Broaching the topic of “White Privilege” is not synonymous with “All white people are evil and, I hate them all.” Chill out.
Want to watch a white person rush away from a dinner party? Just bust out phrases like “institutionalized racism,” “white supremacy,” and the oldie but goodie “residual effects of slavery that are still with us today,” and watch a room of white people clear itself out, or, at least, have them stammer out the names of all the black people they are friends with, and then offer another unsolicited list off all the good they’ve done for people of color.
When I talk about systemic racism and historical racial inequalities as it ties into white privilege and modern-day racism, I think I must sound like this to white people: “Hey Whitey! I am going to kill you.” I know this is a lot to ask of white people, but could you please STOP FLIPPING OUT when the topic of white privilege comes up? I’m talking about being defensive, blabbing about how there is no such thing as race (just one human race, which is actually made up of different races), and how you are so gifted as a white person that you “don’t see race.” Ooh, that last one, ouch.
That’s why we need to have this conversation — because the inability to “see” racism and privilege is exactly what white privilege is. Talking about race is not a trap. It’s not a game of “Gotcha with your Klan Hood Down.” Talking about white privilege is not about asking white people to leave their race. Nor is it about declaring genocide on the white race. (Besides, looks like we’re already going to outnumber you by 2050, so you might as well sit back, relax and enjoy being Wong-splained.)
Talking about white privilege is not even about trying to make you feel like shit for being white. Surprising, I know. But the conversation on white privilege concerns you and yet is not about YOU. And when you make it about how you feel personally attacked, we really don’t progress further into talking about how we’re going to fix racism. Really.
If you are a white person who gets nervous when white privilege gets brought up, imagine having to navigating racism in every day life as a person of color who must live with it. Imagine systemically being locked out of better education or healthcare, job opportunities or the mainstream American narrative.
There are moments as an Asian American when I’ve been regarded as an “honorary white.” (There are also many other moments when I am reminded that I will always be a perpetual foreigner despite the fact that my family has been in the United States for three generations.) But rather than take whatever privilege I can and run with it, I’m interested in talking with people who benefit from white privilege -– how and if they can recognize it and use their positions of privilege to dismantle the systems that oppress other people.
Believe it or not, I’d love for the world to be more equitable for EVERYONE. And when I ask you to recognize your white privilege, it’s not because I’m trying to place blame. It’s about asking white people to consider the moments where they are able to “pass” in certain situations. Where they are afforded privileges that they never earned. It’s about finding ways to cede privilege, space, and comfort to allow others to live in a more equitable world.
So white people, the conversation about race can’t happen without you. We can’t get things better if we aren’t all talking. If racism were an easy problem to fix, we would have fixed it already. Ending racism starts with recognizing privilege, systemic control over society at large, and when you are dismissing issues of racism then you have the privilege of being oblivious to.
Don’t get me wrong there are people of color who proclaim to drink the tears of white people. There are anti-racism activists who will never organize with the most “down” of white people. I don’t want to drink your white tears, but I’d be lying if I said that I don’t enjoy watching you squirm a little.
Come on, you got to give me that.
I strongly oppose the use of native imagery and racial slurs as team mascots and nicknames. These displays are in no way “honoring” any Native American, living or deceased.
Dear Dan Snyder,
We suspect thatyou’re probably pretty excited about what #CancelColbert has done for you these past two weeks.The media feeding frenzy over the public battle between Asian America and Stephen Colbert seems to have provided you the perfect cover for your ongoing exploitation of Native peoples. While the news cycle has focused squarely on Asian Americans’ justifiable anger at a cable network satirist, you’ve managed to carry on with both the Washington R**skins and launch a foundation that supposedly focuses on the needs of Native youth — detestably named the Washington R**skins Original Americans Foundation.
Truth be told, we’re over you and your offensive Native mascotry.We’re joining our Native friends and fellow organizers in demanding that you change both the name and mascot of the Washington R**skins.
And seriously, this “foundation” of yours? We see your sham. We know that despite your publicly stated mission to “serve” Native communities, this foundation actually serves you by drastically reduce your own tax liability.1We also know that Gary Edwards, your right hand man at the foundation, has notoriously misappropriated, misused, and outright taken nearly $1 million from the Bureau of Indian Affairs while falsely claiming to “help” Indigenous communities through the his Native police association.2Meanwhile,we see you laughing all the way to bank by taking full advantage of Native people and their dehumanization.
Running multi-million dollar cash cows emblazoned with a racist slur and caricature is a far cry from “honoring” Native peoples. And we’re not having it.
We wish that the “Washington R**skins Original Americans Foundation” was just the punchline of a racist joke gone horribly wrong. In reality,it’s nothing short of you slapping Native communities in the face and calling it a handshake.And now, between the football team and your joke of a foundation, you’ve got two ways to perpetuate Native mascotry.
If you’re as committed to responding to the needs of Native peoples as you claim to be, then respond to the repeated requests to change the name. Because this has been — and continues to be — a clearly articulated need from the Native community.
We demand that you change both the name and mascot of the Washington R**skins.
More Trouble for Dan Snyder’s Foundation, ColorLines 3/28/2014“AN OPEN LETTER TO DAN SNYDER: #CHANGETHENAME, NATIVE PEOPLE ARE #NOTYOURMASCOT”
"Recent events have allowed mainstream media to paint a picture of Asian American and Native American communities as being at odds in#NotYourMascot: the fight to call on Washington R*dskins owner Dan Snyder to change the name and mascot of his NFL team, both of which are deplorable examples of redface stereotypes against Native peoples. Sadly, in the aftermath of the last two weeks and the attention placed on Asian American advocacy, Native peoples have been functionally “edited out” of their own campaign.
Yet, anti-racist work is a work that should bring together people of colour, not divide us. This week, the AAPI blogging community is dedicating a week of posts in solidarity with our Native brothers and sisters to try and raise awareness for #NotYourMascot and the R*dskins controversy. Many AAPI blogs have committed to writing posts in support of #NotYourMascot, and we will also be re-tweeting the powerful and compelling writing of Native writers.”
At the age of 93, actor Mickey Rooneyhas passed away. As his many lengthy eulogies have made abundantly clear, his was a life of stratospheric highs and humiliating lows. He was one of the biggest stars in the world as a teen; he fell into bankruptcy and irrelevancy as an adult. He reinvented himself and rebounded. He crashed and burned. Few lives have had as many epic twists and turns, making his obituaries obsessively engrossing reading.
But there’s one thing the newspapers have generally danced past, and it happens to be the role that has cast the longest shadow out of a career of thousands: His performance as Mr. I.Y. Yunioshi in the classic 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”
In the decades since the film was released, Rooney’s portrayal of Yunioshi — taped eyelids, buck teeth, sibilant accent and all — has become one of the persistent icons of ethnic stereotype, brought up whenever conversation turns to the topic of Hollywood racism. The depiction has prompted widespread protests whenever the film is screened; Paramount, the studio behind “Breakfast” has now acknowledged Yunioshi as such a toxic caricature that its canonical “Centennial Collection” DVD release of the film includes a companion documentary, “Mr. Yunioshi: An Asian Perspective,” which features Asian American performers and advocates in conversation about the role’s lasting cultural impact and the broader context of Asian and other racial stereotypes in entertainment.
Six years ago, after four decades of stolidly defending the role, even Rooney himself finally expressed some regrets, stating in an interview that if he’d known so many people would be offended, “I wouldn’t have done it.”
Would that he hadn’t. The spectre of Yunioshi continues to haunt Hollywood and Asian America today. Rooney’s broadly comic performance, repurposed from his early vaudeville days into the brave new world of the cinema, is the godfather of the “Ching-Chong” stereotype that continues to rear its yellow head today — as the recent “Colbert Report” flap underscores. Though I wasn’t a supporter of the tactics or stated objectives of the#CancelColbertcampaign, the point made by the activists behind it is a valid one: Racially stereotypical images are problematic even when presented as progressive satire, because many who see them won’t understand the context and will laugh for the “wrong reasons.”
And even when laughed at for the right reasons, they’re problematic. As many have pointed out in the wake of that campaign, the mainstreaming of these images has the unfortunate side effect of making them seem safe for public consumption…so long as their intent isn’t to “harm.” The danger of allowing intent to be the sole arbiter of whether something is acceptable can be seen most obviously in the depictions of another marginalized American population — ironically, the one whose interests were drowned out in the wildfire aftermath of the #CancelColbert campaign: Native Americans.The Cleveland Indians confrontation.Sam Allard, ClevelandScene (used with permission)
Last Friday, an image of anincredibly awkward encounterbetween a Cleveland Indians fan and a Native American protester went viral. The photo, taken by Cleveland Scene staff writer Sam Allard, shows the fan in a plastic feather headdress and grotesque “Chief Wahoo” makeup, face to face with an expressionless demonstrator, a member of the Apache Nation.
Allard quotes the unrepentant Clevelandite as proclaiming that his costume wasn’t racist: “It’s Cleveland pride, that’s all it’s about.” But the fact that he and hundreds of thousands of other sports fans still shamelessly refuse to acknowledge the offensiveness of such depictions, even when staring a real, live Native American in the face, shows that that isn’t all it’s about.
Racial mascots like the Indians’ Chief Wahoo aren’t something to be proud of; they’re a lingering disgrace. They serve to dehumanize a people who’ve been subjected over the span of America’s existence and beyond to an innumerable series of abuses and betrayals. They bury some of the worst aspects of our nation’s history under piles of printed polyester and plastic gimcrackery. They encourage new generations of young Americans to believe that racialized imagery is acceptable and appropriate, just so long as it’s being used for fun, for laughs, for entertainment….even when the subject of that imagery is not the one having fun, laughing or being entertained.
It took Mickey Rooney 40 years to regret his role in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” but he had little leverage to redress it even if he’d wanted to. He couldn’t change his filmed performance or ban its distribution. As an entertainer, it is a permanent part of his legacy. Maybe the biggest part: Most of his movies, from the Andy Hardy series to his partnerships with Judy Garland, have largely passed into the category of quaint, half-remembered nostalgia. But “Breakfast,” with the luminous Audrey Hepburn at its center, has not. And even those who decry the PC police can’t deny that Rooney’s performance, the one that has likely been seen by more people than any other, is the most unpleasant and uncomfortable part of an otherwise classic film.
Sports teams like the Cleveland Indians and the Washington Redskins have a luxury that Rooney didn’t have as an entertainer. They control how they’re depicted; they own their brands. Which means it’s fully within their power to eliminate the ugly trappings of racial mascotry from their corporate identities and merchandising.
And while they may pay a short-term price for doing so, the long term benefits more than outweigh it: They will have removed a set of cancerous growths from the face of our popular culture, and established new legacies for their franchises, marked by goodwill, grace, humility and sensitivity. That would be something to truly make their fans proud. That’s what it’s “all about.”
APA #NOTYOURMASCOT SOLIDARITY: This week, a number of Asian Pacific American bloggers are writing to show their support for the Native American push to end racialized imagery in professional sports and popular culture at large. Check out Reappropriate.co for a full list of participating blogs.
Advancing Justice | AAJC offers a paid ($13/hour) development internship position for graduate or undergraduate students. The internship is 15-18 hours per week for the Summer (May through August) with an option of extending into the Fall semester upon successful completion of the Summer internship. Specific start and end dates are flexible and weekly hours will be set upon hire.
Apparently iTunes’ comedy section is featuring this “Asian Chipmunk” ringtone collection. Yuck and double yuck! Can we agree that stupid accent jokes like this aren’t funny anymore?
My contribution to Delta Phi Lambda’s #idefystereotypes photo campaign and my line sister’s contribution!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 6, 2014 New York, NY
It had only been 18 days since the cast of CBS’s How I Met Your Mother
appeared in an episode in in yellowface makeup and in stereotypical,
twisted, disrespectful “Asian” costume. The Asian/American community was
rightfully infuriated and took to Twitter, where the hashtag
#HowIMetYourRacism began trending. The producers tweeted “apologies” the
Eighteen days since HIMYM outraged social media with yellowface and
racist depictions - and just one day into a new month, and one day into
the Lunar New Year - when Saturday Night Live, an even more
widely-watched, long-standing television show featured yellowface in
their offensive opening sketch featuring a “kung fu master” with an
“Asian” accent and wire stunts. This led to another uproar on Twitter,
and the hashtag #SaturdayNightLies was born. That night, approximately
5.4 million people tuned in to SNL’s unapologetic display of White
supremacy and cultural appropriation.
Clearly, White television has not gotten the message. Shows continue to
include ignorant scenes, so audiences continue to laugh. What’s worse is
that this is not the first time SNL had White and White-passing actors
portray East Asian characters decked out in tired, hurtful stereotypes.
To review just a few of the many instances of SNL yellowface in the past
1975 - 1979 - Samurai Futaba (John Belushi)
1992 - Arakawa Group (Mike Myers, Dana Carvey, Phil Hartman)
1994 - Japanese Game Show (Mike Myers, Janeane Garofalo, Chris Farley,
2003 - Kim Jong Il (Horatio Sanz)
2009 - 2010 - Hu Jintao (Will Forte)
2012 - Kim Jong Un’s Best Friends (Vanessa Bayer, Fred Armisen)
2012 - Ordering Sushi (Maya Rudolph)
2012 - Chinese Peasant Laborers (Cecily Strong, Fred Armisen, Nasim Pedrad)
2013 - Kim Jong Un (Bobby Moynihan)
This is a call to action for all Asian/Americans and allies in NYC to
gather in protest outside of SNL studios at 30 Rockefeller Plaza on
Saturday, February 15th, at 10pm, before the live taping of the show.
With special involvement of #NotYourAsianSidekick, we will gather
outside the NBC Studios marquee on the 49th Street side of the building,
between 5th and 6th Avenues. Bring your rage, let’s come together to
demand the respect we deserve, and that SNL acknowledge their racism and
do the following:
1. An on-air apology for 39 years of yellowface, and a promise to never
do it again.
2. Required race & cultural sensitivity training for all staff involved
in SNL production
Asian people across the world are fed up with being portrayed in
degrading and delegitimizing ways. Racism and cultural appropriation for
the sake of comedy is not comedy. Our cultures are not for people to
appropriate and butcher at their convenience for the purpose of
“cultural appreciation.” Our images are not for the face of our
oppressor to wear as a costume. Our voices are not for native English
speakers to imitate and mock—they are ours and we will be heard.
YELLOW PERIL FACTION
And I quote:
Apparently Chinese people actually think it’s New Years. They’re an entire month late. Aren’t these people supposed to be good at math? They keep saying it’s the year of the horse which I guess is code for doing a shit-ton of smack and being a whole month off on the ball drop. By now, most people have already broken all their resolutions and resigned to another abysmal year as they patiently await death – not the Chinese, they’re just now sleeping off their “last hangovers” and googling gym memberships. Swearing off dog and gluten at least until Chinese Super Bowl (Chinese Super Bowl is next month.)
I checked out the author on TC and they seem to be a satire account run by a white person named Nick. Nick Mullen doubles as Nicole Mullen on TC as an ultra conservative mom who writes articles like “Why Isn’t There a White Girl History Month”. Here’s an article semi-explaining the horrible attempt at satire. Seriously, do people even pick up a dictionary before using words anymore? All these people yelling ‘satire’ are failing miserably.
Making an unpopular decision and accepting the ensuing criticism is part of the job of a university leader. Whether the topic is research priorities, academic freedom, athletics, or, as it turns out, snow days, there is always a range of opinion on a college campus. And there should be, provided the campus nurtures an environment where everyone feels safe entering into the debate.
When those opinions move from civil and respectful discourse into vitriolic attacks on an individual it can be discouraging and damaging – personally and institutionally. On Monday, about a dozen students, upset that classes were not canceled because of cold weather, took to social media to criticize the decision and to attack me – in comments that were vulgar, crude and in some instances racist and sexist.
People have asked me whether the attacks disturbed me.
Not necessarily on a personal level, because many of the comments could be dismissed as juvenile, notwithstanding the offensive language.
Not because the comments truly reflect my university. The outpouring of support from our students, my colleagues and others – including heartfelt apologies from several of those who posted comments – has shown our true nature.
What was most disturbing was witnessing social media drive a discussion quickly into the abyss of hateful comments and even threats of violence. I shudder to think what might happen if that type of vitriol were directed at a vulnerable member of our student body or university community.
The negative comments, as offensive as they were, are protected speech. But what is protected expression and what is the level of discourse we as educators expect from our students can be very different things. And the size of that gap – so evident this week – is what has been most disappointing. Racist, intimidating or culturally derogatory epithets have no place in any debate in any circumstance. Of all places, a university should be home to diverse ideas and differing perspectives, where robust – and even intense – debate and disagreement are welcomed.
How do we foster such an atmosphere? Only through an unwavering and unrelenting commitment to building truly diverse communities of students and scholars. One dinner with someone who doesn’t look like you and doesn’t sound like you can open new worlds of ideas. You can sit in a classroom and discuss situations in Egypt or in Syria based on academic readings. But, to hear these issues explained by a classmate from that country, from her or his personal experience, in his or her voice – this is when an academic exercise can become a moment of personal transformation. That is why we say diversity is the route to excellence.
And, in fact, we are a diverse campus at Illinois, with students, faculty and staff from every state and more than 100 nations. They are a key part of what makes our university special, a community of cultures and ideas that generate original thought, outstanding research and the excitement that comes with working with the top people in their fields. But this incident shows that we still have work to do.
On Monday, Jan. 27, we held classes, as usual, at the University of Illinois. And, I hope, we all learned something.