A new magazine hopes to reach gay men in Asian communities - both in Australia and abroad - in a fight against cultural stereotypes and sexual hierarchy.

The magazine’s editor and some contributors told SBS about their vision for the groundbreaking publication, in an environment rife with racism and misconceptions.

The editor of A-Men, Min Fuh Teh, says it’s important that it exist online, so that Asian men who are not yet ‘out’ can still access it without the risk of their families ever finding a hard copy in their posession.

Comments discriminating against Asian men for their physical attributes - stature, ‘slanty’ eyes and more - were common on websites frequented by gay men, Mr Fuh Teh said.

He hoped the magazine would help raise awareness in the gay community that those remarks are hurtful and unacceptable.


- Amy Chien-Yu Wang, “Gay Asians Fight Stereotypes,” World News Australia, 2/29/12 (with video, without video transcript)

2 years ago 29 notes

to the anon asking about blogs for the multi-ethnick


I’ll have to respond more fully later, but in response to your comment about being offended by some of my posts, due to your partially-white heritage:

When you’re reading/thinking/talking about race & racism, you need to remember that “white people” is often used as shorthand for “people who are coded as ‘white’ & who support White Supremacy in any way, even if it’s ‘just’ complicit support by virtue of not challenging racist systems”. 

It might seem like overkill to mention “White Supremacy” here, but keep in mind that the very notion of ‘Race’ that we have today was created by people of European heritage & the sole purpose of it—the only reason they had for doing so—was to codify the notion of a “White Race” in order to present this as ‘ideal’ & ‘superior’. Stereotypes that we have today about other races are essentially commentary to the effect of “these people are inferior in this way! look at how ridiculous they are! if they were white they wouldn’t behave this way! if they didn’t behave this way, we might—might—treat them more respectfully”.

If you take great offense to talk about “white people” when we’re talking about race, keep in mind what I’ve said above, and also ask yourself why your concern is focused on the way we’re talking about “white people” rather than on the subtext, history, & modern-day effects of the actions of the people in question & how they negatively affect People of Color.

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2 years ago 18 notes



White privilege is one issue that must be confronted as a precondition to releasing the energy required to successfully challenge institutional racism.  It is the collection of benefits based on belonging to a group perceived to be white, when the same or similar benefits are denied to members of other groups. It is the benefit of access to resources and social rewards and the power to shape the norms and values of society that white people receive, unconsciously or consciously, by virtue of their skin color.

Whiteness and White Privilege

Just as there are racial identities of colour in Canada, there is also a white racial identity. To Canadians of European descent whiteness  is akin to normalness; yet, as Frankenberg points out, it is unacknowledged and unknown to most white people. Euro-Canadians do not define themselves as white - they merely construct themselves as NOT being people of colour. This invisibility  of whiteness is historically, socially, politically and culturally produced and linked to relations of domination. This domination manifests itself in the form of white privilege. These privileges are invisible  to most Euro-Canadians; yet, they exist. They are built into Canadian society. It is a protective pillow of resources and/or benefits of the doubt that repels gossip and voyeurism and instead demands dignity.

Examples of White Privilege

• Author Frankenberg mentioned examples of white people moving to the opposite side of the street when two, tall, black men approach on a sidewalk. These people do not move aside when approaching other white people because the are assumed to begood  or normal.  She also indicates that she received shoddy or poor service when she went into cafes in her town with friends of colour.

• Powell talked about expectations of failure for people of colour in US universities. A university sent out two different letters to new students. A letter to white students stated that they were the best and brightest, that the university was delighted in offering admission, and that they would be honoured to train the students for the leadership roles they would take in the community and country. A letter to black students stated how wonderful the university was and how fortunate the students were to have a chance to attend. The letter also outlined that many remedial and support programs were in place to help them when they ran into difficulty at this world-class university.

(Under) normal circumstances, white students get the “white” letter and never know that the second letter exists, while black students are absolutely clear that theirs is a race-coded letter. Black and white students meet at the same college in the same classes but with fundamentally different messages about their right and ability to be there. 

• A similar effect as the one above exists in Canada with inner-city schools. Inner-city, in this author’s experience, is really just a race-coded word for Indian/First Nations where there is an assumption of failure and lower standards, translating into lower achievement.

• Powell also found that white students know the rules of the game and are better achievers just as members of white society know the rules of the game. This is one of the advantages of being white - they learn the rules as they grow up and succeed in life. Those who are not white, never get a chance to learn the rules and they are generally not successful.

White students who were overwhelmed and unable to finish the paper asked for an extension. Several of them took an extra 24 hours and turned in A papers, receiving an A-. Black students also reported lack of time as a major difficulty in completing the paper; however, none of them considered asking for an extension, which as one black woman said, 1) would put me (the teacher) in an awkward situation and 2)would feel like “asking for welfare”. 

• Personal stories related to this author by persons of colour tell of scrutinization by police on the streets, discrimination in renting apartments (and the assumption of a partying lifestyle), and university professors being followed around by security in department stores. This lack of trust or expectation of wrong doing is not accorded the average white person.

One way that white privilege is maintained is through the construction of stereotypes of people of colour. Generally these stereotypes are different from ideas of a normal  Canadian and depict negative images. Examples of this include those of Natives as alcoholics and lazy; of Chinese as treacherous; etc. The overall effect is to infer that whiteness is goodness.

Much of their (white) identity production swirls around the creation and maintenance of the dark “other” against which their own whiteness and goodness is necessarily understood. The social construction of this goodness, then, provides moral justification for privileged standpoints. 

People of Colour are expected to conform to the values of whiteness  yet this is impossible because it is based on race. As long as whiteness  goes unacknowledged, anyone of colour will have difficulty in conforming.

Blacks and other people “of colour” are viewed as recent newcomers, or worse, “foreigners” who have no claim to Canadian heritage except through the generosity of Canadian immigration officials, who “allow” a certain quota of us to enter each year. 

Even if a person’s family has been in Canada or the US for a number of generations, a person of colour will never be as good  as a white person, and will never be allowed access to the privileges that accompany colour in our society.

To most residents (in the US), African Americans and Mexican Americans were simply the latest (and not too welcome) newcomers in a series of immigrant groups and would have to engage in the same process of self-help, assimilation, and perseverance that previous groups had experienced.

Other literature illustrates this privilege and the lack of incentive for whiteness to be cast aside. Roediger examines the struggle for acceptance into the privileged white race by the Irish from a historical, political, economic and psychological perspective. The Irish immigrant was once negatively stereotyped as the “Irish nigger”  during the flood of immigration during the mid-1800’s. The “success of the Irish in being recognized as white resulted largely from the political power of the Irish … voters. The imperative to define themselves as white came but from the particular ‘public and psychological wages’ whiteness offered”. These wages included preference in hiring over other groups, admission to public venues on equal footing with upper classes, admission to white schools, etc.

They were given public deference … because they were white. They were admitted freely, with all classes of white people, to public functions (and) public parks. … The police were drawn from their ranks and the courts, dependent on their votes, treated them with leniency. … Their votes selected public officials and while this had small effect upon the economic situation, it had great effect upon their personal treatment. … White schoolhouses were the best in the community, and conspicuously placed, and cost anywhere from twice to ten times colored schools. 

The Irish and African-Americans “lived side by side in the teeming slums of American cities of the 1830’s”. Yet, there was little incentive for the Irish to question their class position and dependency on wage labour. The “pleasures of whiteness could function as a ‘wage’ for white workers. That is, status and privileges conferred by race could be used to make up for alienating and exploitative class relationships. … White workers could, and did, define and accept their class positions by fashioning identities as ‘not slaves’ and as ‘not blacks’ ”.

Creation of ‘Whiteness’ in Canada

To fully understand the creation of whiteness  in Canada, one needs to look at its historical formation. The study of whiteness  is derived from the study of colonization. Edward Said described the relationship that British colonizers had with the people of the Middle East during early colonization. At that time, this area was referred to as the Orient and Said described this relationship as Orientalism. The Oriental or other  was an image or stereotype created by the British. The other  was basically everything that the West was not - s/he was dark, savage, bestial, lowbrow, etc. (Roediger, 1991). In some ways, British culture was able to define itself by positioning itself as opposite to the other. For example, British culture was civilized because its citizens did not live in grass huts. British culture was technologically advanced as compared to the spears of the other. From this othering , colonizing countries like Britain, France, Germany, etc. were able to see themselves as civilized, advanced and dynamic when compared to the stable and primitive others . The fact that no single Oriental identity even existed was not taken into consideration (i.e. India and Egypt are very different cultures but categorized as Orientals in early colonizialism). This othering  process also provided justification for colonizing as the colonizer could claim that they were civilizing a primitive culture.

This process of othering  was carried to North America and was used in the colonization of Native Americans and in the enslavement of African Americans. “Indians”  were seen as a homogeneous group of savages despite the fact that individual groups varied extensively and had well developed social systems. “Niggers”  were also portrayed as savage, uncivilized and with low intelligence. By creating this identity, expansion into North America was justified.

Stereotypes have an important function in the maintenance of racism. Between 1500 and 1800 A.D., the stereotype of Indians as savages served to justify the dispossession of Indian lands. The dispossession and its legacy have created a powerful-powerless relationship between white and Native peoples. In order to maintain this power structure, new stereotypes of Native peoples have been created, as the need has arisen. (Larocque, 1989, p.74)

Besides providing a justification for dispossessing lands of colonized people, the creation of a stable other  has helped to maintain this relationship of inequity. In Canada, the stereotype of a traditional Indian  conjures up images of mocassins, beads, canoes, etc. It is as if these groups of people have been untouched by western civilization during the last two hundred years. This stable identity has been perpetuated by the othering  process involved in traditional anthropology since its inception.

(Traditional anthropology) depicted the colonized as members of a harmonious, internally homogeneous, unchanging culture. When so described, the culture appeared to “need” progress, or economic and moral uplifting. In addition, the “timeless traditional culture” served as a self-congratulatory reference point against which Western civilization could measure its own progressive historical evolution. The civilizing journey was conceived more as a rise than a fall, a process more of elevation than degradation (a long, arduous journey upward, culminating in “us”). … It portrayed a “culture” sufficiently frozen to be an object of “scientific” knowledge. This genre of social description made itself, and the culture so described, into an artifact worthy of being housed in the collection of a major museum. (Rosalda, 1989, p.31)

Inherent in the construction of these static stereotypes is the assumption that whiteness  is goodness. Other races need to conform to the norm of whiteness . There is no room in Canadian society for the other  unless they are in their purist form (i.e. unless the Indian remains primitive and stays on the reserve where s/he belongs). Otherwise, they should be assimilated into Canadian culture . By creating and maintaining static stereotypes, public attention to cries of structural inequity by marginalized groups can be deflected. For example, people of Native descent are no longer real Indians - if they were, they would not be having these problems because they would be living their traditional lives.

There seems to be a need to deny that racism exists. … An area of growing concern to me is the very common practice of blaming Native peoples for their socioeconomic conditions. Blaming “forgets” that racism has also been institutionalized in government policies of assimilation, paternalism, and the historical and continuing confiscation of Native lands and resources. These policies have had a devastating impact on Native peoples but the fallout has been explained away as stemming from “cultural differences.” In turn “cultural differences” are reduced to stereotypes such as “Indians can’t or won’t adjust” to city life. In other words, Indian “culture”, rather than colonization or racism, is blamed for whatever has happened to Native peoples. (Laroque, 1989, p.74)

With the rise of Quebec nationalism in the 1960’s, the federal government’s response was to “increase and centralize its power. This entailed supplanting supposedly British institutions within Canada with indigenous Canadian equivalents” (Legare, 1995, p.348). Concurrent to this were the demands by other groups to have their contributions to the development of Canada recognized.

(Other) sections of the country began to imitate Quebec nationalists and articulate their own claims based on ethnic background and regional interests. They contended that, as immigrants from other (i.e., non-British and also non-French) nations, they too had contributed to the developing nation. They argued that their contributions were being ignored in the two founding nations debate, and they demanded equal recognition with French and English Canadians. (Legare, 1995, p.349)

Following the recommendations of the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturialism, the government of Canada officially recognized the multicultural nature of Canada within a bilingual framework. This strategy was an attempt to reconcile the division in Canada between French, Aboriginal, and immigrant assertions of rights; and, to define a Canadian identity in the face of an invasion of US culture.

 is no coincidence that ethnicity and multiculturalism were officially discovered at a time when Canada faced internal and external threats to its nationhood. From the start, it was ‘intended to ground Canadian nationhood in an identity that could be differentiated from threatening Others both within and without.’ Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau believed that multiculturalism could serve as ‘the glue of nationalism’, a glue that could bind a uniquely defined nation, governed by a strong federal government. As a solution to internal divisions, official recognition of multiculturalism within a bilingual framework could counterbalance the contesting regional loyalties that endangered the unity of the nation. At the same time, by accepting all ethnically defined claims as equally valid, it could effectively neutralize nationalist claims to special status or rights, re-establishing and strengthening national unity.

Multiculturalism (MC) views Canadians as having British values, customs, etc. while still allowing for immigrants to celebrate their past cultures in a formalized way. These celebrations take place on special occasions and showcase historic traits such as food, clothing, music, material objects and language. However, this display is very much like the cultures found in museums or on a bookcase. They are taken out on special occasions but afterwards they are put back and everyone returns to normal  or British customs. The overall effect of MC is to neutralize nationalist claims of special groups by making everyone the same or equal in present-day, British Canada or French Quebec. Those groups that do not accept this have to make a claim of distinctiveness or special status. However, this is impossible because under MC everyone is distinct and equal.

Although MC sounds very egalitarian and defines Canadian culture by its tolerance for the other cultures that make it up, it is still racist. MC reaffirms Aboriginal and immigrant groups as the other of traditional colonial discourses. By refusing to accept folklorization of their cultures and demanding to express their own cultural identities, these groups are excluded from citizenship in the eyes of many Canadians. They are “redefined as “special” (the problematic Canadian) or even unfair to those citizens who “chose” to give up their old ethnic selves and embrace loyalty to the Canadian nation”. Whiteness  is the norm to which they are expected to conform as expressed by a quote from the Winnipeg Free Press: “By what right do Aboriginal people (and immigrants) receive services and demand rights when they are unwilling to contribute to (i.e., be of) the nation?”.

MC only recognizes diversity superficially. The underlying assumption to most Euro-Canadians is that Canada is still white . Stereotypes play an important role in perpetuating this view. The construction of the other  through stereotypes has helped to maintain whiteness white privilege  and its invisibility . The construction of static, primitive and dark images are used to elevate the status of whites and define them as NOT the other. The goodness and dynamic nature of whiteness  is inferred but not overtly stated; and, the privilege that accompanies whiteness  is assumed the normal consequence of not being the other.


RACISM FREE ONTARIO FAQ:  What is “white privilege”? – Racism Free Ontario Initiative

 Racism Free Ontario is a 100 day anti-racism campaign across Ontario. Like our facebook page and follow us on twitter! For more info visit RacismFreeOntario.com

See more FAQ: What is racism? What are different forms of racism? / What can you tell me about the history of racism? / What are important terms and concepts to know? / What is a Microaggression? What are Racial Microagressions?  /Who are People of Colour? Why can’t I use the term “coloured”? / What is colour-blindness?/What is white privilege? Is there such thing as “reverse racism?”What is meant by the racialization of poverty?/How does racism relate to the other “isms”? / Is the Canadian legal system in denial of its white privilege? /What if I have spent years using harmful language? / What should I do if I witness racial violence?

I don’t know why the font sizes are different and I can’t be bothered to fix it T_T 

(via fuckyeahethnicwomen)

2 years ago 191 notes



(via ndshowsomeskin)

2 years ago 539 notes


In March the Conservative Party of Canada even let slip a PowerPoint presentation about its strategy to target “very ethnic” Canadians. The document traced the Tories’ rise and fall in ridings with high percentages of Chinese and south Asian voters and mocked up a television commercial that trumpeted Sikh history in Canada with overlaid images of Prime Minister Stephen Harper wearing a head covering during a visit to a temple in India.

What the parties are also doing, according to one local group of non-white Canadians, is displaying their cynicism and stereotyping.

“Who are the ‘ethnics,’ first of all?” asks Avvy Go, a member of Colour of Poverty, a group that works to draw attention to the connections between race and income disparity in Toronto. “Chances are, it’s people of colour, with a more recent immigration history.” For political purposes, they’re regarded as a homogeneous group with no distinct voices.


- “Very ethnic” Torontonians rock the vote | OpenFile (via racismfreeontario)

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2 years ago 18 notes

Beyond stereotypes: The Mugshot, by Glen Jordan. (intro/outro to my book)


Stereotypes are judgments that groups of people make about real or imagined others.They are conventional, preconceived attitudes and beliefs that exaggerate, simplify, confine and often scapegoat and demean.
Stereotypes are not lies – not total lies anyway. Rather, they are half-truths, quarter- truths, pieces-of-truth that are incorporated into exaggerated narratives.
Stereotypes focus on a few simple, vivid, memorable, easily recognized traits about a person, place or group and reduce everything about that person, place or group to those traits. On the basis of characteristics such as skin color, ethnicity, gender, religion, dress, age, disability or sexual orientation, stereotypes inform us about whom we should respect or disrespect, include or exclude, support or vilify, honor or fear, love or hate. Stereotypes know you already – your temperament, your intellect, your character, your being.
Stereotypes tend to work on the basis of perceived binary oppositions, such as: us / them good / evil moral / immoral Christian / Muslim civilized / barbarian white / black Arab / Jew gay / straight.
Stereotypes label and polarize. Like 18th century taxonomies, they ascribe, mark and naturalize difference, presenting certain people and places as naturally and eternally Other. Stereotypes, like mugshots, put people into boxes (from which it is often very difficult to escape): they divide humanity; they fix difference.
Stereotypes tend to employ illusory correlations. In 19th and early 20th century Western medicine, psychiatry, criminology, anthropology and psychology, the scientist trained in phrenology discerned temperament and character through systematic observation of the face. Correlations were established (with the certainty of science):“everyone knows” that certain facial features (say, those of the young negroid male) have a direct connection with certain qualities of mind and being (say, those of the criminal or criminally insane).
Stereotypes are acts of power presenting themselves as knowledge, science and commonsense.They are believable – because, as Michel Foucault might say, they are so obviously true. Stereotypes make sense. But they are not innocent.
Most stereotypes are negative – the Other is far more likely to be feared and despised than honored and praised – and they have consequences. For example, they often provide justification for acts of discrimination, demonisation and violence (including mass murder and genocide). Stereotypes make our lives easier: I do have to get to know any of you Others – I do not have to hear your voice, listen to your stories, touch your face, engage your memories, understand your pain – because I know you (your kind) already.

This assemblage of beautiful yet haunting photographs against a plain black background seeks to be an act of cultural- political subversion.The photographs are intended to recall a history of stereotyping – of photographic representation as a means to categorize and scrutinize, debase and dehumanize. In particular, they are intended to recall the mugshot – that racist, classist and ethnocentric mode of representation that clothed itself in the mantle of science.
Against the black curtain, the subjects in these images perform identities that decenter hegemonic representations of people like them.Against this backdrop that does not judge, individuals who we, in our enlightened society, see as Others – the African, the Caribbean, the Gay man, the Hoodie, the Muslim, the Eastern European, the Black Boy – are photographed in ways that deconstruct racist, ethnocentric, homophobic and other reductionist modes of representation.
These images challenge our ways of seeing.
These images, encourage us to critically reflect on things we assume to be true.
This is photography as moral intervention, as unashamedly political.The photographer, I am certain, makes no apologies for that.

2 years ago 6 notes


One of my favorite manga is a shoujo (girls’) comedy serial called Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge (YNS), sold in the US as The Wallflower. Now, the Japanese title has a more complex meaning than a phrase like “the wallflower” can encompass, in part because it’s referencing a phrase that’s fairly esoteric to Japanese culture — the idea of quintessential Japanese womanhood, or the yamato nadeshiko spirit. But the story itself is fairly simple: four hot guys are offered the chance by an eccentric millionaire to live in a stunning mansion, rent-free — but in exchange, they have to transform her ugly-duckling niece Sunako into a “real lady”. This is Sunako:

Sunako, the protagonist of Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge; image shows a depressed-looking girl in a tatty sweatshirt, with long unkempt hair that hides her face, and no expression.

…Yeah, so it’s a challenge for the guys. Each episode pretty much consists of the guys attempting to change Sunako — a socially awkward and terminally shy goth who doesn’t give a damn about makeup, clothes, or any of the things girls are “supposed” to like — into something she doesn’t want to be. Their efforts usually backfire spectacularly, often resulting in the guys themselves ending up in some kind of mortal danger from which Sunako — who also happens to be a world-class chef, a deadly martial artist, a master of disguise, and freakishly strong — has to rescue them. (It’s utterly cracktastic, and highly recommended.)

I like Yamato Nadeshiko Shichihenge because it’s about a girl coming to terms with one of her culture’s most powerful gender paradigms. What the story gradually makes clear is that Sunako already embodies the virtues of yamato nadeshiko perfectly — not by adhering to the guys’ superficial stereotypes of what women are supposed to be, but by internalizing those virtues and expressing them in her own unique way. In comedic fashion, the series asks important questions: Why is it somehow unwomanly to be gothy, or to be a good fighter, or to wear something other than “pretty” clothing? What’s so womanly about being delicate and flighty if, well, you’re not? (A running gag of the series is that the four guys are delicate and flighty — but they all consider themselves perfectly manly men.) And by the same token, why is it somehow out of character, or “unrealistic”, for a woman who’s a martial arts master to also excel at cooking and keeping house? If Sunako were a character in an American novel, I suspect a lot of readers would label her a Mary Sue. I think this label is often misapplied to female characters who are not wish-fulfillment fantasies, but simply competent in too many ways.

These are things that most women in patriarchal societies wrestle with, frankly, across ages and cultures: superficial, externally-imposed conceptions of womanhood versus internalized, personally-defined conceptions of womanhood. If a culture for some reason depends on a clear distinction between men’s and women’s roles — maybe because men have most of the power, and society has evolved to justify that — then it becomes harder and harder for men and women to choose for themselves what “manhood” or “womanhood” means. Instead they’re forced to struggle within rigid definitions that don’t really fit anyone perfectly, often because they don’t make any real sense.

  (via N.K. Jemisin The Limitations of Womanhood in Fantasy (and everywhere else, but for now, fantasy) | Epiphany 2.0)

2 years ago 136 notes


How to Write about Africa



How to Write About Africa

Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don’t get bogged down with precise descriptions. Africa is big: fifty-four countries, 900 million people who are too busy starving and dying and warring and emigrating to read your book. The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn’t care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular.

Make sure you show how Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls, and eat things no other humans eat. Do not mention rice and beef and wheat; monkey-brain is an African’s cuisine of choice, along with goat, snake, worms and grubs and all manner of game meat. Make sure you show that you are able to eat such food without flinching, and describe how you learn to enjoy it—because you care.

Taboo subjects: ordinary domestic scenes, love between Africans (unless a death is involved), references to African writers or intellectuals, mention of school-going children who are not suffering from yaws or Ebola fever or female genital mutilation.

Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can’t live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this. If you are a man, thrust yourself into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed.

Your African characters may include naked warriors, loyal servants, diviners and seers, ancient wise men living in hermitic splendour. Or corrupt politicians, inept polygamous travel-guides, and prostitutes you have slept with. The Loyal Servant always behaves like a seven-year-old and needs a firm hand; he is scared of snakes, good with children, and always involving you in his complex domestic dramas. The Ancient Wise Man always comes from a noble tribe (not the money-grubbing tribes like the Gikuyu, the Igbo or the Shona). He has rheumy eyes and is close to the Earth. The Modern African is a fat man who steals and works in the visa office, refusing to give work permits to qualified Westerners who really care about Africa. He is an enemy of development, always using his government job to make it difficult for pragmatic and good-hearted expats to set up NGOs or Legal Conservation Areas. Or he is an Oxford-educated intellectual turned serial-killing politician in a Savile Row suit. He is a cannibal who likes Cristal champagne, and his mother is a rich witch-doctor who really runs the country.

Among your characters you must always include The Starving African, who wanders the refugee camp nearly naked, and waits for the benevolence of the West. Her children have flies on their eyelids and pot bellies, and her breasts are flat and empty. She must look utterly helpless. She can have no past, no history; such diversions ruin the dramatic moment. Moans are good. She must never say anything about herself in the dialogue except to speak of her (unspeakable) suffering. Also be sure to include a warm and motherly woman who has a rolling laugh and who is concerned for your well-being. Just call her Mama. Her children are all delinquent. These characters should buzz around your main hero, making him look good. Your hero can teach them, bathe them, feed them; he carries lots of babies and has seen Death. Your hero is you (if reportage), or a beautiful, tragic international celebrity/aristocrat who now cares for animals (if fiction).

Bad Western characters may include children of Tory cabinet ministers, Afrikaners, employees of the World Bank. When talking about exploitation by foreigners mention the Chinese and Indian traders. Blame the West for Africa’s situation. But do not be too specific.

Broad brushstrokes throughout are good. Avoid having the African characters laugh, or struggle to educate their kids, or just make do in mundane circumstances. Have them illuminate something about Europe or America in Africa. African characters should be colourful, exotic, larger than life—but empty inside, with no dialogue, no conflicts or resolutions in their stories, no depth or quirks to confuse the cause.

Describe, in detail, naked breasts (young, old, conservative, recently raped, big, small) or mutilated genitals, or enhanced genitals. Or any kind of genitals. And dead bodies. Or, better, naked dead bodies. And especially rotting naked dead bodies. Remember, any work you submit in which people look filthy and miserable will be referred to as the ‘real Africa’, and you want that on your dust jacket. Do not feel queasy about this: you are trying to help them to get aid from the West. The biggest taboo in writing about Africa is to describe or show dead or suffering white people.

Animals, on the other hand, must be treated as well rounded, complex characters. They speak (or grunt while tossing their manes proudly) and have names, ambitions and desires. They also have family values: see how lions teach their children? Elephants are caring, and are good feminists or dignified patriarchs. So are gorillas. Never, ever say anything negative about an elephant or a gorilla. Elephants may attack people’s property, destroy their crops, and even kill them. Always take the side of the elephant. Big cats have public-school accents. Hyenas are fair game and have vaguely Middle Eastern accents. Any short Africans who live in the jungle or desert may be portrayed with good humour (unless they are in conflict with an elephant or chimpanzee or gorilla, in which case they are pure evil).

After celebrity activists and aid workers, conservationists are Africa’s most important people. Do not offend them. You need them to invite you to their 30,000-acre game ranch or ‘conservation area’, and this is the only way you will get to interview the celebrity activist. Often a book cover with a heroic-looking conservationist on it works magic for sales. Anybody white, tanned and wearing khaki who once had a pet antelope or a farm is a conservationist, one who is preserving Africa’s rich heritage. When interviewing him or her, do not ask how much funding they have; do not ask how much money they make off their game. Never ask how much they pay their employees.

Readers will be put off if you don’t mention the light in Africa. And sunsets, the African sunset is a must. It is always big and red. There is always a big sky. Wide empty spaces and game are critical—Africa is the Land of Wide Empty Spaces. When writing about the plight of flora and fauna, make sure you mention that Africa is overpopulated. When your main character is in a desert or jungle living with indigenous peoples (anybody short) it is okay to mention that Africa has been severely depopulated by Aids and War (use caps).

You’ll also need a nightclub called Tropicana, where mercenaries, evil nouveau riche Africans and prostitutes and guerrillas and expats hang out.

Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows or renaissances. Because you care.


This is one of my favorite things EVER.



(via theirriandjhiquishow-deactivate)

3 years ago 438 notes

The Creation—and Consequences—of the Model Minority Myth

 by Julianne Hing


Asian-Americans face significant challenges to getting their education, says a new report out from the National Commission on Asian-American and Pacific Islander Research in Education. And the study has got everyone from experts to students talking, because the findings fly in the face of conventional wisdom about Asian American students as high-achieving, so-called model minorities.

The picture of Asian Americans is distorted by the broad lens too much research uses. While Asian Americans as a group record high levels of educational attainment that match and occasionally surpass that of whites, large sectors actually deal with high dropout rates from high school and college. The study also underscores the complicated reality of the Asian-American community. Asian Americans are not a monolithic group and the experiences of Hmong, Laotian and Cambodian Asian Americans differs greatly from that of, say, East and South Asians growing up in the U.S.

Here’s some of the hard math: 

  • Nearly 70 percent of Indians in the U.S. over 25-years-old have a bachelor’s degree, according to the study, and over 50 percent of Chinese, Pakistani and Korean-Americans over 25 also have college degrees. 
  • But fewer than one in 10 Samoan-Americans can say the same. Cambodian, Hmong and Laotian Americans also record college degree attainment levels that hover around 12 and 13 percent. 
  • All this is crucial because educational attainment translates directly to unemployment levels. Between 2006 and 2008, 15.7 percent of Tongans were out of work, according to CARE, a level that is close to the unemployment levels of black Americans, while just 3.5 percent of Japanese-Americans were unemployed in the same time period.

But in the age of the Tiger Mom, who’s emerged as 2011’s spokesperson for the model minority myth, much of this information about Asian-Americans gets lost in the shuffle. The study calls for the disaggregation of data collection on Asian Americans and education issues and reiterates over and over the dangers of buying into the model-minority myth, which suggests that Asian Americans owe their relative wealth and high educational attainment to cultural values and hard work.

To get some perspective on the persistence of this myth of Asian American exceptionalism, I spoke with Oiyan Poon, a research associate at the University of Massachusetts’s Institute for Asian-American Studies and former academic adviser at George Mason University and the University of California, Davis. Here’s what Poon had to say about the myth’s enduring legacy, and how it impacts other students of color. 


On the ways the model minority myth plays out in real life: 

People are not being blatantly racist, but as an academic advisor I’ve seen educators say, “Well, my class is half Asian, they must be doing something right.” That hyper-visibility may lead to an interesting invisibility. At UC Davis, we asked the institutional research office to go through their data set and one year everyone was shocked because Korean men in the early 2000s had one of the highest push-out rates. But no one would have known.

The lack of good data—and the pervasiveness of stereotypes and not looking deeper at a very complicated population and understanding those complexities—leads to things like this. There’s a lack of high school outreach programs and community partnerships and things that completely overlook the Asian-American community even though students may be low-income and there is serious need there.

On when the model-minority myth ends up excluding Asian-American students: 

There are actually minority scholarships that exclude Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, like the Gates Millennium scholarship. It’s a national scholarship geared toward low-income, first-generation college students that was only open to African American, American Indian and Latinos students. Advocacy organizations fought them on it and were able to get them to realize they should be open to Asian Americans because, in fact, around a third of Asian-American students are the first in their families to go to college. And for Hmong, Laotian and Cambodians, just [over 10 percent] of the population over 25 has college degrees, and that’s among the lowest of any population.

On the actual barriers Asian-American students face in college: 

When I was working at UC Davis, there was summer orientation, and all these college campuses have a family track. What struck me was that at the student portion of the orientation, there were huge numbers of Asian students, but at the family or parent track, it was almost always all white. There’s a disconnect in parental support and a lot of students don’t get any help in putting together financial aid papers or figuring out how to navigate which classes they should take.

I met a lot of Asian-American students who faced sexual or racial discrimination and harassment on campus and they didn’t know where to turn for help. For many students who are the first in their family to go to college, they often don’t know there’s a counseling center that’s there for emotional support, or other campus resources.

Why Asian-Americans just can’t be seen as a monolithic group: 

There are huge disparities within this population that make this title, “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” sort of arbitrary. It’s a geographic identifier; it’s not a socioeconomic status identifier, though in some ways it can be.

The experiences that each group has—the migration histories; the culture; the language; the circumstances of arrival, from being refugees to being highly educated professional immigrants; and now you have a second and third generation that’s facing different issues—mean everyone has very different challenges. In a way you could say this about a lot of different populations and perhaps this is just a challenge of data systems in general. For Latinos, you’ve got Cubans, who tend to be more highly educated, and Puerto Ricans who don’t have the immigration issues that Mexicans or Central Americans have.

But for Asian-Americans, we end up having this conversation [about the need to disaggregate data] much more because the differences are so much more pronounced. And when there isn’t information, then there are just assumptions that people have to go on, and then the Tiger Moms of the world can keep going on and on as long as they want.

On the dangerous political utility of the model-minority myth: 

People have to think about why this model-minority position came to be in the first place. It was to silence other people of colors’ attempts at demanding equity. Everyone who cares about racial equity should care about countering the model-minority myth because the whole purpose of it is to undermine claims of racism. People will say, “Oh, you’re going to riot and say there are inequalities and that blacks and Latinos face racism? Stop complaining, look at this non-white population over here. They’re doing fine.”

The model-minority myth tries to tell people: there are no structural barriers; it’s all in your mind.

It’s true that some Asian Americans are doing well. Sure. It’s true. But does that mean that we ignore the people who aren’t doing well? What’s my responsibility, and what’s our responsibility as people who are concerned about equity, knowing that there are specific groups facing distinct patterns of inequality? Do we say to that Hmong kid who kind of looks like me because we both have black hair, it’s okay, her struggles are not an urgent issue?

3 years ago 16 notes

Miss Saigon, Pioneer Theatre GuildMiss Saigon, MANAA, and the Exhibit

Miss Saigon

In general, theatrical works require a greater suspension of disbelief than modern films. Additionally, the theater tends to enact colorblind casting in all directions – with minority actors having an equal opportunity to compete for a variety of roles.

However, Miss Saigon was a unique case that garnered massive controversy for its particularly blatant use of yellowface. The roles were originally performed with Pryce and Burns using prostheses to slant their eyes and bronzing cream to appear “Asian”.

Although there had been a large, well-publicized international search among Asian actresses to play Kim, there had been no equivalent search for Asian actors to play the major Asian male roles — specifically, Engineer (Pryce) and Thuy (Keith Burns). [Source]

On “Miss Saigon,” the producers wanted white actor Jonathan Pryce to play the lead Asian role. But they knew there would be hell to pay if they didn’t appear to at least try to find an Asian actor to do it. So, they dragged a lot of Asian actors through the door just to say they had, when they had already hired Pryce. [Source]

Actor’s Equity, the union for performers in the United States, had jurisdiction over whether foreign performers, excluding major stars, could appear in the United States and regulated the portrayal of nonwhite characters, ensuring, for instance, that African American roles were played by African Americans and not whites in blackface.

Pryce, however, was performing in yellowface, and with Macintosh threatening that he would not bring Miss Saigon to the United States if Pryce was not allowed to play The Engineer, Actor’s Equity permitted Miss Saigon to be performed on Broadway in the same way it had been in London. [Krystyn R. Moon, Yellowface]  


Miss Saigon, MANAA, and the Exhibit

Jan-Christopher Horak’s interest in curating a yellowface exhibit began when he read a newspaper editorial penned by MANAA (Media Action Network for Asian Americans) president Guy Aoki. In his article, Aoki compared yellowface to the theatrical practice of blackface, which had been condemned in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled

But because of its nostalgic flavor, the exhibit sometimes fails at educating older white Americans about yellowface. Instead of viewing the photos as racist, museum-goers are excited to see favorite movie stars they haven’t seen in decades.

By posting informative newspaper, magazine and Internet articles alongside the photos, Horak hopes to counter audience sentimentality. The display, with graffiti-style lettering casually splayed across its walls and downloaded Web pages embedded with staples, also features dated, derogatory cartoons about Chinese immigrants.

A fair number of news clippings chronicle the Miss Saigon controversy, in which Actors Equity demanded that producer Cameron Mackintosh hire an Asian actor for the role of a biracial Asian.

Following mudslinging from both sides, Mackintosh threatened to pull the show and refund $25 million in advance ticket sales. […] Torn between advocating cancellation (leaving many without already scarce jobs) or consenting to a Caucasian starring as an Asian, the Asian acting community was divided over the issue. Cultural taboos over privacy prevented some from protesting.

As an African-American actor told an Asian playwright, ”We need Asians to show up at the meeting. Not just us Blacks to petition against Pryce.”

While Jonathan Pryce taped his eyes, Cameron Mackintosh shut his: He had not, even for a moment, considered casting an Asian to play an Asian.

 via Yellowface: Asians on White Screens by Y Winfrey

3 years ago 49 notes

Yellowface: A Story in Pictures [part I]


(More pictures and details @ Yellowface: A Story in Pictures « Racebending.com)

Yellowface, at its core, is not only the practice of applying prostheses or paint to simulate a crude idea of what “Asians” look like; it is non-Asian bodies (usually white) controlling what it means to be Asian on screen and stage, particularly in lead/major roles.

Tied to blackface and the portrayal of African Americans on the stage by whites in the nineteenth century, the term yellowface appears as early as the 1950s to describe the continuation in film of having white actors playing major Asian and Asian American roles and the grouping together of all makeup technologies used to make one look “Asian.”

Thanks to the power of film executives in casting, Asian and Asian Americans who had decades of theatrical experience in vaudeville were unable to find work or were relegated to stereotypical roles–laundrymen, prostitutes, or servants.

- Krystyn R. Moon
Yellowface: Creating the Chinese in American Popular Music and Performance, 1850-1920s (page 164)

The yellowface controversy is not about the quality of the films or performances. It is about systematic bias in casting as much as it is about individual choices made by directors, performers, and production companies.

History is complex and a full analysis of the influences and cultural attitudes of each time period is far beyond the scope of this article. However, we hope that readers keep an open mind and allow the pictures to speak for themselves.

Included below are examples of whitewashing of Southern and Middle Eastern Asian characters (more properly considered brownface).

Read More

3 years ago 146 notes

6teen-Everyones a littile bit racist- Avenue Q (via gaaraisnotahappyman)

It’s funny that I stumbled upon this, because I was thinking about stereotypes earlier, and that statement where “every stereotype has a little bit of truth.” Or something like that.

Well I call bullshit.

Stereotypes aren’t based off of truth, people base their truth off of stereotypes.

Everywhere I go I see people conforming to these so-called truths. Blondes trying to be dumber, Chinese girls trying to be fangirls, lesbians wearing ugly shoes, gay guys wearing pink shirts and gunning for The Most Flamboyant man of the year, the genius “Asian” kid. 

If it’s learned, how the hell is it a stereotype? Isn’t it all about some sort of acceptance, anyways? Whether its from parents, fellow blonde Barbie dolls, the LGBTQ communitiy, or the Korean club?

Other times, we see what we want to see, mostly. There’s a difference between cultural  and or ethnicity specific traits, and tropes.

Yes, a lot of South Asian mothers try to fatten up their children. Yes, a lot of Asians, South or East alike, are short. 

But what you hear in my dad’s voice? That’s not an “Indian” accent. He’s not even Indian. He can’t really speak Bangla that well, and his parents spoke to him in English. So no, he didn’t pick up a “familial” accent. My grandmother hardly has an accent, except for the fact she for some reason can’t say Zipper still. Cultural. There is no Z sound in proper Bangla. 

What you’re hearing, that’s the leftover from a British accent. Yeah, because my father- gasp- grew up in England, and then Canada. WHO WOULD HAVE THOUGHT!

I wish people would educate themselves.

Conforming to stereotype

I was just listening to a radio program about racial stereotyping and conformance to stereotype. One piece of research, for example, showed that black students at university tended to perform below their predicted grades. The key reason, it seems, is that they feel obliged in some way to conform to the stereotypes that are put upon them.

A series of experiments showed the remarkable sensitivity of black people to the stereotype of them being somehow less intelligent than white people.

When an intelligence test was given to a random sample of both black and white students, the black students scored on average lower than the white students. Conclusive evidence, you might say, that black people are less intelligent, thus proving an aspect of the stereotype. What is quite shocking, however, was what happened when exactly the same test was given to another sample, with the simple change that instead of being called an ‘intelligence test’, it was described as an ‘investigation into how people solve problems’. That is, the people taking the test did not feel like they were being tested for intelligence, and rather felt that they were helping some researchers understand how people think in general. The result of this was that both black and white people scored exactly the same. In other words, all it took was for the black students to believe they are being assessed for intelligence for them to subconsciously conform to stereotype.

The sensitivity to stereotype was further illustrated when the second test was preceded by some questions about demographics. When those questions included a simple question about ethnicity, then the scores of the black students in the subsequent test went down again. In other words, all it took was a reminder that they were black for them to start to ‘think themselves stupid’.

What this shows is not just that black students are sensitive to stereotypes and will fall into the ‘required behavior’ at the slightest nudge, but that this is very likely true for almost anyone who fits into a stereotyped group, whether it is based on skin color, nationality, religion, age, gender or even where you live. Pretty much everyone fits into several stereotyped classifications. I am white, male, protestant. No stereotypes? Well, yes, those three have behaviors to which others will expect me to conform. And I’m Welsh, over fifty, a public servant, etc…

For changing minds, the research described above has the pernicious implication that people will very easily conform to stereotypes, particularly when you remind them of this. For those of us who fall into one of the many groups who are stereotyped in some way (which pretty much means all of us), then this is a stern warning to monitor our own thoughts and behaviors, particularly when being observed by others — and not only outside the stereotype group — the research also showed that there is strong pressure even when with others of the same stereotype group to conform to the defined pattern.”



4 years ago