On the weekend of Valentine’s Day, East Asian dance group Triple 8 put on their annual show Fortune. A key image in their advertising campaign depicted a white male, surrounded by seven Asian women. At the far left was an Asian male, his face out of focus and washed out by heavy backlighting. Continue reading
The Things You Won’t Remember: The Plight of the Black Male in America
When the group of young boys got on at 79th Street, very few people took notice of them. Slouched in their hard, plastic seats or leaning against the doors, the eyes of my fellow passengers were glued to their books and their glowing Apple devices.
My roommate and I have a running joke, the perfect encapsulation of our on-going dialogue about our place in society as the children of immigrants. What do white people eat for dinner? She is Korean and I am Sudanese and we are visibly otherenough so that when someone looks at us, they automatically bring with them a set of assumptions and act out a set of prejudices.
In recognition of Black History month, The Stripes has decided to now publish another Round Table discussion we recently hosted, one which sought to address the differences and divides between the community of recently immigrated African-Americans and the community of blacks who are historically (for multiple generations) American. For the discussion, we invited a range of participants, including those from each of the aforementioned communities, and also those who were removed from both of those communities (for example, the president of Princeton’s African Student group, who happens to be a white female).
During a long drive with my friend Jamal to New York, our conversation led to a discussion he had recently had with our friend Maria. He was recounting a debate he had with her over immigration, explaining that he was frustrated by her manner of expression. He felt that she had shut him out when she raised her voice, displayed no intention of really listening to him, and expressed too much emotion during their discussion. Surprised, I told him I had no idea what he was referring to but instead was reminded of the agreeable discussions I’ve had with her in the past. In time, we moved on to another topic, but the brief conversation lingered in the back of my mind. Continue reading
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 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.”
Afros and high tops tend to tower over the less-voluminous masses. Dreadlocks inspire stares. In general, “kinky” or curly locks garner attention, usually of the negative or ignorant sort. In America, the public display of black person’s natural hair has always caused uneasiness. For many non-black people (particularly whites), natural black hair is a frightening, politically-charged declaration of “otherness.” But does it have to be that way?
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.