Is It Possible to Balance Two Cultures Perfectly?

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-20 19:50Z by Steven

Is It Possible to Balance Two Cultures Perfectly?

Mixed Roots Stories

Brittany Muddamalle, Guest Blogger

I met my husband in California during a program with our church. We were just two young kids falling in love. We were lost in our own world. The scope of our differences didn’t really come out until we were engaged. We decided to have a half Indian and half American wedding. We had this grand idea of a perfectly blended wedding, which would lead to a perfectly blended life.

We did pretty well bringing both cultures in, but the more we strived for perfection, the further away it got. I finally got to the point during all of my wedding planning where I decided to just let the pieces fall where they may. It ended up being just what we needed.

Our wedding was beautiful. I married my best friend. Afterwards, I sat there, during the reception, holding my husband’s hand. We were watching two cultures collide beautifully. Americans and Indians were dancing together to Bollywood and American music, wedding traditions from both sides were coming together smoothly, and everyone was having a great time celebrating.

Then I realized that perfection didn’t matter. All that mattered was my husband and I were bringing two cultures together into one family…

Read the entire article here.

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Beauty pageants, blackface, and bigotry: Japan’s problems with racism

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2015-08-20 14:37Z by Steven

Beauty pageants, blackface, and bigotry: Japan’s problems with racism

The Wilson Quarterly
Washington, D.C.

Maya Wesby

Photograph via Twitter

Bearing a false belief of racial singularity and superiority, can Japanese culture ever embrace diversity in an ever-intertwining world?

In most developed nations, issues of race occupy headlines and are components, unstated or overt, of nearly every conversation about policymaking — whether the topic is public housing in France, crime in Brazil, or the inheritance tax in the United States. Mostly, its relevance to the issue is framed in matters of promoting harmony and expanding opportunity.

There are, however, notable exceptions. Japan, a pillar of technological development and progress, has yet to address race as a pressing national issue. The racial discrimination that exists in Japan is reminiscent of the segregation-based atmosphere of 1950s America, posing a hostile environment for those of non-Japanese origin.

One of the more prominent victims of Japan’s ingrained discrimination is Ariana Miyamoto, who represents Japan in the 2015 Miss Universe competition. Miyamoto, the daughter of a Japanese mother and an African-American father, is categorized as hafu, a Japanese term and bastardization of the English word “half,” indicating someone who is mixed race.

Growing up in Japan, Miyamoto’s skin tone and curly hair caused others to shun her; classmates and their parents referred to her as kurombo, the Japanese equivalent of the N-word. Rather than identifying solely as black or Japanese, Miyamoto instead chooses to present herself as a representative of all ethnically and racially mixed Japanese. Her participation in the Miss Universe pageant opens the door for hafus to be accepted as part of Japanese society, and changes what it means to act and appear “Japanese.”

Reactions from the Japanese public have been less than kind. Posts on social media read, “Is it okay to select a hafu to represent Japan?”, “Miss Universe Japan is… What? What kind of person is she? She’s not Japanese, right?”, and “Even though she’s Miss Universe Japan, her face is foreign no matter how you look at it.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Desiring biracial whites: cultural consumption of white mixed-race celebrities in South Korean popular media

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Communications/Media Studies, Media Archive on 2015-08-18 20:05Z by Steven

Desiring biracial whites: cultural consumption of white mixed-race celebrities in South Korean popular media

Media Culture & Society
Volume 37, Number 6 (September 2015)
pages 937-947
DOI: 10.1177/0163443715593050

Ji-Hyun Ahn, Assistant Professor of Communication
University of Washington

Contextualizing the rise in white mixed-race celebrities and foreign entertainers from the perspective of the globalization of Korean popular culture, this article aims to look at how Korean media appropriates whiteness as a marker of global Koreanness. Specifically, the article utilizes Daniel Henney, a white mixed-race actor and celebrity who was born to a Korean adoptee mother and an Irish-American father, as an anchoring text. Analyzing how Henney’s image as upper-class, intelligent, and cosmopolitan constructs what whiteness means to Koreans, the study asserts that Henney’s (cosmopolitan) whiteness is not a mere marker of race, but a neoliberal articulation of a particular mode of Koreanness. This study not only participates in a dialog with the current scholarship of mixed-race studies in media/communication but also links the recent racial politics in contemporary Korean media to the larger ideological implications of racial globalization.

Read or purchase article here.

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Cedric Dover, the Anglo-Indian Who Sought Worldwide Solidarity With Racial Minorities

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Europe, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-18 15:27Z by Steven

Cedric Dover, the Anglo-Indian Who Sought Worldwide Solidarity With Racial Minorities

The Wire

Elisabeth Engel, Research Fellow
German Historical Institute, Washington, D.C.

Slate, Nico, The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and the Colored World of Cedric Dover (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014)

The scholarship that takes up W.E.B. Du Bois’s thesis that “the problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the colour line – the relation of the darker to the lighter races of men in Asia and Africa, in America and the islands of the sea” fills libraries around the globe.

Ever since the African-American leader defined the concept in Souls of Black Folk in 1903, it figured prominently in research on the United States and the transnational contexts of Western imperialism. Nico Slate, a historian at Carnegie Mellon University, is no exception. His research on social movements in the United States and India has long explored how black Americans and colonial subjects advanced their struggles against white supremacy. His most recent book, The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and the Colored World of Cedric Dover, makes the case that this struggle did not just pose the problem of race, but also that of colour.

The story of the 20th century that unfolds from the perspective of people defined as coloured is the subject of Slate’s account. He traces it through the lens of Cedric Dover (1904–1961), an Anglo-Indian biologist, who dedicated his work to the study of race and his political ambition to the movement toward Afro-Asian solidarity. Dover was born in colonial Calcutta, one year after Du Bois’s historic prediction. Slate shows that Dover was one of those “men in Asia and Africa,” whose libraries were filled with Du Bois’s and other African Americans’ writings. Precisely, Dover’s personal library, comprising his writings and reading, is Slate’s main primary source…

Read the entire review here.

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The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and the Colored World of Cedric Dover

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom, United States on 2015-08-18 01:35Z by Steven

The Prism of Race: W.E.B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Paul Robeson, and the Colored World of Cedric Dover

Palgrave Macmillan
December 2014
268 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781137484093
Ebook (PDF) ISBN: 9781137484116
Ebook (EPUB) ISBN: 9781137484109

Nico Slate, Associate Professor of History
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Born a Eurasian ‘half-caste‘ in Calcutta in 1904, Cedric Dover died in England in 1961 a ‘colored’ man. One of the foremost experts on race in his generation and a leading figure in the movement toward Afro-Asian solidarity, Dover encountered in his own life the central paradox of race in the contemporary world: he knew that race did not exist in blood or bone, even as he knew that the color of a child’s skin determined everything from where he could go to school to how long he would live. Dover strove to be, in his words, ‘both ‘racial’ and antiracial at the same time.’ His life and work stand at the heart of one of the most creative and politically significant redefinitions of racial identity in the twentieth century—the invention of the colored world. This innovative ‘biography of race’ explores the concept of colored solidarity as enacted in Dover’s life as well as the ideas and relationships that connected him and four of his closest African American friends and colleagues: W.E.B. Du Bois, Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, and Paul Robeson. In doing so, it illuminates a fascinating episode in the intellectual histories of race and cosmopolitanism while offering powerful insights into ongoing debates surrounding racial and ethnic identity today.

Table of Contents

  • Preface: Of Color
  • Introduction: The Prism of Race
  • Acknowledgments
  • 1. Cedric Dover’s Colored Cosmopolitanism
  • 2. W.E.B. Du Bois and Race as Autobiography
  • 3. Langston Hughes and Race as Propaganda
  • 4. Paul Robeson and Race as Solidarity
  • 5. The Black Artist and the Colored World
  • 6. The Death and Rebirth of the Colored World
  • Epilogue: Barack Obama and Race as Freedom
  • Afterward: The Library of the Colored World
  • Notes
  • Index
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The Japanese women who married the enemy

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-08-18 00:52Z by Steven

The Japanese women who married the enemy

BBC News Magazine

Vanessa Barford

Seventy years ago many Japanese people in occupied Tokyo after World War Two saw US troops as the enemy. But tens of thousands of young Japanese women married GIs nonetheless – and then faced a big struggle to find their place in the US.

For 21-year-old Hiroko Tolbert, meeting her husband’s parents for the first time after she had travelled to America in 1951 was a chance to make a good impression.

She picked her favourite kimono for the train journey to upstate New York, where she had heard everyone had beautiful clothes and beautiful homes.

But rather than being impressed, the family was horrified.

“My in-laws wanted me to change. They wanted me in Western clothes. So did my husband. So I went upstairs and put on something else, and the kimono was put away for many years,” she says.

It was the first of many lessons that American life was not what she had imagined it to be…

…”The war had been a war without mercy, with incredible hatred and fear on both sides. The discourse was also heavily racialised – and America was a pretty racist place at that time, with a lot of prejudice against inter-race relationships,” says Prof Paul Spickard, an expert in history and Asian-American studies at the University of California…

…The War Brides Act of 1945 allowed American servicemen who married abroad to bring their wives home, but it took the Immigration Act of 1952 to enable Asians to come to America in large numbers.

When the women did move to the US, some attended Japanese bride schools at military bases to learn how to do things like bake cakes the American way, or walk in heels rather than the flat shoes to which they were accustomed.

But many were totally unprepared.

Generally speaking, the Japanese women that married black Americans settled more easily, Spickard says…

Read the entire article here.

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Half-white, half-Asian, but no less Irish

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Europe, Media Archive on 2015-08-17 01:48Z by Steven

Half-white, half-Asian, but no less Irish

The Irish Examiner
Dublin, Ireland

Dean Van Nguyen

Half white, half Asian Dubliner Dean Van Nguyen speaks to other mixed-race Irish people in their twenties and thirties about growing up in a primarily white culture, being subjected to racist taunts, and coming to terms with their own sense of self.

Who am I? It’s a simple question, but one we as human beings frequently ask ourselves – it defines our sense of self identity, from childhood right throughout our lives, and can play a major role in shaping the people we become.

When it comes to self-concept, there are some obvious factors that we know from an early age just by examining our circumstances.

For generations of people born in Ireland, many of the key questions seemed pre-answered: You were Irish. You were white. You were Christian.

As African-American comedian Reginald D. Hunter joked at a Vicar Street gig in 2011, Ireland is “where they make white people”.

While the country is becoming ever more pluralist as we get deeper into the 21st century, for those of mixed-race now in their twenties and thirties, the answers to these questions of self-identity have been less simple…

Read the entire article here.

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How Embracing Your Background Can Empower Your Life: May J. Talks About Her Mixed Race Heritage, Music, and Pursuing Her Dreams.

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive on 2015-08-16 20:55Z by Steven

How Embracing Your Background Can Empower Your Life: May J. Talks About Her Mixed Race Heritage, Music, and Pursuing Her Dreams.

The Huffington Post United Kingdom

Emma Leverton

Achieving a dream career requires determination and drive, and when we look towards success it’s easy to forget that our histories are much more than just old distractions and challenges. Mixed race singing superstar May J. however has certainly not forgotten her roots. Her musical upbringing and multi-cultural heritage proudly serve as key influences in her career today; inspiring her unique direction, musical style and positive outlook on life.

May J.’s music style is as unique and as it is eclectic. Her repertoire includes classic ballads, many of which are Japanese translations of English language classics, and fresh tunes with flairs of modern J-pop, classic J-pop, and RnB. “I don’t really have one genre. I don’t like to categorise my music”…

…Growing up in homogenous Japan, May J. says she had no problem fitting in. “I was never bullied, and I enjoyed being mixed race. My friends wanted to learn languages from me! I grew up in a multi lingual household and would speak Japanese, English and a little bit of Farsi“. For those who experience prejudice for their race, May J. said, “Being mixed [race] is special. That’s who you are. Don’t feel like you’re different, [but] remember that you don’t have to be like everyone else. Believe in yourself.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Kang Soo-il’s drugs ban ruins inspirational tale for mixed-race Koreans

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2015-08-13 20:49Z by Steven

Kang Soo-il’s drugs ban ruins inspirational tale for mixed-race Koreans

The Guardian

John Duerden, Asian football correspondent

The striker with an American GI father was on the verge of a dream debut for South Korea after a lifetime struggle against discrimination when he tested positive for an anabolic steroid he blamed on moustache-growing cream

Claiming that you have failed a drug test because of the application of moustache-growing cream is sure to amuse and there are plenty of internet memes of Kang Soo-il with facial hair that would put Dick Dastardly to shame. But it really wasn’t that funny and ended a football dream that meant more than most. Few players had gone through such hardships to appear for their national team but just hours before it was actually, finally, going to happen for the South Korean, the negative news of the positive test result came through.

Instead of leading the line for his country at the start of qualification for the 2018 World Cup, Kang is banned for much of the season, his international career likely over before it started…

…But it was off the pitch where the impact would really be felt. Kang was born 28 years ago to a Korean mother and a black American GI father who left while Kang was still an infant. Growing up with mixed parentage in a homogenous society like South Korea presents issues now – even with Seoul becoming visibly more cosmopolitan and international in population and attitudes by the month – but back then, it was tough. The children had to be too, and as recently as 2010 Kang was released by Incheon after scrapping on the street.

“Korea is largely a homogenous country and although the population of multi-ethnic Koreans is growing, there’s still only a paucity of them, especially with regards to public figures,” said Steve Han, the South Korea football reporter for KoreAm Journal. “It’s unfortunately common for multi-ethnic Koreans to face discrimination from a very young age. He has said repeatedly that his ultimate goal is to play for Korea to show multi-ethnic kids that you can be mixed race and still be proud Koreans. He understands what it means for him to represent Korea.”

Kang was influenced by the American footballer Hines Ward (his playing inspiration is Thierry Henry) who came from a similar background, though left for the United States soon after he was born to eventually play a major role in Pittsburgh Steelers winning the 2006 Super Bowl. “I set my goal in life after meeting Ward,” said Kang. “Set your goals high, do your best to achieve it while thinking of your mom and praying for it.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The complicated relationship between Asian Americans and affirmative action

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography on 2015-08-13 19:58Z by Steven

The complicated relationship between Asian Americans and affirmative action


Lauren Gurley

In most places, my hair and my skin color don’t stand out in a crowd. In the past, people have mistaken me for Mexican, Italian, Hawaiian, and Israeli. Although sometime this has felt like a privilege and a reason for pride, at other times it has become a source of confusion and guilt. This is the reality of my mixed race identity: half-Japanese and half-white, I still couldn’t tell you whether I technically qualify, or even identify, as a person of color.

Five years ago, I applied to college in the US and was forced to face this confusion head on during the university admissions process. 2010 was the first year that the Common Application offered the option for applicants to select two or more races. This has been both a blessing a curse for schools that have long wrestled with students who identified as multi-racial. A decade ago, such applicants at Emory University would have had their race literally chosen for them by an admissions officer.

But my problem was first and foremost a personal one: How did I identify? Growing up in a very white, yet liberal-leaning community in Southern California, I always wanted to identify with my Asian half in order to stand out. I would squint my eyes in photos to appear more Asian, and ask my mother to pack me bento-box lunches. On standardized tests, I always checked the “Asian/Pacific Islander” box…

Read the entire article here.

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