A Sharp White Background

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-04 02:14Z by Steven

A Sharp White Background

Renegade
2015-04-02

Kimiko Matsuda-Lawrence (aka the Blazian Invasion)

how I learned what race feels like

Just Words

I am riding home from middle school in Washington, D.C. one day when a white man gets on my bus full of black faces and calls us nigger. My stomach drops. The boys at the back of the bus rise. This is the first time I will hear that word exit the mouth of a real-life white person, not in the movies, but here, on my bus, on this bus full of blackness. As I walk home from the bus stop that day, I struggle to make sense of the feeling this man has left with me, the smallness, the brokenness, the shame slowly growing inside me. I will not hear this word shouted by a white man into a crowd of black and brown for another eight years, and eight years later I will still not know what to do.

In the basement cafeteria of my black elementary school, I am teased for the musubi I bring in my lunchbox, white rice wrapped in nori, pressed into pyramid in the salty palm of my mother’s hand. “Ewww, what is that smell?” “Seaweed,” I answer. The word feels foreign and wrong on my tongue, but I push it out anyway, attempting awkward translation. “Seaweed??” They crinkle their noses and I feel I am foreign, I am wrong, I do not fit into this landscape of lunchables, gushers, and frozen fishsticks. I go home. I ask my mother to pack me a sandwich. I miss musubi.

When my classmates pull their eyes into slits, contort their mouths into ching chong chinaman talk, and call our volunteer chess teacher Mr. Tsunami though that is not his name, my cheeks flash hot again. Do my eyes look like that? Are they talking about me? Somehow I know I am tied to this taunting, that I am target though they’re not looking at me, the words still clinging to my skin as if sensing the yellow beneath the brown. I look at my eyes in the mirror, turn my head to the side, search for slits. Who is this they’ve made of me?…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , ,

Mixed-race Migration and Adoption in Gish Jen’s The Love Wife

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive on 2015-04-03 20:39Z by Steven

Mixed-race Migration and Adoption in Gish Jen’s The Love Wife

Canadian Review of Comparative Literature / Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée
Volume 42, Issue 1, Mars 2015
pages 45-56

Jenny Wen-chuan Chu
National Kaohsiung Normal University, Taiwan

Migration is a way of geographic movement. It involves a sense of belonging, nostalgia and diaspora issues. Besides, adoption in the migrated family illustrates the fluidity and tenacity of racial boundaries in different national and racial origins. In Gish Jen’s The Love Wife, the question of Mama Wong’s motives haunts Blondie and Carnegie. Is Lan a nanny who teaches their two Asian daughters to be more Chinese, or is she a love wife who drives Blondie out? In contemporary America, an interracial marriage like Carnegie and Blondie’s is increasingly common. We might expect Carnegie to naturally speak Chinese and know his culture, but it is Blondie who speaks Chinese and instructs their adopted children on Asian heritage. It is not natural. However, when Carnegie discovers that he is adopted, and adoption is a natural occurrence in China, he finally realizes that nothing is unnatural. His home is based on mutual love and sharing multiple cultures, not blood or skin colour.

In the dimension of mixed-race migration, home is a discourse of locality, and place of feelings and rootedness. According to Henri Lefebvre, home belongs to a differential space, i.e., a spiritual and imaginary space. Our memories and souls are closely related to such differential space. Gaston Bachelard, too, argues that our home is a privileged entity of the intimate values that we take it as our differential space: “Our [home] is our corner of the world” (4). Home is no longer fixed, but fluid and mobile. Nostalgia is inevitable. But loving homes provide more stability than do memories of good old days. In the dimension of mixed-race adoption, the American dream is internalized as the way of the mixed-race family’s lifestyle. In America, Chinese culture is also highly strengthened in the diversity of Chinese American families. However, how can the second generation of Chinese immigrants enjoy their individual American dreams, but still have to cope with the demands and expectations of their familial Chinese parents?

In The Love Wife, we observe that the adopted children perceive and negotiate their ethnic/racial identities and sense of esteem as well as their acceptance and ease with such an adopted status. Wendy and Lizzy are both Asian Americans. Blondie, who has a WASP background, has always been at the mercy of Carnegie’s Chinese mother, the imperious Mama Wong. When Mama Wong dies, her will requires a “relative” of hers from China to stay with the family. The new arrival is Lan, middle-aged but still attractive. She is Carnegie’s mainland Chinese “relative,” a tough, surprisingly lovely survivor of the Cultural Revolution. Blondie is convinced that Mama Wong is sending Carnegie a new wife, Lan, from the grave. Nevertheless, through identifying the sweet home with multiple cultures, Carnegie and Blondie’s mixed-race family opens the room for the practices of migration and adoption.

The author, Gish Jen, is a second generation Chinese-American. Her parents emigrated from China in the 1940s, her mother from Shanghai and her father from Yixing. She grew up in Queens, New York, moved to Yonkers, and then settled in Scarsdale. Different from those prominent Chinese-American writers who look back at Chinese-American history for their subject matter and focus on the conflicts between Chinese parents and American children, such as Amy Tan, Maxine Hong Kingston, etc., Jen is developing her distinctive voice. She aims at full participation in American life and reveals in her writings a strong desire to be a real American. The Love Wife, her third novel, portrays an Asian-American family with interracial parents, a biological son, and adopted daughters as “the new American family.” Jen turns to the story of transnational adoption, addressing that kinship plays a crucial role in an interracial family.

Jen’s The Love Wife has been discussed critically in several articles. Fu-jen Chen and Su-lin Yu’s paper explores the imaginary binary relationship between Blondie and Lan, as well as Žižek’s “parallax gap,” through the gaze of the (m)Other in The Love Wife. It argues:

The polarized differences between Blondie and Lan are sustained on the grounds of a safe distance at which they…

Tags: , , ,

The Love Wife: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2015-04-03 20:12Z by Steven

The Love Wife: A Novel

Vintage Books
2005-10-11
400 pages
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4000-7651-2

Gish Jen

From the massively talented Gish Jen comes a barbed, moving, and stylistically dazzling new novel about the elusive nature of kinship. The Wongs describe themselves as a “half half” family, but the actual fractions are more complicated, given Carnegie’s Chinese heritage, his wife Blondie’s WASP background, and the various ethnic permutations of their adopted and biological children. Into this new American family comes a volatile new member. Her name is Lanlan. She is Carnegie’s Mainland Chinese relative, a tough, surprisingly lovely survivor of the Cultural Revolution, who comes courtesy of Carnegie’s mother’s will. Is Lanlan a very good nanny, a heartless climber, or a posthumous gift from a formidable mother who never stopped wanting her son to marry a nice Chinese girl? Rich in insight, buoyed by humor, The Love Wife is a hugely satisfying work.

Tags: ,

Gorgeous Black-And-White Portraits Explore The Meaning Of Multiracial Identities

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-01 01:35Z by Steven

Gorgeous Black-And-White Portraits Explore The Meaning Of Multiracial Identities

The Huffington Post
2015-03-30

Katherine Brooks, Senior Arts & Culture Editor

“I began this project because I recognized that I was part of a underrepresented group of people,” artist Samantha Wall explained in an email to HuffPost. “It’s difficult to talk about multiraciality with individuals who can’t understand our perspective. It’s not as simple as being part this and part that, our identities can’t be so easily divided. But art is a language that lends itself to communicating experiences too difficult to comprehend through words alone.”

For her project “Indivisible,” Wall explores the meaning of multiracial identities in Korea and the United States through a series of black-and-white portraits. The images show models staring fearlessly at the viewer, flashing a smile, a laugh and sometimes even a grimace. Wall’s charcoal and ink illustrations attempt to convey, as she notes, a feeling that words cannot. “Through this work I am exposing the plurality of emotions that sculpt human subjectivity,” she writes on her website. “The drawings of these women are portals into the human psyche, a place where emotions call out and perceived racial boundaries dissolve.”…

Read the entire article here

Tags: , , , ,

Redefining — by not defining — biracialism

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-01 01:02Z by Steven

Redefining — by not defining — biracialism

The Daily Illini: The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871
Tuesday, 2015-03-31

Audrey Majors, Opinions columnist

Last week controversy arose over Japan’s 2015 Miss Universe contestant, Ariana Miyamoto, because she’s biracial— something critics, many of whom are Japanese, have taken issue with. Miyamoto has an African-American father and does not look like what most people imagine a traditional Japanese woman to look like.

As several news outlets have pointed out, Miyamoto speaks Japanese, lived most of her childhood in Japan and has a Japanese mother. Much of the discussion in defense of Miyamoto has consisted of the idea that these qualities make her Japanese, despite her biracial status. While I applaud the well-intentioned support for Miyamoto’s chosen racial identity, any legitimation of her race is unneeded because each person should be the sole authority of their racial identity.

I firmly believe no one should have to defend their chosen racial identity. And it sure as hell isn’t okay for anyone to police or undermine the racial identity someone has chosen. Even though the United States is more racially diverse than Japan, this type of exclusion exists here, too. And it will continue to exist everywhere until we change the way we think about racial categories and stereotypes…

…Racial identity is not merely a matter of appearance or genetics, but is one factor combined with social and cultural experiences that have shaped each person’s racial experience. Policing how multiracial people chose to identify neglects our right to understand the experiences that we feel best reflect ourselves…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , ,

Rivas awarded NEH Summer Stipends award to work on book

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Brazil, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-30 14:52Z by Steven

Rivas awarded NEH Summer Stipends award to work on book

News From Marshall University
Huntington, West Virginia
2015-03-25

Dave Wellman, Director of Communications
Telephone: (304) 696-7153

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.Dr. Zelideth Maria Rivas, an assistant professor of Japanese in Marshall University’s Department of Modern Languages, has been awarded a “very competitive” National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Stipends award, according to Dr. R.B. Bookwalter, dean of the university’s College of Liberal Arts.

Rivas is the only recipient of the Summer Stipend award in West Virginia. The award will help her work toward completion of a book she has titled “Caught In-Between: Competing Nationalisms of Japanese in Brazil.”

“Dr. Rivas is an energetic and imaginative teacher and scholar,” Bookwalter said. “We are very fortunate to have her here at Marshall and we are extremely pleased that the NEH has recognized and supported her project.”

Rivas said, “I am honored that this award will support the completion of my book through travel to Japan and time to revise existing chapters. More importantly, I am excited for the recognition this brings to the Department of Modern Languages, the College of Liberal Arts and Marshall University.”

Here is her abstract for the project:

“From the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil, to Hamamatsu, Japan, a large diasporic population of Japanese Brazilians is ever present in media, politics and the economy as symbols of kinship and citizenship with singular national identities. And yet, these identities move beyond dualistic constructions of Japanese or Brazilian. As an NEH Summer Stipend Fellow, I will investigate these claims in my book, Caught In-Between: Competing Nationalisms of Japanese in Brazil while completing the final research needed in Japan during the summer of 2015.

Read the entire press release here.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Family/Parenting, Forthcoming Media, Identity Development/Psychology, Monographs, Social Science, United States on 2015-03-29 20:26Z by Steven

Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World

Paradigm Publishers
June 2015
192 pages
Trim size: 6″ x 9″
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-61205-848-1

Sharon H. Chang

Research continues to uncover early childhood as a crucial time when we set the stage for who we will become. In the last decade, we have also seen a sudden massive shift in America’s racial makeup with the majority of the current under-5 age population being children of color. Asian and multiracial are the fastest growing self-identified groups in the United States. More than 2 million people indicated being mixed race Asian on the 2010 Census. Yet, young multiracial Asian children are vastly underrepresented in the literature on racial identity. Why? And what are these children learning about themselves in an era that tries to be ahistorical, believes the race problem has been “solved,” and that mixed race people are proof of it? This book is drawn from extensive research and interviews with sixty-eight parents of multiracial children. It is the first to examine the complex task of supporting our youngest around being “two or more races” and Asian while living amongst “post-racial” ideologies.

Tags: , ,

Meet Elizabeth Liang from Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Interviews, Media Archive on 2015-03-24 00:47Z by Steven

Meet Elizabeth Liang from Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey

Culture Shock Toolbox
2015-03-23

H. E. Rybol

Elizabeth acts on stage, film, and television. A graduate of Wesleyan (after transferring from Wellesley), she is a published essayist (“Checked Baggage: Writing Unpacked,” “Transforming Three Sisters”) and has a column about creative adult TCKs at TheDisplacedNation.com. She is also the co-host of the intercultural podcast Hapa Happy Hour.

Her solo show, ALIEN CITIZEN: An Earth Odyssey, had its world premiere at the Asylum Lab in Hollywood in May 2013. It had its Off Off Broadway debut at Stage Left Studio in September 2013. Since then it has been performed at Princeton, M.I.T., Wesleyan, Williams, Augustana (SD), Carleton, and Santa Clara University in the USA. It was the closing keynote at the Families in Global Transition (FIGT) 2014 conference. It also began its tour of international schools and US Embassies in Panama; was sponsored by the API Cultural Center at the United States of Asian America Festival in San Francisco; and had its international theatrical debut at Tjarnarbíó in Reykjavík, Iceland.

How did you get into traveling?

My dad worked for Xerox (they made photocopiers) back when they were as big as Apple and Google are now, and they moved us from Guatemala to Costa Rica to the USA to Panama to the USA again to Morocco to Egypt. Some of my happiest memories from my youth are of the family vacations we were so fortunate to take in different countries.

I came back to the USA for college on the east coast, graduated and moved to the west coast for a career in the entertainment industry, and have been here ever since. I love to travel for pleasure, and I love to travel with my solo show, ALIEN CITIZEN: An Earth Odyssey, because I get to combine my three favorite activities: acting, traveling to new places, and indirectly: writing (I wrote the script)…

Read the entire interview here.

Tags: , ,

Navigating Through my Tamil-Filipino World: An Account of a Mixed First Generation Kid

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Canada, Media Archive on 2015-03-24 00:25Z by Steven

Navigating Through my Tamil-Filipino World: An Account of a Mixed First Generation Kid

Tamil Culture
2014-01-30

Shanelle Kandiah

Throughout my life, every time I have come to meet someone for the first time, I seem to always be asked about my ethnicity. Over the course of a conversation with someone, I can even anticipate the exact point that this question will be asked. The curious yet reluctant segway of “so…what’s your background?” or “where are your parents from?” gives it all away.

While these questions may be perceived as bothersome to other mixed kids, I cannot say that it ever really bothered me. I have always taken a strange sort of pride in describing my family. Having been raised by a Sri Lankan Tamil father and a Filipino mother, I have never seen my life as anything short of amazing. Growing up exposed to two rich cultures from two loving parents is something that is pretty difficult to fault.

Reflecting back on my childhood, there are certain memories that stand out as reflective of how unique my family may be perceived to the outside world. For instance, there were times growing up where my parents would host birthday parties for my brother and me, and would invite what seemed like everyone they had ever met in their lives. People of all shapes and sizes – not only Tamils and Filipinos, but Anglos, East Asians, and other mixed families – would always manage to seep into my house where they would be welcomed with open arms.

Our food at these events was often a mix of Sri Lankan catering with overwhelming amounts of pittu, hoppers and varying curries, alongside Filipino takeout trays of lumpia, chicken adobo and pansit. When coupled with the Tamil movie scores and Western music playing in the background, I would agree with outsiders who have deemed my family as not quite run of the mill. Even now, it seems overwhelming that so much cultural transactions occurred at these gatherings. Looking back, these times actually gave me some of my best childhood memories…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,

Miss Universe Japan — spectacle, race, and dreams

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2015-03-22 01:34Z by Steven

Miss Universe Japan — spectacle, race, and dreams

Grits and Sushi: my musings on okinawa, race, militarization, and blackness
2015-03-19

Mitzi Uehara Carter

The newly crowned Miss Universe Japan is Blackanese. No, she’s Japanese. No, she’s Haafu. Multiracial? Mixed? Japanese enough to represent Japan in a silly beauty contest? Ariana Miyamoto is from Nagasaki, Japan and her win has whipped up both excitement and disdain. The issue of representation has emerged yet again for those anxious about the nation’s performance on the global beauty stage. National beauty pageants are always a site where race and gender intersect in messy ways and the spectacle of “national authentic beauty” in international pageants can be even more convoluted. Miyamoto’s racial difference has sparked a series of interesting questions about how to identify “Japaneseness” through the body of women.

Weather you’re a pageant supporter or not, you can’t ignore how potent the social commentary these kinds of wins can be in everyday discourse. A careful analysis can tell us more about the framing of race in mainstream Japanese and transnational media circuits. While people outside Japan seem to be generally fascinated by the fact that this Japanese woman with her obvious African ancestry has been named “Ms. Universe Japan,” the commentary in Japanese social media is a bit more varied and well, echoes some made in the US, when a New Yorker of Indian descent, Nina Davaluri, won the Ms. America pageant in 2013…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,