terriko: (Default)
Just a quick note: if you aren't following the #NotYourAsianSidekick hashtag on twitter, you're sort of missing out. It started as a discussion on Asian feminism, but has branched out to be a bigger discussion focused around race.

I'm just gonna put this comic here while I try to remember how to log in to tumblr...

And a note to self that perhaps I should write a public version of the "not f'ing docile" post.
terriko: (Default)
When Does Plastic Surgery Become Racial Transformation?

This article, about a young man who underwent surgery to look less Asian, is kind of fascinating. For one, I'm not sure what I was thinking he'd look like, but seeing the pictures my first thought was "actually, he looks kind of bi-racial." But also it's interesting to me because I've been told many times since moving here that I don't look that Asian, and it's weird watching people react when I say "that was intentional." (I switched to a different haircut and found I was having less trouble with racist jerks, so I keep getting similar haircuts; I still am pretty clear about my bi-raciality when it comes up.) I scanned the comments and they're all about how sad it is, but do people think that about hair dye? Cosmetics? My hair cut? Weight loss? I don't know that I find it that sad; it's kind of neat that he figured out what would make him happier in his own skin and was able to afford it, and he seems pretty honest with himself about why he's doing it.

And... I don't know, I have some complex thoughts about the whole thing but I just wanted to post the link even though I don't feel like writing an essay to go with it.
terriko: I am a serious academic (Twlight Sparkle looking confused) (Serious Academic)
I had a not so great experience with a customer service rep on one of those live-chat things today, so I sent in a complaint after suffering through statements like "when u log in with yr used id and password what does it comes?"

I got a response back, which was nice, but it included a variant on "she's a great rep but English isn't her first language"

And while they don't really try to claim it's an excuse, it got me thinking... is our collective distaste for outsourced customer service and non-native speakers part of some internalized racism?

It's got a some of the hallmarks, but I don't really think it's the core issue. The core issue is communication and failure thereof. If I'd gotten that sentence above from a native speaker (and believe me, I've seen worse chatting with folk in games) I'd still have made my complaint that she didn't seem very professional with her tendency to abbreviate words that were already three or four letters long. It still would have been a problem that despite me telling her explicitly 3 times that I was not a student, she was still telling me to click on a "student" tab that doesn't appear in my interface and thus couldn't help me with that part of the question.

So then the question is, why tell me that she's a non-native speaker? Are you just trying to make me feel guilty about complaining about her? She still did a poor job today; it doesn't really matter to me if she's normally better at it or if it's harder for her than it would be for me. I just wanted to report that so that she could be helped with her listening and writing skills, as well as her knowledge about the differing interfaces to the system.

I'm used to making allowances for poor language skills (native and non-native speakers alike) within the university system, but when communication is the job she's being paid to do, I think it's fair for me to complain when her language skills are not at the level I expect.

In conclusion, it's always good to examine internal racism, but making a complaint about poor customer service seems fair regardless.
terriko: (Default)
Some time ago, my sister and I raised a stink with my online gaming friends after one of the guys said that the Japanese were docile. Half Japanese ourselves, we reacted by being anything but docile, and in the end the dude left the group (permanently). Despite our attempts to educate, I doubt if he ever really understood why we were so upset by his casual racism or even that it was casual racism.

I read this article today that really resonated with me about the historical reasons why calling Asian women docile is so offensive, and I want to share this quote which puts the problem in some crude but clear focus.

Much of the concept of Asian women as sexually submissive comes from the victimized condition in which American soldiers found these women when they arrived in combat zones throughout the Pacific.


This particular form of racism has myriad consequences for Asian-American women. A significant amount of the attention we receive from non-Asian men is in the form of creepy, excessive enthusiasm… as if they grew up at Pappy’s knee listening to legends of how Asian women will do anything to your penis that you want them to. Then there is the offensive assumption that anyone who is half Asian is the product of an American GI and an Asian woman he met standing on the corner saying “me love you long time.”

-- "Asian Women, American GIs, and Modern Rape Culture"

I have other, more personal and Canadian-context-sensitive reasons for disliking the stereotype too. As if the reasons above weren't enough!

The saddest part of my online gaming story is that the guy is married to a Japanese woman and has kids. His daughter(s) will be exposed to this kind of crud regularly as she grows up. I certainly hit terrible variations of this stuff as a young teenager (amplified by the "geeks love Asian women" meme). I hope by then he's a little bit more understanding as to how an offhand generalization can be part of a pattern of internalized racism.
terriko: (Default)
From The Advantage Of Dual-Identities (A Case Study of Nabokov), I bring you this quote:

It’s also important to note that the advantage of having a “dual-identity” – being both a novelist and a scientist, for instance – isn’t limited to Nabokov. According to a study led by Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, people who describe themselves as both Asian and American, or see themselves as a female engineer (and not just an engineer), consistently display higher levels of creativity.

So as a female, half-asian all-canadian researcher, I'm clearly better at creativity than all those boring white dude researchers?

Angela Montenegro from Bones... I don't even know exactly where to begin on this. So I'm going talk about Bones for a minute. I've been watching it with my sister lately while we do other things (crochet, do mending, wander around looking for things in an mmo, eat dinner, etc.) and the other day she pointed out that she loves how the show deals with Angela, or really, how it doesn't. See, Angela Montenegro is the team's artist: she does sketches of the victims. But she doesn't stop there: she also coaxes data off broken camcorders and swallowed flash drives doing digital forensic work. She's an adept computer programmer who writes software that helps visualize and model what happened during a crime. What's cool about Bones is that it's totally taken for granted that she can be an artist and a coder. (And really, pretty much whatever else she wants to be.)

So I guess while I fundamentally agree that having multiple "identities" is a huge asset to my work and creative abilities, I sort of feel like... why are they making such a big deal about this, as if it's some hugely abnormal thing. Why can't they just accept that Angela can draw and code? Why do people insist on compartmentalizing people into single skill sets? I can drive a car and code and no one thinks that's weird, but plenty of people have commented with surprise that I can edit a magazine (yes, I used to do this) and write code. Hello, world?

The article just makes me a little uncomfortable. This worst part is the paragraph about how the US will be overrun by mixed-race folk like me with superior creative skills -- awkward racial superiority with a different spin -- but even the study methodology doesn't quite sit right with me at a first reading. But maybe the article is simply a journalistic reflection of research into of a real logical fallacy that people often employ: the assumption that one must specialize in only one skill to be the best person one can be. That's one of those things that might be true for programs, but I really haven't seen much evidence of it being true for people.

Despite my issues with the article, I think it's got a nice take-away message: it's a-ok, normal, and maybe even superior to have and use your multiple identities. And don't let incredulous folk tell you otherwise.


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