Featured Writer: Daniel York

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Interviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-03-06 04:30Z by Steven

Featured Writer: Daniel York

Banana Writers​: Where Asian writers get unpeeled

P. P. Wong

Daniel York is a successful scriptwriter, director and actor who is passionate about championing equal rights for creative East Asians.

Born of mixed Chinese and English parentage, the talented British writer was selected as part of the Royal Court’s Unheard Voices initiative for emerging East Asian writers. As a result of this, he was invited on to the Royal Court Studio writers group. His short play Song Of Four Seasons (四季歌) featured recently in Tamasha Theatre’s Music & Migration Scratch Night and his other full length play Fake Chinaman In Rehab was given a rehearsed reading by 3rd Kulture Kids in New York City.

As an actor, his feature films include Rogue Trader, starring Ewan McGregorThe Beach (directed by Danny Boyle) opposite Leonardo Di Caprio and the action film Doom starring The Rock.

Theatre work in London includes Mu-lan’s award winning production of Porcelain at the Royal Court and Forinbras opposite Alan Rickman’s Hamlet at the Riverside Studios. He has won the prestigious Singaporean Life! Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Pangdemonium’s production of Dealer’s Choice and Freud’s Last Session.

Daniel is currently starring with Katie Leung (Harry Potter) in the play The World of Extreme Happiness.

He is also challenging racist stereotypes of Chinese people through his hilarious play The Fu Manchu Complex.

In an exclusive interview with BW Daniel took time out of his busy schedule to share his wisdom about scriptwriting and what it really takes to get a play to the stage…

You have worked in the British arts industry for over fifteen years. Would you like to share your experiences as an East Asian artist?

I could actually write a book on this subject (maybe I should!).

When I first left drama school  I was immensely lucky as there was a theatre company called Mu-lan who put on gritty, edgy work that completely challenged stereotypes and was absolutely prepared to risk being controversial (in a good way). I was in plays like Porcelain (about a gay Chinese man who murders his boyfriend in a Bethnal Green toilet) which transferred and sold out at the Royal Court, Take Away (about a Chinese take away family in Hainault, Essex facing the winds of change) and, later on, Sun Is Shining (about a dysfunctional relationship between a mixed-race City trader and an alcoholic artist) which transferred off-Broadway New York.

Despite (or perhaps because of) this, Mu-lan lost its funding and there was literally no high-quality theatre work with challenging roles for East Asian actors. Without that you’re left with the mainstream and the mainstream industry in the UK has a real problem with East Asians.

They don’t know how to write for them and they often don’t know how to cast them. The only roles on TV are ridiculously stereotypical but even worse nearly always ridiculously bland. Plus it’s difficult to land those roles if you’re a mixed race male. If you can’t do TV it’s hard to do theatre. I’ve found a bit of joy in classical theatre but even now, with the CV I’ve got, I generally won’t be considered for Shakespeare or whatever. One theatre director who wanted to cast me in the lead in a play was met with the argument “but he’s Chinese!” from the theatre boss.

Generally with all acting you have to be able to portray a cliché successfully before you can move on. The most successful theatre actor of this generation is arguably Simon Russell Beale. I can remember seeing him early in his career play three camp, portly fops in Restoration comedies at Stratford. Literally the same role three times. But he was so good at it he became successful and then was able to break out.

But if all you can get seen for are take-away owners and waiters and you don’t look Chinese enough you’ve had it…

Read the entire interview here.

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‘Chinese, on the Inside’

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Gay & Lesbian, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2014-03-05 01:44Z by Steven

‘Chinese, on the Inside’

The New York Times

Liz Mak, writer and multimedia producer
Oakland, California

Catie and Kimberly were adopted from China by a couple from Maine, who attempt to pass on a culture they’ve never known firsthand.

About a decade ago, Barbara Cough adopted two girls from China, Kimberly and Catie. Barbara and her partner, Marilyn Thomas, are raising the children in Portland, Me. I filmed the family last year when the girls (who are not biological sisters) were ages 9 and 11.

More than 80,000 girls have been adopted from China by Americans since 1991. In recent years, China has made adoptions by same-sex couples, already difficult, nearly impossible.

But at the time the girls were adopted, in 2003 and 2004, Barbara and Marilyn felt that adopting girls from China afforded them more protections as parents than domestic adoptions would have, given the complex rules around birth parents’ rights in America.

For Barbara, it was also a way to reconnect with her own history: her great-grandfather Daniel Cough was the first Chinese man in Maine to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. Though Barbara’s generation is only one-eighth Chinese, the family members proudly identify with their cultural heritage…

Read the opinion piece and watch the video here.

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Malaysians of mixed parentage back deleting ‘race’ in official paperwork

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-02-26 16:47Z by Steven

Malaysians of mixed parentage back deleting ‘race’ in official paperwork

The Malay Mail Online
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

Ushar Daniele

PETALING JAYA, Feb 24 — The proposal to remove the race column in all paperwork in the country has been received positively.

he Malay Mail yesterday spoke to people on the street and with one voice, they agreed with the suggestion made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup after the National Unity Consultative Council’s meeting.

Engineer Shawn Sreedharan, 25, who is a mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian, said he had to ask his father whenever he had to fill in his race in a form.

“My father tells me to choose whichever I want but what defines my race is that I am a product of my father, so I would like to follow my father’s bloodline.

“Socially, I can be seen as Malay or Chinese but both works for me as ticking a box on a piece of paper does not define who I am.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking by Michael Keevak (review) [Spickard]

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive on 2014-02-26 16:36Z by Steven

Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking by Michael Keevak (review)

China Review International
Volume 19, Number 1, 2012
pages 103-105
DOI: 10.1353/cri.2012.0023

Paul Spickard, Professor of History
University of California, Santa Barbara

Michael Keevak, Becoming Yellow: A Short History of Racial Thinking (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011). 248 pages.

Becoming Yellow is a smart, erudite, intriguing, quirky, delightful, and ultimately unsatisfying book. Michael Keevak sets out to trace how, from the sixteenth century to the nineteenth, the skin color of East Asians changed from white to yellow in the minds of Europeans and how all East Asians came to be viewed as members of a single Mongolian race. His larger purpose may be to comment on the broader history of European racial thinking and, perhaps, to displace whiteness and blackness from the core of that story, although he never quite articulates that intent.

Keevak traces the ideas of some familiar racial thinkers: Linneaus, Blumenbach, Buffon, Cuvier, Broca, Gobineau, and Davenport. He also gives us a taste of the ideas of a lot of writers whose racial ideas have remained hidden to all but the most diligent scholars—people such as Giovanni da Empoli, Duarte Barbosa, Juan González de Mendoza, Karl Gützlaff, François Bernier, Johann Christian Polykarp Erxleben, G. S. Mellin, James Cowles Prichard, Carl Gustav Carus, and dozens of others.

The main outlines of Keevak’s book are clear. Becoming Yellow begins with an introduction that gestures toward several topics that will be treated later in the book. There follows a chapter on how the skin and character of East Asians were perceived by European scholars and missionaries in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These are followed by an account of how Linnaeus, Blumenbach, and their eighteenth-century contemporaries arrived at yellow as the color that would stand for East Asians, and how they decided that Mongolians were the core people in East Asia. Then follows a chapter on the rise of anthropometry in the nineteenth century and the measurement of so-called Mongolians’ skull shapes, skin color, and the like. The next chapter focuses on the fascination of nineteenth-century Western medicine with Asian bodies—the so-called Mongolian eyefold, the Mongolian spot, Mongolism, and so on. The final chapter is a hodge-podge that briefly describes the turn-of-the-century Western political movement fed by fear of invasion by a “yellow peril.” It outlines the very different responses of Chinese and Japanese writers to Western ideas about Asian skin color and attempts to sum them up.

Keevak has a curious manner of pursing an argument. Despite the fairly clear overall arc of the book, each chapter is quite muddled internally. Keevak tends, early in each chapter, to refer, without explanation or context, to key ideas that he has not introduced (but, it turns out, may develop later). This approach suggests that the reader and author had already discussed the issue, so he does not have to establish or articulate its significance. The narrative in each chapter whirls around its subject, feinting here and there, rather than proceeding in a linear fashion. Keevak offers lots of esoteric details, all dutifully footnoted. He presents them by way of illustrating points, rather than as proof that his points are true. Even so, his knowledge is impressive. Then, when he comes to the major assertions in each chapter’s argument, there are no notes at all, and everything proceeds at the level of naked assertion. It is as if Keevak is displaying all his minute and intricate learning early on, so that we will believe him later, when he makes, unsupported, the key parts of his argument.

Nonetheless, many of his ideas are arresting, even if unsupported. To take just one example, Keevak concludes that “yellow began as a way of emphasizing Chinese proximity to Europeans . . . but . . . over time it had become redeployed as a term of complexional distance” (p. 34). This assertion might be true, though Keevak does not really demonstrate it, much less prove it.

Despite the shortcomings of his approach, each chapter is, nonetheless, quite delightful if one can let go of the need for linear arguments undergirded by solid supporting evidence. Keevak is so learned about odd esoterica that the reader can sit back and just enjoy the details. In each chapter Keevak presents a lovely collection—a bit like John Soane’s house on Lincoln Inn’s Fields in London—of overstuffed rooms of ephemera, all jumbled together, each of interest individually…

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Being Mixed in Today’s America

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-23 23:46Z by Steven

Being Mixed in Today’s America

Diverse: Issues in Higher Education

Jonathan Ng
California State University, San Bernardino

For me, being mixed ethnicity has been a multiple-way street ― like a giant intersection. I am Black, White and Chinese; however, based on my skin color, most people classify me as Black. I look racially ambiguous, so people like to ask me what I am. When I tell them that I am Black and White, they think, “Oh, that’s kind of what I guessed.” But then when I finish and say that I am Chinese, it absolutely blows their minds. They respond “How?” or “No you are not!”

It is strange to think that people actually deny me of my own heritage like I am wrong, but when I tell them that my last name is Chinese (Ng), they accept it and say, “Oh so that’s where your last name comes from. I thought it was different.” Here’s something I found to be interesting, though. When I tell people that I am Black, White and Chinese, they understand that I am mixed; however, the only thing they care about is the Black and Chinese part. I think they selectively hear Black and Chinese because it seems the most interesting to them. I often get asked questions like, “What part of you is Chinese?” I have to explain my family history to just about everybody I meet. When I tell them that my family has been mixed since my great-grandparents on one side and my grandparents on my other side, they are absolutely shocked. Yes, I have a family of rebels.

This has become a daily routine for me ― let’s say weekly routine, because, yes, it has become that common for me to explain my heritage to people I meet. I don’t really mind it as much because I try to put myself in their shoes and understand how hard it is to grasp that my family has been mixed for so many generations back…

Read the entire article here.

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“Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey” Performance by Elizabeth Liang

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-21 07:53Z by Steven

“Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey” Performance by Elizabeth Liang

Arts at MIT
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Eastman Laboratories (Building 6)
2014-02-21, 18:00-20:30 EST (Local Time)

Written and Performed by Elizabeth Liang

Who are you when you’re from everywhere and nowhere? Alien Citizen: An Earth Odyssey is a funny and poignant one-woman show about growing up as a dual citizen of mixed heritage in Central America, North Africa, the Middle East, and New England.

Elizabeth Liang, like President Obama, is a Third Culture Kid or a TCK. Third Culture Kids are the children of international business people, global educators, diplomats, missionaries, and the military-anyone whose family has relocated overseas because of a job placement. Liang weaves humorous stories about growing up as an Alien Citizen abroad with American commercial jingles providing her soundtrack through language confusion, first love, culture shock, Clark Gable, and sandstorms…Our protagonist deals with the decisions every global nomad has to make repeatedly: to adapt or to simply cope; to build a bridge or to just tolerate. From being a Guatemalan-American teen in North Africa to attending a women’s college in the USA, Alien Citizen reflects her experience that neither one was necessarily easier than the other. She realizes that girls across the world are growing into womanhood in environments that can be hostile to females (including the USA). How does a young girl cope as a border/culture/language/religion straddler in country after country that feels “other” to her when she is the “other” Where is the line between respecting others and betraying yourself?

For more information, click here.

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Who intermarries in Britain? Explaining ethnic diversity in intermarriage patterns

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science, United Kingdom on 2014-02-15 21:32Z by Steven

Who intermarries in Britain? Explaining ethnic diversity in intermarriage patterns

The British Journal of Sociology
Volume 61, Issue 2 (June 2010)
pages 275–305
DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-4446.2010.01313.x

Raya Muttarak, Visiting Fellow
Department of Political and Social Sciences
European University Institute

Anthony Heath, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Emeritus Fellow of Nuffield College
University of Oxford

This paper investigates trends, patterns and determinants of intermarriage (and partnership) comparing patterns among men and women and among different ethnic groups in Britain. We distinguish between endogamous (co-ethnic), majority/minority and minority/minority marriages. Hypotheses are derived from the theoretical literatures on assimilation, segmented assimilation and opportunity structures. The empirical analysis is based on the 1988–2006 General Household Surveys (N = 115,494). Consistent with assimilation theory we find that, for all ethnic minority groups, the propensity to intermarry is higher in the second generation than in the first. Consistent with ideas drawn from segmented assimilation theory, we also find that substantial differences in propensity to form majority/minority marriages persist after controls for individual characteristics such as age, educational level, generation and length of residence in Britain, with men and women of Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi background having higher propensities to form endogamous partnerships. However, we also find that opportunity structures affect intermarriage propensities for all groups alike, with individuals in more diverse residential areas (as measured by the ratio of majority to minority residents in the area) having higher likelihood to form majority/minority partnerships. We conclude then that, beginning from very different starting points, all groups, both minority and the majority groups exhibit common patterns of generational change and response to opportunity structures. Even the groups that are believed to have the strongest community structures and the strongest norms supporting endogamy appear to be experiencing increasing exogamy in the second generation and in more diverse residential settings. This suggests that a weak rather than a strong version of segmented assimilation provides the best account of British patterns.

Read or purchase the article here.

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Race as freedom: how Cedric Dover and Barack Obama became black

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Barack Obama, Biography, History, Identity Development/Psychology, United States on 2014-02-15 21:03Z by Steven

Race as freedom: how Cedric Dover and Barack Obama became black

Ethnic and Racial Studies
Volume 37, Issue 2
pages 222-240
DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2012.715661

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

Born across racial lines, Cedric Dover and Barack Obama both came to identify with the African American community. By contrasting the lives and ideas of two mixed-race individuals, one born in Calcutta and the other in Hawaii, this article examines cosmopolitanism, racial formation and the promise of the ‘post-racial’. A ‘Eurasian’ intellectual born in Calcutta in 1904, Dover developed a coloured cosmopolitanism that mirrors in revealing ways Obama’s approach to race. Both men embraced blackness while transcending the boundaries of race and nation. Dover and Obama developed a conception of race as freedom—not freedom from race or of a particular race, but the freedom to embrace race without sacrificing other affiliations.

We must be both “racial” and anti-racial at the same time, which really means that nationalism and internationalism must be combined in the same philosophy. Cedric Dover (1947, 222)

I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible. Barack Obama (2008)

Born a Eurasian in Calcutta in 1904. Cedric Dover died in England in 1961 a ‘coloured’ man. Born to a white mother in Hawaii in 1961 and raised partially in Indonesia. Barack Obama became the first African…

Read or purchase the article here.

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How I Learned To Feel Undesirable

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2014-02-11 04:16Z by Steven

How I Learned To Feel Undesirable

Code Switch: Fronter of Race, Culure and Ethnicity
National Public Radio

Noah Cho

For the past few weeks, we’ve convened a conversation about romance across racial and cultural lines. Some of the most eloquent accounts we encountered came from a Bay Area junior high school teacher named Noah Cho. We asked him to expand on some of his experiences in this essay.

It’s an odd feeling, as an adult, to look at a photo of your parents and feel perplexed by it. As a young child, I believed that most sets of parents looked like mine — a Korean man, a white woman — and it never registered to me that other parents looked different, or that their love could be something culturally undesirable.

But as I have moved through 32 years of looking at myself in the mirror, a time in which the vast majority of interracial couples I have known have looked nothing like my parents, I have come to see their love as something rare. Most men in interracial couples I have encountered do not look like my dad. They do not have his skin tone, or his combination of dark hair and dark eyes. My mom often tells me stories about when she began dating my father in suburban New Jersey in the 1970s, and I could only infer from her stories that her predominantly white community felt confused and unsure why a white woman would find an Asian man attractive.

I learned, slowly, painfully, over the course of my life that most people shared the opinion of my mother’s community. I know this, because I look like my father.

When I look in the mirror, I do not see someone that I understand to be handsome by Western standards. I look mostly Asian, and like so many other heterosexual Asian males before me, I have internalized a lifetime of believing that my features, my face, my skin tone, in tandem, make me unattractive and undesirable…

Read the entire article here.

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Skin color remains big barrier

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2014-02-02 22:16Z by Steven

Skin color remains big barrier

The Korea Times

Park Si-soo

Min Kyung-joon (alias) is a “good boy” in many aspects.

The freshman at a middle school in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, has been acknowledged by his teachers for his outstanding academic achievement and affable personality. Min is also very actively engaged in sports, which explains why he is one of the top players of an intramural soccer club.

Notwithstanding his good standing, he still has a hard time associating with his classmates, mainly because of his “exotic” appearance. The 15-year-old’s father is Pakistani and his mother a Korean native.

“That’s a huge disadvantage in making new friends among young children,” said Kim Young-im, a counselor who has interviewed numerous biracial children, including Min, in Ansan, home to one of the country’s largest population of low income immigrants.

“Children tend to get along with those who share similarity in looks and other visible characteristics. But he is different (from others) in many ways.”

For that reason, Kim added, it’s a common trend in the industrial town to see “exotic-looking” teenagers hanging out together, isolating themselves from their peers of Korean parentage.

“This is a problem that is very difficult to address,” the counselor said. “The government and school authorities have tried hard to solve this with various kinds of measures. But I think many of these programs turned out to be in vain.”

The number of biracial students like Min in Korea is estimated at 55,780 as of last year, representing 0.86 percent of the 6.53 million students enrolled in primary and secondary schools nationwide. The figure is expected to steadily increase to reach five percent by 2020, according to the education ministry…

Read the entire article here.

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