Monday, December 15, 2014

Confronting Antiblackness with Seattle APIs, and My 5-Year-Old


image from "Asian & Pacific Islanders Confronting Anti-Blackness," Seattle, Facebook event page

by Sharon H Chang

Yesterday, under the common hashtag #ModelMinorityMutiny, a national (ongoing) call was issued to Asian Americans for solidarity against police brutality disproportionately targeting the Black community. The hashtag and ideology behind it -- that Asians can value Black lives by pushing against a 'model minority' complicit existence -- emerged from grassroots organizations and incredible justice work by Scot Nakagawa and Soya Jung of Race Files with a nod to Sepia Mutiny (esp. read "What Does Model Minority Mutiny Deman?" by Soya Jung, live Dec 13, 2014). As part of this call to action, progressive Seattle Asian American Pacific Islanders (APIs) gathered together Sunday afternoon for a community dialogue, "Model Minority Mutiny: Asian Pacific Islanders Confronting Antiblackness," with leadership and input by Black organizers in the Pacific Northwest. And I really, really wanted to be there.

But I have a 5-year-old and my husband was working.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Remembering Black Lives Unjustly Lost


Eduardo Munoz / Reuters
You should be following Sharon Chang at @multiasianfams today - see why the police/community issue is much, much bigger than #Ferguson
Dr. Scott Bowman @DrScottBowman, professor & editor
Texas State University, Color Behind Bars

by Sharon H Chang
for Racism Review ~ www.racismreview.com
November 26, 2014

Yesterday morning after the Ferguson Grand Jury announcement that it would not indict officer Darren Wilson I woke up in a panic thinking the world was ending. I lay in bed buried in emotions and listened for sounds of the impending apocalypse outside my window. But it was quiet. At least, quiet where I live in an urban suburb of Seattle. To me this silence sat in jarring, atrocious contradiction to events of the night before and to the ongoing protests, outrage, and violence still happening all over the nation.

And I started thinking about disconnect. About how the racist system discourages human bonds because when we can't empathize with each other, it makes it easier to keep us divided and the dominant hierarchy intact. It also makes it much, much harder to see the big picture: the systemic, pervasive nature of white-generated racism and its deep roots. We are pushed to be ahistorical and individualistic. If you scour the Internet right now, you can easily find boatloads of "I" pieces, posts, tweets, rants, etc. But how easy is it to find something that connects the dots across time and geography, and stirs within us some sort of visceral, heartfelt understanding that builds communal resistance?

I decided to launch a ten hour Twitter campaign during which I protest-tweeted every 15 minutes the face, name and age of an unarmed Black life taken by police or security since 1998 and it got some attention. The method I used for this form of hashtag activism is worth mentioning for what it reveals about racism and visual narratives circulated through mainstream media and social media. I included place of death with the header 'Unarmed. Shot. Killed' under the hashtags #FergusonDecision #BlackLivesMatter. I used the same template for each tweet to show the continuous, connected and systemic nature of this violence. I also worked to use images of the victims that ran counter to stereotypical imaging of Blacks - portrayed them as happy, loving, educated, employed, family members, parents, human beings - to encourage not only person-to-person ties, but personal investment. What I discovered in locating these images was not very surprising. 'Angry' photos were used by social and new media far more frequently even though alternatives were available and if alternatives were used, signals of humanity were often cropped out rendering them more like mugshots.
@multiasianfams timeline: a haunting, searing compendium on racist police violence in the Black community. 'Unarmed. Shot. Killed.' #BlackLivesMatter
Melinda D. Anderson @mdawriter, education writer & parent activist

Of the 40 Black lives I profiled, 65 percent were Black men under the age of thirty. Many were parents. More than we'd like to realize, were children. These profiles have gotten hundreds of retweets on Twitter so far and not nearly as many trolls as I would have thought. I have culled them together into a Storify slideshow below that frankly, really speaks for itself (scroll over the images to see text). I hope you will join me in connecting with and sharing these stories, reflecting upon the profound unnecessary loss of life, and considering how far we still have to go in undoing racial inequity. In solidarity


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reflections on the 2014 Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference

Fred Sasaki performing "How to Hafu it All: Three Easy Steps to 100%" [image from CMRS Facebook]

by Sharon H Chang

Ah. Where do I begin. I'm sitting on a plane waiting to takeoff to Seattle (correction, taking off) thinking on my last 3 days in Chicago at the Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference. I'm exhilarated, emotional, exhausted, enlightened. I got to present some of my research for the first time. After years of researching, MAJOR milestone. I got to be with and meet in the flesh so many folk doing great work whom I had mostly only known by name or via social media thumbnails till that point: Eliaichi Kimaro of A Lot Like You; Jeff Chiba Stearns of One Big Hapa Family, Yellow Sticky Notes, and the forthcoming Mixed Match; Megumi Nishikura of Hafu; Fanshen Cox of One Drop of Love and, with partner Chandra Crudup, Mixed Roots Stories; Ken Tanabe of Loving Day; Co-creators of War Baby / Love Child (as well as two of the conference's founders) Laura Kina and Wei Ming Dariotis; and Steven Riley of MixedRaceStudies.org.

with Jeff Chiba Stearns of Yellow Sticky Notes

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Heading to Chicago to Get Critical About Being Mixed!



image from criticalmixedracestudies.org

by Sharon H Chang

Today I'm heading inland from (strangely) sunny Seattle to the Windy-Much-Colder-City for the 3rd Biennial Critical Mixed Race Studies Conference! I've never been and I'm excited. So excited. That's actually putting it kind of mildly. In three decades of life I haven't yet had the opportunity to be in a space filled with mixed-identifying folk and get gritty about what being multiracial means. And I don't mean like a multicultural festival where we revel in ethnic foods, get profound about international music, hold hands while singing All You Need Is Love, and wax poetic about globalization. I've done those. They can be fun. But they don't get at what it's like to move through a racially divided world that persists in being starkly unequal when you're a person who embodies crossed racial lines. Not even close. For instance, when half the planet's entire population lives in Brazil, the US, and primarily Asia, what is the perception of others and daily experience of being a mixed-race person of Asian/white descent? By contrast, when the poorest countries in the world are in Africa because the continent remains devastated by Western conquest and Blackness worldwide continues to suffer heavy negative perception, what is the experience of being a mixed-race person of Black/white descent? There is a trend today of lumping multiracials together as if our lived lives stood apart in some ethereal, united place. But we are not the same, though we may stand together on shared ground, nor do we transcend race by our mere "non-conforming" existence. People identifying as mixed, like all racialized peoples, need the chance to come together too to talk about who we are, how we are alike but different, what we're proud of, what pisses us off -- and what we're going to do about it. Can't wait.

In three decades of life I haven't yet had the opportunity to be in a space filled with mixed-identifying folk and get gritty about what being multiracial means.

Please take a quick look at my Storify slide show below or view it at here at storify.com. Over the last week I've been counting down to the conference on Twitter by tweeting about presenters, panelists, performers, etc. This is your chance to learn something about the many great multiracial people out there who are reflecting upon, researching deeply, and writing about the mixed experience. There are some fabulous photos, shows to catch, names to look up, links to click, films to watch, books to read  (*note: mouse-over photos/images to view captions). I assembled a list of Tweeps to follow at the end. During the conference this week, I'll be tweeting live as much as possible. You can follow me on Twitter @multiasianfams OR if you aren't on Twitter (and don't want to be), you can read my Twitter Feed live at this blog in the sidebar to the right. Come with me on my journey...it's going to be a great ride!



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What If the Girl in the Asian Princess Costume, IS Asian?


"Girls Asian Princess Child Costume" sold by Target for Halloween 2014 [image source]

cos·tume noun
: clothes worn by someone (such as an actor) who is trying 
to look like a different person or thing
Merriam-Webster Dictionary
 
by Sharon H Chang

Is it still racist? Is it still cultural appropriation? Hell, is it even a problem at all? I mean, isn't she celebrating her ethnic heritage and showing ethnic pride? Aren't those supposed to be good things for her as a girl of color?? Anyways, it's just a kids costume at the end of the day. Totally not a big deal. She's just having fun. Let live and let it be, right?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

8 Special Books About Mixed-Race & Asian Children At School


by Sharon H Chang

It's that time of year again. Crisp is weaving its way into the air. Edges of leaves are hinting at turning yellow, red, brown. Halloween merch is already dripping off the shelves at your local pharmacies and department stores. We may be exhausted, the transitioning is crazy till we get used to new schedules, and everyone might be on the verge of getting sick but it's happened - our kids (or at least the ones who are old enough) are back in school. This fall in honor of our mixed, multiracial, and Asian children treading out of home and over those classroom thresholds to learn again, I've assembled a very special book list. Eight great picture books about mixed-race and Asian children exploring the joys and challenges of who they are at school and celebrating mightily who they can become...

[image source]
1. The Happiest Tree: A Yoga Story
by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Ruth Jeyaveeran
view on Amazon

Meena is excited about her class play but when she gets cast as a tree, her excitement turns to dread. She's too clumsy and awkward to stand still and steady on a stage! But a loving auntie does not agree and convinces Meena to join her yoga class to learn centering and strength. Despite the other children getting frustrated and impatient with her, through the loving support of family and the wisdom of an over five thousand year old tradition, Meena navigates through self-doubt to empowerment to become the happiest tree in the forest.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Why Mixed with White isn't White


(1942) Japanese American children pledge allegiance [image source]

by Sharon H Chang
for Hyphen Magazine ~ www.hyphenmagazine.com
July 22, 2014

When I wrote my first post for Hyphen, Talking Mixed-Race Identity with Young Children, I was deliberately blunt about race. I talked about how I don’t tell my multiracial son, who presents as a racial minority, that he’s white -- but I do tell him he’s Asian. While the essay resonated with many people, others made comments like this:


“Your child is as white as he is Asian…Why embrace one label and not the other?”
 

“Why is he Asian but not white? He has white ancestors as much as Asian ones. So if it's OK to call him Asian, it's OK to call him white. Or, if it's not OK to call him white (because he's not completely white) then it's not OK to call him Asian, because he's not completely Asian either.” 

“Your child is neither white nor Asian. I once heard this description: When you have a glass of milk and add chocolate to it, you no longer have just a glass of milk and you no longer just have chocolate because you have created something completely different. A bi-racial or multi-racial child is not either/or.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Systemic Racism and the Grading of AP Exams


[image from The Baylor Notes]
by Sharon H Chang
for Racism Review ~ www.racismreview.com
July 1, 2014

Just weeks ago in Salt Lake City the national grading/reading of the Advanced Placement World History Exam became something of a playground for deeply rooted anti-Asian racism thinly veiled as “light-hearted” humor. Did you hear about this? Bet you didn’t. Because barely anybody did. A brave handful of graders who were there protested, but MANY more (graders and non-graders) pushed back with abusive online bullying and what's-the-big-deal-this-isn't-even-racist rhetoric. So far it appears only Angry Asian Man and Hyphen Magazine picked up the story. No major networks found it interesting. ETS and the College Board eventually issued a half apology. And then, silence. Crickets chirp. The nation waves away yet another heinous incident of Asian oppression as irritating ambient noise while presumably the glowing promise of a "model minority symphony" continues to ring loud, clear, and deafeningly across the land...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Say Hapa, With Care


Caroline Haskins Gurrey’s portraits of Hawaiians, 1905-1909 [image source]

by Sharon H Chang
for AAPI Voices ~ www.aapivoices.com
June 18, 2014

***
What does Hapa mean?  One way to know is to look at the ways in which the word is used.
It’s a “Hawaiian word for ‘mixed-race’,” says Hapa Kitchen Supper Club, “coined to refer to people of East Asian and Caucasian backgrounds.” Hapa Sushi Grill & Sake Bar calls it “a harmonious blend of Asian and American.” It’s a “slang term,” proclaims The Natural Hapa: Bamboo Bundles and Hapa Time: Style Inspiration chirps it’s “just one of the coolest words ever.” There’s Hapa Yoga, Hapa Ramen, Hapa Grill, Hapa Cupcakes, Hinode sells a “Hapa Blend” of brown and white rices and Hapa Culture sells…erasers?

Let’s talk about this word, Hapa.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Book Review & Author Interview: "Oh, Oh, Baby Boy!"


artwork copyright 2013 by Janine Macbeth
by Sharon H Chang

In a world that can seem so crazy scary, in the midst of all the school violence that I know is on every parents' mind right now, in the frantic feeling I often get that I don't know how to protect my son in this place -- I find myself searching. Searching for hope, strength, courage. Something, anything that can reinstate my belief in humanity and a conviction that we can rise above our limitations to become better as a people. Something that will make me feel good about the future my son is growing into. There are days I think I can't or won't find it. But then, I do. And it's not in academia. Not in the (so-called) news. Not on the Net or social media. Maybe sometimes not even in justice movements or fights for equity and change. But in the smaller places and spaces of our lives. In the profound and inspired everyday acts of individuals and the caring, kind, and loving relationships we are so so capable of having with each other.

This Father's Day I have a really special children's book and author to share with you.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

3 New Books by Radical Women of Color Scholars



Yesterday I had (childcare) and the very great privilege of going to a book talk by 3 recently-published-superhero-smart women of color scholars at the University of Washington:

[image from iexaminer.org]
Leilani Nishime
  
[image from depts.washington.edu]
 Suhanthie Motha


[image from psychologicalscience.org]
 Megan Bang

The event was put together and hosted by the university's fairly new but super kickass group WIRED: Women Investigating Race, Ethnicity, and Difference, "An organization dedicated to providing participants professional advice, intellectual stimuli and support in balancing demands at home and work." Members are assistant professors and mostly women of color. I pretty much live-tweet almost every talk I go to these days. Why? I like the brevity, the real-time interaction online (i.e. folks from all over the world listen & weigh-in), and the ability to string simple notes together post-event in a Storify Slideshow. I feel like so many of us deeply care but just don't have the time, ability, access, educational privilege (possibly even patience) etc to get to or into these kinds of things. On the flipside Twitter is a widely accessible platform which sort of forces us to get points across in fewer, plainer words. That can be really annoying and disempowering in some arenas, but for jargonny academics, theorists, "experts" I think a good challenge AND maybe more importantly an opportunity for all - not just some - to participate. So in the interest of public access and easier entry-points into knowledge I think everyone should be able to partake in -- without further ado here's my short and hopefully sweet Storify Slideshow of UW + WIRED's "Cultural Orientations: New Books in Visual Media, Science, and Language Education." Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

"Hafu" an AMAZING Start But We Need to Go Deeper


[image from hafufilm.com]
About a week ago I had the chance to do something I've been wanting to do (and bugging the filmmakers about for a long time) -- finally go to a local screening of the documentary Hafu, meaning "half," which represents 5 stories of mixed heritage Japanese folks navigating their multi/identities in Japan today. The film was made by a production team of mostly mixed-race Japanese themselves many either having been raised, born and raised, or with very close ties to the country. The movie shares with us the lived lives of: Edward (Venezuelan/Japanese), The Oi Family particularly their son Alex (Mexican/Japanese), David (Ghanaian/Japanese), Fusae (Korean/Japanese), and Sophia (Australian/Japanese).

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Talking Mixed-Race Identity with Young Children



by Sharon H Chang
for Hyphen Magazine: Asian America Unabridged  ~ www.hyphenmagazine.com
 
“Mom, am I white?”

A few weeks ago, I got this question from my four-year-old. Technically he is “biracial”—but that label does him a severe representative injustice, because his bloodline is actually Japanese, Taiwanese, Slovakian, German, French Canadian, British, and Welsh. He also does not possess a parent of one race and a parent of another race as “biracial” is usually assumed—both my husband and I are mixed-race Asian/white too. To that end, I much prefer to describe us, and him, as multiracial.

I write about and research race, families, and children with an especial focus on multiraciality and the intersection of mixed-race ID/Asian. I don’t believe in avoiding race talk with my child, though I do discuss it in age-appropriate ways. I’ve tried to stand by my conviction that it’s better he learn how to think and talk about these issues within the family first, rather than have normative ideals force-fed down his throat by everyone else when he walks out the door.

That said, I wasn’t fully prepared when he turned to me and asked, “Mom, am I white?” When I told him no, he immediately followed up with, “Am I Black?” Then when told he wasn’t that either, he started crying and plaintively turned downtrodden eyes to me, “But I want a color too.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: "My Amazing Day: A Celebration of Wonder & Gratitude"


My Amazing Day: A Celebration of Wonder & Gratitude
by Karin Fisher-Golton, Lori A. Cheung, Elizabeth Iwamiya
[image from ouramazingdays.com]

By Sharon H Chang

I think a lot of you know by now that I’m a big BIG proponent of kid’s literature as a tool for approaching difficult subjects like race and identity. I strongly and deeply believe children’s books offer adults and kids together not only one of the easiest and most enjoyable, but also thoughtful, artful and informed entry points into conversations about tough subjects. The right book can open up adult-child thinking in all sorts of new ways, inspiring us to ask important questions and taking our minds to places they haven’t gone before. Powerful stuff, right?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Mixed or Not, Why Are We Still Taking Pictures of "Race"?


[image source]
By Sharon H Chang, as seen on Racism Review

Just days ago PolicyMic put up a piece entitled “National Geographic Concludes What Americans Will Look Like in 2050, and It’s Beautiful." In it writer Zak Cheney-Rice attempts to address the so-called rise of multiracial peoples which has captured/enchanted the public eye and with which the media has become deeply enamored. He spotlights a retrospective and admiring look at National Geographic’s “The Changing Face of America” project of last year featuring a series of multiracial portraits by well-known German photographer Martin Schoeller, and also peripherally cites some statistics/graphs that demonstrate the explosion of the mixed-race population. “In a matter of years,” Cheney-Rice writes, “We’ll have Tindered, OKCupid-ed and otherwise sexed ourselves into one giant amalgamated mega-race.” Despite admitting racial inequity persists, he still flirts with the idea of an “end” approaching (presumably to race and by association racism), and suggests while we’re waiting for things to get better, we might “…applaud these growing rates of intermixing for what they are: An encouraging symbol of a rapidly changing America. 2050 remains decades away, but if these images are any preview, it’s definitely a year worth waiting for.” We are then perhaps left with this rather unfortunate centerpiece of his statement, “Here’s how the ‘average American’ will look by the year 2050” referring to the woman pictured above.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

In Kids Movies, White Still Seems to Be Right


(from left to right) Robert Lopez, Idina Menzel, Demi Levato, "Elsa" from Frozen

by Sharon H Chang

I don't pay much attention to the Academy Awards anymore for various reasons among them racial inequity, emphasis on commercialization, consumerism, and wealth, as well as the perpetuation of harmful normative stereotypes about practically everything from gender, gender roles and sexual orientation, to class, culture and language. And of course I'm the mother of a young child and just don't have time to watch movies. That said, there was one win that especially caught my multiracial eye this year. Robert Lopez along with his wife nabbed Best Original Song for their wildly popular ballad "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen. Significantly, the award catapulted multiracial Filipino Robert Lopez to rare status, the 12th and youngest EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winner ever. You know I pay attention to this stuff because my mixed race Asian son has so, so, so few racial role models that hold a solid standing in the public image. As he grows up I want to be able to point out leaders to him and say, "See! YOU can be a songwriter, politician, Olympian, CEO, activist, author, actor, etc. too!" But that's really hard to do right now when I can barely find children's books that reflect his racial image.

Anyway. So Robert Lopez. YES. Hadn't heard the song yet, but certainly made a point to after that. I screened it on YouTube thinking for sure I'd show it to kiddo. But then something else quickly caught my eye...

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Some Things Never Change? Multi/Asian Women & the New Millennium



Hawaiian Types (1945)
book of photography by Henry Inn, image from ebay

"Certain it is that Hawaii of 1944 offers America's most impressive large scale demonstration of racial democracy at work."


France Nguyen Vannga, multiracial Asian actress (1958)  
South Pacific movie poster, Thailand release, image from ebay
"Bali Ha'i will whisper
On the wind of the sea:
'Here am I, your special island
Come to me, come to me'"



Hawaii Now (circa 1960s)
United Airlines Hawaii travel poster, image from Ripley Auctions



Nancy Kwan, multiracial Asian actress (1961)  
Flower Drum Song movie poster, Belgium release, image from LA times
"When I hear the compliment'ry whistle
That greets my bikini by the sea,
I turn and I glower and I bristle,
But I'm happy to know the whistle's meant for me!"


















Meet the Golden People of Hawaii (circa 1970s)
Matson Line Hawaii cruise poster, image from Pinterest hawaii's



New Millennium



Kelly Hu, multiracial Asian actress (2002)  
The Scorpion King [film] promotional shot, image from angelfire.com


Devon Aoki, multiracial Asian model (2009)  
The Boop Troop by Ellen Von UnWorth, image from La Vie en Pose


Right There (2011)
Nicole Scherzinger dancing hula-fusion in Right There [music video] image from Wikipedia

"Me like the way that you hold my body
Me like the way that you touch my body
Me like the way that you kiss my...
Me like the way that he put it on me
Me like the way that he push up on me
Me like the way that he goin' down..."
 

What's Your Mix? (2012)
Bay Clothing ads feature multi/Asian women in mathematical equations, image from Bila Kapamilya
"Call it biased, but the mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood is almost a sure formula for someone beautiful and world class."

Jessica Gomes, multiracial Asian model (2013)
 Sports Illustrated swimsuit spread, image from (Re)Mixed


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Why Isn't College for Learning About Mixed-Race Identities?


[image from engagefamilyminute.com]

By Sharon H Chang, as seen on Racism Review

There are some incredible opportunities out there right now to get certificates, higher ed and even advanced degrees specializing in the experience of Americans of color. Want a degree in Asian American Studies? Sure. How about African American, Native or American Indian, Latin American, Mexican American or Chicano studies? Absolutely. Google all of these and you’ll find brilliant choices to be credentialed in these heritage experiences at very fine colleges and universities.

But what if you ID as mixed-race multicultural across any of these racial lines? Is there a degree for that?

Monday, February 17, 2014

When I Went to See America Inaugurate its 1st President of Color



I make absolutely no statements here on how I feel about Barack Obama as President nor his presidency overall. But I will make one definitive statement with absolute certainty. My husband and I were there when America inaugurated its first President of color -- and it truly was a beautiful thing. I am forever grateful we made this trip before we had children and at a time when I was physically capable of doing so. This is the (admittedly kind of cheesy) home video I made documenting our journey back east to be part of the historic event. When I watch it now of course I think on all the enormous struggles we have had as a nation and continue to have. But I also feel maybe more than a glimmer of hope. Which frankly, is sometimes hard to come by. So. I share this moment in our lives with you as a reminder that things really can change, do change, and that we shouldn't give up. Ever.

Happy Watching and to Hoping Always...
President's Day 2014

***

Music Credits

"Lean On Me"
Written and performed by Bill Withers

"A Long Walk"
Written by Jill Scott and Andre Harris
Performed by Jill Scott

"Shout"
Written and performed by The Isley Brothers

"Air and Simple Gifts"
Written by John Williams
Performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Anthony McGill, Gabriela Montero and Itzhak Perlman

"Star Spangled Banner"
Performed by Jordin Sparks

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Is HAPA a "Curse or Gift"? -- An Answer for Asian Fortune News



[image from thetyee.ca]

On the first day of this new year, I wrote My Interview About Being Hapa That Never Got Published. It was a recount of my media experience being stereotyped and pigeonholed, partitioned and divided, misunderstood and unheard. But it was also an ode to a hopeful future in which people will be willing to have the hard conversations. The ones we still avoid having. The ones about power and pain, the past and the present. Yes, I'm talking about race. How we stubbornly persist on assigning value to a person and their life, based on the way they look. Despite my attempts to challenge the racial assumptions of the writer/editor pre-publishing, 5 days ago the article (in which I was not included due to my error) went live on Asian Fortune. When I saw the headline, "Growing Up Half Asian American: Curse or Gift?" -- my heart sank into my stomach. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Who Got Sidelined in #NotYourAsianSideKick


[image source]


by Sharon H Chang, as seen on Racism Review

In December of last year an Asian feminist conversation took Twitter by storm under the common hashtag #NotYourAsianSidekick. Designed to create much-needed but difficult-to-find space for discussing justice in the Asian American community, participants tweeted about everything from “media representation of Asian women to the way the prison industrial complex erases Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in its demographic tracking” (http://notyourasiansidekick.com/). Tanya Maria Golash-Boza covered it for Racism Review here. It instantly went global-viral garnering 45,000 tweets within 24 hours, appearing in 95 million feeds across the next 3 days and a month later – it’s still trending. In fact the discussion has so deeply shown its importance that it has transformed into something of a movement with its own website  and hosted forums that aim to continue “bringing conversations between artists, activists, and academics” about “everything from using Twitter as a platform for agitation to interracial solidarity to disability to queerness.” It has since generated widespread and well-deserved attention much of which you can easily locate and peruse via Google search.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

2 Hapa Parents and 19 Hapa artists: Our Visit to War Baby / Love Child at the Wing Luke



War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian Art at the Wing Luke [image from warbabylovechild.com]

by Sharon H Chang

Cold, rain. Gray-stained morning. Husband and I are sitting in the car at 5 till, draining coffee dregs, waiting for Seattle's Wing Luke Museum of the Asian American Experience to open. We're about to visit War Baby / Love Child: Mixed Race Asian Art before it closes in a week. We just dropped the kid off at preschool. It's taken us a full month to get here and many thwarted attempts. And now we finally made it, we're thrilled and stunned-awkward-silent at the same time. This is the unique challenge I think parents face in trying to raise their race-consciousness and by association, the race-savvy of their parenting (something our children desperately need). How in the world do you find: time to read books, childcare to get to places/events, opportunities to meet and converse with like-minded people/parents?? The truth is so often -- you just don't. Your kid is sick, abort mission. The babysitter cancelled or you can't find one at all, abort mission. You feel like you're gonna die from exhaustion, abort mission. The roof is leaking and your basement flooded, abort mission. So needless to say, this was a glorious triumphant morning for me and my partner. 2 Hapas with a Hapa son about to experience the art of 19 Hapa artists. That's a whole lot of kickbutt Hapa-ness.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My Interview About Being Hapa That Never Got Published

 
Who ARE you??
by Sharon H Chang

At the end of last year I was asked (via Twitter) to interview for a smaller Asian publication about being multiracial. Of course I immediately said yes. I mean, exploring mixed race Asian identity and giving that exploration a voice is what I do. And of course I was excited to have a chance to speak and be heard. The writer contacted me with her credentials (very good) and writing samples (also very good). But then it got really weird, really fast. According to her, HAPA was an acronym for "Half Asian Pacific American" (she'd never heard of the Hawaiian hapa). In a short list of questions following she then wanted to know which race I identify with most and what opportunities my racial mix has offered. She then asked if I would send a picture of myself in "ethnic garb" or with "ethnic cuisine."

AAAAH!!!