On Asian Identities and Anti-Asian Racism

This is my latest video. I thought some of my readers might appreciate it.

Description: “A UCLA student anti-Asian racist comments provides us with a great opportunity to think through other forms and operations of racism than what most people consider as “racist.”

I appreciate the feedback that has already been posted in light of my video. Let me be clear, though. My only hope in posting these videos is to encourage people to *think* about important issues, not to prove myself right or others wrong. Youtube provides a way to get ideas out there, but it’s not ideal. A 13 minute video is too long! But it’s also too short in that it will necessarily be an incomplete message. And it’s just me and a camera; not a real dialogue that would be enriched by a back and forth discussion with different ideas and examples. A video can only do so much. I hope, then, that this will be sufficient for starting conversations and an exchange of ideas. Even though I can’t respond to each individual comment, I hope that you take these ideas further by exploring them with others in a thoughtful, open-ended dialogue.

And regarding this topic in particular, my point is that racism is complex, which is not to say that anti-black racism is a non-issue, or any other kind of racism for that matter, but that much of racism in America goes under-appreciated as such. My experiences help shed light on some of the “strange” occurrences of racist attitudes, like for instance, when a (white) professor of mine exclaims, “Well, if you’re half-Chinese then I’m half-Chinese.” Comments like these indicate that “looking Asian” is often equated with being Asian, but to say that I don’t look Asian, and that I’m somehow not Asian, means that another assumes the power to undermine and determine my family, my history, and my experiences. Of course others have different (and often times more hostile) experiences, like when people who do look Asian are assumed to be not American (which means, what? not white?). The point to emphasize again is that racism is real, and it affects lots of people in different ways that exceed the more common conceptions represented within a black-white binary.

Consider for a moment how many (or, more likely, how few) Asian celebrities, pop icons, or role models come to mind who are not stereotyped as martial artists, super nerds, desexualized side kicks, or over-eroticized prostitutes. You might have to think for a while. In terms of Asian representation, we have a long way to go, which means going beyond Bruce Lee, expecting more from Jackie Chan, and recognizing that even the guy who does back-flips on Iron Chef is a disservice to Asian representation. It would be fantastic if one day there could be Asians in our cultural consciousness who are not just considered Asians in America, but Americans who are also Asian.”

2 thoughts on “On Asian Identities and Anti-Asian Racism

  1. Thanks so much, Courtney, for reading and for commenting. I am so happy to hear that you are enjoying the videos, and that you are reading Nietzsche. He is by far one of my most favorite philosophers, perhaps because he knows that he will be misunderstood. But also because he talks about cheerfulness and dancing! 🙂 Enjoy the reading, and thanks again for being in touch.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I really enjoy your videos, they are very thought provoking and make me reflect on how i'm living my life day to day. Enjoyed your thoughts on Nietzsche. I've been reading his stuff for a class and it is very clear that he called his future of being misunderstood. Right now i'm getting into the slave and master moralities and think it quite interesting. Again, really appreciate your thoughts.

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