Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Future of Ethnic Studies

The field of ethnic studies have grown tremendously during the past 40 years, ever since it first came into existence during the 1960's. Despite the many arguments for and against ethnic studies, it has opened up the horizons of what it means to be an American, to be a person of be a human being living in a world that is constantly changing around us.

A friend brought up his opinion where the name "Ethnic Studies" is a bit silly. As soon as he said that, it triggered a feeling that I had for a long time and that is that I feel the exact same way. Sure it may be an easy way to describe the many fields dedicated to various ethnicities but the name that brings their common element altogether, in my frank opinion, sounds a bit exotic and outdated.

I say this because we are in a time where we have a black President and by 2050, everybody will be a minority in the United States. When this time comes, do we still keep the name of "Ethnic Studies"? "Minority Studies" won't really work either when 2050 comes since we will all be minorities. What happens when we are living in a world where everybody is of mixed heritage and it goes beyond having ties with just one or two or three ethnicities? How about eight? There is a saying that when that time comes, we have no choice but to just call ourselves "humans".

I think I would like that future...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Freedom to Express Racial Identity & Mental Health Issues

Some parts of this post have been recycled from the entry: "YouTube/Google Restricts Racial Identity Expressions" but new material have been added as well as a new perspective to where I am right now. My personal crusade against YouTube is over because after much consideration, I realize I don't need to waste my time on it. Unlike organizations with the weight of thousands of members, I am just an individual with a little poem and with just that as my luggage, I have the freedom to tell my story to whoever will listen. So with that said, here is the revision and conclusion of "YouTube/Google Restricts Racial Identity Expressions".

The First Amendment is a right that we as Americans hold dearly with pride. But at the same time, this right comes with its own limitations and hypocrisies. You can't falsely yell "FIRE" in a public facility nor can you publicly declare that you want to assassinate the President. These things will immediately get you in serious trouble. However, the KKK can rally in a neighborhood even if nobody wants them there, and anti-abortionists can wave around bloody fetus dolls. While these voices are frowned upon, nevertheless, they have the right to express what they need to say. Yet there have been times when highly controversial opinions have been silenced because they dared to say something different, especially when it comes to matters that make people uncomfortable.

Two weeks ago, I uploaded a spoken word piece on YouTube that pertained to my former self-hatred as a Korean-American, my unfathomable connection with the VA tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho, and as a result, me finding love and acceptance with my racial identity. The poem was titled: "To Seung-Hui Cho". The poem was not about condoning or glorifying Seung-Hui but rather how his life and mental health issues inexplicably found a connection with my own troubled youth. I put a warning in the description box that the poem would be very controversial and that it required the viewers to listen with an open mind and heart. This is the poem in its written form:

Monday, March 15, 2010

Asian Activism Banned By Major Corporations

On March 14th, 2010, YouTube/Google banned my spoken poetry piece "To Seung-Hui Cho" because it violated their guidelines for inciting violence and hate speech. I will not be quiet, I will stand up and fight.

But today, another major corporation shuts down another Asian American voice. I got word from a fellow activist that Facebook shut down a facebook group called: People Against Racebending: Protest of the Cast of The Last Airbender Movie. The group has been around since the early days of the protest against the whitewashed casting of M. Night Shymalan's live action adaptation of the "The Last Airbender" and as of last week had almost 6,000 members. The original cartoon show featured Asian and Inuit characters, heroes portrayed by people of color and as such, the show was celebrated for its inclusive diversity. This group was formed because in the movie version, the ethnicities of its Asian and Inuit characters are erased and put to the background while Paramount cast white actors to play lead characters of color. Racebending is calling out to all of its members to boycott the movie when it comes out. They have had an impressive following and stood firm despite many oppositions. On March 15th, 2010, Facebook sent the owners of the group this message:

The group “People Against Racebending: Protest of the Cast of The Last Airbender Movie” has been removed because it violated our Terms of Use. Among other things, groups that are hateful, threatening, or obscene are not allowed. We also take down groups that attack an individual or group, or advertise a product or service. Continued misuse of Facebook’s features could result in your account being disabled.

The Racebending staff has issued a statement Facebook to ask what the facebook group exactly violated. While Facebook does respond to its users every now and then, YouTube/Google has not been kind enough to put a customer service contact and their phone number points people to useless information that they do not need. My battle with YouTube will continue but I cannot expect them to put up my original video back...only my response titled "YouTube/Google Restricts Racial Identity Expressions" will hold. The people can only wait if Facebook will ever respond and explain why the group was removed.

Action will be taken and this incident will go public if two things happen: if there is no response in seven days or if Facebook does declare that the Racebending group is indeed offensive and deserves to be taken down while groups that dedicate itself to assassinating Obama are still up.

I am already doing that for YouTube/Google because they don't care about their users at all (I can only say this because there is NO way to actually contact YouTube when it comes to customer service). I hope the same can't be said for Facebook.

"Know Your Enemy" by Rage Against the Machine is my mood right now. Fight the power, fight the system that dares to silence us.

YouTube/Google Restricts Racial Identity Expressions

Two weeks ago, I uploaded a spoken word piece on YouTube that pertained to finding love within myself and my racial identity, self-hatred as a Korean-American, and my unfathomable connection with the VA tech shooter, Seung-Hui Cho. The poem was titled: "To Seung-Hui Cho". The poem was not about condoning or glorifying Seung-Hui but rather how his life and mental health issues found a connection with my own troubled young life. The poem also touched upon mental health issues within Asian Americans, issues that are often ignored by society and their own families. I even put a warning in the description box that the poem would be very controversial and that I could only hope that people would read this with an open mind and heart. This is the poem in written form:

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Root of Passionate Activism

UPDATE: Someone in the YouTube community flagged my video for the spoken word piece, "To Seung-Hui Cho" and YouTube has been kind enough to remove the video. To this, I will put up another video but this time you will actually see my face when I perform it. And because people are so quick to judge, I will put a foreword so that I can explain myself to the stupid and judging people out there in the world.
Finding direction and passion about something in this world is a dilemma that troubles many people around the world and more often than not, people wander aimlessly in frustration and resignation. For me, I found my passion in activism and what it took to get me on this path has made me recently wonder if this applies to others who are passionate activists as well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Superheroes within the APA community

Ever since I totaled my car three days ago, I've been mostly confined to my local area in Los Angeles and passing my time by playing the guitar, working out, reading, calling multiple casting directors that I apologize for missing their auditions (missing a particular one broke my heart so I let the director know he could use me as a crew hand or extra), the entire Justice League cartoon series.

Nerd alert?? Okay yeah, I'm gulity as charged. While I'm not an avid comic book reader, I cannot lie...I am a huge fan of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, GI Joes, Transformers, Spiderman, X-Men, the Hulk, and so on and so on. I love what they represent and how they vanquish evil and I especially love how modern renditions of these characters make them complex and flawed characters, just like normal human beings.

But as much as I love these superheroes, I wish there were more superheroes who looked like me but not done in a way where they represent the insidious yellow peril but as fully fleshed out Asian/Asian-American heroes. What I did not know in my yearning for more superheroes that looked like me were that there are real-life Asian American superheroes who work behind the scenes to bring these classic heroes and villains to life as well as creating new superheroes who are of Asian descent.

Larry Hama. Bernard Chang. Greg Pak. Jerry Ma. Keith Chow. These are only few of many amazing Asian American comic book writers and illustrators who have crafted many of the heroes the American public has come to love and know. For this post though, I want to focus on Larry Hama and his legacy as a comic book writer and illustrator for the past 40 years.