“Do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?”

10 04 2009

First, Texas Rep. Betty Brown says that Asian Americans should change their names so that it’s easier for “Americans” to pronounce and understand:

Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?

…Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?

Lumping all Asian Americans as Chinese is monolithic and racist.  Surprise surprise Brown, Asia is a big continent and “Asian” applies to more ethnic groups as well, not just Chinese people.  And referring to Chinese people as “you and your citizens” is just otherizing and reinforces the idea that Asian Americans aren’t “real” Americans.  Who are the “real” Americans?  White people.

Besides, the problem isn’t that Asian Americans don’t have easy to pronounce names for Americans.  Many of them have adopted “American” names:

Ko told the committee that people of Chinese, Japanese and Korean descent often have problems voting and other forms of identification because they may have a legal transliterated name and then a common English name that is used on their driver’s license on school registrations.

Asian Americans, like many other minority groups in this country, have been and are still disenfranchised when it comes to exercising their democratic right to vote.  So of course, when citizens of color (believe it or not, just because they aren’t white doesn’t mean that they aren’t citizens) want to reduce barriers that they face in voting they are being problematic and un-American?

Brown has refused to apologize for or retract her racist remarks and instead claims that the Democrats who have asked for an apology are using “racial rhetoric” to push back against the bill.  “Racial rhetoric”?  No, it’s just plain old racism.

The question should not be “Do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” but it should be “Do you think that it would behoove you to see past your white privilege for a change and learn how to embrace diversity?”

And now we have the bias incident at Tufts.  We are clearly not beyond racism.


10 04 2009

I just received this email forward from Tufts students about a bias incident at Tufts, immediately followed by two safety alerts from the Tufts police about unrelated incidents.  

Interesting that the police email detailed two incidents that did not seem to involve Tufts students as perpetrators.  These attacks were reported within hours from the time of the attack (both happened last night).  However, the bias attack involving members of our student body occurred early Thursday morning, and was not included in the email.

Another thing that was not in the police email:  a friend of mine also witnessed an attack by Hillside Apartments yesterday.  An older man was seen beating up a younger man, but when the police found the perpetrator, he claimed that they had just been “rough-housing.”  Since the victim had not come forward to report the crime, the perpetrator was let go.

Here’s the text of the email about the bias attack.

Dear Tufts Community,

Please forward this to everyone. Please also post this blurb to every article published on the online Daily, under the name of something like “News that Hasn’t Been Reported Yet” or “What about this News?” in all of the comments sections.

Thank you

There was a bias incident involving members of the Korean Students Association (KSA) that took place in the early morning hours on Thursday, April 9, in Lewis Hall Lounge, while the club members were practicing for their culture show.

Thirteen members of the KSA were preparing for their culture show at approximately 1:45AM. A white freshman male living in Lewis Hall approached five male members who were practicing their dance. He had been drinking at a bar prior to arriving at Lewis Hall. He insisted several times that the KSA members teach him the moves to their dance and was repeatedly asked to stop. Despite this request, he continued to molest the dancers, imitating the dance moves and declaring, “This is the gayest shit I’ve ever done.” The KSA members then asked him to leave, to which he responded, “Fuck you. Fuck you, I could take all of you. I’ll kill you all.” He then threatened to get his fraternity brothers to help him retaliate. At this point, he began to physically harass the dancers, spitting at one member and shoving another one of the guys. An altercation ensued during which the freshman ripped two shirts and inflicted minor cuts to a member’s forehead. In order to restrain him, the KSA members pinned him to the floor and put him into a headlock, at which point the freshman mentioned that he could not breathe and the person holding him down immediately let go.

At this moment, the freshman’s friend and his girlfriend, who watched from the side, stepped in to take him away. When he got up, he started cursing “Fuck you, fuck you” and spitting at the dancers again. As he was being dragged away, he shouted, “Fuck you all, you fucking chinks, go back to China! Go back to your fucking country, you don’t belong in this country.” His friends took him to the bathroom, where he could be heard repeatedly shouting, “If I see them again, I will fuck them all.”

The fight was reported to an RA, who wrote and sent in a bias incident report.  According to the RA, submitted within the report was testimony from his girlfriend supporting the fact that her boyfriend initiated the altercation. Thirteen people, members and friends of KSA, were present during the fight. In the aftermath of the dispute, members were shocked and saddened that such racism and hostility could be found at our school. It is the collective wish of KSA and affiliated students, both of Asian and non-Asian heritage, that this event come to the attention of our community in order to shed light on discrimination among our peers and our ongoing fight for cultural understanding.

The Korean Students Association greatly appreciates the support that the community has shown. This particular incident affected members of KSA, but anyone could have been a victim of this bigotry. Please take the time to show your support by joining this Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=70037281395 . To share your thoughts on the matter, please contact administrators and keep an ongoing discussion about how we can move forward from here.

As always, we are extremely passionate about issues regarding race and culture in our community. If you want to join our cause in promoting cultural understanding and feel that you have a great idea for the future direction of our community, we strongly encourage you to raise this issue with your dean. For those who feel the need to talk to a professional regarding this racial attack, Tufts offers free counseling sessions. Please spread the word! Social injustice is a fundamental yet taboo issue. It is imperative that we confront these problems.

I really don’t even know what to say about this.  Completely unacceptable.  I am outraged.

**Update**  Here’s the email from the dean that I’m sure everyone just received.

To Members of the AS&E Community:

The Office of the Dean of Students is currently investigating reports of an incident that took place early yesterday morning, Thursday, April 9, 2009, in one of the residence halls, apparently involving a physical altercation and racial epithets among students. Many differing accounts of this incident are circulating within the university community. While we cannot comment on an incident that is currently under active investigation, we want the community to know that we take seriously our responsibility to pursue this incident and to ensure a safe and supportive environment on campus for all our students. We will report on the investigation when we are able to do so. While the investigative process goes forward, we and our colleagues in the administration are also reaching out to community members who have been affected by what they have experienced or heard about.

Bruce Reitman
Dean of Students

Finally, the administration acknowledges that the incident was reported with a short, vague, non-accusatory email.  Please, this was a racist attack, not an “incident” “apparently involving a physical altercation and racial epithets among students.”

Do I love square butts?

10 04 2009

Okay, so I’ll admit that I absolutely love Spongebob and I am a huuuuuge fan. So when I initially saw this commercial I thought it was quite hilarious:

But it’s really just another way of using humor to normalize sexism and the hypersexualization and objectification of women. When you see this, you’re supposed to just laugh it off and be like oh, it’s just Spongebob, nothing serious. And that is exactly its power – that it disguises itself as just a cute and innocent laugh.

Also notice the prominent yellow 99 sponge-like thing in the back which is supposed to advertise Burger King’s cheap food. It is obvious that this commercial is targeting lower-income people of color. Poor people of color tend to eat fast food the most because it is cheap and quick. They do not have access to nutritionists or the income to buy their groceries at Whole Foods. Here again we see that food and access to healthy, nutritious food is clearly a class issue. And because class is so closely tied to race, it is also a race issue.

Using Spongebob to market Burger King is also supposed to mostly appeal to children who watch Spongebob, and it’s not surprising or novel to have a hypersexualized commercial that commodifies female bodies geared towards children. And is the immense amount of female booty shaking really necessary?

Besides, the Burger King guy dancing is just plain creepy. Especially when he just goes up to one of the dancing women and measures her butt. This also demonstrates how men feel like they are entitled to female bodies and the idea that a woman’s body/sexuality isn’t hers to own but instead is up for grabs.

Have yellow fever? Get your fix here!

10 04 2009

I saw this on Racialicious and I am utterly disgusted. There is a Cute Asian Girls Iphone App (Their website says that they are no longer distributing this application because it’s offended a lot of people. GOOD! Because we don’t need any more of this racist, sexist shit floating around!). But what was this app? (Bold emphasis mine).

Cute Asian Girls. Need I say more?

Cute Asian Girls gives you HUNDREDs of photos of the most beautiful asian girls you have ever seen. Whether you’re looking for asian girls with weapons, or girls in maid uniforms, or even just the casual girl in a summer dress, we have them all! Our photo collection is growing by the day and will continue growing by the truckload. Every day will introduce new photos for your viewing pleasure.

Download as many asian girl photos as your heart desires for free after you buy the app. Use them as your wallpaper, send them to friends, or set them as your contact’s photos.

This is nothing more than sexploitation of Asian women. Having pictures of Asian women dressed up as school girls, maids, etc. instantly available for “your viewing pleasure” commodifies Asian women and further normalizes the eroticization and fetishization of Asian women (a.k.a “yellow fever”).

Eroticizing and fetishizing an entire racial group is racist and dehumanizing. It is a form of colonization and it obscures the reality and the daily lives of members of that group. It is based on stereotypes of the group – in the case of Asian women, they are stereotyped as obedient, demure, docile and submissive. Therefore people who fetishize Asian women, or any other racial group, do so because they buy into and therefore perpetuate racial stereotypes.

Fox has gotta go

10 04 2009

Fox never fails to outrage. Their next genius idea:

Fox has ordered a “one-hour unscripted series that turns real-life company layoffs into a reality contest.” The show — titled “Someone’s Gotta Go” — will give company staffers access to internal information (budgets, HR files, and salaries) and the power to determine which of the company’s staffers is fired. The Hollywood Reporter notes, “It’s the anti-‘Apprentice’: Instead of contestants vying for a dream job, they’re fighting to keep the lousy one they already have.”

Only Fox would do this… Perfect timing for a show like this too, during a recession. Way to make people feel better about their lives in these rough economic times. Releasing private information about company staffers for commidification and public consumption? It is disgusting that they are commodifying and trying to profit off people’s real-life nightmares. It is unethical to use people’s unfortunate as entertainment and doing so belittles their experiences. Well, this is Fox’s way of wishing everyone a happy recession!

She is a woman, NOT a cougar

10 04 2009

I just saw a commercial for one of TV Land’s new reality television shows, The Cougar.  It is a dating show hosted by Vivica A. Fox where 40-year old Stacy Anderson from Scottsdale, Arizona will “look for love among a group of hot, excited twenty-something bachelors.”  These Bachelor-esque shows are so problematic.  Not only do they reinforce compulsory heterosexuality and hegemonic beauty standards but reality dating television shows also group people together to compete for “love”.  This commodifies them and makes them available for public consumption.

Furthermore, I am sick of the “cougar” label.  Calling a woman a “cougar” is both ageist and sexist.  This is the star of the show.  She is a woman, not a cougar.


To set the record straight, this is a cougar:


An older woman who dates much younger men merits a label while an older man who dates much younger women is fine?   The whole (ageist) premise behind the “cougar” label is that after a certain age, women get desperate for men and prey on younger men.  Oh, what she wouldn’t do to get in bed with a younger man!  Meanwhile, reverse the roles – if you have an older man who dates much younger women (like older men who divorce their wives and find themselves younger trophy wives) that’s not perceived as desperate or predatory.  Instead it’s almost like a status symbol, just something more to make the men seem more distinguished and successful.

Calling women “cougars” suggests that women who enable themselves to age naturally, and desire and actively pursue sex are animalistic.  It shames them and suggests that they are not properly feminine – patriarchy constructs femininity as forever youthful, docile and passive.  Any woman who defies this, any woman who follows her natural aging process and actually wants and likes sex, is vilified, stigmatized and instantly otherized.  This maintains male privilege and helps maintain other sexist double standards like the he’s a stud/she’s a slut one.

The “cougar” label also over-privileges youth and beauty, as if those are the two most important things in life.  It implies that “cougars” are so desperate not only to get in bed with younger men, but also to cling onto their youth which is quickly fading and escaping them.  Instead of celebrating and embracing aging, a natural and inevitable process, the “cougar” label continues to reject it and make it seem repulsive and undesirable.