Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Race’ Category

I saw this video on the Slog. Harry Connick Jr. is a judge on the Australian Gong Show when the act that appears is in blackface. What does he do? If you can’t stand to watch the whole video, Harry’s commentary is first on 2:15 and then 5:25.

I remember watching a DVD commentary by Mira Nair for the film Monsoon Wedding. Nair was talking about how in some Bollywood films, blackface still makes an appearance.

Probably the most interesting commentary on blackface can be found in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled which I liked a lot. Here’s a trailer for the film.

Read Full Post »

On the brink of pandering

I don’t know a lot about Tim Kaine, but I find this speech a little on the sleazy side:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine suggested on Tuesday that opposition from Republican senators to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor — along with the Republican National Committee’s failure to attend a major Latino-issue forum — will seriously hurt the party with Hispanic voters.

“I find it puzzling that a group with the great credentials of the Council of La Raza would invite both parties to send their chairmen and that the RNC didn’t send their chair,” Kaine told the Huffington Post in a brief phone interview. “They could have had somebody else here. And with the vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee, with the exception of Senator Graham, every Republican voting against Judge Sotomayor, I just don’t get that as well.”

Of course, really everything he is saying is true, but why bring it up in this particular way in this forum? As a minority, this comes across to me as pandering. I want to hear actual content. Okay, so your a Democrat. What are you going to do for me other than talk? Give me your views of Latinos beyond how significant their votes are.

It has been argued in the past that the Democratic Party has taken advantage of the Black vote. Sure they talk the talk, but when it comes to actually creating noticeable change in our society, any programs that the Democrats have fostered don’t seem to be having a real affect. Look at the numbers of young black men in prison. I just don’t think Affirmative Action while pretty scarce these days is really having an affect, but it is a bone that the Democrats throw at the black community nonetheless.

Once again I have to say that as a minority, I just want we want to be treated equally. End of story. One of the most frustrating things is having people tell you how easy everything is for you because of your race. If the Republicans keep highlighting this falsehood, then the Democrats may never have to worry about losing the Latino vote. But nonetheless, I wish these guys highlighted our similarities more. How we are the same. How our needs are the same. And maybe one day we’ll get to the point when people aren’t just a vote. They’re just people.

Read Full Post »

Balloon-Juice linked to this article from The New Republic regarding the arrest of Henry Louis Gates and I think it’s a good one.

Gates is Right–and We’re Not Post-Racial Until He’s Wrong

There is nothing glib to say, in any responsible sense, about Henry Louis Gates’ arrest last week, which is this week’s big race story. Its value is as an object lesson in why, with a black President, there remains a contingent convinced that America is still all about racism.

Read Full Post »

Picture of the day

cnn_mj

I’m going to have a hard time articulating this, as I often do, but I think this CNN picture and accompanying story is saying a lot by reinforcing negative African American stereotypes. So a pop star who is  so unhealthy no insurer would touch his London concert series dies, and Jesse Jackson wants answers.

I think we need to be honest about what much of white America thinks about Jesse Jackson. To them, he and Al Sharpton are the equivalent of ambulance chasers except instead of lawyers chasing accidents they are chasing any racial issue, sometimes creating racial issues, to cause an uproar. Hangers on. Always taking advantage of events to put themselves back in the spotlight.

And here we have this CNN picture. I think the picture says: There they are again. Notice the caption says “The Reverand Jesse Jackson, left, meets with Michael Jackson’s father, Joe, and another man Friday.” Look at how dodgy they look. What are they up to? And who is this other man? Up to no good, I’m sure.

The white America I mention above sees this and all of a sudden has all these negative feelings toward black America.  I’m having negative feelings toward Joe Jackson. I didn’t even like Michael Jackson, but it’s quite clear that his entire family, perhaps with the exception of Janet,  have been living off of him since he was 11 years old.  So to see Joe Jackson outraged, I can’t help but think he’s upset because his meal ticket, the one that he probably psychologically fucked up during childhood, has died. Joe was the one who set up these 50 concerts in the first place, which quite frankly probably pushed a man in an extremely weak condition over the edge. Anyway, this picture pisses me off. This story pisses me off. I mean can’t they interview Serena Williams again?

Read Full Post »

Via ThinkProgress.

englishonly

Read Full Post »

Picture of the day

Just what could the Duke of Edinburgh be thinking right now? I’d love to know.

Read Full Post »

When I read the hype about the cartoon, I assumed it was overblown. Then I saw it, and I couldn’t think of any meaning except to incite violence. That’s how I read it and I couldn’t fathom reading it in the way the cartoonist “intended.” I’m very glad to see Rupert Murdoch has now issued a real apology.

As the Chairman of the New York Post, I am ultimately responsible for what is printed in its pages. The buck stops with me.

Last week, we made a mistake. We ran a cartoon that offended many people. Today I want to personally apologize to any reader who felt offended, and even insulted.

Over the past couple of days, I have spoken to a number of people and I now better understand the hurt this cartoon has caused. At the same time, I have had conversations with Post editors about the situation and I can assure you — without a doubt — that the only intent of that cartoon was to mock a badly written piece of legislation. It was not meant to be racist, but unfortunately, it was interpreted by many as such.

It might behoove our crazy right Limbaugh fans to understand that most people don’t accidentally offend a distinct group of the population on a daily basis, and perhaps that if we did we might want to reflect on why that is. But then that’s assuming that any of this is an accident.

Read Full Post »

Many of you have read about my conversations with my mother regarding Barack Obama and the state of our country here and here. In particular I have spoken about how it pains me to hear my mother, a Thai woman once married to a white American man, talk about her doubts about Barack Obama because of the color of his skin. While it pains me to hear her words, I applaud her for her honesty. We can’t get beyond where we are now without honestly reflecting on our prejudices.

In the days before the election, I thought that I was gaining ground with her. I thought that I may be able to convince her to vote for Barack Obama to “give it a try” as I said. If she wasn’t satisfied she could vote for someone else in 2012. She admitted to me that she could not vote for John McCain given the last 8 years of Republican rule, and so I naively thought that the step to vote for Obama would not be that big of one. I thought to myself that if I couldn’t get my mother, an intelligent woman greatly disillusioned with the Republicans, to vote for Obama, what hope did I have that anyone would vote for him? In the end, she didn’t vote for President at all.

After four days of knocking on doors for the Obama campaign in Colorado, I was in the ballroom of the Sheraton hotel on election night along with thousands of people as we all heard the election declared for Obama. At that moment, I still had hope that my mother had voted for Obama and I briefly contemplated giving her a call in my happiness. The noise in the room prevented me from doing so.

The next day I flew back to Seattle and I called my mother as soon as I got back. I was elated after my hard week of working for the campaign. When I got her on the phone, her voice was bitter. “You may think that this person will solve all your problems, but you are wrong. And it doesn’t matter that everyone likes him in the rest of the world. The world loved Kennedy, but in America he was not well liked.” The conversation was not what I expected.

This past week, these wounds have been reopened. I spoke to my dad who was bemoaning the stimulus package talking about how this was debt I would be paying for the rest of my life. Don’t I know it, I thought.  But I told him that he and every Republican lacked any credibility whatsoever in this argument. The Republicans were responsible for needlessly increasing the debt which he somehow never cared about before, and they themselves were responsible for the removal of the regulations that would have prevented a collapse in the financial industry that resulted in the need for a bailout in the first place. My mom has been making comments about how Democrats love to spend. That’s what they are all about, she says.

It struck me this morning as I woke up, that even they cannot ruin this day for me. I am sure they must be completely flabbergasted at the spectacle that is this inauguration. This inauguration is surely unprecedented in its national importance not just in my life but in theirs. The crowds, how can they be this big, they may be thinking. I suppose when your confidence and respect for your country has been systematically chipped away at for the last eight years, you will be elated at the possibility of restoring its image. And this is the thing that the Republicans seem not to understand. People want Obama to succeed. People want to hope that there is something better around the corner. Any obstruction the Republicans create will be taken badly. It’s a difficult position that they are in though I can’t feel sorry for them considering it is one of their own creation.

It’s a changing of the guards. We are weary of bitterness and division. We want to hope. We want to have something to believe in. We want Obama to succeed. I don’t know what the next four years will bring. Despite my hope, I am a realist and I know that there is the potential for Obama to fail in my estimation. I worry about my job and my life and what this recession will bring. Nonetheless I hope for the best, and I have faith in the man who will lead our country in the next four years.

Read Full Post »

I’m sure I’m not the only one to have this thought. While race was certainly prevalent on people’s minds during the election, I never had as much of a sensation that Barack Obama was out of place than I had looking at this photograph. Even in a fairly white city like Seattle, there is enough diversity that Barack Obama would fit in just fine. At the debates, he looked like he fit in. On the stump, he looked like he fit in. Our nation no matter how you slice it is pretty diverse and certainly does not match the racial (and gender) ratio of the picture above. It’s startling.

Read Full Post »

You can become a 4-star General in the U.S. Army, hold the office of National Security Advisor under Ronald Reagan, go on to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush and then finally Secretary of State under his son. But in the end to some people, you’re nothing more than a black man.

Rush Limbaugh

“Secretary Powell says his endorsement is not about race… OK, fine. I am now researching his past endorsements to see if I can find all the inexperienced, very liberal, white candidates he has endorsed. I’ll let you know what I come up with.”

George Will

There will be “some impact,” Will declared. “And I think this adds to my calculation — this is very hard to measure — but it seems to me if we had the tools to measure we’d find that Barack Obama gets two votes because he’s black for every one he loses because he’s black because so much of this country is so eager, a, to feel good about itself by doing this, but more than that to put paid to the whole Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson game of political rhetoric.”

There will be more. Just wait.

Update 1 (I’m expecting more):

Pat Buchanan

Later in the day, Pat Buchanan echoed Limbaugh’s refrain. “Alright, we gotta ask a question,” he declared on MSNBC, “look would Colin Powell be endorsing Obama if he were a white liberal Democrat…”

Update 2:

Gordon Campbell (cartoonist)

“The only reasonable explanation for such a public political “about-face” in the midst of this important election is that Colin Powell, perhaps understandably, wishes to see someone who looks like himself in the White House,” Campbell said.

“It’s my opinion that General Powell has based his endorsement of Barack Obama on the color of his skin, not his qualifications, his experience or the content of his character.”

Update 3:

Mike Gallagher

right-wing talker Mike Gallagher declared on his radio show today that “race is the factor I think that drives much of this” because Powell is “enamored and in love with the concept of a black man being president of these United States.” Gallagher then suggested that Powell might not “have the intellectual capacity to, you know, make a distinction and realize the difference” between Obama and the “long list of black Americans who would make fine presidential candidates.” Listen here:

Read Full Post »

I just read an article about Peter Norman, the Australian 200m Silver Medalist at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics who stood on the podium with the Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the Americans who gave the Black Power salute. There is a new film about this moment in history. This is an absolutely touching story which I highly recommend reading in full. I can’t wait to see the film:

In Mexico, that was enough for Norman, who felt compelled to join forces with his fellow athletes in their stand against racial inequality.

The three were waiting for the victory ceremony when Norman discovered what was about to happen. It was Norman who, when John Carlos found he’d forgotten his black gloves, suggested the two runners shared Smith’s pair, wearing one each on the podium.

And when, to the crowd’s astonishment, they flung their fists in the air, the Australian joined the protest in his own way, wearing a badge from the Olympic Project for Human Rights that they had given him.

The repercussions for Norman were immediate. Seen as a trouble-maker who had lent a hand to those desecrators of the Olympic flag, he was ostracised by the Australian establishment. Despite qualifying 13 times over and being ranked fifth in the world, he was not sent to the following Munich games, where Australia had no sprinter for the first time in the Olympics. Norman retired soon afterwards without winning another title.

From John Carlos:

“Peter didn’t have to take that button [badge], Peter wasn’t from the United States, Peter was not a black man, Peter didn’t have to feel what I felt, but he was a man,” says Carlos.

Truly amazing.

Read Full Post »

I found these pictures of Obama’s family a reminder that in the end Obama is just a man. He’s a father of two little girls. He’s a husband. He lives a life strikingly similar to many Americans. To every Sarah Palin comment and to every GOP mailer or robocall that goes out trying to convince people that he is evil and a terrorist, I say Obama is you and me.

Read Full Post »

I present the great Sidney Poitier.

Read Full Post »

I was thinking of the passage in To Kill a Mockingbird where an angry mob is diffused by the accidental wisdom of a child. I had this thought because of the mob-like mentality we’ve seen at the McCain/Palin rallies. Just as I was about to laboriously type the passage into wordpress, I found that someone had already had the same thought.

The scene begins with Atticus Finch waiting outside the jailhouse where the black man he is defending from the charge of murder is being held. Unknown to Atticus, his children have followed him.

Via Rants from the Rookery:

We were taking a short cut across the square when four dusty cars came in from the Meridian highway, moving slowly in a line. They went around the square, passed the bank building, and stopped in front of the jail.

Nobody got out. We saw Atticus look up from his newspaper. He closed it, folded it deliberately, dropped it in his lap, and pushed his hat to the back of his head. He seemed to be expecting them.

“Come on,” whispered Jem. We streaked across the square, across the street, until we were in the shelter of the Jitney Jungle door. Jem peeked up the sidewalk. “We can get closer,” he said. We ran to Tyndal’s Hardware door-near enough, at the same time discreet.

In ones and twos, men got out of the cars. Shadows became substance as lights revealed solid shapes moving toward the jail door. Atticus remained where he was. The men hid him from view.

“He in there, Mr. Finch?” a man said.

“He is,” we heard Atticus answer, “and he’s asleep. Don’t wake him up.”

In obedience to my father, there followed what I later realized was a sickeningly comic aspect of an unfunny situation: the men talked in near-whispers.

“You know what we want,” another man said. “Get aside from the door, Mr. Finch.”

“You can turn around and go home again, Walter,” Atticus said pleasantly. “Heck Tate’s around somewhere.” “The hell he is,” said another man. “Heck’s bunch’s so deep in the woods they won’t get out till mornin’.”

“Indeed? Why so?”

“Called ’em off on a snipe hunt,” was the succinct answer. “Didn’t you think a’that, Mr. Finch?”

“Thought about it, but didn’t believe it. Well then,” my father’s voice was still the same, “that changes things, doesn’t it?”

“It do,” another deep voice said. Its owner was a shadow.

“Do you really think so?”

This was the second time I heard Atticus ask that question in two days, and it meant somebody’s man would get jumped. This was too good to miss. I broke away from Jem and ran as fast as I could to Atticus.

Jem shrieked and tried to catch me, but I had a lead on him and Dill. I pushed my way through dark smelly bodies and burst into the circle of light.

“H-ey, Atticus!”

I thought he would have a fine surprise, but his face killed my joy. A flash of plain fear was going out of his eyes, but returned when Dill and Jem wriggled into the light.

There was a smell of stale whiskey and pigpen about, and when I glanced around I discovered that these men were strangers. They were not the people I saw last night. Hot embarrassment shot through me: I had leaped triumphantly into a ring of people I had never seen before.

Atticus got up from his chair, but he was moving slowly, like an old man. He put the newspaper down very carefully, adjusting its creases with lingering fingers. They were trembling a little.

“Go home, Jem,” he said. “Take Scout and Dill home.”

We were accustomed to prompt, if not always cheerful acquiescence to Atticus’s instructions, but from the way he stood Jem was not thinking of budging.

“Go home, I said.”

Jem shook his head. As Atticus’s fists went to his hips, so did Jem’s, and as they faced each other I could see little resemblance between them: Jem’s soft brown hair and eyes, his oval face and snug-fitting ears were our mother’s, contrasting oddly with Atticus’s graying black hair and square-cut features, but they were somehow alike. Mutual defiance made them alike.

“Son, I said go home.”

Jem shook his head.

“I’ll send him home,” a burly man said, and grabbed Jem roughly by the collar. He yanked Jem nearly off his feet.

“Don’t you touch him!” I kicked the man swiftly. Barefooted, I was surprised to see him fall back in real pain. I intended to kick his shin, but aimed too high.

“That’ll do, Scout.” Atticus put his hand on my shoulder. “Don’t kick folks. No -” he said, as I was pleading justification.

“Ain’t nobody gonna do Jem that way,” I said.

“All right, Mr. Finch, get ’em outa here,” someone growled. “You got fifteen seconds to get ’em outa here.”

In the midst of this strange assembly, Atticus stood trying to make Jem mind him. “I ain’t going,” was his steady answer to Atticus’s threats, requests, and finally, “Please Jem, take them home.”

I was getting a bit tired of that, but felt Jem had his own reasons for doing as he did, in view of his prospects once Atticus did get him home. I looked around the crowd. It was a summer’s night, but the men were dressed, most of them, in overalls and denim shirts buttoned up to the collars. I thought they must be cold-natured, as their sleeves were unrolled and buttoned at the cuffs. Some wore hats pulled firmly down over their ears. They were sullen-looking, sleepy-eyed men who seemed unused to late hours. I sought once more for a familiar fare. and at the center of the semi-circle I found one.

“Hey, Mr. Cunningham.”

The man did not hear me, it seemed.

“Hey, Mr. Cunningham. How’s your entailment gettin’ along?”

Mr. Walter Cunningham’s legal affairs were well known to me; Atticus had once described them at length. The big man blinked and hooked his thumbs in his overall straps. He seemed uncomfortable; he cleared his throat and looked away. My friendly overture had fallen flat.

Mr. Cunningham wore no hat, and the top half of his forehead was white in contrast to his sunscorched face, which led me to believe that he wore one most days. He shifted his feet, clad in heavy work shoes.

“Don’t you remember me, Mr. Cunningham? I’m Jean Louise Finch. You brought us some hickory nuts one time, remember?” I began to sense the futility one feels when unacknowledged by a chance acquaintance.

“I go to school with Walter,” I began again. “He’s your boy ain’t he? Ain’t he, sir?”

Cunningham was moved to a faint nod. He did know me, after all.

“He’s in my grade,” I said, “and he does right well. He’s a good boy,” I added, “a real nice boy. We brought him home for dinner one time. Maybe he told you about me, I beat him up one time but he was real nice about it. Tell him hey for me, won’t you?”

Atticus had said it was the polite thing to talk to people about what they were interested in, not about what you were interested in. Mr. Cunningham displayed no interest in his son, so I tackled his entailment once more in a last ditch effort to make him feel at home.

“Entailments are bad,” I was advising him, when I slowly awoke to the fact that I was addressing the entire aggregation. The men were all looking at me, some had their mouths half-open. Atticus had stopped poking at Jem: they were standing together beside Dill. Their attention amounted to fascination. Atticus’s mouth, even, was half-open, an attitude he had once described as uncouth. Our eyes met and he shut it.

“Well, Atticus, I was just sayin’ to Mr. Cunningham that entailments are bad an’ all that, but you said not to worry, it takes a long time sometimes . . . that you all’d ride it out together . . .” I was slowly drying up, wondering what idiocy I had committed. Entailments seemed all right enough for livingroom talk.

I began to feel sweat gathering at the edges of my hair; I could stand anything but a bunch of people looking at me. They were quite still.

“What’s the matter?” I asked.

Atticus said nothing. I looked around and up at Mr. Cunningham, whose face was equally impassive. Then he did a peculiar thing. He squatted down and took me by both shoulders.

“I’ll tell him you said hey, little lady,” he said.

Then he straightened up and waved a big paw. “Let’s clear out,” he called. “Let’s get going, boys.”

As they had come, in ones and twos the men shuffled back to their ramshackle cars. Doors slammed, engines coughed, and they were gone.

Read Full Post »

Andrew Sullivan thinks that Gwen Ifill the moderator of the Vice Presidential debate should step down:

The worst is that Ifill does not get intimidated, asks tough questions, and then gets the post-debate spin by the GOP focused on her, not Palin. It helps too that Ifill is black: it shores up the racist vote McCain needs to win. Why not ask Couric instead? Or Campbell Brown? It should be a woman. And removing Ifill will only help black turnout.

Comments like these are the reason why I can’t stand the guy. This is Ifill’s career and to take her off the debate because of her color is discrimination. That simple. Any work place around the country could not justify what Sullivan is suggesting. Would it shore up the racist vote? I have no idea, but as far as I’m concerned it’s not even worth thinking about it. It’s the wrong thing to do no matter how you slice it.

Read Full Post »

Two weeks ago, I talked about the Japanese film trilogy The Human Condition which depicts the Japanese in Manchuria during World War II. *Spoiler alert.* There is a scene in the first film which is particularly poignant. The hero Kaji manages a concentration camp of Chinese political prisoners at an ore mine. Seven Manchurians are falsely accused of trying to escape by an over-zealous guard. Kaji tries all number of diplomatic ways to save the accused lives but all are ignored. Because of his attempts, he too is in hot water and is forced to watch the execution of all seven men. He sits and watches as the first prisoner is beheaded. Then the next. The third prisoner who we’ve gotten to know well in the film has a fiery temper. He has never trusted the Japanese. He has also fallen in love with a “comfort”(forced prostitute) woman who is also Chinese. As he is about to be executed he resists. He curses Kaji for not doing anything. He curses the Japanese. His execution does not go smoothly but he is killed nonetheless. At this moment, Kaji realizes that he must stop the executions. That in order to be a human being he must stop it. His humanity requires it. And he does stop the execution at great cost to himself.

Last week I also posted the following quote from John Ruskin:

One of the prevailing sources of misery and crime is in the generally accepted assumption, that because things have been wrong a long time, it is impossible they will ever be right.

I am feeling especially hopeless right now given the story of the Troy Davis, a man who is set to be executed within 24 hours for the murder of a policeman in Georgia. The witnesses against Davis have recanted. There is no circumstantial evidence supporting his guilt. Yet despite this every appeals court has refused to stop this execution. One of Davis’ lawyers pointed to the failure of a system that cannot, or rather refuses, to correct its errors.  Could Davis in fact be guilty? I suppose he could, but will we ever know given the fact that we refuse to investigate the witnesses’ new statements.

I might also mention that Georgia has a reputation for inequality in justice, so much so that whenever I read a blatantly racist judicial story I always think to myself: hmm must be Georgia.

What is humanity? Why do we feel so hopeless that we cannot do anything about the current state of affairs? I admit that I don’t know what to do in this case. What can we do? Where do we go from here? How do we retain our humanity?

Read Full Post »

I really don’t get McCain these days. To him the following statement is playing the race card.

“So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” he told voters in Springfield. “You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He’s risky. That’s essentially the argument they’re making.”

The first time I remember ever hearing about the so-called race card was during the O.J. Simpson trial where defense attorney Johnny Cochran took advantage of the inclinations of a mostly-black jury to acquit O.J. In that case, Cochran played off the fears and distrust of the police that he assumed the jury members shared. It seemed to work. Despite the wealth of evidence against him, the jurors did not trust any evidence that the police collected and therefore had no problem acquitting the man.

What’s interesting is that Obama has not used fear in his campaign but McCain most certainly has. Let’s be honest, McCain’s message is you can’t trust this guy. He’s untested. You don’t know anything about him. I know you’re not happy with me or my party. I know you don’t agree with most of the things I believe, but you have to be careful. He could be a whole lot worst.

Even if I was a Republican, this would never work with me. Given the choice between a known bad and an unknown, I would take the risk and go for the unknown. What do I have to lose?

With Kerry it was the same way. Don’t trust this guy; we’re already in a war, you don’t know what this guy will do. He won’t be able to protect you. It may not be a “race” card, but it’s a manipulation nonetheless.

As I’ve said before, choosing a Republican because you are scared…how’s that working for you?

Photo via sneakerobsession.com

Read Full Post »

What is it about Asian Americans that makes some of them be ashamed of being Asian? I’ve noticed this phenomenon in the past on a NPR cartoon where Adrian Tomine talks about how the character Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles ruined his life. Now I read a very interestingly titled article “Dear Michael Chang. You ruined my tennis career. Thanks for nothing.”

Even if you allow that Chang influenced Chinese-Americans to participate in sports beyond the Academic Decathlon, he still shackled us with another stereotype. Thanks to him, we were all seen as determined counterpunchers, tireless tongue-lolling retrievers who compensated for our lack of physical gifts by outlasting our opponents because we couldn’t outplay them.

Before Chang, we were free to dream about becoming Boris Becker, that Teutonic badass who strutted around the baseline, blasting aces, or Edberg, the square-jawed Swede with a stylish attacking game and a hot blond girlfriend. Now we were stuck with the introverted, 5-foot-9 (on his best day) Chang, a devout Christian with a cream-puff serve who scrapped his way to the French Open title with borderline bush-league tricks (moonballing, crowding the service line on returns, the instantly legendary underhand serve). Worst of all, his dragon-lady mother once stuck her hand down his shorts after a practice to check if they were wet. At the Junior Davis Cup! In front of his friends! After Becker retired, he impregnated a woman in a restaurant’s cleaning closet; when Chang hung up his sticks, he studied theology at Biola University.

I’m not sure I understand the author Huan Hsu’s point. I mean Michael Chang is a Chinese-American and he is a real person subject to all those real person qualities that are appealing to some and unappealing to others. Hsu’s basically saying he wants Michael Chang to be white, you know like Agassi, or Boris Becker, or one of those guys. Why should he be? He was a fabulous tennis player any way you slice it. An athlete. A French Open champion. What I really loved about Michael Chang was how short he was compared to his competitors. He may not have been born with a tennis body, but he sure made good use of what he had.

I get it, Hsu doesn’t like the fact that Chang is a Christian. Okay, but Chang is a tennis player so who cares? You don’t hear a lot of African Americans ashamed of Venus and Serena Williams because they’re Jehovah’s Witnesses. You don’t hear Russians bemoaning Davydenko as a stereotype because he could be involved in game fixing? No. It’s just some Asian Americans who seem to have a problem with being Asian. Now you do sometimes hear about some straight-acting gays putting down gay gays. I’m not sure if there is a tennis connection, but I’ll be all over it if there is.

Read Full Post »

More appropriately, could CNN have any less regard for the intelligence of African Americans?

Because we all know how bad it is to actually have role models.

Read Full Post »

The Seattle Post Intelligencer has an opinion piece on how Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton had no advantage being black and female respectively during the Democratic nomination. The writer describes how she has heard many people express that Barack Obama wouldn’t be where he is if he wasn’t black and how upsetting that is for her to hear.

I absolutely agree. There is this bullshit belief out there that if you are from an underrepresented group, there is no way you could have gotten there based on your own merits and you must have had help. Like it’s impossible for a black man to actually be good at anything as difficult as politics. Only white guys are good at that. “Inadequate black man” springs to mind as an example of this sentiment.

But I felt a need to comment on this editorial. I mean, wake up Mary (the editorialist), this has been happening for years outside of politics. I’m including my comment below to show the context for a response I got.

This is not limited to political campaigns. It exists all around us.

My sister has been told she only got into an exclusive university because of her race. I have been told I’ll have an easy time finding a job because so and so company cares about diversity. The people doing the telling are very nice but very clueless people. My sister for instance marked white on her college application.

I’m sure many other successful non-white males have been told the same thing in their lives. If it were up to me I would rather not have affirmative action, because I don’t think it’s worth the false impression that it gives. And truthfully, I would so love to have an advantage. I’d be all over cashing in the race card or the sex card if it really existed. But I’ve never found it to be so.

I don’t know how I could be more clear that it’s really offensive for people to tell me that I’m only where I am in life because I’m a minority and that it is doubly offensive because I never have received any benefit from it. Then I get this:

Daranee, that’s unfortunately the way they justify the decades of discrimination — calling it “reverse discrimination” — and pretending there’s actually a quantitative way to assess “qualified” applicants.

I can understand your feelings on AA, but make no mistake: Without it, you and I would probably be in bad shape.

I give up. I really do. Nice clueless people love to tell other people like me how great it is to be a minority. All these nice perks as if it’s a members only lounge anywhere you need it. Conversely, it’s probably just as offensive to tell unsuccessful white men how lucky they are too.

To the writer’s credit, perhaps she is more concerned with my radical suggestion that affirmative action isn’t worth the trouble. I can understand that. I don’t really know what I’m talking about when it comes to affirmative action (as I said I’ve never benefited from it), but I think it is a valid question to talk about the resentment it creates among some whites and how it balances with the benefits.

Read Full Post »

Why on earth does Seattle International Film Festival need to survey what race I am? Argghhhh!

Read Full Post »

According to Dave Barry the heavy artillary for winning an argument:

Compare your opponent to Adolf Hitler.

For when your opponent is obviously right and you are spectacularly wrong. Bring Hitler up subtly. Say: “That sounds suspiciously like something Adolf Hitler might say” or “You certainly do remind me of Adolf Hitler.”

This may be bad advice for sports commentators.

If blogs did not exist, I guarantee you 99% fewer folks would have read Jemele Hill’s Saturday ESPN column, which argued that cheering “for the Celtics is like saying Hitler was a victim. It’s like hoping Gorbachev would get to the blinking red button before Reagan.”

Hill’s statement — which ESPN quickly edited out of the article — can best be classified as incoherent and stupid. Incoherent, because both analogies display a poor understanding of history (anyone who cares know that it doesn’t matter who pushes the nuclear button first). Stupid, because jokes about Nazis or nuclear holocausts are usually ill-advised.

Bad columnists fall prey to homerism all the time, and Hill is no exception. But it doesn’t take a history degree to figure out that sloppy writing and sensitive issues are a horrible combination. If a columnist can’t see that, they’re probably not worth your time.

Yeah, no kidding.

Read Full Post »

I loathe checking the box that asks me to identify what race I am. There are two reasons. Number one is that usually none of the categories fit. I am not 100% white nor am I 100% Asian. Even if I were 100% Asian, I don’t think I’d feel comfortable checking a box that lumped me along with Pacific Islander. Not that I have anything against Pacific Islanders, but it highlights the ludicrousness of the classification system.

The second reason is that I am weary of racial statistics that pit one group against another. I read a few years ago that Asian women make more money on average than Caucasian women. I’m not sure I see the point of the study except to make white women resent Asian women. But perhaps I am being a malcontent.

A lot of people are asking about racial identification because Barack Obama who is both black (African) and white is running for president, so I thought I’d offer my own thoughts about the subject.

How do I identify myself? It depends who’s asking or where I am. I have lived most of my life in America. One of my parents is white. I went to schools that were always primarily white. I work primarily among whites. Given all of the above, most of my friends are white. My husband is white. Most television shows on TV are about whites. Most films are about whites. It would be truly remarkable if I didn’t identify as white because I am surrounded by whiteness. Oh, and I don’t speak Thai because my mom never spoke Thai with us.

But one thing keeps me from identifying myself as white: how others perceive me. Going to school as a kid, other people saw me as different. My name for one wasn’t like anyone else’s and it was a struggle getting people to pronounce it correctly. And I don’t look white. Ever since I was a kid people have asked me what my “heritage” is. You get to start to expect the question when you meet new people. So it was outside forces that made me feel Asian and not what was within.

As a kid I wanted to be thought of as “normal,” because in childhood it can be difficult being different. As you grow older, being different is what you cling to and what makes you special. So I started to make references to whites as if they were different from me. As I’ve grown older, I have really understood how very American I am. I may look partially Asian (at least in America), but I’m all American. I visited Thailand and witnessed a culture completely not my own.

The great thing about identifying as multi-racial is that you get to play both sides of the coin when you see fit. I can easily walk around an Asian store, restaurant or even Japan and I seem to fit in. I can eat blazingly hot chilies and make fun of the white guy sitting next to me whose face is getting red. I can go to a flea market and bargain with a vendor and not be embarrassed by it. I can express that white people just don’t understand blah blah blah. Everyone likes to feel special. But the truth is I am an American and culturally speaking I am very white. I am not oppressed. I do not have an accent. I have been widely accepted for who I am.

But just so we’re clear: I don’t like StuffWhitePeopleLike.

Read Full Post »

All of the great classical actors of Twentieth Century played Othello like Olivier and Gielgud, but there must have been some shift in the public psyche when it became more advantageous to play Iago. This version of the play focused on contemporary psychology of the characters, and perhaps it’s modern psychology that makes Iago so palatable.

Iago is just pure evil. Modernly, he could be known as a racist yet that really wouldn’t be accurate. Iago hates everybody. He most certainly hates women, dullards and quite frankly the human race in general. Could it be that he hates the Moor more because of the color of his skin. Perhaps. Being passed up for a promotion may be worse if you realize that your opponent is from a class usually discriminated against. It kinda shows you how really unworthy you must have been.

Iago may be a better part to play, but surely Othello is a more difficult part to play. A man in love, who becomes consumed with jealously. A brute. It’s hard to sustain that for three hours.

Like Hedda Gabbler, I felt that I wanted the tragedy to end a different way. It’s all so fatalistic, which is a tendency of my own — to think fate is the cause of all my problems. Why, why do none of the characters start asking questions until the last act? Othello, Desdemona, Emilia Iago’s wife? No one seems concerned with fact until it is too late. I suppose that is exactly what tragedy is — to watch people doomed to their fate slowly undo themselves.

Read Full Post »

I earlier wrote about my mother’s worry that Barack Obama would give all of his black friends jobs and only focus on black issues. I later heard that same thought expressed by a voter in West Virginia. It’s odd isn’t it that people think giving jobs to friends has never occurred before ever in American politics, but now with the prospect of a black President this has for some reason become a concern? I would hazard a guess that every politician ever elected in this country has helped their friends get jobs. Is that necessarily a bad and unusual thing? Most businesses offer incentives to their employees for referring friends to the company.

On a different note, I was struck by this video of Barack Obama’s grandmother in Kenya. The people in this village are very excited that Barack Obama is running for president and they hope that maybe Obama can help Kenya by maybe canceling its world debt or doing something else to help. To an American, the request for helping out your less fortunate relatives is perhaps a bit more subtlety executed. But there are many cultures around the world where you are expected to help out your family if you are graced with fortune.

When I went to Thailand in 2001 and met some of my relatives for the first time, I was very conscious of the fact that they were under the mistaken impression that I was rich. I’m not of course, but I suppose by their standards I’m very rich. The odd thing is that even if I am rich by Thai standards, that doesn’t make me want to waste money on things I don’t need. But my relatives thought my unwillingness to spend was stinginess on my part. They expected me to share my good fortune by buying all number of things for them.

It can be hard to be an American with ethnic ties to foreign places to connect with a culture so closely connected to you, but so devoid of anything you know and understand.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »