Reaction to Ashton Kutcher’s brown face Pop Chips ads

 

The Truth with Hasan Minhaj – Ashton Kutcher and PopChips

(Warning: Explicit Language)

Simon Tam is a Chinese/Taiwanese American, an activist, and musician. He is the founder and bassist for The Slants, the first all Asian American dance rock band in the world. His writing can be found at http://aslantedview.tumblr.com

Asian-American Heart Attack Care Now Similar to Whites

One of the greatest disparities that Asian Americans have been facing in this coutnry has been in the area of health care. API women tend to have the highest rates of breast and cervical cancer. API men don’t seem to fare better in other areas, such as Hepatitis. Some reasons stem from cultural differences, others from lack of access to quality care.

However, some research provides hope for Asian Americans who suffer from heart attacks.  Performance is improving in other areas. Let’s hope that everyone is able to enjoy the benefits of quality care, regardless of race.

Simon Tam is a Chinese/Taiwanese American, an activist, and musician. He is the founder and bassist for The Slants, the first all Asian American dance rock band in the world. His writing can be found at http://aslantedview.tumblr.com

Chink: an Asian American slasher movie

Here’s a great opportunity to help out some film-makers in the Asian American community.  A project called “Chink” produced by Koji Steven Sakai (of 8asians), Stanley Yung (of The People I’ve Slept With), and Quentin Lee is in need of funding assistance.  Read more about it over at Channel APA.

What’s most intriguing about this new project is not just the fact that it will star Asian Americans.  The plot is about Eddy Tsai, an Asian American who has been bullied his entire life.  Growing up without an Asian American community of support, Eddy develops some intense self-hatred that gets internalized into hate of all Asian Americans.  His solution to all this bullying?  Become a serial killer, of course.  His target?  Asian Americans.

This internalized racism is seen a lot throughout the Asian and Asian American community, but Sakai, Yung, and Lee take it to a new extreme.  Promoting this movie with phrases like, “It’s gory but it’s also sexy. It’s about identity but it doesn’t take itself too seriously,” makes this project something to talk about.  Hopefully it will facilitate discussion around serious issues of identity and the increase in bullying of Asian Americans at school, in the office, and online.  After all, the issues of self-hate among Asian Americans is one of the highest of any other group and that stands as a disability to our community.  We should be embracing one another, not fostering hate because we see reflected in our friends and family what society deems undesirable.  Surviving and moving forward from such internalized racial hate is the only way that we’ll be able to come out of those ideas.  Discussion will facilitate those actions, and this movie will hopefully be a great stepping stone for the API community to start the dialogue about these tough issues.

———-

Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University majoring in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies.  In her spare time, she’s an MBA candidate at Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

UCLA Study Finds U.S. has more elected, appointed Asian American officials than ever

A new study released by UCLA’s Asian American Studies Center has been released, showing that the presence of Asian Americans are increasing in the political sphere. (Click here to read)

One of the major finds is that Asian Americans will make a signnificiant difference in the upcoming election, with over 4 million votes expected to be casted.

Glad to see people are finally paying attention!

—————-
Simon Tam is a Chinese/Taiwanese American, an activist, and musician. He is the founder and bassist for The Slants, the first all Asian American dance rock band in the world.  His writing can be found at http://aslantedview.tumblr.com

Memorial of “Chinese Remembering” at Oregon’s Chinese Massacre Cove

 

Chinese Remembering

I came a cross a video and article on 8asians  today that stopped me.  A memorial will be put into “Chinese Massacre Cove” near Wallowa, Oregon in June 2012 to commemorate the 30+ Chinese victims of a heinous hate crime in 1887. These innocent Chinese miners were shot and hacked up by a group of white frontiersmen with axes.  The men stole all of the gold that the Chinese people had and threw the bodies in the Snake River, where they drifted downstream to Lewiston, Idaho.

Not only am I shocked to hear about such a horrible hate crime lurking in Oregon’s very own backyard, but appalled that I’ve never even heard of this.  If public schools can only provide us with textbooks that include a single paragraph of the contributions that Chinese and other Asian Americans and immigrants have provided our nation, couldn’t we at least have documentaries and books about such local histories?  APIs have had a great influence on history and society in the Northwest, yet I never have the opportunity to learn about my own local community because few seem to realize that impact.  I’ve even taken Asian American history courses in college and never have issues of hate crimes and experiences of Asian Americans specific to Oregon been largely touched on.

As a community, then, the task of historical preservation has been  given to us.  As stated in the “NW Profiles” video, the annual event to honor those Chinese victims of Chinese Massacre Cove draws mostly non-Chinese, non-Asian American participants.  While the gesture of creating such events by allies is appreciated, isn’t it time that we begin making our own histories and voices heard?  Perhaps it is time that Oregon understand its history is very intertwined with the API community.

 

———-

Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University majoring in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies.  In her spare time, she’s an MBA candidate at Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

Allying as Means of Resistance

If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.

-Lila Watson and friends

Asian Pacific Islander is a compound label rarely critically questioned by the general population.  However, this label flattens many differences and invisiblizes distinct experiences, histories, and conceptual frameworks of the group members it encompasses.  The identity “Asian American” was constructed intentionally and politically in resistance to racism and oppression facing separate and distinct ethnic groups in the 1960’s.  The ethnic landscape encompassed in Asian American has absorbed more recent waves of immigrants, including Indians, Hmong, Vietnamese, Laos, Thai, Tibetan, Cambodian, and Nepalese just to name a few.

There is something to be said for building movements and people power by unifying many different groups around a cause.  But if not handled respectfully and sensitively, such grouping can replicate the same dynamics of silencing and invisiblizing these groups are working to overcome.  It also brushes over the nuances each specific community has to offer from their cultures, histories, and values.

In broad, general strokes, Pacific Islanders have a very unique way of constructing their identity around centers and place, and so are capable of holding a sense of identity that is not confined to just one ethnic box.  This kind of identity construction and conceptual framework is increasingly relevant in the U.S., a country where the number of multiracial individuals grows every day.

The stories of life in the Pacific Islands also demonstrates the self destructive and inhumane economic global frameworks we as superpowers have locked nations into.  Many islands’ economies have to rely on remittances, rather than forging their own destinies in self sustaining ways of life, because they are locked into economic systems that do not allow them to be autonomous and independent.  This stems from the values framework that informs and shapes the actions of superpowers, in which mankind’s existence is plotted on a linear progression, and islanders’ sustainable lifestyles are degraded and “backwards”.

Pacific Islanders are only one group among us with stories and solutions that we don’t hear.  Among those we as Americans recognize as Pacific Islanders, there are even more identities and stories invisiblized under that label.  Racism tells us it is not possible to make time to listen to those stories.   We live in structures of power that are not held accountable to the most marginalized and exploited communities.  We have not learned how to bring those marginalized voices to the forefront, so that we can make decisions that are just for everyone who is impacted by the outcome.  We are still learning to negotiate, to exchange, to grow, to learn from what those with fewer voices and less “power” have to teach us.  We are absorbed in a myth of linear progression, believing that the way the world works today is the sum of natural evolution.  That any deviance from this hyper competitive pathway is a fall back into savagery and subpar living.

But there is more to life than this message we are forced to consume.  There are other values to hold, other rules to guide our lives, through which we can find fulfillment, peace, and happiness.  It is through being allies we can learn those, and liberate ourselves.  Before I conceptualized the ally identity as being reserved specifically for white people, or straight people.  But every person can be an ally in a space which they share with someone whose story and experiences they don’t know or live firsthand.  There are always minorities within minorities, and we must learn to engage with each other to defy the invisiblization and marginalization racism forces on us.  In taking time to learn the stories of those more silenced than us, we reclaim our own humanity.

Halloween Campaign Sheds Light on Old Isssue

Since it’s Halloween weekend, I thought this was quite relevant.  I’m sure most people has seen this by now—the Ohio University students who created this Halloween costume campaign are now everywhere.   The images from the campaign have gone viral and have even caught mainstream media attention: http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/26/living/halloween-ethnic-costumes/?hpt=us_t4

There has been a lot of debate over the legitimacy of the campaign.  Some are very enthusiastic about the campaign, saying that this message is very fitting for Halloween, but should be a take-away for all 365 days of the year.  Others say that since the movement was generated by a very small number of students (a group of only about ten passionate students) that this cannot possibly represent the perspective of all students of color.  In essence, some people think that this means it is still okay to wear racist costumes that demean, simplify, mock, and misrepresent entire peoples.  Many still believe that these caricatured representations are just simply not racist at all.

Every Halloween costumes become an issue, yet there is also always an equal amount of resistance to social justice work trying to abolish such racist outfits.  Of course, ignorance in society makes it easy for some people to claim that Halloween is just one day out of the year where people can become whoever they want to be, that it’s what the holiday actually is all about.  Yet, beyond just this one day, don’t we see continuing appropriation of cultures, misrepresentation of races?  There may be small victories here and there, which feel very good, but what about the deeper sentiment that these fights allude to?  That our society doesn’t care about how people of color are represented because society gets to define those images for us?  This is especially true for our API community that is constantly defined by everything from our eyes, skin, hair to parenting styles, languages/accents, and even food.  Bottom line: we want to represent ourselves in society, so let’s tell others when we’re being misrepresented.  This Halloween, educate some geisha/chinaman-impersonating fool about why they shouldn’t wear racist costumes or clothing.  Ever.

———-

Jillian Toda is an Oregonian from the Columbia River Gorge, where her great grandparents farmed upon arriving to America from Japan.   She is currently a student at Willamette University majoring in Rhetoric and Media Studies, with a minor in American Ethnic Studies.  In her spare time, she’s an MBA candidate at Atkinson Graduate School of Management.