i am a queer non-cisgendered korean living in canada. i moved here to study years back, and had really high expectations. i thought canada/america was going to be a “gay heaven” and “multi-cultural” etc. i mean that is what most mainstream media portrays canada and america as. progressive society….
here’s the thing about immigrant narratives and why (white) people think they’re “sentimental”
it’s because it’s not just about the protagonist. in a lot of white American stories it’s all about the protagonist, the hero, and it’s JUST that person’s story. whenever parents or similar mentor figures come up they are often archetypal and one-sided, magically appearing to distribute advice and disappearing again. so rarely are their own stories included within the main narrative because they are not deemed important enough.
like step outside this Western centric mentality for one sec. so many Asian American narratives are real tearjerkers for the likes of myself because they include our parents’ stories that we know so, so well and have internalized. we’ve all heard it. they moved over here from China/Korea/Japan/Vietnam/India/whathaveyou to give us a better life, they sacrificed so much for us, they learned how to cook their own foods because nowhere here made it the way they liked it, and on and on. these stories are so much a part of our own, coming from an almost mythical Other place that we know to an extent and yet we don’t, that it’s almost impossible not to include in some way when writing our own stories.
in a lot of Western stories even when family backstory is included it is always framed around the narrator; the narrator eclipses most of it and understands that because of this, they must fulfill their destiny, or something along those lines. I would argue that in a lot of immigrant narrative we share the story space more equally with our family members and it’s really jarring to a lot of people who have grown up reading tales of Individualism and ME ME ME ME to be like “why did that writer include that whole chunk of his mom’s backstory when it’s extraneous to the immediate plot/you don’t need to go into such detail” oh but the writer does!
because we can never tell our own stories without including those we were brought up with!
disclaimer it’s late and I’m hella tired and rambling but that comment “oh this is way too sentimental” really cheezed me off okay why is it sentimental to talk about your parents we can’t all be drugged up rockstars who angst over sad girls and smoke cigarettes on Brooklyn rooftops while our parents play absolutely no role except to provide all that money that the narrator is constantly spending on booze and torn jeans
The New York Post reported that 84-year-old Kang Wong crossed 96th Street against the light about 5 p.m. as he walked north on Broadway, and an officer ordered him to stop.
But Wong, who lives a block away, didn’t seem to understand the officer, according to witnesses.
“The guy didn’t seem to speak English,” said witness Ian King, 24, a Fordham University law student.
“(The officer) stood him up against the wall and was trying to write him a ticket,” King said. “The man didn’t seem to understand, and he started walking away. The cop tried to pull him back, and that’s when he began to struggle with the cop. As soon as he pushed the cop, it was like cops started running in from everywhere.”
Wong was bleeding and dazed after the struggle, witnesses said, and had cuts on his face.
Yumi Sakugawa's more recent work I Think I Am In Friend-Love With You was published as a book in December. The comic, which first hit the Internet in 2012, looks at a modern-day friendship — friend crushes — and expresses all the delightful, little things we hope our best (and even not-so-best) pals will do for us.
Sakugawa, 29, never knew how she’d combine her two loves, drawing and writing. She’d been doing both since she was a kid but didn’t merge them until college, when she started making comics. But it’s clear that she’s both a comic artist and a writer — the two are inseparable. Her words, given a natural staccato by the confines of each panel, flow with a rhythm that the images help propel.
Her work has an eerie, wondrous quality to it, blipped with panels that will make your heart soar and dip and soar again. Themes of space and love pull readers into a pensive world of fantastical creatures. And when her characters aren’t fictitious monsters, they’re all undoubtedly Asian-American.
When I walked into my preschool on the first day of class, my name wasn’t Samantha. It was Hoang-Anh. The only English words I did know were, “stop,” “hello,” “please,” and “thank you.” My teacher made it very clear to my mother that afternoon what a hindrance my lack of English would be.
“Here in America, we speak English. She doesn’t even recognize her own name.”
My mother apologized, promising that she’d try to teach me English as quickly as she could. That night, she wove my American name into my nightly bedtime story, my birth certificate clutched in her hand and her fingers grazing over my place of birth: California. She had to remind herself that she did not come to America for this. For the next month, she and my father spoke only in English, read only English books to me, and listened to only English music.
I don’t remember how long it took for me to stop speaking Vietnamese. But it was the day I stopped singing Vietnamese folk songs to my bedridden grandfather. It was the day he stopped recognizing me as his granddaughter, and knew me only as the strange little Vietnamese girl living in his house. It was the day I stopped being Hoang-Anh and became Samantha.
Samantha is good at English; you could say she even excels in it. She can write essays while in half sleep and when she was twelve, she read Virginia Woolf. But Samantha, I, had clorox poured down my throat. When I speak, I sound too smooth, too glib, too lost, in comparison to my mother who sounds like home and warmth and a country I can no longer remember how to find. When my mother speaks to me in Vietnamese, I can understand her perfectly. But when I try to respond to her in anything but English, it’s like trying to look into my blind spot without turning my head.
I try to make up for what I lack by embracing as much of my heritage, my culture, and my history as possible. But there is only so much I can do when during family reunions and family weddings, I am tightlipped the entire night, sipping soda xi muoi and straining to remember how to say, “I’ve been good, and you?” If there are a handful of Vietnamese words I do remember how to say, it is sorry. Xin lỗi. I am so sorry.
If I could ask my grandmother something, I would ask her how it feels to have four grandchildren who can’t speak to her, how it feels to have her family tree hemorrhaging at its roots when her two baby grandchildren turn their noses up at Vietnamese food. I would ask her if she feels proud of my mother for successfully bleaching my accent right out of my throat.
I would also apologize to my grandfather. I’m sorry that I stopped singing.
“How many people have lived, labored, and died without leaving a record of their existence, not even a scribbled trace? Today, for the most part, we do not know who built the roads, and bridges we travel; the buildings we work, reside, and shop; the water and sewer system we use daily. We don’t usually think about who made our furniture and clothing, let alone our toothbrushes, nor who tends, harvests, and transports the food we eat everyday.”—from the foreward of Philip Vera Cruz: A Personal History of Filipino Immigrants and the Farmworkers Movement (via sometimesa-poet)
https://www.tumblr.com/dmca Go there, and do as the instructions say. When my art was stolen, I got the post reported, and it was taken down. Don’t worry, it doesn’t just take down the sources post, but it takes down all the reblogged posts too. Please give this a reblog, many artists out there may not know this is here. And remember, ask permission before sharing, or don’t post it.
Bolded for emphasis. Please share above with your artist friends!
You may have noticed that we’ve included image sources in a few of our reblogs (like the zardozi embroidery post and the kyūdo Japanese archery post). One of our mod’s pet peeves is lack of proper attribution, especially for art.
Image-hosting sites, such as We Heart It, Pinterest, 9gag, and imgur, are not valid sources. The original poster isn’t either, if they’re not the artist.
Reblog, don’t repost. If you are reposting art (with the artist’s permission, of course), you should cite and link to your source in the caption (e.g. [Title of work/collection] by [Name of artist]), content source box, and click-through link. That way, the source can’t be removed in future reblogs, even if someone removes the caption.
But don’t reblog unsourced art! Reverse image search via Google, TinEye, or SauceNao. Link to the artist in your reblog (e.g. their website, portfolio, blog, deviantART, pixiv, flickr, wherever they host their work).
Yes, this sometimes takes time and effort. It took me a while to find the source of the kyūdōka photos, but it was worth it because I found their beautiful flickr portfolio!
1. Episode 6, Part 1: Weekly Discussion (Teaching English abroad)
In this week’s discussion, BlackinAsia and unapologetically-yellow discuss the imperialistic machine that is teaching English abroad. What do we mean by cultural imperialism? Is there a way to teach English abroad in a socially conscious manner? What are some of the common things that Chuks and Kari have seen, given that they both have or currently are teaching English abroad? We have input from kenyabenyagurl, salviprince, thenaughtyscholar, and feministdonut.
I’ve listened to it once and I’m going to listen to it again.
My first inclination is to fight against what ya’ll say about just avoiding teaching English abroad altogether if possible because i have some (naive?) hope that i can somehow not end up being a negative force or presence. I mean, many of the things you all are talking about, race, class, gender, and sexuality issues (and their intersections) are kinda the biggest factors that influenced my decision to go into education in the first place. i don’t wanna “save” nobody but I do hope that i can be a better teacher to my future students (speaking in a U.S. context here) in some aspects than some of the teachers I had coming up in regards to not reinforcing fucked up societal dynamics in the classroom. And I know intimately that speaking of global contexts, these types of discussions are better left to be held by and with the people in that community. i know how frustrating it is to have an “outsider” try to tell YOU about the things you go thru and know to be true from (generations sometimes) of experience lol
I guess i just hope there IS some sort of place or space for me to just do what I love: teach languages. as an African american, is the only place I can teach without reinforcing horrible systems of oppression really here in my own backyard? i mean, i’m still trying to figure out how to do that here in the U.S. let alone in another place in the world lol
because at the end of the day my job is to teach but we all know the job of being an educator of any kind entails so much more than that…at least it should lol
sorry for the rambles ya’ll :)
Thanks so much for the conscientious response. For me too, going to Taiwan and being “black in Asia,” I thought that I could “make a difference” by not reinforcing the same systems of oppression that my terrible, racist colleagues did. I thought that what I was doing was somehow “different,” and I ostensibly had good reason to believe as much too.
I worked on a collaborative cultural project tailored to my Taiwanese aboriginal students’ local community, language and culture while there, and I taught them photography skills which they then used to capture and tell the stories of their lives and communities through multimedia art and photography projects. That project garnered national recognition for the kids due to the beauty of the stories they told and the American privilege, resources and connections of me and my Taiwanese-American collaborator, bringing them into the national spotlight for doing a project centered around their community (which wasn’t demeaning or fit into stereotypical narratives that stripped them of agency in the story-telling process). This was all a “net positive,” and I was doing good work and using my Western privilege for good, right?
At the same time, though, I was still teaching each grade English for 2 hours every week. This is more than twice the time they had in school for their 母語 “mother tongue,” which is a Taiwanese aboriginal language that very few of the younger generations speak anymore due to centuries of brutal colonization and cultural genocide by Japanese, Han Chinese and European regimes.
As salviprince put so well in his response, “teaching English [is] a soft branch of America’s military occupation of half the [Korean] peninsula” and the same can be said for much of the rest of the world where these programs exist.
And she’s really not even that extreme with her racism (as per this party) than most of the white people who you will run into in these programs who are generally super oppressive and have totally unchecked privilege, or will alternatively tokenly acknowledge their white privilege while doing nothing to stop reaping the tremendous benefits and dividends it provides them.
At the end of the day, though, even as a Western POC who is not racist like most of your white peers in these programs, you are still a contributing part of a “soft branch of America’s military occupation” of much of the world and the cultural and linguistic that lies at the heart of this soft power which can have disastrous consequences for local communities.
And the fact that many of my Taiwanese aboriginal students who I cared deeply about can already speak English better than their indigenous language is testament to that fact and just how destructive these types of programs are, even if you are a Western POC who is trying to be super vigilant about checking your privilege.
There is so much educational need right here in the US, where our systems is failing poor communities across the board and poor communities of color in particular, so think about engaging there before going abroad because the damage to local communities can be tremendous.
Thanks for contributing to the discussion.
thank you so much for your thoughtful response. I feel like I’m stuck either way. No matter if I go abroad or stay home there are so many things to work on. I know I can’t do it alone lol but gotdangit I want to do SOMETHING and see this world change even if its just a little bit.
I wanna scream “but we can’t leave them babies in their hands” (and by their I mean the racist, privileged folks that get accepted to these programs).
in this post you included some info that i didn’t find in previous posts about the loss of language being experienced by these communities…..i could write a book about why that just breaks my heart :(
this world is frustrating
i want to be an agent of change not only in my local communities but also in the global community…but I won’t reinforce destructive systems of oppression abroad that I would be up in arms about people reinforcing here in the U.S…
good talk, and it’s good poc are having it ‘cause white people sure ain’t. but i’m one of those folks who thinks that teaching english abroad is never ok. forget white saviors - american poc need to talk about western saviors more often, ‘cause we are not immune to any of that shit.
I totally agree, that’s why I usually say “Western/white savior complex” because Western POC can and DO play into the exact same shit, and it’s super problematic.
Thanks for adding on.
Very interesting discussion. But I’m wondering, if POC do not go abroad, how will communities in countries such as Asia ever visibly see that POC are just as capable as Whites. Because White people certainly aren’t going to stop. And I feel as though specifically teaching in a rural, country area has a more detrimental impact than teaching in a wealthy foreign language school.
I have other thoughts too but I mean… this and that.
I think one of the positive things I have been able to do with my time in rural China is communicating solidarity: that things in America are (not) exactly the way people think they are. That what America does to the rest of the world is fucked up, and places like my local community bear the brunt. That white people aren’t all that and the painful history enacted by Western European/American powers didn’t only touch China, but many other parts of the world too, and we share much in common with those peoples.
As for the impact, I would say it’s different. Either way, people are internalizing ideas of their own insufficiency because of a lack of English-speaking ability and a lack of American-ness. From my experience, those in poor, rural communities see through (or admit to seeing though) the bullshit more often than those in wealthy cities (read: those who have already gained something from Western imperialism and capitalism and who can gain much more). At the root, no matter what we do and where we do it, we reinforce the idea of American exceptionalism.
Hyphenated-Lives breaks down some of the reasons why one of us mods is uncomfortable with teaching English abroad: whiteness being overvalued in selection process, assumptions that native speakers make the best EFL teachers (but only if they’re white!), teachers’ lack of cultural competence/humility, teachers’ minimal pedagogical training, and linguistic imperialism.
Frustated with male chauvinism, Asian American women began meeting separately from men to discuss feminist concerns. Their collective anger was nurtured by the progressive ideology of the women’s movement of the late 1960s. Although they borrowed heavily from the general women’s movement, Asian American women seldom joined these middle-class, white-dominated organizations. Like black, Chicana, and Native American women, Asian American women felt alienated and at times exploited by these women’s organizations.
In its early development, the women’s movement was in fact insensitive to the issues of minority and lower-class women. In contrast, Asian American and other Third World feminists emphasized the “triple oppression” concept: their gender was inextricably linked to their race and class…
…Distancing themselves from the general feminist movement, Asian American women organized their own movement. For Asian American women activists, the ideology of feminism had to be incorporated into the larger identity of Asian American.
”—Yen Le Espiritu, “Panethnicity and Asian American Activism” (via r-colored)
I met Dr. David Leonard, Associate Professor in the Department of Critical Culture, Gender and Race Studies at Washington State University, on Twitter shortly after my initial critique of Tim Wise. I was pleased to discover that there existed another white man who was not marketing himself as an anti-racist, but instead doing the work with people of color, while learning from them and taking after their direction.
Dr. Leonard was gracious enough to collaborate with me on this piece when I was just starting to freelance and has been generous in his teaching. I was most moved by Leonard’s work to spread awareness on Marissa Alexander’s case, which was ignored by both white feminism and so-called anti-racists.
SP: As you know, the concept of the white anti-racist or white ally has been put into question. Why do you think this is? Are these words oxymorons? What is a better word?
DL: I don’t like either of these terms for a variety of reasons.
We had a conversation about asian cultures in art class and the conversation swayed to asian girls because my art teacher is a white ass loser. He immediately felt like telling everyone how good it was to be white in asia and how asian girls will go crazy over white guys especially if you had blonde hair and blue eyes, apparently he learned this fact in some kinda class he took in college. The class got quite when the Japanese girl in my class said “Shut the fuck up, have you ever been to anywhere and asia? Shut up with your white privileged bull shit.” and then this Korean guy joined in and they started ranting together and it was beautiful. They both got suspended but the teacher hasn’t come back to school, we have only had subs.