Clarion University forced to cancel play over actors’ race

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-12 21:42Z by Steven

Clarion University forced to cancel play over actors’ race

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Bill Schackner, Higher Education Writer

Student actors and the stage crew at Clarion University arrived Tuesday evening for one of the final rehearsals before next week’s campus opening of “Jesus in India” only to learn the off-Broadway production they had spent months on had been canceled.

The reason they were given was race: theirs.

Three of the five characters in the production are Indian, but on the mostly white state university campus, two of those characters were to be played by white student actors and a third was being portrayed by a mixed-race student.

Lloyd Suh, the playwright, told the university through his literary agent Monday that he was uncomfortable with any notion that he supported Caucasians portraying Indian characters in his play, said Bob Levy, chairman of the visual and performing arts department at Clarion.

“He felt they should be of Asian descent,” Mr. Levy said Wednesday.

The Korean-American playwright wanted the parts recast, Mr. Levy said, and ultimately pulled the university’s right to stage the production after being told that finding Asian replacements was not practical given the play was to open next Wednesday on a campus in rural northwestern Pennsylvania where Asian or Pacific Islander students account for 0.7 of 1 percent of the university’s 5,368 students.

The mixed-race actor was not of Asian descent, Mr. Levy said. He said the Indian characters portrayed by the non-Indians are Gopal, Sushil and Mahari…

Read the entire article here.

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JewAsian: Race, Religion, and Identity for America’s Newest Jews

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Religion, United States on 2015-11-12 20:51Z by Steven

JewAsian: Race, Religion, and Identity for America’s Newest Jews

University of Nebraska Press
July 2016
192 pages
6 tables, 1 appendix
Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-8032-8565-1

Helen Kiyong Kim, Associate Professor of Sociology
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

Noah Samuel Leavitt, Associate Dean of Students
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington

In 2010 approximately 15 percent of all new marriages in the United States were between spouses of different racial, ethnic, or religious backgrounds, raising increasingly relevant questions regarding the multicultural identities of new spouses and their offspring. But while new census categories and a growing body of statistics provide data, they tell us little about the inner workings of day-to-day life for such couples and their children.

JewAsian is a qualitative examination of the intersection of race, religion, and ethnicity in the increasing number of households that are Jewish American and Asian American. Helen Kiyong Kim and Noah Samuel Leavitt’s book explores the larger social dimensions of intermarriages to explain how these particular unions reflect not only the identity of married individuals but also the communities to which they belong. Using in-depth interviews with couples and the children of Jewish American and Asian American marriages, Kim and Leavitt’s research sheds much-needed light on the everyday lives of these partnerships and how their children negotiate their own identities in the twenty-first century.

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Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Media Archive, Novels on 2015-11-12 20:25Z by Steven


Harken Media
340 pages
6 in x 9 in
Hardback ISBN: 978-0-9887757-6-3
Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9887757-5-6
E-Book ISBN: 978-0-9887757-4-9

Joy Huang Stoffers

Young adult literary fiction for teens struggling with racial and cultural identity and racism.

The thing about secrets is they force you to choose—especially the ones that hurt so much you keep them from your best friend. Ava Ling Magee hopes college will free her from the past: high school, parents, everything. Freedom from her Asian mother’s control, her Caucasian father’s neglect, and the world’s confusion, however, requires more than a dorm room. Sure, she makes new friends, separates herself from the parental units, and parties. Yet, Ava’s secrets linger, binding her to the past and cleaving her in two. She must choose between the darkness she knows and unknown perils. Sometimes, when life hurts the most, we discover our freedom lay within all along.

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Race and the Modern Exotic: Three ‘Australian’ Women on Global Display

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, Oceania, Passing, Women on 2015-11-11 03:01Z by Steven

Race and the Modern Exotic: Three ‘Australian’ Women on Global Display

Monash University Publishing
October 2011
180 pages
Paperback ISBN: 9781921867125
eBook ISBN: 9781921867132

Angela Woollacott, Manning Clark Professor of History
The Australian National University

Annette Kellerman, Rose Quong and Merle Oberon were internationally successful ‘Australian’ performers of the first half of the twentieth century. Kellerman was a swimmer, diver, lecturer, and silent-film star, Quong an actor, lecturer and writer who forged a career in London and New York, and Oberon one of the most celebrated film stars of the 1930s and 1940s, first in London and then Hollywood.

Through her international vaudeville performances and film roles, Kellerman played with the quasi-racial identity of South Sea Islander. Quong built a career based on her own body, through a careful appropriation of Orientalism. Her body was the signifier of her Chinese authenticity, the essentialist foundation for her constructed, diasporic Chinese identity. The official story of Oberon’s origins was that she was Tasmanian. However, this was a publicity story concocted at the beginning of her film career to mask her lower-class, Anglo-Indian birth. Despite anxious undercurrents about her exoticism, Australians were thrilled to claim a true Hollywood star as one of their own.

These three women performers created newly modern, racially ambiguous Australian femininities. Racial thinking was at the core of White Australian culture: far from being oblivious to racial hierarchies and constructions, Australians engaged with them on an everyday basis. Around the world, ‘Australian’ stars represented a white-settler nation, a culture in which white privilege was entrenched, during a period replete with legal forms of discrimination based on race. The complex meanings attached to three successful ‘Australian’ performers in this period of highly articulated racism thus become a popular cultural archive we can investigate to learn more about contemporary connections between race, exoticism and gender on the global stage and screen.

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The legend of Merle

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Biography, Media Archive, Oceania, Passing, Women on 2015-11-11 02:33Z by Steven

The legend of Merle

The Age
Docklands, Victoria, Australia

Merle Oberon (1943)

She was one of the most glamorous stars of the 1930s and ’40s. A screen siren with smouldering looks, exotic features and almond-shaped eyes. Merle Oberon was described as graceful and hauntingly beautiful.

On her ascent, in 1939, she captivated the world in the box office Hollywood hit, Wuthering Heights, playing Cathy opposite Laurence Olivier as Heathcliff.

From the other side of the globe, Tasmanians glowed with pride. Oberon, according to a biography that read like a Hollywood film script, had been born in Hobart, the daughter of an upper-class white colonial family. She left Tasmania for India after her distinguished father died in a hunting accident, and was raised there by aristocratic godparents.

If Errol Flynn was the island state’s favourite son, Merle Oberon was its treasured daughter. In 1978, the Hobart Town Hall hosted a function attended by well-known local identities to welcome her back. Decades later, Tasmanians proudly recount stories and anecdotes about the hometown girl who blazed her way to Hollywood. Only Oberon wasn’t born in Tasmania. She was Anglo-Indian

Read the entire article here.

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In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, Media Archive, Monographs, Politics/Public Policy, United States on 2015-11-08 21:01Z by Steven

In Love and Struggle: The Revolutionary Lives of James and Grace Lee Boggs

University of North Carolina Press
May 2016
Approx. 432 pages
6.125 x 9.25, bibl., index
Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8078-3520-3

Stephen M. Ward, Associate Professor of Afroamerican and African Studies
University of Michigan

James Boggs (1919-1993) and Grace Lee Boggs (1915-2015) were two largely unsung but critically important figures in the black freedom struggle. James Boggs was the son of an Alabama sharecropper who came to Detroit during the Great Migration, becoming an automobile worker and a union leader. Grace Lee was a Chinese American scholar who studied Hegel, worked with Caribbean political theorist C. L. R. James, and moved to Detroit to work toward a new American revolution. As husband and wife, the couple was influential in the early stages of what would become the Black Power movement, laying the intellectual foundation for labor and urban struggles during one of the most active social movement periods in modern U.S. history.

Stephen Ward details both the personal and the political dimensions of the Boggses’ lives, highlighting the vital contributions these two figures made to black activist thinking. At once a dual biography of two crucial figures and a vivid portrait of Detroit as a center of activism, Ward’s book restores the Boggses, and the intellectual strain of black radicalism they shaped, to their rightful place in postwar American history.

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‘Monstress’: Inside The Fantasy Comic About Race, Feminism And The Monster Within

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Women on 2015-11-08 15:57Z by Steven

‘Monstress’: Inside The Fantasy Comic About Race, Feminism And The Monster Within

The Hollywood Reporter

Graeme McMillan

“I didn’t realize how massive it was until I started writing it,” creator Marjorie Liu tells THR.

Monstress, a new comic book series from Image Comics which launches this week, is all about hidden depths. Not only for the title character — a teenager who literally has a monster living inside her — but for the series itself, which uses the fantasy genre to explore real world issues in a new and fascinating way. Writer and series creator Marjorie Liu (Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men, the Hunter Kiss series of novels) talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the origins of the series, and why Monstress is even more than she anticipated.

“I didn’t realize how massive it was until I started writing it, and realized I had totally underestimated both the size of the project, and my own ability to wrap my head around it,” Liu says of the series. “I wanted to write about girls and monsters, which has been a theme of mine from almost the start of my career — girls and giant monsters, and the supernatural. I wanted to tell a story about war, and surviving war — and I wanted to set it all in an alternate Asia.”…

Monstress was influenced by a number of people, ideas and experiences from Liu’s life, she explained. “For example, growing up with my Chinese grandparents who were always talking about WWII — how they survived, how they fought. It wasn’t just the war they discussed, but what came after: how they had to piece their lives back together. But what’s striking to me are the photos from this time, especially the ones of my grandmother. She’s always beaming. Her smile is amazing. You would never have dreamed she went through hell.”

That pushed Liu into considering inner strength — “What does it take to hold on to one’s humanity when you’re forced to suffer the long, continuous, dehumanizing experience of war? Is it just strength? Is it something in your character? Is it the kinds of friends you surround yourself with?” — which is one of the key themes to the series. “Other questions I’ve wrestled with, both in this book and others [are] what it means to be of mixed race, what it means to straddle the borderlands of two cultures,” she added.

“The world of Monstress is one that has been torn apart by racism, slavery, by the commodification of mixed race bodies that produce a valuable substance that humans require like a drug. Even if you look human, you might not be safe. It’s a familiar story to people of color in this country, and in the last four or five years I’ve found myself deeply immersed in the study of identity and race, especially in the Asian American context.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Koreans & Camptowns: Reflections of a Mixed-Race Korean

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-06 01:37Z by Steven

Koreans & Camptowns: Reflections of a Mixed-Race Korean

Korean American Story

Cerrissa Kim

I’ve often stood out from the crowd, and not in a way that made me feel like a rock star—far from it. Growing up in a rural town filled with dairy cows and Caucasian farmers, and then in a bedroom community lacking ethnic diversity, I was the sole Asian kid at school until fifth grade. To my classmates, I was a slanty-eyed chink. Jap. Gook. Yigger. They’d never even heard of Korea.

I don’t look like my Irish/Scottish American father, nor do I have the distinctly Korean features of my mother. Like many mixed-race people of my generation, I was Asian to the outside world, but not Korean enough to the Korean side of my family. I’ve looked for faces that resembled mine in some small way everywhere I’ve gone. I’ve scanned crowded spaces and deserted diners—anywhere I traveled—hoping for camaraderie with others who might make me feel my appearance was normal.

This past September in Berkeley, California, I opened the doors to the David Brower Center, slightly nervous and excited, I stepped into a room filled with mixed-race Korean Americans attending the one-day Koreans and Camptowns Conference. Even though I grew up with my biological parents, I still carry the scars—physical and emotional—from being ostracized and bullied for looking different from the other children in my bucolic California communities. Many of the people attending the conference were Korean adoptees (KADs) who had even more reason to search through crowds to find someone who resembled them. Not only were most KADs raised in places with no other KADs or Koreans, but they also didn’t look anything like their adoptive parents and other family members.

During and after the Korean War, camptowns were established outside of military installations, offering locals a way to earn a living— including entertaining soldiers with nightclubs and prostitution. Many of the mixed-race children born between the 1950’s and 1970’s were conceived and born in these camptowns, fathered by American and other Allied soldiers. Their mothers, the camptown women, were marginalized by society because most of them came from poor families and had to work as cooks, maids, sex workers, or other low-paying jobs to support themselves as well as their parents, grandparents and siblings. These women often waited for fathers of their children to return, hoping for a way out of the grueling camptown life. But more often than not, this didn’t happen, either because the soldiers were uninterested in going back, or because the military made it difficult—or even impossible—for them to return and marry Korean women…

Read the entire article here.

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Sense of Place with Guest Sharon H. Chang

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Audio, Canada, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-11-05 01:56Z by Steven

Sense of Place with Guest Sharon H. Chang

Sense of Place
Roundhouse Radio 98.3 FM
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
November 2015

Minelle Mahtani, Host

Minelle Mahtani and Sharon H. Chang (Source: Facebook)

Author, scholar, sociologist, and activist Sharon H. Chang discusses her new book Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World.

Listen to the interview (00:36:17) here.

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The day my daughter realized she isn’t white

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-11-04 21:06Z by Steven

The day my daughter realized she isn’t white

The Washington Post

Lisa Papademetriou

“Mama,” my 4-year-old daughter said. “Did you know that darks and lights didn’t used to be able to go to the same places?”

“What?” I asked. It was bedtime, and I was tired. I wondered vaguely how Zara knew so much about laundry.

“There are some people who have dark skin color,” she said. “Lights would go one place, and darks would go another,” Zara went on, indignant. “There were signs saying the darks couldn’t go into where the lights were!”

“Who told you about that?” I asked, and she explained that a special visitor had come to her classroom to talk about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She very earnestly explained the Civil Rights movement and Dr. King’s message to me. “He said that everyone should be able to go into the same places. He said people should take down the signs that kept the darks out.” Growing more passionate, Zara cried, “Kylie and I agreed that we wouldn’t go anywhere if there was a sign that said, ‘Lights Only!’ We would rip up that sign and say, ‘Everyone can go here!’” Kylie has blue eyes and curly blond hair.

“Zara, honey, I’m so glad you feel that way,” I told her. “But do you realize that you’re not white?”

Stunned silence.

And then: rage. “I am white!” she shouted. “You’re white!”

“Yes,” I told her. “I’m white, so you are part white. But Daddy is from Pakistan. He’s brown. And that means that, in those times, you would have been considered brown, not white.”

“I am white!” Zara wailed. “I’m everything!” And she burst into tears…

Read the entire article here.

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