Archive for the ‘ Racism ’ Category

White Noise TV

American TV has come a long way from its racism (think: the 1970/80’s sitcom Taxi and the foreigner, Latka, who was coincidentally the stupid guy) but it still has a long way to go. Now it’s not so obvious when there is cultural superiority or racism taking place in TV, but I still get a sense of it when I watch shows like UnderCovers where they cast the whitest looking African-Americans as their leads. Yeah, The Cosby Show was a breakthrough for American television because it was a positive portrait of an African American family, showing that not all black people have to be low-lives. But there is a difference between defying a negative stereotype and hiring actors who can only be as white as possible. But networks like NBC and CBS wouldn’t make as much money if they actually aired African American comedy like Tyler Perry shows during prime time!

The issue of race on TV is still difficult. There are still a lot of jabs against immigration, negative portayals of foreigners (i.e. characterization in Disney media where all foreigners are either stupid or evil), and the general lack of cross-cultural TV shows. We want TV to be funny, so jokes about cross-culture is funny (for example, I love All in the Familyfor its satirical humor) and we want characters to be relatable. The problem is, with the networks aiming for a largely white audience, relatable characters have to be relatable to white people. Maybe the writers do this because they are afraid of stereotyping if they were to make them “un-white” but on the other hand, it makes it look like normalcy is white. [frowny face]

Last night I watched the new NBC show “Outsourced” and thought it was mildly funny loaded with cross-cultural information. Perhaps that’s what the writers were going for, but I thought maybe the humor could have been stronger and the intercultural insights could have been less obvious–it’s almost in both ways they were trying too hard. Of course this television program exists because there is a market for it out there. The audience is vast: the outsourcing of American jobs is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for folks, there is greater interest in traveling abroad among college students, and then perhaps those who experienced India would find it interesting, too. Yet after watching the show I wasn’t too sure who really was the audience. The humor was almost innocent (except for that subtle reference to Internet porn with the boss eating ribs on webcam) that it seemed more suitable for Nickelodeon. Like any other traveler I know, I like to make jokes about the culture differences but maybe I am just biased to my own sense of humor. It’s obvious to me that the audience is at least American because of the design of the show: they had to select the most American looking Indian actors and the office doesn’t look anything like the photos I’ve seen of India. They don’t need to make it look like India’s worst, of course, but they don’t have to make it look like America, either.

Am I just totally off with thinking that American networks are superiorists? (But I still love my American TV time…is that my white side?)


Legalizing Racism

I found an article on NPR’s website that caught my eye this morning. It talked about Arizona’s new law that not only permits but enforces racism for officials and agencies at state and local levels. The law requires police to interrogate any person if you have “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented. Moreover, it requires all immigrants to carry their papers with them in case their status is ever questioned. Failure to do so would mean that such a person is committing a crime of trespassing. (I think this is also the state that says it’s OK to shoot a trespasser on private property). Sure, this goes for all immigrants—but we know those who are white and English-speaking do not have to worry about this so much since they may not look “reasonably suspicious”. For a comical example of this, watch Jon Stewart on the Daily Show.

This goes back to my theory that the word “immigrant” has now come to have a string of assumptions: Mexican, illegal, criminal. “Reasonably suspicious” of course targets those of darker skin, Spanish speaking people. Racism always finds a new demographic to hate. The focus is now more on Latinos than I think it has ever been—possibly even more hatred is brewing for the Hispanic community than that currently exists for the African American.

What is the sudden deal with immigrants—particularly those of Hispanic origin? Doesn’t everyone know we are all (except Native Americans) product of immigration, and in that case, most likely illegal immigration? Our white forefathers and mothers came the same way as the Latinos have been coming in the recent decades. Nothing at all has changed—just the American attitude and conception of what is “American”. I get that we want immigration control—but we need to be careful on what our motives are and profiling actually means.

The Affirmative Action Dilemma

So, I’ve finally decided to accept an offer for graduate school education. As I begin the paperwork, I come to the question of why this particular school decided to accept my application. As I contemplated, my mind (as it typically does) diverges to tangent upon tangent. Eventually, my mind came to the tangent of Affirmative Action.

Now, I’m not the brightest crayon in the box. I also didn’t have good grades or a lot of work experience in my favor. So, what could it be that draws them to me? I try not to be terribly cynical of myself, but am reminded of the affirmative action dilemma I faced during my application process.

I remember struggling with the idea of Affirmative Action when deciding what to do about the optional self-identification box. Having a lot of conscientious friends who think critically about the affirmative action policy, I have always been of the mind that it is important to “Decline To State” in order for fairness to remain in my applicaion process. I want to know I have made it there on the full weight of my application alone, and not the color of my skin or the people group with whom I identify myself.

Was there a slip up? Perhaps my essay indicated an emphasis on my cultural understanding as an American Born Chinese which led the admissions committee to focus on that identity over that of my academic merit.

This is yet another chance for me, a chance I do not deserve, to succeed. I am grateful for any participation that Affirmative Action has played in my acceptance. I cannot deny that I believe it to be a factor. Perhaps it is a factor because of my emphasis in international social work and how it helps me to better serve international clients.

A friend once said that I should use whatever I can to get ahead. If it means checking the “Asian” box, then I should do it lest I fail to achieve or receive what I want. As Asian Americans, we need to be able to be confident and strong to grab what we can if it is there for the taking. That is how we get ahead because American culture is not friendly to us.

Yet, I have a sinking feeling of not being worth what I have received. I feel as though I have not truly achieved, that this is a pity gift from those who think themselves better than I, from those who believe I need a lift to be successful in this world. And that is just not right.

There is always an ethnic group that society hates the most–a sad reality, indeed. Americans, for the most part, cannot stand Mexicans. I’m always hearing racial slurs about them. People say awful things about them right in front of me, even though I could be Mexican. They don’t give a shit. Why? They have dehumanized them, and that’s made plain by the words they use and how they’re used. Check out my word web I created to show the connotations of the word “Mexican” and the most commonly associated words:

Least of all people think of them as human beings. If people were to think of them as human beings first they wouldn’t call them “illegals” (as my old college friend did on Facebook chat today–grr) and would actually think about why they’re here at all and how we can help them as people. No one wants to risk their lives to come into a country where living standards for them is slightly better and respect is much lower–obviously it’s a picture of how bleak things are for many people in other countries.

Interestingly, people have come to think:   Hispanic=Mexican=immigrant=illegal=immigrant=Mexican=Hispanic. Of course there is no such thing as an “illegal alien” from Norway or Sweden.

I love “The Office” for many reasons, but “Diversity Day” has to be one of the best episodes. I love the line “Um, let me ask you is there a term besides ‘Mexican’ that you prefer? Something less offensive?”

Sad how “Mexican” has become a bad word for so many people…

Lies, Lies, Lies

It is so easy to believe everything you hear. Especially from renowned, “credible” news sources. We should be careful to separate the wheat from the chaff because rumors and misinformation circulates around the world easily through money-hungry media and selective-hearing folks who enjoy gossip. CNN’s Lou Dobbs is among the most responsible for spreading lies and myths about immigrants—and Latinos as a whole. CNN obviously condones this, but contrarily support Hispanic Americans, with their token Latino newscasters , CNN Español, and Special Edition: Latino in America.

Last month, Halloween stores,, and Target were selling “Illegal Alien” costumes complete with an orange prison jumpsuit and greencard— although they seemed to have removed the handlebar mustache. This is our stereotype of immigrants because we like to think of them all as illegal and Latino. Or terrorists. Watch this video and get the facts checked on the media’s—specifically Lou Dobbs—statements of immigrants.

Comments Gone Too Far

I find a lot of disturbing things on Facebook. Either I have a lot of weird friends or people attempt to make jokes that are just not funny. I am thinking mostly about the comments said about our president, Mr. Obama when I say that there are a lot of disturbing comments going through my Facebook feed. I kid you not, people were saying during the presidential campaigns that they would move out of the country if Barak Obama is elected. They were saying that he is a socialist and actually believed former Alaskan governor Sarah Palin when she said he was “palling around with terrorists”. I’ve heard lame nicknames like “Obomber”. I got an email from a former friend saying that my support for Obama is the support of murdering millions of unborn babies. I’ve heard reports that people were trying to disprove his U.S. citizenship because he is black. I heard that people were protesting his back to school speech on the assumption that he was promoting propaganda, when in fact, he was not (read transcript for proof). I even heard that one guy during an address to Congress yelled “you lie” to our president.

Now, I don’t really get it, and I don’t think I am missing anything. I am surprised to see how serious racism still is in the U.S.—I thought we made progress! It’s OK and necessary to disagree in politics, but if you start making jabs at our president for no real reason, then that’s probably racism or sheer ignorance.

On Facebook, I commented on picture of a person’s feet facing outward toward the ocean with bars in front, asking why were the bars there. A moment later, someone replied to me saying “It’s Obama’s new prison system haha”. Confused by what this meant, I replied: “Not sure what the ‘prison system’ refers to..” (Maybe his new policy on Guantanamo?) He replied: “Neither am I. It could have been a crack at marriage and the symbol between the two things.” Wait—what? Does any of that make sense to you? So clearly, making jokes for no reason is really funny for some people. If a joke has no meaning or truth, then it’s just not funny. People, it’s time to stop making bad jokes! Comments are getting way out of hand, people are just saying things because they can—because other people don’t counter them when they’re out of line or being unprofessional.