Saturday, June 11, 2011

All things Asian American

So I know that this blog skews Asian American -- which I suppose is a function of the fact that I study/research/teach Asian American studies, and I identify as Asian American myself. What this means is that folks send me lots o'links to all thing Asian American. Sometimes I sit on them for months, thinking that I'll write a whole blog post about them. And then months past and what we have is a situation where I realize that the relevancy of the moment has passed and now I have all these links.


Here's a few of the links I've been sent over the last few months. I'll include a little blurb by me, but for the most part I think you should check them out if you too are interested in things Asian American. And if you would like to see more diverse content on my blog, feel free to write to me (you can find my email address by looking at the sidebar and the "About me" link) and send me more links.

*Asian Americans & You Tube
This is not going to be a surprise for most folks--that Asian Americans have adopted YouTube as their own network--African Americans have BET and Asian Americans have YouTube (OK, that is an imperfect analogy for several reasons, but you get my gist). Anyway, this is an NPR piece about Wong Fu Production and Ryan Higa--Asian American young men who have created YouTube mini-movies that have reached millions--yes, MILLIONS. Check out Agents of Secret Stuff--it's a bit masculinist and sophomoric at times (I mean, these guys are straight out of college or in college) but it's also interesting for the way it handles issues of race and being Asian American, which is that it doesn't--it normalizes it--which is fascinating in itself. And Higa is pretty funny!

*What it means to be an Asian American man?
So Wesley Yang has written a piece in New York magazine about what it means, to him, to be Asian American and the stereotypes that cohere around Asian Americans and the fact that being a model minority is not all its cracked up to be, especially with that damn bamboo ceiling that no one can crack [insert Panda joke here]. The thing is, for all the hand-wringing that Yang does, there really isn't anything new that he's talking about (for 11 pages--it's a looooonnnnnggg essay) for folks who work in Asian American studies. In fact, I was formulating a response when a much smarter and cooler colleague, erin Khue Ninh wrote her own trenchant and insightful piece in The Huffington Post directly answering many of the points that Yang raised in his article. In particular, I was SO GLAD that erin dealt with the sexism inherent in this essay--because one of the things that bothered me A LOT was the idea that somehow Asian American men have made it in America only when they are able to have sex, at will, with white women--this is erin:
Learning to become an "alpha male" who can confidently paw strange women is a sexist way of dealing with the sexism directed against Asian men. Needing to bed white people as proof that you've made it is a racist way of dealing with the racism directed against Asians. Yang claims in interviews here and here that his article doesn't sanction either of those aims per se, but in that case he really should not have wrapped with this particular call to arms: "we will need more [Asians] ... willing ... to beat people up, to seduce women."

*More Asian-white inter-racial romance
The inspiration for my last post on inter-racial romance was actually this piece in The New York Times by Diane Farr (who apparently used to be on Num3ers, which I've never seen), a white woman who falls in love (gasp!) with a Korean American man (they're married with 3 children). The spin, if you will, is that it's not just her parents who object to her cross-racial dalliances, it's HIS Korean parents who are racist and who object to their son dating across the color line. She's apparently written a book about the whole experience of her inter-racial love. I'm sure Wesley Yang will feel very encouraged to know that at least one Asian American man has succeeded in America by bedding and wedding a white woman.

*2011 APIA Spoken Word and Poetry Summit--Twin Cities
If you are in the Twin Cities area August 4-7, please check out the APIA spoken word and poetry summit. They've got a great line up of folks--some very familiar and revered, like Lawson Inada and David Mura and newer/up-and-coming artists. If I weren't going to be on my honeymoon (yep, Southern Man and I are finally taking our delayed honeymoon in August!) I'd consider buying a ticket to the Twin Cities/Minneapolis and enjoying the festival.

That's it folks--by the way, tomorrow I'm heading to Columbus, Ohio for a 2-week narrative theory seminar. So I may be taking a bit of a blogging vacation--if you have any recommendations of eats in the Columbus area, please let me know in the comment section!


Arun said...

Thank you for these links—especially erin KhuĂȘ Ninh’s piece. Her response is so incisive and well-written, and yet I’m saddened because this piece likely will never get the same amount of press as Wesley Yang’s. Even so, her article made my day. My thanks to you for directing me to it!

americanf0b said...

i'm a mixed asian and white american and my blog talks about culture and ethnicity, and especially asian culture compared with american culture (through my experiences). maybe it could offer a new perspective to this post, along with all the other links you put up that you or your readers might be interested in.