The Very Serious Function of Racism in Academia

I feel so hurt and I feel so scared.

I feel hurt because in my professional life I have encountered awful experiences of racism as of late. I feel scared because if I share these experiences, people may hurt me further. They may gaslight me and say I exaggerate. They may stereotype me as the angry queer academic of color, when my anger, a justified anger, stems from having experienced racism. I feel sad, too, because I wish I could share specifics about what has happened on this blog like I often do, but right now, my fear of retribution – that someone will find this blog and attack me for my sharing – makes me unwilling to provide specifics.

This processing takes up time. Continue reading

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Ariana Grande Practiced Cultural Appropriation and I Needed Some Moments to Sit with That

Over the past few months, the discourse surrounding Ariana Grande’s problematic behavior has gotten pretty intense. More and more people online have called her out for blackfishing/latinafishing, referring to how she has darkened her skin to pass as racially ambiguous while still reaping the benefits of her white privilege. This criticism reached a fever pitch when she released “7 rings,” the second single from her upcoming album Thank U, Next, in which she engages in outright cultural appropriation through rapping a verse toward the end of the song. Though more people have called her out on this behavior than ever before, as of midday January 21 she had not responded to this criticism in any meaningful or substantial way. I will not go too much in-depth about the actual critique because Google exists and as a non-black person of color I am not the best person to speak on it, but for a great summary you can read user superultra’s fantastic post about it on this page.

I have to admit: my heart broke a bit when I read the scathing criticism of her on online forums like Popjustice Continue reading

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Review of Front Cover: All the Ways a Gay Asian Man Can Hate (and Learn to Love) Himself

Well, this is embarrassing: I’m a 23-year-old gay Asian American man and I did not watch a movie with a gay Asian American man as a lead character until about a week ago. Thank goodness for Front Cover, a 2016 romantic comedy that centers openly gay Chinese American fashion designer Ryan (played by Jake Choi) and closeted Beijing movie star Ning (played by Ray Yeung). I had low expectations of the film going in, because a lot of gay romance I have seen mimics the heteronormative, patriarchal narrative of people feeling incomplete until a romantic partner – usually a man – swoops in and saves them. However, Front Cover surprised me. Though its tone stays gentle and sweet throughout, it tackles important themes of internalized racism, classism, and homophobia – and perhaps most importantly, features a gay Asian man who makes genuine progress in learning how to love himself. For the rest of the post I will discuss my reactions to the film, and I will warn you when I am about to reveal major spoilers. If you do not want any spoilers at all, go watch the movie and then come back so you can comment below and fanboy/girl/person with me unless you dislike the film which is fine too, we can still talk about it as long as you support my queen Ariana Grande. Continue reading

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To All the Three Men Who Taught Me to Trust Men Sometimes

I have had pretty bad luck with men. From neglectful family members to abusive professional advisors to subpar dates, I often want to throw my hands up in the air, climb a ladder onto the roof of a tall building, and scream “men are trash” at the top of my lungs. I once told the therapist I saw in my undergrad years, L, that if someone gave me a pill to swallow so I could stop feeling attracted to men, I would swallow it without a moment’s hesitation – not because I dislike my gayness, just because I dislike my attraction to a gender that is socialized to value stoicism and achievement over emotional openness and caring.

Over the past week I have spent time processing my most recent somewhat failed crush, perhaps my oddest one yet. While the support of my close friends, my therapist, and myself have helped, I still feel this tugging resentment, like a voice saying “ok, if this guy didn’t work out, I might as well declare a vow of celibacy, never try to invest in a man again, and channel all my love to the people who deserve it: Ariana Grande and BlackPink.” But, because I work as a therapist and have gone to therapy, I noticed my thought pattern (i.e., a cognitive distortion, if you want to get boring about it) and went, “wait a second, not all the men in my life have been trash, even if a large number of men do practice toxic masculinity and are subsequently trash.” I have had deep and healthy relationships with three men in particular aside from the fictional men I fanboy all the time, looking at u, Willem from A Little Life. Continue reading

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Thomas’s Top Ten 2018 Reads

2018 has been an excellent year for reading. This year I managed to get through 91 books, all while finishing my first and starting my second year of graduate school, staying connected with close friends, stanning Ariana Grande and BlackPink nonstop, and getting back into tennis. I feel kinda bad for the books both on and off this list because I read so many stellar books this year and the competition to emerge on this list was intense not like any of these authors or books actually cares about getting onto this list lol I just like to derive some vague sense of self-importance from what I put out into the world ok anyway. I chose to cut off my honorable mentions at ten per category just to keep the list a little more manageable. I included links to my full Goodreads reviews of each book as well as links to past years’ top ten lists for easy reference at the bottom. I’d love to know what you’ve read, what you haven’t read, and what you’d recommend. Without further ado: Continue reading

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A Love Letter to My Favorite Dead Writer, Caroline Knapp

Dear Caroline,

Your memoir Appetites saved my life. I first read it four years ago, at 18, the summer after my freshman year of college. You see, I had anorexia too, several years ago in my early adolescence. I starved myself for many of the same reasons you did. I wanted control over my life and didn’t have it, so I starved. I wanted to erase all the emotions I felt but I couldn’t, so I starved. I learned from my mother and the media and so many other sources that I could and should change my body, so I starved.

But I didn’t truly understand why I starved until I read Appetites. Continue reading

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A Queer Asian Fanboy Reviews BlackPink’s “As If It’s Your Last”: Romantic Pop Done Right

I haven’t written a blog post about K-Pop for five years thank god because all my posts were pretty trash but last year I found a new group to obsessively fanboy, my queens BlackPink. I have a lot to say about this splendid group but this post will focus on their 2017 summer smash “As If It’s Your Last,” an upbeat song that mixes house, reggae, and moombahton genres. The song is about an intense, all-consuming romance, so in theory I should hate it given how many posts I’ve written about the patriarchal nature of romance, and yet, I find myself engaged in an all-consuming romance with the song itself. I love this song so much because in “As If It’s Your Last,” BlackPink injects the tried and true romantic pop song with vibrant shades of cheerfulness and a persistent, pulsating agency.

Let’s start with the lyrics. Yes, there’s nothing radically feminist about the lyrics of “As If It’s Your Last,” no condemnation of the patriarchy for making us feel insecure without a romantic partner, no equivalent of Lisa’s somewhat capitalist yet so iconic “middle finger up, F U pay me” from “Boombayah.” However, within the realm of romance, BlackPink asserts their hearts’ desires and tells their lover exactly what they want from them. Continue reading

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