Category: Opinion

India, Pakistan and ongoing tensions in the modern world

The Valley of Kashmir (Tony Gladvin George/Flickr)

By Isha Mahajan

Over the past 70 years, Kashmir – a snowy mountainous region occupied by military troops on the India-Pakistan border – has been the center of communal violence and displacement, affecting people living in and around this territory adversely. The impact was initially felt by the people living in Kashmir and has grown to affect the religious groups and foreign policies of these countries.

The attacks in Pulwama in February of this year led to the killing of nine, people including four soldiers and a policeman in a gun battle in Indian administered Kashmir. This event enabled Kashmir to dominate the headlines once again and highlighted the decades-old conflict between these neighboring countries.

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Modern Minority Myth

By Courtney Song

When I was eight, I found out that I was Asian.

It happened on the playground of my elementary school. My classmates had questions about the strange in-between color of my skin, and the way that the shape of my eyes would move in a different direction than theirs did.

This was around the same time that I found out the difference between boys and girls, and that there were a lot more rules for me to follow than there were for my brother. It didn’t occur to me until much later that perhaps these two moments of difference were related.

Today, Asian-Americans, and Asian women in particular, are glorified among white Americans. A study conducted in 2013 using data from the online dating app “Are You Interested” found that among Asian, Black, Latino, and White men surveyed, every race other than Asian had a sexual preference for Asian women. Even white supremacists have an uncharacteristic preference for Asian women.

So why are Asian women such a fetishized demographic in America?

We tend to think about the model minority myth and the stereotypes surrounding Asian women as separate issues. In reality, the model minority myth is an inherently gendered form of racism.

According to Franklin Odo, a Japanese-American scholar, the myth owes its roots to the prostitution of Asian women to American soldiers. Their perceived subservience influenced the modern stereotypes around Asian-Americans. This led to what Odo refers to as “racist love” toward Asian communities.

In the 1960s, individual success stories painted Asian-Americans as people who valued family unity, education, and deferred gratification. Asian men were seen as feminine, and thus nonthreatening to their white oppressors.

Asian women were seen as the extreme of this stereotype, divided into two converse, but similarly hypersexualized categories: the silent servant (geisha) and the dominant temptress (dragon lady).

Women of all races will tell you of their difficulties walking the line between softness and forcefulness, but this experience is especially amplified when it comes to Asian women. Growing up as a half-Korean, half-white girl in predominately white areas, I was constantly aware of these warring identities that attached themselves to my genealogy.

My good qualities were always attributed to my race in some way. My intelligence was a gift from years of breeding, lent from my father’s bloodlines. I would constantly receive qualifications to compliments upon my physical appearance: “You have such an exotic look; I love Asian girls.”

Yet, my ‘bad’ qualities were made even more extreme by the intersection of my race and gender. I was too loud, too aggressive, and too opinionated—especially for an Asian girl.

Like many Asian-American women growing up in the modern era, I was overwhelmed with the desire to overtly refute these pre-conceived identities. Part of the modern female Asian-American experience is maneuvering how to break through the spectrum.

It’s not as simple as keeping one foot in geisha and one foot in dragon lady. When you’re presented with such a demeaning dichotomy, the easiest choice seems to be rejecting both identities outright. But even this approach raises complications: when your whole identity becomes about dodging stereotypes, it’s easy to lose who you are in the midst of denying who you are not.

This constant reconfiguration and contextualization of your identity leaves very little room for individuality. So much of my formative personality became about subverting stereotypes that my own personal development was handicapped. This is a complex and painful process that white children simply do not have to put themselves through.

On top of that is an even larger dilemma: you want to love your own heritage. But at a certain point, your heritage becomes your prison.

Speaking as an Eastern Asian woman, I cannot even approach the difficulties that colorism or colonialism bring into this equation in the same way that Southern-Asian women can.

This racial fetishization and objectification is by no means unique to Asian women. But it is a problem that can get buried underneath discussions around the ‘model minority’.

There is a gender problem in the way that we’re treating Asians. If we want to fix Asian-specific racism in America, we need to start first by asking Asian women and other non-cisgender identities. We need to start giving Asian women room to grow and not barricade their choices within archaic devices of subjugation.

We also need to teach Asian girls from the time that they are children a lesson that it takes some years to learn: your existence is not an expectation.

Letter: SGA president Timmy Sullivan: A candidate for racial justice

To the editor:

Timmy Sullivan may fit the same physical appearance as almost all of our past U.S. presidents (by physical appearance I mean the fact that he is clearly a white male), but through one single interaction with him I was able to realize his true dedication to advocating for racial justice, even on a local scale.

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Is Trump the new Gorbachev?

By Brie Bristol

U.S. President Trump’s prime-time speech on Jan. 8. (Source: CBC News)

My fellow Americans, I am speaking to you because there is growing bigotry against the citizens who live south of the United States border, and as an Afro Latina, every day this “crisis” makes me ashamed to be an American.

President Trump’s speech from his cozy Oval Office begins with addressing the “thousands of illegal immigrants” that he claims are at our border. It seems that the President does not understand the term “thousands,” since these numbers are actually in the hundreds according to his own administration. However, this is not the only “fake news” fact that the President boasted about to his people on Jan. 8. The president asserted from the White House that the U.S. proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants, but as a society we see immigrants being discriminated against and enclosed in camps every day—as if they are stray dogs and we are animal control. It is as if racism will never be abolished; it will only be redesigned to discriminate against other minorities whenever a leader will it.

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Socialization Tax: Why Students of Color at UMass Amherst are Paying to Have a Good Time

by Sifa Kasongo

When Deborah Kibazo, now a junior, first came to the University of Massachusetts Amherst, she tried to embrace the social life. Like many students, she tried out the fraternity parties. But Kibazo, who is black, said she was often turned away from the doors.

“I was told it was full and as I was walking away just to see them let some non-people of color into the building,” Kibazo said. “My friends and I could tell that it wasn’t full.”

Kibazo added that when speaking with other black students on campus, she realized that she wasn’t alone. Many students of color had felt both unwelcomed and uncomfortable at parties on a campus that is predominantly white. The students of color that had attended said they found little in common with the other partygoers to enjoy the party.

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