Racism in ‘Eleanor & Park’ Novel Not Stopping Film Adaptation

The YA novel Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell features a white girl and a biracial Korean boy falling in love in high school. While this sounds like just the kind of book I’d embrace and promote on this blog, Eleanor & Park is actually rather racist.

And now it’s getting made into a movie, which has renewed the criticism of racism in the book, as noted in an article about the movie on Vice:

Since the movie deal was announced, dissenters have taken to Twitter to denounce Rowell’s Cho-Chang–ass naming choices (Park is an extremely popular Korean surname, not first name, something Rowell acknowledged in an FAQ); the choice to hire a Japanese director to tell a Korean American story; her descriptions of Park as feminine; her description of another Asian boy’s “just barely almondy” eyes; dialogue between the two main characters where Park says “Asian girls are different. White guys think they’re exotic… Everything that makes Asian girls seem exotic makes Asian guys seem like girls”; descriptions of Park’s mother comparing her to a China doll that further solidify the misogynistic “exotic” stereotype; the fact that Park literally does kung fu against a bully at one point… the list goes on! And on! (Rowell and production company Picturestart did not respond to a request for comment.)

Just do a search for “Eleanor and Park racism” and you’ll find a multitude of articles that back this up, including a review in the Los Angeles Times titled ‘Eleanor & Park’: Where romance and racism seem to go hand-in-hand.

This novel dishes up awful representation of Asian characters, which will then get translated onto the big screen. And the thing is, such representation in the media does indeed matter.

A recent article titled The Psychology of Racism noted that media is one of the major areas that can amplify racism, as summarized in a post on Psychology Today:

The sixth factor the authors identify as contributing to racism in America is the media. The authors cite clear evidence that demonstrates people internalize what they watch on TV. A very early example of this research occurs in a 1963 study where preschool children witness aggression on TV and then imitate that aggression in their lives. The paper is the first in a large body of research that demonstrates how people internalize what they see in the media. The authors also cite clear evidence that the American media portrays idealized representations of White Americans and marginalizes and minimizes people who are not White.

So problematic portrayals, such as in Eleanor & Park, do have real-world consequences in terms of racism. In this case, the forthcoming film will further bolster negative stereotypes about Asians.

None of this has deterred the production of the movie — but then again, perhaps that shouldn’t surprise anyone about Hollywood, given even recent examples of yellowface and whitewashing of Asian characters in the movies.

Nevertheless, it’s just not right that Eleanor & Park became a best-seller and now will be made into a film, as noted in Vice:

…as books like Eleanor & Park continue to find success, the representation conversation will churn on with depressing regularity. It hurts to see that not only has a white author, catering to young people, has sailed along without reckoning with her racism, her fetishization and her lazy caricatures; she’s been rewarded with even more success. It’s hard to blame Asian Americans for focusing on the things that make us feel invisible, even if these debates may muffle the least visible among us.

What do you think about the outcry over racism in Eleanor and Park and the forthcoming film?

Fighting Against Racism Starts With Recognition – Pub’d on China Daily

China Daily just published my latest column titled Fighting against racism starts with recognition. Here’s an excerpt:

Imagine that, while riding the bus, a passenger approached you and told you to “go back to your country”.

That’s what happened to a friend of mine during her brief stint living and working abroad in the United Kingdom, a time that shattered the idyllic notions she once harbored about the West.

The animus behind this and other similarly racist encounters she experienced had shocked her. She had never thought people could be capable of behaving like that in public.

Her story, however, didn’t surprise me-and not just because I had seen many reports over the years on racism in the UK, or that I had read Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, British journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge’s award-winning deep dive into race relations in her country.

Rather, it was because I had lived a version of it in the United States with my husband Jun, when we resided there for nearly eight years. That period served as a painful education in just how widespread racism and discrimination was in my own country. I saw the many ways, both covert and overt, in which people treated him worse than his white peers.

I shouldn’t have needed an education like this to realize that the scourge of racism and discrimination still thrived in the US. And my friend shouldn’t have had to spend time in the UK to discover the truth there.

The protests that have emerged in the wake of the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless other people of color have made it impossible to ignore what has been dubbed the pandemic of racism, an epidemic that didn’t begin in 2020. It has infected societies like the US and the UK for hundreds of years-and it is not a relic of the past that has magically disappeared.

You can read the full piece here — and if you like it, share it!

Racist Rant Against Chinese Gets Foreigner in China Fired and Booted From China

Last week, Austrian Mark Kolars, who had worked at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, posted a number of extremely racist comments on LinkedIn which went viral on Chinese social media. That led to him getting suspended from his job and subsequently booted out of China, as reported by the South China Morning Post:

One of them [Kolars’ comments] read: “not racism, just don’t like dirty yellow guys, talking trash all day long, who cares about your leaders, we are here to make money and you need us. Without us to begin with you would still wear rice heads”.

In another, Kolars referred to his son as “a mix of European Caucasian and Asien [sic] Chinese blood. Europe as bench mark which China will never reach. Not smart enough. Inbreeding for too long. Nature strives for genetic variances.”

He has a Chinese wife, and of course his son is part Chinese, which makes his racist tirade against Chinese people all the more stunning.

As the Global Times reported:

Kolars on Tuesday night apologized on LinkedIn, saying the posts “were inappropriate and racist in nature and hurt the feelings of my Chinese friends and colleagues, and caused a very bad impact in the society.”

Nevertheless, he’s leaving China — for good. According to a report in China Daily:

On Friday, the office of exit and entry control of the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said in a statement that it revoked Kolars’ work-related residence permit on Thursday. It also stated that the Austrian had been asked to leave the country within a specified period of time.

What do you think about Mark Kolars’ racist comments and the consequences he suffered as a result?

Velma Demerson, Arrested for Having Chinese Boyfriend in Canada

Loving a Chinese man and expecting his child shouldn’t be a crime. But white Canadian Velma Demerson got arrested in Canada in May 1939 because she was pregnant at 18 with the child of her fiancee Harry Yip.

Authorities took her in under the Female Refugees Act of 1897, where women could go to jail and become institutionalized for “incorrigible” behavior, including promiscuity and pregnancy outside marriage. As Vancouver Observer reported:

Demerson was sentenced to ten months at Ontario’s infamous Mercer Reformatory for Women. There, she said attending physicians performed eugenics testing on her and her unborn child, tests Demerson believes cost the health of her son and sent her down a path of despair and tragedy.

Imprisonment over “loving the wrong person” is outrageous enough, but Canada didn’t stop there with its punishment. As the CBC reported in an interview with Karin Lee, who is working on a documentary about Demerson called “Incorrigible”:

As soon as she got out of jail, she immediately married Harry and they tried to raise their son.

But [the child] was affected by some of the medications that she was given … so he had very extreme eczema, very severe eczema.

And the social worker just came by and just said, “You know, you’re just a child. There’s no possible way that you can raise this kid.”

So they took the kid away, and that was the beginning of a long struggle of trying to have her son in her possession [so] that she could raise [him].

Additionally, Velma Demerson’s marriage to Yip cost her Canadian citizenship due to an old law still on the books, stating women who wed foreign men would assume their husband’s citizenship. (The US also had a similar law that cost American women their citizenship when they married foreigners.) She only discovered this when applying for a passport in 1948. And when she followed the advice to seek Chinese citizenship instead, the Chinese embassy refused her application, which left Demerson stateless.

(That lasted for more than 60 years — yes, you read that right — until she finally had her Canadian citizenship restored in 2004.)

But because she had plans to move to Hong Kong, she went to British Columbia and managed to secure a passport under her maiden name. If authorities ever found out, it would have meant five years in prison for her, a risk that worried her every time she left Canada on her maiden name passport.

But in Hong Kong, where she went with her son, the hardship continued, as reported by the Vancouver Observer:

Demerson’s marriage fell apart under the strain of her pariah status, and unable to make ends meet in Hong Kong, she sent her son home to his father in Canada without her. Upon return a year after, she discovered her son had been placed into state care. She was never allowed to raise him. The two never reconciled. He drowned at the age of 26.

She went on to remarry and have another family, but everything she suffered because of her love for Harry Yip still weighed upon her. So after turning 60, she researched her situation and eventually decided to seek justice through the legal system, filing a lawsuit against the Ontario government, demanding an apology and $11 million in compensation. She received an apology in 2003 and later an undisclosed sum of money out of court.

Additionally, Velma Demerson went on to help other women imprisoned under the Female Refugees Act of 1897 get justice as well.

It’s heartbreaking to imagine that all of this happened to Demerson just because she loved a Chinese man and was having his baby.

How did the two meet? According to the filmmaker Karin Lee, Harry Yip caught Demerson’s eye when she was patronizing a Chinese cafe:

She was with her mother and a couple of other friends and they went to this Chinese café, and she thought he was a very cute waiter. So she kept dropping her silver to get his attention.

And finally he did pick it up and then he asked her for a date, and everybody was, like, happy about that. And then they went on some dates and she said that he was the most polite person and respectful person that she had ever met and just fell in love with him because he was such a decent guy — and good looking.

Just imagine what a beautiful life they might have had together, were it not for that fateful arrest.

Velma Demerson passed away in May 2019 at the age of 98. But Karin Lee hopes to share her story and struggle with wider audiences through a documentary about Demerson called “Incorrigible”, for which she’s currently seeking funding in an Indiegogo Campaign.

You can also learn more about this story through the interview with Karin Lee on CBC (Remembering Velma Demerson — the woman jailed in Toronto for living with her Chinese fiancé), a story about Demerson at the Vancouver Observer (Lost Canadian Velma Demerson’s tragic story of love and loss), and Velma Demerson’s page on Wikipedia.

What do you think of what happened to Velma Demerson?

Yung Wing, China’s 1st Overseas Graduate, Finds Love, Tragedy in US

Yung Wing (1828-1912) stands out in history as the pioneering overseas Chinese student, the first from China to graduate from an American university (Yale, class of 1854). He also went on to champion higher education for his fellow Chinese compatriots by establishing the Chinese Educational Mission, which helped send other Chinese students to US schools (including Yale) for a period of time. And countless students, scholars and lifelong learners have benefited from his generous donation of over 1,200 books to Yale, which formed the heart of its celebrated East Asian library.

But Yung Wing’s life also stands as a tragic example of how Chinese exclusion brought about needless suffering — and in his case, the death of his beloved wife, a European American woman.

Yung Wing, who had become a naturalized US citizen in 1852, married Mary Kellogg, from the town of Avon, Connecticut. In a 1875 photo from their wedding day, Mary looks graceful in a long, flowing white gown adorned with garlands of flowers, just like any beautiful bride. (In his memoir, Yung Wing states that, much like the Chinese Educational Mission, it was one of his daydreams while at college to marry an American woman.)

Yung Wing and Mary Kellogg went on to have two sons together: Morrison Brown Yung and Bartlett Golden Yung. Yung said of them in his memoir My Life in China and America:

They are most faithful, thoughtful and affectionate sons, and I am proud of their manly and earnest Christian characters. My gratitude to God for blessing me with two such sons will forever rise to heaven, an endless incense.

By Fred Hsu – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22760947

Unfortunately, their marriage took place amid growing the anti-Chinese sentiment gripping the US — as Yung Wing described it in his memoir, “The race prejudice against the Chinese was so rampant and rank….” The era culminated in one of the most discriminatory laws ever enacted in America: the Chinese Exclusion Act, which passed in 1882.

As Ben Ralton writes in a piece for HuffPost:

…the Chinese Exclusion Act [was] overtly designed to impact and even destroy the existing Chinese American community. Yung’s citizenship was stripped, and when he traveled back to China to continue his work as a diplomat, he was denied readmission into the United States under the law’s bigoted pretenses. In a painfully blunt letter relying this decision to diplomat Charles Denby, Secretary of State John Sherman admitted that the exclusion “would on its face seem unjust and without warrant. … Nevertheless, … the department does not feel that it can properly recognize him as a citizen of the United States.”

This denial of Yung’s citizenship, and indeed of the fundamental truths of his half-century of inspiring and influential American life and work, profoundly affected his family and final decades of life. Deeply traumatized by their extended separation and by fears for Yung’s life, Mary passed away, leaving Morrison and Bartlett to be fostered out to family friends in New England.

Mary’s death came in 1886, which meant their entire marriage lasted only a scant 11 years. She would never live to see other indignities visited upon her husband, as TK Chu noted in the work 150 Years of Chinese Students in America:

[Yung Wing’s] life at old age was lonely (his children were working in China) and at times humiliating. He was asked to leave a boarding house when fellow boarders refused to share a dining table with him. After that he found his last residence at 284 Sergeant Street, Hartford; he entered his second floor quarters through a side entrance.

To learn more about Yung Wing and his extraordinary life, you can read his memoir My Life in China and America.

‘The Chinese Exclusion Act’ on PBS Reminds Me Asian Stereotypes Haven’t Changed Much

The other night, I had the chance to stream The Chinese Exclusion Act, a nearly two-hour film documenting the events that led to America’s one and only piece of legislation targeting a specific nationality and race, as well as the aftermath and eventual repeal. The Chinese Exclusion Act was signed into law in May 1882 and didn’t end until December 1943.

Much of the film centers on the mid- to late-1800s, and yet it feels timely because many of the stereotypes originating from that era still persist to this day, continuing to shape US media portrayals of Asians as well as how many Americans still view the rise of Asian countries such as China.

Here are 4 stereotypes from the 1800s that have still survived – sometimes in slightly different forms – to this day, as mentioned in The Chinese Exclusion Act.

#1: The stereotype of Asian men as “inferior”

A few years ago, I wrote Debunking the “Model Asian” Myth: Five Ways Asian-Americans Still Face Discrimination for Hippo Reads, which includes the following paragraph:

Justin Chan spoke for generations of Asian men when he wrote, “Are Asian Men Undateable?” in Policy Mic. Years of pernicious stereotypes have branded Asian men as emasculated, weak, asexual, and even too small in a certain department—essentially, editing them out of the most eligible bachelor pool. Not surprisingly, Freakonomics calculated that an Asian man would need to earn $247,000 more than a white man to be equally appealing to a white woman. That’s like requiring every Asian guy to own a Bentley before asking out the white girl next door.

So it shouldn’t be surprising that, back in the late 1800s, when Yellow Peril took hold, white Americans cast Chinese men as being inferior to white men, as experts point out in part 1 of The Chinese Exclusion Act (emphasis added):

John Kuo Wei Tchen, Historian: So what happens is that class and racialization converge – get confused. And the “Coolie question,” and the Chinese question, really become the big question nationally of labor and class.  Can the American man compete with this degraded Asian male form of labor?  They don’t eat as much; their nerves are farther away from the surface of the skin, so they don’t feel as much; they eat rats.  You know, all this  gets played out even more and more around not just class lines and racialization, but also around gender.  The Chinese male is inferior – is not the same as white manhood, right.  So you have that famous cover – “Meat versus Rice.” American manhood vs. Asiatic coolie-ism,?   And, of course, the Asian male is inferior – but tenacious, because there are a lot of them.  So they’re dangerous because they’re so many of them, right.  Not because they really rival the actually superior white male.

#2: The stereotype of Asian women as “sexualized”

A major stereotype that still persists is this idea of Asian women as sexualized and subservient (see Kristina Wong’s post earlier this year titled I Give Up On Trying To Explain Why The Fetishization Of Asian Women Is Bad).

And again, we see echoes of that stereotype in the late 1800s in America, prompting the 1875 passage of the Page Act, which forbade the immigration to America of those coming to work under contracts and as prostitutes. The latter prohibition was aimed squarely at Chinese women, as The Chinese Exclusion Act explains (emphasis added):

Scott Wong, Historian: There developed this sexist, racist, misogynist attitude among Americans, that Chinese women were naturally prone to become prostitutes.  And, therefore, Chinese women, who wanted to come to the U.S., had to prove that they were never prostitutes; that they weren’t prostitutes then; nor would they ever become prostitutes.  Now, of course, one can’t prove what will not happen or happen in the future.  So many women chose not to even go through that humiliation. So we had that first act that’s passed, that is very racial and gender-specific.

#3: The stereotype of Chinese “stealing jobs/opportunities from Americans”

When major elections roll around in America these days, there’s one thing you can count on – those politicians claiming China is “stealing” jobs and opportunities. And as Chinese students still comprise the largest group of foreigners studying abroad at US institutions of higher education, you’re sure to hear complaints from Americans, alleging Chinese are also “taking away” slots at colleges and universities that belong to American students.

Sadly, this narrative has hardly budged from the late 1800s, when white workers concocted this stereotype that Chinese were also plundering their economic opportunities back then, as The Chinese Exclusion Act noted in years following the California Gold Rush (emphasis added):

Narrator: As surface gold in the river beds became scarcer – hydraulic mining run by companies increasingly displaced the lone prospector panning for gold.

Ling-chi Wang, Scholar: A lot of white independent prospectors went bankrupt and became unemployed. But instead of turning their anger against the gold-mining company and the water company for exploiting them, they turned against the Chinese.  They say: “Ah, the Chinese were here.  They take away our jobs.” And so that is really the beginning of white working-class agitation for Chinese Exclusion.

#4: The stereotype of Asians — including Chinese — as “perpetual foreigners”

Back in 2016, Christopher Hoffman penned the post Perpetual Foreigners: A Reflection on Asian Americans in the American Media, commenting on a racist segment aired on Fox News titled “Watters’ World: Chinatown Edition”, and noted the following:

The larger problem is the segment clearly challenges the American identity of Asian American citizens in Manhattan’s China Town. Frank H. Wu’s Race in America Beyond Black and White defines this idea of Asian Americans as the “perpetual foreigner.” By assuming Chinese Americans have a better relationship with the country of their ancestral heritage, Watters is placing Chinese Americans in a second-class citizen role, unable to fully adopt all the characteristics to become a full citizen of the United States of America. This idea of the “perpetual foreigner” is not limited to Chinese Americans, but a xenophobic image many Asian Americans from a variety of Asian backgrounds must face.

This xenophobia can be traced back to the late 1800s and the Chinese Exclusion Act itself, where people believed it was impossible for Chinese to ever be fully American, as The Chinese Exclusion Act explains:

Martin B. Gold, Attorney: It really did two things.  One is an exclusion from immigration, and the other thing was an exclusion from citizenship.  at the time there were approximately 105,000 Chinese in America.  Now, they were just two-tenths of one percent of the overall American population.   So what happens to the people who are already here – people legally in the United States?  And what that law said was, “These people cannot assimilate.  They are too different in terms of their culture – in terms of their appearance – in terms of their language – the clothes that they wear – and the food that they eat – and the gods that they worship.  They cannot assimilate into the American population.  And in that sense, they are different from European immigrants.  So we’re going to make, as a Congress, a judgment.  We’re going to say that because they are an unassimilable population, they cannot come to the United States, and those that are here cannot become American citizens.”

If you haven’t yet viewed The Chinese Exclusion Act, I highly recommend streaming it — and noting how the legacy of oppression still lingers to this day.

What do you think?

Racist Haters Will Hate – But Should We Always Blog About It?

(photo by Loving Earth via Flickr.com)

When my blogging friend sent me that link the other day, I didn’t even have to click to know where this was going. The URL contained a malicious slur, and the thread’s title included a vulgar phrase, something I’ve never stooped to utter in any conversation.

These were haters, pure and simple. Hardcore racists who scorned interracial relationships.

Sure enough, when I clicked through I saw my friend’s photo in the forum. It was a photo taken with her Asian husband. But with the things these goons had written about her, it was like finding her photo inside the men’s bathroom stall, defiled by graffiti and infantile racist screeds.

I could understand why she wanted to share this with me. It’s chilling when you find total strangers essentially crapping all over you in such an unsavory place. She didn’t post that photo on her blog, expecting this to happen. It’s the kind of thing that makes you say, “Damn, something’s seriously wrong on the Internet.”

But the question is, what do you do when the haters start harping on you? Or your blog? Should you go public with it on your blog?

Those are questions I’ve considered when I’ve become the fodder of hateful racist forums (including, most famously, a white supremacist group on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s watchlist). And I’m not alone. Other women who have blogged about interracial relationships have faced these issues, such as Madh Mama (who was harassed by an Internet troll giving her death threats).

In a sense, hate mail and hate comments are a badge of honor. You angered someone so much they felt compelled to respond to your work. Granted it’s an ugly response, but it shows you have some power. There are ways to blog about it.

Madh Mama did go public with her Internet troll and that’s how she defeated him. But to be clear, she did it in a very strategic way. She never linked to this person’s online drivel or gave him additional attention.

Likewise, when I blogged about the white supremacist group, I was careful not to mention them in name OR link to their forum. The last thing I wanted to do was give a hate group more publicity. I chose not to make any screenshots of the forum either, concerned that – once again – it might reveal the group’s identity.

Yet just because we blogged about it, should you?

Ultimately, that’s a personal decision – but one that comes with a huge asterisk. My bottom line is this: a blogger should never feel obligated to publicly share every time someone attacks them online. After all, you would not believe the sickening racist comments/e-mails that I’ve seen. If I devoted a post to every single instance, I’d be busy for months. Besides, my blog is valuable space – I don’t want to deign to quote from racists (unless there’s a compelling reason to do so). It’s enough to say I’ve received many awful racist comments/e-mails and I’ll receive many more in the future.

However, I always, always talk about it with someone. It might be my husband, a friend, a family member or even a fellow blogger. It’s so important to share our experiences, to know we’re not the only ones.

And I always remember, there are times when we need to do more than just talk. That’s what Madh Mama learned after those death threats:

Keep documentation. Keep screenshots with dates and times of all the harassment, throw it into a file (without looking at it) and save it for later. You never know when you’ll need it.

Internet trolls have very predictable patterns. They often use the same IP addresses and they often attack at certain times of the day. These timings can tell you a lot about your troll – for example, if they attack at 3pm Eastern time – that’s after school time. And the more frequently they attack you – the more lazy they get in covering up their tracks.

TRY to report it to authorities. Go to your local police. If you’re in the U.S.A, you can report it to the FBI’s cyber crimes unit. If your pictures are being stolen and defaced, contact DMCA.

Ultimately, the haters are gonna hate, no matter what. While blogging about it is optional, staying silent is not. If you’ve received a hateful racist e-mail or comment, or found your blog mentioned in a hate forum, please talk to someone about it. It could be your friends, family or even a fellow blogger like me.

One of the most powerful things we can do in response to hate is stay united, supporting anyone who has been attacked by racists or worse. The haters would rather I wasn’t here, but I’m not going anywhere. How about you?

3 Stereotypes About Asian Men I’m Tired Of Hearing

My marriage to a Chinese man wasn’t just the culmination of a beautiful love affair. It also kicked off the start of a new education for me, his white American wife. A true initiation into the world of racism, prejudice, and all of those unfortunate stereotypes I wish Westerners didn’t have about Asians, including Asian men.

Here are 3 stereotypes about Asian men that I’m tired of hearing:

#1: Asians = great at computers

I can’t tell how many times people have told me, “Wow, your husband is SO great with computers!”

Whenever I hear that, I want to flash them a painful grimace. As if I just witnessed that person step right into a big, smelly pile of…you know.

Seriously, people. Just because my husband knows how to delete the trash files from your iPad – and is Asian — doesn’t mean he’s the almighty computer guru. In fact, I’m the one who troubleshoots our tech problems, from deciphering error messages on the PC to configuring a complicated wifi network at home.

Being Asian doesn’t automatically make someone a wizard at things like math, science and medicine. But if you think otherwise, that definitely makes you naïve.

#2: Asian men are short

True story. An academic in America once had the audacity to tell my husband Jun, “All Asians are short, right?”

Cue face in palm.

You know, it’s easy to see a couple like Jun and me together, and then draw that kind of conclusion. But once again, you’re mucking around in stereotypes, as Alex Tizon reminds us in his wonderful memoir Big Little Man:

Are all Asian people small, and have they always been so?

The answer to both questions is no — a fact commonly known among educated Asians and Westerners who have traveled widely through Asia….

Today, the giant men of the Chinese national basketball teams, whose centers are among the tallest in the world, almost all come from northern and central China. The former Houston Rockets standout center Yao Ming is seven foot six, which even among tall nationalities is aberrantly tall…. Up until 2009, both the tallest man and the tallest women in the world hailed from northern and central China…. The tallest woman on record, Zeng Jelling, who died in 1982, was eight foot one.

Anecdotal records indicate that, during the time of the first waves of Chinese migration to America, men of northern China averaged about five foot seven, with a fair number exceeding six feet. This would have been roughly equivalent to the height of white male conscripts in the U.S. Army and many European immigrants of the time.

Now you know. (P.S.: I highly recommend Alex Tizon’s memoir Big Little Man – check out my interview with him from a few years back.)

#3: Any question about the size of an Asian man’s penis

Who in the Asian community – or in an interracial relationship with someone Asian — hasn’t heard this lamest of all stereotypes? It’s right on par with toilet humor, and ought to be flushed into oblivion.

I’ve noticed that, by and large, it’s men who seem content to hurl this one into conversations. Usually anonymously, in a really seedy Internet hangout. Or in a typo-ridden comment… the kind that ends up in your spam folder.

In my opinion, any guy who goes around speculating about the size of someone’s manhood already has serious inferiority issues. Or just needs to get a life.

I love what Ranier of The Love Life of an Asian Guy wrote a few years back on this:

…to my Asian brothers out there: don’t give any guy, girl, or internet troll two seconds of your time when they joke about your dick. Your wang is the wangiest of all wangs. Keep it up, hold it proud, and use it wisely. After all, 60% of the world’s population is Asian which means one thing: we may have a negative stereotype about our shlongs, but at least we’re getting laid.

Exactly.

What stereotypes are you tired of hearing?

Pub’d in the China Daily: Why the Negative Bias Against Chinese Students in America Needs to Stop

This past Wednesday, the China Daily just published my op-ed titled Why the Negative Bias Against Chinese Students in America Needs to Stop. Here’s an excerpt:

When Chinese students in the US returned to universities in 2017, they began a new semester under a cloud. The Los Angeles Times reported that, in the wake of Trump’s election, the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco warned students of rising anti-China sentiment that might be dangerous. The Consulate’s letter cited instances of verbal abuse directed at Chinese students. Meanwhile, Asian Americans Advancing Justice has recently reported a huge uptick in hate crimes against Asians, thanks to Trump’s demonization of China as America’s enemy.

But it would be naïve to assume that all of this started with Trump’s election. In fact, there has always been a negative bias against Chinese students in the US

Much of the mainstream news coverage of Chinese students in America has a negative slant – from stories like “Heavy Recruitment of Chinese Students Sows Discord on US Campuses” (Wall Street Journal) to more exaggerated headlines such as “How Chinese Students Are ‘Cheating’ To Get Into US Universities” (Forbes) and “Fraud frenzy? Chinese seek US college admission at any price” (CNN). Meanwhile, that bias has trickled down to the public. I’ve had many conversations about Chinese students in America with academics and the general populous; most often, people allege Chinese are ruining the quality of education, or stealing admissions spots from more deserving American students. Even Google displays this bias; when I searched for Chinese students in the US, of the four suggested search strings, two were the following: Chinese students in the US problems, and Chinese students in the US rich.

The negative bias against Chinese students in America needs to stop.

To read on, visit the China Daily for the full article.

P.S.: A huge thank you to everyone who helped make this article possible, including Susan Blumberg-Kason and Marissa Zhang.

Guest Post: Odd Questions I’ve Heard About My Interracial Love

Anyone who has ever dated outside their race will relate to this wonderful guest post by Chi, who blogs at Talking of Chinese.

Do you have a guest post you’d like to see featured on Speaking of China? Visit the submit a post page to learn how to have your words published here.
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The vast majority of people (whether consciously or unconsciously) date and marry within their own race.

According to Wikipedia, 97% of married white men and women in America are married to another white person, 89% of married black men and women are married to another black person and 91% of married Asian men and women are married to another Asian person.

If you happen to be in the less than 4% (according to Wikipedia only 3.9% of married couples in the US in 2008 were interracial couples – this is a big increase from less than 1% in 1990 but still an extremely low percentage) you are almost certain to get a question or comment about your interracial relationship at some point.

Both my fiance and I are Australian. I was born in Australia to anglo parents, he was born in China to Chinese parents.

While most people I’ve encountered don’t (at least openly) say anything about us being an interracial couple, I have encountered curiosity from both westerners and Asians as well as a few rare comments that are at least misguided if not racist.

The most common question I have gotten from Asians is a surprised “but how did you meet/get together with a Chinese guy?” while I’ve had both Asians and white people ask if I am “attracted to Asians”.

The first question stems mostly from curiosity, I think. While it’s fairly common to see white men with Asian women it is far more rare to see Asian men with white women (although I am happy to see it does seem to be getting more common).

The first question is also easy to answer – we were flatmates, we didn’t get along at all at first but slowly became friends and eventually fell in love.

The second question I honestly find bizarre. Imagine you asked that of a white person who was dating another white person “so, you are attracted to white people?”

No, I am not attracted to white people, or Asians, or black people or any race.

I am attracted to the man I am with because of WHO he is not what race he is.

I am attracted to him because he is strong but also prepared to show true vulnerability with me (something I have found to be incredibly rare).

I am attracted to him because he takes responsibility (for himself, for his decisions, for his family). He doesn’t expect anything from anyone.

I am attracted to him because he has an adventurous spirit and finds ways things can be done rather than putting them in the too hard basket.

I am attracted to him because he doesn’t shy away from things that are difficult, he faces challenges as they come up.

I am attracted to him because he knows what he wants and is prepared to work hard for it.

I am attracted to him because he prioritises what’s important to him and doesn’t let other things or other people run his life.

I am attracted to him because he’s upfront, he doesn’t manipulate or play games.

I am attracted to him because he is great at solving problems, an excellent traveller and can fix things.

Most of all I am attracted to him because we get each other on a level I find hard to explain – I haven’t felt this in any other relationship (even one that lasted for years).

Also, I think he’s pretty cute and his snuggles are second to none 🙂

Chi (her real name, no exotic background, pronounced Chai, like the tea) is engaged to a man who was born in China and grew up in Argentina before immigrating to Australia. Chi writes about her experiences (mostly her struggles trying to learn Mandarin) at www.talkingofchinese.com. —–

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