Tag: featured

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.

U Tryna Feel like a Baddie? Listen to this Playlist.

By Lucia Solorzano

I love women in hip-hop because they are all so different from each other and bring in new styles, aesthetics, and dope personalities to the industry. They are able to embrace their sexuality which is often shamed and furthermore embrace every part of their personality with cockiness and style. Listening through this playlist, you can easily see how different each artist is. The music incorporates themes such as goofiness, aggression, sexiness, playfulness, anger, vulnerability, chasing a bag, and being a confident bad b*tch.

The artists included are: Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, Kari Faux, Koffee, Leikeli47, Kamaiyah, Tierra Whack, Kodie Shane, Yung Baby Tate, Coi Leray

*Note: Music includes explicit lyrics

Islamophobia Teach-In : Religion, Fear and the Consequences of Dehumanization

by Isha Mahajan

The Office of Equity and Inclusion at the University of Massachusetts Amherst presented a teach-in on Islamophobia that aimed to address the religion, its fear and the consequences of dehumanization on Wednesday, Apr. 3, 2019.

The panelists consisted of  professors from UMass alongside those from Boston and Hartford, Conn, who provided their opinions and experiences with instances related to Islamophobia from around the country as well as from an international perspective.

“In the wake of the New Zealand massacre, it is vital that we address Islamophobia and how we overcome fear and misconceptions about a faith practiced by 1.6 billion people on earth, which is one in four human beings,” said Reza Mansoor, president of the Islamic Association of Greater Hartford.

Continue reading “Islamophobia Teach-In : Religion, Fear and the Consequences of Dehumanization”

Natural Hair Stories-Part One

by Desire’ Jackson-Crosby and Cynthia Ntinunu

What is hair? Is it just a follicle on the top of one’s head? Or is it a piece of you that evokes certain feelings? The natural hair journey is a unique experience for anyone who goes through it. For some it’s a straightforward journey and for others there’s a lot to unpack.

This project allowed 11 people to relive and share their natural hair journeys-from their struggles to their triumphs. Below is four of the 11 for part one of the natural hair stories series.

Uju Onochie

"I’m still on this journey."

Uju Onochie went to a predominantly white school for part of her childhood and she hated it. Being one of the few black kids in class, she remembered seeing the white girls’ hair and she’d play with it. Thoughts of “why can’t my hair be like this?” would circle her head as her fingers brushed through the girls’ hair. (Click the image above to read her full story)

Continue reading “Natural Hair Stories-Part One”

GIRLS: Yung Baby Tate’s Anthem for Every Woman

Image result for yung baby tate girls

By Lucia Solorzano

Yung Baby Tate is an impressive rapper, singer, songwriter, and producer based out of Atlanta, Georgia. Her newest album, GIRLS (released on Feb. 5), celebrates the different angles of her own womanhood and self in an empowering, fun, and expressive way. In her self-produced album, Yung Baby Tate’s sound is unique and bouncy, matching her vibrant and impeccable fashion style. The album features other talented rappers and singers including Bbymutha, Killumanti, Mulatto, Kari Faux, and Baby Rose.

Her sound and style is reminiscent of 90s video games, mixed with a dreamy feeling and bouncy beats. It sounds like glitter is sprinkled through every song. Her playful flow adds to this feeling along with her synthy beeps. Each song is a completely different mood, but are all tied together with her fun style.

The album cover is Yung Baby Tate in a silver leotard with women behind her in pink leotards, all standing on bleachers with their hands above their heads and eyes closed, in a majestic stance. This image represents a squad of girls who are practicing to perform for homecoming (as exemplified through her short film for the album). Each has a different personality and name which coincide with the album song titles.

Initially looking through the song names and album cover, one may assume it is solely about different types of girls: “New Girl,” “That Girl,” “Pretty Girl,” “Cozy Girl.” However, they simultaneously represent different girls and herself. The different girls and personalities are represented visually, through different models embodying the personalities on her Instagram posts and short film, while lyrically Yung Baby Tate is speaking in the first person throughout the album. The fluidity between and within women’s experiences is tied through this double representation.

This expression shows the different facets of her womanhood and experiences, including vulnerability, confidence, hurt, feeling herself, and being cozy. This is what really draws the listener in, because rather than expressing one consistent persona, it gives a glimpse into her layered personality, but is still easily relatable and empowering to others. The narrative of the album seems to represent not only herself, but collective experiences and moods that women (or anyone) can have.

As stated before, each song represents a different persona. They are confident, or confidently vulnerable, but each one embraces a different set of emotions. Discussing the different moods is empowering because Yung Baby Tate is not afraid to express emotions that many women get shamed for, such as being “too sexual” or being “too cocky”. She describes the different personas within the following Twitter thread:

This album is important because not only does it empower the cocky, confident, sexual, and vulnerable sides of Yung Baby Tate’s womanhood, it is also easily relatable for a wide variety of audience. The whole album is extremely emotive and evokes a feeling of walking on a cloud of confidence.

The album GIRLS by Yung Baby Tate is available on all streaming services