A screenshot from "Crazy Rich Asians".
By Guest Contributor: Alison Roh Park
This essay originally appeared on Medium.
Within six months of Crazy Rich Asians’ much anticipated release, I was physically assaulted by a White woman in furs on the 6-train in New York City. She shouted at me to go back to China, and shortly thereafter I was verbally assaulted on the 1-train by a musician/busker (and a middle-aged Black gentleman) whom I didn’t have a donation for. Ironically, this was all while I was seated across from two White women also wearing fur.
Asian American New Yorkers have the greatest internal wealth disparity than any other group. Chinese Americans are disproportionately represented under the poverty line, while headlines about massive Chinese real estate buys and a so-called U.S.-China trade war loom on every outlet. This plays out for urban Asian Americans on the hyperlocal level in New York City — for instance, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, overseas Chinese real estate buyers and developers are gentrifying and displacing longtime Chinese residents of this historic neighborhood.
Meanwhile, Asian American women remain pointedly invisible. Shows like The Expanse and Top of the Lake: China Girl (literally — with the White feminist superstar Elizabeth Moss investigating the rape and disappearance of a virtually mute 12 year old Vietnamese girl) hinge on the idea and trope of “Asian Women” and as victims of sexual violence whose end is inevitable, while simultaneously obliterating them from the actual substance of the show.
Continue reading “Crazy Rich Asians and How Hollywood Constructs Race Under Global Capitalism”
Scene from "The Farewell", directed by Lulu Wang and starring Awkwafina.
By Guest Contributor: Claudia Vaughan
Editor’s Note: Please note that this post may contain minor spoilers for the film, “The Farewell”.
The Farewell, A24’s latest film
from Chinese-American director Lulu Wang, hit theaters earlier this month,
packing a soft but powerful punch. At its core, the film examines what it means
to be a caring, accountable family member – AND whether that can ever include
being untruthful with your loved ones. The opening scene cheekily notes that
the story is “based on an actual lie,” borrowing from real
events in Wang’s own life centered around her family’s decision to
hide news of her grandmother Nai Nai’s terminal cancer from her. (The story
originally ran as an
episode of This American Life before Wang began developing it as a
The choice not to inform an elderly relative of his/her illness is commonplace in some Asian cultures, as relatives receive the diagnosis from the doctor first and then choose whether that information is actually shared with the patient. Oftentimes it is not, as is the case in The Farewell. Because of the family’s decision to keep Nai Nai’s diagnosis a secret from her, The Farewell quickly becomes a story of what can and cannot be said – both literally, due to language barriers, and figuratively, in terms of what information can be divulged to whom.
One might even say that language becomes a character in its own right, proving to be a source of power – the more of it you have, the more information you accumulate, but, on the other hand, the more responsibility you must then personally bear.
Continue reading ““The Farewell” and the Duality of Language: Finding Depth in What Can and Cannot Be Said”
Actor Danielle Brooks as Taystee in Netflix's Orange Is The New Black (Photo credit: Netflix / Orange is the New Black)
By Guest Contributor:Rachel Ko
50,000 people a year exit incarceration only
to enter immediately into homeless shelters; legal restrictions and
discrimination against individuals with criminal records are often to blame. As
has been well-documented, the incarceration rate for African Americans is more than six times the incarceration rate
for white Americans. African Americans also make up more than 40 percent of the homeless population, despite
representing only 13 percent of the general population.
though general statistics don’t simultaneously track the effects of race on
incarceration and homelessness,
anti-Black racial stigma amplifies the measurable social impacts of both.
Individuals released from prisons are more likely to be re-arrested for
misdemeanor offense they commit in order to survive on the streets, but many
scholars have failed to sufficiently connect recidivism, homelessness and
more successful representation of these connections is the Netflix hit Orange is the New Black. Through Tasha
“Taystee” Jefferson, a compassionate, intelligent, and likeable African
American character, Orange
is the New Black sheds light on the lack of rehabilitative resources
and support systems that cause re-incarceration of individuals suffering from
poverty. Taystee’s story shows us that crime is not a single action; rather, it
is a series of events and complex social factors.
Continue reading “Orange is the New Black and Recidivism: The Need for Accurate Media Representations of the Many Causes of Incarceration”
Side View of statue of John Harvard by Daniel Chester French. (Photo credit: Farrell Grehan/CORBIS)
By Guest Contributors: Itzel Vasquez-Rodriguez and Sally Chen
The value of a
“Harvard education” — which draws students around the world with its promise to
produce the future “citizen-leaders for our society” — is inextricably linked
to the university’s affirmative action policy.
The two of us –
Sally, a Chinese American senior at Harvard, and Itzel, a Xicana who graduated
in 2017 – owe our education to Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policy. We
just testified in the lawsuit SFFA v.
Harvard, which claims that Harvard’s policy discriminates against Asian
Continue reading “Defending Diversity on Campus”
Sandra Oh at the 2019 Golden Globes.
By Guest Contributor: Jacqueline Wong
history three times at the 76th Golden Globes Awards as
the first Asian American host, the first Asian American woman to win multiple
Golden Globes, and the first Asian American woman in nearly 40 years to win for
Best Actress in a TV Drama for her role in Killing
Yet it was
not just her hosting duties or her receipt of a Best Actress award that made
the night so special for Asian Americans.
Rather, it was how Oh unabashedly celebrated her Asian-ness on live
TV. Asian Americans have rarely been
given the opportunity to have their faces or voices broadcasted live on such a
large platform. By owning her Asian
identity on stage, Oh took back control of the Asian American narrative.
Continue reading “The Triumph Beyond Sandra Oh’s Trophy”