The Leftovers

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2014-08-18 00:32Z by Steven

The Leftovers

Sunday Book Review
The New York Times
2014-08-15

Alexander Chee

‘Everything I Never Told You,’ by Celeste Ng

Celeste Ng’s debut novel, “Everything I Never Told You,” is a literary thriller that begins with some stock elements: a missing girl, a lake, a local bad boy who was one of the last to see her and won’t say what he knows. The year is 1977, the setting, a quiet all-American town in Ohio, where everyone knows one another and nothing like this has ever happened before.

This is familiar territory, but Ng returns to it to spin an unfamiliar tale, with a very different kind of girl from the ones we’ve been asked to follow before. If we know this story, we haven’t seen it yet in American fiction, not until now.

The missing girl is Lydia Lee, apple of her father’s eye, her mother’s favorite daughter. A blue-eyed Amerasian Susan Dey, the most white-looking of her siblings in her mixed-race Chinese and white family, she is also so serious, so driven, so good and responsible, she seems the least likely to go missing…

Read the entire review here.

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Afro-Chinese marriages boom in Guangzhou: but will it be ’til death do us part’?

Posted in Africa, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive on 2014-08-05 17:42Z by Steven

Afro-Chinese marriages boom in Guangzhou: but will it be ’til death do us part’?

South China Morning Post Magazine
South China Morning Post
Hong Kong, China
2014-06-01

Jenni Marsh, Assistant Editor


Jennifer Tsang and Eman Okonkwo at their wedding in Guangzhou in April. Photo: Jenni Marsh

Guangzhou is witnessing many Afro-Chinese marriages, but the mainland’s lack of citizenship rights for husbands and a crackdown on foreign visas means families live in fear of being torn apart, writes Jenni Marsh

Eman Okonkwo’s foot-tapping at the altar is not a sign of nerves. The groom’s palms aren’t sweaty, there are no pre-wedding jitters and certainly no second thoughts. Today he is realising a dream imagined by countless African merchants in Guangzhou: he is marrying a Chinese bride.

Seven days earlier, Jennifer Tsang’s family was oblivious to their daughter’s romance. Like many local women dating African men, the curvaceous trader from Foshan, who is in her late 20s – that dreaded “leftover woman” age – had feared her parents would be racially prejudiced.

Today, though – having tentatively given their blessing – they snuck into the underground Royal Victory Church, in Guangzhou, looking over their shoulders for police as they entered the downtown tower block. Non-state-sanctioned religious events like this are illegal on the mainland.

Okonkwo, 42, doesn’t have a single relative at the rambunctious Pentecostal ceremony, but is nevertheless delighted.

“Today is so special,” beams the Nigerian, “because I have married a Chinese girl. And that makes me half-African, half-Chinese.”

In Guangzhou, weddings like this take place every day. There are no official figures on Afro-Chinese marriages but visit any trading warehouse in the city and you will see scores of mixed-race couples running wholesale shops, their coffee-coloured, hair-braided children racing through the corridors…


Guinean trader Cellou with his wife, Cherry, and their children. Photo: Robin Fall

…Chinese prejudice against Africans is normally based on three aspects: traditional aesthetic values, an ignorance of African culture and society, and the language barrier.

Furthermore, until the 1970s, foreigners were not permitted to live in the mainland, let alone marry a Chinese. When a child is born, the parents must register its ethnicity with the authorities: of the 56 boxes they can tick, “mixed-race” is not an option.

But there are factors other than racism that might lead a family to reject a mixed marriage.

Linessa Lin Dan, a PhD student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong researching Afro-Chinese relations in Guangzhou, says many African men who propose already have wives in their home countries – Muslims are permitted by their religion to take multiple spouses. Furthermore, Lin has heard tales of husbands returning to Nigeria on a business trip, leaving a mobile-phone number that doesn’t connect and disappearing.

“The Chinese wife is left with their children, and shamed for marrying a hei gui [black ghost],” says Lin…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Everything I Never Told You’ Exposed In Biracial Family’s Loss

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Audio, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Interviews, United States on 2014-08-04 18:54Z by Steven

‘Everything I Never Told You’ Exposed In Biracial Family’s Loss

Code Switch: Frontiers of Race, Culture and Ethnicity
National Public Radio
2014-06-28

Arun Rath
All Things Considered

It’s May, 1977, in small-town Ohio, and the Lee family is sitting down at breakfast. James is Chinese-American and Marilyn is white, and they have three children — two girls and a boy. But on this day, their middle child Lydia, who is also their favorite, is nowhere to be found.

That’s how Celeste Ng’s new novel, Everything I Never Told You, begins.

It’s soon discovered that Lydia has drowned in a nearby lake, in what looks like a suicide. The incident pulls the family into an emotional vortex and reveals deep cracks in their relationships with each other.

This all takes place an era when interracial marriages are only recently legal (the Supreme Court struck down interracial marriage bans in 1967). Lydia’s death forces members of the Lee family to confront their individual insecurities and grapple with their identity as a biracial family in the Midwest.

But would it be very different for them today? Ng answered that question for NPR’s Arun Rath, host of All Things Considered.

Ng, who is a first-generation Asian-American Midwesterner, also spoke about her own experiences growing up and about the state of the American conversation on race…

Read the article here. Listen to the interview here. Download the interview here.

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Everything I Never Told You: A Novel

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2014-08-04 17:35Z by Steven

Everything I Never Told You: A Novel

Penguin Press
2014-06-26
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781594205712

Celeste Ng

Lydia is dead. But they don’t know this yet . . . So begins the story of this exquisite debut novel, about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee; their middle daughter, a girl who inherited her mother’s bright blue eyes and her father’s jet-black hair. Her parents are determined that Lydia will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue—in Marilyn’s case that her daughter become a doctor rather than a homemaker, in James’s case that Lydia be popular at school, a girl with a busy social life and the center of every party.

When Lydia’s body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together tumbles into chaos, forcing them to confront the long-kept secrets that have been slowly pulling them apart. James, consumed by guilt, sets out on a reckless path that may destroy his marriage. Marilyn, devastated and vengeful, is determined to find a responsible party, no matter what the cost. Lydia’s older brother, Nathan, is certain that the neighborhood bad boy Jack is somehow involved. But it’s the youngest of the family—Hannah—who observes far more than anyone realizes and who may be the only one who knows the truth about what happened.

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

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Study: Interracial marriages involving Asian-Americans still can leave racial barriers

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2014-07-25 08:17Z by Steven

Study: Interracial marriages involving Asian-Americans still can leave racial barriers

University of Kansas News
Lawrence, Kansas
2014-07-15

George Diepenbrock, Contact
KU News Service

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas researcher says the high rate of interracial marriages among Asian-Americans should not simply be interpreted as a litmus test of assimilation for the minority group.

Second-generation Asian-Americans who marry white Americans are not always able to transcend racial barriers without problems, and their biracial children face the same obstacles, said Kelly H. Chong, an associate professor of sociology who authored the study “Relevance of Race: Children and the Shifting Engagement with Racial/Ethnic Identity among Second-Generation Interracially Married Asian Americans,” published recently [June 2013] in The Journal of Asian American Studies.

“With the multicultural environment that has emerged in the last few decades that has made it easier and made it more fashionable to be different, we now celebrate diversity, so that makes a difference,” Chong said. “But even for Asian-Americans who believe in the general multicultural framework, they find that within their actual lives it’s very difficult for them to just blend in through intermarriage and sometimes even for their children who are biracial.”…

Read the entire article here.

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CA+T Interview with Laura Kina

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2014-07-24 06:19Z by Steven

CA+T Interview with Laura Kina

Center for Art and Thought
2014-09-07

Rachel Ishikawa, CA+T Interviewer

Laura Kina, Vincent de Paul Professor Art, Media, & Design
DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois

Rachel Ishikawa: When did art begin for you?

Laura Kina: My mom. She had been a double major in art and sociology in undergrad and worked for a time as a technical illustrator for Boeing’s aerospace division. I was born in Riverside, CA, in 1973, and when I was just two years old she turned our enclosed sun porch into an art studio for me, gave me a big paintbrush, a pile of red paint and rolls of butcher paper to go crazy on. I was painting before I could really talk or write. Making art became my initial way of processing the world around me. In 1976 my little sister Alison was born with Down’s Syndrome, so we moved to a little Norwegian town in the Pacific Northwest called Poulsbo, WA to be near my mom’s parents but also so my dad could set up a private practice as a family practitioner and OGBYN [OBGYN] [obstetrician-gynecologist]. I learned how to sew from my great grandma, Ethel “Nanny” Smiley. She was a professional seamstress. I spent a lot of time playing in the woods, building forts, drawing, and using my imagination and also doing manual chores (yard work, gardening, canning) that one has to do living in the country. I think that really influenced my inclination toward making things with my hands. This was the late 1970s, and one of my house chores was to rake our ochre yellow shag carpet into this Zen like perfection. That was probably my first contemporary artwork!…

RI: Many of your pieces have a connection to your identity as a “hapa, yonsei, Uchinanchu.” At the same time they are historically rooted. How does the personal, political, and historical function within your work?

LK: Being multiracial (my mother is “white” –Spanish-Basque on her mother’s side and French, English, Scottish, Irish, and Dutch on her father’s side) has been a fundamental experience for me both in terms of how I’m perceived and treated but also in terms of how I understand myself and the world around me. I grew up in a predominantly White and Native American community, and there were not too many other Asians or other mixed kids around so I was hyper aware of being different. On one hand, being multiracial was celebrated as a sign of racial progress and being the “best of both worlds.” We were accepted, but then people would ask, “What are you?” or “Where are you really from?” or say things like “You look so exotic,” which would imply that maybe I didn’t belong. The fact of the matter is that I could be a member of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution. Our relatives were French mercenaries in the American Revolutionary War. I’m related to James Knox Polk, the eleventh president of the US, and to the Confederate Major General George Pickett, who lost the Battle of Gettysburg

Read the entire interview in HTML or PDF.

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Why Mixed with White isn’t White

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2014-07-22 23:15Z by Steven

Why Mixed with White isn’t White

Hyphen: Asian America Unabrided
2014-07-22

Sharon H. Chang

When I wrote my first post for Hyphen, “Talking Mixed-Race Identity with Young Children,” I was deliberately blunt about race. I wrote about how I don’t tell my multiracial son, who presents as a racial minority, that he’s white — but I do tell him he’s Asian. While the essay resonated with many people, others made comments like this:

“Your child is as white as he is Asian… Why embrace one label and not the other?”

“Why is he Asian but not white? He has white ancestors as much as Asian ones. So if it’s OK to call him Asian, it’s OK to call him white. Or, if it’s not OK to call him white (because he’s not completely white) then it’s not OK to call him Asian, because he’s not completely Asian either.”

“Your child is neither white nor Asian. I once heard this description: When you have a glass of milk and add chocolate to it, you no longer have just a glass of milk and you no longer just have chocolate because you have created something completely different. A bi-racial or multi-racial child is not either/or.”

In the 1990s, psychologist and mixed-race scholar Maria P.P. Root wrote the famous “Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage,” stirred by her examination of mixed-race identity, interviews with hundreds of multiracial folk across the U.S., and the struggles multiracial people face in forming and claiming a positive sense of self. “I have the right not to justify my existence to the world,” it reads. “To identify myself differently than strangers expect me to identify. To create a vocabulary about being multiracial or multiethnic.”

Almost two decades later, these proclamations still ring so true. Some people are completely unwilling to honor my family’s choice to identify as mixed-race and Asian because it doesn’t align with their own ideas about how we should identify. The right of a mixed-race person to self-construct and self-define, even today, endures continual policing from people with their own agendas…

Read the entire article here.

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Ghosts of Camptown

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive on 2014-07-13 06:41Z by Steven

Ghosts of Camptown

MELUS: Multi-Ethnic LIterature of the United States
Volume 39, Issue 3 (Fall 2014)
pages 49-67
DOI: 10.1093/melus/mlu025

Grace Kyungwon Hong, Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Asian American Studies
University of California, Los Angeles

This essay engages the deployment of form in Heinz Insu Fenkl’s Memories of My Ghost Brother (1996), focusing in particular on its strategy of embedding fantastical stories within its narrative structure and on the ways in which the mystical or magical tone of these stories pervades the narrative, establishing a frame seemingly incongruous with the memoir’s setting within a military camptown in South Korea. If a classically realist tone and linear narrative arc are the formal expressions of nationalist culture, the autobiographical novel’s departure from these formal strategies, I argue, is necessary to convey the complex juridical status of the camptown. Through a curious excess of state sovereignty, because they are simultaneously under both US and South Korean sovereignty, the camptown and its residents are subject to abandonment by both nation-states, producing a heightened vulnerability to death. Accordingly, such complex relationships to sovereignty demand a narrative form organized around a complex and divided subject unlike the possessive individual at the center of traditional autobiographies, a divided subject formed around an ethics in which no one is blameless and everyone is complicit.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Stunning Portraits of Mixed-Race Families

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2014-06-29 17:10Z by Steven

Stunning Portraits of Mixed-Race Families

Slate
2014-06-24

David Rosenberg, Editor of Slate’s Behold blog

Fascinated by the evolution of identity, the photographer Cyjo, who styles her name CYJO, has created a series of portraits that examines how race, ethnicity, and heritage contextualize a person as an individual, and how they coexist within the framework of a family.

Cyjo identifies herself as a Westerner of Korean ethnicity (she was born in South Korea and raised in the United States) and photographed the series “Mixed Blood” from 2010–13 in both New York and Beijing. She has explored the dynamic between individual and collective identities in her previous work via a more abstract approach, but, with “Mixed Blood,” she uses the more literal approach of portraiture.

Over time, as humans migrate and change environments, the definition of identity has evolved to adjust to a broader definition of race and ethnicity. Cyjo pointed out that, in 2000, the United States Census for the first time allowed people to choose more than one identifier when noting their race. Almost 7 million people chose to count themselves as mixed race, a number that has continued to grow over the past decade and a half…

Read the article and view the photo essay here.

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Say Hapa, With Care

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, United States on 2014-06-19 17:34Z by Steven

Say Hapa, With Care

AAPI Voices: Amplifying the voices of Asian Pacific America.
2014-06-18

Sharon Chang, Guest Columnist

What does Hapa mean?  One way to know is to look at the ways in which the word is used.

It’s a “Hawaiian word for ‘mixed-race’,” says Hapa Kitchen Supper Club, “coined to refer to people of East Asian and Caucasian backgrounds.” Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar calls it “a harmonious blend of Asian and American.” It’s a “slang term,” proclaims The Natural Hapa: Bamboo Bundles and Hapa Time: Style Inspiration chirps it’s “just one of the coolest words ever.” There’s Hapa Yoga, Hapa Ramen, Hapa Grill, Hapa Cupcakes, Hinode sells a “Hapa Blend” of brown and white rices and Hapa Culture sells…erasers?

Let’s talk about this word, Hapa…

Read the entire article here.

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