By February 13, 2012 4 Comments Read More →

ON RACISM IN AMERICA, 2012

[media-credit name=”Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images” align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]Recently, I’d sent out the links below, regarding the racist Hoekstra campaign ad and video.  The first link is for a Care2 petition against his ad and the second link is of a Youtube “out takes,” parody by the Asian American comedian, Kristina Wong.

Peter Hoekstra is running for the U.S. Senate.  Last weekend, over the Super Bowl, he aired a video of an Asian woman, who spoke in broken English (without an Asian accent).  She had a ‘coolie’ hat and was on a bicycle, in a bright yellow tshirt.  She was saying how the economy in China is good, compared to the U.S. and that the Chinese were taking away American jobs.  The interesting thing about this video is that she spoke in unaccented English, so she was an Asian American, not a foreigner from China.  The ad was filmed in California and is full of negative stereotypes.

Hoekstra is running for the U.S. Senate in Michigan.  In the early 80’s, Vincent Chin (a young, Asian American man) was killed in Detroit, MI. by two white, unemployed auto workers, who mistook Chin for a Japanese man.  It was strangely ironic that Hoekstra is also from Michigan.

Anti-Asian sentiments are on the rise once again, folks.

The out takes and parody by Kristina Wong are great.  It is also educational for those who are unfamiliar with Asian American or Asian Pacific American (APA) cultures.  Kristina’s humor is edgy.  Some of it is rated R (on her website).  The main thing to take away from her Youtube video is how she distinguishes between Asians and Asian Americans — especially how her parents (born in San Francisco) speak without Asian accents.

I have given many talks on this topic:  how non-Asians and non-APAs (Caucasians and others) need to utilize their auditory skills and not just rely on visual cues.  If you listen closely to the (Asian American) actress in Hoekstra’s video, she does not have an Asian accent, when she speaks in broken English.  She is an American, not a foreigner from China (who is taking away American jobs), as Hoekstra wants you to believe.

After a huge outcry from Asian Americans this week, the Hoekstra video was taken down from his website.  But it still exists and continues to float around out there on Youtube and elsewhere.  The damage has been done, but it also continues.  Many APA groups, including the JACL.ORG have condemned his video.

Recently, Hoekstra was interviewed by Fox News. His ad and video serve to instill fear in the USA against Asians and Asian Americans.  I hope it does not incite more violence against Asians and Asian Americans.  This is a scenario that we have seen in American history, which dates back to the 1700s or 1800s for Asians, when the Filipinos and Chinese, respectively, first started emigrating to America.  This is the same type of fear mongering that resulted in the incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans into concentration camps in this country.  It’s the McCarthy era, revisited.

Please feel free to write to your Congressperson or to President Obama and tell them that it is important to continue to work toward preserving the civil liberties of Asians, Asian Americans and people of color, everywhere.  Also, please send the web links below to everyone you know.

To paraphrase what a friend said recently, it is my hope that our political leaders will repudiate messaging that panders to anti-Asian xenophobia.  As Americans, we need to promote an environment that welcomes the inclusion of diverse views and experiences.

Thank you.

Risha

For more information; check this link:

http://www.care2.com/causes/tell-pete-hoekstra-to-get-rid-of-his-racist-sexist-ad-video.html

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About the Author:

RISHA is a freelance writer, visual artist (abstract painter), fiber artist, diversity consultant and educator. She is an Asian American Buddhist and a native of the USA. Her family has lived in America, since the 1800's. Risha has been a writer, educator and an author for decades. She has published a sociology and ethnic studies text (race and gender issues) with an academic press. She has also published many articles, along with some of her poems and paintings in art & literary journals ----- including "Asian Week", "Body Images" (Tufts University, Women's Center), "Encyclopedia of Multiculturalism," "The Asian American Encyclopedia", and other venues. Risha is a member of a few global, online art organizations and humanitarian groups; adviser on diversity issues and board member.
  • Risha,

    Bigotry is a virulent toxin that some among us seem addicted to. This nation began by expressing the self-evident truth of human equality, but it and its citizenry has yet to live out the true meaning of that creed.

    We have a lot of work still to be done.

    Larry

    I will be signing the petition right after I leave this link.

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    • Risha

      Yes, indeed, we do have a lot of work ahead of us, in terms of dealing with diversity, gender and other social issues. Thanks for signing the petition.

      I am a longtime writer and author, but I am new to this site and would like to thank Cher, MZ, and Dean for their help navigating around on the Expats Post and Expats Poetry web pages. Thanks for your feedback, Larry.

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  • Cher Duncombe

    Risha, it is not surprising that as I was reading this, I was thinking about Japanese internment camps, an eternal pox on our nation. And then you discussed it, along with pointing at the McCarty era. Much to my chagrin, many of the sentiments in place in those days are rearing their ugly heads today. It’s like an all-American attack of Alzheimer’s. Do we remember nothing of history in this country? Even more frightening is that the messages are overt, not subliminal and therefore would seem to wear the seal of American approval. These same individuals do not realize that at any given heartbeat, this could happen to them. I will sign this petition too, and my hope is that many will follow a more righteous course of tolerance. Great article, Risha!

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  • Risha

    Thank you, Cher, for your kind comments and for signing this petition. I’m glad you liked my article.

    Some Asian Americans are asked such questions all of their lives. For some, it is a daily, weekly or monthly (etc.) experience, depending on their circumstances. Most Anglos or European Americans are never asked “What country are you from?” or told that they speak “good English.”

    The thing that surprises me is this — I am assuming most Americans know that the Chinese arrived in the U.S. during the 1800s to build the railroads, work in the gold mines, and so on. Many of them stayed here and had families, so why aren’t they seen as real Americans by some? It’s baffling. Asian Americans call it the ‘perpetual foreigner syndrome.’ Anyway, it’s just a rhetorical question. Latinos and Mexican Americans have been experiencing similar issues for a long time here. Best wishes.

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