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GENERASIAN NYU'S PREMIER ASIAN AMERICAN PUBLICATION SPRING 2016 • VOL 14 • NO 2

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LETTERS

from the

EDITORS

Dear readers,

I am not sure what compelled me to join Generasian. All I can say is that I am immensely glad that I was lucky enough

to discover this club with its team of passionate and talented individuals. Generasian is more than a club, a publication or a media group. It is where friendships are formed, where students of different ages and disciplines collaborate on something meaningful to disseminate to the larger community at NYU and beyond.

I have worn many hats during my four years here, and as a graduating Editor-in-Chief I find it easy to leave NYU,

but it is not so easy to leave Generasian behind. A month ago, Generasian gave a workshop at Crossroads, hosted by Columbia University’s Asian American Alliance. The joy and anticipation on the faces of the high school students as they read our issues is something I will never forget. My sincerest hope is that Generasian will continue to grow, thrive and attract bright young minds, as I truly believe in the importance of its mission to “enrich, inform, and connect NYU’s diverse Asian/Pacific American community.” In a time when our voices are underrepresented in American media, we cannot afford to allow Generasian’s flame to be extinguished. Thank you to all who have supported Generasian in any way (including you!) and here’s to its bright future.

Kimberly Chen, Editor-in-Chief Dear readers, It is my pleasure to present to you our Spring 2016 issue of Generasian Magazine, “Horizons.” In my time here at Generasian, I have come to learn a great deal about the subtleties and nuances surrounding the Asian American community. It is this cultivation that has allowed me to thrive as a more intellectually conscious individual; truly, I have grown and expanded the limit of my personal horizons. With articles ranging from language, to religion, to politics, as well as illustrations and images exemplifying the varied specialties of our talented artists, there is no shortage in content with which to indulge yourself. And so, I hope that you, the readers, too can expand your horizons with this issue of Generasian. Thank you for your support, and I hope you enjoy our magazine!

Will Shi, Editor-in-Chief Dear Readers,

The Asian American community is constantly pushing boundaries and furthering dialogue in society, whether it be

culturally, scientifically, or politically. Our unique experiences allow us to contribute to each of these conversations in our own distinctive manner. But as college students, the platform for advancing the Asian American dialogue is not always readily accessible. That’s where Generasian comes in.

This semester, our magazine contributors have explored several contentious topics. Our Spring 2016 issue features

commentaries on the phenomenon of yellow fever, the Peter Liang and Akai Gurley case, Asian appropriation of black culture, and LGBTQ rights in Hong Kong. As always, writers and artists are continuously broadening their horizons and finding new angles of addressing controversial subjects such as these. Over the past semester, our contributors have spent many hours brainstorming, outlining, drafting, editing, and finalizing their articles and works of art. We hope you enjoy this semester’s magazine and we thank you for your loyal support! Happy reading!

Shirley Foo, Editor-at-Large


WHAT’S INSIDE 01 Cover Graphic Avery Chang 02 Letters from the Editors Kim Chen & Will Shi, Shirley Foo

RACE & ETHNICITY

IDENTITY

04 Seeking Asian Women Jennifer Mihn Du

25 Wear the UNIFORM Swan Cho

06 No Scapegoat: A Look into the Protests

27 Losing My Mother Tongue-And What

for Peter Liang Michelle Ng

I Learned From It Chris Halim

10 Anti-Blackness and Appropriation

32 An Exploration of Taiwanese Identity Kim Chen

of Black Culture Aimee Wu

GLOBAL POLITICS Is Gay Okay in Hong Kong? Jessie Yeung 12

Artwork Zoya To

16

Privacy or Piracy? Controversy over South Korea’s Anti Terror Bill Plagues the Peninsula Suji Ahn

35 The Inbetweeners: Being Half-White,

Half-Asian in America Anna Ijiri Oehlke Photography Tatiana Hollander-Ho

ART 08 Everything But the Brooklyn Bridge Sohyung Lew 15 The Dreamer Zoya To

CULTURE

22 If the Moon Fell Flat Marié Nobematsu-Le Gassic

18 Balikbayan Nicole Bernardo 28 The Hero and the Villain Tatiana Hollander-Ho 20 API House of Worship Shashank Rao 29 (Monochromatic) Self-Portraiture Tatiana Hollander-Ho

Photography Sarah Park 23 More Than Tea and Bubbles Rebecca Kao

38 Lost in the Desert Ziying Zhou

Artwork Tiffany Chen

EXECUTIVE STAFF Editors-in-Chief Editor-at-Large Art Director Media Directors Blog Directors Layout Director Social Director Operations Director

Kimberly Chen & Will Shi

EDITORIAL STAFF

Deputy Editors

Shirley Foo Avery Chang Diane Park & Jeff Wu

Rebecca Kao Anna Oehlke

Deputy Layout Editor Layout Contributors

Jamie Sung Connie Bak

Swan Cho & Alison Cheng

Tatiana Hollander-Ho

Jolene Hsu

Avery Chang

Jamie Sung

Kim Chen

Huiqun Ong

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Table of Contents 3


SEEKING ASIAN WOMEN

by Jennifer Minh Du http://cdn.thebolditalic.com/paperclip/articles/3180/rect_images/original/hero-yellowfever

ellow Fever is typically known as

Y

Jonah Han says when asked about his

men who worked as low-cost laborers

the desire to date Asian women-

high school. Common stereotypes of

were not allowed to have interracial

to only date Asian women. Usually, it

the Asian women include the “meek yet

relations, so the Chinese women who

is when a Caucasian male has a sexual

sensual” women and the “dangerous

immigrated to the U.S. were women

preference towards East Asian women.

dragon lady.” The maiden, pale with

who were trafficked into serving the

But it is not only that. Yellow Fever is

her “jet black hair,” “dark almond eyes”

Chinese workers. Stereotypes began

a racial fetish. It is fetishizing a whole

and “petite figure,” beckons the man to-

to emerge since they established white

race for being submissive or “highly”

wards her. She’s wearing a silk kimono

clientele. It was then rumored that

sexual. According to Jonathan Mahler

and has chopsticks in her hair. She has

these women were luring white men

from the Boomberg View,“when you

no redeeming qualities and is quite sub-

to sin, hence, they were dangerous and

fetishize--as opposed to value--some-

missive; she only listens to her husband

alluring. Anti-Chinese immigration

thing, you wind up celebrating the

Robert. Her name is “Lotus Blossom.”

led to the skewed perception of Asian

idea of the thing rather than the thing

The other woman, deadly and exotic,

women; they were “greedy, devious,

itself.” There’s a difference between

leads white men to their inevitable

and immoral.”2 After World War II,

appreciating a culture and fetishizing

downfalls and she is called the “Dragon

Congress passed the War Bride Act

it. Appreciating a culture would mean

Lady.” The docile “Lotus Blossom” is of-

which allowed those who were abroad

enjoying Japanese food, while fetishiz-

ten described as obedient and subservi-

to bring home Japanese wives. The fan-

ing a culture would mean enjoying the

ent to white men. Their entire existence

tasy of having an overseas Asian wife

aesthetic of Japanese women and only

in the media has been “reduced down

became true with the existence of “mail

Japanese women. While it’s fine to have

to one line: “Me so horny. Me love you

order brides” which allowed women to

a “type” and know what you’re attract-

long time. Me sucky sucky.”2 Full Metal

be seen as objects. “United States’ pres-

ed to, there’s something very wrong if

Jacket, a Stanley Kubrick film about

ence in Asia has led to the creation of

the only requirement for you is for your

American GIs in the Vietnam War has

local sex industries and sex trafficking

partner to be yellow. “I was aware of

made this previous quote so popular

rings” that would serve the soldiers.2

Yellow Fever, but never really encoun-

that it could be said that this quote has

For these soldiers, their first encounters

tered it, until I came here where the

“taken a pop-culture life of its own.”

with Asian women would be sexual.

1

majority of girls are Asians, but the ma-

Interestingly enough, the actual

These encounters would then lead to a

jority of the school are guys. It caused

disease “Yellow Fever”, is a virus which

long future of misogyny and fetishism.

me to question a guy’s motives when he

is found in areas of South America and

Madame Butterfly and Miss Sai-

talks to me,” Diana Francisco, Chinese-

Africa. The term to describe a white

gon are both works depicting a young

Filipino American, NYU Tandon says.

man’s attraction to Asian women is

Asian woman who falls in love with a

“I have definitely encountered this

3

somehow derived from the name of

white man. He seems to be in love with

in high school. I don’t know if it was

a disease. In the 1800s, the sexual

her, but soon leaves to marry a white

provoked by fantasy or just personal

interactions of Chinese immigrants

American woman, and the women left

preference but either way it happened,”

were limited by American laws. The

behind both end up killing themselves.

1 Matthews, Cate. “Here’s What ‘Yellow Fever’ Really Means.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. 2 Kuo, Rachel. “5 Ways ‘Asian Woman Fetishes’ Put Asian Women in Serious Danger.” Everyday Feminism. N.p., 25 Dec. 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. 3 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Aug. 2015. Web. 27 Mar. 2016.

4 Race and Ethnicity


The World of Suzie Wong is similar, but

so many stereotypes for Asians that

est number of interracial marriages in

there is also a white savior element. It

they seem to have become rules rather

the United States take place between

leaves the viewers with the perception

than suggestions. Instead of creating

Caucasian males and Asian women.”6

that Asian women need to be protected

well-rounded and genuine characters,

by white men, that they are delicate

script writers find it easier to follow

ashamed of their “preferences.” The

and weak. In addition, films like Full

the “general formula” for an “Asian.”

mainstream media has also caused this

Metal Jacket and Kill Bill have led to the

In popular culture, or at least in Deb-

Anonymity has led to no one being

racial fetish to be acceptable in our

oversexualization of Asian women. In

bie Lum’s documentary, Seeking Asian

society. No one calls out their friends

Full Metal Jacket, a Vietnamese pros-

Female, a self-declared “Asianphile,”

for being interested in only Asian girls.

titute approach the two GIs and tells them in broken English, how she would “love them long time,” and how she will “sucky sucky” them. This scene isn’t far from what happened in history.

Rather, they might even

Rather than seeing it as fetishizing a direct them to a few of person for their skin color, they see it their friends. Attracas just another trait that they seek like tion is typically sporting glasses or a particular hair color. based on some sort of societal notion

The hypersexualization of Asian

that white men are the best. All across

females during wartime could stem from the Philippine-American War.

tries to find his true love in China

the board, white men hold the most

After the war, when the soldiers were

through an online service. This man,

qualifications to be successful. Or that’s

tired of “wreaking havoc on the land …

white, 60 years old, was only interested

what society tells us. How society works

[they] shifted to local Filipina women

in the sole fact that his prospective

and how it affects us is terrifying. It

who they referred to as, “little brown

wife “looks so Chinese.” In the film,

makes even the purest things in life,

fucking machines powered by rice.”5

the elderly American man keeps com-

like love, seem twisted. When someone

The objectification of Asian women also

menting about how she, his prospec-

has to decide whether or not the person

stream from “juicy bars” and brothels

tive wife, could not “look any more

they’re dating is dating them for them

which popularized this “idea” of Asian

Chinese,” that no one could look “as

or for their culture, it becomes a whole

women; that they were all highly sexu-

Chinese as her.” He likes the “Chinese

different playing field. The playing field

al, highly submissive, and highly desir-

look.” One could say that yellow fever

is no longer about love, but rather about

able. The sole purpose of these bars

is truly a fever, that one can’t control

fetishization. Popular culture has made

was to serve U.S. soldiers. In general,

it. Statistically, Asian women are the

it so easy for someone to admit that they

it is rare to see a “well-written” Asian

most desirable on dating websites and

have an Asian fetish, because rather

character. The industry has created

apps. While interestingly enough,

than seeing it as fetishizing a person

Asian men are the least. In a study on

for their skin color, they see it as just

the app, “Are You Interested,” it showed

another trait that they seek like sport-

that out of all racial groups, Asian

ing glasses or a particular hair color.

women were the most popular among

“People shouldn’t be so close-minded.

all races except with Asian men. It also

They should find something they like in

showed that white men were also the

a person in terms of their feelings, not

most popular among all races. But do

because they have a different culture,”

Asian women have “white fever?” “All

Tate Ichiki, a Japanese-American

human beings, all women of all ethnic

comments. This fetish degrades not

groups want to marry into higher

only close-minded men, but also Asian

social status.”6 And white men typi-

women and their culture as a whole. G

4

cally have a higher position in society. It isn’t surprising that this would lead http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/ yellow-fever-donna-choi-asian-fetish-series

to a number of Asian women showing preference to white men. “The high-

Jenny Du is a first year studying Integrated Digital Media at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.

4 “The Madame Butterfly Effect | Bitch Media.” Bitch Media. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. 5 Louie, Sam. “White Sexual Imperialism:.” AsAm News. N.p., 07 Aug. 2013. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. 6 Lum, Debbie. “Connect/Comment.” Theyre All So Beautiful. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. 7 “Watch Seeking Asian Female on KLRU.” KLRU PBS. KLRU-TV, n.d. Web. 27 Mar. 2016. READ OUR BLOG

generasian.org

Seeking Asian Women 5


A

midst shouts of “Justice for

they fired a shot. Gurley’s girlfriend

deeply held belief in the American

All!” and “No Scapegoat!”,

was the one who eventually called for

Dream––that America is a place that

thousands of Asian-American

help. On February 11th, 2016, Liang

guarantees equality for everyone.

protesters gathered in Brooklyn, as well

was charged with second-degree

The belief that Liang was unfairly

as over 30 cities across the country.

manslaughter and misconduct for

convicted sparked widespread anger

Protesters gathered in support of Peter

failing to help Gurley. Liang is the

and fear among the Asian-American

Liang in the largest demonstration of

first NYPD officer in a decade to be

community. Liang’s supporters are

Asian-Americans in years. A crowd

convicted of a police-involved shooting;

afraid that this conviction violates their

of mostly older Chinese-Americans,

he faces up to 15 years in jail.

promised rights; thus, they believe

holding signs and giving passionate

that they need to organize in order to

speeches, rallied for Liang. Speakers

community has been divided––Liang’s

assert themselves. One woman at the

ranged from elected officials to

supporters believe that he was unjustly

Brooklyn protest said, “United States

community leaders of Asian-American

convicted because his crime was

Constitution guaranteed justice and

organizations, all of whom expressed

accidental and small in comparison to

equality. We share this dream, but

their sympathy for Liang as a victim,

the actions of white officers such as

today we stand here, we just wake up,

brought up historical examples of

Daniel Panteleo, who murdered Eric

we did not have an American dream,

anti-Asian discrimination, and urged

Garner and was caught on camera.

we have a nightmare.” Many protesters

protesters to vote in order to empower

They believe Liang was chosen as a

truly believe Liang’s indictment is

the Asian-American community. On

scapegoat for the NYPD because he

a clear act of discrimination to the

the sidelines of these huge rallies, Black

is Asian, and to calm the negative

Asian-American community.

Lives Matters activists held counter-

sentiment against police due to recent,

protests, but were largely drowned out.

high-profile cases of police violence.

to address was the reality of police

Response from the Asian

What the protests failed

In late 2014, Officer Peter

Many of the protesters appeared to be

brutality against black people in the

Liang shot and killed an unarmed

older Chinese-American immigrants.

US, where black people are being

Akai Gurley in a stairwell in Louis H.

They spoke about the contribution

murdered on a daily basis. Instead,

Pink Houses of New York Housing

and history of Chinese-Americans

speakers at the protests expressed

Authority in the East Brooklyn Area.

in the US, from the construction

sympathy and support for police

Instead of calling for an ambulance,

of the Transcontinental Railroad,

officers despite their deadly actions.

or performing CPR on Gurley as he

to historical violations of Asian-

Assemblyman William Colton, who

was dying, Liang and his partner

American rights, such as the Japanese

was also invited to Brooklyn rally,

texted their union representative and

internment camps in World War II.

said, “We express our condolences and

argued about who should report that

Their speeches echoed a common,

sympathy to any police officers who have been shot and injured and killed… New York City police officers, every day risking their lives to protect all of us…When Peter Liang went into that building that night, he went not to hurt anyone but because he was trying to protect the families in that building.”

There are also Asian-

Americans who stand by Liang’s conviction and recognize that he must be held accountable for his actions. New York Councilmember

NO SCAPEGOAT: by Michelle Ng

6 Race and Ethnicity

Margaret Chin has been vocal about

A LOOK INTO PROTESTS FOR PETER LIANG


her support of Liang’s conviction since the tragedy occurred. In a statement, she said, “When an innocent person dies, as a police officer, you have to be accountable. At the end, maybe the sentence might be lighter, based on the situation. But there’s a responsibility there that someone has to be accountable.” Cathy Dang, the executive director of Community Against Anti-Asian violence (CAAAV) has a similar view about how Liang’s case is a starting point for accountability

to them. Even when the injustice is

for change from the Asian-American

in future cases of police brutality.

stacked a human life versus a possible

community, and I’m disappointed it was

15 years in prison.” Liang’s supporters

for Liang and not a better cause. Liang

to this potentially productive view

demand that he be exempted from

needs to be held accountable for his

of the case is the outcry against

his crime, like the white officers that

actions as a police officer who murdered

Liang’s conviction. The belief that

walked free after murdering innocent

someone due to his carelessness. While

he was unfairly treated highlights an

people. This is not an act of justice

this can be considered the beginning

uncomfortable mentality that Liang’s

for Asian-Americans, it is condoning

of greater Asian involvement in social

supporters have: Liang is a victim just

the ongoing racism in this country.

justice, in reality it’s a step backwards

like Gurley even though his actions

Historically, Asian-Americans have

because support for Liang rests on anti-

resulted in the death of an innocent

been subjected to the model minority

blackness. It places Liang’s freedom

man. Liang’s supporters organized

myth - the belief that Asian-Americans

over Gurley’s right to justice. Liang’s

petitions and fundraisers to help

have relied on their own hard work and

supporters are misguided at best,

Liang’s family, but have not shown

perseverance in order to reach a higher

but certainly not harmless because

similar support for Gurley’s family.

level of socioeconomic success than

they—knowingly or not—still support

The inspiration and passion for change

other people of color. This myth creates

the violence and injustice against

that the protesters express seem deeply

tension and competition between

black people in our country. Liang’s

Standing in stark contrast

rooted in fears of losing their chance at the American dream, as well as maintaining a strong sense of solidarity within their own community. However, this has taken attention away from

Liang’s case is a starting point for accountability in future cases of police brutality.

case has set in motion dialogue about racism against Asian-Americans, but at the cost of justice for Akai Gurley and his family. Hopefully, the AsianAmerican community can take Liang’s

the police brutality that black people

case as a starting point for productive

face, and focused it on the relatively

dialogue about racism against the

less serious issue of Liang receiving a

Asian-Americans and other people

Asian-American community, as well as

punishment for a crime he committed.

of color. It creates a hierarchy among

for recognizing the discrimination and

By prioritizing Liang because he is

races while ignoring the systematic

injustices that other communities face. G

Asian, his supporters prioritize his

imbalances that are the root cause of

freedom over Gurley’s life. Anti-

disparity between minority groups.

Michelle is a sophomore studying Economics

blackness is a highly prevalent problem

Asian-Americans will not benefit from

in the College of Arts and Science.

in Asian-American communities. Steph

demanding that Liang be given the same

Lin, a blogger for the Huffington Post

preferential treatment as white officers,

http://www.nbcnews.com

said, “East Asian-Americans are angry

which in turn supports the far more

http://www.huffingtonpost.com

when they see injustice against people

violent racism against black people.

http://www.brooklyneagle.com

who look like them, but not when they

http://www.nytimes.com

see injustice against Black, Latinx, and

Liang’s case and the overwhelming

Muslim/ South Asian communities.

support for him disturbing, I would

Other people of color are dehumanized

have never expected this kind of drive

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As an Asian-American, I find

http://www.lawyerherald.com

No Scapegoat: A Look into the Peter Liang Protests 7


EVERYTHING BUT THE

8 Art


BROOKLYN BRIDGE

By Sohyung Lew

As the saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Yet, often times, we stay oblivious to the importance of each part. It is indubitable that the Brooklyn Bridge has a certain kind of charm to it; it certainly is no ordinary bridge. Yet, that “charm” wouldn’t exist without the unnoticed arbitrary things on the bridge that help mold the entire viewing experience. From symbols of love to politics to “I Love Porno” stickers-- it’s all there. Yes, one may argue that the trash can is like any other ordinary trash can, but from another angle, one can point out the stickers permanently stuck on the sides of the trash that make it distinct from other ones. In other words, we must face life with the same kind of perception, because at the end of the day, an ordinary day is the best kind of day. It’s just up to us to believe it. Medium: Photography Sohyung Lew is a first year studying Media, Culture and Communications in Steinhardt. READ OUR BLOG

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Everything But the Brooklyn Bridge 9


ANTI-BLACKNESS AND THE APPROPRIATION OF BLACK CULTURE c

by Aimee Wu ultural appropriation. Facebook

can popularize and appropriate

comment wars, public denunciations

cultures without being affected by

and heated debates have all been

the institutional oppression and

waged when someone is said to have

issues that come along with being a

committed a culturally appropriating

member of a marginalized group.

act. This would include a dominant

White privilege helps white people

“When non-black folks wear [black hairstyles]

group taking the iconographical

benefit both institutionally, such as

it is celebrated and considered trendy.”

elements of an oppressed culture and

in job hiring practices, and also on a

Source: Kylie Jenner / Instagram

reframing them in a disrespectful,

daily basis, such as not having to worry

trivializing or profitable manner

about police stop and frisk policies.

English into their everyday sentences

to discredit the very culture itself.

But what if you are a person of an

because it’s the urban, hip thing to

Coachella concert go-ers cavorting

oppressed group—a person of color?

do. Isn’t this also appropriation?

with Native American headdresses,

Can you culturally appropriate as well?

‘Chinese’ Halloween costumes, and a

American communities is both highly

corn row donning Kylie Jenner are just

Pacific American community, we are

pervasive, yet also highly subversive

some of the vast array of examples

plagued by various oppressors, but

and not as openly acknowledged and

from popular culture falling into the

it is also our inherent responsibility

challenged. When deconstructing

appropriation category. But the term

to examine some of the privileges

anti-black sentiments, it’s imperative

continues to hold such contention

we hold within a greater context in

to note the mirroring and contributing

because in many situations, the line

communities of color. Anti-blackness

factor in fueling anti-blackness:

between cultural appropriation and

and the continued discrimination

the white ideal. As skin-lightening

appreciation continues to be blurred.

of black people in Asian American

If a particular situation doesn’t offend

communities continues to be ever more

one person, couldn’t it offend others

pervasive and prevalent throughout

of the same culture? Then what would

most Asian cultures. So how does

be the verdict—is it individualistically

this translate into popular culture?

determined? On a case to case basis?

Multiple Korean pop stars have a

What remains pervasive however, is

cornrow-wearing-grill-donning

that most of the time, the appropriators

aesthetic thanks to the popularization

being called out are white.

of hip hop culture in various Asiatic

countries and the adoption of the

As systemic white supremacy

As a member of the Asian

Anti-blackness in Asian Pacific

When deconstructing anti-black sentiments, it’s imperative to note the mirroring and contributing factor in fueling antiblackness: the white ideal.

and colonial history has shown, it

“black aesthetic” as cool. This seeps

products, double eyelid surgeries, and

is white privilege that allows white

into our everyday language as well,

Western beauty standards continue

people to take bits and pieces of cultures

when Asians take and liberally insert

to be upheld in Asia as a whole—then

and try them out as trends. They

words of African American Vernacular

so is the continued discrimination of

10 Race and Ethnicity


black people. We would strive for the

within communities of color.

understanding of where the music

white ideal by stepping on the backs of

comes from and what it arose out of.

the black community. In buying into

appropriation come into the mix? Isn’t

As actress Amandla Stenberg puts

the racist “lazy and welfare sustained”

the appropriation of black culture an

it, “What if America loved black

black stereotype, we are then able to

emblematic symptom of the general

people as much as black culture?”

catapult ourselves as the “successful

anti-blackness in the Asian Pacific

immigrants” and the ones ultimately

American community? Because after

Lives Matter and the recent case of

coming closest to the social and cultural

all, we appropriate because we are

an African American victim, Akai

success of the white majority.

able to do so. When black people wear

Gurley killed by Asian American

This encapsulates the critical

So how does cultural

With movements like Black

certain braiding in their hair, it is

police officer Peter Liang, there is

illusion of the model minority myth.

a direct connection to their history

immense opportunity and increased

Not only does this pitch oppressed

and the art of hair maintenance long

need for solidarity work to be

groups against each other in a race to

before modern hair products came

accomplished between the black and

aspire to white “success”, but it also

into existence. However, even today,

Asian communities. Our oppression

creates the false perception that Asian

stereotypes continue to plague the

is imminently tied to each other’s—

Americans do not face oppression.

wearing of natural hairstyles by black

In fact, many subgroups of people

people. Meanwhile, when non-black

amalgamated under the term “Asian

folks wear those same styles, it is

Americans” are often hurt by the

celebrated and considered trendy.

Our oppression is imminently tied to each other’s—and so is our ultimate liberation.

statistical rankings of mostly East

Asians. As social work student Alicia

proven to be a contentious point;

explains, perhaps it is because of the

having been a way for African

advantages propagated by the model

Americans to express their struggles

and so is our ultimate liberation.

minority myth that we don’t speak

and oppressions, it is now so

We should continually challenge

up frequently to challenge anti-

popularized that its very history may

ourselves to question preconceived

blackness, “People think we are so

be overshadowed by the growing

notions and become better allies to

close to counting so we may not want

trend absorbed into everyday pop

movements that would uplift us all.

to speak up to risk that”. And that fear

culture. This is not to say that people

is exactly what proves detrimental

shouldn’t listen to hip hop music—but

Aimee is a sophomore studying psychology and

to the solidarity work between and

that there should be an imperative

sociology in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Hip hop music has also

G

Korean pop stars donning the “black aesthetic.” Source: CL “The Baddest Female” Music Video

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Anti-Blackness and Appropriation of Black Culture 11


IS GAY OKAY IN HONG KONG? by Jessie Yeung

G

sexuality in Hong Kong was taboo.

rowing up in Hong Kong, I

transgender person must have under-

Legally, the attitude towards the

gone surgery, which places limitations

learned that some things, like

LGBTQ community in Hong Kong is full

on people without the financial means,

pouring tea for relatives or protesting

of contradictions. On the one hand, LG-

time, or support to undergo the process.

before accepting a gift, were good and

BTQ people endure few hate crimes due

Legal limitations aside, the biggest

socially acceptable. Meanwhile, shout-

to the overall low crime rate. They have

challenge to the LGBTQ community by

ing in public, reaching for the food first

equal welfare and social security rights,

far remains the social attitude. A 2005

at meals, and deviating from hetero-

and Hong Kong’s constitutional docu-

government survey of 2000 randomly

sexuality, were not. Even as a child, I

ments prohibit discrimination on the

chosen subjects showed that 39% of the

received the impression that there was

basis of sexual orientation. On the other

respondents believed homosexuality

something inexplicably yet undeni-

hand, this prohibition doesn’t cover

“contradicts the morals of the commu-

ably wrong with being gay. It was never directly stated, but I sensed this through watching my uncle fret about his perpetually single son – what if he was

Even as a child, I received the impression that there was something inexplicably yet undeniably wrong with being gay.

gay? I saw my mother look away

nity,” while 42% said they believed homosexual people weren’t “psychologically normal.” There is a worrying lack of LGBTQ representation in popular culture, education,

from two men on the street hold-

and society in general. Very

ing hands and mutter, “Do they have to

the private sector, as gay marriage still

few movies or TV shows feature gay or

be so gay?” Having attended a relatively

isn’t legally recognized, and same-

lesbian characters, and when they do,

liberal school, I developed my own

sex couples aren’t allowed to adopt.

those characters are often the butt of a

contrary views, but couldn’t escape the

Transgender people can legally marry,

joke. The controversial nature of being

unspoken understanding that homo-

but while this seems promising, the

LGBTQ in Hong Kong also means that the community lacks a strong voice or presence. There are only twenty to thirty LGBTQ groups currently active, the largest being Rainbow of Hong Kong, Pink Alliance, and Big Love Alliance. They offer counseling or group activities to promote unity and acceptance. Compared to cities in America like New York or San Francisco, where hundreds of LGBTQ groups are loud and proud, the groups in Hong Kong still have a long way to go. One problem that is both a product and a cause of

https://i.imgur.com/T6jwbOP.jpg

under-representation is the lack of sex-ed in schools.

1 http://www.timeout.com.hk/big-smog/features/70839/schools-out-why-the-hk-education-system-fails-the-lgbti-community.html 2 http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-22506472 3 http://blogs.wsj.com/chinarealtime/2012/05/18/how-gay-friendly-is-hong-kong-it-depends/ 12 Global Politics


Over 40% of local schools don’t have

versity. She had been in a relationship

align more with the liberal West. The

sex education courses, and the ones

with another woman when colleagues

harrowing 2005 survey was retaken in

that do only cover heterosexuality.

reported this to their boss. Her boss,

2012, showing a vast improvement in

These limitations are partly due to

“a very traditional Christian,” didn’t

the public mindset: 50% of respondents

the dominance of religion in educa-

explicitly fire her, but Benita eventu-

said they were “accepting” of homo-

tion; most schools were founded and

ally decided to leave because she was

sexuals, and only 3% (an incredible

developed by missionaries in the

“feeling oppressed.” When I expressed

drop from 42%) believed gay people

colonial period. According to Time Out

my sympathies, she simply replied,

weren’t “psychologically normal.”

Hong Kong, “around half the schools in

“It’s very common.” Statistics show that

Launched in 2008, there is an an-

Hong Kong have

it’s true her

nual Pride Parade in Hong Kong which

experience

raises awareness, but unfortunately

isn’t unique;

accomplishes little definitive change.

or Light in their

in a recent

Its very existence is encouraging, but

name.”As a re-

survey of

its highest turnout year only reached

the words Saint, Catholic, Christian

Children grow up encased in heteronormativity.

sult, children grow up encased in

626 members of the LGBTQ com-

9,000 participants, less than 0.1% of

heteronormativity, further margin-

munity, respondents rated their

Hong Kong’s 7.2-million population.

alizing the LGBTQ community.

employers “an average score of just

The Pride Parade exemplifies the

2.68 out of 10 for creating an inclu-

current situation in Hong Kong: there

attitude have been met with oppo-

sive workspace.” The respondents

are definite signs of progress, but it is

nents such as Roger Wong, leader

working government jobs rated their

still not enough. Just in March 2014,

of the anti-gay group Family School

employers a measly average of 1.47.

controversy roared up in Hong Kong

Outside the workplace, discrimi-

when a Christian school banned gay

Efforts to change this educational

Sexual Orientation Discrimination Ordinance Concern Group. He has

nation occurs casually in daily life.

teachers with the goal of employing

argued that “the so-called demands

For example, the Cantonese slang for

“good Christian role models for our

made in the ‘equal rights movement

“transgender” literally translates to

students.” Despite the backlash, the

for the gay’ are contravening human

“human monster.” Another derogatory

school was within its legal rights, which

rights and justice,” a message that has

term tossed around is bin

angered many in the movement.

tai, translating roughly

One such critic is Arthur Tam,

to “changeling” or “meta-

The Cantonese slang for ‘transgender’ literally translates to ‘human monster’.

LGBT Editor of Time Out HK, who said,

morphosis,” used to insult

“Wong wants people to believe that if

a wide group of people

the law passed, homosexuality would

that included pedophiles,

be taught in schools. You can’t teach

the mentally challenged, and LGBTQ

highlights the absence of an effective

homosexuality.” This misconception

people. A close friend of mine recently

anti-discrimination law. The school

is as incorrect as it is popular; nearly

had to teach her 8th grade brother

is technically breaching the govern-

a hundred primary and secondary

not to say “fag,” which he had picked

ment guidelines on discrimination,

school principals have signed their

up from his friends. “He didn’t even

but any legal challenge would meet

names in support of Wong’s group.

know what it meant,” she told me. This

religious and conservative opposi-

language of intolerance is creeping

tion - hence the lack of consequence.

This lack of representation and widespread misunderstanding ex-

into middle school vocabularies, and

tends to the professional sphere. Most

becomes cemented as children grow up

to protect the LGBTQ community, and

companies don’t mention sexuality in

observing Hong Kong’s quiet condem-

a more effective anti-discrimination

their diversity policies, often leading

nation towards the LGBTQ community.

law is needed – a notion that is increas-

to discrimination in the workplace. I

There is, however, a light at the

Clearly, the current law does little

ingly gaining support. A citywide

observed this firsthand from a fam-

end of the tunnel. There has been a

survey of 1000 people shows that “91.8

ily friend, Benita, who identifies as

significant increase in public tolerance

percent of people aged 18 to 24 deemed

lesbian. She works in education, and

in the past decade alone, as younger

legislation as necessary.” As Tam puts

had once taught at a well-respected uni-

generations take on new values that

it, despite lingering public stigma,

4 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lgbt-in-southeast-asia_us_55e406e1e4b0c818f6185151 5 http://thediplomat.com/2013/08/lgbt-politics-in-southeast-asia/ 6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Hong_Kong READ OUR BLOG

generasian.org

Is Gay Okay in Hong Kong? 13


“How truly progressive is Hong Kong towards its LGBTQ community?” by Zoya To

when it comes to LGBTQ protective laws, “the public agrees, but the public

imagine the changes on the horizon. Unfortunately, Hong Kong is just

rejection of the LGBT community is endemic across Southeast Asia.”

aren’t people in government.” The

one of the many Asian countries still

There are many factors that can

government is still heavily comprised

conservative towards LGBTQ. In fact,

help explain the LGBTQ intolerance in

of the religious conservative right,

Hong Kong is considered one of the

Hong Kong and Asia. The dominance

powerful figures who “like making

most progressive, gay-friendly places in

of conservative religions, the cultures

people angry and scared.” Hong Kong

Asia. For instance, gay sex was legal-

of authoritarianism, the Asian trend of

is ready – but the government isn’t.

ized in Hong Kong in 1991, while it is

self-protection as opposed to the Ameri-

So what’s the next step? There is

still outlawed in at least twenty Asian

can “freedom for all” attitude - these

no question that being LGBTQ in Hong

countries, and is punishable by death

all contribute to the current situation.

Kong is still taboo, but more and more

in several others. Being LGBTQ can be

However, there are also movements ris-

people are joining in support of their

fatal in places like Indonesia, where

ing across the continent, and small steps

rights, and their voices are growing.

85% of the transgender community

are being taken. Recently, Singapore’s

The anti-discrimination law might be a

experienced violence between 2011

first openly gay politician and Malay-

long-term goal, but the social attitude

and 2012. Apart from Hong Kong, gay

sia’s first transgender politician have

is quickly on the path to change. Tam

sex is also legal in China, Japan, Korea,

emerged into the spotlight. In countries

says, “Public support might not be as

and Macau, which are all considered

like Thailand and Vietnam, heated de-

effective on the legislative level, but

progressive countries. This may seem

bates on gay marriage have been ongo-

on the societal level, it’s huge. General

like an absurd thing to celebrate when

ing for years. And so the fight contin-

acceptance can be very healing to a

compared to LGBTQ rights in the West,

ues, until the day Hong Kong can just be

group that has been marginalised.”

but of the fifty Asian countries, none

another Asian city where gay is okay. G

It’s going to be a long fight until legal

recognize gay marriage, and only two

change is enacted, but in just seven

recognize gay civil unions - Cyprus

years, the percentage that believes an

and Israel. As Huffington Post writer

anti-gay fallacy has dropped to 3%. Just

Dominique Mosbergen says, “The

Jessie is a CAS first year studying English and MCC.

7 https://www.hongkongfp.com/2016/01/21/equality-now-lgbt-groups-slam-govt-for-delaying-legislation-against-discrimination/ 8 http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1635132/gay-pride-parade-and-occupy-movement-promote-equal-rights-society?page=all 9 http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1449664/international-christian-school-sha-tin-bans-gay-teachers 14 Global Politics


PRIVACY OR PIRACY?

by Suji Ahn

CONTROVERSY OVER SOUTH KOREA’S ANTI-TERROR BILL PLAGUES THE PENINSULA “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety” - Benjamin Franklin

S

ince the division of the Korean

peninsula, South Korea has

was how President Park described the current state

made tireless efforts to rise from the

of South Korea. Noting the

ashes of the war, delving into a new

escalating provocations

era of progress and development.

from North Korea, President

Whether it be expanding economically,

Park highlighted the

promulgating its colorful culture to

need to strengthen and

the world, or even strengthening

reorganize the National

its democratic basis, the people of

Intelligence Service by

South Korea have charged boldly

granting the institution

forward. Blood was shed, and the

more authority. The passage

beads of sweat that trickled down

of the bill, in essence, would

from the nation’s workers laid the

not only grant the NIS

foundation for the country. Robust

the power to create a new anti-

both economically and politically,

espionage body, but also the right to

South Korea now stands prominent in

monitor private communications,

Korea as their next target country.

the international community as one

whether that be on private phone

The Anti-Terror Bill, as the proposition

of the four ferocious Asian tigers.

calls, emails, or text messages.

hopes, would help remedy such issues.

The ratification of a single bill was enough to tarnish what our ancestors

Kim Sung-woo, the

“The agency [NIS] could Presidential Office abuse the law, if enacted in spokesperson, noted, that way, to monitor liberal “The possibility of politicians and activists.” North Korea’s anti-

have fought

South terrorism

for - a bill that

becoming reality is rising to an ever-

For whom is this bill for? Photo courtesy of globalnews.com

Meanwhile, the main opponent party of Saenuri-dang (Park’s office), Minjoo Party, raised their concerns that this bill would endow too much power to an already politicized institution. With the ratification of the bill, people will no longer enjoy privacy online,

may degenerate the well-established

higher level,” claiming that the passage

or even offline. Private conversations,

South Korean democracy. A single

of this bill would allow the NIS to have

bank accounts, financial transactions,

bill that undermines the tireless

the “legal and systematic foundation

pictures, and videos are subject to

work of the past 50 years.

to protect the lives and property of the

inspection by the NIS. Everyone is

In the last week of February, the South

people.” Prior to the reintroduction of

subject to inspection, including political

Korean peninsula was stirred up once

the Anti-Terror Bill, South Korea has

opponents. Rep. Lee Jong-kul, the floor

again with President Park Geun-hye’s

lacked the legal framework allowing

leader of the Minjoo Party, asserts,

reintroduction the Anti-Terror Bill,

the government to investigate civilians’

“The NIS could abuse the law to monitor

first introduced in 2001. It has yet to

suspicious activities. South Korea, as

liberal politicians and activists.”

be passed due to the clash between

President Park asserts, has not only

Simply criticizing the government and

the public and the opposition party.

been experiencing constant threat from

abiding by the nature of democracy

The public was once again in dismay

North Korea, but also internationally

can subject an individual to inspection

when President Park brought back

infamous terrorist organizations such

by the NIS. It is undeniable that such

the contentious bill. “An emergency,”

as ISIS, who officially marked out South

features of the bill sullies the spirit

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Privacy or Piracy? Controversy over South Korea’s Anti-Terror Bill Plagues the Penninsula 15


(Left to right) President Park highlighting the need for an AntiTerror bill at the National Economic Advisory Council; Saenuri-dang (Park’s office) ardently rooting for the ratification of the bill; Photo courtesy of News.Naver.com and DataNews.com, respectively

of Korean democracy. Under the

of monitoring its financial activities,

NIS want to track the bank accounts

hard-earned Korean constitution,

the public also cannot know whether

of South Koreans?” France, having

no one should ever feel insecure

it received any kickbacks for turning

similarly adopted anti-terrorism

expressing their thoughts and beliefs

a blind eye to crime and injustice.

acts, epitomizes the inefficiency of

- yet the bill itself not only imposes

However, as President Park said, South

such a bill. Due to the difficulty of

threat but also intimidates those

Korea is definitely not in times of peace.

pinpointing terrorists within a vast

with conflicting political ideals.

As the country ushered in a new year,

population, France has still suffered

Not to mention the past history of

provocations from North Korea have

a number of terrorist attacks.

the NIS, where the jurisdiction of the

actually increased by a substantial

The Anti-Terror Bill initially appeared

institution has been abused in order

amount. Economic sanctions from the

to represent a classic security versus

to defame the opposing presidential

U.S. have escalated and the chance

privacy debate. But as we looked deeper

candidate. Sei-hoon Won, former

of liberals, who oppose the current

into the issue, more problems seem to

chief of the NIS, has been convicted

administration’s hospitable policies

arise - the lack of a legal framework

for ordering agents to post slanderous

towards the North, winning the next

to prevent corruption, politicization

comments online aiming to denigrate

election have also increased. These

of an institution that should remain

President Park’s opponents during

circumstances have led to North Korea

neutral, and the bill’s own inefficiency.

the 2012 election. With such a

shooting short range projectiles into the

The list of controversies over this bill

murky history, the credibility of NIS

sea, most likely to demonstrate their

seems endless. Meanwhile, many critics

continues to be doubted. Granting

discontent and flaunt their military

raise concerns that the true motive

more power to this institution, often

prowess. With the South Korean

behind the enactment of the bill is

exploited as a “political tool,” legal

peninsula in peril, President Park

questionable. Is it really to persecute

malpractices are likely to be rampant

argues that there is no better time to

the tyranny in North Korea? Or is it

in the upcoming 2017 election.

enact the bill to ensure its security.

another manipulative tactic by Park,

Adding on to the dubiety of the NIS is

Critics, however, are highly doubtful

surreptitiously veiled under the name

its lack of transparency. Because the

that the bill will be particularly helpful

of “security,” designed to persecute

NIS is not obliged to turn in receipts

in achieving this goal. Jung Chaeong

those who she believes to be a menace

for the costs it has incurred while

Rae, from the Minjoo Party of Korea

to her political party? Ironically, the

under such “anti-terrorism missions,”

(MPK), inquires, “It’s North Korea

Anti-Terror Bill itself seems to incur

neither the public nor any other

that fired a missile, but why does the

terror, rather than to hamper it.

governmental institution has a way of

NIS want to look into the cellphones

knowing how the NIS has allocated its

of South Koreans? It’s North Korea

Suji is a first year studying economics

budget. Without an efficient method

that fired a rocket, so why does the

in the College of Arts and Science.

1 http://thediplomat.com/2016/02/eyeing-potential-threat-from-north-korea-seoul-revisits-anti-terror-bill/ 2 http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/content/south-korean-president-calls-passage-anti-terrorism-bills 3 http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-south-korea-parliament-filibuster-terror-bill-20160224-story.html 4 http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-02-27/s-korean-filibuster-against-anti-terror-bill-enters-5th-day 16 Global Politics

G


THE DR E A M E

R

By Zoya To

I’ve always been a bit of a daydreamer: constantly absent-minded and consistently forgetful because my mind would always be elsewhere. In the piece, a cloud covers the head of “the dreamer,” the shape and shadows outlined in a fine marker to represent how thoughts are sometimes more concrete than one’s environment or even the physical body. Soft violets and blues add a dreamy effect while striking lines indicate dynamic thought. Medium: Watercolor Zoya To is a first year studying Libral Arts. READ OUR BLOG

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Art 17


BALIKBAYAN by Nicole Bernardo

(noun.) An overseas Filipino who returns to the Philippines; a repatriate.

M

y parents are considered balikbayans when we visit the Philippines. Because I was born in America, I am not a

balikbayan, but there has been an inexplicable quality to each visit I have made to their birth country, something

alien and thrilling, and I often find myself thinking about returning to that place across the sea. Rumbling, a thunderous earthquake rattles the seats, a squeal as tire hits tarmac, That’s when I’ll know I’ve arrived. It’s only real once the earthquake shakes you awake. Eight years. Eight years since Manila. At 13, car exhaust molten heat baking the cluttered cosmos sweat trickling across a multitude of temples, discomforted an American mind so used to space to simple isolation, But life— raw and hard, tangled and bursting—life—was in those scents. The sampaguita blossom broke the spell, snowy petals sweetly perfuming the air as if adding dew drops to the heat, lush green wilderness to the concrete jungle. Molave Avenue and my grandmother’s house, the air conditioning whirring sleepily in the bedroom— a whisper of coolness and freshly laundered sheets, of mothballs in the drawers wrapped up in the musty memories of tenants past. The wrinkled hands of my grandparents, strong fingers grasping mine too tightly, Hard shapes of unfamiliar door knobs opening into rooms where uncles used to sleep as boys, The smooth leather in the family car sticking to my sweaty thighs, A rush of chlorinated water slipping over me, lapping secrets against my floating face telling me that pools feel different everywhere you go.

18 Culture


Blinding sunshine whenever monsoon summer rains didn’t patter against the windows leaving remnants of races on the glass, Tawny skin, tan and rich, stretched over too skinny arms spindly legs squatting low to fan the fire, Cheeks round, eyes wide, cousins came peering shyly to see the spectacle of those American sisters A man shimmies up a coconut tree, feet and hands similar instruments in the climb upward He climbs like I walk. Mango like sugar on the tongue bursts equal parts tangy and addictive, Sucking life from each slice of pineapple dripping with juice, Fried hot dogs glistening with grease, the sour dryness of a hot bangus, a soothing, soft spoonful of rice to balance out every bite. Crackling as saltiness explodes from crispy lechon skin the suckling pig rotating over a low fire for many hours before. The fresh metallic taste of water tipped from a coconut hacked open by a callused hand with a machete. Anak kambal apat Child twin four Child of my parents, Philippines-born and Tagalog-speaking, tied to trees, and light poles, and people who had existed on that land before I drew breath, Twin of my sister who keeps reaching for these distant memories through California clubs that say we are Pilipino and Pinay, ambassadors between the East and West, our pasts and our futures, Four people in my family when we visited before, always needing four more chairs, four more seats in the car, four more added onto the great big family, Anak kambal apat Their tongues spill out the words with ease, they talk fast and high and sing their sentences, My mind stops every time they forget, addressing me in Tagalog when my mouth can only trip out hard, flat, booming English. To this day, when I hear the syllables fall out of my parents’ or my grandmother’s mouths The syllables of a song I cannot sing, I remember I remember how that Strange Civilization, a distant cousin to the one back home, crept up on me and stayed.

G

Nicole is a junior studying English and American Literature in the College of Arts and Science and minoring in Cinema Studies and BEMT.

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Balikbayan 19


API HOUSES OF WORSHIP

by Shashank Rao

T

he Hindu temple is not simply

a place of worship. This semester,

I went to a temple in Flushing for the first time since I came to NYU. The Hindu Temple Society of North America is the first Hindu temple in the United States, and serves a large community in the Flushing area. Families come together, mingle with others, and take their children to classes in music, religion, language, and even mathematics. The Hindu Young Professionals Committee at the temple facilitates conferences with other

A Buddhist Shrine in The Kadampa Meditation Center in New York. (Photography by Sarah Park)

temples, as well as activities that engage with other parts of the community,

since many API places of worship

onto my children.” The generational

including other houses of worship.

double as cultural and community

maintenance of culture and religion is

Thinking back, I realized that many

centers. When living abroad, the API

very important in API communities,

places of worship for Asian American

community is isolated or a minority,

because it gives API individuals born

communities double as communal

and houses of worship serve to bring

abroad a way to distinguish their

centers for non-religious activities.

people together. These spaces give

identity from the majority. Culture and

The Asian and Pacific Islander community comprises a large variety of racial and ethnic affiliations, which also entails an equally diverse set of religious practices. Many of the world religions have played instrumental roles in shaping the values and attributes of

At NYU, faith is a very important component of community, because it brings people together over their religious commonalities.

religion form the basis for ethics and personal relations for many people. In the case of international students, faith allows them to maintain contact with their culture as well as their spiritual well being. Tianxiong Hu, a Buddhist student, says, “It helps me to de-stress and calm down,” and

different Asian societies. This makes issues of faith in API communities and

Asians living in the US the opportunity

performs a Buddhist tea ceremony

the potential for interfaith relations

to pass their culture down to the new

as a part of Chinese Buddhist

especially crucial points of focus.

generation that grows up away from

traditions. Meditation, according

the mother country. Churches that

to him, allows him to weigh good

community, parents often pass down

are majority East or Southeast Asian

and bad, and contemplate the value

their traditions, both cultural and

often host retreats for its younger

and meaning of things in his life.

religious, to their children. Arun

members to bond and experience

Govindaiah, an agnostic from a Hindu

both faith and culture together. Hindu

social component, often provides

family, says “Religion is a way for me

temples offer Bala Vihar classes to

a space for API students at NYU to

and my family to be together, and is

teach the Bhagavad Gita and host many

engage in their culture. France Santos,

important to us that way.” But, owing

festivals, including Holi and Diwali.

a Catholic, comments, “The Philippines

In the families of the API

to the environment of the United States

For some, this maintaining of

Religion, given its very crucial

is a very culturally Catholic country,

and other locations abroad, practice of

tradition is especially important.

so I go to church for my parents and

culture and religion often change. In

Areesha Irfan, a Muslim student, says,

my family.” According to Santos, going

some cases, it can lead a strengthened

“Islam is a part of my cultural heritage,

to church helps him interact with

sense of community and identity,

and I am passionate about passing it

his family and community based on

20 Culture


a set of beliefs that they all share. By participating in communal

campus, including the Asian American Christian Fellowship, the Muslim

cultural events, API students are able

Student Association and Hindu Student

to create meaningful relationships

Council. At NYU, faith is a very

and find a sense of community at

important component of community,

NYU. This can be difficult to do when

because it brings people together over

the university is so large and people

their religious commonalities. The

come and go very easily. In order to

Muslim Student Association includes

promote this sense of community, the

a variety of different Muslims from

Hindu Student Council holds a Ganesh

different nationalities, including

Puja every semester, allowing Hindu

Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Iranian,

students to have religious services

and others. Anna Lin, a member of the

away from home or to be a part of a

Asian American Christian Fellowship

cultural event with other Hindus. Some

(AACF), believes that the activities of

The IN2 Church, a Korean community church,

people participate for spiritual reasons

AACF helps bring people together in

welcomes its visitors. (Photography by Sarah Park)

whereas others are simply present

communal activities. “We have large

faith and culture, because the cultural

to participate in a cultural practice

group worship where we have group

practices of the API community can be

that they can share with others. This

singing to praise God.” The AACF

deeply intertwined with the practice of

point is made especially clear by

welcomes API Christians of varying

religion. Many students believe that the

Shreya Kaushik, an atheist from a

traditions and welcomes non-Christians

appropriation lies not in the use itself,

Hindu family, who believes that “it’s important to stay in touch with your culture, even if you don’t subscribe to any of the beliefs.” For her, there is little struggle to separate religion and culture. There is no particular conflict

Many places of worship for Asian American communities double as communal centers for non-religious activities.

Charlie Hebdo incident, disapproved of the way the satire handled Muhammad, since his depiction is not only forbidden, but the way the disrespectful. How we employ cultural

religious events and her personal necessarily believe in God, partaking

Muslim students, at the time of the

satirists depicted him was blatantly

between her participation in overtly beliefs. Even though she doesn’t

but rather the way it is exploited. Many

as well to participate in its activities.

and religious imagery is very relevant

One of the big issues that the API

to API relations not only with non-API

in the events allows her to maintain

community faces is that attitudes of

the heritage she has grown up with.

Orientalism take from Asian cultures

majorities but also with each other. What API students can learn from

without respecting their origin, which

one another includes one another’s

culture is important to note, because

is also known as cultural appropriation.

religion as well as cultural values.

it also plays a role in the interactions

For example, images of Ganesha and

We are able to give proper respect

between students of different faiths.

Hanuman, deities in Hinduism, are

to the origins of certain imagery

Most interviewees believe that their

put on T-shirts that are sold to largely

by being exposed to it and learning

faith does not affect who they spend

non-Hindu clientele. France Santos,

about it from people involved in the

time with. Pranay Patel, an agnostic

a Catholic, comments, “You shouldn’t

culture in question. For many API

from a Hindu family, believes that

put up clear blasphemies but you have

students, religion and culture seem to

his agnosticism doesn’t really play a

to be careful in art”. This indicates

be inextricably connected, and define

role in his interactions with others,

that artists have certain duties to

personal identities as a result. There

due in part to the very tolerant nature

handle cultural imagery in their work.

is much that API students can learn

of the university’s religious spaces.

Mocking a culture intentionally is an

about one another through religious

This is relevant to API relations,

instance of cultural mishandling. But

customs, and such understanding is

because interfaith initiatives at NYU

even when an artist does not mean to

crucial to the community’s integrity. G G

could be helpful to bridging groups

mock, it can be damaging to the API

of students that otherwise might

community, because it implies a certain

Shashank is a first year studying Global

not interact with each other.

amount of disrespect for other people’s

Liberal Studies, with a concentration in

cultural and religious imagery. This

Politics, Rights, and Development.

The intersection of religion and

API students of faith often participate in the faith groups on READ OUR BLOG

generasian.tumblr.com

especially pertains to the issues of API Houses of Worship 21


IF THE MOON FELL F L A T

By Marie Nobematsu-Le Gassic

Through structure and gesture, this series explores notions of wholeness and tangibility. The sense of completeness that each piece embodies is derived from a meticulous system of casting, shattering, sanding, and painting. Examining the individual “Moons” closely, each contains a piece in its original plaster cast state to suggest the temporal evolution of the structures. Medium: Sculpture, acrylic over plaster cast. 5” diameter each. Marié Nobematsu-Le Gassic is a Sophomore studying Architecture and Urban Design

22 Art


MORE THAN TEA AND BUBBLES

P

by Rebecca Kao

earl milk tea, bubble tea,

boba-whatever you choose to

call it, this is the ultimate customizable “Asian” drink with a popularity on the rise. The possibilities are endless: the options on the often brightly colored menus allow for more combinations than any reasonable person would ever drink. Maybe milk isn’t really your thing. So scratch the milk, and have a fruity green tea instead. Or maybe ditch the bubbles,also known as tapioca pearls, altogether and add coconut jelly. Would you like that with less, regular, or extra sweetness? Hot or cold? Cold? How would you like the ice level?

Bubble tea shops can be found

all around New York City, and new ones seem to be popping up all the time. From the tiny but often-packed Kung Fu Tea next to Washington

Today, the popular Bubble Tea, aka Boba, comes in all appetizing pastel colors. Art by Tiffany Chen

Square Park, to the smoothie bar

popularity across Asia; in the past

an international student from Bombay,

at Palladium, boba tea’s popularity

decade or so, bubble tea has become

India, tells of how before coming to

around us is palpable. But how much

increasingly popular in the United

NYU, he didn’t know boba tea existed.

do we actually think about what we’re

States as well. The San Francisco Bay

Now he enjoys it immensely—and

drinking, before sucking up those

Area in California houses the most

often. He gladly introduces boba to his

chewable balls of tapioca goodness?

bubble tea shops in the country

friends from India, as it would be a

Where did the drink come from, and

(side note: you will rarely hear it

new experience for them. Like many

what does its popularity really mean?

referred to as “bubble tea” there—

recently converted boba tea drinkers,

most Bay Area folk call it boba, pearl

Patwari didn’t know where the drink

country famous for its tea, pearl milk

milk tea, or even the remarkably

originated. Interestingly, he sees this

tea (zhēnzhū nichá) was unexpectedly

creative acronym “PMT” for short).

as a selling point of the drink itself.

invented in the 1980s by a tea shop

The emergence of boba tea shops

“As a business student,” Patwari says,

owner in Taichung, who combined fěn

throughout many major cities in the

“I can see why there’s this ‘mystery’

yuán, a traditional tapioca dessert,

country bears a strong correlation

about it. Being foreign, not knowing

with cold milk tea.2 From there, the

with the concentration of Asian

where it came from—that helps it sell.”

innovative drink quickly spread in

and Asian American communities;

According to Patwari, the authenticity

many of the tea shops are situated

of the drink is unimportant; he

in or near a Chinatown, Koreatown,

just enjoys the flavor of the tea

or similar Asian ethnic hub.1

and texture of the tapioca balls.

Clearly, boba is popular. So what?

watched the rise of boba tea fame in its

Originating in Taiwan, a

BOBA GLOSSARY

Pearl Milk Tea: original name of milk tea with small tapioca balls.

Boba: Taiwanese slang for large tapioca balls

in the drink, now refers to a variety of drinks containing the tapioca balls

Bubble Tea: originally frothy green or black tea, now synonymous with boba. More commonly used by English speakers.

READ OUR BLOG

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3

For many boba-lovers, this

However, for those who

question of “so what?” is simply

country of origin, Taiwan, authenticity

rhetorical, accompanied by a shrug

is quite a different matter. For Angela

of the shoulders and maybe a sip of a

Lin, who identifies as Taiwanese, many

wide plastic straw. Utkarsh Patwari,

of the milk tea shops in New York City More than Tea and Bubbles 23


do not suit her tastes; she describes

hometown, there are many different

because it has been so altered to cater

how high-quality milk tea in Taiwan

types of boba shops, some which Yang

to white culture and differing tastes.

“ruined all other milk teas” for her.

describes as more geared toward

Of her own penchant for boba tea,

Growing up in Taiwan, Lin belongs

Americans, while others are more

Kuznetsov says, “I don’t really know

to the first generation of fans of what

“Asian,” and thereby perceived as more

what is traditional, or authentic.”

was originally-and exclusively-pearl

exotic. “The association with being

milk tea. She lived in Taiwan while

Asian adds to the stereotypes about

it matter? How much do perceptions of

the nascent industry was expanding

Asian people being ‘fobby’ or foreign,”

authenticity actually impact the way

rapidly, and new chain stores were on

Yang says.

the rise at every street corner. At the

“When you see

time, bubble tea was popularized not

boba places

by television commercials or other

marketed a

kinds of advertisements; instead, its

certain way,

popularity grew out of the lively street

with Chinese

culture of young Taiwanese people.

letters and such, it makes people

consumers is not the fact that pearl

think of Asians in a bad way.”

milk tea started in Taiwan, but the

California when the “first wave” of

reality that a new culture has formed

boba tea popularity hit the West Coast,

as Sasha Kuznetsov, a white student

around this drink. It involves how

as the drink became increasingly

from Boston, the focus is not so much

we talk about and promote it; how

prevalent particularly in densely

on exotifying Asian culture, as it is on

we incorporate it into our lives as a

Asian-populated areas such as the San

the phenomenon of “white-ifying” it.

socializing vehicle or gastronomic icon.

Francisco Bay Area. “There were a lot

Kuznetsov was first introduced to boba

of weird flavors, ones that didn’t exist

at a Thai restaurant, so she thought it

widespread fanbase charmed by its

in Taiwan,” Lin explains. Having also

was normally a dessert enjoyed at the

flavorful—and chewable—qualities,

traveled extensively across Europe, Lin

end of a meal. “I didn’t realize there

boba has become much more than an

describes curious experiences of having

was this ‘let’s go out for boba’ culture,”

“Asian drink.” It is unlike traditional

boba tea while abroad. Every country

Kuznetsov notes. In less diverse areas,

Chinese tea, which can be more

has a different taste: while in the US

she notes that boba tea tends to undergo

easily traced to a specific culture or

teas tend to be sweeter, in Prague, tea

a white-ifying makeover: “when it’s

ethnic group. Chinese tea gained its

has less flavor. In the famously tea-

really fruity and sweet, or chocolate

popularity and reputation in part

drinking country Britain, non-whites in

flavored, it seems to be catered more

from its cultural background in the

particular would often go for boba tea;

to white people.” For Kuznetsov,

specific regions where the tea is grown

overall people found the pearls to be an

the popularity of boba, particularly

and harvested. But many people

interesting addition to a familiar drink.

among non-Asians such as herself,

don’t even recognize that bubble tea

Lin also happened to be in

But whether in Europe

But ultimately, how much does

Would you like that with less or extra sweetness? Hot or cold? How would you like the ice level?

Meanwhile, for boba fans such

we consume, talk about and popularize products that originate from other cultures? Perhaps more significant and relevant to us as

With its diverse and

is significant in shaping American

comes from Taiwan, which may say

or the United States, the perceived

perceptions of how Asian culture comes

more about their appreciation for

“Asian-ness” of boba tea always

into contact with white culture. While

the drink than their disregard of it.

seems to linger. Is this an example

Kuznetsov believes exotification and

Maybe, Lin notes, bubble tea’s

of exotification by Western culture,

appropriation of Asian culture can

popularity is “not rooted in a specific

or is there even more to the story?

be part of the story, she sees these

culture” at all. Modern, youth-driven,

“There definitely is an element of

elements as less prominent. “When

and ever-evolving, perhaps it is “a

exotic attribution, of commodified

foods or drinks are adopted by white

global phenomenon that transcends

Asian culture,” Lin states.

people, they usually become made

cultural distinctions altogether.”

for white people,” Kuznetsov notes

Christine Yang, a Chinese-

G

American boba tea drinker from the

thoughtfully. To her, boba is more of

Rebecca Kao is a first year in the College of

California Bay Area, agrees. In her

a ‘neutral food’ than an exotified one,

Arts and Science studying Journalism

1 Bram, Uri. “America Is a Coffee Country-does Bubble Tea Stand a Chance?”Quartz. 11 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Mar. 2016. 2 Chang, Derrick. “Is This the Inventor of Bubble Tea?” Asia Pacific. CNN Travel, 12 June 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2016. 3 Trieu, Rosa. “Three Taiwanese Bubble Tea Chains Race To California.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

24 Culture


WEAR THE by Swan Cho

L

UNIFORM

aura Jung is a junior at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study building her concentration

around globalization, consumer culture, and entrepreneurship. Laura and her sister Seline launched UNIFORM (shoptheuniform. com) in October 2015, a marketplace for everyday staple pieces for everyone. This semester, Generasian had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing this up and coming designer at our very own New York University!

Q: Could you describe your style?

prepare for the cold at all. But I had my

definitely very overwhelming. I didn’t

A: Minimal and for the most part very

leather jacket and it was something that

really know what I was doing. But I

demure, but depending on the occasion,

I wore everyday. The fact that I was

actually took a lighter course load,

I like to mix it up. I think keeping myself

able to wear it everyday and not get

taking three classes instead of four, and

consistent everyday is nice because

sick of it really means something. And

that really helped. It honestly comes

when I do mix it up, it’s very different.

while I was in Berlin, a lot of people

down to prioritizing, your friends,

Q: Was starting a clothing brand

asked me where I got my jacket. At the

your work, and sometimes sacrificing

always a dream of yours?

time, the version of the jacket I had was

sleep and fun! I filtered out a lot of

A: No, it wasn’t. I entered school not

from a wholesale leather jacket market

people in my life because it’s important

wanting to do fashion at all. I wanted

in Korea.

to be more involved with the business

Everyone was

aspect, but fashion has always been

saying, “I love

something that I’ve wanted to do.

it! I’ve been

Not necessarily starting my own

looking for the

brand, but I’ve always wanted to

perfect leather

be within the realm of fashion.

jacket, but all

Q: What did you want to do then?

the nice ones are thousands of dollars.”

process of thinking of the name?

A: I don’t know! At first I thought

Then you get fake leather jackets, which

A: It all goes back to wearing something

I wanted to be in publication or

just don’t look good. So I thought, “I can

everyday and never getting sick of

advertising. I’ve always wanted to

explore this!” After I studied abroad, I

it. Every girl should have staples

start my own company so this seemed

went to Korea and talked to my parents

in her wardrobe that she can wear

like the most logical path because

and sister, who is the co-founder, about

with other items that she already

I’m fascinated by e-commerce.

it. My sister had already graduated

owns. Because these items are staple

Q: So what’s the process of getting

and is doing journalism in Korea. She

pieces, they should be really high

an idea, like the beautiful jacket

was on board, and from that point

quality and shouldn’t fall apart after

you have on now, to having the

on, the ideation phase was two weeks

three washes. Our initial product

product in your own hands?

long. I worked on building UNIFORM

line was leather jackets and t-shirts

A: The process was fairly fast. I came

all summer and during fall semester

which we made very meticulously. It

up with the idea in the summer after

before we launched in mid-October.

was a process of trying out different

my sophomore year. It was always

Q: How do you balance school, social

factories and fabrics until we found

something that I kept at the back of my

life, and now your own business?

the ones we wanted. UNIFORM

mind––not necessarily making leather

A: It was really hard at first! I also

resembles who you are, what you

jackets, but to start my own brand.

have a food Instagram with a following

can wear everyday without feeling

Why leather jackets? So I was studying

of 36,000 called City Foodie. I went

like you’re repeating outfits, and

abroad in Berlin this summer, and the

to restaurant openings all the time,

still feel amazing in it. When you

weather was so cold. I thought it was

and that in itself made me quite busy.

put on this leather jacket, you’ll still

going to be summer weather, so I didn’t

When I introduced UNIFORM, it was

look your best and feel your best.

READ OUR BLOG

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It’s constant work, I’m constantly thinking about it, putting in the effort. Nothing about it is easy.

to give less time to someone you don’t really care about. It made me realize who I really wanted to still be close with. Q: What was the

Wear the UNIFORM 25


Q: You also have lingerie on the site!

about shopping for a new wardrobe.

assed manner, and that’s never going

A: We don’t design the lingerie. Our

Q: What are some of the biggest

to give you a good outcome. You need

long term goal for UNIFORM is for it

lessons you’ve learned so far?

to be so passionate about it to have the

to be a marketplace, not just for our

A: I’ve been very fortunate. My

willpower to keep working towards it.

own products but for other companies

parents have supported me my whole

Q: I didn’t know you were City

who don’t have a strong platform in

life, but they can only do so much

Foodie! What is your favorite place to

the U.S.. The lingerie that we have is

and everything

a French Mauritian lingerie company

else is your own

that was founded two years ago.

work. Something

Lingerie is a pretty bold move––it’s

my parents have

not something that people openly

emphasized

talk about. But every girl should have

throughout my

classic bras and bralettes that they can

childhood is that you need to experience

and Sobaya is relatively affordable.

feel really good in, and they look great

hardship and hard work. Although I

For breakfast or brunch, I really like

underneath our t-shirts as well, so that

can’t say I’ve experienced hardship,

Nourish Kitchen and Table in the

makes sense. Eventually, we want to

I’ve definitely experienced hard work

West Village. It’s a very small café that

carry brands that have similar ethos

and what it means to achieve something

mainly does take out but their oatmeal

as us, the same quality, functionality,

out of your own will. UNIFORM is

is the best oatmeal I’ve ever had. I know,

and style. We are looking to expand.

like my baby and I don’t want it to die

who likes oatmeal? But for breakfast,

Q: What are your closet essentials?

out. It’s constant work, I’m constantly

it’s so good. Their menu changes

A: My leather jacket, obviously, a pair

thinking about it, putting in the

everyday and everything is super fresh.

of black jeans, sleek leather boots, a

effort. Nothing about it is easy.

My favorite dinner spots are always

pair of white sneakers, and a small bag that you can carry

Use all the resources that you have, and kind of be ruthless about it.

eat in the city? A: My go-to lunch is Sobaya on 9th Street. I’m always

Q: What would you tell someone who is interested in starting

craving soba

changing. I recently just discovered Goggan in Hell’s Kitchen. It’s an upscale

throughout the day and night.

their own company?

Korean restaurant with a French twist

Q: Do you have fashion tips

A: Use all the resources that you

and the space is so beautiful, fusing

have and be ruthless about it.

Eastern and Western design. And a

for people on a budget? A: When we started

Every connection and every

classic place that is always guaranteed

UNIFORM, we recognized

resource you have will help

to be good is Ruby’s on Mulberry Street.

that the reason people are

you in the long run. My

It’s so homey! My favorite coffee place

buying fake leather jackets

food Instagram helped me

is La Colombe. The Australian café

is because they can’t afford

a lot through people I’ve

in the West Village, Bluestone Lane,

a real one. We wanted

met through it, like public

also has really good food and coffee.

to be the company that

relations agents, event

Q: Since you’re still a student,

can provide people

planning companies, and

obviously you study a lot. Where

with affordable

food sponsors. When I

is your favorite place to study?

leather jackets. It’s

had my pop-up store back

A: I love the 6 East floor in Bobst! I’ve

all about making

in December, the turnout

tried studying in cafés, working at

fewer purchases and

was amazing. I give credit

home, and scoping out so many study

to City Foodie because we

spots. But Bobst is the most productive

investing in staple pieces that you really need. For example, you can find jeans and sneakers that are really inexpensive.

got great food and drink sponsors and an event space for free. Also, make sure that whatever you are going to

place and it’s also a bonding experience. If you have a study buddy and you guys are silently working together, it’s nice to know someone else is with you.

Leather jackets, on the other

start is something that you truly

hand, are completely timeless

love because that is honestly

G Swan Cho is a senior studying Mathematics

so you do want to invest in

the only thing that pushes you.

in the College of Arts and Science.

pieces like that. And I’m all for

If you don’t really care about it

vintage stores and selling your

and you’re not 100 percent into it,

clothes to buy new ones. There

you’re going to do things in a half-

are so many different ways to go Laura Jung in UNIFORM’s cropped moto jacket 26 Identity


LOSING MY MOTHER TONGUE by Chris J. Halim

H

ow does one “correctly” raise

AND WHAT I LEARNED FROM IT

once told me that “language is a gateway

next to him Joy echoes, “and they’d

an Asian American child, one who has

to other parts of the world,” and with

probably say ‘There’s a Korean-lookin’

– through blood and birth – inherited

every family gathering when a relative

girl over there.” Humour aside, they all

both Asian and American cultures and

comments “your Indonesian isn’t that

touch on a certain truth that it is not

can live harmoniously with both? I

good anymore,” and switches to English

an easy or passive task retaining their

have no idea. To be honest, not even my

to speak to me, I feel the gates creak

specific heritage in the eyes of a society

parents know, and they’ve been at it

shut on a heritage that I thought was my

that loves to clump people together.

for about twenty years now. It’s a new

own. I’m an outsider. I’m alienated. I’ve

Growing Up + Reasons Be-

trade, a skill that has been pioneered

learned from losing my mother tongue

hind Language Loss

by the first-generation immigrants

that the harshness of a language barrier

who came to America and realized that

is something that can distance a person

learned language, Joy and Kyle admit

their children were going to grow up

from a culture, and can make the dif-

that they started off a little differently.

very different from how they did.

ference between being just an observer

“Korean was technically my first lan-

While Matt fronts English as his first

Needless to say, the 2nd (and

or a participant. And I certainly don’t

guage,” Kyle says, “but then I forgot it.”

onwards) generation Asian Ameri-

want my children to feel locked out of

Kyle says, “I think my parents en-

can population is growing larger and

their heritage when their treatment in

forced speaking English. They started to

growing up. The center of the Asian

America is based on it.

speak more English around the house so

American social justice movement has

Meet Your Friendly Neighbor-

my brother Kirk and I could pick it up.”

always been me, and any other young

hood Asian Americans

To Kyle’s memory, it was because he

and rising career person bearing a

Joy Xu and Kyle Whang are both

and his twin brother were about to start

hodgepodge of conflicting cultures.

NYU students and Asian Americans

kindergarten, and their parents wanted

However, as time goes on, so does

who come from Chinese and Korean

them to be as prepared as possible. “But,

the political spotlight, and the role of

(respectively) backgrounds. Matt

the Korean died,” he adds at the end.

Santoso is a student at

While Joy did not drastically lose

Purdue comes from an

grasp of any Chinese that she learned,

Indonesian background.

she sees her issue as not being able

When asked to describe themselves, they all iden-

first place. “I learned basic Chinese

tify with their ethnicity

from my parents,” she says, “but it’s

first and foremost. Why

not like my parents are going to use

not other social identi-

advanced language to communicate

ties, such as gender or

to a child.” Joy later attended Chi-

age first? Joy says that for

nese school until 8th grade, but she

her, those things are self-

still considers her language skills as

explanatory. Outsiders can

below par and not satisfactory.

correctly view her identity Kyle Whang

to completely learn Chinese in the

Presently, all three of them use Eng-

as a girl and as a young

lish to some extent at home with their

adult just based on appear-

parents. Joy maintains a generally even

representing my parents’ language and

ances. However, as Asians Americans,

mixture of Chinese and English in her

culture will be passed down to my own

ethnicity is not self-explanatory.

household, while Kyle and Matt speak

kids and the generations that follow. To me, the importance of language is immense. A grade-school teacher READ OUR BLOG

generasian.org

“Other people would probably say

mainly English. “They do mix in some

when they see me, ‘There’s a Chinese-

Indonesian at times,” Matt says, “but I

lookin’ guy over there,’” Kyle says, and

basically still can’t speak any of it.”

Losing My Mother Tongue-And What I Learned From It 27


Joy Xu

States think that it is im-

all can be summarized in the handy

portant for adult immi-

Buzzfeed list, “21 Things Anyone Who

grants to learn English

Went To Chinese School Will Under-

to succeed. On the other

stand”). Above all, I thought it was a

hand, 95% of the same

waste of time to learn a language that

pool of respondents said

I couldn’t even speak with my friends,

that it is important for

and the feeling of spending my Satur-

future generations of

days staring at a character book instead

Hispanics to be able to

of being a normal playing, fun-having

speak Spanish. The ra-

American child was the worst.

tio arguably equal, and

Media and Culture

the importance of both languages is realized. Parents

“I’m definitely more familiar with American cultural trends,” Joy says,

From one ethnic group surviving in

“I know how to interact with white

Dr. Aneta Pavlenko at Temple Uni-

America to another, it can be supposed

people, I know more about American

versity says, the difficulties in recall-

that the mentality of Asian Americans

pop culture and news than that of

ing your first language are greater the

is similar.

China.” Many Asian Americans invest

more immersed you are in a second

Direct Peers

into getting immersed into American

language. Cognitive resources are

“When I was little I was embar-

culture, and do so genuinely. However,

simply limited. In America, where the

rassed when I brought Asian food to

the content of American culture is not

primary language everyone speaks is

lunch,” Joy admits, “because it smells.

always as friendly to Asian Americans.

English, there is pressure for immi-

I also wanted my parents to speak Eng-

Asian Americans don’t get much

grant children to speak mainly English

lish, I wanted to act more American, I

fair representation in media or enter-

to integrate into their communities.

just wanted to fit in.” There weren’t a lot

tainment -- things that play a big part

Interestingly in Kyle’s childhood, it

of Asians in her school, and the friends

in defining the way we think. We’re

was the parents who stressed the use

that she made were of different eth-

not the poster girls for Miss America,

of English. In their case, perhaps they

nicities and cultural backgrounds. She

we’re not the protagonists of major

were concerned about school and mak-

recalls a moment of cultural shock she

movies, nor do we get the impres-

ing sure that their children wouldn’t

experienced during a visit to a friend’s

sion that America will ever see us for

be left behind academically or socially

house, and the friend’s mother put on a

more than a group of exotic, dragon

by any sort of deficiency in English.

Backstreet Boys song so the girls could

people or dangerous, rice-eating,

However, deriving from Dr. Pavlenko’s

not only listen to it, but dance to it.

qipao-wearing, kung-fu ninjas who are

knowledge, it increases the risk that the child will forget their mother tongue.

This feeling is one that many others have also felt. Many of the international

I also wanted my parents to speak English, I wanted to act more American, I just wanted to fit in.

friends that I have made at

also good at math (hey society, this is a little bit much to expect from us). As community-craving and soul-

my high school and college

searching children and adolescents

in Boston and New York

in America, how do we see value in

have admitted to me how

investing more time trying to revive

challenging it is to make

the parts of our heritage if all the media

new friends and This highlights a question on what

find community. In the state

is more important: the voice of profes-

of vulnerability that simply

sionalism that points out that knowing

comes with being young or

English in America will ultimately

being in a new country, no one

assist a person in doing business,

wants to be an alien- left out

protecting themselves from fraud, and

because of their differences.

reaching beyond their ethnic communi-

There is a reason why I

ties? Or the voice of cultural pride? Ac-

hated going to Chinese school to

cording to a recent Pew Research Center

learn Chinese (actually, there

study, 87% of Latinos in the United

were many reasons, and they Matt Santoso

28 Identity


we consume constantly tell us that it’s more glamorous to be someone else?

tage, values and cultural identities.”

and a drive to adapt and survive. The

My father personally wishes to

factors that cause it are strong and

up, instead of being ashamed, I saw that

maintain family and cultural heri-

imbedded within society -- stereo-

white people were judging me for my

tage, and acknowledges that language

types take a long time to change and

culture so I in turn judged them back,”

retention with my brother and I may

the desire to belong and be accepted

Joy adds, crossing her arms in mock

not be possible. All in all,

rage but real frustration. She continues,

he recognizes that what’s

“this stems from the fact that there are a

most important in raising

lot of stereotypes about my culture that

his kids is “a good balance of

really rub me the wrong way.”

cultures and a strong family

The Next Hurdle: Pass-

environment.” But, he adds,

ing Down the Language

“language should still be important to

But we’re not oblivious. “As I grew

Food and cultural mentality play a bigger role in defining an Asian American than the language. in a community is only human.

Asian Americans. We live in a global

Even though Joy wants to keep

able to part from the insecurities of

era where communication and inter-

language in her family household, she

her younger self and fully embrace the

national languages add to success.”

ultimately believes that “even without

It is only in hindsight that Joy was

two parts of her identity: one being

“I want my kids to grow up exactly

language we don’t lose all of our heri-

Asian, the other being an American.

like me.” Joy knows that for her to

tage, because food and cultural mental-

Joy, Kyle, and Matt all desire to learn

emulate her own childhood to impress

ity play a bigger role in truly defining

how to speak their parents’ tongues

onto her own kids, she needs to be on

an Asian American than the language.”

better -- whether it be through watch-

the level of her parents, culturally. That

However, from a point of view that

ing more television dramas in that

can always be worked on and improved.

transcends nationality, a mother

language, tapping into international

More than anything, Joy is alike to my

tongue is a simply a great asset that

communities in college, or simply just

father in that she sees the true value in

can help you in your career, in travel,

talking more with their parents.

being Asian in America as being able

and in saving yourself from tense

Even though they admit that, “no, I

to take cultural values from both sides.

extended-family conversations. So, all

don’t think my heritage language would

“American culture is too individualistic,

in all, the answer remains, “kinda.”

make a difference in my professional

and Asian culture is too group-oriented

life,” it would be for the sake of com-

and focused on academic achieve-

parts of the world, and I don’t want

municating with their parents, and per-

ment,” she explains to me. “I think our

my children to feel locked out of their

haps passing down the language to their

Asian American generation has a good

heritage. However, I have also come to

own kids. “Ideally speaking,” Kyle mus-

mentality of both caring for the group

the realization that we are not carbon-

es, “my kids would be straight up bilin-

but also caring for yourself and building

copies of our parents, and that being

gual.” However, when it comes to how

the individual.” That’s very healthy,

both Asian and and American gives

they are going to accomplish that, they

she tells me, and I’m convinced. Matt

our demographic a combination with

face the task with a little uncertainty.

establishes his stand at a far end of the

which we can form our own culture;

I think language is a gateway to other

Irwan Halim is an accomplished

spectrum: “I just want my kids to live

our own environment of a cross-asian

Asian American man in his fifties. He

comfortably and get good educations

cultural blend. For example: K-Pop,

is also my father, and rooted his family

and hopefully have fit and athletic

bubble tea, artists and creators such as

in a suburb outside of Boston when I

lives.”

Arden Cho and Wong Fu Productions.

was two years old. He and my mother

The Big Picture: The Future

came from Indonesia. “Maintaining

Of Asian American Culture

The gates to other cultures and other parts of the world will still stand, but

So is language, in fact, unimport-

even if they close on Asian Americans,

was not a strongly considered topic

ant? What I learned is that the answer

things will be okay. We have our own

when coming to America,” he admits,

is: “kinda.” It really depends. Language

culture and can build our own heritage,

“raising kids here has a lot of challenges

attrition is a phenomenon that occurs

and if we ever want to open those gates,

in trying to maintain our own heri-

naturally with changing environments

we just have to re-learn how to again. G

heritage, more specifically, language,

1 http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27690891 2 http://www.denverpost.com/ci_22750397/learning-english-can-help-immigrants-survive

Chris is a sophomore studying economics in the College of Arts and Science.

3 http://www.buzzfeed.com/susancheng/chinese-school-struggles#.su6on25Dg READ OUR BLOG

generasian.org

Losing My Mother Tongue-And What I Learned From It 29


By Tatiana Hollander-Ho

THE

VILLAIN Alectrona.

Goddess of the Sun, Morning and Waking Up. As a whole, these pieces are symbolic of female power and control. I wanted to create art in opposition to the control often imposed on women, as evident in the lack of female superheroes and leading roles in television and film. The Hero, Mazu, has the ability to direct water with merely the flick of her wrist. The use of water, an element typically viewed as serene and tranquil, parallels a stereotypical expectation towards women, as water’s power to destroy and decimate entire civilizations is ignored. The Villain, Alectrona, has the strength of electricity and light. The use of electricity is representative of a quality often criticized in women but justified in men: the desire for power and domination.

THE

HERO Mazu.

Goddess of Water and Protector of Seafarers.

30 Art


What is photography to me?

Who I am,

And seconds later,

Who I was.

Runaway.

(MONOCHROMATIC)

SELF-PORTRAITURE

Gray.

By Tatiana Hollander-Ho Tatiana is a sophomore studying Media, Culture, and Communication. READ OUR BLOG

generasian.tumblr.com

(Monochromatic) Self-Portraiture 31


AN EXPLORATION OF TAIWANESE IDENTITY by Kim Chen

Disclaimer: The following paper seeks to unite historical social and political events in Taiwan with statistical data. It tackles a subject matter that is colorful,

T

and yet controversial. The author of this paper endorses no political viewpoint whatsoever through this article.

he results of Taiwan’s most recent presidential elec-

historically favored closer relationships with China, and the

tion this January thrust the country into the global spotlight

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which formed in 1986

for the first time in many years. While the victory of Tsai

to oppose the politically dominant KMT. The DPP struggled

Ying-wen may have surprised onlookers, it came as little

at first - no candidate won a bid for president until Chen

surprise to the island of a little over 23 million inhabitants.

Shui-bian’s victory in 2000. As a result of this history, the

Visit Taiwan today, and you’ll witness a country that appears

government of Taiwan can be quite bipartisan on crucial

as peaceful and lively as ever. But the friendly, easygoing

national issues. Despite the threat of a military takeover from

nature of life on the island belies a complicated history.

China, the people of Taiwan have made their choice clear in

the decisive elections of January 2016 for a political party and

Taiwan has been in an awkward and unique

predicament ever since 1971 - when Taiwan lost the recog-

a presidential candidate that are willing to represent their

nition of the United Nations as a member country. China

concerns. The DPP presidential candidate Tsai Ying-wen

insists that the United Nations recognizes itself as the sole Chinese power in the world. As a result, Taiwan operates

under de facto independence, which means “independence

in effect or in actual existence, whether by right or not.” As a result, the government of Taiwan can be dismissed as il-

legitimate by law, which makes the independence especially vulnerable at times for its citizens and governing body.

Currently, Taiwan’s public and politicians need to

make some tough calls on how to proceed into the future, given the actions of the Chinese president Xi Jinping - who has “engineered a dramatic centralization of power since taking office in 2013 and shown a firmly nationalist ap-

In 2014, the survey conducted by the Election Study Center displayed a shocking result: 60.4 % of respondents identified themselves as Taiwanese, 32.7% identified as both, and only 3.5% identified themselves as Chinese. Just days ago on March 14, 2016, an online poll by United Daily News (UDN) revealed that amongst responders, 73% self-identified as Taiwanese, and only 11% identified as Chinese.

proach to issues of sovereignty, including in the South China Sea”.4 China has made its stance on Taiwan sovereignty

won the presidential election by a massive margin over her

clear in the past. The Taiwanese people are told that to as-

KMT rival. Furthermore, the results of the Legislative Yuan

sert Taiwan’s independence is to be a warmonger, as there

(Parliament) elections revealed that the KMT had lost their

is only one China, and China is willing to retake control of

majority for the first time in history.9 This indicates that the

Taiwan by force - if necessary. This makes them especially

Taiwanese public have lost much of their trust in the KMT in

uneasy as they have already observed Xi’s efficiency and

the past 8 years when president Ma Ying-jeou was in office.

hardline attitude towards the “Taiwan problem.” He has

already remarked that he would like to resolve the issue in

flower Movement.6 In March 2014, the KMT party leader,

2016.12 If China does succeed in reclaiming Taiwan as a ter-

president Ma Ying-jeou attempted to ratify the Cross-Strait

ritory, what will become of the snack foods, night markets

Service Trade Agreement (CSSTA) with the help of the

and endless quirks that embody life in Taiwan? What will

KMT-controlled Legislative Yuan, but without a public

become of Taiwan’s valued status as a sovereign nation?

clause-by-clause review of the agreement. The agreement

was meant to lift trade restrictions on China and Taiwan and

This unspoken question, among many others, was

To discover why, it is best to look at the Sun-

at the heart of the most recent election. Two main political

open up 80 of China’s market segments as well as liberalise

parties exist in Taiwan - the Kuomintang (KMT), which has

64 industries in Taiwan. Proponents in both nations argued

1.

Buckley, Chris, and Austin Ramzy. “Singer’s Apology for Waving Taiwan Flag Stirs Backlash of Its Own.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Jan. 2016. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

2.

Cole, J. Michael. “Explaining the Rise in Taiwanese Identification.” Thinking Taiwan. Thinking Taiwan, 17 Mar. 2016. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

3.

Cole, J. Michael. “The Powers That Be and the ‘R’ Word in Taiwan.” Thinking Taiwan. Thinking Taiwan, 02 Aug. 2015. Web. 07 Mar. 2016.

4.

Denyer, Simon. “Opposition Leader’s Landslide Win in Taiwan Puts Onus on China to Respond.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 17 Jan. 2016. Web. 14 Mar. 2016. 32 Identity


that the agreement would benefit Taiwan’s economy and

citing mainstream public opinion as the rationale. The DPP

raise the country’s GDP. However, the Taiwanese pub-

proposal was rejected by the KMT. In the past, Taiwanese

lic grew increasingly concerned when they realized that

had viewed the DPP with skepticism. This is largely due to

while some industries would benefit, the vast majority of

the corruption of Chen Shui-bian’s administration, as well

the Taiwanese workforce would suffer. They interpreted

as his inability to pass legislation opposing the KMT dur-

the government’s desire to quickly pass the agreement,

ing his tenure as president, since the KMT held a majority

denouncing the lack of transparency as democratic. This

in the Legislative Yuan at the time. However, now the public

became known and derided as “black box” government. Artistic rendition the CSSTA by artist ETBlue. Source: ETBlue

have significantly warmed to the DPP after it has shown its

willingness to support issues important not just to the public,

but to young Taiwanese as well. One example is the August 2015 occupation of the Ministry of Education by students who opposed the Ministry broadly changing the curriculum on the basis of new guidelines for school textbooks.10 The KMT certainly anticipated early on heavy losses on the election day, but it was hardly prepared for utter rejection by the Taiwanese people.

Of course, there were several key factors in Tsai’s

victory, including the Chou Tzu-yu incident just days before the general election.1 Chou, a 16 year old Taiwanese girl, is a member of the K-Pop group Twice. She unwittingly angered the Chinese public after a photo of her holding a Korean flag and a Taiwanese flag on a South Korean television show was publicized, and consequently interpreted as Chou having pro-Taiwan independence leanings. The uproar caused her South

This anti-government sentiment culminated in the

Korean management company to hastily post a video of

Sunflower Movement, in which roughly 500,000 Taiwan-

Chou apologizing, despite having done nothing wrong in

ese participated in a sit-in protest at the Legislative Yuan

the eyes of the Taiwanese. The incident fully affirmed the

grounds. The slogans of the movement - “Defend Taiwan,”

fears of those who saw China as a country that wants to

“Chinese Party Buys Taiwan Legislature,” “Economic Prosper-

suppress and even invalidate their national spirit. It struck

ity is Not All” - highlighted what the protesters found unjust

a raw nerve in all, and was no doubt in the minds of the vot-

about the KMT government. Their demands were clear - a

ers when they went to cast their ballots on election day.

public clause-by-clause review of the CSSTA. As many of the

protesters were students, the government was quick to dis-

quite strong in the people of Taiwan for a while. More so

miss them as irrational and immature, equating their protests

than ever, there is now a sense that things have to change -

However, anti-establishment sentiment has been

with anti-globalization. Parents apologized for their chil-

quickly. The population has grown much more distrustful

dren’s actions, and seemed to be ashamed of them for caus-

of the KMT, which was synonymous with the status quo for

ing a fuss. And yet at the root of the students’ stance was a

so long. The KMT embodies another status quo as well - they

message that resonated with all Taiwanese - the position that

insist on maintaining the current relationship between China

Taiwan could not be bought with Chinese money, that Taiwan

and Taiwan. The issue is that many see that maintaining the

was not for sale. What struck me most was how the activists

current relationship will inevitably lead to reunification.

stressed the need to defend and recognize Taiwan’s separate

What the KMT lacks to recognize is that times have changed,

identity.7 They saw a disconnect between how they viewed

and that maintaining this status quo has become increasingly

their own country and how the KMT intended to treat it.

unacceptable to some. To determine when this mental shift

of the Taiwanese public began, examining surveys show that

3

The DPP supported the demands of the activists and

sought the cooperation of the KMT in reviewing the CSSTA,

this political upset was actually several years in the making.

5.

ETtoday 政治中心. “聯合報民調:73%自認台灣人創新高 僅11%自覺是中國人 | ETtoday 東森新聞雲.” ETtoday 東森新聞雲. ETtoday 東森新聞雲, 14 Mar. 2016. Web. 21 Mar. 2016.

6.

Hioe, Brian. “Beyond The Sunflower Movement: Present Issues for Future Taiwanese Activism.” Thinking Taiwan. Thinking Taiwan, 15 May 2014. Web. 19 Mar. 2016.

7.

Sui, Cindy. “Will the Sunflower Movement Change Taiwan? - BBC News.”BBC News. BBC News, 19 Apr. 2015. Web. 20 Mar. 2016.

8.

“Taiwanese / Chinese Identification Trend Distribution in Taiwan(1992/06~2015/06).” Election Study Center: National Chengchi University. Election Study Center: National Chengchi University, 9 July 2014. Web. 28 Feb. 2016. READ OUR BLOG

generasian.org

An Exploration of Taiwanese Identity 33


and only 3.5% identified themselves as Chinese.8 This result instantly sparked a conversation that continues today. Just days ago on March 14th, an online poll by United Daily News (UDN) revealed that amongst responders, 73% self-identified as Taiwanese, and only 11% identified as Chinese.5 How did we get to this point, and what does it hold for Taiwan’s future?

The truth is that there now exists

a stark generational gap within Taiwan society.6 In the UDN poll, roughly 85% of individuals aged 20-29 identified as Taiwanese. Young people who have identified their families as Taiwanese for generations are much less willing to swallow the status quo that the KMT advocates. This may be why Xi has stressed fixing the Taiwan problem quickly - with each subsequent generaElection Study Center, N.C.C.U., important political attitude trend distribution

tion, that sentiment is much more difficult to quell. J. Michael Cole, the senior editor of Thinking Taiwan,

It is possible to speak about Taiwanese identity in a

has a theory about why this is - “it is important to point out

number of contexts, be they national, cultural, or political.

that the only system that respondents in the 20-29 age cat-

Identity for our purposes will be defined by the criteria that

egory have known is liberal democracy, which cannot be dis-

the researchers from the Election Study Center at National

sociated from the definition of what it means to be a Taiwan-

Chengchi University used while conducting their telephone

ese.”2 They view the Chinese government as authorianism,

surveys, which they have conducted annually since 1992.

and see in China today all that they do not wish to become.

Researchers ask the participants what they self-identify as,

Taiwanese people love their dialect, the traditional Chinese

and record their responses as Taiwanese, Chinese, both, or no

text, as well as their open internet. They especially cherish

response. It is not uncommon for Taiwanese people to admit

their right to mock and speak out against their government.

to a Chinese nationality because of ancestors from or family

They have no desire to be a part of the globally dominant na-

in the mainland. Certainly there are historical and cultural

tion China is set on becoming, being much more comfortable

ties between Taiwan and China that are difficult to sever.

with their own status as a small power. Despite all that Beijing

And yet as soon as an individual begins to live in Taiwan,

has done in order to “win the hearts and minds” of the Tai-

a new identity begins to form. More often than not, people

wanese people in the hopes for eventual reunification, these

find themselves falling in love with their adopted country.

results show that their efforts have backfired, as the Chinese

This was poignantly demonstrated by the 2015 documen-

and Taiwanese people have existed separately for too long for

tary Wansei Back Home, in which Japanese born in Taiwan

their identities to be easily reconciled. This is encapsulated

during the Japanese occupation fondly remember life on the

in what many Taiwanese admit and some defiantly say: “We

island. Years later, many still self-identify as Taiwanese, not

will never be able to call ourselves Chinese.” Together, their

Japanese.11 The Taiwanese identity is self-recognized when

voices cannot be ignored. Perhaps reconciling the divergent

people begin to describe themselves as 台灣人 (Taiwanese).

personalities of the two countries is simply out of Beijing’s

reach. Maybe this will help them see that not everything

In 2014, shortly prior to the Sunflower Move-

ment, the survey conducted by the Election Study Center

can be accomplished with influence, money or coercion.

G

displayed a shocking result: 60.4 % of respondents identified themselves as Taiwanese, 32.7% identified as both, 9.

Kim is a senior studying Biochemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Tiezzi, Shannon. “It’s Official: DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen Is Taiwan’s Next President.” The Diplomat. The Diplomat, 16 Jan. 2016. Web. 18 Mar. 2016.

10. Yeh, Ricky. “Why the High School Student Movement Received So Much Attention.” Thinking Taiwan. Thinking Taiwan, 12 Aug. 2015. Web. 18 Mar. 2016. 11. Yoshifumi, Katakura. “The Wansei: History’s Castaways Look Homeward to Taiwan.” Nippon.com. Nippon.com, 15 Feb. 2016. Web. 20 Mar. 2016. 12. 樊冬宁. “海峡论谈:习近平“决战2016”一举解决台湾问题?” 美国之音. VOA Chinese, 20 Apr. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2016. 34 Identity


THE |INBETWEENERS|

BEING HALF-WHITE, HALF-ASIAN IN AMERICA by Anna Oehlke

S

Photography by Tatiana Hollander-Ho

ometimes when I look in the

man. Growing up in a white town with

before, so I let those feelings remain

mirror, my eyes flicker back and forth

white friends, I was always defined

inside and didn’t think twice.

to stare at each other. They look at my

by what made me different. To them, I

left eye, lingering at the fold above my

was Asian; or at least something other

City for college, I came to know more

eyelashes, before doing the same for

than white. A few months ago I was

and more half-Asians and mixed race

the right eye. On most days, the crease

in Japan with my roommate, who is

individuals. With more half-Asians who

of my left eye is more pronounced

100% Japanese. I asked her if I stick

could share my experience, I no longer

than the crease on my right. As the

out there. She laughed and said, “Oh

felt like I was floating alone on my

second graders in my class might say,

yeah, you’re basically white.” I don’t

island of one. Suddenly, my island be-

my right eye is more “Asian” than my

blend in with the white kids, yet I also

came more like an archipelago, however

left eye. I used to stare intently at my

stick out with the Asian kids. I feel

small and spread apart it might be. The

right eye, rubbing my finger in the

trapped in between these two groups

ability to have a community to identify

crease to make it look more prominent;

in my own unidentified community, an

with is invaluable, and although the

to make my face look symmetrical, at

island of one floating listlessly without

half-white half-Asian population of

the very least. My eyes are large and

a place to stick. In all my years before

the U.S has risen by 87% in the past

light brown, my hair is thick and dark,

college I had one friend who was also

ten years, it is still felt to be an identity

but not black. My nose is wide and

half-Asian. Before having her to share

defined by parts and halves rather than

my skin is a shade between olive and

and validate my experiences, I left my

wholes.1 By being “in between,” we are,

peach. My face is like my identity, a

conflicting identity and inner turmoil

by the same logic, “not quite.” We don’t

bit ambiguous and hard to pin down;

unexamined. No one else had ever

fit easily into any box; we aren’t quite

it’s something that lies in between.

been able to truly empathize with my

white, we aren’t quite Asian, yet we

feelings about being an “in-betweener”

still exist wholly as a blend of the two.

I’m 50% Japanese and 50% Ger-

When I finally came to New York

1 “Multiracial in America,” PewResearch Center, http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/06/11/multiracial-in-america/, (June 11, 2015).

READ OUR BLOG

generasian.org

The Inbetweeners: Being Half White, Half Asian in America 35


I asked some of my half-Asian

with the side I resemble most physi-

me with.

friends for their own reflections on

cally, my Indian side, mostly because

What box do you check?

their experiences being mixed race.

it’s easier. It’s easier for other people

White? Asian? Other?

I hope that our stories can provide a

to recognize me as Indian because my

glimpse into the lives and feelings of

skin is brown and it sort of “clicks” for

felt like checking both Asian (or In-

some Asian “inbetweeners”, and that

strangers. I’ve found that if I try to

dian if it’s a separate option) and White

you get to know more about a small yet

identify strongly with the white side of

if the form allows for me to choose

growing generation defined by their

my family, I’m met either with skepti-

two options, but in the end it doesn’t

perpetual ambiguity. Better yet, I hope

cism or rejection from my peers. It seems

feel like it correctly encompasses my

that any other halfers or inbetweeners

to be difficult for people to reconcile the

identity. I’m not Asian AND White,

can read this and possibly feel validated

idea that I can look different from the

I’m a mix of the two, which person-

or comforted by the fact that there are

norm of a culture, but still belong to it.

ally I find to be a whole different cat-

people who can understand.

It seems to be difficult for people to reconcile the idea that I can look different from the norm of a culture, but still belong to it. What Are You? Anita Raja: I identify myself as half Indian and half Finnish, and only recently have started referring

Grace Rogers: I am half-Asian and half-white, but if I’m pressed for specificity I’d say 25% Korean 25% Chinese and 50% Irish. In terms of how I see my

Anita Raja: I check other. I’ve often

egory with different experiences.

We don’t fit perfectly into any box.

identity, I relate mostly to the “mixed” label. I don’t strongly identify with either

Grace Rogers: If I’m allowed to pick

side. I think how one looks, changes how

both I will, but if not I usually pick other.

one identifies and I don’t look like either;

Actually, on the Common Application

people have told me I’m very ambiguous.

for applying to college there is no“other,”

Olivia Sulkowicz: I am mixed

and you’re not allowed to choose more

race, but to get specific I am Chi-

than one. I actually had to pick one or

nese, Japanese, Polish, and Jewish.

the other. It was crazy because your

The side I identify most with usually

college application is not a trivial thing,

to myself as mixed race. When people

depends on the people I’m with. In general

and so this was a huge dilemma. In the

ask me I usually just say I’m mixed,

I’m more likely to gravitate toward the

end I chose to pick the “White” box.

or just tell them my background.

Asian side because that’s how I’m typi-

I think I definitely identify more

36 Identity

cally perceived and what people associate

I think it was the only time I was asked to choose one or the other and

Photography by Tatiana Hollander-Ho


have it affect my life. It was honestly

I by no means feel like a white person. I

about me, and gives me a window or entry

the weirdest feeling ever, and I felt it

think it’s a super weird in-between no

point into two cultures. I would be more

didn’t truly reflect me. I never had to

matter what it is, it’s a kind of limbo.

comfortable than my white friends in an

say that I was a white person before, it just felt wrong. I’m none of the above! Olivia Sulkowicz: I would check

Olivia Sulkowicz: I remember in

Asian community, and I don’t think I stick

high school there was a very defined

out dramatically in white communities.

“white girl” group and “Asian girl” group,

Final Words

white and Asian. If I had to choose

and I had trouble figuring out which

one, I would choose “Asian”.

group I should fit into. Neither felt truly

is from Brazil, one time spoke to me

What are the struggles or chal-

Anita Raja: My boss at work, who

comfortable, and I was either an outsider

in Spanish, and I just stared at him

lenges you’ve experienced being

in the white group or not on the same

blankly. He then asked me if I spoke

multi-racial/racially ambiguous?

“level” as everyone in the Asian group. I

Spanish, and when I told him no, he

was in between the cliques. I also think

said,“Your name is Anita, you look like

fair share of identity crises where I

that society loves exotic things. But liking

that, and you don’t speak Spanish?!” I

couldn’t figure out which side of the

something because it’s new and exotic is

had to very gently explain to him that

family I belonged to, and if I even had a

dehumanizing, and now the new, “excit-

I was mixed and didn’t have a lick of

right to call myself Indian or Finnish. It

ing” thing is being racially ambiguous.

Latin blood in me. Just something funny

can be hard to find a community through

Do you like being mixed race?

that happens a lot. When people see me

Anita Raja: I’ve definitely had my

I sometimes feel undeserving of saying I’m a Woman of Color.

Anita Raja: The biggest advantage

as a vaguely brown person, they try to

is having access to cultures and views

fit me into a box and usually go with

that people who aren’t mixed just won’t

Mexican or South American. I usu-

ever get. From my parents alone I get a

ally find it pretty amusing because it

unique perspective on society, moral-

couldn’t be further from the truth.

outside resources or even within my

ity, what holds value in life, and even

Grace Roger: People view me as

own family. My university has count-

mundane things like music and speech

just a watered down Asian, but I’m just

less associations for Black students,

patterns. In the end, I love being mixed.

as much Irish as I am Asian -- They see

Taiwanese students, Chinese students,

People will often have to outright ask

just a “white-washed” Asian. There’s

Indian students- the list goes on. I at

me about my background, which forces

a feeling of being othered, but at the

times envy that easy access community

them to get to know a part of me before

same time you’re a chameleon.

that I don’t feel like I can join, because I

making any judgements based on race. It’s

can’t always fully identify with it. Also

a very unique identity to have that does

ing like a woman of color to another

sometimes it just plain old sucks to not

come with its own set of struggles and

feeling like a basic white girl.

feel like you can connect even with your

issues, but is worth it in the end for me.

own parents. My mom and dad do their

Grace Rogers: What’s nice about

You move from one room feel-

I think parents are interesting to think about. Looking like your parent or not

best to make me feel like I am equal parts

being racially ambiguous is that when

looking like your parent, and how that

Finnish and Indian, but since neither

people look at me, they can’t automati-

influences which parent we identify with

of them are mixed, it becomes hard to

cally identify me or form opinions about

more. Also, coloring is huge. If you’re half

discuss the struggles with being mixed.

me. And although we’d like to think

but have light features people will prob-

Grace Rogers: I truly do not have a

otherwise, people have preconceived

ably associate you with white more easily.

culture that I can rally around. I feel so

notions about race. I think I’m lucky in

far from both of my heritages, and I just

that, when people look at me, I don’t think

existence, and think part of it is be-

don’t identify with any culture. It’s like

they have those preconceived notions.

cause you go through life being con-

feeling lost, and that scares me. I feel like

Another thing I’ve found is that I feel

I don’t have a stake in any identity, and

like I can have a stake in conversations

I have no passionate alliance cultur-

about both women of color and about

ally or ethnically. I partly chose to check

white privilege. I’m half in and half out

“white” on the Common App because I

of both conversations and identities.

sometimes feel undeserving of saying I’m a Woman of Color, but at the same time,

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Olivia Sulkowicz: First of all, I do like being mixed race! It’s a unique thing

Olivia Sulkowicz: It’s an odd

stantly questioned about who you are. These responses were edited and condensed.

G

Anna is a first year studying multimedia communications, psychology, and social justice at Gallatin.

The Inbetweeners: Being Half White, Half Asian in America 37


LOST IN THE DESERT

By Ziying Zhou

Attending university in Manhattan entails a busy existence. The harried nature of city life can often heighten the stress of a student’s day-today activities. In the midst of it all, I find it easy to lose sight of myself. At this point, it’s necessary to take a break and go somewhere where I can just slow down and breathe. These images depict a desert where bare land and sky are the only things visible for miles. The city is a bustling jungle and sometimes getting lost in the emptiness of a desert is necessary to finding yourself again. Ziyang Zhou is a first year student studying nursing.

38 Art


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Profile for Generasian

Horizons: Spring 2016  

Generasian writers and artists engage in an assemblage of topics that will expand your horizons.

Horizons: Spring 2016  

Generasian writers and artists engage in an assemblage of topics that will expand your horizons.

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