By Guest Contributor: Jan Lee
It was Valentine’s Day in New York City. While others were thinking about where to buy last minute chocolates and flowers, my thoughts were entirely elsewhere. I was reading restaurant reviews in the New York Times and found myself confronted with an article exploiting my community’s perceived exoticisms.
The review was from the New York Times (“Culinary Clashes End in Harmony at Chinese Tuxedo“), but I would have sworn I was reading a Chinatown caricature by Chuck Connors—the 19th century Rhode Islander who shamelessly profiteered by hawking exaggerated, cartoonish tales of exciting and foreign “ethnic” life in turn-of-the-century Chinatown to upper-class white tourists. National news correspondent Arthur Bonner described Connors as “a hanger-on in Doyers Street saloons who earned tips by showing thrill seekers tame wonders like the Joss House. For an added tip he would show them an opium den complete with a ‘fallen woman’.”
This treatment of Chinatown as a seedy den of foreign crime and taboo thrills to be packaged and sold as a form of ethnic tourism would be best left to the past. Yet, writers and editors seem perfectly willing to revive old stereotypes and evoke the worst of Chinatown’s history in a vain attempt to remain relevant, regardless of the consequences.
The suspect in a series of physical assaults targeting Asian American women in New York City was identified late yesterday by police as 25-year-old Tyrelle D. Shaw, after concerned friends and family contacted law enforcement following the appearance of several seemingly incriminating blog posts published on Shaw’s website over the last week.
Police are still investigating whether Shaw or his website are indeed related to the string of bias-related attacks that have occurred in Chinatown, Koreatown and the Upper East Side. However, if Shaw does prove to be the suspect and this blog is related to him, it provides a great deal of insight into the mind of a violent Asiaphile who is preying on New York’s Asian American female population to exact revenge for being “rejected too many times“.
Police are conducting a city-wide hunt in New York City for a man who has reportedly assaulted four Asian American women in separate attacks. The man, whose likeness has been captured in surveillance footage, is described as Black and in his mid-20’s or early 30’s and wearing t-shirt and jeans, and who can be seen carrying an unidentified blunt weapon in a white plastic bag.
Terrifyingly, the man appears to be wandering Manhattan on some sort of bizarre rampage seeking out East Asian American female victims.
I’ve been writing in support of affirmative action in higher education for a few years now; and, with news that the Students for Fair Admissions lawsuits against Harvard and UNC is ramping up its efforts (last week, the group sent a letter to Ivy League universities demanding that it not destroy student admissions records on the basis that it might someday be used as evidence for SFFA), I’m guessing that my writing might again be developing interest.
But, one controversy I haven’t touched upon yet is education access at the secondary school level. Specifically, I haven’t yet talked about the heated battle over New York City’s high-stakes testing system for its elite public high schools.
This is an oversight on my part, particularly since I was invited last year by filmmaker Curtis Chin (maker of Vincent Who?) to screen segments from his upcoming documentary Tested, which explores the lives of several students hoping to test into the city’s elite public schools, at a time when that high-stakes admissions process is coming under fire for producing schools with racial diversity so abysmal you would think we were back in the pre-Brown v. Board of Education era: last year, Stuyvesant — one of New York City’s specialized high schools — enrolled 7 Black students into a student body of over 3,000. That’s right, seven. That’s not even enough people to build a lacrosse team with.
A man suspected of pushing 61-year-old Wai Kuen Kwok onto the subway tracks to his death in the Bronx on Sunday has been identified, arrested, and charged with murder. Just hours after a second surveillance footage video of the suspect shot from inside a Bronx area bodega was released to the public, 34-year-old Kevin Darden was arrested near his mother’s home in the Bronx.
Witnesses say a man matching the description of the suspect was seen leaving the 167th street subway station minutes after Kwok’s death to board a Bx35 bus. Police subsequently identified Darden as a person of interest based on his connection to a November 6th shoving incident at the West 4th subway station where another man, also Asian, was pushed to the subway platform; based on the similarities of the crime and the suspects’ physical descriptions, police privately began a search for Darden under suspicion that he might also be responsible for Sunday’s murder.
In the earlier incident, the victim says he was shoved from behind by Darden, who said, “you shouldn’t walk in front of me… I’m warning you.” Prior to Sunday morning, no probable cause existed to arrest Darden for the November 6th incident.
Since 2001, Reappropriate has been the web's foremost Asian American activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture blog!