Occupation Babies: Mixed-Race Japanese Children

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-03 15:24Z by Steven

Occupation Babies: Mixed-Race Japanese Children

Wonders & Marvels: A Community for Curious MInds who love History, its Odd Stories, and Good Reads
2015-02-28

James McGrath Morris, Guest Contributor

One of the pleasures of researching a book is coming across something you don’t anticipate, something surprising that is fascinating to both the reader and the writer.

In my case, in the course of working on Eye on the Struggle, I learned for the first time the story of mixed-race babies in Japan born from African American soldiers and Japanese women in the years shortly after World War II when American troops occupied Japan. White soldiers fathered children as well, but the offspring of black fathers were far more ostracized.

Being of such visible mixed race, the babies were unwanted by the Japanese, who abhorred what they viewed as the tainting of their blood. They were frequently abandoned upon birth. In one case, a train passenger unwrapped a cloth bundle she spotted on the luggage rack to discover the corpse of a black Japanese baby…

Read the entire article here.

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Beyond The Chinese Connection: Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production by Crystal S. Anderson (review)

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-02 20:40Z by Steven

Beyond The Chinese Connection: Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production by Crystal S. Anderson (review)

Journal of Asian American Studies
Volume 18, Number 1, February 2015
pages 107-109
DOI: 10.1353/jaas.2015.0003

Edlie Wong, Associate Professor of English
University of Maryland

Anderson, Crystal S., Beyond The Chinese Connection: Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2013).

Afro-Asian comparative racialization studies have begun to change how we think about race and its multiple and contradictory meanings across different periods of U.S. history. Beyond The Chinese Connection: Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production contributes to this important trend in thinking about comparative constructions of race and cross-racial antagonisms and alliances. Earlier work on Afro-Asian comparative racialization such as Vijay Prashad’s Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting (2001) and Bill Mullen’s Afro-Orientalism (2004) tended to emphasize the revolutionary—indeed, at times utopian—forms of anticolonial transpacific polyculturalism and political collaborations. Anderson’s volume explicitly builds upon and broadens this work. According to Anderson, Afro-Asian comparative racialization studies often favor anticapitalist critiques, taking the 1955 Bandung conference as the storied origins of the global alignment of the political struggles of African and Asian peoples. In contrast, her book offers a self-described cultural approach that emphasizes historical and ethnic specificity, disarticulating the homogenizing panethnicities implied in the term “Afro-Asian” to consider “the way the histories of individual ethnic groups may impact their interaction with one another” (37).

There is perhaps no more fitting figure for this study than the martial arts film star Bruce Lee, whose cross-racial and cross-ethnic appeal transformed him into an Afro-Asian cultural icon in the 1970s. Anderson’s volume stages a series of encounters between Lee’s signature films—one for each of the four chapters—and a range of post-1990s novels, films, and popular culture revealing the complexities of inter- and intraethnic Afro-Asian interactions. Anderson begins with the film Way of the Dragon (1972) and charts Lee’s emergence as a transnational and cross-cultural phenomenon. “Lee’s legacy,” she argues, “functions as a framework to interrogate the contemporary landscape” (5). In chapter 2, Lee’s Enter the Dragon (1973) facilitates an exploration of the limits and possibilities of interethnic male friendship in Frank Chin’s novel Gunga Din Highway (1994) and two mainstream Hollywood films, Rush Hour 2 (2001) and Unleashed (2005). In chapter 3, Lee’s The Chinese Connection (1972) allows Anderson to examine the theme of ethnic imperialism in Ishmael Reed’s satirical novel Japanese by Spring (1993) and the Japanese anime series Samurai Champloo (2004), while Lee’s The Big Boss (1971) frames the final chapter on intra- and interethnic conflict and solidarity in Paul Beatty’s novel White Boy Shuffle (1996) and the highly popular Matrix science fiction film trilogy (1999 (2003). These cultural case studies allow Anderson ample opportunity to engage in broader historical contextualization and considerations of Afro-Asian social dynamics. In the case of Rush Hour 2 and Unleashed, Anderson draws attention away from film reception to explore the historical underpinnings of their plots and characterizations, from Rush Hour 2’s eroticization of Chinese women and the 1875 Page Act equating all Chinese women with prostitutes to the economic exploitation of the Chinese coolie reformulated in Unleashed’s plot of human trafficking.

Anderson organizes these cultural readings according to how each work constructs Afro-Asian cross-cultural dynamics along a broad “continuum of intercultural interactions” (3). At one end of this spectrum lies what she identifies as “cultural emulsion.” A concept drawn from Homi K. Bhabha’s theory of hybridity, cultural emulsion designates those instances where “cultures come together but do not mix in response to pressures to reinforce ethnic or national boundaries” (3). Against this more limited form of cultural distancing, Anderson counterpoises the concept of “cultural translation,” which “uses one ethnic culture to interpret another ethnic culture” and “recognizes more complex combinations of cultures” across national boundaries (35). This framework of emulsion and translation lends a somewhat static quality to Anderson’s detailed readings, and the most compelling of the case studies predictably land on the cultural translation end of the spectrum. For example, Anderson explores how Samurai Champloo’s uses of African American hip-hop and graffiti aesthetics transform animated tales of eighteenth-century Japan into social commentaries aimed at urban Japanese youth culture. Her reading of White Boy Shuffle emphasizes Beatty’s experimentation with Japanese aesthetics and his encoding of African American political disillusionment in the subplot of ritual suicide and…

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I Became So Exhausted With Proving My South Asian Identity That I Started to Ignore It

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-03-01 01:07Z by Steven

I Became So Exhausted With Proving My South Asian Identity That I Started to Ignore It

xoJane
2015-02-24

Anjali Patel

The rules of miscegenation were set long before I came along, and my self-determination to “be myself” was not going to change it.

A couple of years ago, I was at a rooftop party in New York with some of my cousins. I was too young to drink and too shy to mingle, so I hung around awkwardly while they chatted with an attractive blond man who appeared to be in his late 20s. They tag teamed as he pried them with exoticizing questions about their “home country,” flashing his white teeth in jovial approval when they played along with his racist quips. They seemed to be having a good time amusing one another, so I was shocked when pointed his glass in my direction to acknowledge me.

“And what about you?” he said. “You don’t even look Indian.”

Before I could open my mouth, one of my cousins chimed in, “Oh, she’s not. She’s half black.”

“Oh,” he said. They resumed their conversation and I resumed trying to look like I was having a good time.

This happens when I am with my cousins. I was at a St. Patty’s party with one of them about a year ago when I heard someone whisper into her ear, “Is your cousin black?” A few months later I was out to dinner with their group of friends when someone asked me, “Are you guys actually related? You look like you’re from Eritrea or Ethiopia or something.”

“I’m from Pennsylvania, and we’re first cousins. Believe it or not you don’t actually have to look alike to be related,” is what I would have liked to have said. But I was tipsy and there were too many people around, so I said something along the lines of “Yeah, we get that a lot.”

My mother tried to explain to me when I was younger that I was black, and only black, because that is how the world would see me. I resented that. In my eyes, I had an African American mother and a Gujarati father, and that is how the world would see me, because that’s what I was…

Read the entire article here.

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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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Fresh Off the Boat Is Not Science Fiction

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-23 21:15Z by Steven

Fresh Off the Boat Is Not Science Fiction

David Shih
2015-02-10

David Shih, Associate Professor of English
University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire

I have always known that moment of disappearance and the even uglier truth is that I have long treasured it. That always honorable-seeming absence. It appears I can go anywhere I wish. Is this my assimilation, so many years in the making? Is this the long-sought sweetness? —Chang-rae Lee, Native Speaker

Lost amid the well-deserved fanfare accompanying the premiere of ABC’s new prime-time comedy Fresh Off the Boat was the launch of another major-studio show featuring an Asian American family. Like Eddie Huang’s brainchild, it is a big-budget vehicle as well, with stars such as Olivia Munn, George Takei, Bill Nye, Mark Hamill, and Adrian Grenier lending their talents to its production. However, unless you are like me, a parent or caregiver to a preschool-aged child, you may not know what I’m talking about. Miles from Tomorrowland is an animated series for Disney Junior that made its debut only a few days after that of Fresh Off the Boat. (Disney-ABC owns both titles.) In this blog entry I will discuss these new shows, particularly how they represent extant and potential relationships between Asian Americans and other racial groups, particularly white people. What does it mean that traditional and social media have christened Fresh Off the Boat as the “Asian American” show, while the publicity for Miles from Tomorrowland makes no mention of race? The latter is a “postracial” narrative while the former is decidedly “racial” in its intent and reception.

Miles from Tomorrowland chronicles the planet-hopping adventures of a family of four, members of an institution familiar to anyone who has visited the Magic Kingdom–the “Tomorrowland Transit Authority.” The star of the show is Miles Callisto, an intrepid young boy who learns about science while solving problems with his creative use of technology. His mother, Phoebe, is the captain of their spaceship. Father Leo and sister Loretta round out the foursome. With the exception of Leo, who is white, the other Callistos are of Asian descent. To be clear, nothing from the official publicity for Miles from Tomorrowland overtly states that Phoebe is an Asian American. The voice actor for Phoebe is the well-regarded Olivia Munn, whose mother is Chinese. Just to be sure, I contacted the creator of the show, Sascha Paladino. Paladino told me that Miles is Chinese American. Moreover, Paladino revealed, later episodes of the show will explore Miles’ Chinese heritage. Targeted at preschoolers, the show is a developmentally-appropriate multicultural narrative: the star is a mixed-race boy who maintains a connection to his ethnic identity, and the Asian American characters do not exhibit any stereotypical behaviors. It promises to honor cultural diversity while understanding it as no barrier to social potential. My mixed-race son loves it, and I’m glad that there is once again an animated protagonist who shares his heritage…

Read the entire article here.

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The Secret History of South Asian & African American Solidarity

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-02-23 20:13Z by Steven

The Secret History of South Asian & African American Solidarity

NBC News
2015-02-16

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Most Americans know about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s adoption of Gandhian non-violent principles. Not as well known is the shared solidarity between South Asians and African Americans that dates back over a hundred years.

For African American History Month, one of the curators of the famed Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour, Anirvan Chatterjee, has launched a new digital project to highlight that hidden past, called, “The Secret History of South Asian and African American Solidarity.”

“Since the tragedy in Ferguson, I’ve been seeing a lot of Asian Americans working to engage anti-Black racism through conversations in their families and communities, protests, and direct action,” said Chatterjee, “but they’re not the first.”

Pairing period photographs with quotes and adding short historical captions, Chatterjee shows how African Americans repeatedly advanced South Asian rights, such as the NAACP passing a resolution in favor of Indian independence, Langston Hughes‘ poems about the oppression of South Asian freedom fighters, and Bayard Rustin, lead organizer of the 1963 March on Washington, forming the Free India Committee while in jail…

Read the entire article here.

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Is it still Interracial dating when you’re mixed?

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-20 18:58Z by Steven

Is it still Interracial dating when you’re mixed?

Fusion
2015-02-19

Simone Jacobson
Washington, D.C.

No matter where I live or whom I date, I will always be out of context.

Here’s how it all began: My mother and my maternal grandparents were born in Burma. My grandpa’s father was Chinese and my grandma’s father was British; both of their mothers were Burmese. Unlike many first generation Asian Americans, my mom’s first language was English. My paternal grandparents are first and second generation Americans of Eastern European ancestry with firmly established Jewish identities.

Because I was raised in the racially intolerant Southwest, the fact that I developed my own strong Asian American identity is somewhat of a miracle. After all, Phoenix, Arizona is home to the nation’s strictest anti-immigration policies and state university fraternities that host “dress like black people”- themed MLK celebrations. And unlike “majority-blackWashington, D.C., my current home of 14 years, nearly 70 percent of the Phoenician population self-identified as white as of the 2010 Census.

Fortunately for me, I was immersed in a loving community of Asian Americans as early as kindergarten. Outside of my immediate family, the most influential people in my young life were my Thai American best friend (26 years together now, and counting) and my Korean American dance teacher, a strong, handsome man who never raised his voice, showered me with love as if I were his own daughter, and taught me I should always reach across to open the car door for a man whenever he opens mine.

Fast forward to the recent present: I turned 30 last year and was single and freshly broken-hearted for the first time in ten years after investing half a decade in a relationship that did not end up in what I had hoped would be a lifelong commitment. After a decade of back-to-back monogamous relationships throughout my 20s—first with a white Frenchman (three years), then with a black Jamaican Belizean American (five years)—I went on an online dating binge to get over a bad breakup with the latter.

After many continuous, failed attempts at love in the digital space, I was left disappointed and slightly lonelier than when I began. But my yearlong experience of dating strangers (of all races) revealed something more unsettling than the process itself: I’ve never culturally aligned with anyone I’ve dated.

During the online dating binge, I met an exceptionally diverse cast of characters vying for my attention. But one gentleman in particular, a sartorial East Asian dandy, shattered my post-breakup confidence when he said abruptly one day: “I’m a romantic guy, despite what you think. I just don’t see myself falling in love with you.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Laura Kina: Blue Hawai’i

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, United States on 2015-02-18 02:58Z by Steven

Laura Kina: Blue Hawai’i

Harold B. Lemmerman Gallery
New Jersey City University
Hepburn Hall, Room 323
2039 Kennedy Boulevard
Jersey City, New Jersey

2015-01-27 through 2015-03-03
Artist Reception: 2015-01-29, 16:30-19:30 EST (Local Time)
Artist Talk: 2015-03-02, 17:30-18:30 EST (Local Time)


Laura Kina, Canefield Workers, 2013, oil on canvas, 30 x 45 inches.

“You won’t find Elvis or surfboards or funny umbrella-topped cocktails in my dystopic Blue Hawai’i.” The Chicago-based artist Laura Kina speaks of her latest series of paintings which are featured in this exhibition. Drawn from her family albums, oral history and community archives, Kina’s ghostly oil paintings employ distilled memories to investigate themes of distance, longing, and belonging. The setting of these paintings is her father’s Okinawan sugarcane field plantation community, Piʻihonua, on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi near Hilo. The predominant blue color of the series was inspired by the indigo-dyed kasuri kimonos repurposed by the Issei (first generation) “picture bride” immigrants for canefield work clothes. Blue Hawaiʻi echoes the spirits of Kina’s ancestors and shared histories of labor migration.

In 2009, Kina accompanied her father back to his hometown community in Hawaiʻi to interview him along with other Nisei (second generation) and Sansei (third generation) about their memories of plantation life. In 2012, she traveled to Okinawa with her father, collecting stories of heritage and history. She learned of her grandmother and great aunts having been Kibei Nisei, i.e., sent to Japan for their education and that in the devastation of WWII and the Battle of Okinawa, four family members were killed–two by forced suicide.

As U.S. relatives ceased to use the Okinawan dialect of Uchinaguchi or standard Japanese, stories like these were lost. In Blue Hawaiʻi, Kina seeks to reclaim these histories via reanimated traces from old photographs and present-day vestiges visible in paintings such as “Okinawa—All American Food” and “Black Market,” which capture the remnants of war and a continued American military presence in contemporary Okinawa. Risking distortion, misreading, nostalgia and erasure, the artist fully engages in, what she calls, “the messy business” of memory, collapsing time and space into one Blue Hawaiʻi.

Laura Kina is Vincent de Paul professor of Art, Media, & Design at DePaul University. She is the coeditor, along with Wei Ming Dariotis, of War Baby/Love Child: Mixed Race Asian American Art (University of Washington Press, 2013); cofounder of the DePaul biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies conference; and cofounder and consulting editor of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies and reviews editor for the Asian Diasporic Visual Cultures and the Americas.

Her solo exhibitions include Blue Hawaii (2014), Sugar (2010), A Many-Splendored Thing (2010), Aloha Dreams (2007), Loving (2006), and Hapa Soap Operas (2003). She has exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center, India Habitat Centre, Nehuru Art Centre, Okinawa Prefectural Art Museum, the Rose Art Museum, the Spertus Museum, the University of Memphis, and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience.

For more about the exhibition, view an on-line catalog 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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Mixed Feelings

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2015-02-16 20:14Z by Steven

Mixed Feelings

The Center for Asian American Media
1998
45 minutes, VHS

Mikko Jokela, Director/Poducer

Through interviews with five UC Berkeley students and teachers of mixed ethnic heritage, filmmaker Mikko Jokela illuminates the experience of what it is like to grow up part Asian in American society. His peers offer personal anecdotes detailing how their parents met, what it was like growing up, how they initially perceived their own cultural identities and how they see themselves today. Humorous and revelatory, this experimental documentary manages to tackle difficult issues of racial reconciliation while celebrating difference and diversity.

For more information, click here.

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