Blasian Invasion: Racial Mixing in the Celebrity Industrial Complex

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, Monographs on 2017-12-30 04:08Z by Steven

Blasian Invasion: Racial Mixing in the Celebrity Industrial Complex

University Press of Mississippi
2017-10-26
192 pages (approx.)
6 x 9 inches, index
Hardcover ISBN: 9781496814227

Myra S. Washington, Assistant Professor
Department of Communication and Journalism
University of New Mexico

An exposition of a dynamic, multiracial-racial identity

Myra S. Washington probes the social construction of race through the mixed-race identity of Blasians, people of Black and Asian ancestry. She looks at the construction of the identifier Blasian and how this term went from being undefined to forming a significant role in popular media. Today Blasian has emerged as not just an identity Black/Asian mixedrace people can claim, but also a popular brand within the industry and a signifier in the culture at large. Washington tracks the transformation of Blasian from being an unmentioned category to a recognized status applied to other Blasian figures in media.

Blasians have been neglected as a meaningful category of people in research, despite an extensive history of Black and Asian interactions within the United States and abroad. Washington explains that even though Americans have mixed in every way possible, racial mixing is framed in certain ways, which almost always seem to involve Whiteness. Unsurprisingly, media discourses about Blasians mostly conform to usual scripts already created, reproduced, and familiar to audiences about monoracial Blacks and Asians.

In the first book on this subject, Washington regards Blasians as belonging to more than one community, given their multiple histories and experiences. Moving beyond dominant rhetoric, she does not harp on defining or categorizing mixed race, but instead recognizes the multiplicities of Blasians and the process by which they obtain meaning. Washington uses celebrities, including Kimora Lee, Dwayne Johnson, Hines Ward, and Tiger Woods, to highlight how they challenge and destabilize current racial debate, create spaces for themselves, and change the narratives that frame multiracial people. Finally, Washington asserts Blasians as not only evidence for the fluidity of identities, but also for the limitations of reductive racial binaries.

Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • CHAPTER ONE: Theorizing Blasians
  • CHAPTER TWO: Birth of a Blasian
  • CHAPTER THREE: Modeling Race: Refashioning Blasianness
  • CHAPTER FOUR: “Because I’m Blasian” Tiger Woods, Scandal, and Protecting the Blasian Brand
  • CHAPTER FIVE: Sporting the Blasian Body
  • CONCLUSION: En-Blasianing the Future
  • Notes
  • Index
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What Would It Mean To Have A ‘Hapa’ Bachelorette?

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive, United States on 2016-03-14 19:59Z by Steven

What Would It Mean To Have A ‘Hapa’ Bachelorette?

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio
2016-03-13

Akemi Johnson

On a recent episode of The Bachelor, the ABC dating reality show that ends its 20th season Monday night, contestant Caila Quinn brings Ben Higgins home to meet her interracial family.

“Have you ever met Filipinos before?” Quinn’s mother asks, leading Higgins into a dining room where the table is filled with traditional Filipino food.

“I don’t know,” he replies. “No. I don’t think so.”

As they sit around the adobo and pancit, Quinn’s father talks to Higgins, white man to white man. What comes with dating Quinn, the father says, “is a very special Philippine community.” Quinn grimaces.

“I had no idea what I was getting into when I married Caila’s mother,” the father says. But being married to a Filipina, he assures Higgins, has been “the most fun” and “magical.”

This scene can be read as an attempt by The Bachelor franchise to dispel criticisms (and the memory of a 2012 lawsuit) concerning its whitewashed casts. It shows how these attempts can be clunky at best, offensive and creepy at worst.

Quinn’s run also demonstrates how, as this rose-strewn, fantasy-fueled romance machine tries to include more people of color, diversification looks like biracial Asian-American — often known as “hapa” — women…

…Mixed-race Asian-white women become the perfect vehicles for diversity on this show because they are “white enough to present to the family,” as Morning said, while still being exotic enough to fill a quota. Morning suggested they also get a boost from the model minority myth and the recent idea that being multiracial is “cool.”…

Myra Washington, assistant professor of communication at the University of New Mexico, predicted an increase in black contestants if Quinn becomes the bachelorette. “Not Wesley Snipes black, because this is still TV,” she said. She guessed there would be more mixed-race African-Americans, brown-skinned men, Latinos. But colonial legacies and systems of power die hard. “I think she’ll ultimately end up with a white dude,” she said.

Read the entire article here.

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Interracial Intimacy: Hegemonic Construction of Asian American and Black Relationships on TV Medical Dramas

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2013-01-30 02:02Z by Steven

Interracial Intimacy: Hegemonic Construction of Asian American and Black Relationships on TV Medical Dramas

Howard Journal of Communications
Volume 23, Issue 3 (2012)
pages 253-271
DOI: 10.1080/10646175.2012.695637

Myra Washington, Assistant Professor of Communication & Journalism
University of New Mexico

This article examines the representations of Black and Asian interracial relationships on prime-time television dramas, ER and Grey’s Anatomy. Interracial relationships are still a very small percentage of relationships depicted on television, and Black and Asian couplings represent an even smaller fraction, which makes examining the discourses surrounding these relationships valuable and illuminating. Using a close textual analysis of the discursive strategies that frame the representation of the Black and Asian characters in general, and the representations of their relationships with each other in the dramas specifically, I argue that the narrative arcs and racialized tropes maintain hegemonic racial hierarchies. The representations have the potential to be progressive and/or transgressive, but the death and destruction meted out to the couples ensures no couple reaches the dominant culture’s idea for romantic relationships: marriage and a baby.

Read the entire article here.

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Branding Blasians: Mixed Race Black/Asian Americans in the Celebrity Industrial Complex

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Dissertations, Media Archive, United States on 2012-07-08 14:46Z by Steven

Branding Blasians: Mixed Race Black/Asian Americans in the Celebrity Industrial Complex

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
May 2012
235 pages

Myra Washington, Assistant Professor of Communication & Journalism
University of New Mexico

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Communications in the Graduate College of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Contemporary multiracial discourses rely on two overarching frames of mixed-race: mixed-race as uniquely new phenomenon and mixed race as resistant to dominant paradigms of race and racism. Both have been necessary for multiracial activists and the mixed race movement, and have served as the foundation for much of the current research in mixed race studies. This dissertation posits that a third frame exists, one that neither sees mixed-race as new or unique, nor as a racial salve to move the United States past the problem of the color line. This third paradigm is pluralistic, fluid in its ambiguity, and allows for the potential of ambivalence and contradictions within mixed-race.

This paradigmatic shifting view of race rearticulates what it means to be Black, Asian, Other, and results in the creation of multiracial/other subjectivities which can become a formidable obstacle to the racial order of the United States. Importantly, this dissertation argues Blasians trouble the logic of existing U.S. racial classifications, without establishing their own. Blasians (mixed-race Black and Asian people) are challenging the hegemony of race constructed around the lives of not just Blacks and Asians, but all members of U.S. society, as we are all embroiled in the illogical (and contradictory) discourses framing our identities.

I do not offer Blasians as a racial salve, as resistant to or prescription for either race or racism through virtue of their mixed-race bodies. Instead, I have used this dissertation to describe the emergence of Blasians, not to add to the research that divides monoracials from multiracials, but to muddle the lines between them. The analyses of these celebrities acknowledge that to understand what is a Blasian, means to first understand, and then complicate, hegemonic notions of race as it applies to both Blacks and Asians. Contextualized against those dominant discourses, Blasians explode the narrow boundaries of authenticity around racialized categories. Blasians, as I discuss them in this dissertation do not escape race, or erase race, but they do force the reconstruction of normative instantiations of identity.

Read the entire dissertation here.

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Darkening Tiger Woods: How post-scandal Tiger Woods lost his whiteness and became Blasian

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Live Events, Media Archive, Social Work, United States on 2011-04-22 03:32Z by Steven

Darkening Tiger Woods: How post-scandal Tiger Woods lost his whiteness and became Blasian

Asian American Cultural Center Lounge
1210 W. Nevada Street
Urbana, Illinois
2011-04-25, 14:00 CDT (Local Time)

Myra Washington, Assistant Professor of Communication & Journalism
University of New Mexico

The rhetoric around Tiger Woods, after his extramarital affairs became public, demonstrates the complexities in which Blackness and Asianness were deployed to shame, emasculate, understand, praise, pity, and mock him. Via text, Woods himself shifts his identity from Cablinasian (on Oprah) to Blasian, which media organizations used in part used to frame his behavior. His self-identification brought Blasians under scrutiny, which resulted in moves to protect the Blasian brand. Myra Washington is a PhD candidate in the Institute of Communications Research. Her dissertation explores Black/Asian (Blasian) multiracial identity and its representations through analyzing mediated constructions of Blasian celebrities specifically Kimora Lee Simmons, Hines Ward, and post-cheating scandal Tiger Woods. Using the increase in recognition of multiracial celebrities who identify as Black and Asian and the popularity of these celebrities specifically, Washington’s project interrogates if and how their visibility and success allows for other similarly mixed up [?? actual wording in announcement] mixed-race people to claim visibility for themselves. Washington received the 2010 Jeffrey S. Tanaka Asian American Studies Grant for graduate students.

For more information, click here.

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More than a Metaphor: Blood as Boundary for Korean Biracial Identity

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Papers/Presentations on 2010-07-28 03:26Z by Steven

More than a Metaphor: Blood as Boundary for Korean Biracial Identity

NCA 95th Annual Convention
Chicago Hilton & Towers
Chicago, Illinois
2009-11-11

Myra Washington
College of Media, Institute of Communications Research
University of Illinois

When Hines Ward was named MVP of Super Bowl XL, his Black and Korean biracial status became the touchstone for conversations about mixed-race people in Korea. His “homecoming” trip generated a frenzied discourse around the limits of Korean identity and the location of bi/multiracial individuals within it. Ward’s racial representation allows for the analysis of nationhood, citizenship, difference and race as imagined through blood metaphors.

Read the entire paper here.

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