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posts in which i talk about race

I’ve read the Millennials are the color-blind generation, and it’s always bothered me a bit. To be honest, I was hoping that I not be the person to break the bad news to my kids why this optimism is misplaced.

Millennials, as a whole, feel that colorblindness is something to strive toward, yet they believe in “celebrating diversity” within their “post-racial” generation. According to research compiled by MTV for a public affairs campaign to address bias, entitled “Look Different,” millennials believe they are more tolerant and diverse, profess a deeper commitment to equality and fairness, and are less afflicted with “different treatment” than previous generations.

There really is no point to this post – like most of my posts here. Yet another LOL-oh-so-hilarious irony that’s so sharp it cuts. Let me rewind a bit.

Scene: Dinner table

Cast: My family of four. Me. Husband. The two boys.

The subject of homecoming dance came up, well, because we have a 16-year-old. My 11 year old on a lark asked, “Hey, dad, who did you go to homecoming with?”

I laughed. “He went with Auntie Phuong.”

“It’s not Auntie Mai Phuong that we see every Christmas. It’s Auntie Phuong whom you probably don’t remember.” Husb added.

My 11 year old who would have chosen the faction of Candor if we lived in the Divergent universe blurted out with a “gotcha” smirk, “So, you have a thing for Asian women.”

The air froze around me. Or was it instead getting hot? Everything around me simply paused. The voices were coming from far away. I was pulled away from the set but also immediately thrown back down to earth violently.

I sucked in my upper lip and my nostrils might have flared. With my eyes shut tight, I took a deep breath.

I think I am going to lose my shit. 

“So…” I decided that I could not let this slide. Isn’t it part of our job as liberal, feminist, culturally and politically conscientious moms to take full advantage of teaching moments such as this?

“So. You’re suggesting that Dad went out with me not because of anything special about me as a person, but because I am Asian first and foremost?”

I think I am losing this. Look at those blank stares. They, both of them, don’t get it.

16-year-old being the diplomat that he is [Thank you Model UN!] stepped in, trying to broker a peace treaty, “Mom. I think you’re overreacting.”

I was ashamed. What kind of sane mother ruins a great family dinner by reacting so vehemently to her child’s innocent remarks? I stepped away from the table with resignation.

“Liberal, feminist, culturally and politically conscientious mom lost her shit when child spouted an honest, possibly innocent, observation that unfortunately harkened back to unequal racial dynamics and power relations”

The easier route would have been to let it go. But we never take the easier route, do we? So I marched the three steps back to the table, going in for the second round.

“No. I am not overreacting. That’s what we’re told every time we call out racist statements or behaviors. Oh you’re overreacting. It’s just a joke. Don’t take it too seriously. You should learn to take a joke. No. Not any more.”

Again, bless his heart, my 16 year old came to his brother’s defense, “That’s not a racist thing to say. It’s just an attribute. It’s no different than saying someone has a preference…”

I stopped dead right there.

I don’t think I am cut out for this. Fuck all these theories, post-colonial, performative, race and ethnicity, feminist, blah blah blah, they are useless when it comes to parenting. Useless when it comes to parenting this generation of kids. 

This generation of suburban kids who were brought up to be “color blind” by TV programs, YouTube videos, and Tumblr memes and GIFs are ignorantly and blissfully blind to racism. They simply do not believe in racism. And by not believing in racism, they believe that racism does not exist.

It’s like reverse Tinker Bell.

“We don’t believe!” Kids to racism.

Racism, “I am getting weak. I am dying.”

Poof. Racism gone. Dead.

[Scene. Lights up. Back to reality]

They think that people like me who cannot let “race” go are the problem. “Why does everything have to be about race?”

Believe me. I wish I were oblivious too, kids.



My parents taught me well: never gloat. Never rub it in.

So I will simply put these up with no comments added.







Now… In case you are worried that we are all going to get a big head and become complacent and start subscribing to this false belief of a perfect world and have blind faith in the American people, NO WORRIES! There was (and still is?) a trending hashtag on Twitter “VoteWhite”… Yup. I saw a few of them and it’s just as sickening as you’d imagine. In fact, I could not have imagined some of the things that people actually tweeted to the public. They’re not concerned that everybody could see how much of a backwood racist they are? Including their employers? I assume these people are all gainfully employed since unlike the democrats, they do NOT need government assistance being so self-reliant “We built all this” and all. Anyway, keep this in your back pocket and show it to anyone that says, “There is no more racism.”

Thank you to “crazy things racists say openly in the 21st century” for keeping us on our toes.

Peace out.



By now you probably have heard of “The Super Bowl commercial you probably did not see”.  Former Rep. Pete Hoekstra’s campaign advertisement aired during Super Bowl features a beautiful Chinese woman (or, as he called her later when he was made to explain himself, “a Chinese girl”), complete with a straw hat, bicycle, rice paddy, and “Chinese-sounding” music.

It’s like, HELLO! back to the World of Suzie Wong, Fu Manchu, and Dragon Lady.



The Internet, at least the part I frequent, was all-a-buzzing, criticizing Hoekstra’s campaign of insensitivity, stupidity, and flat-out lying. There are several areas about this ad that are under criticism:

1. The actress’ perceived accent, fake or otherwise: I was quite moved by people of non-Asian descent being offended by the portrayal of a Chinese person (purported in China even though the scene was actually show somewhere in California) speaking with an accent and “broken” English. I have to admit: I did not see this at all. We have all heard atrocious fake Asian accents, and compared to those, hers is actually subtle (regardless whether the actress is Asian American or Asian Asian).  And the “broken” English amounts to dropping the “S” after a verb which I sometimes do by mistake because, well, I am speaking a foreign language.

I would like to put this out here: Although I would rip anybody’s head off for attempting fake Asian accents, my children’s included, there is no shame in speaking English with an accent. Duh. I tell my kids, “Don’t make fun of people speaking with an accent. They all know one more language than you do. And their English is better than your [insert foreign language].”

2. Her accent is not authentic: Well, we will find out when the APB put out by Lawrence O’Donnell for this poor actress succeeds in tracking her down. Even though I do not like what she did, being a theatre person, I have to give her some slack: Do people understand how hard it is for actors of Asian descent to find roles that are NOT stereotypical in nature?  She actually sounded a bit like me. So now I am sitting here wondering: “Fuck. So people think MINE is broken English and my English sucks?”

I was once criticized by an audience for not having an authentic Chinese accent in the play I was in. I found it hilarious and thought it was a great compliment. What do people think a Chinese accent should sound like? It baffles me really.

3. She does not look Chinese: People say that to me all the fucking time. Well-intentioned criticism like this frustrates me to no end. What IS a Chinese supposed to look like? Is there an encyclopedia of Chinese people that we can look up like a bird watcher’s guidebook? Nope. Not Chinese. Angle of eyes all wrong. Not Chinese either. See? The nose is not in the right place. Coloring is all wrong too. Seriously?

Furthermore, who cares if the actress is Chinese or not? It does not matter whether she is American-born or not either. What matters is that PeteHaveNoClueHoekstra and his people approved an ad with rampant, racist stereotypes (and of course, shameless fear mongering and blatant misinformation regarding debt and economy).

4. Yes, the fear mongering alluding to the misconception about the debt China holds against the US [Remember the Chinese Professor ad in 2010? And the Yellow Peril trope populated by the Fu Man-Chu series in the 1930s?], and the relationship between the debt and the economy. Actually, it is rather insulting that PeteGetNotHoekstra assumes people would believe the line he’s trying to draw between US government spending and jobs being sent overseas. Here, allow me to quote Paul Krugman: [I know not everybody worships him but this article, Nobody Understands Debt, is spot on]:

Deficit-worriers portray a future in which we’re impoverished by the need to pay back money we’ve been borrowing. They see America as being like a family that took out too large a mortgage, and will have a hard time making the monthly payments.

This is, however, a really bad analogy in at least two ways.

First, families have to pay back their debt. Governments don’t — all they need to do is ensure that debt grows more slowly than their tax base…

Second — and this is the point almost nobody seems to get — an over-borrowed family owes money to someone else; U.S. debt is, to a large extent, money we owe to ourselves.

… …

It’s true that foreigners now hold large claims on the United States, including a fair amount of government debt. But every dollar’s worth of foreign claims on America is matched by 89 cents’ worth of U.S. claims on foreigners. And because foreigners tend to put their U.S. investments into safe, low-yield assets, America actually earns more from its assets abroad than it pays to foreign investors. If your image is of a nation that’s already deep in hock to the Chinese, you’ve been misinformed. Nor are we heading rapidly in that direction.


Ok. Now that we’ve got the air cleared, could I please start with my psychotic foaming at the mouth now? Thank you.

Nobody seems to be bothered by this. At least, they did not comment on it. My first reaction?

“O.M.G. Is she selling porn??!! Is she trying to get the good ol’ American white boys into her pants?!”

WTF is with the downcast eyes, the come-hither smile? What’s even more bizarre is that she’s supposed to be addressing  Debbie Stabenow, Hoekstra’s opponent in this race. I was seeing Lotus Blossom and Dragon Lady morphed into one right on my computer screen, on a Monday morning, in the fucking 21st century. It was such a visceral reaction that I had to grip the edge of the table to stop myself from screaming; I held my breath in fear because I was half expecting her to say “Me love you long time”… This is THE most offensive stereotyping I have seen so far in the 21st century. PeteMeSuckHoekstra did not even try to hide it. This “character” in his campaign ad is made up of everything that created “Dragon Lady” and sustained this stereotype over the decades. The ad, unapologetically, resurrected the stereotype of women of Asian descent as calculating, treacherous and manipulative a la “Dragon Lady”. Along with that, the ad invokes the fear of the Yellow Peril (originated in the 19th century when Chinese laborers were imported like cattle to the West Coast to build the railroads): only now they stay in China while taking away the jobs from the Americans…


Hello? PeteIamNotARacistHoekstra, Fu Man-chu called. He wanted his Dragon Lady back. He said that you could come over to the 1930s to visit her.


Thank you, indeed, PeteShowingYourTrueColorHoekstra, for reminding me and for proving to people who like to tell me that “It’s in your head. Racism does not exist any more. Grow some thick skin. Stop whining.” that idiots without self-awareness are still around us. Stay vigilant.




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