IN THE WHITE FRAME : An interview with mixed-race dancers Angel Langley & Jasmmine Ramgotra

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2016-08-30 19:22Z by Steven

IN THE WHITE FRAME : An interview with mixed-race dancers Angel Langley & Jasmmine Ramgotra

Multiracial Asian Families: thinking about race, families, children, and the intersection of mixed ID/Asian
2016-08-30

Sharon H. Chang

STRANGE COUPLING is an annual juried exhibition of collaborations between University of Washington (UW) student artists and local professional artists. Over a decade old, the School of Art + Art History + Design program aims to connect campus and community through teamwork and direct engagement. This year I was entirely captivated by one of twelve projects, a performance piece entitled In The White Frame by mixed-race student dancers Angel Langley and Jasmmine Ramgotra with local sound artist/composer/teacher Byron Au Yong. The piece is a stunning work of art and innovative look at the experience of multiraciality within our white dominant culture.

Performed Friday June 10 at Seattle’s King Street Station, In the White Frame is a 20-minute structured improvisation that utilizes movement, materials, sound and space. The audience — who does not sit — is invited to participate but also come and go at will. “We wanted to create something that was structured and improvisational,” said Jasmmine, “And we had an intention to do it about identity.”

Over coffee with me at Columbia City Bakery in Seattle, Angel and Jasmmine sit down to tell more about creating this beautiful piece. They recall at their first meeting with Byron months ago talking about the prevalence of racial dichotomies in society right now. “We knew we wanted to do [something] about our own experience,” reflects Jasmmine. At the same time the three artists had discussed how art is often presented in white-framed gallery spaces. That was when Angel had an epiphany. She had been reading Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children In a Post-Racial World and learning about Joe R. Feagin’s theory of the white racial frame for the first time. “I remember giving [the book] to Jasmmine like you need to read this chapter on white framing cause this is what we’re doing,” says Angel. But also “what does that mean being our identities in a high art space, a white-framed gallery?” Jasmmine can’t hide her enthusiasm, “I was like oh my god that makes so much sense.”

To give form to their improvisation they brainstormed a wordlist with Byron. “Ideas of what mixed race peoples are,” explained Angel, “like superhuman, mixed.” Mutt was one of them says Jasmmine “because someone called me that before and I was like wow. Really?” The dancers nod to themselves about such contradictions. Mixed race identity is supposed to be fluid so fluidity was also on their wordlist. But the reality is that being multiracial is often a polarized, painful experience via other peoples perceptions. The truth of this dichotomy compelled them to add stuck to their list too. “Like more ugly or more beautiful,” Angel gives another example. “Just this idea you’re either a superhuman, or you’re a piece of shit.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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These 2 Ads Might Say Everything About How Global Racism Really Is

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2016-06-26 18:13Z by Steven

These 2 Ads Might Say Everything About How Global Racism Really Is

Multiracial Asian Families: thinking about race, families, children, and the intersection of mixed ID/Asian
2016-06-26

Sharon H. Chang

sigh.

SIGH.

Siiiiiiiiigh.

Alright that’s done. I want (pause) — well I don’t want, but feel like I need to show you two TV ads recently posted to YouTube literally within days of each other. Both are out of east Asia, Japan and China respectively. The first is a Toyota commercial out of Japan. It portrays a shiny techno-future funneled through the nostalgic eyes of a white father and happy memories of his mixed race Japanese family/children:

Not super hard to read the messaging here right? Japan is changing. Got it. Changing for the better. Got it. Symbolized by this mixed race family. Got it. And importantly, symbolized by this mixed race family with a white father. Got it. Now let me pause and give nod to something super important here. It is rare to see mixed families portrayed at all in Japan, a nation with an impressive history of racial-ethnic purity rhetoric, xenophobia, violent discrimination and practice. So yes I completely get that this Toyota commercial is a step forward.

At the same time it isn’t.

Now, check out this second commercial for Qiaobi laundry detergent out of China which has been airing at least since April…

Read the entire article here.

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“Passing” “Presenting” & the Troubled Language of Mixed Race

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2016-04-21 19:48Z by Steven

“Passing” “Presenting” & the Troubled Language of Mixed Race

Multiracial Asian Families: thinking about race, families, children, and the intersection of mixed ID/Asian
2016-04-21

Sharon H. Chang

I’m a light-skinned mixed race Asian/white woman. I don’t deny it. On my lightest day, in the deep of winter, under cover of endless Seattle clouds, I could definitely hold my arm next to some white people and almost match (though the tinting never seems quite right). Because I’m non-Black and light-skinned I am not vulnerable to police brutality, housing discrimination, hate crimes, excessive surveillance, racial bullying and assault, and the many, many forms of violent oppression acted upon visibly Brown and Black peoples every day. This is undoubtedly a privilege, one that I actively acknowledge and try to hold in constant consciousness and conscientiousness as I write about race and am involved in social justice work. My main responsibility is often going to be de-centering myself to make room for the voices of others most impacted; to listen, not lead; support and even sometimes leave spaces entirely because my presence may interrupt safety and sacredness.

And yet, these are the things that have been said to me recently by whites and people of color (POC), men and women, young and old:

What are you? Because if you had said you were white – I would’ve believed you.

Man! How do you people do that international thing??

Excuse me, I’m sorry, but can I ask what your mix is?

There is no pure Asian anymore.

You Asian? I need help with my gardening.

So what do you do?

Are you a flight attendant, stewardess?

While I always need to be aware of my light-skinned privileges, I also have to hold being read by others as “definitely not white” a lot of the time. That matters. I, like everyone else, am a racialized body in a racialized/racist place. I am not Brown or Black and it’s incumbent upon me to be eternally thoughtful about this. But I am not often seen as white either. Could I describe myself as white? I could try. But does that reflect who I am? Or how the world sees me? Or, more importantly, does it prepare me to deal with the racial-boundary policing I butt up against? Absolutely not.

So why am I starting to see so many mixed race peoples foreground their whiteness as more significant than their color – when the world around them doesn’t actually allow that?…

Read the entire article here.

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New York Times Just Boarded the Post-Racial Express: A critical response to “Choose Your Own Identity”

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2015-12-20 03:02Z by Steven

New York Times Just Boarded the Post-Racial Express: A critical response to “Choose Your Own Identity”

Multiracial Asian Families
2015-12-16

Sharon H. Chang


screen shot from NY Times Magazine

This Monday, The New York Times Magazine published a very unfortunate essay about multiracial Asian children: Choose Your Own Identity, by author and mother Bonnie Tsui. In it, Tsui (who is not multiracial herself) puzzles over her children’s mixed-race identities, what they may or may not choose to be one day, while taking a brief foray back/forward in time to consider the sociohistorical context of mixed-race and America’s impending multiracial future. After mulling on the subject for about ten paragraphs, she concludes with a seeming liberatory message on behalf of her children: “…the truth is, I can’t tell my sons what to feel…I can only tell them what I think about my own identity and listen hard to what they have to tell me in turn.”

Sounds innocent enough, yes?

No…

Read the entire article here.

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Professor Minelle Mahtani on ‘Raising Mixed Race’ in Canada

Posted in Articles, Canada, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-11-01 01:22Z by Steven

Professor Minelle Mahtani on ‘Raising Mixed Race’ in Canada

Multiracial Asian Families
2015-10-29

Sharon H. Chang

Following are closing remarks given by Minelle Mahtani after the premiere of my new book Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children In a Post-Racial World at Hapa-Palooza Festival 2015, Vancouver B.C. Minelle Mahtani is Associate Professor of Human Geography and Journalism at University of Toronto-Scarborough. Currently she is on sabbatical to host new show ‘Sense of Place‘ on Roundhouse Radio. She is also author of the recent book ‘Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality.’

My book ‘Raising Mixed Race’ will be released December 11, 2015.

Hi everybody. I’m going to keep this really short and sweet because I just think that we’ve heard so many really important things. But I just want to say thank you, Jeff, for that really warm introduction. And I just want to thank Sharon and Professor Wei Ming Dariotis for the extraordinary contribution they made here tonight.

For me being in this room really means a lot. I think it’s really rare that so many mixed people come together to have these conversations… I think it’s really valuable to remember that you’re not alone in this and that there’s other people around who want to share in these conversations. I grew up as a person of mixed race identity. I’m [of] Indian, Iranian, Muslim, Hindu background. And that was a really complicated identity to have in the suburbs of Toronto, mostly white area, that I grew up in…

Read the entire article here.

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What It Was Like Being Mixed-Race Photographed By National Geographic

Posted in Articles, Arts, Census/Demographics, Communications/Media Studies, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2015-07-31 19:59Z by Steven

What It Was Like Being Mixed-Race Photographed By National Geographic

Multiracial Asian Families: thinking about race, families, children, and the intersection of mixed ID/Asian
2015-07-29

Sharon H Chang

Remember these pictures? They were part of National Geographic’s mixed race photo campaign “Changing Faces” published in October 2013. “We’re becoming a country,” stated the magazine, “Where race is no longer so black and white.” The images were shot by famous German portrait photographer Martin Schoeller who said he liked “building catalogs of faces that invite people to compare them.” I think it’s safe to say that happened. The gallery was widely viewed (it being National Geographic after all) and more or less greatly admired (it being Martin Schoeller after all). But there was some criticism, including my own, which I wrote about for Racism Review in “Mixed or Not, Why Are We Still Taking Pictures of “Race”?” One of the larger questions I raised was around the idea that we use images of mixed race people to debate race, without including those mixed folk in the debate themselves. I concluded that essay with a proclamation:

While modern race-photography believes itself to be celebrating the dismantling of race, it may actually be fooling us (and itself) with a fantastically complicated show of smoke and mirrors…We need to make much, MUCH more space for something ultimately pretty simple — the stories of actual people themselves which in the end, will paint the real picture.

But here’s a truth I want to share with you. I also felt at the time that me making this proclamation wasn’t enough. That I had to do more than just say it. I needed to live it; make a commitment to the practice I was preaching. So. As an old friend used to say, “Where attention goes, energy flows.” Soon after making this personal resolve I had the amazing good fortune of running into Alejandro T. Acierto, a mixed race identifying person who was photographed for National Geographic’s campaign. He graciously agreed share with me/us what “Changing Faces” was like for him through his own experience, his own words, and his own lens…

Read the entire interview here.

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“What Are You?” That’s None of Your Business

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-20 19:25Z by Steven

“What Are You?” That’s None of Your Business

Multiracial Asian Families
2015-03-20

Sharon H. Chang

A couple months ago I got cornered big time by a stranger and their “What are you?” mind-meld. The unsolicited probing went on for a while. Honestly something I’m used to. But this time was crazy multidimensional and unique in a way I don’t know I’ve ever experienced. It involved not only me, but my child, and then HER mixed children by comparison. This stranger just couldn’t resist wanting to know my and my son’s specific mixes, explained her husband was “American,” then wondered out loud if her son would one day look like my son and if her daughter would one day look like me. I was declared white-looking while my son was judged Asian-looking. A picture of her own children was then shown proudly with seeming expectation for praise (which I uncomfortably indulged). There was also some lecturing/instruction on how I should feel about my particular Asian heritage (which she shares) and why I should be able to afford visiting my paternal homeland (which I actually can’t). Finally, because she felt this exchange had laid the groundwork for connectivity, she asked to exchange info and wanted to set up a play date.

First let’s be clear. I don’t doubt the well-meaning and friendly intention of this stranger. I understand that my son and I were visually assessed as having something in common with her which could potentially be the beginning of shared interest. I understand this stranger probably felt her comments were sincere, genuine, even complimentary, and that we would receive them as kind, welcoming and affirming. But here is an important racial truth — there’s a big difference between intention versus impact in inter-race relations. Much of what was said in this exchange was actually incredibly egocentric, driven centrally by one person’s self-interested compulsion (I-need-to-know-I-have-to-know) and seemingly little to no consideration for how my son and I might feel like zoo animals…

Read the entire article here.

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Multiracial Community Organizations Response to #Ferguson

Posted in My Articles/Point of View/Activities, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science, Statements, United States on 2015-03-05 02:09Z by Steven

Multiracial Community Organizations Response to #Ferguson

2014-11-26

As members of the multiracial community, we want to express our concern and compassion for the family of Michael Brown Jr. We are connected to these events and stand in solidarity with the many individuals and communities that have been harmed by the legacies of white supremacy, privilege, and racism. As community organizers, scholars, activists, writers, and artists, we remain resolute in dismantling racism through our work and actions.

#BlackLivesMatter

Critical Mixed Race Studies
Loving Day
MAVIN
Mixed Roots Stories
Mixed Race Studies
Multiracial Americans of Southern California (MASC)
Multiracial Asian Families
National Association of Mixed Student Organizations (NAMSO)
Kaily Heitz

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Baby Gammy and the Sexual Politics of Mixed Race Asians

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Law, Media Archive on 2015-02-28 02:29Z by Steven

Baby Gammy and the Sexual Politics of Mixed Race Asians

Multiracial Asian Families: thinking about race, families, children, and the intersection of mixed ID/Asian
2015-02-25

Sharon H. Chang

A couple years ago young Thai mother Pattaramon Chanbua agreed to be a surrogate for Australian couple David and Wendy Farnell. It was a disaster.

Last week Thailand legally banned commercial surrogacy, which is now a criminal offense.

The law comes after many abusive surrogacy arrangements exploiting Thai women over the years. But the Chanbua-Farnell surrogacy in particular expedited legislation after snowballing into an international scandal that garnered the attention of the world and spotlighted inescapably the controversial ethics and regulation (or lack thereof) of global surrogacy. Chanbua’s 2013 fertility treatment in Thailand was successful and she carried mixed race Asian/white twins Gammy and Pipah to delivery for the Farnells by the end of the year. But while Pipah was born healthy and typically developing, Gammy was born with Down’s Syndrome and severe health challenges. Shortly thereafter he was left behind with Chanbua when his Australian parents took his sister back to Australia without him. Gammy’s story was internationally publicized summer 2014 when Chanbua, aided by fundraisers, worked to crowdsource financing for his expensive medical care online. The tragic story coupled with a plethora of images of surrogate mom and left-behind infant living with disability exploded across the media, touching the shocked hearts of millions…

…Consider also, very importantly, that “who gets left with the consequences” is not just Asian diasporic women but a vulnerable population arising from the exploitation of Asian diasporic women — mixed race Asian diasporic children. It is of natural consequence that multiracial offspring would result from western dominance over Asian female bodies. Such children have historically often been the carnage left behind, “the casualties of war,” an afterthought quickly unremembered, swept under the rug and discarded. What is happening to Baby Gammy has happened before and keeps happening because global systems of sexual-political dominance are still in place. As I just wrote about last week thousands of Asian/white children have been abandoned throughout time by their white fathers; left impoverished, homeless, sick, sometimes crippled, susceptible to discrimination…

Read the entire article here.

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Are Mixed Race Asian/Whites, “Basically White”?

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-18 02:27Z by Steven

Are Mixed Race Asian/Whites, “Basically White”?

Multiracial Asian Families: thinking about race, families, children, and the intersection of mixed ID/Asian
2015-02-17

Sharon H. Chang

[She] never told the son who was crippled by polio about her relationship with his father. All she said was that the man was an American, a sergeant in the Army. He was one of the thousands of GIs who left children behind as victims of the conflict that the United States never officially called a war.
— “Life and Times of Le Van Minh” by Irene Virag

I’ve gotten some pretty vitriolic comments these last months regarding my writings on white-mixing not being synonymous with whiteness. A recent response to my piece protesting Asian Fortune’s troubled 2013 “Hapa” article:

“Guys…Sometimes you just need to calm the f down. You need to get out of your heads a little bit and stop over analyzing things. I’m sure all you hapas out there have some understanding of the way hapas are treated in Asia. Talk about superficial stereotypical understandings! Your ultra-liberal, ultra-progressive, straight-out-of-an-undergraduate-African-American-studies-class mumbo jumbo would only ever be considered in White countries. And you know damn well that you benefit from ‘White privilege.’ The reason I put that in quotes is beyond the scope of this comment. Don’t write back with some bullshit about traffic stops – I know the statistics.” (October 26, 2014)

Another recent response, this time to my piece on talking mixed race identity with young children for Hyphen Magazine:

“‘mom am i white?’

the answer is yes, he is. Stop confusing the poor child and STOP telling him he’s of Asian descent when you and the baby daddy are clearly white. He will grow up with an identity problem and will very likely hate you for it. Have some decency as a parent.” (February 10, 2015)…

…There are a lot of problems with the idea that Asian/whites are white: (1) it disallows space for contemporary Asian/whites to discuss the racialized experiences they do have when they are viewed and treated as non-white, (2) it ignores/invalidates/erases these oppressions as stemming from a long history of racism Asian/whites have faced nationally and globally that is an integral part of the larger narrative of race, and (3) it ultimately deflects from the more important point that it is not Asian/whites who created and uphold the racism we struggle to undo today…

Read the entire article here.

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