Friday, December 25, 2015

The Christmas Story

Here's the story of Christmas told through the Bible. Merry Christmas!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  
- John 1:1-3

Friday, November 29, 2013

Saturday Night, I Stood Up Against Racism.

After my last post, I decided I had enough.

It was about 2:30am, technically Sunday early morning, when I sat down on a bench of exhausted men waiting for the subway train for who knows how long. There was an older, thin-framed Chinese man on my left and, similarly, an older, thin-framed black man on my right. The local train arrived and the Chinese man got up. We smiled at each other as I moved out of the way for him. I opened up my Christian inspired novel, Blue Like Jazz by Don Miller. I was a little annoyed already about something else and as I read the small typed words, my nose started to run again.

I began to sniff a lot. Next to me, the thin-framed Black man, who had curled himself up attempting to sleep, said something in the likes of an agitated, "Get away from me!" It was rude, but I assumed he was referring to my cold until he accused, "Are you Chinese?" 

I decided to ignore him and kept my book up. He repeated his previous statement with a sharper bite. "Go away!"

I paused, but then I turned my head slowly to the right, looking directly into his eyes. "Excuse me?" I asked strongly.

"You're Chinese. I don't want you near me. Go away!" He snapped back.

I leaned in closer to him giving crazy eyes with my green snake-like contacts. With greater force, I repeated, "EXCUSE ME?" He shrunk into his jacket. One last time, I commanded, "EXCUSE ME?" 

He tried to ignore me and closed his eyes as if he was falling asleep. I stared him down for a solid 20 seconds before I turned back to my book: I wasn't going to get up for him. If he had a problem with the slant of my eyes, he could sit somewhere else. I didn't have a problem with him. I wasn't going to move.

I tried, however, to let the anger dissipate. I attempted to read the chapter on God's glory, but I was still fuming. My thumb, from lack of sleep or just pure adrenalin as my heart beat like a drum, began to twitch as I held my book. The pages shook up and down spastically. Initially, I tried to prevent it, cover it up, but then I accepted it's intimidation. I took deep breaths. 

Feeling as if I should be guilty, I asked God to give me His love for this man. Let me love him. I tried to empathize. I thought about the feud between Asian and Black people. It's something I don't understand, but it is a common trend: If you don't believe me, just watch Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing. Perhaps it's the history of Asians coming into Black neighborhoods, starting businesses, and taking customers away by their very presence. I don't know why he had a particular hate against Chinese people. Maybe there have been some Chinese people who have had done terrible things to him. I don't know. But either way, I sat there in my black coat and maroon, woven, pom pom hat reading a book with the sniffles having never owned a business. I was not a threat. 

As I asked God to give me love and forgiveness, I thought about God's enemies. Not to say this man was God's enemy (I have no idea his relationship with God - and if he has one, he is my brother), but I realized that racism is hating a person, purely because of their ethnicity. Whether or not a Black person can be racist by power definition is debatable when involving other minorities, a person can re-enact racism. Racism is sinful. Racism is evil.

I had rebuked him. My actions did not necessarily lack Christian love. Those fears showed no support via prayer. I would rebuke my Christian brother for infidelity as I had rebuked this man for prejudice. I had no regrets. I may have put myself in danger, but I was so angry, I would have taken a punch. Bruises don't scare me. You can't treat people like they will take your crap. It's just not Okay. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

"I Have Been Taught Accommodation." - Lily Meyers

How do you respond to racism as a Christian minority?

SATURDAY, 3AM-- Practicing lines for a character, who's repetition is a rephrasing of "Why? Because I'm Asian?", I sat peacefully in the subway as a drunk man sat down one seat from me. Then, he consciously moved right next to me, popping the new york space bubble I desired.

He asked, "Ohhhh, are we going uptown or downtown?" For some reason, I always jump to help people at subway directions. I suppose it's because I empathize with how confusing New York City can be. If I'm ease dropping on a group of people concluding their directions incorrectly, I feel the urge to speak up. This inebriated man was sitting right next to me.


"Oh no!" He groaned.

"You can get off at the next stop and turn around," I suggested, somewhat revealing my desire for him to get away as well.

When we got to the next stop, he doesn't move. I asked, "Are you going uptown or downtown?"

It took him a moment, but then he repeated, "Uptown, uptown."

I validated, "Okay, then you're going the right way."

"Are you Chinese?" During the pause where I did not respond he added, "...American?" It was a relief and a nice change to be acknowledged by a stranger that being an American was actually a possibility, which is rarely the case, despite my lack of an accent.

I happily confirmed,"Yes, I am" Chinese-American, I added in my head. I sat quietly trying to beat my previous score on Candy Crush on a level I couldn't quite achieve 3 stars. Personal patterns with men asking about my ethnicity predicted too much attention could lead to prejudice comments or the request of a phone number, but I also didn't want to be rude.

"Can you do me a favor," the white drunk man suggested.

"What's that?" I politely entertained only making eye contact for a second.

"Never... do me a favor," he said self deprecatingly.

"Alright," I laughed.

A lady sat down kitty corner from him and must have bumped her leg with his. He started to yell at her, "You hit my knee!" Not too loud, but certainly offended. "That was very rude! You should apologize!"

The mild manner black woman responded with teeth gritting and a sweet voice, "I apologize."

"Good!" Then he began to bad mouth her. Saying things like, "you people," so she got up and found a seat further down the subway car. "Good! People think they can be so rude!" He was projecting. He thought kindly of me, so I thought I could correct him, teach him, without a whiplash. But then I thought, the moment is over, the woman is saved from him, and does not need saving from anyone else. He is drunk. There's no use talking logic to a drunk man.

He would every so often try to talk to me. "My daughter is on the honor roll."

I'd politely respond. "That's great." ...but I would only half listen, given most of what he said made little sense. I continued trying to get my 3rd star on Candy Crush. 

He asked, "Uhhh, which station is this?" The conductor's announcement sometimes lacked annunciation at low volume, so I clarified where we were. Relieved, he said,"Oh, okay." He told me he was getting off the same stop I happened to be, without my saying anything. Better to know now, then when he followed behind. I was pleased.

"My daughter is smarter than you will ever be." It was nice to hear a dad so proud of his daughter, even if he assumed I was dumber without even knowing me. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that his pride was stronger than his insult.

"Good for her."

"No, good for you!"


"My daughter could kick your a** harder than you'd ever know!"

I didn't even know how to respond to this... So I didn't, really. "Oh.... kay."

Then he asked, "You're Chinese, right?"


"Wanna hear a joke?"

"Uh..." Oh great, a psedo-racist joke. I've endured a-many told to me, by actually, rather nice older church friends. It's one of those things that I excuse for "they come from a different generation." I correct them and make an obvious face that I don't like the joke and say that I don't approve, but I give them the benefit of the doubt.

"What do you do with a billion Chinese people?" My eyes widen hoping other passengers will see and share with me in this experience of, Oh no, what is this man going to say? His answer, to be honest, was something I didn't understand. My knowledge of world history is lacking and I think he was trying to make a bad pun.

So I responded, "I... see."

He began to interrogate me about the phrase. "What do you see? Hm?"

I wanted to snark back, Not a whole lot since my eyes are so slanted, but my Christian love was saying, let it go. Ignore him. He is drunk. There is no point on schooling him on racism. He is belligerent. A few Hispanic girls were laughing on the side. At one point, they shared my disbelief, but they didn't always make eye contact. They kept it within themselves. And he kept going.

"There's only one thing a Chinese woman is good for." Pause. "And that's taking it up the ass!"

The train stops at our station in Harlem. "Ohh Kay. Thank you, Sir," I say sarcastically as he gets up to leave. The doors open and just before he exits he says, "My name is not 'Sir.' It's 'Takes It Up the Ass.'"

"Well, thank you, 'Takes It Up the Ass!'"

It was 3 in the morning, in Harlem, and a white man had just told me that the only thing a woman like me is good for, is taking it up the ass:  I stayed far away. As he went up the escalators, I let many people go ahead of me to create a gap. Talking to him on the subway was one thing. The streets were another. I kept my eye out for him and I walked in a "don't mess with me" fashion. When I do this, it's not an act. I literally will go in that zone. I imagine myself having amazing kung fu moves out of nowhere (It is a regrettably arrogant stereotype that works both in my advantage and my wishful thinking.) I pretend to have superhuman strength and coordination. I start to think about what just happened. I get angrier and angrier having let it slide. I think about what I should have said.

--Of course, I know the reason why I didn't say those things. I didn't want to put myself in danger. That's what they say. Don't be a hero. Is this worth putting yourself at risk? He was drunk anyways. But then I kept thinking... he had the nerve to say those horrible things about me and my ethnicity and I didn't give him any sort of crap. It was nothing more than passive aggressive.

This is the part where being Christian is completely conflicting. Letting him say racist comments, because he's drunk, and taking the high road is one thing... and it's another when my compliance is his expectation of an Asian woman. 

When it comes to friends, coworkers, and even acquaintances, I'll say something. But if it comes from a stranger: he doesn't know me. He'll be out of my life in 10 minutes. I will likely never see him again. The "I am above racism" part of me, the rebel in me says, I don't know you. I don't care what you think. I am me. And I am not a stereotype. But then... there's the part that knows: this is the norm. This is expected. These are the actions of a stereotype.

"I have been taught accommodation."

That is my favorite line in Lily Meyer's slam poem, "Shrinking Women." It's about how men are taught to take on the world, do endless things, and women are taught to accommodate to the men around them, not knowing how to fill the void when the men leave. She addresses her brother.
"I want to say: We come from difference, Jonah. You have been taught to grow out; I have been taught to grow in. You learned from our father how to emit, how to produce, to roll each thought off your tongue with confidence. You used to lose your voice every other week from shouting so much. I learned to absorb."
Being a woman has taught me that people don't expect much from me. They take my thin frame as a reason to take up more room. The Chinese culture has taught me to be considerate, to be a team player, but also, to keep your head down, to make it through, to think about yourself and your family. I have been taught accommodation ...when the rest of the country has not. That makes me angry.

Christianity is about being loving. It's not about being a pushover. Numerous times in the bible, Jesus was not afraid to rebuke. He was not afraid to stand up for himself or for God.

Then why is it so hard to stand up to someone being racist? Why don't I know what to do?

When I reflect, the most constructive response I could have retorted is, "What you said was racist. You should apologize." I'm tired of people saying prejudice things to me because they think they can. I'm tired of playing nice, because I think that's the only Christian way to respond. I'm tired of the combination adding to the assumption that a person can just walk over Asian people and they will say, "thank you" or "I'm sorry."

I'm constantly amazed at my sister's confidence. Apparently, when a man cat calls her or shouts random Asian lingual phrases to her, she'll take the time and stop and ask them, "What are you thinking? What made you think that was going to work? ...I just want to know your thought process." She kind of shames them into realizing that they're stupid culture influenced game (known to rarely work) is really just stupid. "Uh... honestly, I don't know why I said that. I don't know what I was thinking."

My sister isn't Christian, but would shaming a person (to make them realize their action was shameful) be a Christian way to respond? Normally, when it's something a little more hazy/biased/an "every story has two sides" kind of situation, I find that it could be similar to guilt tripping or manipulation. But when someone is being overtly sexist and racist, how different is shaming a person than rebuking them?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Can Geeking Out Be Four Play?

In light of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" condoms, I thought it would be all kinds of awesome to have condoms of your favorite TV show. Thoughts? Read more on Buzzfeed.

Click to enlarge

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Bright Young Things: PINK Panties That Say "Call Me" on the Crotch

On March 22nd, 2013, controversy sparked when Rev. Evan Dolive posted the letter he wrote to Victoria Secret begging them to cancel their new "Bright Young Things" sexy lingerie line said to be targeted towards 13 and 14 year old girls. He writes:
Recently I read an article [from The Black Sphere] that Victoria’s Secret is launching a line of underwear and bras aimed at middle school aged children. The line will be called “Bright Young Things” and will feature ” lace black cheeksters with the word “Wild” emblazoned on them, green and white polka-dot hipsters screen printed with “Feeling Lucky?” and a lace trim thong with the words, “Call me” on the front.”

As a dad, this makes me sick.
Euw, me too. Last night, after a slew of negative protesting comments on Victoria's Secret's facebook, they deleted them and pinned this announcement to the top:
In response to questions we recently received, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a brand for college-aged women. Despite recent rumors, we have no plans to introduce a collection for younger women. “Bright Young Things” was a slogan used in conjunction with the college spring break tradition.
It's easy for Victoria's Secret's PR people to skew their messaging to however they like, so I decided to find out just what was going on.

I found the above ad on their facebook. It's true, "Bright Young Things" is part of their College PINK promotions.  Nonetheless, we all know the trickle down effect where products supposedly projected towards college students evoke the envy of high school and jr. high kids. Do kids wish they were older? Is there such thing as a website called Google? Half the work is already done for them! Boom! Double the sales!

Monday, March 25, 2013


The remake of the musical, Annie, comes with a new twist. The film stars the Oscar-nominated actress, Quvenzhané Wallis, the brave little Black girl (who is the man!) from Beasts of the Southern Wild. The film is produced by hip hop artist, Jay-Z, along with Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith. Although the film will not be released until 2014, a clip has been leaked!

...from 1999.

(source: TRL)

Jokes aside, Jay-Z was asked to write the soundtrack by the screenwriter and actress, Emma Thompson, because of this song. I do look forward to this movie, because Wallis is a truly talented, raw actress who will likely make me cry ...again. Here's a glimpse into her singing chops: 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Are You Privileged?

I've been using the word, privileged, a lot lately. The word is significant to understanding others and ourselves. While in some ways many of us can be underprivileged, by other definitions we can be extremely privileged. The word involves more than race. Anything involving reception of innate power, inclusion of the in-group, and or effortless abilities because of attractiveness, status, class, height, able-body, religion, gender, and even intelligence, passion, creativity, and faith can give a person an advantage or disadvantage. (Not to say one cannot prevail.)

Here's the part where I feel guilty:

Reps. Tammy Duckworth
Playing Devil's advocate, I argued with Taki Dempsey when he said he saw me as multicultural, in the sense, that I was a minority on all accounts: short, young, Asian female. I was quick to remind him that I was significantly privileged in another way.

Although I rarely ask my parents for money, my parent's class is a huge advantage compared to those who were not as lucky. My mother is a dental hygienist in the even wealthier town next door. By referring me to my future boss, she got me one of my first jobs as a bank teller. When I entered college, I consistently came back as a seasonal in the summer and winter breaks. When I left and moved to New York, it gave me the freedom from 6 years worth of savings to intern on multiple film projects as I finally went head on in my career. Unfortunately, unpaid jobs are necessary unless you know someone and can jump right in. It took me about four months working 12+ hour days, 5-6 days a week, before getting paid gigs. After that and consistent offers, I was able to forsake no pay positions, so that I could start getting recommendations for paid gigs that reflected my talent and skills, rather than "Oh, she'll do it for free" work.  There isn't a whole lot of time for other long-term part-time jobs, so many post grads could go broke taking that risk.

Furthermore, despite the in-frequencies of freelancing forcing me to make my savings my minimal living expenses, I can certainly avoid selling myself on the streets. If all else fails, I can move back home with my mom and she'll take care of me.  When people say I can technically go on food stamps or apply for low living-wage housing or anything that involves helping out the poor, I refuse. That government money does not need to go to me simply because I chose a risky career while I can still rely on my parents. The more people getting funded by the government, the more money the government must budget for the program, which means the money has to be taken from somewhere else like our taxes. And if that budget gets too large, it risks getting cut. I'd rather that money go to families and people who have no help. 

Being privileged means society is structured around the needs and wants of your in-group.  From laws to advertising, from media to story telling, from building construction to opportunities... those who are underprivileged are left out and unconsidered. This is not a guilt trip. It is meant for awareness and understanding. After reading Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois's Checking Your Privilege 101, I realized I was more privileged than I thought.

Checking Your Privilege:

  • Citizenship
  • Class: A person with financial stability and financial safety nets through family or other assets.
  • Race
  • Education: A person with access to higher education, which is sometimes, but not always, a result of other privileges such as race and class privilege.
  • Gender
  • Gender Identity: A person having a gender presentation that correlates with the dominant group’s expected gender “norms.”
  • Age: Access afforded to people who are considered “adults,” although those who are elderly are acknowledged to having limited privileges due to age and health.
  • Body Size: Those born with a body type that is celebrated and considered “beautiful” by the dominant group as reflected in the media, advertisements, social norms, etc.
  • Able-Bodied:the ability to physically participate in society because society was made to accommodate only the “dominant” group.
    • Side note: I once saw a man in the subway with a sign around his neck asking for money. He lost both his hands from war. I thought, he seems like a rather clean, attractive man.  He shouldn't have too much trouble in society: being accepted, being attracted to, but then I missed the obvious.  He was asking for money. Can you imagine how difficult it is to find a job that does not involve using your hands?
  • Life on the Outside: A person who has never been or currently is not incarcerated.
  • "Passing": The ability to “pass” as a more privileged group. For example: a light-skinned person passing as White, a disabled person passing as able-bodied, etc.
  • Religion: A member of the dominant religion in the United States – Christianity.
  • Sexuality: A person who is heterosexual and/or is not labeled a sexual "deviant."

Here's the part where I feel downtrodden:

To out myself (or call attention to), I consider shortness and daintiness a disadvantage in the average workforce. I was watching an interview with Penn Jillette who said he came from a household where no one raised their voices unless in jest. He found anger screaming and fights "unpleasant." I thought to myself, that's an interesting and calming way to think of things. Perhaps we do yell too much. We argue too often with emotion that the other does not understand what we are saying finding our complaints irrational. (This is why we have sociological terms: to keep us sane.) Then I'm reminded of the times fighting with my father where the rule of the household is that the parents are always always right. I'd find my voice shrieking, wishing to be heard. Penn Jillette doesn't have to do that. He's an intelligent, confident, tall, big guy. When he walks in the room, he won't notice? If he says, "May I say something?" Who will ignore him? When he says "I have the answer," who won't give him a chance?

Do you know how filmmakers show power visually? From the viewpoint of a taller person. 

Being Chinese does not prevent me from getting jobs, if anything I would bet it was a plus. However, it is no secret that Asian people are commonly taken advantage of despite their supposed intelligence and great work ethic. The combo of being a short Asian Woman with great self-doubt has forced me to work harder to be looked at as a leader rather than someone to keep at the bottom of the totem pole.   Many Chinese people are raised in a similar mindset as their parents or grand parents or great grandparents were in China.  The communist society was about working together and though down trodden with a common enemy, the government, each man's role is to take care of his family.  I asked my dad what his dream career was as a kid.  Most kids say actor, doctor, president, lawyer, basketball player, singer...  My dad said matter-a-factually, "An engineer."

"Really, dad?  When you were ten years old, you wanted to be an engineer?"

He laughed, "It is not like how when you grew up!" At ten years old, little Oliver knew his role in society was to have a family, be a father, and give them greater opportunities than those that were available to himself.  Because of this, he chose a logical and stable career as an Engineer.  No, it wasn't glamorous or immediately self-fulfilling, but he sacrificed himself for his kids, future kids even.  He kept his head low to keep his job and with a sigh, accepted a minimal forced promotion that gave him slightly higher pay for much more work and responsibilities.  If his underlings messed up, it was his butt on the line.  He was not interested in climbing the ladder or risking his stability.  It was simply about having enough income to take care of his family.

While the Chinese culture may seem cold and distant, it is all about your role in society.  Don't give me a thanks, because it is my duty.  It should be expected.  Now, when Chinese people come to America where its all about money, competition, and celebrating individualism and self-fame... they're taken advantage of.  Now the assumed responsibilities graciously accepted by Chinese workers are... assumed responsibilities for graciously accepting Chinese workers.

"I'm telling you, those Asian guys love crunching numbers! You probably just made his weekend!"  Notice how the movie fools you into thinking the story is going to be about the two white guys and their crazy weekend.  They even have you empathize with the fake male lead, who just got dumped. They leave the office with punk rock playing ready for their adventure.  Hold up. This movie is called "Harold and Kumar." Wait. Is there an Indian guy in the duo? Yes. Harold... Harold. Isn't he the "work horse...the quiet Asian guy in the office"?  That's who we're watching? This is different.

When a child watches TV, they look for themselves.  They look for someone they want to be.  So what happens when they don't see themselves? They feel lost... confused... An Asian girl finds herself wanting to be the white girl, rather than the nerdy Asian girl... which let's face it, why is she so awkward?   You get white kids wanting to be president and minority children sticking to something more "plausible."  There's a 30 Rock bit when Tracy Jordan decides to coach a little league from the poorest neighborhood in New York.  He introduces them to Jack, GE CEO.  He asks the kids, "What are your dreams?"

 Jack is appalled that their goals do not reach higher. I mean, those were their "dream" jobs. When I was a kid, I had seen a handful of Asian actors in the media, but zero politicians. For some reason, being an Actress seemed far more likely to me.  I couldn't imagine an Asian-American president.

I went to Rockafeller Center and did the silly photo ops in the White House sets.  I wanted to take other people's posted photos and make a collection of various minorities in "office." The representation of minorities in positions of power is low, despite population and expected intelligence.  But now I don't have to!

Here's the part where I celebrate:

On Election night, the country made history on multiple accounts. Of course, we re-elected our first Black President, Barack Obama. We broke the last record of 17 and now there are 20 women in the U.S. Senate! (Check out Washington Post's slideshow of each current female senator and what they've done.)

I predict in 50 years, we will surely have had a woman president.

Never mind my personal beliefs and politics, here are some minorities that also made history last Tuesday.

Senator Mazie Hirono became the first on many accounts.
Hawaii, (D)
First Asian-American woman in the U.S. Senate
First Female Senator of Hawaii
First Senator born in Japan
First Buddhist Senator

Senator Tammy Baldwin 
Wisconsin, (D)
First Openly Lesbian in Senate.
Elizabeth Warren
Massachusetts, (D)
First Female Senator of Massachusetts. 
Senator Angus King
Maine, (I)
Okay, perhaps not historical.  But he defeated the Democratic and Republican candidates and took the state as an Independent.

Congressman Mark Takano 
California, (D)
First LBGT Person of Color in Congress
First Openly Gay Member of California Congress

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema
Arizona, (D)
First Openly Bisexual member of Congress

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard
Hawaii, (D)
First Hindu-American to elected in Congress.
Govenor Maggie Hassan (D) 
Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D)
Congresswoman Ann McLane Kuster (D)
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D)
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R)
New Hampshire
First All-Female Delegation State.
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