oh beezy

miscellaneous cultural commentary from two urban twenty-somethings. on this here interweb, we go by "bee" and "zy."

happy MLK day.

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multiracial asian north american book list

I readily admit that my being a mixed race Asian American has prompted a slew of related obsessions, one of which is finding and reading books by and about other people like me.

Aside: You may notice that I am not using the work “hapa” in the title or body of this post. Ever since reading an article in Hyphen MagazineRethinking Hapa by Wei Ming Dariotis–I’ve attempted to instead employ (unfortunately looong) substitutes such as “mixed heritage Asian,” “Asian-descent multiracial,” and so on. Also, I’m saying “multiracial asian north american” in this post title because the list, which I promise I’ll get to eventually, includes American and Canadian authors

Aside #2: So we need a replacement for hapa that has no sense of appropriation or ickiness. How about MIRA (MIxed Race Asian)? Too forced with the “I?” Hmmm… Let it marinate, as they (slash Kissing Jessica Stein characters) say.

Ok, for real for real, here’s my list-in-progress of MIRA (indulge me) books:

  • My Year of Meats, All Over Creation, and everything else written by my current idol, Ruth Ozeki, who I forgive for never responding to my email telling her so.
  • On Borrowed Wings by Chandra Prasad
  • Mixed: An Anthology of Short Stories on the Multiracial Experience, edited by Chandra Prasad, and including a story by Ruth Ozeki as well as a slew of other people whose writing should be required reading for, well, everyone.
  • Plague of Doves by Louise Erdrich
  • Where the Long Grass Bends and short stories by Neela Vaswani
  • Sum of Our Parts: Mixed Heritage Asian Americans, edited by Teresa Williams-Leon and Cynthia Nakashima (this is a collection of awesome academic essays)
  • Not a book, but a super short must-read: Dr. Maria P. Root’s Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People.

…more to come!

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news, recession blues roundup

So, there are a lot of amazing and informed writers out there, and I’m loathe to summarize what they’ve put out on the interweb this weekend. So I’m gonna let them do the talking today! Note: All of these subjects deserve endless amounts of discussion; the length of these summarizes is not meant to be dismissive. But the writers, artists and politicians mentioned below have already done the original thinking.  So please click, and respond, and hopefully we’ll continue discussing them here.  Three issues today:

1. The recession puts (or rather, keeps) women in the workplace, with backlash potential: Emily Bazelon sums it up.  But one, actually great, point: men are distressed by their female partners’ job losses.  Which is a great indication of respect for those jobholders.  And the opt-out trend is being exposed as a myth. Finally.

2. Immigrants in America are being worked to the bone, in industries ranging from meat-packing to harvesting to sheepherding.  Dan Frosch’s article highlights a slightly different angle than the one of overcrowded sweatshops we’re used to: the image of the isolated immigrant worker.

On a related note, watch Chambao’s “Papeles Mojados” for a Spanish take on the desperation that drives (and kills) those immigrants attempting to reach Spain, only to be treated as disposable workers until deportation.  The title and lyrics of the song refer to wet papers–the lost documents of immigrants who have drowned on the boat voyage from Morocco and other parts of Africa to the south of Spain. La Mari’s singing evokes the anger of the worker forced to swim to better work, and the unspeakable sadness of the realization that her companion has not survived the crossing.

3. There are psychological tests for hidden racial bias, and as Charles Blow shows, the results aren’t that surprising.  But I think we should respond to Eric Holder’s call for a more dramatic increase in the study and appreciation of black history without being afraid of confrontation, anger and hurt.  He is right when he says that “in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” We’re not in a post-racial age; if black officials can’t tell the truth like this, then Obama’s election will just be a comfortable stopping point for liberal America.  This is the chance to push it, not to stay comfortable.

4. Ok four. I lied. But we’ll be discussing the return of indulgences later! Yeah, that’s right. Indulgences are being granted in NYC churches. TBC, beezies…

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it’s called a scapegoat…

At an idea pitch meeting yesterday, the oddest (sounding) proposal came up.  Said one slightly nervous editor, “You all might be interested to know that in [unnamed African country] a goat has just been accused of stealing a car–it’s supposed to be the transformed body of a human car thief.  I think this could be a really interesting piece on [said African country’s] attitudes, especially during the oil crisis.”

Jaw hanging open.

—Zy

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recommended read du jour

Erin Aubry Kaplan’s Salon piece, “The Michelle Obama Hair Challenge,” raises a slew of important issues tied to racial identity and hair.

Quoting Kaplan–
“A reality check: In this alleged new era of racial enlightenment, how would we see Michelle if she switched to braids, twists, curls or dreads, if she looked more like the black person she is? We applaud the sparkling new role models in the White House. But do we expect the Obamas to define a new black mainstream or to hew to an idealized model created by a white mainstream that blacks internalized long ago?” Reeaaad on.

–bee

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