The Often Dismissed/Untold Blasian Narrative

www.blasianproject.org

FB – Blasian Narratives

YT – www.bit.ly/blasianyoutube

IG – www.instagram.com/blasianproject

TW- www.twitter.com/blasianproject

“Blasian Narratives is a multi-media project that intimately explores the intersection and identities of mixed race Black & Asian individuals through live performances and film. The project began as a collaboration between Morehouse and Spelman College students documenting and exploring the identity formations of individuals with mixed Afro-Asian heritage, colloquially known as “Blasians.” The grassroots project aims to bring historically polarized communities together by illustrating the complexities and unity of identity awareness–how you see yourself vs how you are seen–in hopes of building solidarity along the way. The cast and crew now includes students from Stanford, NYU, and more.”

This video series serves as an important reminder that no two mix race experiences are the same, especially when using umbrella terms such as “Asian” to embody complexed identities.  The narratives provoke viewers to confront perhaps their own myths/bias about bi/multi racial people.  One specific poem I found myself attached to, focused on feeling as if you are “enough” and how that feeling is tied to familial validation.  While another story spoke on being “multi-ethic,” the author’s honestly brought to light the efforts kids of color make to connect to their own cultures the best they can, which is usually in the form of pop-culture (anywhere from hip hop to Naruto.)

XING : Exploring Identity in Snap Shots

"Using mimicry to subvert the stereotypes imposed on Asian women and their bodies, XING enlists a roster of photographers to explore identity and ‘Othering’"

                                            Courtesy of XING © Tammy Volpe

Xing portrays the intersections of sex, race and gender and the people who are the products of these overlapping identities. Xing collaboratively captures still images of what it means to coexist in society as a sexual stereotype of desirability.

“I hope the book is a message to the West (as well as its Eastern counterparts) that the Asian female identity is multifarious, and it is ever-changing and independent.” She adds, “I hope it inspires people from all different backgrounds and ethnicities that it is important to own and be proud of one’s heritage.”

The booklet also contains a decent amount of nudity and opens up conversations of what does empowerment look like?  Intent when paired with the concept of  vulnerability can offer insight into “the gaze” and the internal and external conflicts showing skin.

Site were you can access the photos: http://xi-ng.co/9/

More reviews of xing: http://crackmagazine.net/article/art/xing-addresses-the-stereotypes-east-asian-female-sexuality/

 

“Gwen Stefani’s Harajuku Girls” Legacy Continues to Promote Appropriative/Orientalist Narratives to a New Generation

 

KUU KUU HARAJUKU: ON GROWING UP WITH GWEN STEFANI, JAPAN STREET FASHION + CULTURAL APPROPRIATION

http://1025kiss.com/kuu-kuu-harajuku-on-growing-up-with-gwen-stefani-japan-street-fashion-cultural-appropriation/

“Like an echo pedal, she repeats herself: Stefani’s executive-producing a new animated show, Kuu Kuu Harajuku, for Nickelodeon. Much like her fashion line and fragrances, it selectively borrows from authentic Harajuku fashion and Tokyo street culture. Unsurprisingly, the show also doesn’t seem to have any official Japanese showrunners at its helm either, and all but one player — Filipino-Australian actress Charlotte Nicdao — on its primary voice cast is white.

Similar to the plot and stylings of Cartoon Network’s also American-made Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi Show (which was, at least, based off the actual J-pop band and included them in some form), the series follows a band called HJ5—led by G, a blonde stand-in for Gwen Stefani of course, who positions herself as a leader of all things deemed “Harajuku.”

“Stefani [has always had a] love of pop art and lifelong admiration for the street fashion and creative youth culture found in the renowned Harajuku neighborhood of Tokyo, Japan,” a press release for the show states, according to Us Weekly. “It was while writing her first solo album that Stefani created the original Harajuku Girl characters as a celebration of the creativity and individualism she saw and loved in the Harajuku District.””

Looking Back at Love. Angel. Music. Baby., Gwen Stefani's Racist Pop Frankenstein, Ten Years Later:The album is simultaneously a racist mess, a lyrical car crash, and a treasure chest containing champagne kisses.

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/nnqmam/revisiting-gwen-stefanis-racist-pop-frankenstein-ten-years-later-567

Margaret Cho's response to the "Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Girls"

10.31.2005

“I want to like them, and I want to think they are great, but I am not sure if I can. I mean, racial stereotypes are really cute sometimes, and I don’t want to bum everyone out by pointing out the minstrel show. I think it is totally acceptable to enjoy the Harajuku girls, because there are not that many other Asian people out there in the media really, so we have to take whatever we can get. Amos ‘n Andy had lots of fans, didn’t they? At least it is a measure of visibility, which is much better than invisibility. I am so sick of not existing, that I would settle for following any white person around with an umbrella just so I could say I was there.

It is weird being Asian American right now, because I don’t exactly know what my place is. America is supposed to be for everyone, and people are supposed to treat me like I belong here, and yet you would never know that from watching tv or movies. I still get the questions about where I am really from. Then when I try to explain this feeling of invisibility to those whose every move and moment is entirely visible, they come back at me with, “Maybe Asian Americans don’t want to be in entertainment!” Yes he really said that. I just screamed, because there was no other way I could answer without hitting him.

Even though to me, a Japanese schoolgirl uniform is kind of like blackface, I am just in acceptance over it, because something is better than nothing. An ugly picture is better than a blank space, and it means that one day, we will have another display at the Museum of Asian Invisibility, that groups of children will crowd around in disbelief, because once upon a time, we weren’t there.”

Some..questionable comparisons however she made an effort to speak on this issue concerning the Harajuku Girls in a time when not many other dared and before “cultural appropriation” was a house hold term and with that in mind the context of what she said and how she said it makes more sense to me.

I related much more to both of these articles and their shared experiences than I would honestly care to admit, but the truth of the matter is that this was one of my first exposures I had as a kid seeing girls who looked like me in the national spotlight of music in mainstream pop culture.  It felt like a confused type of validation that at the time I had no way of comprehending. Unfortunately the experience of grow up only to realize that the characters we idolized and adored in our childhood are actually racist stereotypes.. is nothing new.  The real challenge follows this internal awakening, with two choice. Option 1 is to take the blue pill and to retire our decade old relationship with these characters and reflect on how these popular images shaped our identity and perspectives of the self or try our best to remember them fondly while still analyzing and critiquing.  Or option 2 you can take the red pill and stay in a state of blissful ignorance and happily enjoy these oppressive representations without the feeling of consequence.

。.。:+♡*The Intersections of Magical Empowerment*♡+:。.。

As kid of the 90’s era who is slowly realizing that surreal reality of creeping adulthood, I find myself more frequently grasping for artifacts of my childhood nostalgia.  Sailor Moon for instance has always felt like one of those staple shows for me that take me back to Saturday mornings at Grandmas house fighting for the best seat in front of the TV with my cousins while, multitasking between a mouth full coco puffs and calling dibs on which characters we were.  As a kid I knew my powerful magical girl role model as Serena Tsukino and now as  an adult by Tsukino Usagi.  The American adaptation of this beloved 90’s cartoon had in some very vital ways stripped away the powerful representation that the original embodied concerning issues of authenticity, white washing, dubbing and censoring (one of the most notable being that sailor neptune + sailor uranus going from girlfriends to cousins..)

Americanization of the show: ”

In addition to the Americaization of the names in the show, the America broadcasts also cut out most references to Japanese culture, both in the audio and on the screen. So if a character was standing next to, say, signs written in kanji, they would become blank signs instead. Also, when the bus crashes, the door opens on the other side, which would be considered correct in Japan and wrong for America. Also, whenever Japanese yen was used for prices in the anime, the English dub would refer to the money as dollars.

Another example of Americanization is in the episode “Time Bomb.” In Japan, people drive on the left side of the road, which you see in the original Japanese episode. However, the English dub flip scenes where Serena is on a bus to make it look like the bus is driving on the right side of the road, emulating American roads. However, this is extremely noticeable as viewers can see letters are backwards on signs the bus passes.

One other Americanization of the anime is Darien’s nickname for Serena. He originally called her “dumpling head.” In Japanese, dumpling translates to “Odango,” which is a reference to how some women wear their hair in spherical buns on the sides of their head, reminiscent of dumplings. Since this cultural reference would be lost on Americans, the English dub changed Darien’s nickname for Serena to the more American “meatball head.””

*Additionally the Sailor Moon Stars that feature trans characters were never released at all in the U.S.

Sailor Moon: 15 Ways It Was Censored In America

Vice Documentary looks into Sailor Moon as a fandom from a American queer lens: (mainly from a white perspective) still informative but lacks intersections of race related complexities.

I highly recommend this afropunk article! ( http://afropunk.com/2017/09/loving-magical-girls-black-non-binary- )It makes mentions of Sailor Moon as well as other beloved works of art in the magical girl genre including Revolutionary Girl Utena and webcomics Princess Love Pon & Magical How?.  They touch on the intersections of colorism, representation, black girl magic, trans/non-binary empowerment and femphobia.

Quote from the article:

“Although the magical girl genre inspires cisgender girls and women, the genre also has the potential to do the same for transgender and non-binary people. To avoid causing dysphoria, it is important to have more magical girl media with trans and non-binary representation. The magical girl genre shouldn’t only be for cisgender girls. If gender isn’t binary, then being magical isn’t either.”

 

Revolutionary Girl Utena

Dark Matter, Poetry/Model Minority Discourse

Bring in Brown to Keep Black Down

there is a photo on the fridge back home of me at
maybe eight or nine wearing a cardigan, a plaid tie,
and matching dimples.

this is the kind of photo
my family has selected for commemoration because it’s
a type of nostalgia that reminds grownups of words like innocence.
the type of photo you can mail back home across the ocean say,
“look how happy we are here”  “we made it”

this photo was taken during my elementary school’s living history
museum where students dressed up like some famous person and stood like a statue until parents came and pressed a button
then we’d come to life and narrate our stories.

i chose martin luther king.
so when families pressed my button
i said something like

“long ago this country used to be racist but
then i came along and made it better”

all of them clapped – my family too – and they took this photo
and put it on the fridge because they were proud of me
for doing a good job
and i believed them

so when beatrice got suspended for bringing a knife to slice her pear
— the same day my math teacher told my parents i “might be a genius”
so after 9/11 when i found myself equally brown and ashamed
— the same day my hindu temple made a shirt that said “proud to be american”
so when i became the darkest face in all my advanced classes
— the same day there was a shooting at the other school

my father taught me how to tie a tie
and recite our
pledge of assimilation:
“long ago this country used to be racist but
then i came along and made it better”

when you rinse brown across a blue ocean
does it get lighter or darker?
(your choice)

in 1958 my grandfather moved from india to pursue a phd in english
i wonder what his colleagues wrote in his letters of recommendation
how remarkable it was for a brown man to emerge from a fractured lung mistaken
as country and breath english so poetically
(footnote: why can’t the black people speak like that too)

in 1964 the civil rights act banned discrimination against racial minorities
(footnote: when you throw a piece of paper in a pool of blood – who wins?)

in 1965 the immigration act instituted a system that gave preferential treatment to immigrants with skills
(footnote: bring in brown to keep black down)

my grandfather tells me that he
always respected martin luther king
and was sad to hear about his assassination.

i have never asked him if
he left his library to the streets,

because i know the answer the way i
know my people
the way we are
too busy reading rather than revolting
the way we will develop theories about revolution
for someone else to fight
the way that we have been trained to
keep quiet,
smile back

when the white man said jump
we said:
how many grades?

said work harder!
so we had to cheat to keep up
stole the words straight from their tongues
said: “hello my name is martin luther king
and i have a dream that one day asian americans
will appropriate the Black struggle for our own advancement
and blame Black people for not working as hard”

almost fifty years later
this model minority holds a scantron like a mirror
recognizes that their body has always been filled in as an answer

and i am sitting in my gentrified apartment
in my gentrified skin writing poetry with big words that i learned in private school like
‘white supremacy’ which means that i could you tell about how there
is a long history of white people painting themselves black
but i am looking at a photo of myself from
when i was eight or nine and put on martin luther king
used the black struggle to legitimize my difference
to my white peers growing up
which feels like its own form of
blackface

press my button,
see what happens

bring in brown to keep black down:
when i speak about how my people were colonized by the british
but not mention how they gave some of their ties, titles, and guns
and we used all three against our own
hide all the blood we made beneath the
brown

bring in brown to keep black down:
when i cry about diaspora and missing my homeland
did not mention the countless bodies we
stepped on when we got here
just to get close enough to kneel
for a white man – dick or
degree is there a difference —
carry both on your tongue

bring in brown to keep black down:
when white people use one hand to give us medals
and the other to give them handcuffs
ask them why they can’t be as
hard working as us?

bring in brown to keep black down:
when we post facebook statuses about
how police brutality affects people of color
while on the block next door
a man two bullets darker gets arrested
by a night three shades
lighter.

what i mean to say is
go back home and look at the fridge
what images have the privilege of nostalgia?

in one story
black is forcibly transported across an ocean in a ship
as they put a collar around her neck

in another story
brown books the next ship out as they
put a tie around his

“long ago this country used to be racist (but then
white people brought us here to make it seem better)”

and we have done little to make them
think otherwise since.

https://www.alokvmenon.com/blog/2014/2/11/bring-in-brown-to-keep-black-down

I came across Dark Matter quite some time ago, around 3 years prior.  They spoke with a bladed tongue slicing up stereotypes and expectations left and right. This poem to me has always been a stepping stone into my examination/self-reflect of my own identity as an “Asian American.”  It confronts the benefits/downfalls of “positive” stereotyping.

“You’re the Model Minority until You’re Not”

http://professorshih.blogspot.com/2015/04/youre-model-minority-until-youre-not.html

Officer Liang’s controversy led to conversations about the model minority narrative/ Asian American history in relation to the Black Community. The discourse in this article confronts “positive stereotypes.”

Quotes from article:

“My students sometimes aren’t sure how to feel about “positive” stereotypes of Asian Americans. What’s wrong with being known as educated, hard-working, and law-abiding? The problem with positive stereotypes is the same problem with negative ones: the dominant group gets to decide what they are. It decides who gets to be a part of the favored racial group and why. What this means is that you’re the model minority until you’re not. ”

“The history of Chinese Americans is a crash course on the social construction of race in America. Stereotypes come and go. From the beginning of significant Chinese immigration during the California gold rush to the present, Chinese Americans have been racialized as undesirable or desirable depending on circumstances at home and abroad. The Exclusion era, the World War 2 era, and the Korean War era all racialized Chinese Americans differently according to the historical needs of white supremacy. It took the Civil Rights Movement to shift the social meanings of Chinese Americans once again. Like negative stereotypes, the model minority stereotype is also a tool of white supremacy.”

“The model minority stereotype has always been less about praising Asian people than it has been about shaming black people.”

Exploring Humor/Television Through the Eyes of Margret Cho & Eddie Huang

Margret Cho, American Girl  (1994-1995)

“Korean American” cast, many of which were east asian but not particularly Korean.

  • 1st televised sitcom to star an Asian American family/lead + censorship
  •  The concept of “authenticity”/representation
  • Laugh at me vs. laugh with me
  • Humor relying on stereotypes/tropes and the distinction between when members of group laugh at own stereotypes  bc they know it is untrue while other non members my be viewing it as a reaffirmation/validation of the preexisting stereotypes they had of said group.
  • Q:Who’s the target audience??? What is being sacrificed to make show more palatable to “Americans”/ white ppl?
  • “not asian enough” – community property
  • transition to self deprecating humor/ ethnic humor

Fresh Off The Boat

  • Both set in the 90’s
  • Reinstates how Asian Americans are still fighting the stereotype of being seen as forever foreigners and how Asian Americans struggle to find identities in a binary America that is often only seen as (black/white)- this theme can also relate to Better Luck Tomorrow.  To be Asian and attempt to be white parallels with the model minority myth however when the opposite is invoked we are introduced to ppl who will probably identity with Eddie.
  • Q: Is the term FOB used for other minority groups as frequently as APIA?
  • Un adressed anti-blackness
  • American Dream
  • no laugh track
  • Taiwanese/Chinese (seen as interchangeable in the show)
  • Q: Can Asian Americans have there own successful TV show with out fulfilling the model minority narrative/positively reinforcing the American Dream?

The Last Dragon- Bruce Lee Roy  (cultural exchange vs. appropriation)

This article is addressing why Eddie left his show when he was confronted with the political motives of the producers, The Bamboo Ceiling – TV

http://www.vulture.com/2015/01/eddie-huang-fresh-off-the-boat-abc.html

“Eddie Huang’s Big Dick Asian Movement is legitimately grounded in the frustration of Asian men in America who have been emasculated, ridiculed, and mocked on movie screens, in classrooms, and on dating sites. But its framing and points of action are centered on a fundamentally misogynist notion of sexual entitlement, encapsulated in Huang’s oft-repeated statement of purpose that “Jet Li gets no pussy” in Romeo Must Die. That Huang grounds his project of Asian American manhood in the attempted subversion of stereotypes of Black male hyper-masculinity and the adoption of hip hop culture cements his project as one that reinscribes, rather than challenges, systems of racial and gendered oppression.”

Link to article above discusses Asian masculinity + anti-blackness:

When Asian Emasculation Meets Misogyny: On Eddie Huang’s Black Feminist Problem

Connections Week 2 Reading

Julie Otsuka-When the Emperor was Divine

Week 2, Friday Seminar Notes

Characters: mother, boy, girl, (father)

Narrators

  • 3rd person-distance/dissociation/”off center”
  • 1st person as “we”

Symbolism: horses/freedom/illusion, color white (used in a non traditional way),  dark stain(s), clock, birds/animals

Poetic, similar to haiku format minimalist style not simplistic.

*Note: Implications made when using the word simplistic alludes to the piece being unworthy of scholarly use or being considered as such.  These methods have been heavily utilized to minimize the experiences of various oppressed peoples narratives historically and currently as an artifact of evidence that there experiences of oppression are valid.

Themes: Internalized racism/ state violence/ assimilation/ dehumanization+re-humanization/ freedom+incarceration/ coping mechanisms/ erasure/ identity (individuality, renaming, #’s)

Q: When does _____________ group become “American”?

  • parallel practices between Japanese internment camps, enslavement of African people and the modern creation of the prison industrial complex

Fact & fiction/personal accounts of historical events create room for storytelling and re-imaging history from the perspectives of those whom are normally erased to benefit the mainstream narrative.  In addition representation in the most mundane ways should never be glossed over, these are the contributing factors that really humanize characters to disprove the myths of why they have been “othered”.

 

Small Kine Talk Story

Writing Activity/Writing Workshop Week 2

When the moon waxes and flaunts it’s crescent, half is still whole.  Just as a mix plate or a poi dog isn’t a second thought but a mundane memory of local familiarity; neither was being raised hapa on an island separated from the tales of the mainland by an abyss of rolling aqua hills and the crisp salt air, that tainted the tongues of the people who flocked to this promise island like minabirds when one keiki went drop their musubi.  Looking for an opportunity, a lively hood, their own special grain of rice.

“Aqueducts and black and white photograph became the treasure map to an almost forgotten history.  Submerged in lumbering stocks of bitter sweet sugar cane and sleeping grass.  The graves once forgotten.”

Practicing Sankofa

Debunking the myth of Hawaii as a “racial paradise”

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2015/01/15/377197729/hawaii-as-racial-paradise-bid-for-obama-library-invokes-a-complex-past

An important conversation that hurts to have (Who gets to be hapa?)

http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2016/08/08/487821049/who-gets-to-be-hapa