The Stories We Tell: Asian Americans on TV and Policy Down the Road

Aziz Ansari, in a promotional image for his Netflix show, “Master of None”. (Photo credit: Netflix)
Aziz Ansari, in a promotional image for his Netflix show, “Master of None”. (Photo credit: Netflix)

By Guest Contributor: Felix Huang

We create stories
That we tell to ourselves
About ourselves
To justify what we do to people.

– Roberto Suro,“U.S. Immigration Policy” (lecture, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, Fall 2015).

2015 was a pretty good year for Asian Americans on TV. Fresh Off the Boat debuted and is now in the middle of a strong second season. Dr. Ken premiered in October and has already been renewed. Master of None was released in November, receiving much acclaim. (The Mindy Project, though, was cancelled by Fox, but later picked up by Hulu.)

These were not the only stories about Asian Americans circulating in public discourse. In an October New York Times column, Nicholas Kristof asked what he framed as an “awkward question”, wondering, “Why are Asian-Americans so successful in America?” A week earlier, an author at The Economist (unidentified, as per The Economist’s practice) had penned a piece about how “The Model Minority is Losing Patience,” referencing the joint complaint against Harvard to the Department of Education made by a group of Asian American groups.

Both pieces exhibit more nuance than other Model Minority hot takes routinely peddled out in the mainstream. But both pieces are still painfully clumsy in talking about Asian Americans, especially when considering the broader political and historical context of race in America. (And there were indeed swift responses highlighting their flaws.)

[1] cultural capital, i.e. knowledge on how to navigate dominant cultural norms. C.f. Pierre Bourdieu and Paul DiMaggio. Both pieces also cite (and arguably misunderstand) sociologists Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou’s research that suggests coethnic resources and networks—what they term as “ethnic capital”—account for intergenerational success among Vietnamese and Chinese Americans in a way that the prevailing socioeconomic and cultural[1] explanatory models of intergenerational mobility do not. As the educational and economic attainment of some Asian American populations continues to both fascinate and confound commentators, Asian Americans are now finally making significant strides in what is sometimes posed in contrast to “successes” in educational and economic attainment: media representation.

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Retraction: My Once Colonized Body

Guest Contributor: Sydney Rae Chin (@sydneyraechin)

In early November, I wrote an article entitled “My Once Colonized Body: Race and Gender at the Intersections of Hookup Culture” that was published as a guest post on Reappropriate. However, the article was problematic and, thus I removed the article from here. I mislabeled an uncomfortable sexual encounter I had as “sexual assault.”

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‘Quantico’ Recap: Season 1, Episode 11, “Inside”

QUANTICO -- "Inside" (Photo credit: ABC/Phillipe Bosse)
QUANTICO — “Inside” (Photo Credit: ABC / Phillipe Bosse)

By Guest Contributor: Lakshmi Gandhi (@LakshmiGandhi)

Lakshmi’s recaps for “Quantico” episodes 1-7 can be found here and for episode 8 onward here, including her recap of the show’s most recent episode. Her recaps appear on Reappropriate every Monday morning! As with reading any recaps, please be wary of spoilers.

Jenn’s Note: Apologies to all regular readers of these recaps. I was traveling this weekend and due to travel issues was unable to publish this recap until today. Thank you to Lakshmi and her readers for your patience.

If you’re like us, dear readers, then you are still processing Sunday’s mid-season finale of ‘Quantico.’ We’d been eagerly anticipating episode 11 (which was titled ‘Inside’) all week because the show’s Twitter accounts had been promising all week that the bomber we’ve been wondering about for months would finally be revealed. So the big question of course was: did the show deliver on its promises?

The answer? “Sort of.”

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#SareeNotSorry: When America Treats Me Like I’m “Illegal” Just For Being Brown

#SareeNotSorry (Photo credit: Tanya Rawal)
#SareeNotSorry (Photo credit: Tanya Rawal)

This post was originally published on Medium.

By Guest Contributor:  Tanya Rawal (@Saree_NotSorry, IG: Saree.Not.Sorry)

The immigration debates are not about legality, or about having the right papers. They are about the fact that some people look illegal and some people look legal.

Translation: The immigration debate is about racism.

I was born in this country, but I look illegal.

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