We all have that well-meaning friend or acquaintance who thinks his or her knowledge of politically correct lingo and the current line-up of "ethnically-authentic" television shows automatically grants special membership to an ultra-exclusive club of hip minorities.
There's always, for instance, that non-black friend with a penchant for racial slurs who blurts out "But my best friend is black!" any time he or she is accused of racism, the same friend who proudly declares "I watch 'The Wire'!" anytime a black person enters the room.
Having witnessed the indecencies of our justice system and the insidious nature of power and patriarchy, I am part of the 74% of Americans
who know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. I was about five or six years old the first time I witnessed intimate partner violence (IPV)
; my mother, at twenty-one, was gasping for air by the hands of a young man, likely no older than I am today. It is unfortunate, yet telling, that often times it is violence and power that give us our element of humanity. And although it is my first vivid memory, it was surely not the last. A number of broken bones and ribs, collapsed lungs and swollen features later, I found myself face to face in a number of hospital rooms with a resilient yet lost soul; a woman who had not yet found the resolve to transition from victim to survivor.
You know the stereotype: young girl is molested at an early age and/or abandoned by her father, causing her to search for validation by spinning around a pole and dancing buck-ass naked for money and attention from random men. I’m not going to say this stereotype isn’t true because if I did, I would be lying. The fact of the matter is that my father molested me repeatedly when I was in preschool, and then once again when I was fourteen years of age.
Disclaimer: The discussion of inclusivity and solidarity is relevant to many constituencies in different ways; this is my unique take as an Asian, female-identified individual.
I’ve come to a curious, heightened recognition these past few weeks: my ethnicity is something to laugh at. When an Asian woman is denigrated and exoticized by a group of white men in an offensive video
entitled “Asian Girlz”, I am told I shouldn’t be so upset because the woman clearly enjoyed it and the video was clearly just a joke. When the lone Asian character in the critically acclaimed Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” perpetuates negative racial tropes
through easy, cheap humor that capitalizes off of her awkward silences and accented, broken English, I’m supposed to double back in laughter, shake my head, and say “Well, at least they have Laverne Cox!” When I express my anger at careless, racist reporting of an Asiana Airlines crash that killed two teenage girls--KTVU fired a producer
after the network broadcast the pilots’ names as “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow”--the immediate reaction I get is a giggle and a laugh.
It was the winter before I started graduate school and I was in the first term of my pregnancy. Between waiting to hear back from prospective campuses and working a full time job that paid below a living wage, I was spent. Many women face this decision with fear of what others might think. This piece is my story about my journey to choice.
I could not arrive at a reasonable plan to make it through my first year of graduate school as a single mother. The programs I had applied to were full time, elitist and predominantly white. How would my classmates treat a single pregnant woman? Higher education already posed a series of ubiquitous challenges. Adding a newborn to the scenario was going to be exponentially trying. During my only ultrasound, I sang a childhood melody to my baby. After many tears, embraces, conversations and prayers, I decided to bid my farewell.
To this day, I don’t know what my father looks like. In 24 years I have had no contact with my biological father; it is more likely that someone reading this post has more information on him than I do. Despite my complete disconnect from “that” side of my family, I’ve always known I was half white. And for as long as I’ve been aware of my mixed ethnic heritage, I’ve identified as a black girl, unequivocally. How could I possibly pledge allegiance to a culture I didn’t know? To people I’d never talked to or even seen?
Over 24 million children in the U.S. live without their biological fathers. These children are, on average, two to three times more likely to experience education, behavioral, health and emotional problems, use drugs, be poor, engage in criminal activity or be victims of child abuse than their peers residing with two (married) parents.
Alison "Wonderland", San Francisco, CA
"We can't even begin to describe how much we LOVE Alison! Her constant engagement is invaluable - she always leaves such thoughtful and provoking comments, and exposes us to differing issues and perspectives. It's so refreshing to hear from someone that knows what she stands for...and how she likes it :)"
Increased interracial dating serves, for some, as strong, heartwarming evidence for the existence of a post-racial world. With a significant jump in the percentage of newlywed couples in interracial marriages--from 3.2% in 1980 to about 15% in 2010--it's hard to believe that race-based restrictions on marriage were only completely invalidated in 1967.
Others, however, are quick to point out the race and gender imbalances behind interracial dating. My Chinese-American ex-boyfriend once pointed out an Asian woman and a white man locking hands as they left a store together in Times Square. "I'd like that more," he whispered to me as he shook his head, barely hiding his disdain for the young couple, "but you never see it the other way around. No Asian man is considered attractive enough to be in that kind of relationship."
In my experience, most men with yellow fever tend to like Asian girls as a whole. As long as you have yellow skin, slightly slanted eyes, and a thin frame, they’re fucking sold. Some men however, have narrowed down their fetish to specific flavors of Asian: with Japanese, Korean, and Pinay being the most sought-after types.
When I started working at my current club, I made a conscious decision to present myself as half-Japanese and half-Korean, my logic being that I’d be more “exotic" if I could claim two ethnicities as opposed to one. This of course, ended up leading to some pretty interesting conversations, ranging from the face-palmingly racist to the head-scratchingly bizarre.
The black man occupies a unique space in American culture. He is an aggressive and inherently violent threat to society. Both insatiable and lazy, he is creator of chaos and maker of his own inevitable demise; he is forever guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. He does not feel pain, or remorse, or empathy. As angry and volatile as their female counterparts, black men, by their very presence, give society reason to assume the defensive. He is simultaneously invisible and ever present in the minds and lives of white America. A non-citizen, he holds no right to self-defense.
Debased, filthy and unworthy, black men, we are told, are sexual deviants incapable of either desiring or maintaining healthy, meaningful relationships.