On East Asian 'Uncommon' Features & Chinese Ethnicities
One of my characters is biracial (half Irish, half Chinese). I have two questions I hope you might be able to help me with. First, I know I need to figure out something more specific than “Chinese,” because China is a huge place and has a lot of different ethnicities. I feel like this is a dumb question, but do you have any advice on how I can best research this? I’ve been to my library and haven’t found any books talking about how people from one part of China are different from another.
Secondly, you recently reblogged some (beautiful!) photographs of PoC with features many people think only white people can have. I’m very wary of writing the “green-eyed Asian” trope, though, where an Asian character is given “white” features to make them more “traditionally” beautiful. Given the stereotype that only white people can have red hair, do you have advice on how to write an Asian redhead without readers thinking I’m being unrealistic or racist?
The issue with East Asian characters with ‘white’ features, to me personally, is that it feels like they’re added on there to make them stand out to readers so that they’re marked as ‘special’ and not like the ‘other East Asians’ who are usually designated as ordinary and/or boring.
I mean, East Asians (monoracial and mixed) with atypical coloring do exist, and I don’t advocate erasing them, but it seems to me that there are a lot of these East Asian protagonists with those features to designate them as super special and not like the other East Asians.
And it’s not like variation doesn’t occur with half-East Asian, half-white biracial people either. I’ve seen one with light hair, and I’ve seen a few with blue or green eyes. But most of them usually have dark hair and dark eyes, and that’s great.
Can you write an East Asian redhead? Sure. But you need to take the above into account, and you probably shouldn’t try to make it out as them being special or whatnot (overemphasizing the hair, etc.).
YES, everything Jess has said! Racism tells us that Asians are interchangeable, that we look the same. So many writers/artists/creators actually reinforce this stereotype by feeling the need to make their Asian characters “stand out” or be unique. Please avoid this at all costs!!
So let’s talk specifically about your character and their hair! Red hair traits are actually fairly rare among monoethnic East Asians, particularly Han Chinese, Korean and Japanese. You’d be more likely to find that trait among Central Asian groups, in countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. So when we talk about Asians with naturally occurring red hair, we’re probably talking about Central Asians.
But here are some questions you might want to ask yourself: Do you want them to have red hair so they look/feel different, to highlight their biracial background? Because many biracial Asians still struggle with their identity, even if they can “pass” as a monoracial individual. Most biracial Asians I know (including my own kids~) have brown hair, ranging from very dark brown to nearly-blonde.
Your motivation in creating a red-headed biracial East Asian/white character is going to go a long way in determining whether or not its a racist depiction. So ask yourself why it’s necessary for your character to be this way, what relevance it bears to the story and start fleshing that out.
As for ethnic minorities in China, that’s also a tricky one. Han Chinese people make up over 90% of the people in China, and the majority of the Chinese diaspora (particularly in Western countries) are also Han Chinese. (And Taiwan is also like a whole different kettle of fish, and I understand very little of that kettle or the fish therein. I believe Han Chinese are also the majority in Taiwan now, but I could be wrong about that.)
Many ethnic minority groups in China are fairly assimilated as well. Some groups moreso than others. If your story isn’t taking place in China, then your character’s Chinese parent/grandparent/great grandparent immigrated at some point. I don’t really have any resources on immigration history/patterns for ethnic minorities in China, but that’s something you’re going to have to look into. The internet may be your friend here! Start with something like Wikipedia and use it to find more reliable sources.
on a fundamental level is so embarassing for hwhites in america to pretend this country is so above others morally
america was literally built on the genocide of the natives, exploitation of enslaved africans and immigrants, theft of natural resources from said natives and literal rape of the enslaved africans, immigrants and natives
like they wont even acknowledge this shit but try to act like theyre so morally above countries in the middle east its so embarassing
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roachpatrol Auction #1
Type of fanwork: fic Fandom(s): homestuck, harry potter, animorphs, gravity falls, steven universe, motorcity, doctor who (ten or earlier), star trek Rating(s): G, Teen, Mature, Explicit Length/size: up to 5k words, 5-10k words Especially interested in: war/rebellion stories, romance, slash, femslash, polyamory and trios, whump, sci fi, genre AUs (western AU, space pirate AU, werewolf AU, etc) , hurt/comfort, sick fic, species/gender/role/genre swaps Will not: highschool aus, murder mysteries, spy stories, fluffy domestic fic, sweet slice of life Notes: the higher the donation, the longer the fic. 1k words per 10$ bid seems very reasonable, BUT i’ll have to cap guaranteed wordcount at 10-15k, i can’t promise that anything longer will actually get finished. work may wind up longer than bidded amount but again this is not guaranteed.
A vague prompt and an incommunicative prompter are very frustrating. please be available to talk about and brainstorm what kind of fic you want me to write for you. thanks!
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There is absolutely NO consensus on what is art. Every artistic movement that ever existed spawned because they disagreed with the definition given by the culture and society where it began. That said, we can analyze the most common definitions used in our current time period and society:
“Art is a form of self-expression”
This is probably the most common one, and also one of the most recent ones. I might be wrong, but I think this line of thought became popular with the Modernist movement, in the early 20th century. It also leads to other questions. If art is self-expression, how do we define what kinds of self-expression are art and what kinds are not? Is ALL self-expression art, or does it require an artistic intent? Of course, this definition invalidates @fullten’s claims that advertising and packagins is art, because there things are not means of self-expression of the artist, but simply work made in return for money, in which the artist often doesn’t even have any creative control.
“Art is anything that’s beautiful”
While people don’t say that outright, this seems to be also a really popular definition. We often call, in popular language, things that are exceptionally beautiful “works of art”, even if they’re natural phenomena (e.g. a beautiful sunset) and therefore devoid of intent or purpose. This definition, though, doesn’t sustain itself in most periods of art movements. While some artistic movements hammered hard on the beauty aspect (I’d cite Art Deco and Art Nouveau, though there was a political reason for that, and of course, Aestheticism), but there are also art movements and pieces that are made with the explicit intent of being disturbing and/or nightmarish. One of my favorite “classic” examples of this is Goya’s painting “Saturn Devouring his Son”, which is undisputably considered art, but no one in their right mind would consider it pleasant to look at.
“Art is communication”
Another popular contemporary definition, and the one I’d go for if I was @fullten, because by this definition, advertising and propaganda can be considered art, since they ARE made with the explicit purpose of conveying a message. Sometimes the message is a really mundane, dull one, like “buy cheetos”. Sometimes it’s something terrible, like “immigrants are stealing our resources and must die”. But if we go by this definition, we can broaden a lot what we can consider art. The problem I see with this definition is that it’s too broad, because pretty much everything we say and do is meant to convey a message. We are social animals. When, for example, I wear a t-shirt that has a reference to a videogame that I like, I am giving out a message (I like this game) and inviting communication (if you can get this reference, you and I have something in common, we like this game). But it’s so broad and mundane that it’d dillute the “art” category completely. So let’s see the next one.
“Art is mastery”
By this definition, art requires a certain level of skill by the artist. If someone pays me $5 to draw some fanart, and I make a shitty stick-figure drawing, it’s not art. But the Sistine Chapel ceiling is art, because Michelangelo did some damn good bible fanart up there and he was a very skilled painter (even though he didn’t even like painting - so we can cut out the “self-expression” factor there). But then it leads us to more questions. Does the theme matter? If my stick-figure drawing is of a bible scene, does it make a difference? Most of us agree that a poorly-drawn stick&poke tattoo of Bart Simpson is not art, but is a masterfully done, full back tattoo of a Simpsons scene art? Is The Simpsons itself art? And also, where do we draw the skill line? How do we measure accurately an artist’s skill level so we know the difference between a “real” artist and a wannabe?
“You’re a real artist if you’re living off your art”
Then Van Gogh was a fraud and you can all stop reblogging those Starry Night cupcakes. Next.
“Art is anything society considers art”
As shitty as it is, I believe this is one of the most accurate definitions. And it sucks. It sucks because, if you analyze history, what was considered “true art” depended a lot on who was doing it. There’s a reason why painting is considered “fine art” but embroidery is not. There’s a reason why European works are considered fine art and worth of study, but African and Native American works that are contemporary of those are buried in history and ignored. The definition of art is inseparably linked to the biases and prejudices of the society it spawned from.
Michel Duchamp’s famous “Fountain” sculpture (the urinal one, you’ve seen it probably) was a criticism on this phenomena. He wanted to point out that the only criteria we used to define if something is “art” or “not art” is whether the artist is already renowned. A lot of Modernist works have this same theme, like Piero Manzoni’s “Merda d'artista“, where the artist canned, labeled and sold his own feces to prove that people will buy any (literal) crap as long it’s from a famous artist. And he was right, because his cans o’poop reached prices up to 125 thousand euros.
Ironically, the only reason why these criticisms were even considered, and later called “art”, is because the artists mentioned were white european men.
And this leads to my personal favorite.
“Art is political”
Quoting 20th century dramaturgist Bertold Bretch,
“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate,
he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political
events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the
fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all
depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid
that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The
imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the
prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad
politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational
This is not just a criticism of the average “good citizen”, but also of previous generations of artists and thinkers who were completely detached from political matters. Brecht believed that art had to serve a social function, a political function. More than conveying a message, art needs to attempt to instill change in the enviroment where it’s created.
I like this definition a lot, and I believe that what separates art from other disciplines is this sense of social responsibility. Be it for good or bad, you gotta be trying to change something. Art must defy the status quo somehow. I believe that if your art is comfortable, it’s not art.
Of course, I’m open for discussion, and the definition of art is a subject where I believe we will NEVER come to a conclusion. This is how it has worked all through history and it’s not going to change now. It’s also valid to point out that, while I do have a solid background in art history, my main formation is as a designer, and my school followed a very School of Ulm, function-over-form line of thinking, so of course this affects my current view. Due to my background I’m inclined to believe that art must have a function. Disagreements in this subject are not about who’s right and who’s wrong, but often are just about what’s your background as an artist.
Or sometimes you’re just some ignorant kid with a big mouth and an “edgy18+” blog who doesn’t know what the fuck you’re talking about but eh, to each their own, right? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
As we celebrate our culture this week, we should also be able to think critically about it. For kids in the diaspora, we use the word desi to summarize and lump a lot of different (yet similar, some more than others) cultures of South Asia. The issue with this is that the privileged majority population in the diaspora are the ones that get to dictate what our exported version of our culture is. Not everyone watches Bollywood, there are other Indian films industries in languages other than Hindi. Not everyone speaks Hindi or wants to learn how to speak Hindi. Indian food in restaurants are mostly if not always made of North Indian/Punjabi dishes. Not everyone is vegetarian (even if they are Hindu). Not everyone is Hindu. Not everyone celebrates Diwali/Deepavali even if they are Hindu (although the BJP would have you think otherwise). Not everyone in India looks the same. So when in even claiming that Indian people have dark skin, we are forgetting ethnic groups in India who are not Caucasian. The traditions and cultures and religions that are majority in the diaspora are made by largely Brahmin and other upper caste groups, who had the resources to immigrate to the states and bring their families here and continue on with high paying professional jobs. And of course not everyone is from North India or from Urdu/Punjabi speaking Pakistan.
So when as we celebrate our culture we also need to call out or at least think critically about the ways we are already privileged. Are you a citizen of a developed country? Are you a legal immigrant? Is your family wealthy especially if they came from upper castes? How do their views overlap with the views of Hindu nationalism and do they benefit from them? Do you come from a family which can afford money and time and connections for professional education outside of medicine and engineering? Did you come from a family where they thought it important to educate both sons and daughters? Did you come from a family that likes to claim that anything outside of the standards of cis-gender heteronormativity “is against our culture”? Are we aware that many of our traditions have been colonized even in post-colonialism? Who gets to decide how brown/desi other desi kids are when desi culture is so vast along the lines of language, religion, caste , region, migration and nation?
Telling me I don’t look “that Asian” REALLY means I look more white to you and that does not flatter me. I am 100% Laotian. I am southeast Asian. Just because my features don’t align with your caricatures of us does not make me any less so. My “Asianness” does not need to be proved or measured. I have nothing to prove and I cannot be measured.
Imagine Steve Rogers being born in Ireland and imigrating to the US as a baby. History books seem to have forgotten this fact, so when invited onto a conservative news panel discussion, Steve shocks everyone by reminding them that immigrants like himself are just as American as anyone.
“…And who could possibly be more American than Captain America himself! All those resources that immigrants use up–we need them for Cap! You’ve seen how much he eats, right?” the interviewer is saying, finishing off his rant about immigration reform.
Steve raises his eyebrows. “Seriously, did you even read my Wikipedia page?” he asks. “You know I’m an immigrant too, right?”
Apparently not, because the man chokes on his coffee and has to leave the set.
Disability Support is a burden my hairy ass! Everyone pays to support people with disabilities for the same reason that we all pay for fire brigade. I've never had to call the fire brigade but others have. If I wake up tomorrow and my house is on fire, or you wake up and have contracted some condition that means you can no longer work, you'll be glad taxpayers are helping out. These kinds of services are everyone's responsibility so that they're there when we need them. Does this all make sense?
It makes perfect sense! You’re completely right! But conservative ideology thrives on maintaining an Us vs Them ideology over things like resources. Immigration = bad because they’ll take our jobs, the lower class = bad because they’re taking your hard earned tax dollars, and the disabled are just costly! Somehow some people tend to stop imagining others as people but as this foreign concept that they can’t relate to thus don’t have empathy for. They see a service to society that they can’t use but pay for with their taxes and get annoyed that it doesn’t help them specifically. But we don’t live as individuals we live in a society and societies help everyone in them! It doesn’t matter if the safety net exists in case something bad happens to you it exists because something is always happening and other people deserve to have a society that helps! If the disability support pension becomes more costly you don’t try and punish the people on it by making it harder on them you try and find a way to fund it.
Liberals say we don’t have a revenue problem we have a spending problem but that’s just rhetoric to persuade people to be OK with budget cuts without justifying those budget cuts. Revenue and savings is an important part of government and sometimes things are worth spending more money on than anticipated and the well being of disadvantages groups that aren’t just gonna magically stop needing support is one of those things that is worth spending money on.