Legacies of war

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-18 18:09Z by Steven

Legacies of war

The Washington Post

Annie Gowen, Bureau chief — New Delhi

Linda Davidson, Photography

Forty years after the fall of Saigon, soldiers’ children are still left behind

Vo Huu Nhan was in his vegetable boat in the floating markets of the Mekong Delta when his phone rang. The caller from the United States had stunning news — a DNA database had linked him with a Vietnam vet believed to be his father.

Nhan, 46, had known his father was an American soldier named Bob, but little else.

“I was crying,” Nhan recalled recently. “I had lost my father for 40 years, and now I finally had gotten together with him.”

But the journey toward their reconciliation has not been easy. News of the DNA match set in motion a chain of events involving two families 8,700 miles apart that is still unfolding and has been complicated by the illness of the veteran, Robert Thedford Jr., a retired deputy sheriff in Texas.

When the last American military personnel fled Saigon on April 29 and 30, 1975, they left behind a country scarred by war, a people uncertain about their future and thousands of their own children. These children — some half-black, some half-white — came from liaisons with bar girls, “hooch” maids, laundry workers and the laborers who filled sandbags that protected American bases.

They are approaching middle age with stories as complicated as the two countries that gave them life. Growing up with the face of the enemy, they were spat on, ridiculed, beaten. They were abandoned, given away to relatives or sold as cheap labor. The families that kept them often had to hide them or shear off their telltale blond or curly locks. Some were sent to reeducation or work camps, or ended up homeless and living on the streets.

They were called “bui doi,” which means “the dust of life.”

Forty years later, hundreds remain in Vietnam, too poor or without proof to qualify for the program created by the Amerasian Homecoming Act of 1987 that resettles the children of American soldiers in the United States.

Now, an Amerasian group has launched a last-chance effort to reunite fathers and children with a new DNA database on a family heritage Web site. Those left behind have scant information about their GI dads — papers and photographs were burned as the communist regime took hold, and memories faded. So DNA matches are their only hope…

Read the entire photo-essay here.

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White Parents, Becoming a Little Less White

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-16 19:07Z by Steven

White Parents, Becoming a Little Less White

Motherlode: Living the Family Dynamic
The New York Times

Jack Cheng

Amy Crosson

Former Gov. Jeb Bush made news recently because he checked “Hispanic” on a voter registration form. This is obviously ridiculous from a scion of the Bush family (and Mr. Bush has said he made a mistake). Yet, I understand, because the family he raised is not unlike mine.

A few years ago, in fact, my wife casually mentioned that she doesn’t consider herself 100 percent white any more. She has blond hair, blue eyes and fair skin, and as far back as anyone can remember, all of her ancestors have been Irish.

She was white when we were married. I know that because I’m Chinese and that made us an interracial couple. My wife jokes (I think she’s joking) that she married me in part because my increased melanin would protect her children from skin cancer.

She became less white when our son, and then our daughter, were born. I think the first bit of doubt surfaced the day we were on the subway with our newborn and a woman came up to my wife and said: “Oh, he’s so cute! When did you adopt him?” I was livid: Did it not occur to this woman that the father was sitting right next to his wife and child? It turned out that the woman really just wanted to talk about her own adopted granddaughter but somewhere in that moment my wife was identified as the mother of a nonwhite child…

…While it will take 18 years for that mixed race baby to vote, there is a parent in that family who suddenly has an altered perspective on the culture and policies of the United States. White mothers who realize that their sons will be victims of racial profiling, white fathers who suddenly feel a little squeamish about the fact that “Asian” is a category of pornography. There are white parents whose children look vaguely Middle Eastern and will face harder times getting onto airplanes…

Read the entire article here.

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You’re the Model Minority until You’re Not

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Law, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2015-04-16 15:37Z by Steven

You’re the Model Minority until You’re Not

David Shih
Wednesday, 2015-04-08

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

As a Chinese American, I know that my racial identity occupies a space in the cultural imagination somewhere between white and black. I know that white supremacy often works in my favor to give me privilege and the benefit of the doubt. I know that the world is this way until it isn’t.

Peter Liang, who is also Chinese American, must know this too. On February 10, a grand jury ruled to indict the NYPD officer for killing Akai Gurley, who is black. Liang and his partner were in the stairwell of a public housing complex when Liang discharged his weapon and hit Gurley, who had entered from the floor below. The ruling followed three controversial grand jury decisions not to indict white officers Darren Wilson, Sean Williams, and Daniel Pantaleo for the deaths of Michael Brown, John Crawford, and Eric Garner, respectively. Because of this apparent racial double standard, the Coalition of Asian-Americans for Civil Rights plans to protest Liang’s indictment later this month and has called for national rallies on that day in support of Liang. “Officer Liang is being used as a scapegoat,” says Doug Lee, co-chair of the CAACR. Other Asian American organizations support the indictment, leading to some confusion over what justice looks like in this case. But there should be no confusion: Peter Liang should stand trial. Liang’s supporters are asking for the same standard that exonerated Wilson, Williams, and Pantaleo. It is a racist standard…

Read the entire article here.

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The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, and Japan’s Miss Universe Reveal Biracial Realities

Posted in Africa, Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, South Africa, United States on 2015-04-16 15:08Z by Steven

The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, and Japan’s Miss Universe Reveal Biracial Realities

Will Wright: Cinéma, Style, Race and Politics Permeate Our Lives. That Fascinates Me.

Will Wright

Thanks in part to the changing of the guard at The Daily Show, biracial experiences and related politics have made headlines, and snuck into our minds. South African, Trevor Noah, once a correspondent for The Daily Show, has been named to host it, succeeding Jon Stewart. His immediate family tree seems about as strange to Americans as Senator Obama’s did when he began running for president; Mr. Noah’s mom is a Xhosa South African and his father Swiss.

But his mixed heritage is not the only one being discussed. If you pay attention to headlines about mixed race folks (who doesn’t, right?) then you’ve felt shockwaves from Japan’s Miss Universe contestant…

Read the entire article here.

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What the Heck Are You? The Racial Guessing Game I Don’t Want to Play

Posted in Arts, Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-16 14:17Z by Steven

What the Heck Are You? The Racial Guessing Game I Don’t Want to Play

Hapa Mama: Asian Fusion Family and Food

Melinda Frank, Guest Blogger
Growing Up Ethnic

“I thought you were Dutch–you’re Indonesian?”

“I thought you were Irish–you’re Dutch?”

“Wait, you’re white and Asian?”

“What are you anyways?”

I hate answering the question “What are you,” because in my experience, that question always overshadows the more meaningful question of “Who are you?”…

Read the entire article here.

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Beauty queen brings light to Japan’s racial issues

Posted in Articles, Arts, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Videos on 2015-04-13 21:58Z by Steven

Beauty queen brings light to Japan’s racial issues

CBS News

Walking through the Shibuya section of Tokyo, Ariana Miyamoto certainly turns heads — and she wants to use that attention to change attitudes.

When Miyamoto was crowned Miss Universe Japan in March, selected by a panel of seven Japanese judges, her surprise on stage was real, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane. She was the first-ever winner to be biracial. Her father is African-American, and her mother is Japanese.

“At first, I didn’t want to compete,” Miyamoto said in Japanese. “But then a close friend who was also biracial committed suicide. That’s when I decided to do something about the suffering he’d endured.”

She said the friend “really hated being half Japanese and not being fully accepted into Japanese society.”

“Japan still has racial issues, and I wanted to do something about it,” she said.

Japan, an island nation that didn’t open to the world until the late 1800s, still lacks real diversity today. Mixed-race children made up less than 2 percent of births in 2013.

At the Tokyo gym where she works out twice a week, it’s hard to imagine this now confident, stunning 20-year-old was once a bullied kid…

Read the article and watch the video here.

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“Hafu” Filmmaker Spotlights Bicultural Japan

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Interviews, Media Archive, Social Science on 2015-04-12 00:01Z by Steven

“Hafu” Filmmaker Spotlights Bicultural Japan

Nippon.com: Your Doorway to Japan

Nishikura Megumi

The recent film Hafu documents the lives of five bicultural Japanese. Nippon.com spoke to one of the film’s two directors, Nishikura Megumi, to learn more about the film and the motivation behind it.

The number of Japanese citizens marrying foreign nationals has been increasing at a rapid pace, and every year more than 20,000 children are born in Japan to such international couples. These binational kids have been in the media spotlight lately, with many celebrities from such backgrounds appearing on television. But the image conveyed on the screen does not fully capture the reality.

Unlike many of these TV celebrities, who tend to be children of a Caucasian parent, around three-fourths of all international marriages in Japan involve a partner from another Asian country, most notably China, South Korea, and the Philippines (according to 2007 data from the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare). So many of the children of these marriages do not superficially resemble what most people view as a binational—or hafu, as they are called in Japanese (from the English word “half”—as in “half-Japanese”).

The recently released film Hafu, co-produced by filmmaker Nishikura Megumi, follows the lives of five hafu raised in a bicultural environment. Nippon.com met up with Nishikura to learn more about the film and her own experiences as a bicultural person…

Read the entire interview here.

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“Mixed Race” Identities in Asia and the Pacific: Experiences from Singapore and New Zealand

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Books, Forthcoming Media, Monographs, Oceania, Social Science on 2015-04-11 23:30Z by Steven

“Mixed Race” Identities in Asia and the Pacific: Experiences from Singapore and New Zealand

240 pages
Hardback ISBN: 978-1-13-893393-4

Zarine L. Rocha
Department of Sociology
National University of Singapore

This book explores the concept of mixed race for people of mixed Chinese and European backgrounds, looking at how being Chinese can mean many different things in different contexts. It looks particularly at the Chinese communities in Singapore and New Zealand, and how individuals of mixed heritage fit into or are excluded from these communities as a result of their backgrounds. The research is qualitative, and based on in-depth interviews with people of mixed heritage in both countries, and as a study of race and ethnicity will appeal to students and scholars of mixed race studies, ethnicity, Chinese diaspora and cultural anthropology.


  • 1. Finding the “Mixed” in “Mixed Race”
  • 2. Mixed Histories in New Zealand and Singapore
  • 3. The Personal in the Political
  • 4. Being and Belonging
  • 5. Roots, Routes and Coming Home
  • 6. Conclusion
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Black and Yellow: Blasian Narratives

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-07 20:30Z by Steven

Black and Yellow: Blasian Narratives

Psychology Today

Stephen Murphy-Shigematsu Ed.D.

Crossing racial borders through storytelling

Saturday night I went to an event called, Black and Yellow: Blasian Narratives, featuring students from Stanford joining a group from Morehouse and Spelman, two historically black colleges. The students presented both monologues and interactive storytelling. Their diversity was stunning, Asian being Korean, Chinese, Sri Lankan, Japanese, and Vietnamese, with diverse forms of Black as well, from the Caribbean to Ghana. The purpose of the project by Canon Empire, a Cambodian American filmmaker and storyteller, is to unite Asian and Black communities through “Blasian” narratives and intimate and critical dialogues about race. He seeks to illuminate the reality that two communities historically socialized to see each other as polarized opposites and as competition and comparisons actually have much in common.

The presentations showed the complexity of lives that cross borders and enter liminal and marginal spaces, where creativity can flourish. Each person, in their own unique way, expressed their identities-in-flux, as if they were re-creating it right there on stage. As I watched them perform I was reminded of the wisdom of the identity scholar Erikson, who reminded us that: “Identity consciousness is overcome by a sense of identity won in action.”…

Read the entire article here.

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LAURA KINA Blue Hawai’i

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, United States on 2015-04-07 00:46Z by Steven

LAURA KINA Blue Hawai’i

The Brooklyn Rail: Critical Perspectives on Arts, Politics, and Culture
Brooklyn, New York

Jonathan Goodman


As an Asian-American painter of mixed background, Laura Kina creates work that is as culturally relevant as it is emotionally resonant. Her father, who is of Japanese descent, grew up in Hawai’i, where he worked on sugarcane plantations before moving to the American mainland to become a doctor. In the compelling paintings shown in Blue Hawai’i, Kina addresses the persistence of Japanese culture among the sugarcane workers, many of whom, like the artist’s father, had family ties to the Japanese island Okinawa. In 2009, Kina and her father traveled to his plantation community in Hawai’i to gain a sense of his past; then, in 2012, Kina and her father traveled to Okinawa itself, again to research the immigration of poor Japanese who came to Hawai’i to harvest cane. The paintings on view in Blue Hawai’i allude to her discoveries, which entail both the remnants of Japanese habits among the Hawaiian workers—the word “blue” in the title of the show refers to the blue kimonos refashioned for plantation work—and the gradual, often troubled and troubling acculturation process. The exhibition consequently bridges inevitable feelings of displacement and loss with the desire to document Kina’s father’s past…

Read the entire review here.

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