Basic Human Decency Should Be Granted Freely: In Response to Andrew Yang

Former presidential candidate, Andrew Yang (Photo credit: Getty / Stephen Maturen)

By Guest Contributor: Anouk Yeh

On April 1, the Washington Post released an op-ed written by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, addressing the increased Anti-Asian sentiment in the nation. In the article, Yang stated that in order to combat the rising xenophobia in the nation, Asian Americans across the nation needed to embrace their “American-ness in ways [they] never have before,” arguing that Asian Americans needed to prove their allegiance to the country in order to be viewed as “not the virus.”

Within hours of the article’s release, Yang was met with immense backlash from the Asian American community. Actor Simu Liu, who is set to play the first ever Asian-American marvel superhero, and writer and comedian Jenny Yang both took to twitter to express their disappointment with Yang’s statement, with Liu calling   “a slap in the face.”

This disappointment was no understatement, because to Asian American communities across the nation, Yang was not just a politician. Rather, he was a figurehead for the movement to increase Asian representation within higher political government. Although his campaign didn’t successfully make it into the White House, Yang was able to help blaze a starting trail for Asian American leaders to take the national stage.

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More Queer than Gay, ‘The Half of It’ is Wholly Necessary

Leah Lewis as Ellie Chu in "The Half Of It". (Photo credit: The Half of It / Netflix)

By Guest Contributor: Kim Tran

This post first appeared in Wear Your Voice Magazine and contains mild spoilers for the film “The Half of It”.

I was terrified of watching The Half of It. The dearth of representation for queer Asian American women means that, fair or not, a lot is riding on this lone film firmly situated in the variegated ‘coming of age’ genre. Based on early trailers, it’s obvious Alice Wu’s long-awaited follow up to the groundbreaking Saving Face could have easily fallen into convention. A reboot of Cyrano de Bergerac with a new ‘diverse’ cast. It could have been a sweet, yet flat rendition of a familiar tale. It could have been Ellie Chu (Leah Lewis) cast as the quiet, whip-smart, puppeteer behind her un-clever, friend Paul Munsky (Daniel Diemer) both in love with the same girl. It could have just been yet another version of that story except with a Chinese American lead struggling to actualize her sexuality in a small town in the Pacific Northwest. It could have been trite and saccharin and perfectly watchable. Thankfully, it wasn’t. Instead, The Half of It shows us how queer a Netflix movie can be when it takes identity as a given and not a destination. Stripped bare, Wu’s newest film is a rare gift, a movie that embodies queerness and Asianness with ease and space. 

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OPEN LETTER: UCLA Law’s APILSA Responds to Prof. Stephen Bainbridge’s “Egregious” Tweets

UCLA's School of Law

By Guest Contributor: UCLA Law‘s Asian/Pacific Islander Law Students’ Association (APILSA)

Editor’s Note: On February 25 and on April 6, UCLA Law Professor Stephen Bainbridge posted tweets musing whether his Chinese students were carriers of COVID-19 and linking Chinese consumption of exotic meats to the spread of novel coronavirus. Professor Bainbridge later deleted the tweets and blocked UCLA Law students who criticized them. Facing mounting criticism, yesterday Professor Bainbridge engaged people on Twitter — including the editor of this blog — walking back the content of his tweets.

This is an open letter written by UCLA Law’s APILSA regarding Professor Bainbridge’s tweets. Full text of this letter can also be viewed on Google Docs. You can add your name as a signatory to this letter here.

Shortly after this letter was made public, Professor Bainbridge deleted his Twitter account.


Dear Law School Community,

On Tuesday, February 25, 2020, Stephen Bainbridge (@ProfBainbridge, Note: now deleted) issued the following (now-deleted) Tweet:1Stephen Bainbridge (@ProfBainbridge), Twitter, [https://perma.cc/GL4F-AMMZ] (Feb. 25, 2020)

“If we ask nicely, do you think we can get China to ban eating bats, civets, and other wild animals that serve as viral hosts?”

On Monday, April 6, 2020, Stephen Bainbridge issued the following series of (now-deleted) Tweets:2The original tweet links to an NPR Morning Edition Episode, which actually discusses the racism that Chinese students are experiencing due to COVID. See Coronavirus Concerns Weigh On Chinese Students At U.S. Colleges, NPR (Feb. 6, 2020) (noting that racially insensitive comments “have led to a sense of ill-ease among some Chinese students here and that’s amplified by social media back home”)

“1/ The Economist reports that an antibody test for the novel coronavirus will soon be available.  I would be most curious to take one. As some of you know, I had a horrific cold/flu in late January/early February that I assumed was a bad case of bronchitis.” 

“2/ But I have a number of Chinese students in my class this semester and I wonder if one of them might have brought the virus back from China.  I assume not because I know of nobody else at the law Schoo [sic] who got sick, but still… One wonders.”

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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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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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