Author Archive


Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

A friend sent this to me a billion years ago but for some reason I didn’t realize that I could post it here. I like the array of issues that he mentions in this song a lot–some I feel aren’t discussed. One of the most striking parts in this song that I liked was about how some people make fun of the Bindi and he points out that “no one makes fun of your cross,” but the most moving part for me was when the rapper mentions “tired of well-to-do Asians only chasing wealth,” which goes along with the myth of the “model minority”–once a group “makes it” in the dominant society, many individuals of that group don’t develop an interest in helping other members of that marginalized group. The people who don’t fit into the “model minority” get ignored or are considered “un-Asian.” Either way, the Model Minority myth continues to prevent Asians (and some would argue, other marginalized populations as well, since some tell black/hispanics that the Asians made it so they’re only being lazy, as if all minorities have the same level of obstacles in gaining financial success/histories) from lobbying against discrimination.

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Stuff Asian People Like

Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

What do you guys think of this?

I think it shows the impossibility of smooshing various Asian cultures into one pan-Asian culture. There’s constantly a stream of comments below every post where some specific ethnic group complains how no one from that group subscribes to whatever is being discussed in the post or hailed as an “Asian” activity/food/behavior. The entries and the comments posted also go along with the idea that the umbrella term “Asian” really is only political.

By the way, I hope no one mentioned this site before–but I’m too lazy to check.

Foreign and yet Familiar

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

I was looking through a Pei Wei menu during Thanksgiving break and I noticed a line that I’ve seen before. They have the line on their website menu as well:

“Discover something foreign yet familiar”

This reminded me of the Watanna story and the use of mixed-race characters.

Do you think that this “foreign yet familiar” element also resonates with “Asian fusion” restaurants? Or maybe not Asian fusion but more “Americanized” restaurants? When Kevin Shea came to our school, he mentioned how there was a place that served eggrolls with cheese in them. Do you think these kind of concoctions are problematic or innovative? Or simply a matter of business? When my dad complained about some Korean barbecue that was apparently “too sweet” (aka too Americanized), the waitress said that they had to make it this way to please the American customers. Does this suggest a power dynamic between the American customers (dominant) and first-generation restauranteers (…non dominant)? In order to appease the American customers, who may or may not know the culture’s “authentic” cuisine, the non-dominant restauranteers have change the presentation of their culture’s cuisine.

Doesn’t this go against the idea of striving toward “authentic” ethnic dishes?

Jackie Chan Serenading You

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I think all of the -isms in Disney’s Mulan are rectified with this magical video.

I tried to find the video with the lyrics so you could sing along but I have failed, unlike this video.

Fun fact: There’s a part where Jackie says “ddong cham ji”–in Korean, that sounds like “holding in…fecal matter.” Coincidence???

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Anyway, going along with the hate parade on Mulan, I heard from a Taiwanese-American friend that they get some of the cultural aspects wrong in the movie as well. For example, when they paint Mulan’s face white for the meeting with the matchmaker. My friend said that this is not part of Chinese culture. Also, she said something about how matchmakers were rare or the procedure wasn’t correct–but I was too distracted by Jackie Chan’s melodious voice to really pay attention to her.

Edit: I just noticed that I sort of exoticized Jackie Chan with the comment “magical video”–Jackie Chan is not magical–he is a real human being that eats, poops, and sashays through still water, just like you.

Edit: I just portrayed Jackie Chan as hyper-sexual with the term “sashay.” He lumbers across still water.

Edit: I just suggested that Jackie Chan was lazy with the term “lumbers.” He sprints across still water.

Matching Stories

Monday, November 29th, 2010

I liked the idea of matching/complementary/mirroring stories, but I thought that the stories “Ms. Sens” and “A Real Durwan” could also be paired up. Ms. Sens and Boori Ma both find their current lives unsatisfactory, both feel helpless in their situations (though whether or not they are helpless is up to debate), other characters dominate them (Mr. Sens, everyone else in that apartment of Boori Ma), and both live in the past. Also, both characters seem to have romanticized the past; they don’t seem to acknowledge the negative memories along with the positive ones. As for differences, Boori Ma relishes the (alleged) wealth she enjoyed and how people served her, while Ms. Sens enjoyed the sense of community in her hometown. So Boori Ma seems to enjoy how separated she was from other people (in wealth), how she was elevated above people, but Ms. Sens likes that she was a part of a group. However, this could also be turned into a similarity in that Boori Ma could relish the inter-dependence–the wealthy rely on the servants, while the servants rely on the wealthy for wages as does Ms. Sens, since she appreciated the cohesiveness and cooperation in a community.

Language in “Obasan” and the Construction of History

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

I like that Joy Kogawa doesn’t Italicize the Japanese words in “Obasan.” I’ve always felt that when writers Italicized non-English words (non-English in this case because that’s my only experience with texts) in texts that were predominantly in English, they were creating a rift between the languages, and continuing the idea of linguistically separate spheres. But in “Obasan,” that is not the case. Japanese and English words follow seamlessly together. Both languages contribute to the content and idea of the text; to me, Kogawa’s choice suggests that no “language” is marked foreign through Italicizing, no terms are deemed foreign or distinct in the text. Her choice “corrects” the paradoxical identity of Japanese-Americans (Americans as in the Americas) during WWII. In “Obasan,” they were treated as enemies yet Canadians, and this treatment bleeds on in the treatment of Asian-Americans in both Canada and the United States, where they are considered “forever foreigners.” By choosing not to Italicize, both Japanese and English meld to create a distinctly Canadian work.

Also, I’m a little baffled by Aunt Emily. She tells Naomi and others to always remember the past, yet apparently, to her, Canada is in a vacuum, completely cut off from Japan. Part of the history of the Japanese-Canadians is that their ancestors came from Japan some time ago. Yet Aunt Emily doesn’t seem to acknowledge this. The part of the text where this stood out to me was when Uncle says, “That’s not very Japanese” and Aunt Emily says, “Why should ___be? We’re/They’re Canadian.” If she doesn’t even acknowledge that part of history, the history of immigration, of cultural diversity, then how can she tell others to remember and acknowledge the past?

What do you think?

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Situation: You are sitting/standing/lying down/hopping (I don’t know your life) in the company of your friends. They begin to speak in a language that you don’t understand.

I’ve heard two opinions about this situation.

First opinion: “How rude!”

Second opinion: “They can do whatever the hell they want.”

Paranoid opinion: “Are they talking about me?”

I’ve always been a little torn about this situation. Time and time again I’ve heard people express their disapproval of this. Is this really a breach in social etiquette, or is it forced assimilation? When we condemn this situation, are we instating English as the dominant language? (In this situation, usually it’s a non-English language.) In fact, does our opinion on this situation change when the language that one person doesn’t understand is English? Does disapproval of this practice reveal an attitude against multilingualism in our society?

Here’s another situation:

A group of students enter a classroom. They cluster in the corner and speak a non-English language.

I’ve heard an overwhelming amount of disapproval of this situation as well. Do the same questions that I asked above apply?