Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What Up Nina?

This is how people view Asian Women and Men Differently (you will need this little fact for the letter below)

Yo Nina Shen Rastogi,

I got a google alert for your article about "Paper Tigers" on Slate. I thought to myself, "Must be another fan of my fantastic full page Asian Annie Lennox-esque photo with 24K gold and no shirt on." WOOP. But no, you're looking for needles in a haystack not futuristic chinamen. We're about 2 years from WEB Dubois lifting the veil because we're still jet lagged from casting buckets on Booker T. time. But don't worry, once people forget about Tila Tequilla and The Green Hornet, we should have enough juice to renegotiate our social standing. I think Asian-America is at a juncture where this article could have gone one of two ways. It could have celebrated the recent commercial successes of people like Alexander Wang, Far East Movement (shoot me), the kids on ABDC, Tony Hsieh, etc. We could have declared a coming of age. But, I think Wesley did the right thing. Undersell and over deliver. No chink left behind. Save the fireworks for Chinese New Year.

In corporate America, law firms, accounting firms, Ford, Chevy, and Panda Express, a lot of us still do the heavy lifting w/o really reaping the full benefits. Do I have anything to do with these people? No. Do I care? Yes. Wesley is painting a picture of the present landscape for a large segment of Asians who still struggle. There are plenty of exceptions, but that's not the point. I don't believe that every one should make it their problem, but regardless it will reflect on us collectively.

The solution is not to avoid discussing it. We can believe we're over the hump and assume most people can make distinctions, but until the last ignorant mother fucker in the lunchroom gets it, someone is getting slushied at Mckinley High. Maybe I'm tribal, maybe I shouldn't care, but I can't help that I do. I remember how hard it was to break out and I don't wish it on anyone else. I understand and fully agree that Wesley's article Paper Tigers claims to speak about Asian Americans but doesn't include enough women or simply just Asians who are mother fucking base gods. I digress. According to you,

The problem here isn't that Yang has decided he's most interested in writing about a handful of well educated Asian-American men and about their professional difficulties and sexual shortcomings. It's that he does so while claiming to be writing about 'Asian Americans' as a collective. Yang has made their problems our problems.

Fair enough. You don't want the problems some Asians have to reflect on you simply because you're Asian. I get that. You didn't choose to be Asian, you just are. I felt the same way in High School. I'd see the one or two other Asian kids at school walking around looking at their feet wearing their dad's clothes from the 70s already working on next year's homework. I hated those kids because no matter how different I was, their shit reflected on me. But, I took it on. If people picked on them, I'd say something. If people bump old ladies on Canal St around cause their in a rush, I say something. Do I expect every one to do the same thing? No. Is this obsessive and overbearing on my part? Yes. But at the very least, get off Wesley's back for trying to help out. He's doing something that you don't have the heart to do. It's fine if you want to escape and distance, but don't hate on someone trying to stick around. Yes, he injects his personal story into the article, but that's not indulgent, that's SACRIFICIAL. The man admitted he didn't touch any chocha for like 3 years. Find me one other dude in America who will admit that in NY Mag. Does he then circle back and attribute it to race and cultural conditioning? Yes. Can you honestly disagree? Flushing is full of people who STILL can't find their dicks. They like Roger Dorn. If you told them to get in the game, they couldn't find first base. I believe the saying about stereotypes goes: "Where there's Asian virgins, there's hot pot."

Your main point of contention is simply that Wesley sees race as a contributing factor to these peoples' problems, but you want to disagree about degrees. I believe the technical term for your opinion is that you're being a fucking bitch. It's my turn... This is NY Mag. It's not Slate, it's not The Atlantic, shit it's not even my blog. But it's gotten a lot better. In a few years, Alan Sytsma will be 15, he'll come of age, and NY Mag will be able to compete with Teen People. You been in NY long enough to remember when this thing was one step away from the instruction manual for a coach bag. Cheap, unnecessary, but for some reason young birds loved the shit. Monday, Tuesday shit and by Wednesday it's in the trash, but before it's in the trash A LOT OF PEOPLE READ IT. We could use the exposure. Even if we disagree, at least someone's writing about us. It's a start. Don't fuck it up. And good job on this one NY Mag. I fux wit you.

Frankly, this article isn't even for Asians. It reps Asians, but it's really repeating things we already know. Wesley put his neck out there and wrote an article which peeled back a lot of scabs for most Asian people so that others could listen in. A large segment of our population has gotten over the issues he talks about, but think about the next generation... The kids who are still dealing with it like Jefferson Mao and Daniel Chu. Think about yourself. What articles were available for us to read in the 80s/90s? Who was there to look up to? David Carradine wasn't even fucking Asian! I respect that you are able to parse through his article. You always want to "know thyself", that's the first step, but once you get over it, you tell people. But, the process of telling people is long, arduous, and effective in baby steps. Because we lived it, we can make logical leaps and bounds, but I think Wesley pushed the envelope as far as he could for the forum he had. It's a difficult thing to write one article representing Asian Women and Men together. It's also difficult to identify the problem with enough force while also sharing the success stories. He made choices. Should he have simply changed the title to "Asian American Men"? Yes. I fully AGREE. I'm curious if the editor wrote the headline or Wesley.

I thought a long time about how he possibly could have written this article including Asian men and women, but I think it would have done more harm than good. I can't think of another race in America where the men and women have such distinct and different experiences. Of course, we have our similarities and they come out when we're all at karaoke together, but in mixed race settings, we're at different dinner tables. A lot of it simply comes down to how the majority views us differently. It would be great if another magazine could follow up with how the Asian Female American Experience is different. We can start with some of these differences... Yall get invited to Bar Mitzvahs, we don't. They  didn't make posters of you as monsters with mole-hair growths. Yall don't have to bear the cross of William Hung nearly as much as we do. But in all seriousness, you have it worse. Most Asian parents are ass backward and spoil the sons. Go back a hundred years and Chinamen bound your feet. Asian Men owe you reparations. I would love to see that skit. Bunch of Asian moms with checks running to cupcake shops and baccarat tables with shape-ups on. Love you mom... Until then, She bangs she bangs...

Don't worry Asian people, as long as I'm alive, anyone who talks sideways is gonna need a vest. "From 3 point range wit a blog I shoot better than Kobe." - 50 Renminbi

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Paper Tigers

From NY MAG: Paper Tigers

This article was crazy. Gave me goosebumps. Read it from start to finish. It really should be enjoyed that way. But, for those afflicted with ADD, this is the excerpt about your boy boy.

You don’t, by the way, have to be a Silicon Valley hotshot to break through the Bamboo Ceiling. You can also be a chef like Eddie Huang, whose little restaurant on the Lower East Side, BaoHaus, sells delicious pork buns. Huang grew up in Orlando with a hard-core Tiger Mom and a disciplinarian father. “As a kid, psychologically, my day was all about not getting my ass kicked,” he says. He gravitated toward the black kids at school, who also knew something about corporal punishment. He was the smallest member of his football team, but his coach named him MVP in the seventh grade. “I was defensive tackle and right guard because I was just mean. I was nasty. I had this mentality where I was like, ‘You’re going to accept me or I’m going to fuck you up.’ ”

Huang had a rough twenties, bumping repeatedly against the Bamboo Ceiling. In college, editors at the Orlando Sentinel invited him to write about sports for the paper. But when he visited the offices, “the editor came in and goes, ‘Oh, no.’ And his exact words: ‘You can’t write with that face.’ ” Later, in film class at Columbia, he wrote a script about an Asian-American hot-dog vendor obsessed with his small penis. “The screenwriting teacher was like, ‘I love this. You have a lot of Woody Allen in you. But do you think you could change it to Jewish characters?’ ” Still later, after graduating from Cardozo School of Law, he took a corporate job, where other associates would frequently say, “You have a lot of opinions for an Asian guy.”

Finally, Huang decided to open a restaurant. Selling food was precisely the fate his parents wanted their son to avoid, and they didn’t talk to him for months after he quit lawyering. But Huang understood instinctively that he couldn’t make it work in the professional world his parents wanted him to join. “I’ve realized that food is one of the only places in America where we are the top dogs,” he says. “Guys like David Chang or me—we can hang. There’s a younger generation that grew up eating Chinese fast food. They respect our food. They may not respect anything else, but they respect our food.”

Rather than strive to make himself acceptable to the world, Huang has chosen to buy his way back in, on his own terms. “What I’ve learned is that America is about money, and if you can make your culture commodifiable, then you’re relevant,” he says. “I don’t believe anybody agrees with what I say or supports what I do because they truly want to love Asian people. They like my fucking pork buns, and I don’t get it twisted.”