#FOB (or #FreshOffTheBoat): How an #AAPI sitcom hopes to reclaim a slur

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The news that ABC has made the bold decision to green-light Fresh Off the Boata new Asian American family sitcom airing 20 years after the cancellation of All American Girl, has already been making headlines.

And, if the last 24 hours has been any indication, Fresh Off The Boat is hugely provocative. Already, the show has sparked online controversy, specifically from pop culture critics questioning the possible political insensitivity of the show’s name.

This reaction is not surprising: it reflects the critics’ recognition of the term as a historic racial slur referencing new immigrants, coupled with ignorance of how “Fresh Off The Boat” (or “FOB”, pronounced “fob”) has also evolved to reference a core cultural dynamic within contemporary Asian Americana. The term “Fresh Off The Boat” is not uniquely Asian American, but it has strong Asian American connotations and distinct cultural significance for members of our community; in the context of this show, it is obvious “insider” language.

This morning, Alex Abad-Santos explored the meaning of the term “Fresh Off the Boat” for Asian Americans in a great article for Vox.com. The article quotes me in writing:

“The show is setting itself up to educate about the term,” Jenn of Reappropriate [said. She] voiced a mild concern with the title, explaining that the term lives somewhere between an insult and self-deprecating humor.

So let’s start that education process here with the question: what does “Fresh Off The Boat” or “FOB” mean?

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“Boxers & Saints” nominated for 2014 Eisner Award, wins LA Times Book Prize

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Gene Luen Yang’s incredible two-part graphic novel Boxers & Saints, which explores the Boxer Rebellion simultaneously from both the perspectives of the Boxer rebels and Catholic Christians. The novel has received widespread critical acclaim as a landmark work of historical fiction within the comic book genre.

Earlier this week, Yang received the LA Times Book Prize for young adult literature, and is the first graphic novel to ever do so. And today, the full nominee list for the 2014 Eisner Awards, the most prestigious awards of the comic book industry included a nomination for Boxers & Saints in the category of Best Publication for Teens (aged 13-17).

So, if you haven’t read Boxer & Saints (or American Born Chinese), now is the time to do it!

And, meanwhile, congratulations to Gene (@geneluenyang) for the great work you’ve been doing in pushing the boundaries of the comic book genre with your outstanding books!