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Southeast Asians: Regarded As “Servants” in Northeast Asia

I feel as if an unintentional, but nonetheless damaging, sort of ethnic discrimination against Southeast Asians has emerged in places such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, China, and to a lesser extent Japan.

The Southeast Asians I am referring to are the Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Filipino, and Vietnamese domestic helpers who left their home countries to work in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, and Japan.

Recently, when I was speaking to a Hong Kong resident on how widespread Southeast Asian migrant workers, or more specifically domestic helpers, are nowadays in Northeast Asia, we stumbled upon an unintentionally disturbing impression that the people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Mainland China, and Japan may have developed of Southeast Asians. Before I reveal what the disturbing impression is, let’s first try to understand how that idea manifested in our minds.

Before continuing to read, please let me clarify that I am neither demeaning the occupation of a domestic helper nor articulating any discriminatory prejudices that are representative of my own thoughts. I am only trying to explain an emerging mindset that the people in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Mainland China may be subconsciously developing.

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22 Asian Actors Who Deserve To Be Romantic Leading Men

Last month, Buzzfeed posted a list of Asian and Asian American actors who should get a shot at being love interests in movies. Public support for greater representation in film should be a given, but outcry for change in Hollywood and beyond has generally lacked. As a nation, we pride ourselves in being diverse, but our silver screen doesn’t reflect that. Just this small sampling of actors alone should prove that Asian and Asian Americans have the looks to contend with the more traditional American ideals of beauty, if anything. Many of the men have the acting chops and credentials to be A-listers but lack the audience support to grab those leading men roles. Some of the men mentioned in Buzzfeed’s post were even born here but pushed to work overseas because of greater support there than in their own home country.

Americans should not be pigeon-holed into one ideal of attractiveness. The ethnic groups on screen should reflect the faces in the audience. Asian men are already having a difficult time breaking into mainstream movies, and the battle is two fold for Asian women who are more marginalized to roles of the exotic femme fatale or submissive wife. I think it’s high time for the Asian community, in America especially, to start demanding representation in movies. 

Dairy Queen Perpetuates Yellow Peril

Here we all were just scrolling through our dashboards when another one of those pesky sponsored posts popped up. Dairy Queen’s tumblr dqfanfood posted about how the company pledges to donate $1 for every every “#ChickenStache” post submitted for No-Shave November. Unfortunately, Dairy Queen just couldn’t stop there.

 Along with the info, Dairy Queen posted a picture of a girl holding two chicken tenders up to her mouth to make up a mustache and labeled it “Fu Manchicken." 

Fu Manchu is a fictional character created the 1930s, a master criminal with squinty eyes, Asian-esque robes and yes, a thin long mustache. He has become a stereotype associated with Yellow Peril (that is, the fear that Asian socialites will attack and wage wars on Western societies) and is the inspiration for most "Yellow Peril villains” seen in media today. A recent example could be Iron Man 3’s The Mandarin.

It is disappointing to see this pointlessly racist marketing tactic used for an otherwise good cause. To associate No-Shave November with a Fu Manchu mustache is just plain ignorant.

Chinese-Americans are really Chinese, American, neither and both.

When I went back to China in the Summer of 2010 to study abroad, one taxi ride truly made me question my identity as a Chinese-American. There were two Chinese-Americans who did not speak Chinese, with one Chinese-American student who did. By default, she instructed the driver where to go and the ride began. What was not expected was that the driver immediately started commenting on the fact that the other two students in the car were Chinese, but unable to speak the language. In fact, he event went as far to say, “If you are Chinese and you can’t speak Chinese, then you’re NOTHING.”

I am a Chinese-American who can speak Chinese; to a certain degree, that is. I can get by with everyday conversations and interactions, just as long as they don’t involve anything too philosophical. But can a lack of speaking Chinese really allow the native Chinese person to perceive the non-native as not being Chinese at all? In my experiences in studying abroad, the Chinese people I spoke with at the market, the mall, in cabs, or just on the street were quick to judge that I was not an “authentic” Chinese person because of my lack of fluency in the language. Speaking the language, more than any other aspect of “being Chinese,” seems to be the main determinant in whether you are REALLY Chinese to the native-Chinese person’s eyes. In fact, in China, there is no distinction made between nationality and ethnicity.

There is a cultural disconnect between identifying oneself as an American or a Chinese person for the Chinese-American. In China, that person is seen as an American; in America, that person is seen as Chinese. In recent weeks, there has been much talk in American news about the Chinese-American success story of Jeremy Lin. Some of this news has made itself into the Chinese newspapers and media abroad. But along the same lines of national pride, divisions are made in identity. In America, he is made to seem as the American success story of immigrant parents; though in China, Lin is the Chinese success story - just taking place in America. 

The question of “where are you from?” also yields the same disconnect. For some reason when this question is asked in America, if a Chinese-American says he or she is from America, the answer just does not satisfy the questioner and is immediately followed by, “so where are you REALLY from?” On the other hand, if the same question is asked in China and is responded with “China,” the questioner will immediately follow in the same manner. 

Why is it that even though America promotes a culture of immigrants coming together for new opportunities on this landmass, no answer of “origin” based on ethnicity or nationality will be accepted? The dual identities, or perhaps the new identity of Chinese-American just does not seem to be acknowledged in China or America. This leaves Chinese-Americans identifying themselves as either one or the other, or neither, or both. Take your pick, because society tell us that not all four options can really cohesively exist. 

Alice Tsui is a piano performance major at New York University, and writes for Generasian magazine. 

*Correction: Jeremy Lin is Taiwanese American, we apologize for this incorrection.

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Today is the start of a “new” column here on Generasian, called YouTuber Wednesdays! Every other Wednesday, an Asian YouTuber will be featured here. So on slump day, you can have something that can brighten your day. (Or help you procrastinate even more…)

The first YouTuber (or YouTubers) featured in this new column will be none other than Wong Fu Productions!

Wong Fu Productions is one of the biggest names in the Asian-American filmmaking community. If you haven’t already heard of them, then you’ve been missing out! They are a trio made up of Philip Wang, Wesley Chan, and Ted Fu. They make short films that range in genre from comedy sketches to romantic love stories. Currently they have 2.3 million subscribers.

One of Wong Fu’s biggest videos is “Strangers, Again,” (above) that goes through the stages of a relationship.

Another video of theirs that is a personal favorite is “Left on Shing Wong,” one of Wong Fu’s few fantasy shorts.

They also have two web series that is worth checking out!

Wong Fu has a great variety of shorts, and anyone is guaranteed to find something that they’ll enjoy! Make sure to check them out.

This lunar new year, chocolate giant Godiva is getting into the festivities, releasing its seasonal Lunar Year Gift Boxes, complete with Asian-inspired flavors and bonus lucky red envelopes. In the spirit of The Year of the Horse, Lady Godiva rides in, bringing with her six new flavors to celebrate the occasion, including White Chocolate Pineapple Macadamia, Milk Chocolate Cherry Almond, and Dark Chocolate Caramel Pear, along with its signature chocolates.

In 2013, Godiva introduced their chocolate-y take on the traditional mooncake for Mid Autumn Festival, selling out long before the actual holiday. Godvia is, so far, the biggest non-Asian chocolatier to take on this endeavor in the US. According to David Funaro, Senior Chef Chocolatier at Godvia, “The ‘Year of the Horse’ chocolate pieces were developed specifically for the Asian market with the Asian consumer in mind. We took the time to understand and to learn which flavors our Asian consumers prefer. For Lunar New Year, we wanted to create pieces that are reflective of foods commonly eaten during the holiday and that are symbolic of ‘luck’ and ‘unity’ in the Asian culture.”

They certainly seem to be going all out to emphasize their focus on catering to the growing Asian and Asian American market. Both the standard and luxury gift boxes are emblazoned with the Lady Godiva logo, awash with a vibrant gold and red cover. To top it all off, this is their 88th anniversary, a number considered extremely lucky in many Asian cultures.

What do you think of this fusion? Did they do a good job? And, most importantly, would you be willing to splurge on these delectable delights?

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Happy (rainy) Monday!

I know it looks terrible outside in the city, which makes it the perfect time to listen to a heartwarming song indoors. Today our song is 《聽爸爸的話》"Listen to Dad" by 周杰倫 Jay Chou. Its a sweet song featuring Chou’s forte, a delicate piano melody, with lyrics straight from the heart. If you are a longtime fan, this song may bring you back to some of his earlier albums. 

The lyrics and music video reveal a tragic story - the servant’s son falls in love with the master’s daughter. The person stopping him from pursuing her is her father, who opposes them strongly. The song gently remembers the past and lays it to rest, forgiving the girl for listening to her father while letting go of what could have been.

Have a great week, and do not let the weather get you down! 

Check back here next week for some more great music. 

Asian Apparel: Liu Wen

Born in China, Liu Wen turned to the world of modeling in 2005 at age 17 when she entered the New Silk Road World Model Contest. Though she ultimately lost, she gained enough recognition to begin working for Chinese publications. In 2007, she caught the eye of Karl Lagerfeld, the head of Chanel and expanded to walking and modeling for international markets. Liu Wen has worked on a large number of campaigns including Dolce & Gabbana, Oscar de la Renta, H&M, Viviane Tam and Converse. 

Liu Wen has pioneered the Asian model in international markets, especially in America. She is the first model of East Asian decent to walk for Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show and is also the first Asian face of Estee Lauder. Last year, Forbes named her the fifth highest paid model in the world. Now at age 26, Liu Wen is one of the most prolific models with a huge social media presence with over 377,000 followers on Instagram. Liu Wen has served as a huge inspiration and representation for the ever-growing presence of Asians in fashion.  

Asian Apparel: Joseph Altuzarra

Joseph Altuzarra is the one at the forefront of modern sportswear. As the 2014 recipient of Women’s Wear Designer of the Year, Altuzarra has perfected the look that every girl wants: modern and sexy all wrapped up in practicality. Born in Paris to a Chinese American mother and a French father, the designer spent most of his youth studying ballet. He moved to America to attend Swarthmore College and got his first big break in fashion as an intern for Marc Jacobs in 2004. Afterwards, he continued to work in fashion under Proenza Schouler, Rochas, and Givenchy. In 2009, he debuted his first collection on the runway to critical success and has never stopped building steam. 

(Altuzarra for Target)

Altuzarra credits much of his influences to his multicultural upbringing, both from the intersection of cultures born into as well as the geographical span he’s reached. Now based in New York, Altuzarra has configured all of these cultural influences into a sharp perspective that keeps an eye on tailoring and taste levels, pushing both elements to their most extremes and yet remaining still absolutely wearable. Perhaps the most notable aspect of Altuzarra’s work comes from the utter pragmatism of his clothing. Altuzarra keeps his designs at bay, remembering that first and foremost clothing must accomodate the woman’s body instead of the other way around. I had the extreme fortune of being in the audience for a Q&A he did with Teen Vogue Fashion University. He was asked what was the most important piece of advice he had ever gotten as a designer. After thinking long, he said it was to remember that women wear bras. Really good designs make Altuzarra one of the most notable designers, but respect for women’s bodies and a culturally diverse viewpoint make Altuzarra one of the most admirable.

Asian Apparel: Eva Chen

In a world of allusive and old fashioned fashion magazine power players, Lucky Magazine’s editor-in-chief, Eva Chen stands out from the crowd. At thirty-three years old, Chen is the youngest editor-in-chief of a major fashion publication and is considered “the first editor-in-chief of our generation.” Not only is Chen the first editor, but perhaps the model for the fashion figure today. With her thousands of Instagram and twitter followers, Chen has redefined the role of an editor for a major fashion magazine. Instead of holding a chilly power over her readers, Chen utilizes social media to interact with her fans daily via her daily shoe pictures and casual tweets about topics such as Game of Thrones. Chen externalizes her fresh and youthful attitude with a colorful and whimsically experimental wardrobe that reaches all over the place. 

Another factor that is unique to Eva Chen is her Taiwanese-Shanghainese heritage. After three years as a beauty editor for Elle and eight years at Teen Vogue as the Beauty and Health director, Eva Chen is the first Asian American to hold the title of Editor-In-Chief for a Conde Nast publication. Not only is this a major milestone for Asian Americans in publication, but perhaps it also reflects the rise of the Asian presence in fashion. Eva Chen serves as an inspiration to thousands of readers and embodies the new multi-cultural face of fashion.  

EXPOSURE : My Daughter Kanna

Each image in the collection features Kanna standing in the middle of an empty road, filling the streets with her big personality. Accompanied by a variety of props and the occasional, cute costume, Kanna manages to steal the show with her animated facial expressions. - Pinar from mymodernet.com

A creative Japanese father Nagano Toyokazu photographs his daughter, Kanna, in a variety of humorous poses. His purpose was to document his daughter’s journey of growing up.

Check out more of his work here.

We hope these photos brightened your day as much as ours! 

Asian Apparel: Alexander Wang

In my book, Alexander Wang takes the spot as the hippest designer in women’s fashion. Though Wang was born and raised in San Francisco, he is of Taiwanese descent. He moved to New York for college, but after two years at Parsons, Wang dropped out to focus on starting his own line. He blasted onto the scene in 2007 with a line of unisex sweaters during New York Fashion Week, receiving critical acclaim. Quickly after, Wang was awarded with the esteemed CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, solidifying his start as a promising designer.

Looks from Alexander Wang 2014 Fall/Winter collection.

Wang has consistently created clothing with clean, sleek lines and solid colors that scream cool. He holds two women’s lines, a ready-to-wear that features classic turn modern pieces in luxurious fabrics, and T by Alexander Wang which creates sportier T-shirts, pants and jackets. He also has created menswear, lingerie and eye-wear. In March of 2012, Wang was allowed to spread even more of his cool vibes everywhere as he was tapped to become creative director of the revered French house of Balenciaga. Alexander Wang’s clothing is considered a staple to every cool girl’s closet around the world or if you are like me, a dream staple to one day put in my closet. At thirty years old, Wang is at the top of his game and I can’t wait to see what is to come. 

Op-Ed: 'Chinese Food' Definitely Not Chinese

Ladies and gentlemen, the makers of ‘Friday’ are back–and this time, they’re striking at our ears and eyes with a vengeance accentuated by racist undertones.

The 'music’ video 'Chinese Food’ has been viral for a few weeks now, featuring a stereotypically American girl flouncing around in various outfits with a middle-aged man in a panda suit and a flock of unconvincingly peppy girls dancing to a tune with the same chord progression as Rebecca Black’s 'hit’ single.  

I’ve personally avoided watching this video for a while now, largely because I knew I’d have to post something after the fact, but I can put it off no longer–'Chinese Food’ has already passed the threshold of viral, and any views following this post will likely be inconsequential, relevant to the sheer number of views already tacked onto this racist, undeserving video.  

Let’s start with the title. Although simply titling a a video 'Chinese Food’ is not enough to make it racist, it certainly raised some red flags. For a video with a cast of probably one or two authentically Chinese people, that’s a bold statement to make: Are we really talking about Chinese food here? Where’s your expert? Is it that guy cooking with giant chopsticks at the grill, speaking nonsensical Mandarin? Because it sounded like he was talking about fresh milk and flying things, and I’m pretty sure neither is very Chinese. I’m also sure you didn’t solicit expert advice from those poor girls dressed up in geisha costumes (which by the way is Japanese, as was that floating bowl of Udon), or the magical panda that farts rainbows and tosses fortune cookies (which in China are considered American stock) at prepubescent girls. In this video, Chinese food (and thus, Chinese culture), has been reduced to deep-fried spring rolls and plates of floppy noodles and oily rice. May I point out that these are foods that are considered Americanized for the very reason that it seems–they are not Chinese. They certainly are comfort foods, which we Chinese may or may not partake of, but they are most definitely not Chinese. They have been greased up and soy-sauced into oblivion to better suit 'the American palate’. I would like to repeat: there is literally nothing Chinese about this video. 

Which brings me to the charge of racism. Did she realize she was being racist when she 'sang’ these lines? Did the lyricist know that these were all stereotypes when he or she wrote this 'song’? Likely not. But these lyrics are good examples of how passive racism leaches into society from the most unlikely places. Someone somewhere decided to paint with large, broad brushstrokes the idea that this fried trash is Chinese. Someone somewhere also decided that it would be appropriate to have young girls dress up as geishas (inappropriate much?), arrange a slumber party for these same school-age girls with a grown man in a panda suit, and ring a gong at the end. Needless to say, someone somewhere also decided that this video could be immune to all of the controversy and racial tension that defined this year in Asian-American relations (ie Asian Girlz). Oriental Avenue? Asian characters bowing in deference? Incompetent chopstick-wielding? Come on, just where were you this year?

You can feign ignorance, but you can’t deny that you probably felt just a little uncomfortable when the producers decided to ring that gong at the very end. And if you didn’t, then that just goes to show how comfortable we’ve become in the midst of all this casual racism. And this level of comfort is wrong. Did this video deserve 10 million views? No. But it got them anyway. All the advocacy videos for racism-awareness and change together can probably only scrap together a fraction of the views that this one has generated in a few short weeks. And that’s wrong too. So to my friends who don’t know better, this is not Chinese. Please stop painting us with your wild, hot-dog reds and littering our culture with your stale fortunes. We’re more than what we were reduced to in this song, and our culture and cuisine have more to offer than limp noodles and rapping pandas that fly through ceilings.

Bruce Chen Interview Interrupted When Teammate Humberto Quintero Makes "Slanted-Eye"

You could read the full story here:

http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/mlb-big-league-stew/bruce-chen-interview-interrupted-teammate-humberto-quintero-making-153142438–mlb.html

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The news story appeared on Yahoo! Sport a few days ago, I was at first outraged by Quintero - Oh, by the way, how nice of a first impression you’ve made for me? - and his stupidity. Who in their right mind would do something this racially offensive on National Television? I know some people want to make excuses like, “It’s chill; he wasn’t serious, he was just kidding around, girl!” But let me tell you, it does not matter whether this dude’s motive for his action was serious or not, his action, the “slanted-eye” gesture, is never a joke. Don’t he, Mr. Humberto, dare to tell me, that he did not know the slanted-eye impersonation has always been a grotesquely stereotypical portrayal of Asians’ physical features for centuries. 

If Bruce Chen and Humberto Quintero are great friends or even BFFs, and they fool around like this all the time, fine, do whatever you want as long as you keep it to yourselves. However, do keep in mind that, not everyone is your BFF, not everyone shares your sense of humor, and certainly not everyone likes your making fun of their physical features especially when we’re talking about race here. Congratulations, Humberto Quintero, you have successfully made yourself a complete “grinning fool” here or even achieved the publicity you had wished for. But if you hadn’t wished for any of the above, maybe you just need to control better your intake of alcohol from now on.

As promised, here is Meet Your Eboard, coming exactly one week since the last one! WE CAN FINISH OFF THE SCHOOL YEAR TOGETHER!

This week, you all have the pleasure of meeting Will Shi, our friendly Media Chair! Will is currently a junior at CAS studying History with minors in Computer Science and Chemistry. When asked if he has anything he wants to say to everyone, he said:

Can I pass this question?

Well said, Will. Well said.

I just got you the best birthday gift in the world. What is it?

Get me a spaceship.

I meet you in 10 years and 10 months and 10 days. What are you doing?

I am probably at home (Hui interjects with,“What are you doing?”) …probably at home, playing video games. 

Follow up question: CAN YOU ELABORATE?

I will probably be playing virtual reality games.

Would you rather be a flamingo-colored wombat or a wombat-colored flamingo and why?

What do wombats do?
I’m asking the questions here.
Probably a flamingo-colored wombat. (Hui asks, “Is your favorite color pink?”) No. Because then I’ll be less intimidating so I could eat more stuff. (Nicole nods in approval and says, “Natural selection.”)

What’s your favorite makeup product and why?

Eyeliner because that is the only thing my girlfriend wears. (Hui asks, “Have you ever tried it?”) Yeah! (Let it be known that the sarcasm was poorly executed.)

If you had to be one color for the rest of your life that wasn’t skin-colored, what color would it be and why?

Blue because it’s my favorite color.

Who are you nominating next?
Avery, our Art Chair!

Thanks for joining us for another installment of Meet Your Eboard! I hope you learned a lot about the only male member of Generasian’s Eboard. (He doesn’t actually wear mascara.) 

Speak to you all next Wednesday! Don’t forget, tweet @NYUGenerasian for any questions you’ve been dying to ask Avery! #AskAvery #themoreyouknow