I don’t follow football much — let alone college football — so I wasn’t aware until about mid-morning that today is national Signing Day, when colleges sign incoming freshmen players to join their on-campus football teams. Which, I guess, is a big enough deal that Sports Illustrated (among other media outlets) is live-blogging the whole thing.
The second highest ranked running back this year is 5-star player Soso Jamabo, from Plano, Texas. SB Nation reported that several schools were competing for Jamabo with three — UCLA, Texas and Notre Dame — most favoured to win his commitment.
This morning, Jamabo announced that he would be committing to UCLA; and he made that announcement not only in a press conference but also on Twitter, where he tweeted the following tweet.
The tweet is in reference to a Childish Gambino song, “You See Me”, which is so lyrically and musically whack as to border upon criminal. Childish Gambino is the rap name of Donald Glover, who is best known for his role as Troy Barnes on Community (nerds of colour also know him as the guy who voices Miles Morales Spiderman). In addition to its use of several slurs, “You See Me” is derogatorily sexist, particularly towards Latina and Asian women; specifically, it encourages the objectification and fetishization of Asian women as desriable because we represent sexual “variation”. Ugh.
I’m on my ballin’ each and every day
Asian girls everywhere, UCLA
You see me babe? You see me babe?
Asian girls everywhere, UCLA
…Your shit’s closed down cause I ball too hard
And I’m cumming on her face, have I gone too far?
I don’t know, who cares, I don’t love that broad
And it’s funny how these nigga’s always act hard
I’m a black star in a black car with a black card
They wanna knock me out
They try a nigga
Realest motherfucker in the game, like Tron nigga
Forget these white girls
I need some variation
Especially if she very Asian
She got an ugly friend? Roll solo
Can I stay at your place? No hobo
Not my fault, man, these ladies love me
She’s an overachiever cause all she do is succeed.
This song could seriously not have been more cliched in its derogatory exoticism of Asian and Asian American women if a girl breathlessly whispered “me love you long time” over a remixed hook of gongs and mandolins.
Perhaps Jamabo was deliberately trying to perpetuate the casual Yellow/Brown Fever fetishism of Gambino’s song; or, perhaps, he was a kid who innocently thought his use of a song lyric was clever and funny in some way, and didn’t consider the implications of his off-the-cuff tweet on (Asian American) women. Maybe he’s an 18 year old who’s excited about going away to college in a foreign place where, yes, there are going to be more Asian American women than there are in Plano, Texas — and he just didn’t really know how to express himself. I don’t know Jamabo’s motives; nor do I really care.
What I do know is that Jamabo’s reference to this song is ugly. This tweet refers to a song that reinforces the notion that UCLA is, and should be treated as, a veritable hunting ground for Asian American women; where Asian American women are prized over other women for how we add sexual “variety”; where we are only of value as long as we don’t have “ugly friends”; where even as sexual playthings we are still expected to “overachieve”; where even in our putative “overachievement”, we “succeed” through the framework of a hypersexualized double entendre (“suck seed”); where our bodies and our sexualities are championed as nothing more than a football player’s signing bonus.
Over 15% of UCLA’s student body identify as Asian American women; every single one of those women deserve more than the unthinking and insulting hypersexualization of our yellow and brown skin.
Ironically, UCLA has for nearly fifty years been central to the birth and evolution of the politicized Asian American Movement. I’m sure UCLA is delighted to welcome Soso Jamabo to the campus; I hope that as soon as he settles onto campus, he swings by the campus’ Asian American Studies Center — which has been doing political work with and for the community for the last 45 years — and meets someone who can teach him why this tweet of his makes for a poor first impression.