Saturday, April 28, 2007

Goings on the past few days...

o Had a great time celebrating the husband's 35th birthday at Cote Sud in the Castro with some great friends. The husband stressed out because a few too many people showed up, but it was a great time anyway.

o Getting excited about applying for pharmacy school--apps open up in a month. Ack! Getting my letters of recommendation ready and honing my writing skills--wish me luck. :)

o Celebrated the 10th anniversary (wow) with the husband on Thursday (even though it was technically on Tuesday) by doing Dining Out for Life at Chenery Park in Glen Park in SF. We both shared some lobster ravioli, then the husband had panko-breaded catfish with French fries and I had this too-soupy gumbo. For dessert, he had a chocolate angel food cake with a Cabernet-blackberry sorbet while I had a bread pudding with hard bourbon sauce. I still can't believe it's been 10 years with him!

o The husband had a minor fracture of his left 3rd toe a couple weeks ago, which is healing nicely.

o I had the cyst on my right buttock removed (the one that caused me so much grief a couple months ago) on Wednesday. It's healing just fine, and thankfully there was no play-by-play by the doctor like the nurse who drained my abscess did months ago. He didn't use enough local anesthetic, so it hurt when I felt the doctor cauterizing the cyst and it was gross smelling my own burning flesh...

o And now we're going to eat. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

An article about Asian Americans and the Virgina Technique shootings

She hit it right on the mark--I'm just bracing for the backlash.

What May Come: Asian Americans and the Virginia Tech Shootings
Tamara K. Nopper
April 17, 2007
Like many, I was glued to the television news yesterday, keeping updated about the horrific shootings at Virginia Tech University. I was trying to deal with my own disgust and sadness, especially since my professional life as a graduate student and college instructor is tied to universities. And then the other shoe dropped. I found out from a friend that the news channel she was watching had reported the shooter as Asian. It has now been reported, after much confusion, that the shooter is Cho Seung-Hui, a South Korean immigrant and Virginia Tech student.
As an Asian American woman, I am keenly aware that Asians are about to become a popular media topic if not the victims of physical backlash. Rarely have we gotten as much attention in the past ten years, except, perhaps, during the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Since then Asians are seldom seen in the media except when one of us wins a golfing match, Woody Allen has sex, or Angelina Jolie adopts a kid.
I am not looking forward to the onslaught of media attention. If history truly does have clues about what will come, there may be several different ways we as Asian Americans will be talked about.
One, we will watch white media pundits and perhaps even sociologists explain what they understand as an "Asian" way of being. They will talk about how Asian males presumably have fragile "egos" and therefore are culturally prone to engage in kamikaze style violence. These statements will be embedded with racist tropes about Japanese military fighters during WWII or the Viet Cong—the crazy, calculating, and hidden Asian man who will fight to the death over presumably nothing.
In the process, the white media might actually ask Asian Americans our perspectives for a change. We will probably be expected to apologize in some way for the behavior of another Asian—something whites never have to collectively do when one of theirs engages in (mass) violence, which is often. And then some of us might succumb to the Orientalist logic of the media by eagerly promoting Asian Americans as real Americans and therefore unlike Asians overseas who presumably engage in culturally reprehensible behavior. In other words, if we get to talk at all, Asian Americans will be expected to interpret, explain, and distance themselves from other Asians just to get airtime.
Or perhaps the media will take the color-blind approach instead of a strictly eugenic one. The media might try to whitewash the situation and treat Cho as just another alienated middle-class suburban kid. In some ways this is already happening—hence the constant referrals to
the proximity of the shootings to the 8th anniversary of the Columbine killings. The media will repeat over and over words from a letter that Cho left behind speaking of "rich kids," and "deceitful charlatans." They will ask what's going on in middle-class communities that encourage this type of violence. In the process they may never talk about the dirty little secret about middle-class assimilation: for non-whites, it does not always prevent racial alienation, rage, or depression. This may be surprising given that we are bombarded with constant images suggesting that racial harmony will exist once we are all middle-class. But for many of us who have achieved middle-class life, even if we may not openly admit it, alienation does not stop if you are not white.
But the white media, being as tricky as it is, may probably talk about Cho in ways that reflect a combination of both traditional eugenic and colorblind approaches. They will emphasize Cho's ethnicity and economic background by wondering what would set off a hard-working, quiet, South Korean immigrant from a middle-class dry-cleaner- owning family. They will wonder why Cho would commit such acts of violence, which we expect from Middle Easterners and Muslims and those crazy Asians from overseas, but not from hard-working South Korean immigrants. They will promote Cho as "the model minority" who suddenly, for no reason, went crazy. Whereas eugenic approaches depicting Asians as crazy kamikazes or Viet Cong mercenaries emphasize Asian violence, the eugenic aspect of the model minority myth suggests that there is something about Asian Americans that makes them less prone to expressions of anger, rage, violence, or criminality. Indeed, we are not even seen as having
legitimate reasons to have anger, let alone rage, hence the need to figure out what made this "quiet" student "snap."
Given that the model minority myth is a white racist invention that elevates Asians over minority groups, Cho will be dissected as an anomaly among South Koreans who "are not prone" to violence—unlike Blacks who are racistly viewed as inherently violent or South Asians, Middle Easterners and Muslims who are viewed as potential terrorists. He will be talked about as acting "out of character" from the other "good South Koreans" who come here and quietly and dutifully work towards the American dream. Operating behind the scenes of course is a diplomatic relationship between the US and South Korea forged through bombs and military zones during the Korean War and expressed through the new free trade agreement negotiations between the countries. Indeed, even as South Korean diplomats express concern about racial backlash against Asians, they are quick to disown Cho in order to maintain the image of the respectable South Korean.
Whatever happens, Cho will become whoever the white media wants him to be and for whatever political platform it and legislators want to push. In the process, Asian Americans will, like other non-whites, be picked apart, dissected, and theorized by whites. As such, this is no different than any other day for Asian Americans. Only this time an Asian face will be on every television screen, internet search engine, and newspaper.
Tamara K. Nopper is an educator, writer, and activist living in Philadelphia. She can be reached at tnopper@yahoo. com.

Thoughts about the Virginia Tech shootings...

So I'm still reeling about hearing about the Virginia Tech shootings today where 32 people were killed by an Asian man who then committed suicide.

I'm also waiting to hear about the inevitable backlash against Asians as a result of this, the discussions of Asian families and the inevitable unrealistic expectations of Asians in colleges by their families and parents, the discussions about child abuse among Asian Americans; the shame that the gunman's family will now have to endure. There probably won't be a suicide note--from all the anecdotes that I've heard of friends and acquaintances who are Asian men who've killed themselves, they've left no record, no signs that they were planning to do something like this until it's too late. Maybe there'll be something on the guy's computer, but he's probably too meticulous to leave such damning evidence.

I think about the worlds that 20-somethings inhabit, too old to be considered teenagers, but too green to realize that everything they go through will pass and that the events that are going on are just really small parts of our lives. I remember thinking that all the drama I was going through in my early 20s meant that my life was always going to suck, and I can look back now and see how childish I was.

I also think about how insensitive many of us have become to violence, and that personally, to see someone like myself, instead of some crazy white supremacist or a fundamentalist religious zealot, being able to pull a trigger and cause so much destruction and to not care, is shocking and disturbing.

I'm hoping on one level that this will finally begin a real discussion on Asians in American society, and I'm oddly fascinated to see how this will play into how Asians, particularly Asian men, will be seen as a result. Given that Asian men are probably one of the most invisible groups in American society, it'll make people stop and think. Will this, in a very, very twisted way, prove our masculinity? Or just show that we can be as fucking crazy as everybody else?

I also think about what would cause someone to snap and how this guy became so desperate and crazy enough to kill so many people, especially since this isn't the first time that an Asian man was at the center of such an incident (namely the Filipino American guy who almost caused a similar tragedy in De Anza College near my hometown). What would drive someone to act with such callous disregard?

Is this going to cause some Asian American families to re-evalaute how they treat their kids? I hope so. I really hope so. I've just heard too many stories by other Asian Americans and the insane amount of pressure we get by our parents and families to succeed and do well, to get married, to be an upstanding (and silent) part of American society--and how this causes a lot of us to seek therapy--or to act out in self-destructive means.

Will this change American perceptions of Asian men? Undoubtedly. How, I don't know. I'm kinda scared to find out, honestly.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Sunset at Pismo Beach, Highway 101

Originally uploaded by AiYahh.
The husband took this when I was driving along the 101, right before we had dinner in this place at Avila Beach. Sometimes I'm shocked that I actually used to live so close to this area.

Stkyrice in Kushi Tsuru

Stkyrice in Kushi Tsuru
Originally uploaded by AiYahh.
Me at Kushi Tsuru in SF J-Town on my 33rd birthday. Just noticing how different angles make me look 10 pounds lighter--or 20 pounds heavier! Ack!