Open Letter: Reappropriate Supports the Asian American Studies Working Group at Duke University

Duke University Chapel (Photo credit: Flickr / David Ho)

For several years, students at Duke University have been working tirelessly to implement an Asian American Studies Program for students. The campus, which includes an undergraduate population that is nearly 30% Asian American or Pacific Islander, still does not offer an Asian American Studies major.

Student activists have repeatedly petitioned that the administration do something to address campus climate with regard to Asian American students. The hostile on-campus environment for Asian American students was demonstrated in 2013 when a fraternity, Kappa Sigma, held an anti-Asian themed party which included a really racist publicity email and party-goers dressed in geisha-gear, coolie hats, and other forms of costumed yellowface.

Since 2013 (and indeed, since much earlier), Asian American students at Duke have pointed out that an Asian American Studies program and major would go a long way towards addressing a campus climate that would allow a frat to organize a racist, anti-Asian costume party in the first place.

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Charlyne Yi Recounts Racist Remarks from Writer and Director David Cross

Charlyne Yi (left) and David Cross (right). (Photo credit: IMDB)

This story was updated on October 17, 2017 with new developments. Please scroll to the bottom for updates.

Charlyne Yi — the award-winning actor, comedian, writer, and musician best known for her role as a series regular on House, her voice acting work on Steven Universe, and her starring role in Paper Heart which she also wrote — took to Twitter earlier this week to describe her first encounter with writer, director and actor David Cross.

In a series of four tweets, Yi — who is mixed race Filipinx and Korean American — describes how when she first met Cross, Cross made fun of Yi for her appearance. When she didn’t respond, Cross reportedly said: “What’s a matter? You don’t speak English?? Ching-Chong-Ching-Chong.” Cross went on to mockingly challenge Yi to a karate match.

At the time of the encounter, Cross was over forty years old, and already an established comedian, writer and TV and film actor with several stand-up comedy specials already under his belt. Yi was a veritable newcomer to the comedy and acting scene, and was only about twenty years old.

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University of Maryland Students Organize Rally for Immigrant Rights as Part of Week of #AAPIAction

Rally attendees at a University of Maryland #AAPIAction event on October 9, 2017. (Photo credit: Conor Huynh)
This past week, Asian American scholars and activists (organized under the group, AAPIVoices) staged a nationwide week of action (#AAPIAction) around topics of immigration justice and the future of Asian American & Pacific Islander political organizing. Compelled by recent assaults on immigrant rights and the Muslim community by the Trump administration, advocacy groups across the country hosted events — including many held on college and university campuses — to promote AAPI political activism around social justice issues.

On event associated with #AAPIAction was hosted at the University of Maryland last Monday. While participants sought to raise the profile of Asian Americans in opposing the rescinding of DACA and anti-immigrant policies, the gathering at UMD was part of a larger effort among coalition partners, including a diverse group of student organizations, staff and faculty to stand up for immigrants, counter xenophobia, and recognize Indigenous People’s Day. At the event, nearly a hundred students gathered around a statue of writer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass — situated outside the campus’ R. Lee Hornbake Library — to protest in support of documented and undocumented immigrants, and against the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to pass a Muslim travel ban. During the event, several students took to the base of the statue to share their perspectives on immigration justice and other social justice issues.

The event was courageously held at a time when the campus is also experiencing several racist on-campus incidents: the University of Maryland’s Diamondback newspaper reports that a former UMD employee was arrested and charged for spraypainting a swastika on-campus, and in a separate incident, a UMD lecturer revealed on Facebook Live that he has been targeted with numerous racist phone calls after an appearance on Fox News.

After the jump, please check out photos from the event.

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Yes, I Took The Reappropriate.com Domain Back!

An old Reappropriate theme from 2006-2007, when Reappropriate was originally at Reappropriate.com.

Readers of this blog might have noticed that Reappropriate has a rather unusual URL. Specifically, my domain is Reappropriate.co, which uses the relatively obscure .co top-level domain compared to the much more prevalent .com domains.

Long-time readers of Reappropriate — and by that I mean folks who have been reading this blog prior to 2012 — might remember that Reappropriate used to be found at Reappropriate.com.

I had researched the domain extensively — checking to see if it overlapped with any other domain names or existing brands — and I had even agonized over whether I wanted a .com or a .org URL. When I finally made my decision, I registered Reappropriate.com in the early-2000’s. I transferred the blog from its blogspot hosting, and I ended up maintaining this blog for nearly a decade at Reappropriate.com.

But then, grad school happened. Or specifically, my dissertation defense happened.

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Racist “Dirty Chinese Restaurant” Mobile Game Pulled by Developers After Community Backlash

A screen-capture from the upcoming mobile game “Dirty Chinese Restaurant” by game developers “Big-O-Tree”. (Photo credit: YouTube / Big-O-Tree)

Last week, I posted about “Dirty Chinese Restaurant”, a mobile game in development by a newcomers Big-O-Tree Games, based in Markham, Ontario, Canada. The video game’s trailers and website content suggested that the restaurant simulation game — which was planned for release in the Apple and Google mobile app stores — was a grab-bag of offensive and racist anti-Chinese stereotypes. I wrote about how I was particularly disgusted by the game’s concept as a Chinese Canadian who grew up in the same area as the game developers.

The game was the target of widespread backlash from Chinese Canadian and Chinese American activists. Chinese American elected officials even weighed in. Representative Grace Meng wrote a statement on Facebook deriding the planned game, and both she and recently re-elected New York City Councilman Peter Koo took to Twitter with further criticism. New York State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky also used Twitter to call the game “disgusting and unacceptable.” In Canada, Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne — who is also the leader of Canada’s Liberal Party — tweeted that the game “does not reflect the value of Markham,” and the mayor of Markham, Ontario, Frank Scarpitti, called the game “appalling”.

Now, Big-O-Tree Games has decided to pull the planned game, and has issued a formal apology to the Chinese community. They have also removed all of their hosted web content related to the game from the internet.

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