Proving Race

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-18 20:09Z by Steven

Proving Race

Ms. Food Queen: Cooking Across Difference
August 2014

Christine Gregory

I am standing in the lobby of a Korean restaurant. In the split second before I’m seated, I make a conscious decision of whether or not to speak Korean. I know that if I do, it will lead to many benefits, tangible and intangible. I will receive better service. The wait staff will smile at me. I will be given special side dishes that are not on the menu, (for which I will not be expected to pay). I will feel welcome.

I know that if I do not speak Korean, I will be given a cordial and obligatory “Hello.” I will be seated and served what I ordered. I will dine and go, like a stranger. They will look at my brown face, and maybe even smile, but they will fail to recognize me as one of their own.

I almost always elect to speak Korean. Given the benefits, the reasons might seem obvious.   But it isn’t for the discounted pedicures, free sodas at the sushi carry out, and – believe it or not –occasional yellow croaker given gratis by the fish monger at the local Korean mart. It’s because I want them to see me. I want them to know that I am Korean. Speaking the language is the way that I prove my identity.

I am black and Korean, but could easily “pass” for Latina, Ethiopian, South Asian, Polynesian, or Indian. Despite my racially ambiguous appearance, I’ve grown quite deft at subtly revealing my identity to other black folks. I effortlessly code switch and drop hints that would lead whomever I am addressing to surmise that, “Yeah, she must be black.” For example, I mention that I attended a historically black college; share a photo of my African American husband; or drop the name of the church that I attend, all excellent sources of proof

Read the entire article here.

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David Palumbo-Liu interviews Ruth Ozeki

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Interviews, United States, Women on 2014-09-17 21:51Z by Steven

David Palumbo-Liu interviews Ruth Ozeki

Los Angeles Review of Books
2014-09-16

David Palumbo-Liu, Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor; Professor of Comparative Literature and English
Stanford University

Where We Are for the Time Being with Ruth Ozeki

Ruth Ozeki is a novelist, filmmaker, and a Zen Buddhist priest. She is the author of three novels: My Year of Meats (1998), All Over Creation (2003), and A Tale for the Time Being (2013). Her website and other web sources portray a diverse and fascinating set of life experiences and a considerable skill set: she worked on cult SF classic Robot Holocaust and has done straightforward commercial film work, started a language school in Japan, worked as a bar hostess there, made award-winning films herself (Body of Correspondence, Halving the Bones), done extensive study of Zen, and worked as a Zen teacher. Among other things.

In 2013 A Tale for the Time Being was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize as well as for a National Book Critics Award; it won the Kitschies Red Tentacle Award for Best Novel, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Fiction. The reviews in the United Kingdom tended to stress that, as The Independent had it, “her novels are witty, intelligent, and passionate.” The reaction of the American press was more boisterous: The Chicago Tribune noted “their shrewd, playful humor, luscious sexiness, and kinetic pizazz.”

Her work is all that, and much more. Her books are deeply involved in issues of science, technology, gender, and attend both to deep history and to the contemporary. They are concerned with our minds and bodies, but even more particularly with our spirit, and with our commitment to the future. I spoke with Ruth Ozeki at Stanford in 2013 and then corresponded with her during the book tour that followed, and am delighted that My Year of Meats was selected as one of the three books all incoming frosh will read at Stanford this autumn. Now in its 11th year, the texts for this year’s Three Books program address the theme of “Science”: Physics for Future Presidents by Richard Muller, My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki, and Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss. I cannot think of a better humanistic author to feature for this series.

DAVID PALUMBO-LIU: Ruth Ozeki — thanks for sitting down with me as you return from doing extensive travel and readings of A Tale for the Time Being. You have given a huge number of interviews, so I’d like to make this relatively targeted. First, in all your work you are especially interested in the complex interweaving of narrative voices. This latest work is the one in which your Buddhism shows up the most explicitly. How does a Buddhist sense of Self (or non-Self) work to help shape this novel, especially in terms of constructing your different narrators? Who are these “people”? What kind of character “development” or “intregity” should we find?

RUTH OZEKI: This notion of self (Self?) is a great place to start, and immediately I find myself resisting the capitalization of the word, which in itself is significant. The capital S seems to imply a fixed and singular entity, a God-like Self, whereas my sense of self is a more shifting (shifty?) and pluralistic entity, an interdependent collectivity of lowercase gods, demigods, and demons…

…Even in My Year of Meats, my first novel, I was playing with fictionalized autobiography. One of the narrators of that book, Jane, is a mixed-race documentary filmmaker who lives in New York. I, too, am a mixed-race documentary filmmaker who lived in New York. I knew readers would assume that Jane equaled Ruth, so I made Jane six feet tall and dyed her hair green, so readers could tell us apart.

I bring this up because I think my mixed-race identity is why I experience myself, and the world, pluralistically. I’m a racially hybridized, genetically pluralistic entity, who has never lived in any one place or culture. As Jane says, “being half, I’m neither here nor there.” Or maybe that was me who said that.

Anyway, I certainly don’t think I’m unique in this regard. All of us are racially, religiously, and/or culturally pluralistic, and increasingly so. As human beings, we’re all trying to integrate and make sense of our pluralistic elements, aren’t we? To find some kind of wholeness?…

Read the entire interview here.

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From Harlem to Shenzhen: One Jamaican-Chinese Woman’s Quest to Find Her Family

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Caribbean/Latin America, History, Media Archive, United States on 2014-09-16 21:29Z by Steven

From Harlem to Shenzhen: One Jamaican-Chinese Woman’s Quest to Find Her Family

The Wall Street Journal
2014-09-02

Debra Bruno

Growing up in New York’s Harlem, Paula Williams Madison knew she had a Chinese grandfather, even though she had never met him.

When people found out, she says, most of them would make comments such as “Really? You don’t look Chinese.” Others would laugh. Even so, she always intended to track down her mother’s father and learn the full story of her multi-ethnic Jamaican-Chinese family.

By the time she found them, her tiny American family had expanded to about 400 living members and a family tree that goes back 3,000 years. A new documentary tells the story of that journey and the discovery of a family that today extends from Shenzhen, China, to Kingston, Jamaica, and Los Angeles, California.

Ms. Madison, 62, spent much of her career at NBC, and retired a few years ago as an executive at NBC Universal, one of the first black women to achieve that rank. She says she waited until retiring to pursue her dream of reconnecting with her Chinese family.

Before, “I did know a handful of my cousins,” she says. “Now there are about 40.”

Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China,” directed by Jeanette Kong of Toronto, a fellow Chinese-Jamaican, tells the story of Ms. Madison’s quest. After slavery ended in Jamaica in 1838, the country sought immigrants to do the work slaves had performed on sugar plantations. By 1920, 4,000 of those immigrants were Chinese. Ms. Madison’s grandfather—a Hakka Chinese man from Guangdong province originally named Lowe Ding Chiu—was one of them, moving there in 1905 at age 15…

Read the entire article here.

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Juxta: A film by Hiroko Yamazaki

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, United States, Videos, Women on 2014-09-15 00:57Z by Steven

Juxta: A film by Hiroko Yamazaki

Women Make Movies
1989
29 minutes
BW, 16mm/DVD
Order No. W99356

Hiroko Yamazaki

This beautiful drama observes the psychological effects of racism on two children of Japanese women and American servicemen. Thirty-one year old Kate, the daughter of a Japanese/white mixed marriage visits her childhood friend, Ted, a Japanese-Black American. Together they confront the memory of her mother’s tragic story in this telling, emotionally nuanced journey into the complexity of US racism.

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One drop or two: Mixed-race identity and politics in America with Sharon H. Chang

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Audio, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-09-10 18:10Z by Steven

One drop or two: Mixed-race identity and politics in America with Sharon H. Chang

Rabble Podcast Network
2014-09-09

Charlene Sayo, Co-host

Andrew Sayo, Co-host

Eirene Cloma, Co-host

When Seattle-based researcher and writer Sharon H. Chang wrote an essay that detailed why she tells her mixed-race son that he’s Asian and not white, many readers were surprised —some were downright offended—that she would deny him his “whiteness.” These reactions led Sharon—who herself is mixed-race—to write a follow-up essay aptly titled “Why Mixed with White isn’t White.” Naturally, I had to feature her on MsRepresent: Behind the Face, a Fierce Woman. For this episode, Sharon tackles race, racism, mixed-race identity and the dangers of assuming white privilege when you look anything but.

Listen to interview (00:31:07) here. Download the interview here.

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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 2014-09-10 16:23Z 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.

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Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-09-09 20:14Z by Steven

Chinese culture fails to make the grade for today’s mixed-race children

South China Morning Post
Hong Kong, China
2014-09-08

Lijia Zhang, Writer, Journalist, Social Commentator

Lijia Zhang recounts her struggle to instill pride and love of all things Chinese in her daughters

May, my 17-year-old elder daughter, told me the results of her school exams by phone. When there was a pause, she asked: “Are you disappointed?” I shouldn’t have been. Three As and a B were good results.

But the problem was that she got the B in Chinese. And she is half Chinese.

I see it partly as my fault in failing to speak Chinese consistently at home, at least for the time May and her younger sister, Kirsty, spend at my house. The truth is that she’s really interested in the language and, indeed, the Chinese part of her cultural heritage.

A few years back, I took the girls to Bangladesh for a holiday. As soon as we were out of my friend’s guarded complex, we were surrounded by curious locals.

“Where are you from?” they asked the girls. May, the spokeswoman of the two, replied without hesitation: “We are from England.”

After we had settled down in a rickshaw, I said to May: “You were born in Beijing. Save for four years in London, you grew up in China. How does it qualify you as ‘English’?” May blinked her big round eyes. “Well, if I tell people I am Chinese, they wouldn’t believe me.”

True, May doesn’t look very Chinese, with her fair skin and brown hair, especially the way she carries herself. Kirsty, who has a darker complexion and more delicate facial features, looks a little more oriental.

Yet they both fundamentally identify themselves as British, even though they do sometimes describe themselves as “half Chinese and half British”…

Read the entire article here.

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In Korea, Adoptees Fight To Change Culture That Sent Them Overseas

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-09-09 19:53Z by Steven

In Korea, Adoptees Fight To Change Culture That Sent Them Overseas

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio
2014-09-09

Steve Haruch

In the Gwanak-gu neighborhood of Seoul, there is a box.

Attached to the side of a building, the box resembles a book drop at a public library, only larger, and when nights are cold, the interior is heated. The Korean lettering on its front represents a phoneticized rendering of the English words “baby box.” It was installed by Pastor Lee Jon-rak to accept abandoned infants. When its door opens, an alarm sounds, alerting staff to the presence of a new orphan.

The box, and the anonymity it provides, has become a central symbol in a pitched debate over Korean adoption policy. Two years ago last month, South Korea’s Special Adoption Law was amended to add accountability and oversight to the adoption process. The new law requires mothers to wait seven days before relinquishing a child, to get approval from a family court, and to register the birth with the government. The SAL also officially enshrines a new attitude toward adoption: “The Government shall endeavor to reduce the number of Korean children adopted abroad,” the law states, “as part of its duties and responsibilities to protect children.”

In the years after the Korean War, more than 160,000 Korean children — the population of a midsize American city — were sent to adoptive homes in the West. What began as a way to quietly remove mixed-race children who had been fathered by American servicemen soon gained momentum as children crowded the country’s orphanages amid grinding postwar poverty. Between 1980 and 1989 alone, more than 65,000 Korean children were sent overseas.

For the first time in South Korean history, the country’s adoption law has been rewritten by some of the very people who have lived its consequences. A law alone can’t undo deeply held cultural beliefs, and even among adoptees, opinion is divided over how well the SAL’s effects match its aims. The question of how to reckon with this fraught legacy remains unsettled and raw…

Read the entire article here.

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Black Dox: Father Figure

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Canada, Family/Parenting, Media Archive on 2014-09-07 22:39Z by Steven

Black Dox: Father Figure

By Blacks: Canadian Black owned everything
2014-09-04

Nicole Franklin


Zun Lee

Father Figure – Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood

Photographer: Zun Lee www.zunlee.com
IG, Facebook: zunleephoto
Twitter: @zunleephoto
Project Timeframe: September 2011 – present
Publisher/Contact/Pre-order: Ceibafoto LLC
Book Release: September 19, 2014.
Awards: Named on “PDN 30 2014,” Photo District News’ annual global list of 30 new and emerging photographers to watch.
Book Trailer: Father Figure – Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood

Over the course of three years, photographer Zun Lee built trusted relationships with Black fathers from different walks of life. He witnessed intimate parenting scenarios that are often missing from the public realm and that he himself did not experience as a child. Deeply autobiographical, the book of photographs titled Father Figure – Exploring Alternate Notions of Black Fatherhood connotes Mr. Lee’s attempt to deal with his own resentment toward his absent Black father.

Reportage photography has been one of our most valuable resources when it comes to examining the human race from the 19th century through today. Throughout history many have been intrigued by the story behind a single photograph—a captured frame of hope, despair, conflict or exhilaration. The instinct of many professional and amateur photographers to snap that split second of humanity has been a gift to all who seek a glimpse of the past. There is a stillness and an indelible command of focus that leaves an observer transfixed when a documentary image is the epitome of the perfect shot. Self-taught photographer Zun Lee has been on a lifelong quest looking for that perfect image—that loving father.

Lee, a Toronto-based physician and now self-described street photographer, was born in Germany but knew as a boy that his personal story was incomplete. He discovered early on that his upbringing to a Korean mother and father was not his true background. The real story: Lee’s Black father left his mother upon learning she was pregnant. The disclosure of this truth left Lee with a sense of loss and abandonment that stayed with him as an adult. In a search for the compassion of which he felt robbed, Lee and his camera sought out images of strong, involved and devoted fathers—Black fathers—who society has deemed nonexistent…

Read the entire article here.

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The Michael Brown Tragedy: A Christian of Color Perspective

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Latino Studies, Law, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Religion, United States on 2014-09-01 00:49Z by Steven

The Michael Brown Tragedy: A Christian of Color Perspective

Jesus for Revolutionaries: A Blog About Race, Social Justice, and Christianity
2014-08-25

Robert Chao Romero, Associate Professor of Chicana/o Studies and Asian American Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

Today is the funeral of Michael Brown. Please join me in praying for comfort for his family.

As for many, the tragedy of Michael Brown’s death has stirred in me much reflection about the deep racial divide in the U.S. Pretty much everyone is in agreement that racial profiling by police, and racial profiling in general, is wrong, especially when it leads to horrific violence. The racial divide seems to surface, however, when we discuss the prevalence of racial profiling in America today.

If someone grew up with fair skin and light hair in a middle class suburban neighborhood, then, in my experience, the tendency is to believe that racial profiling among police, and in other social settings, is not a pervasive problem.

If someone grew up African American or Latina/o in a racially marginalized urban area, then the almost universal agreement is that ethnic profiling is alive and well. It’s also important to note that many African Americans and Latinas/os in middle class suburban communities experience racial profiling (for example see this excellent article by a Black law professor from the Washington University School of Law in Missouri: http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/25/opinion/norwood-ferguson-sons-brown-police/index.html).

When asserting our perspectives on the topic of racial profiling, we all speak from our personal experience. Many whites from suburban environments speak from their experience–where they have not been racially profiled and where law enforcement is viewed as an ally. For those of us who are People of Color, our experience is often quite different—we experience racial profiling by the police, at our work places, and when we go to our local strip malls to shop.

For example, here’s a few of my racial profiling experiences. Those of you who have tracked with Jesus for Revolutionaries for a while will know that I am a 6 foot 1, 220 pound, dark-skinned, bearded, “Chinese-Mexican,” who usually passes as Latino…

Read the entire article here.

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