prefer me to marry a Filipino because they would have a better understanding of our culture. However, if he is a good man, loving etc, the race wouldn’t matter. 

Food

In England, I discovered staples such as the “English breakfast”, cake with custard, scones, fish and chips, Indian curry while keeping to Filipino dishes at home (adobo, pancit anyone?). Even though I had the option to bring lunch to school, I decided to have meals from the cafeteria. Whether that was from a moment of other children thinking my lunch food was weird or I feared of being seen as different, I can’t remember. In America (with more diverse communities anyway), they’re more open to food of other cultures.

History Repeating in the Workplace

Philippines - you’ve guessed it: colonialism. From beauty standards to power, whiteness is seen as the best. Just like another poster has said, it makes me sad that Filipino culture has been eradicated through the ages and that I never got to experience it.

England and America - Having benefited from colonialism, there is a lot of colonial mentality (though subtle). From stories I’ve been told from my parents and their generation, this is common in workplaces. White people are fine working with people of colour until they hear that a person of colour is applying to be their manager. Then they suddenly have a problem (with the whole mentality of “people of colour can’t be leaders” crap). 

Identity Issues

With three cultures part of my identity, I never really knew what my identity was or even how to identify myself. I always had the feeling of “belonging everywhere and nowhere” at the same time. it was only until last year that I discovered a term for it: third culture kid (or fourth for me I guess). Third culture kids are people who have developed multiple cultures from having lived in multiple places: one from their parents’ culture, one they grew up in and the third being a combination of the two. It has helped me with my depression, as it stemmed from the fact that I had no label to call myself while everybody else seemed to. If you are like me, I would suggest the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds by Ruth E. Van Reken and David C. Pollock. It helped me a lot.

Misconception/Micro-aggression/Religion

In England, discrimination was more towards the Asian community (in particular, the Muslim community despite living there for a long time). In secondary school (high school), I had the typical comments of “chink” and talking to me in a mocking Chinese accent. I remember one time when a guy asked me where I was from - I answered “Philippines” and he immediately said, “so basically Japan?” *rolls eyes* 

As I was raised Catholic, the family went to church every Sunday. After some time, due to some pressure from my mother, I became an altar server. We became pretty close to the church community. What I didn’t remember is when we first attended mass, (as my parents told me later) they had openly looked at us with disgust. This shocked me as I couldn’t imagine the church goers being so mean. Talk about “loving your neighbour”. Makes me wonder what would have happened if I didn’t become an altar server…

Things I’d like to see less of

- Asian women being portrayed as submissive, shy, petite or as the Dragon Lady

- Asian women only being seen as scientists (with the whole smart, nerdy Asian trope). What about writers? Mechanics? Musicians? Leaders even?! One of my characters is an Asian woman who is an investigative journalist.

Thing’s I’d like to see more of 

- Asian people being friends with or at least, being respectful towards non-Asian people of colour (in particular, black people). It’s my hope that my generation and the ones after ours will bridge that gap.

- That writers of colour get more representation. 

I look forward to learning more from y'all!!

Read more POC Profiles here or submit your own.

So, I was in the library looking for a Diane Mott Davidson book a couple of weeks ago to take camping with me, when I found this book – it sort of visually jumped out and grabbed me, even though it’s in a really dull beige cover and I had no idea who Avram Davidson was. 

I’m not sure if I’m just the last human on earth to find out who Avram Davidson is or if he’s a forgotten legend, but looking at the cover it became clear he was an influential writer – the book is a collection of short stories, each with an introduction by someone who knew or read Davidson, including Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Ursula LeGuin, Peter Beagle, Frederik Pohl, Spider Robinson, Poul and Karen Anderson, and Alan Dean Foster. 

What the hell, I thought, they might be terrible or they might be great, but at least they’ll be fun. 

It turns out Avram Davidson is GREAT. His short stories are funny, pointed, sarcastic, progressive (to an extent – his world is a very masculine one, there aren’t many ladies) and really entertaining. My favorites are two of the early stories, “The Golem” and “Help! I Am Dr. Morris Goldpepper”. The Golem is about an old Jewish couple who are sitting on the porch chatting with each other when a Golem shows up, and instead of being terrified or even excited they are mostly annoyed he keeps interrupting their chat with his Super Dramatic Speech. On the other hand, Help! I Am Dr. Morris Goldpepper is about an ingenious dentist who, summoning to his aid the American Dental Association (representing over 45,000 registered dentists!) foils an invasion by aliens bent on abusing California’s elder care system. 

Some of them are super surreal, like Take Wooden Indians, which involves a sinister cult who want to prevent human progress in order to preserve the art of the wooden Cigar Store Indian by stealing the secret of time travel from a man who likes to go back in time and carve them. Another story, Or All The Seas With Oysters, is basically a sinister take on Pokemon, decades before it was invented. 

I didn’t care much for the story “Revolver” as a whole, but it does have a wonderful page-long passage about a slumlord who prefers tenants on public welfare because they get regular checks, “never complain” about vermin, and have had their souls “cleansed” by the humiliation of being considered a drain on society. It’s a heavily barbed indictment both of how we treat our poor and how landlords dodge fair/safe housing laws. 

Every time Davidson launches into a story about something reprehensible – slavery, orientalism, our view of poverty in America – I cringe, expecting….well, what we’ve come to see a lot of in golden age scifi. But then he turns it on his head and bites viciously into it. It’s wonderful to read. Like the story Dagon, which seems on the surface to be about a white soldier In The Exotic East, turns out to be a wonderful story of his punishment for his misdeeds. I would guess a lot of his sensitivity towards these things stems from him being a Jewish writer in the mid-20th century, in a genre heavily laden with racism and anti-Other sentiment, but I think also it comes from him being fuckin’ brilliant. 

Anyway, it is a super thick book and I had to read it in fits and starts because short stories are exhausting, but I highly recommend Avram Davidson’s work if you happen across it. APPARENTLY it influenced like three generations of famous SFF writers, too, so there’s that. 

jamietrosa  asked:

Writing a third-gen Chinese-American, living in NYC. She's intelligent, confident, outgoing, ambitious, a little Type A, determined to have a successful business career, but also a bit romantic at heart. I'd like to know what racial stereotypes she might have to bulldoze, dodge around, or grit her teeth at, in a business or college setting - beyond the obvious "mistaking her for a Dragon Lady/submissive schoolgirl" bs. Any thoughts?

Asian American women and stereotyping/microaggressions

I’m second-gen, but here are some you might want to consider:

  • people assuming she’s foreign (“your English is really good!” “so when did you come to the United States?”)
  • identity policing (e.g. saying she’s not really East Asian because she was raised in the US)
  • having her surname constantly messed up, either written or spoken
  • others attributing her intelligence to her race and/or calling her a “bad Asian” when she does a less-than-perfect job on something
  • being mistaken for another East Asian colleague/classmate when they look nothing alike
  • having white people (friends, colleagues, superiors) dismissing her anger at racist actions as ‘overreacting’ and telling her to get over it
  • being called “exotic” or being exoticized by potential suitors

There’s probably more, of course, but those are some I’ve had to deal with as a Chinese American lady.

—mod Jess

5

The Princess, the Con Man, and the Ill-Fated First Contact between Afghanistan and the United States

While researching the history of Afghanistan for the next RP entry, I came across a strange story. In 1921, a rapidly-modernizing Afghanistan sent delegations around the world to establish contact with various countries. However, they never got much of an audience in the United States – because, unbeknownst to them, there was already an Afghan delegation there. This was:

an old woman named “Princess” Fatima Sultana … She came festooned in jewels and looking like every New Yorker’s image of a Theda Bara-style exotic from the mysterious east. Her jewels included one particularly large diamond she called the Darya-i-Noor (River of Light). She was travelling with a rascal who called himself the Crown Prince of Egypt. …

To make matters worse, these two con artists fell victim themselves to an American con artist named Weymouth, who convinced them he was with the Department of the Navy and said he would present Fatima to the president of the United States — he had his eye on that diamond. The New York press didn’t know which was the real diplomatic delegation, and they picked the one they found more entertaining: Princess Fatima and her entourage.

[In the end], The Princess Fatima lost her diamond to Weymouth, ran out on her hotel bill, and got deported in disgrace.

-Tamim Ansary, Games Without Rules: The Often Interrupted History of Afghanistan

Best I can determine, this woman was a distant (and not overly loved) relative of the actual rulers of Afghanistan. The man she fell in with (Stanley Clifford Weyman - not Weymouth, as Ansary writes) was arrested for impersonating a military officer, after he’d stolen her jewel - which was not the more famous Darya-i-Noor that is part of the Iranian royal jewels.

Afghanistan and the United States only established the barest levels of contact, and it was not until 14 years later that the US sent over its first envoy.

The works that inspired Conan the Barbarian

I already did one of these for King Kong. Conan came out so long ago that the pop culture that influenced him is mostly forgotten and downright prehistoric.


Tros of Samothrace by Talbot Mundy (1929)

A swashbuckling sea captain from the Greek island of Samothrace who opposes the sinister, debauched, and cruel Julius Caesar and his Roman Empire, Tros of Samothrace is, like Conan, a black haired ball of muscle who’s primary occupation is naval freebooting, who’s defining character traits are pride and a desire for freedom and personal independence above all else, and his chief hobbies include refusing to bow to powerful people and laughing at backstabbing enemies from treacherous civilized empires. 

Like Conan, Tros takes pride in being from a kingdom that was never conquered, even into Roman times. Also like Conan, he has allies in a persecuted and secretive religious minority like the ones that save King Conan’s life in “The Hour of the Dragon,” as Tros works with an eccentric religious order from his native island (the Mystery Cult of Samothrace). Because the Tros stories had the Romans as the “bad guys,” they were immensely controversial to the Adventure pulp readership, though this element must have delighted Robert E. Howard, an anti-imperialist who wanted Irish independence, who went on to have debauched, backstabbing Roman-style enemies in Conan, Kull, and Bran Mak Morn.


Khlit the Cossack By Harold Lamb (1917)

A Cossack hero from 16th Century Ukraine who starred in 21 stories and novels from 1917-1926 in the most famous pulp mag of all, Adventure, Khlit the Cossack, his Turkish curved scimitar in hand, found the lost tomb of Genghis Khan, rescued the son of the Emperor of China, battled the original Assassins in Syria, and killed a tyrannical impostor of the Czar in Russia. He had all kinds of adventures with Tartars, Afghans, and Indians.

A big part of Conan is the setting, which is steeped in orientalism and the exotic east, and Harold Lamb’s body of work was to the steppes of central Asia what Jimmy Buffett is to the tropics (his best known work is a biography of Genghis Khan). In fact, in one fascinating little bigraphical tidbit, Lamb was even an agent for US Intelligence during World War II in Iran.

Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Tarzan

 To Howard fans, bringing up the many obvious similarities to Tarzan and the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs is kind of like one of those secrets everyone knows but nobody has the bad taste to discuss out loud, kind of like when you know someone at the office is an alcoholic. The reaction is usually like a little kid blurting out a family secret at Christmas dinner. 

The most ERB-like of all the Conan stories is “Red Nails,” a story about that most ERB-esque of topics, a crumbling lost city of immense antiquity found in a jungle inhabited by prehistoric creatures, who’s natives immediately try to make Tarzan – uh, Conan, sorry – their first victim of ritual human sacrifice. Likewise, Howard considered ERB’s “Gods of Mars” his favorite book (and said so in many letters) and borrowed ERB’s cynical take on priests and gods in that book, where they were impenetrable, unremovable conspiracies ruling traditionalist ancient societies, and who were not true believers at all.

anonymous asked:

I'm so sorry to bother you, but I think I need to rant about this. The recent news about the cast of the live action Aladdin has offended me and saddened me so much. As an arab woman, I find it so disrespectful and offensive that they casted an Indian actress to play Jasmine, an arab princess. Middle easterns and Indians are not the same thing! (1/2)

(2/2) Could Disney not perpetuate this idea that all brown people are interchangeable, that it’s totes cool to swap one ethnicity with another? It hurts me to see the closest thing to a positive representation being ripped away from me. I grew up idolizing Jasmine, even if the writing was messy & problematic af and me having so many problems with that movie, she was compassionate and stong and the only character that looked me.


first off, i’m sooo sorry i’m answering this so late (i haven’t been feeling 100% lately and my mind is still a bit groggy so pls bear with me) and i already have a few messages in my inbox about this issue so i’ll just answer this one to sum things up.

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