Andrew Yang is Wrong: Respectability Politics Won’t Save Asian Americans from Racist Violence

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang at the Sept 12 Democratic primary debate in Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. (Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, the FBI released a report detailing the attempted hate crime murder of an Asian American family — including the brutal stabbing of a two-year-old and a six-year-old child — by a man who blamed his victims for the COVID-19 outbreak. The attack is part of an alarming nationwide surge in racist anti-Asian violence currently being documented both by the FBI and Asian American community activists, and ranging from incidents of racist harassment and slurs to violent physical assault.

Most Asian American progressives have spent the last few weeks working tirelessly to address the growing epidemic of anti-Asian racism. We have been working to document the attacks, amplify stories of victims and survivors, draw connections to Asian American history, and create resources to support the traumatized — all in an effort to raise awareness about the current anti-Asian racial climate, and to urge the country to not give in to dangerous, hateful racism.

Andrew Yang has a different take.* Implying that Asian American progressives have been overly “negative” in calling out racism, the former presidential candidate wrote a painfully insensitive op-ed yesterday in the Washington Post (paywall).

In it, Yang instead suggested that the current pattern of anti-Asian violence is how people are “wired”. But, says Yang, Asian Americans can prevent hate crimes against us by “embrac[ing] and show[ing] our American-ness in ways we never have before.” Barring that, Yang suggests Asian Americans rush to find a cure for the novel coronavirus so that “any racism would likely fade”.

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Actor Brian Tee Reflects on 100 Episodes as Dr. Ethan Choi in Chicago Med

Actor Brian Tee as Dr. Ethan Choi in NBC's 'Chicago Med'. (Photo credit: NBC)

According to studies, Asian Americans remain significantly underrepresented in American media, and when visible primarily relegated to flattened and stereotypical roles in support of a white lead’s personal journey.

It was therefore noteworthy when in 2015, Chicago Med — a spinoff of the popular Chicago Fire series situated in Dick Wolf’s Chicago universe — premiered with a multiracial cast of characters that included Korean American Dr. Ethan Choi (played by actor Brian Tee) as a series regular. Although it was possible to write Ethan Choi as stereotype — he is a doctor, after all — series writers chose instead to write a character that defied conventional stereotypes: Ethan Choi is presented as a principled military veteran and a National Guard reservist, and a dashing romantic love interest.

Chicago Med is airing its 100th episode this eveing, in a storyline that features Dr. Choi. To mark the occasion, I asked actor Brian Tee to reflect on his time playing Dr. Ethan Choi on Chicago Med.

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What I Want From Chester Tam’s Upcoming Rom-Com Film

Photo credit: Monique Jones

By Guest Contributor: Monique Jones (@moniqueblognet)

Note: A version of this article originally appeared last year in Just Add Color.

A few months ago, during one of my shifts for Shadow and Act, I reported on Gabrielle Union’s upcoming starring role in a new Screen Gems rom-com. The film is unique among Screen Gems’ repertoire: it’s about an interracial relationship between an Asian man and a Black woman, and is written by Chester Tam.

The film is based on Tam’s real-life relationship experiences. Currently, no actor has yet to be cast opposite Union as her romantic interest.

From my article:

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Chester Tam will direct a rom-com for Screen Gems starring Gabrielle Union. The film, based on Tam’s own script, will be semi-autobiographical and follow “a newly single African-American woman who begins dating a recently divorced Asian-American man,” per the article’s description.

The logline, the article states, hasn’t been fully revealed, but will focus on “how a drunken one-night stand leads to a secret relationship that eventually becomes public, surprising both friends and family of the couple given that neither is typically the other’s type.”

While the plot of this upcoming film sounds interesting, I’m hesitant. Given this backdrop, how will this film present heterosexual interracial relationships between Asian men and Black women — and might it do more damage than good?

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BREAKING: California Legislators Introduce Bill to Reinstate Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity For All

Legislators and activists announce ACA5, a bill to repeal Proposition 209 and to restore affirmative action in the state. (Photo credit: Magali Kincaid / Twitter)

Nearly 25 years after ballot measure Proposition 209 ended race- and gender-conscious affirmative action in the state of California, several California legislators are working in partnership with a broad multiracial coalition of advocacy groups and have introduced a new bill — Assembly Constitutional Amendment 5 (ACA5) — to repeal Proposition 209 and to restore equal opportunity for all Californians.

The bill, announced in a press conference at the California State Capitol this morning, cites the damage enacted by two decades under Proposition 209 to women, people of colour and minority-owned businesses, many of whom have become increasingly underrepresented in California state schools and the professional sector.

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Focusing on Parasite’s Success Misses an Opportunity to Challenge Anti-Blackness

The cover image of the Parasite DVD/Blu-Ray

By Guest Contributor: Nicholas Wong

Last month, people around the world celebrated the underdog success of Korean film Parasite as it swept through the 92nd Academy Awards to win four Oscars. Each new award for the film ratcheted up a breathless excitement that culminated in a historic win for Best Picture, the first foreign-language film to ever take home that honour.

The victory was especially meaningful to Asian North Americans1Writing as I am from a Canadian context, I use the term “Asian North American” here to collectively refer to the broadly similar sociocultural categories of “Asian American” and “Asian Canadian”; however, I recognize that these categories warrant distinction under other analytical circumstances. , who took to social media in droves to express their pride in the film’s achievements. For decades, Asian North Americans have lamented the deplorable state of Asian representation in Western pop culture. In North American media, Asians have been either almost non-existent or, when portrayed, depicted through harmful racist stereotypes. In recent years, high-profile controversies surrounding films like Aloha and Ghost in the Shell – both of which featured the “whitewashing” of ostensibly Asian roles – have amplified the call for more Asian representation in Hollywood.

A positive shift in this cause has occurred over the past two years, with Asian-led films like Crazy Rich Asians, Always Be My Maybe, and The Farewell garnering box office success and critical acclaim. These films, all helmed by Asian directors and featuring Asian actors in starring roles, have been praised within the Asian North American community for proving the viability of Asians in pop culture, authentically portraying our experiences, and debunking stereotypes. Add on Parasite’s Best Picture win, and it would appear as though Asians have finally broken through Hollywood’s bamboo ceiling.

However, the reading of these films’ significance as primarily tied to their success in achieving Asian representation reveals a limited capacity for Asian North Americans to critically evaluate their own media. The perceived scarcity of – and consequent hunger for – Asian popular media representation has foreclosed the possibility of talking about our successes in anything but celebratory tones. “If we don’t support our own at all costs,” the thinking goes, “we may never get another chance.”

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