Monday, April 11, 2016

Echo Chambers

And The Perils Of Self-Importance.

It would be something of an understatement to say that the Peter Liang trial has heavily divided the Asian-American community - particularly Chinese-Americans. On the one hand stand those who offer unequivocal support for his conviction, and on the other are those who argue that Liang is being scapegoated for political expediency.

Liang's supporters have caused some significant surprise having turned out by the thousands in several cities around the country to voice their concerns that Liang has been hit with disproportionate charges for what every legal entity involved with the case agrees was an accidental shooting. They also note the unequal application of the law - white officers who have committed observably intentional killings have escaped prosecution entirely.

It is worthwhile to note that even amongst Liang's supporters, there is a marked diversity of opinion. The underlying sentiment is that Liang has run afoul of political maneuvering and is being offered as a morsel of reprise to stave off black rage at the lack of accountability for mainly white officers who kill unarmed people in suspicious circumstances. Although some of Liang's support decries the manslaughter charges as excessive and merely the result of political expedience, others are focusing on the sentencing and calling for the judge to show leniency.

Noticeably, the idea that Liang should not on any level be held accountable seems to not be a prominent sentiment amongst his supporters. Their concerns are that he is being disproportionately charged for what everyone agrees was a tragic accident, that this incident would not have been afforded the same legal significance if previous cases of police excess had been brought to account, and not only that his race makes him a convenient scapegoat, but that prosecutors would not have gone after him with such perceived disproportionate harshness if he had been of any race other than Chinese. I think they raise points that demand our attention but, as you might have guessed, our new money progressive friends within the community disagree.

Following the widespread demonstrations, a council of the righteous high and mighty was convened on Google hangouts in which four of Asian-America's moral superiors and a credibility-providing African-American friend (and here) expounded on the "problem" of this surge of support for Liang. All participants introduced themselves as very important activists for all kinds of causes except Asian- American ones. The stated aim of the council was to "reframe" and "re-center" the conversation via an "open and honest dialogue about true racial solidarity."

No, that isn't canned laughter you are hearing.

Far from engaging in an open and honest dialogue, the participants simply repeated each other's biased and uninformed views with several of them coming close to slapping themselves across the head in frustration at the lack of compliance coming from the Chinese FOBs who, apparently, have made our progressives look bad - which seems to be the primary cause of angst for these guys. Coming across very much like a council of some religious inquisitor, the participants took turns at self-righteous condemnation of Liang's supporters, utilizing such tactics as name-calling and racial stereotyping. I could not help but feel as though there was an ironic element of fobby face-saving going on stemming from a kind of horrific realization that Asian progressives are not only out of touch with Asian immigrants, they have grossly underestimated their own understanding of America's racial quagmire.

Against all progressive proclamations, it is the Chinese FOBs - not the American-born progressives - who have shown a deeper and far more nuanced understanding of the complexities of a multi-racial society in which racial thinking and racist injustices do not flow in a solitary direction from white to black, but do, in fact, encompass a multi-directional experience in which racist attitudes and behaviours manifest amongst all groups.

Maybe it would have helped their case if the panel has exhibited some small degree of charisma, yet I couldn't help but wonder if they had shot up with a downer like heroin, or gotten deeply stoned and watched the movie Magnolia in preparation for the podcast. Suffice it to say, the proceedings were so mind-numbingly dull that I had to slap myself on the head with an old insole to keep myself awake and remind my brain that I wasn't watching an hour-long slow-motion replay of a kettle boiling.

A hugely significant issue that I had with the panel was that there were no representatives present from Liang's supporters to give a balanced and fair representation of their side in their own words. Of course, when podcast host, Diane Wong of 18 Million rising, proclaimed at the very beginning that the aim was to "reframe and recenter...honest dialogue", I should have guessed that I would be in for a treat of misrepresentation, inflammatory stereotyping and outright self-delusional lies.

For example, at around the 5:20 mark, Wong accuses the Chinese media of pushing a polarizing and anti-black narrative, yet she fails to provide any evidence for this. That must be what "re-framing" means; to make inflammatory assertions without evidence. With Wong having set the tone of the podcast, Oi Yan Poon (who, apparently, is a respected academic) continues with a lengthy name-calling screed in which she asserts - again without a shred of evidence - that privilege and anti-black racism is motivating Liang's supporters.

Poon goes on to reinforce the extremely racist stereotype that these Chinese FOBs are overly deferential to authority and, somehow, their political activism is an act of subservience. The double-think is strong with this one. She continues with the accusation that Liang's supporters are driven by a desire to enter whiteness - again, a claim asserted without evidence. Yet, rather than show a moral failure on the part of Liang's supporters, it is the intellectual limitations of the panel that comes through most clearly here; Liang's supporters genuinely think that he has been scapegoated by the white judicial system in order to further protect and deflect attention away from white officers who murder. The progressive panel seem to lack the wherewithal to present a coherent argument that counters this simple belief.

Poon's claim, therefore, makes no sense and can only be an emotional outburst to make herself feel better. This is a huge logical error on her part that could have been avoided if only the panel had bothered to actually engage with their opponents in a constructive way that fostered the flow of ideas. Instead, they opted for a kind of primal scream therapy in which they unleash their ignorant self-induced resentments without reference to facts.

Unbelievably, it gets worse - much worse. Poon ends her screed by trying to explain the actions of these 21st century Chinese FOBs by citing a couple of civil-rights cases from almost a century ago that involved Asian plaintiffs. Poon never bothers to illustrate how these cases have influenced Liang's supporters, nor does she offer any evidence that they have even heard of these cases. All this seems to actually show is that Poon and the panel have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to the motivations of Liang's supporters and are relying on made-up narratives to slander them. 

The other Asians on the panel merely echoed Poon's distasteful and racially inflammatory comments, not really adding anything different and only repeating the buzzword "anti-blackness" and their dehumanization of Chinese immigrants, never once offering any evidence to justify their claims nor bothering to hide their blatant bigotry.

The only interesting moment during the whole podcast came from the black panellist - "Fresco" - which was priceless and worth enduring the horrific dullness of the the rest of the show. Having listened to the "reframed and re-centered " narrative of the Asians on the panel, she quietly asserts a bizarre narrative of her own which seems to stun the Asians. The seconds of awkward silence were awesome after she claims that Asian anti-blackness derives from a history of global chattel slavery that Asians apparently participated in and not from an appropriation of whiteness as had been claimed. The Asian panellists looked like they had been slapped with a wet sock and I loved it.

Although her claims were largely nonsensical, Fresco exposed the flimsy foundational premise of making anti-blackness the focus of Asian-America's race conversation. Asian progressivism agitates to force the Asian racial experience into the limited confines of the black/white narrative. This means that we have to abandon our history in order to contextualize our experience relative to African-America's and implicitly accepting any black historical narrative even though it is clearly false on occasion. It is clearly false that chattel slavery of Africans was a significant phenomenon in East or SouthEast Asia, yet our panellists could not challenge the untrue claims of the black panellist without abandoning their primary principle - centering anti-blackness.

The Asian racial experience has to be examined relative not only to our position to whites but also to other ethnic groups, and the simplistic - to the point of being dumb - premise that our past can only be understood through the filter of the relationship between blacks and whites is merely a way of giving up our identity and avoiding the heavy lifting of establishing Asians as a concept within our nation's cultural, social, and political milieu.

To emphasize just how out of touch with reality the panel was, at around the twenty-eight minute mark Wong describes Gurley's killing as a murder - a charge that not even prosecutors tried to make. Either through dishonesty or self-delusion, the panel could not even get the basic facts of the case right, choosing, instead, to increase potential tension between Asians and African-Americans by "re-framing" the facts of the case. If we do find ourselves in a situation where Asian immigrants come under increased violent attacks from African-Americans, then we can thank our progressive friends for contributing to this state of affairs.

The most telling part of the podcast came at around the forty-seven minute mark, again from Doc Poon. Describing her response to e-mails from those who disagree with her worldview, she proudly admits that she simply dismisses and deletes their e-mails. It takes a huge amount of self-involvement to openly admit to dismissing other people's points of view in the midst a podcast in which she asserts with certainty that she knows what is motivating Liang's supporters.

Poon's sentiment was repeated in a blog post she wrote, titled "What are we fighting for?" published on the AngryAsianMan website in which she - with a kind of hysterical melodrama - ponders the apparently difficult question of why these Chinese FOBs have risen up in support of Liang. These happen to be stupid questions since in order to find out why Liang has so much support, all she would have to do is ask his supporters why they support him. Yet, she dismisses and deletes any communication from his supporters and wonders why she cannot understand their point of view. Go figure!

Thus, Poon should understand that there is no "we" per se, because creating a "we" would entail not dismissing people who have a different way of approaching issues. There is no "we" because Asian progressives have chosen to dehumanize Asian-America with blanket accusations of rabid anti-black racism, and reinforce inflammatory stereotypes that can only lead to more black/Asian tensions and anti-Asian violence. 

Sadly, many Asian-Americans will be swayed and impressed by the self-righteous moral grandstanding exhibited by the panel on this podcast, which only means that we can expect a steady increase in anti-Asian attitudes from our fellow Americans who might cite the "proof" of Asian progressive rantings to justify their prejudices.

On the bright side, the prosecutor in the Liang case recently revealed that he will be recommending leniency in Liang's sentencing - a smidgen of sanity amidst the frenzy to scapegoat someone who killed a man accidentally due to poor training and not hatred for black people as our progressive friends have deluded themselves into believing. Liang's training was so poor and shoddy that he barely received any practical training with handling his weapon

None of these significant facts resonate with our progressive panel - they choose, instead, to simply makes things up, ignore facts, and elevate their uninformed opinions to the status of objective truth. Oblivious to their own failures to utilize reasonable epistemological inquiry, the Asian panel is simply incapable of understanding why the FOBs aren't doing what they want them to do. Laughably, they draw the conclusion that the language barrier is the significant problem and that there needs to be more proselytizing via language-appropriate technology.

Not once do these guys consider that dialogue is a two-way street, a give and take of opinions, ideas, and attitudes. That means not just inundating people with your unsubstantiated opinions that you "re-frame" as truth, nor does it mean sitting around in a podcast, boring everybody with your racist diatribes against people you are almost certainly ignorant of.

There are two main prerequisites to changing other people's point of view: firstly, you have to stop talking and trying to brainwash people with mindless repetition of the tenets of your faith and instead, listen to what they have to say and what concerns them. The arrogance of early 21st-century Asian progressives is matched only by their ignorance - according to them, FOBs are mindless automatons (just like the white racists say they are) who need to be brow-beaten into doing what our authoritarian progressive friends want them to do. I disagree with this attitude - I think FOBs are free of the racial experiences that have scarred many American-born Asians and thus, have none of the conditioning that might influence the behaviour and attitudes of the American born. Perhaps they see things with far more clarity than we do.

Secondly, you need something compelling to say and a compelling way to say it. So far, all I've seen Asian progressives do is deflect attention away from pervasive white racial habits and proclaim Asian racism to be its equal. Not only is this silly, it is not particularly inspiring. Lying to and about people and their beliefs that Asian progressives haven't even bothered to study only helps white racism by changing the subject. This means that not only are Asian progressives contributing to anti-Asian racism, their absurd rantings serve as an obstacle to addressing the very real needs of black America.

In short, if you want to convince people of your ideas, then come up with good, realistic ideas that are based on reasonable inquiry and not on subjective opinions and feelings which you frame as truth. So far, Asian progressivism has failed to either formulate an inspiring philosophy or even properly identify the attitudes of the majority of their own community - but other people are at fault for "not getting" the progressive agenda.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Narrow Escape

I just wanted to update readers on why my blog has been dormant for a few weeks this month. For the most part, I have been busy putting the finishing touches to my novel and dealing with final edits, manuscript formatting, cover design work and so on. These are time consuming things that go hand in hand with self-publishing that I don't think are issues for writers who publish through publishing houses.

The good news is that the work is almost done - it has taken around three years to reach this point, when I had originally estimated that I could have the work completed and published within a year of starting! If all goes to plan, I hope to have the novel available before the beginning of summer. Fingers crossed.

Work on my novel was interrupted, however, when a couple of Saturdays ago, this happened. You can get a visual here. I happened to be around fifty meters away from where the bomber is believed to have accidentally detonated, in a shopping center where it is thought the bomber intended to strike. Lucky me.

So people are on edge around here, and the streets were almost empty for a couple of days afterwards. No one I know was hurt, but is it sobering to be reminded that you can be scrubbed out of existence in a split second on any given day. In short, I haven't been in the right frame of mind for a couple of weeks to do the necessary research and reading to post on the blog, even though I have several drafts awaiting their finishing touches.

This week, spring seemed to have sprung and we have had a couple of glorious sunny days with clear blue skies and cool breezes coming in off the water. This I think has lifted, somewhat, the city's mood - or at least, it has lifted mine - and I sense that life is slowly returning to normal. 

I hope to return to normal programming by the weekend. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Is Donald Trump An Asian-American Progressive?

Asian Progressive Complicity With White Racism.

As the Republican presidential candidate race heated up, Donald Trump's electioneering veered ever nearer to the kind of populist illiberal democratic politicians that have begun cropping up all over Eastern Europe. His most recent affront was to Muslims, but because his rhetoric has become so polarizing and inflammatory, it seems to have been forgotten that Trump started on this path with hostility to China even going so far as to use a mocking Asian accent at one of his rallies. Not wanting to be outdone, Jeb Bush jumped onto the bandwagon by clarifying that Asian anchor babies are less desirable than Hispanic ones - a sentiment which I took as a major disavowal (a.k.a "go fuck yourself") of the legitimacy and sensibilities of the Asian vote.

Of course, Trump and Bush received the most attention for their comments, but other candidates have also veered into xenophobia-tinged campaigning. Starting with democratic presidential hopeful, Hilary Clinton - who initiated this election season's sinophobic rhetoric with her outburst about Chinese hackers, and Carly Fiorina who seems to just dislike Asians and views them as cognitively deficient. All of this is unsurprising to me since I have come to expect a rise in anti-Asian rhetoric at election time, and was not surprised by the cynical and unapologetic use of it by presidential hopefuls on all sides of the political spectrum.

From the perspective of Asian-American progressivism, Trump's words especially are of particular interest. Criticizing companies that hire through H-1B visas, he argues that wages should be raised for those employed in these jobs so as to discourage companies from hiring from overseas and, in so doing, boost opportunities for American workers in the field - particularly blacks and Hispanics. The key point here is that the H-1B visa program has opened the door for many Asian immigrants to gain a foothold in America and go on to apply for residency and ultimately citizenship. Thus, encouraging companies to hire Americans implicitly closes a key avenue of immigration for Asians. To me, this is obviously an attempt to pit minorities against one another.

As I have pointed out in a couple of previous posts - here and here - there seems to be a correlat─░on between Asian-American progressive discourse and conservative racist posturing, in which conservatives, coincidentally, come up with ideas about Asians that are remarkably similar to those invented and propagated by Asian progressives. In a too-good-to-be-true series of coincidences, white conservative commentators have taken to adopting language remarkably similar to that used by grandstanding Asian progressives who decry "Asian privilege" and make wild, unsubstantiated accusations of racism committed by their own community.

White conservatives have borrowed the claims of grandstanding Asian progressives as a means to defend against charges of white racism - reasoning that, surely, if Asians have privilege then white racism is exaggerated! Even more troubling is that liberals are beginning to adopt a similar practice as evidenced by Bill Maher's recent claim that Hollywood racism can be explained by Asian racism - a claim echoing by the Asian progressive accusations via the liberal media of rampant "anti-blackness" in Asian communities.

Trump's racially polemic scheming on the H-1B visa program voices similar sentiments to those voiced by Asian progressives who view Asian success in education and the tech industry as an act of complicity in anti-black racism. According to these commentators, it is out of unadulterated anti-black racist spite that Asian-Americans pursue higher education and careers in tech. By merely participating in things like the pursuit of a degree, or a job in a field that interests you - like in the tech industry - Asians are upholding white supremacy, and are, thus, complicit in it. Likewise, Trump is also implying that Asian immigration disadvantages blacks and Hispanics.

It follows as a matter of common sense that if - as Asian progressives insist - Asian success in tech is implicitly disadvantageous to blacks, and that Asians are consciously colluding in a process of racial discrimination against blacks, then barriers should be put up that discourage Asian participation in tech and stop the H-1B visa avenue of Asian immigration. After all, who wants to let a bunch of rampant Asian racists into the country whose career choices are implicitly racist?

It could be a mere coincidence that Trump's bizarre and specific focus on the tech industry coincides with Asian progressive condemnations of the Asian presence in the field - yet the very fact that Trump was so specific about the tech industry gives me reason for pause. It strikes me as extremely unreasonably fortuitous that a presidential candidate would draw attention to the hiring practices of the tech industry - it is so out of left field (no pun) that I am left asking why the specific focus on tech? The only other people making any political issue about Asians in tech are Asian progressives. Trump is expressing pretty much the exact sentiments of "unfairness" that Asian progressives claim, but he is taking it to its logical conclusion - exclude immigrants (many of whom are Asian) from the industry.

But that is the natural consequence of pushing the idea that high Asian participation in higher education and the tech industry are acts of flagrant anti-black racism - following this flawed reasoning to its logical conclusion, any achievements made by Asian-Americans, by definition, disadvantage blacks. That is as clear of an anti-immigrant sentiment as it can get - and it is Asian progressives who are pushing the idea on American society.

That is not only dangerous it actually echoes the anti-Asian rhetoric of eras past, that brought about a decades-long campaign of anti-Asian pogroms and attempts to expel Asian communities from America both through legal or violent means. Our progressive friends have seemingly laid the foundation for a new era of Asian exclusion and even - if Trump has his way - expulsion of some immigrants amidst the closing down of a major avenue of Asian immigration.

The question is though, is it reasonable to wonder whether self-righteous Asian progressive rhetoric is informing white America's defence of its own racist attitudes? I think that the evidence is compelling that white America - particularly conservatives are appropriating Asian progressive rhetoric to stigmatize the Asian community, stereotype their attitudes, and use progressives' claims about Asians to defend their own racist attitudes and deflect attention away from it.

For instance, the term "Asian privilege" seems to have been coined by Asian progressives over the past few years and was never - as far as I know - part of conservative America's lexicon. Yet, such luminaries as Gavin McInnes, Bill O'Reilly, and Adam Corrolla have all borrowed the term and concept to defend against charges of white racism. The idea of a culture of rampant Asian racism is another (unsubstantiated) claim made by Asian progressives and recently we have seen Dylan Roof adopting this concept, and Bill Maher using the idea to defend Hollywood against the charge of racism.

Where on earth could these guys be getting the idea of Asian privilege and the notion of an attitude of rampant, identity-defining anti-black racism? As far as I know, there are no reasons to view Asians - particularly Asian-Americans - as especially racist such that their characters and cultures can be defined by it, and the notion of Asian privilege is merely a philosophical generalization. That leaves the anti-Asian rhetoric spewed out by Asian progressives as the likely source of these white attitudes, that enables defenders of the racial status quo to make reasonable arguments to support their claims.

These ideas were never part of America's political dialogue, yet suddenly, after five or so years of Asian progressives making repeated assertions about Asian privilege, and Asian anti-blackness we now see a commonplace adoption of this rhetoric by white commentators to defend white racism. Most importantly, the specific notion that Asian success carries with it an implicit disadvantage to blacks - and that Asians enter the tech industry or seek higher education out of racist spite - is an invention of Asian progressives.

Anil Dash writing on the "Medium" platform has this to say...
...one conclusion that is inescapable: Asian American men who work in tech are benefitting from tech’s systematic exclusion of women and non-Asian minorities.
He continues....
One of the most destructive tropes about Asian Americans is the pervasive myth of the “model minority”.......And this myth is all too often embraced within Asian American communities, making us complicit in systems of exclusion, even though we know what it’s like to be on the wrong side of those same systems.
The problems in these two snippets are manifold. Dash provides no evidence that this "exclusion" is "systematic" nor that it is even real - the statistics that he cites could reflect the availability of potential recruits, meaning that hiring could be a reflection of the make-up of those who actually apply as opposed to any deliberate policy of exclusion. Given the lack of meaningful evidence for any kind of conspiracy that excludes non-Asians and women, and the lack of evidence for the existence of a policy of discrimination against these groups, Dash's accusation that Asian men "benefit" from this unsubstantiated inequality has no merit. Furthermore, one would have to also answer the question of why Asian men are so privileged that these white racists tech companies would prefer them over other white men. It just makes no sense.

Sadly, Dash falls back on the blandly overused, but under substantiated assertion that Asian-Americans embrace the idea of the model minority and that this shows their complicity in anti-blackness. A previous post shows that this is not necessarily the case. As I wrote here, there is good evidence that shows that white people who believe the model minority stereotype also hold corresponding positive attitudes towards other minorities. Why, then, should I believe that Asians would adopt (or implicitly adopt) negative attitudes towards other minorities if they embrace the model minority stereotype?

The problem here is that Dash presumes that all Asians are familiar with the one or two articles that were published in the 1960's that made comparisons between Asians and black minorities and he also presumes that in the present when white people refer to Asians as a model minority, that they are by definition being anti-black. To most Asians the model minority myth may well mean only that Asians are a hard-working community and not necessarily that this implicitly denigrates blacks. That is merely an inflammatory progressive invention. Unfortunately, Dash is not the only one casting aspersions on Asian-Americans.

Writing on the African-American blog "BlackGirlDangerous", another Asian anti-anti-blackness-Messiah-hopeful (Ally Ang) adds fuel to the anti-Asian-sentiment-fire with this unsubstantiated gem....
The harsh truth is that even though we experience racism in deeply painful and traumatic ways, we are settlers on stolen land just like white people. This nation would not exist without the enslavement and subjugation of black people, and we as Asian Americans have often been complicit in the continuation of their oppression..............In two of the earliest Supreme Court cases regarding the citizenship of people of color, the plaintiffs argued that as Japanese and Indian Americans respectively, they were both closer to whiteness than Black or Indigenous people, and they were therefore more suited to be American citizens than other racial minorities. For many years, Asian Americans have attempted to claim whiteness and “model minority” status, often throwing black people under the bus along the way.
Ang's self-righteous indignation and moral grandstanding is cloying, not to mention morally suspect. The first issue is that Ang suggests that the very presence of Asians in the US is an implicit reinforcement of white racism -  which is silly. I could argue the point, but since Ang does not bother making a meaningful argument and merely asserts her claims, that would give her charges more credence than they deserve. It is the sentiment that is important here - Asians are complicit merely because of the fact of their presence.

The second issue - and this is slightly off topic - is that she looks down her self-righteous nose at the actions of people who lived at a time when everyone (even those with black heritage) was trying to pass for white. Her moral condemnation of people who lived under circumstances that we cannot even come close to imagining is simply sickening because it is so obviously a self-serving attempt to elevate her own delusion of moral superiority.

Another piece written by jazz musician Vijay Iyer, implies a similar embrace of white supremacy by Asians merely via the act of succeeding...
Whether you attribute it to some mysterious triple package or to your own Horatio Alger story, to succeed in America is, somehow, to be complicit with the idea of America—which means that at some level you’ve made peace with its rather ugly past.
I grant that Iyer's piece is more sophisticated and nuanced than some others that I have read, but even in this case, the theme of an implicit disadvantage for blacks when Asians succeed creeps in. It should be mentioned that everyone has to make peace with America's ugly past - if they did not, they would leave or withdraw from the game - the problem with Iyer's claim is that he conflates America's past with the "idea of America", and concludes, nonsensically, that to embrace one is to accept the other.

Over and over again, we see Asian progressives asserting or implying that Asians succeed at the expense of blacks and, worse, that this success is achieved with sneaky complicity and collusion with white racism. Of course, none of these assertions are ever supported by evidence of any kind, and at best, Asian progressives will gift us with a personal anecdote to buttress their claims.

Given the ubiquity of these kinds of articles, it is far from unreasonable to consider the adoption of similar rhetoric by white conservatives and right-wingers as connected in some way, after all, they didn't start bringing all of these ideas into their dialogue until Asian progressives started spewing it first. The problem is that if our Asian advocates are correct in their claims, then Donald Trump is justified in seeking to limit Asians in tech by abolishing the H-1B visa program and Jeb Bush is correct to question things like Asian anchor babies as being specifically detrimental to America - after all, even though Hispanic anchor babies are more numerous, no one is claiming that the mere presence of Hispanics in this country is implicitly disadvantageous to blacks.

Friday, February 5, 2016

When White Racism Turns Fatal....

...Asian-Americans Change The Subject.

A reader sent me an e-mail drawing my attention to yet another Asian-American article on the apparently rampant anti-blackness within Asian-America. It was nice to hear that there are others out there who agree that Asian-American progressive thought has become complicit in white supremacy and largely irrelevant as an advocating force for their community.

The piece, written by Kim Tran at the "Everyday Feminism" (also on Hyphen's Facebook) website is titled "6 Ways Asian Americans Can Tackle Anti-Black Racism in Their Families", and illustrates what is so wrong about Asian progressive thought.

She begins thusly.....
The deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Ty Underwood, Mya Hall, and so many others have brought waves of protesters to the streets................Yet many of us who have our boots on the ground in solidarity with Black community dread the prospect of bringing our anti-racist work home to our parents, siblings, and friends......... 
What a strange juxtaposition of ideas; police killings of unarmed African-Americans, and alleged anti-black racism amongst Asian-Americans. It's almost as though Tran is presenting her case in a way that seems to elevate this unsubstantiated Asian anti-blackness to the same level as extrajudicial police killings. She goes on.....
Asian Americans have a different challenge than other non-Black people of color when it comes to uprooting anti-black racism. The model minority myth and the criminalization of Black and brown folks in our communities have given many Asian Americans a false sense of honorary whiteness and severed us from building coalition with other communities of color.
Of course, it is never a good idea to make assertions about people's motives unless you have solid evidence to prove it. Sadly, Tran fails to present any actual evidence to show that Asians have adopted this sense of "honorary whiteness", or even that this is the reason for this apparent barrier that prevents Asians from towing the progressive line. Whilst it would be silly to deny that there exists a fair degree of separation between Asians and blacks, Tran offers little evidence for the implication that Asian attitudes are largely responsible for it. Assertions don't count as evidence. As one might expect, Tran fails to mention the "other", perhaps, more significant, factor that leads some Asian-Americans to, apparently, assume honorary whiteness.

Does it really require explaining why this is such a poor start? Tran has diverted the conversation away from an extremely serious issue (police killings of unarmed African-Americans) and implicitly elevated this supposed Asian anti-black racism to an equal parity with what some are calling extra-judicial murders. Even worse, perhaps, Tran makes sweeping, but unsupported, assertions about the motivations and attitudes of Asian-Americans in a process otherwise known as racial stereotyping. How any of this helps to address the far more serious issue of murder is never specified by Tran.
Almost impossibly it gets worse......
A surprising aspect of the class was troubleshooting about how to bring anti-racist work home. Within the specific context of Ferguson, we wondered how we could shift the “vandalism” or“looting” narratives popular in news coverage........Finally they were frustrated enough to ask, “What would make you angry enough to break a window?”
I don't agree that news "narratives" about "looting" were actually mere "narratives", but the problem here is that several local business were looted  and destroyed and there is some suggestion that Asian stores were specifically targeted whilst black-owned stores were spared. Tran seems to suggest that those Asian business owners who lost their livelihoods over incidents that they had no part in should merely be thought of as necessary collateral damage. We should avoid all of the clues that at least in some cases, there may have been racial motives in targeting Asian stores.

Thankfully, Tran is willing to ignore it all on behalf of the looting victims although I doubt that she ever bothered to actually go down to these neighbourhoods to investigate these "looting narratives" or even to speak to any of the Asian business owners whose ruined livelihoods she seems so willing to gloss over. In short, I suspect that Tran has absolutely no idea what actually happened in any of these neighbourhoods - nor what the day to day experience of these Asians who live there might be - but while she decries "narratives" as mere "narratives", she seems to create one of her own off the top of her head that dismisses both the experiences of Asian victims of looting and denies them a voice in their own story. Asian business owners be damned - sad, but too bad.

Tran goes on to suggest that Asian progressives bombard their racist families with stats and history lessons, tailor their assaults to each family member, and to be persistent! Being around Tran sounds a lot like being around an uncharismatic, pushy, Evangelical Christian Amway rep who tricked their way into your house with the promise of salvation but then assails you with a sign up spiel that suggests that multi-level marketing is closer to Godliness. I would not be surprised if family gatherings at the Trans' are becoming few and far between as family members politely decline the invitations to be around such charming company.

One point in particular stands out for me. Number five reveals, perhaps, more than Tran expected. Under the title "Tailor that shit!", she says.....
Who is your mom, aunt, uncle, parent? If the fancy numbers, data, or plain ol’ anger don’t work, consider what makes sense with this specific person? What resonates with their story?
Here’s my all-time favorite personal example. Once I was talking to my mom about welfare when she went on a super anti-black racist rant about a time she was in line at the social services office. There was a Black woman in line behind her who she said was “lazy.” Swerve.
The thing is, the only reason my mom even had this story was because she was in the welfare office herself! Collecting a welfare check!
The mental gymnastics required in that moment for my mom to stigmatize someone in the exact same situation as her took her a minute to realize, but when she finally came around to seeing the personal similarities, the tide of the conversation began to shift.
Finally! Tran tells us the nature of this insidious anti-black racism that runs rampant through Asian veins - and to be quite honest, it's extremely difficult to muster too much worry for such a trite example. Yes, Tran's mother goes on a rant about a black woman being lazy so let's shift focus away from police killings of unarmed people and talk about this serious problem!

Another problem here, though - and perhaps more significant - is the swift over-simplification of the motives and drives of Tran's poor mother. Based on Tran's tale, I can see several different interpretations of this event - perhaps her mother feels embarrassed and ashamed to be drawing welfare, or views it as some kind of personal failure, or maybe she simply feels some sense of injustice at being in a circumstance that she feels is undeserved. Perhaps Tran's mother's words reflect a need to separate herself emotionally from such a humiliating situation, perhaps she was merely projecting onto others what she thinks people might be saying about her.

Of course, I cannot possibly know what prompted Tran's mother's words, but I do know that it seems as though Tran has ignored these possibilities and ridden rough-shod over the nuances of human drives and motivations in her efforts to label her mother (her poor, poor mother!) as an anti-black racist whose actions (like ranting about someone at the welfare office) warrant shifting the focus of our attention away from extrajudicial police killings and charging entire swathes of our community as racists - all without a shred of evidence to support her claims. This is known as dehumanization.

That, ultimately, is the issue that Tran seems to not even bother trying to overcome - she never once makes a successful case that Asian-American attitudes towards race (particularly towards African-Americans) are driven by any internalization of white racism, any appropriation of the model minority stereotype or whiteness, and she certainly provides absolutely no evidence that there is a problem of rampant anti-black racism amongst Asian-Americans that comes anywhere near the kind of racism that prompted the formation of the BlackLivesMatter movement.

Despite Tran's grandiose, quasi-messianic claims to possessing special knowledge on how to bring Asians to atonement for their supposed anti-blackness, she founders on this foundational concept in her failure to provide any support for the claims she makes about the inner workings and psychological framework through which Asians form their attitudes towards blacks. She simply cries racism and makes up a causal relationship between various aspects of the Asian experience and anti-black racism and asserts that this is the truth.

The relationship between blacks and Asians and any tensions arising from it are far more complex than Tran and other Asian progressives would like us to believe. It is not only dishonest, but it is morally questionable to address any black/Asian subject matter by hand-waving away the Asian experience and hence the Asian voice. Even worse, is the absurd brow-beating of Asian immigrants with a progressive ideology that itself marginalizes and, often excludes, Asians.

Just like all the other Asian progressives I have written about, it seems as though Tran cannot be bothered to actually do the work necessary to understand the Asian community. Instead, such progressives merely rely on stereotyping of a community that has very little media opportunities to answer the charges being made against them. In that regard, Asian progressives are becoming the main source of negative stereotyping of Asian-Americans such that both conservatives and liberals draw on this myth of rampant Asian racism to push their agenda, allowing white America to shift attention away from its own deeply rooted racism.

It is no wonder that, thanks to our friends in the progressive movement, white supremacists - and Bill Maher - love Asians. The shrill manner of Asian progressive unsubstantiated assertions of anti-blackness within our community provide a superb excuse for white America to deflect attention away from their own racism. If I wasn't a rational person, I could almost ponder the possibility that Asian progressivism might actually be a Ku Klux Klan funded infiltration movement charged with the purpose of changing the focus of the race dialogue by accusing Asians and providing an excuse for white racism to rationalize its existence.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Emma Stone Whitewashing Saga.

Asian-American Cognitive Dissonance.

I had to stifle a mirthful laugh last year when the movie "Aloha" was released amidst outraged criticisms of its casting. Critics griped at the lack of Asian main characters in the film despite the fact that it was set in Hawaii (a place swarming with East and South East Asians), but the main issue concerned the casting of Emma Stone - a blue-eyed and occasionally, blonde red-headed Caucasian woman - in the role of a mixed-race Asian woman.

Naturally, I understand the sentiments - Asian-American actors are discriminated against in film and television (although this past year has seen a significant improvement) in that so many Asian roles are implicitly racially demeaning, Asians have been largely absent from lead roles, and, of course, some roles are whitewashed. The favourite argument given for this state of affairs is that Asians actors (particularly men) cannot carry a lead role and bring in major returns, or that there simply are no well-known Asian-american actors who can carry these roles - of course, not being given opportunities may contribute to the fact that there so few well-known and bankable Asian actors.

Yet, I could not help but wonder if the actions of some Asian-Americans in the industry might be damaging the credibility of these complaints aimed at white film makers. The reason I say this is that some Asian-American film-makers are doing a piss-poor job of doing the very thing that they demand of white film-makers. Of course, I am speaking specifically about Asian-American female film-makers whose record when it comes to diversity considerations may actually be far, far, far worse than that of white film-makers.

As I wrote in a previous post - here - a study of largely independent films made by Asian-Americans (both male and female) reveals that whilst Asian male film-makers create content that provides significant opportunities for Asian female actors to gain experience and showcase their talents in lead roles, Asian female film-makers do the exact opposite. I found in my study that Asian female film-makers follow the same standards of discrimination of white film-makers - Asian men are largely non-existent in lead or romantic roles (an important point since many of themes of their movies are of a romantic nature), and are thus not afforded opportunities even by their own community to showcase their acting abilities and hone their acting skills.

Even worse, although white film-makers have a poor track-record when it comes to providing non-demeaning roles to Asian men, I found that in cases where white film-makers created serious content about Asians, they provided more opportunities for Asian male actors than Asian female film-makers. Hence, my laughter about the "outrageous" crime of Cameron Crowe in giving the role to Stone instead of an Asian woman.

In short, it is hard to take such complaints seriously when Asian female film-makers adopt the same approach to their craft as the racist white male dominated mainstream in which white men are afforded starring roles whilst minorities are somewhat relegated to the periphery. Furthermore, there seems to be little meaningful pressure within the Asian-American community to change this proclivity to uphold white racist practices in the film industry amongst Asian female film-makers.

I don't see it as unreasonable to expect Asian-American film-makers - many of whom seem aware of the discrimination faced by Asians performers - to do their utmost to provide the platform that would give Asian actors (of both sexes) the opportunity to showcase their talents. If we don't offer that to our community, then who will? Most importantly, if Asian female film-makers have no problem with maintaining the racist status quo, then how can we demand that white film-makers use more diverse casting? Why are they obliged to cast Asian leads when Asian female film-makers feel perfectly justified in imitating this discrimination in their own projects? It naturally follows that white film-makers have no obligation to make their casting practices more diverse - particularly when it comes to casting Asian-Americans.

What has become apparent to me is that there may be a fundamental difference between the genders in Asian-America on what they want from the film industry - Asian men seem to want to see an improvement in representation for both Asian men and women so that neither are demeaned or discriminated against. Asian women in the industry seem more interested in maintaining the status quo.

Equally problematic is the silence of Asian-American actors and others in the industry who participate in projects - both in front and behind the camera - that contain racially dehumanizing content. Two recent shows come to mind here; Make It Pop, and Dads.

Make It Pop garnered considerable controversy when its producer apparently exclaimed during a boardroom meeting that having Asian guys on his show was "not gonna happen" even though the show is inspired by K-Pop, and half of K-Pop artists are Korean men whose predominantly non-Asian female fans drive the industry's success. The show has three Asian-American female leads, and Asian males in supporting roles, but no leads as such. The show "Dads" was met even more hostility as it seemed to set out to racially provoke minority audiences. Although it was criticized for its general insensitivity to race, Asian-Americans objected to the show for its racialized sexism and its demeaning jokes on Asian men's penis sizes.

I have come to expect the white media to propagate demeaning and dehumanizing stereotypes and depictions of Asians, but it is the reaction of the Asians involved in these shows that disappointed. As far as I know, not a single one of the actors involved in these two projects opted to make a stand against the racism in their productions. Worse still, they ignored or defended their shows and their participation in them.

Speaking about the criticisms of her show, Make It Pop lead Megan Lee had this to say....
As for the Asian male lead, I heard some things about that and some people kind of misunderstood and got slightly offended. We do have Asian male characters in the show, I want to make that clear, we might not have an Asian male lead, but that was not specifically cleared out that way. We're not trying to exclude Asian males in any way. The casting kind of went that way. It was an open-ethnicity casting call. It was not even meant to be three Asian female leads either. It was all open ethnicities and, from what I've heard, whoever portrayed the role right got the part. It's not specifically "This is a Caucasian role, this is an Asian role, this is a whatever role."
To paraphrase, Lee pleads ignorance - she only "heard" some things about the producer refusing to entertain the idea of an Asian male lead - and then outright contradicts the straightforward statement of the show's producer when he said he would never have an Asian male in the show. That's quite a remarkable set of comments considering that on the one hand Lee claims to have only "heard some things about that", yet she is able to make specific claims about about the casting process. In short, Lee's defence/explanation of the producer's racist comments seemed like mere dismissive excuse-making.

Seth Macfarlane's "Dads" presents those Asians involved in the project with a far more significant problem. The show was overtly and unapologetically racially provocative - not provocative in any positive sense, but only in an ignorant, childish way. Two issues in particular raised concerns amongst Asian-Americans: firstly, an Asian-female lead, Brenda Song, was deemed to have been racially stereotyped and hypersexualized by being made to wear a "Japanese school-girl" outfit; secondly, Song's race became a running joke throughout the series, and, of course, the infamous gratuitous scene in which Asian men were sexually denigrated

It is worth noting at this point, that this kind of sexual denigration is not only racially dehumanizing, it is actually sexist. This is a remarkable phenomenon that rarely gets noticed; Asian men are regularly the object of sexist denigration in American culture and are subject to a sexual mockery that would not be accepted if it was applied to women of any race. This fact alone should warrant some serious discussion, but the fact that none of the Asian actors (not just the two Asian female leads - Song and Vanessa Lachey - but also the Asian men who had bit parts in the series) spoke up about either the racial jokes about Song, nor the racialized sexism directed at Asian men.

I've said it before, but it apparently needs to be said again - Asian-American efforts to end discrimination against Asian actors and racially demeaning stereotypes are pointless unless Asian-Americans in the industry draw a line in the sand and refuse to participate in these kinds of projects. It's not an unreasonable suggestion - Native-American actors walked off the set of an Adam Sandler movie recently complaining of racially denigrating depictions of their characters.

So why do Asian-American actors continue to legitimize these racist projects not only with their continued participation but also with their lack of condemnation? Doesn't it make sense that if Asians consistently refuse demeaning roles that the industry would stop creating them? Wouldn't it have sent the strongest message to the industry if Song, Lachey, and the other Asian bit part actors had simply refused to be racially demeaned and had chosen instead to simply walk off set? If they don't advocate for better depictions for themselves and others, then why should the industry bother changing?

Sadly, Lachey seemed to make no comment on the issue at all, whilst Song actually defended the show's casual racism. Talking to Audrey magazine, she had this to say....
“With the controversy, I found it interesting,” says Song. “People took a 30-second bit and, in my eyes, blew it out of proportion. Our show isn’t for everyone; that’s why I was so attracted to the character of Veronica. On a show like that, we’re able to poke fun at stereotypes. It’s empowering to get ahead of the joke......Something I might find funny, my dad may not find funny,” she adds. “But we’re not out to please everyone.” 
The problem here is that Song has actually defended every racially demeaning stereotype ever produced by the white racist media as though somehow, it is the duration of the racism that gives it its dehumanizing power. In fact, it is certainly not one single brief racist scene that is the problem, it is the fact that there exist a multitude of such brief media moments that together amount to a cultural norm. Stereotypes and demeaning slurs are designed to be a kind of shorthand dehumanization, a condensation of profound philosophical racism into a single word or idea that expresses the most fundamental idea of racist thinking; that non-whites are lesser beings and not worthy of consideration as individuals.

It is the brevity of such stereotypical depictions that prove the pervasiveness of the racist thinking they have distilled. The ideas expressed are common and widespread - they wouldn't have meant anything to anyone if the ideas being expressed were vague and not widely known and it only takes a brief moment of airtime to remind audiences of a wealth of racist ideas and beliefs.

Yet, Asian actors - as Song does later in the same interview - continue to wonder why they cannot get better roles. I would say that if they continue to help create the demand for demeaning roles by participating and then defending them, then producers will be unlikely to be motivated to change their attitudes.

If Asian-Americans want to overcome media racism (both in its portrayal of Asians and its discriminatory casting habits), we have to hope that those Asians already in the industry stop defending demeaning depictions. Most importantly, we have to hope that female Asian-American film makers stop adopting white racist practices when it comes to casting otherwise they continue to undermine the demand for diversity and equality in film and television.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Wanted To Be White.....

LOL!!! Psyche - No I Didn't!

An article in the Guardian this past week caught my attention and I thought it would provide a good excuse to start the blogging year on a lighter note!

A Filipino priest has been suspended by his Diocese for giving the welcoming blessings for Christmas Eve Mass while singing a hymn - all while gliding up and down the aisles on a hoverboard. The Diocese was not amused and accused the priest of "capriciously" trying to get the attention of the people. Although I don't know for sure if the priest is Pinoy, to me his actions are Filipino-esque and are certainly culturally appropriate - which should be taken into account when judging him.

I say culturally appropriate because Filipino culture - and hence Filipino people - tends to look favourably on extroversion. Of course, this stands in stark contrast to the solemnity expected for Catholic worship practices, but it also contrasts with the traditional racist view of Asian cultures being introspective and reserved. In fact, not only do Filipinos have an extroverted streak, we are, sometimes, the biggest cheerleaders for any Filipinos who exhibit this trait.

It so happened that my family was the cheerleading-for-Filipinos type. Of particular interest for this blog was that I grew up hearing extremely positive things about Filipino men, both those in my immediate family, but also positive things about the character and masculine qualities of Filipino men in general.

In short, I developed a general sense that being Filipino was just awesome and being a Filipino man came with a proud and powerful history to both live up to and strive for. Whether the stories were true, partially true, or embellished I cannot know, but that is not really all that important - it's the possibilities for aspiration that these kinds of stories present that gave them significance. For someone like myself growing up in a society that demeaned Asians - particularly being the only Asian around - this positive image of Filipino men was hugely instrumental in creating a foundation to mentally resist racial denigration that most of us are exposed to.

Thus, when this article came out last year - and has just been republished as one of 2015's Best Personal Essays by Salon - I found the piece to be strangely familiar, but also at odds with my own experience. Describing his racialized childhood experience, author Tom Phan recounts how his identity as an Asian made him stand out from the white people he lived amongst and how much angst this caused for him. His obvious racial characteristics, various microaggression-type incidences, and even his own Asian name, all served as obstacles to his desire and drive to fit in with his white peers.

The result was that Phan distanced himself from his Asian-ness and from other Asian people, rebelling against the stereotypes placed upon him by consciously trying to embrace behaviours and activities that he felt could set him apart from other Asians. Phan describes this as internalizing his racism and bias so that he could look down on other Asians and be more like the white people he lived amongst.

I am always saddened when I see Asians expressing these kinds of sentiments, and I think that if some of these guys had only taken a solitary first step toward looking at their white peers more critically they might have saved themselves from years of identity issues. Don't get me wrong, I understand and have experienced what it is like to grow up in a culture that dehumanizes Asians but I still wonder why it seems so hard for Asian-Americans to take that leap from wide-eyed adoration to disillusionment about the object of their aspiration.

It's a natural personal process and a common cultural narrative to yearn for something or someone for so long, only to find that once you attain it it was merely an illusion. Asians who have described the process of wanting to be white and who reject their Asian-ness usually get to a point where they choose to embrace their race, but never do they describe the process of being disillusioned with the whiteness they craved. Never do they seem to reach point where look at whiteness with an edge of cynicism about the presumptions it makes about itself.

Cynicism has a bad reputation, but I think that for ethnic minorities, it can be a rational stance to adopt. Even when Phan realizes that he has internalized his experience of racism, I am left wondering if he has made that leap into disillusionment that might finally rid him of the drive to venerate whiteness. Has Phan - or any other Asians with similar experiences to him - started to look at whiteness and the white identity and wonder what the fuss was all about? Is there any inkling of disappointment at having striven so hard to fit in only to find that the fitting in might not have been all it was cracked up to be? That seems to be the part of the journey that we never seem to arrive at.

It is almost a classic journey of self-discovery in which the protagonist yearns for something he perceives some other group possesses, only to achieve his goal and discover that the people he looked up to are a disappointment. That element almost seems to not exist in the Asian-American narrative - or perhaps it does and we are just too polite to mention it. But, it is not just individuals that seem to never reach the point of disillusionment.

I find myself looking at Asian-American culture and I wonder if we are ever sufficiently cynical of the mainstream that we are marginalized from. Are Asian-Americans ever cynical about their conceptions of mainstream sensibilities in their own creative output? It might be hard to find such a theme of disillusionment in Asian-American culture, which is sad because that seems to be the very thing that young Asian-Americans who are struggling to find themselves need. We need the disappointment of seeing the warts in whiteness so that we can distance ourselves from its overbearing and intrusive monopoly on defining the Asian identity.

It is worth mentioning on this point, that Fresh Off The Boat may become the most successful Asian-American centered show to date and its premise seems to be fundamentally critical of whiteness. Cynicism and disillusionment sells.

My disillusionment with whiteness was inherited as a by-product of the positive stories I was hearing about Filipinos, and the disappointment it fostered in me was liberating. The cynicism that followed in its wake knocked the pedestal out from under the mainstream sensibilities that put whiteness up there. My disillusionment was also circumstantial - I experienced anti-Chinese racism because people thought I was Chinese. I could not help but look at these people and be disappointed for them. The result was that I did not internalize racism, but instead found that I was comparing myself favorably against the majority and was happy to look and be different in the ways that Asians look, and are, different.

The gist of all of this is that Phan's rebellion against his background, and his desire to set himself apart from his Asian peers was a good and normal process. Wanting to not be like those you come from is actually normal also. The only negative is that he seems not to have gone far enough in his rebellion because he seems not to have cast an equally critical eye on whiteness.

But, what does all of this have to do with being proud of my Filipino heritage? Being on the receiving end of racists who thought I was Chinese, but who were confounded when they discovered I was Filipino - a people they apparently had never heard of - only reinforced my sense that there was nothing in principle that necessitated my placing white folks on a pedestal and I developed a cynicism about, and disappointment with, notions of white awesomeness. Being inundated with stories of strong Filipino men and the attitude that being Filipino was just awesome gave me a rich inner narrative that went untouched by the ignorance around me.

My unsought advice for young Asian-Americans who struggle with identity and who see whiteness as a Shangri-La is to simply say; look for the warts and the dirt around the edges of the whiteness you see around you. Notice how the system is set up to foster the illusion of white awesomeness and then notice and laugh at the ways that it certainly is not. My hope for Asian-American culture is that it, too, will develop as a critical iconoclastic endeavour that sweeps through the places of white worship in the minds of Asian-Americans, smashing the idols of white perfection that reside there.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Asian Guy Nearly Lynched.

Tim Tai Versus Southern Mob.

A recent NY Times article covering the student protests at the University of Missouri brought to light some fascinating aspects of early 21st century racial dynamics. The story goes as follows; in the aftermath of a series of racist incidents on campus in recent years, students have begun staging high-profile protests culminating in the college's fo─▒tball team going on strike and a protest led by a group calling themselves "#ConcernedStudent1950" in which they camped out in a public area of the campus.

It was during this camp-out that the following incident occurred.....

 

Naturally, the video caused quite the stir, with publications right across the spectrum of political leaning coming out to condemn the stupidly petulant and self-defeating-if-you-want-to-get-your-message-out act of hampering press freedom. From the video, you can see that a herd of rebels without clues attempt to intimidate a freelance photographer into leaving a public space that he had every right to be in, and then use physical force to eject him (which I suggest might be illegal) and deny his rights as a journalist and citizen to report the news.

The reaction of the photographer was admirable in that he refused to be cowed or intimidated and held his ground until he was faced with an increased level of aggression and the very real possibility of physical violence. Although it is racial issues that underpin the whole incident, there are - in my opinion - unique racial dynamics about it that deserve comment but which seem to have flown under the radar of people's awareness.

Keen-eyed readers would have noticed that the photographer was Asian, a guy named Tim Tai, and that his primary confrontation was with a woman named Janna Basler who turned out to be an employee of the school. Towards the end of the confrontation, the intimidation was amplified by a black student whose aggressive posturing encouraged the rest of the mob to increase their own levels of aggression.

During the course of the confrontation, Basler sets the example for the students by standing in the photographer's way and preventing him from getting closer to the camp. Then, she crosses her arms and pushes him - and at this point things become extremely disturbing. Having obviously and clearly nudged the guy - the recording captures her doing so - she immediately replies (lies) that "he had pushed her". Somewhere off camera, a guy can be heard indignantly asking "did he touch her, did he touch her?" What was going on here is clear - some guy was looking for an excuse and reason to be aggressive, perhaps violent towards the photographer.

In and of itself, it is disturbing that a college employee would incite students to violent aggression, yet, in the context of America's race history it assumes an even more dark and disgusting tone. One of the foundational pillars of white racist violence towards minorities (particularly men) has been the inviolacy of the white woman and the drive to protect her purity - as well as the purity of the white race - from contamination by non-white men. The primary way that this was achieved was via anti-miscegenation laws and segregation, but also through social acceptance of violent retribution towards any minority male who loved across the race divide. An even darker aspect of this normalization of violence against minority men, was the phenomenon of the false accusation.

American history is replete with incidences of minority men who had been falsely accused by white women of rape, and violence. This incident is a sinister echo of those dark times and it speaks volumes about the profound scar on America's racial dynamics that even in 2015 a white woman - Basler - participating in a protest against racism could clearly and blatantly lie that a minority man had physically accosted her in some way and have minorities jumping to her defence. There was a time when that would have gotten the photographer killed and quite frankly, it sounded as though there were some guys in that mob who were willing to commit violence to defend her sanctity. It is with the most ironic appropriateness that Basler, when asked by Tsai to reveal her identity, replied "My name is 1950" - a fitting reference to her use of 1950's racial dynamics to intimidate and incite aggression against a non-white man.

What this says about how America's races interact and conceive of each other offers us the opportunity for intriguing analysis. Could it be that despite years of ethnic studies courses, and a greater awareness of racist thinking, we (minorities) are still somehow conditioned to think of a white woman's word as more sacred than that of minority men? Could it be that we (minorities) still place a higher value on white women such that we are willing to ignore her false accusations and be aggressive on her behalf anyway?

But, don't get me wrong here - I'm not saying that Basler was cynically, or even consciously exercising the privilege of false accusation, merely that we as a society may have gotten so conditioned to behaving in certain ways based upon racial hierarchies that we accept the word of white people as authoritative and probably truthful even though our eyes are telling us the opposite. We are simply accustomed to accepting behaviors determined by racial privileges. Perhaps, on some deep level, conditioning leads us to understand that any accusation made against minority men by white people must - by definition - be true. Maybe the minority members of that mob felt some kind of afterglow, or sloppy seconds of white privilege by being allowed to participate in the charade, drawn by the power in knowing that they stood behind someone who, seemingly, had the power to redefine a lie as the truth.

Whatever those involved were thinking, the scenario played out like a classic of pavlovian conditioning in which no-one seemed to grasp that they were actually reinforcing the racial hierarchies of America's past with their unquestioning response to a white woman's false accusations. It, thus, may be no surprise that the group of students, teachers and Basler, for the most part, ignored the white journalist who was recording the incident and focused their aggression and false accusations on Tai - the minority.

As for the overly aggressive black dude at the end, I couldn't help but be reminded of the lyric from this song, and I quote - "black pohleess showing out for the white cop" - in which it is implied that black cops become overly aggressive when dealing with minorities just to impress, or prove their credibility to, their white peers. There is a lot I could say about that, but that is not necessary since it pretty much speaks for itself.

On a final note, it is worth mentioning another dynamic of the incident. Over the past few years, higher education and the courts have been considering the issue of affirmative action. A common refrain amongst supporters of AA has been to push the racist stereotype of the test-taking-wizard-but-unthinking Asian automatons who are unable to think critically, challenge authority, or lack the flexibility of thought necessary to contribute to a diverse intellectual environment that colleges supposedly strive for. Yet, what we see in the above video illustrates more clearly than any study, that it is the non-Asian students - at least at Missouri - who lack the critical thinking skills to challenge authority, and interact with their learning environment in a way that fosters a challenging and progressive intellectual environment.