Back in December, many of you — including myself — followed a rather disturbing news story regarding racist backlash against Lorde and her Asian boyfriend James Lowe. Many readers sent along links and encouraged me to write something about it. That proved challenging in December when I just moved to China and was juggling a ton of post-moving/settling in issues that drained my energy, along with some technical difficulties for my website. Well, it’s nearly a month since the incident…but never too late for me to put my 2 cents out there and start out 2014 with a bang.
Sometimes people say to me, Why do you write about your relationship? You’re a white woman dating a Chinese man, so what’s the big deal? Thanks to what happened in December, I have a new answer for them: Lorde and James Lowe.
For those of you who were hibernating in December or busy with Christmas shopping, here’s the scoop:
After Kiwi chanteuse Lorde apparently said (to someone, somewhere—I literally can’t find any sources on it besides teens on Twitter) that Justin Bieber and the members of One Direction are “ugly,” wounded superfans began firing back with a barrage of potshots at James Lowe, Lorde’s rumored boyfriend. In the way that the overemotional rantings of the ignorant so often do, the attacks turned racist almost immediately.
I was still dazed and jet-lagged in the wake of an exhausting move from the US to China, but even then the news hit me hard. In the midst of the Christmas season, traditionally that time of “peace on earth and goodwill to all men”, here was a gang of cyberbullies spewing racist comments about Lorde and her boyfriend (see this story for examples) and laughing about it. And to date, no evidence has surfaced proving Lorde made the alleged “ugly” remarks about Bieber/OD…which makes me wonder if someone just went ahead and fabricated the whole thing as an excuse to humiliate Lorde.
Ugh. It’s just chilling to see this sort of thing.
But Lorde isn’t alone in her experience. After all, I’ve had to moderate hundreds of racist comments on my blog, and still receive the occasional hate mail because I’m married to a Chinese guy and blog about it with great pride.
What happened to Lorde stands as a very public example of how the Anglosphere (people in English-speaking countries) still harbors negative attitudes about dating Asian men. As much as it shouldn’t matter who you date, the racist reaction to Lorde’s boyfriend only proves that other people will make it an issue when your special someone happens to be an Asian guy.
Maybe you’ve never been publicly insulted like Lorde, but might understand this in a different way. Perhaps your great uncle made a racist comment in passing about your Asian boyfriend or husband. Or someone said you shouldn’t move back to China with him because the society is too patriarchal and you’ll be oppressed by him. (Never mind, of course, that your guy is such a kind and caring sweetheart who has never been oppressive or sexist towards you.) Or what if, like Grace of Texan in Tokyo, you discover that “You will need a coping mechanism to deal with the question ‘Why don’t you just date a white guy?’”
When it comes to dating Asian men, there’s a mountain of racism and ignorance out there as far too many folks still buy into the popular stereotypes that Asian men are somehow undatable. This is why Ranier Maningding is right on when he wrote the following regarding how to respond to the Lorde/James Lowe racist backlash:
Please, especially if you’re a non-Asian WOMAN, you need to speak up against this shit. You need to be the counteractive voice to these idiotic children. Write something, post something, or share this. You say you like Asian culture? Then voice your opinions.
And Lorde, if you’re reading this, know that you’re a sister in the community of Western women and Asian men. We’ve got your back, girl.
P.S.: Sharing your stories is also one of the best ways to combat racism. If you’ve got something to share, why not submit your story or guest post for Speaking of China?
What’s your opinion on the Lorde/James Lowe backlash? Sound off in the comments!