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
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
Nelson Mandela’s memorial service earlier this month met an outpouring of kind words in commemoration. Dignitaries from Barack Obama to Ban ki-Moon to Raúl Castro struggled to convey the significance of his life while still capturing a glimpse of his humanity along the way. Countless others around the globe offered tributes upon learning of his death. Heads of state and an infinite reel of media voices honored his passing, entirely unsurprising for a man so loved by so many. Some spoke from grief, some in celebration of his life. A few politicians casually treated his death as a cheap political opportunity (see Rick Santorum comparing the liberation struggle against apartheid to the liberation struggle against the Affordable Care Act). Other voices, however, were even more perverse. 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
To most people, being asked, “Where are you from?” seems innocuous enough. Someone is just trying to get to know you a little bit better. Asian Americans, however, have almost universally had a different experience with this question. At first we’ll answer with “California,” “New York,” or a variety of other places. But then comes the dreaded follow-up question: “But where are you really from?” It becomes immediately clear that there’s a certain answer that is expected, and a failure to comply will just result in more questions.
Concrete walls, bars over the windows and a lot of black faces. In September, I taught a course with other Princeton students at a male youth correctional facility in New Jersey that fit this description. For a few hours every Friday, I could get over everything that made me uncomfortable – except the black faces, because they knew I was black, too. Continue reading
No need to fear” is a phrase that sounds utterly ridiculous, like something a super-hero would chime as he swoops in to save the day. Yet these four words come most easily to my mind in daily situations where the only thing I am trying to save is my own dignity. Continue reading
From the exchange of hostile attacks and impassioned defenses over Lena Dunham’s Girls and its lack of minority characters, to the controversy over the delegation of barbarian and slave roles to mainly non-white actors on HBO’s Game of Thrones, conversations about the representations of people of color (POC) on screen have been heating up. Continue reading