Growing up, I always struggled with finding a stable identity of my own. I knew I was Latina, but I felt like I could only relate to Latina women in my family and never the ones on television and film who show how an “actual” Latina was supposed to be and act. In television programs, terms like “exotic” became the norm when describing tanned skinned, seemingly typical Latinas. Yet, it wasn’t until adolescence, when I began religiously immersing myself in pop culture, that I started to realize just how pervasive and damaging this one idea of what a Latina is actually was. Continue reading
I remember the first time I listened to Childish Gambino. It was my senior year, his album Camp had dropped that past November, and while surfing the web, I came across his music video for “Freaks and Geeks.” Although at first I was confused as to why Donald Glover from Community was filming himself rapping and moving sporadically (was that dancing?) around some random warehouse, I was quickly won over by his flow and his wit. Halfway through the song, one of his lines caught me by complete surprise. I paused the video and replayed it to make sure I had heard it correctly: “Love is a trip, but fucking is a sport / Are there Asian girls here? Minority Report!”.
What?! Did Asian girls just get a shout-out in a rap song?! I listened to the rest of the tracks in Camp, and there was no denying: Childish Gambino had yellow fever.
This article is the second part of a series on the field of Asian American studies.
My high school US history teacher was a staunch progressive. This fact was blatantly clear in the way she structured her curricula. As a result of my high school having a program called “Advanced Topics” – or “AT” for short – teachers have a freer hand in creating college-level courses. My ATUS teacher took full advantage of this freedom, creating a curriculum that focused on many often-overlooked aspects of social history and omitted discussion of military battle history. Continue reading
My favorite thing to do when I want to take a break from the “real world” – work, school, politics, the news, etc. – is to immerse myself in non-serious things I love. For me, these things mainly include music and pop culture: specifically, boybands. Continue reading
I remember my mother always emphasizing how important it was for me to perform well at school. I would complain about the pressure she put on me to look nice and always get good grades when all my other peers seemed to just be enjoying their childhood and unaware of any burden to be consistently successful. She would say, “Remember, you’re the little black girl in the class. They are always looking at you.”
The conversation always goes the same way. In a circle of friends, the discussion somehow arrives on the topic of dating, or race, or both, and then somebody says it: “You like white guys” – “You like Asian girls” – “You like black men.” Continue reading
I was out shopping one day when a woman walked up to me and started casually speaking to me in Spanish. I stared at her for a moment and then quickly shifted my gaze around her to see if maybe my mom was close enough to hear my call, answer the woman’s question, and spare me the embarrassment of yet another “Lo siento. No hablo Español.” Continue reading
A few weeks ago, I helped my brother Matthew edit an essay for the seventh grade, a personal narrative about overcoming his fear of roller coasters. Having never ridden a roller coaster with him, I asked Matthew whether any of the story was true.
“No,” he responded, “I made most of it up to sound more American.”
I have never been quite as intimidated by an inanimate object as I am by the little bottle sitting on my bathroom countertop. It had arrived, along with a flood of other unfamiliar toiletries, in my cousin’s bag this morning. The bottle is only a couple of inches high and the words “Fair and Lovely” are written across the top in friendly, pink script. An ambiguously ethnic girl smiles on the front. Behind her grinning mug is a picture of the same girl, minus the idiotic grin but plus a whole hell of a lot more melanin. “Smear me all over your face,” the bottle demands rudely. “Then maybe you can be white – pretty – and happy, too.”
Recently, I have been hearing about circumstances in which a person suspects racism and is told that perhaps he or she is just imagining it, that racism is nothing more than a figment of the imagination. Saying that an individual is imagining racism, in other words, is to imply that that person is delusional, or that the person is trying to think of an excuse as to why he or she was treated a certain way in order to become the victim. I never examined this idea of “imagining racism” until a few weeks ago.