How Asian Americans should deal with racist “microaggressions”

Dr. Richard Lee, Professor of Psychology- University of Minnesota

The Mac Weekly (by Minju Kim):

Microaggressions is a form of racism, often subtle, many Asian Americans deal with in their daily lives. Dr. Richard Lee, a psychology professor at University of Minnesota, is an expert on microaggression towards Asian Americans. He does extensive research on Asian Americans, including diverse issues ranging from international or interracial adoption and immigration to media portrayal of Asians.

On February 26th, he visited Macalester and gave a lecture titled “What does FOB mean? Fresh Off the Boat or Foreigner Objectification?

He explained that microaggression, which is a subtle but still concrete form of racism, occurs because many people regard Asian Americans as “forever foreigners,” rather than a part of “American identity.” They objectify Asian Americans in categories and exoticized as to serve their curiosity. The question that they frequently ask, “Where are you REALLY from?” manifests their perception of Asians as foreigners. Thus, the term FOB, which originally means Fresh-Off-the-Boat, can be interpreted as Foreign Objectification.

While the lecture marked a great success with high turnout, some questions remained among the participants. With regards to the questions, the follow-up interview was conducted through email in order to help the readers to better understand the argument that he makes.

TMW: At the lecture, you mentioned that it is important for adoptees to be connected to their original ethnic cultures. At the same time, their identity as American is essential to their self-esteem and life satisfaction. Then, what is the best and most stable identity for them to have? The American identity? The Asian identity? The Asian-American identity?

RL: There is no one best or most stable identity for any group of people, adopted or not. Research suggests that what is most important is that individuals develop an overall healthy, positive identity. If identifying with a particular social group (e.g., Asian American, Vietnamese, African-American) contributes to this overall identity, then all the better. Other research also suggests that feeling like you belong in this country (and hence identify as American) is important to well-being.

You said “Microaggression towards Asians is more cognitive rather than emotional.” Could you elaborate that point?

Our view is that microaggressions toward Asian Americans often are based on stereotypes that are not necessarily laden with negative emotions (e.g., angry black man). Instead, they are based on stereotypes such as nerdy, weak and foreign.

What do you think is the cause of microaggression? Would it be strictly because of the media portrayal of Asian Americans?

Media plays a big role but it’s also historical, dating back to the first Chinese immigrants to come to America.

You mentioned that you are interested in researching the ways in which Asians Americans cope with microaggression. However, as of now, how do you recommend Asian Americans to react when they encounter such racism?

It is important for Asian Americans to develop a repertoire of interpersonal and emotional coping skills to manage racism and discrimination. These skills should help people immediately after a discriminatory event occurs and afterward too. For example, if someone keeps asking questions and making comments that make you feel like they are treating you as a foreigner, it is helpful to know how to address this treatment rather than just accept it and thereby reinforce this person’s stereotype, but if there is a potential threat in the environment and its not safe, then it is important to know how to defuse the situation and step away. It also is important to know when to seek support from friends and family.

For those students who are not Asian Americans, what is the proper way for them to interact with Asian American students? Should they just not ask questions even when they have questions?

I think it’s important for people to just take a minute to examine their assumptions before making a comment such as “Where are you really from?” Is it the same kind of question you would ask a white person? If not, then why are you asking it now? If you are curious about someone’s ethnic background, ask yourself why. Is it to satisfy your curiosity? But then ask if you would ask another white person this question. Why are you only curious about the background of someone who is Asian? Is it the novelty or because you perceive Asians as an Other that is exotic and foreign?

To conclude, foreign objectification all comes down to hasty assumptions and inappropriate questions. Don’t get me wrong, I do not intend to say that microaggression always stems from ill intention. However, to borrow W. Kamau Bell’s words, “ending racism is not about ending your curiosity.” It takes a long time to change the society. However, it takes only few seconds to think before asking an inappropriate question and to avoid partaking in microaggression.

The Los Angeles Philharmonic presents West Coast premiere of Unsuk Chin’s opera “Alice in Wonderland,” featuring Libretto co-written with David Henry Hwang

David Henry Hwang. Photo by Lia Chang

 

Backstage Pass with Lia Chang:

The Los Angeles Philharmonic presents the West Coast premiere of Unsuk Chin’s daring Alice in Wonderland at Walt Disney Concert Hall, Friday and Saturday, February 27 and 28, at 8 pm. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is located at 111 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012 (Get Directions Online). Click here for tickets.

The ground-breaking, fully-staged opera, written by composer Unsuk Chin and Tony Award winning playwright David Henry Hwang, America’s most-produced living opera librettist who is best known for his critically acclaimed Puccini-inspired Broadway play M. Butterflyoffers a new remix of the Lewis Carroll story.

Under the guidance of director/designer/video artist Netia Jones and with visual material derived from the illustrations of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas gonzo-artist Ralph Steadman, Alice in Wonderland offers the audience a collision of styles and influences set on a black and white chessboard floor and featuring the orchestra as part of the set. Jones combines Steadman’s illustrations with live action, interactive animated projections that inhabit the scene alongside the performers, eye-popping costumes and choreography to bring to life Chin’s brilliant take on the Carroll fantasy.

Conductor Susanna Mälkki

Conductor Susanna Mälkki leads the LA Phil in Alice in Wonderland. The cast includes soprano Rachele Gilmore as Alice and other performers listed below. The performance also features members of the Los Angeles Opera Chorus and the Los Angeles Children’s Chorus.

Susanna Mälkki, conductor
Netia Jones, director, costume and set design
Ralph Steadman, illustrations
Netia Jones/Lightmap, projection design
Mark McCullough, lighting designer
Jemima Penny, costume realization
Peggy Hickey, choreographer
Rachele Gilmore, Alice
Marie Arnet, Cheshire Cat
Dietrich Henschel, Mad Hatter
Andrew Watts, White Rabbit/Badger/March Hare
Christopher Lemmings, Mouse/Dormouse
Jenni Bank, Duchess
Jane Henschel, Queen of Hearts
Stephen Richardson, Old Man/Crab/King of Hearts
Nicholas Brownlee, Old Man/Eaglet/Fish-Footman/Off-Stage Voice
Lacey Jo Benter, Owl/Two
Rafael Moras, Pat/Cook/Invisible Man
Kihun Yoon, Five/Executioner/Duck
Andrew Craig Brown, Dodo/Frog-Footman/Seven
David Finch, Bill/Mock Turtle
Julian Bertet, Young Boy
Chris Bonomo, Francisco Cardeña, Cesar Cipriano, Eros Mendoza, Jee Teo, and John Todd, supernumeraries
Members of the Los Angeles Opera Chorus, Grant Gershon, Chorus Director
Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Anne Tomlinson, artistic director
Michael Vitale, stage manager
Jean-Michaël Lavoie, assistant conductor
Vanessa Dionne, makeup design
Taylor Ruge, assistant director
John Todd, assistant choreographer
Nikki Hyde, assistant stage manager
Lindsay Lowy, assistant stage manager
Ian Winters, video technical consultant
Emma Keaveny-Roys, UK costume assistant
Richard Valitutto, rehearsal pianist

Alice in Wonderland is part of the LA Phil’s new in/SIGHT series, which features concerts enhanced with video installations, and in some cases, additional artistic elements for a complete and immersive experience. The remaining in/SIGHT presentation in the 2014/15 season is: Beryl Korot and Steve Reich’s Three Talesperformed by Ensemble Signal, led by their music director Brad Lubman (May 29, 2015).

As a much sought-after artist on the international conducting circuit, Susanna Mälkki has a versatility and broad repertoire have taken her to symphony and chamber orchestras, contemporary music ensembles and opera houses across the world. She has recently been appointed Chief Conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, effective from the 2016/17 season. The 2014/15 season marks Mälkki’s second season as Principal Guest Conductor of the Gulbenkian Orchestra, which includes a gala opera evening with soprano Karita Mattila, Sibelius’ Tapiola and Mahler’s Symphony No. 9. Later in the season she conducts Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with Natalia Gutman and Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra. Also in the 2014/15 season Mälkki debuts with the Philadelphia, Cleveland and New York Philharmonic orchestras, Chamber Orchestra of Europe and La Fenice. In addition, she returns to the San Francisco Symphony, Helsinki Philharmonic and Royal Stockholm Philharmonic orchestras.

Netia Jones

Described by The Observer newspaper as “the most imaginative director of opera working in Britain today” Netia Jones is a director, designer and film-maker in opera, theatre and classical music. A “leading pioneer in integrating film and video into live music performances” (Times), she is the Director of Lightmap, a mixed media creative studio working in the UK, Europe and the U.S.

Recent projects include Curlew River with Ian Bostridge for Lincoln Center, CalPerformances, Carolina Performing Arts, and the Barbican London, Feldman’sWords and Music for Happy Days at International Beckett Festival in Ireland, and Kurtág’s Kafka Fragments for The Royal Opera House. Future projects include a new production of Atthis by Georg Frederich Haas for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, Les Illuminations with Daniel Harding for the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra and a new staged production of Hans Zender’s orchestral interpretation of Schubert’s Winterreise with Ian Bostridge at the Barbican Theatre.

Unsuk Chin. Photo by Eric Redmond

Unsuk Chin

Unsuk Chin was born in 1961 in Seoul, South Korea, and has lived in Berlin since 1988. Her music has attracted international conductors including Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Kent Nagano, Esa-Pekka Salonen, David Robertson, Peter Eötvös, Neeme Järvi, Markus Stenz, Myung-Whun Chung, George Benjamin, Susanna Mälkki, François -Xavier Roth, Leif Segerstam and Ilan Volkov, among others. It is modern in language, but lyrical and non-doctrinaire in communicative power. Chin has received many honours, including the 2004 Grawemeyer Award for Music Composition for her Violin Concerto, the 2005 Arnold Schoenberg Prize, the 2010 Prince Pierre Foundation Music Award, and the 2012 Ho-Am Prize.

She has been commissioned by leading performing organisations and her music has been performed in major festivals and concert series in Europe, the Far East, and North America by orchestras and ensembles such as the Berlin Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Ensemble Intercontemporain, Ensemble Modern, Kronos Quartet and Arditti Quartet. In addition, Unsuk Chin has been active in writing electronic music, receiving commissions from IRCAM and other electronic music studios.

In 2007, Chin’s first opera Alice in Wonderland was given its world première at the Bavarian State Opera as the opening of the Munich Opera Festival and released on DVD by Unitel Classica. Her second opera Alice Through the Looking Glass is commissioned by The Royal Opera in London for premiere in the 2018/19 season. Since 2006, Chin has overseen the contemporary music series of the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra, a series which she founded herself. Since 2011, she has served as Artistic Director of the ‘Music of Today’ series of the Philharmonia Orchestra in London. Portrait CDs of her music have appeared on Deutsche Grammophon, Kairos and Analekta.

David Henry Hwang‘s work includes the plays M.ButterflyChinglishYellow FaceGolden ChildThe Dance and the Railroad, and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival), and Tarzan. Upcoming productions include two new musicals: The Forgotten Arm, with music and lyrics by Aimee Mann and Paul Bryan, for the Public Theater; and Pretty Dead Girl, with music and lyrics by Anne-Marie Milazzo.

As America’s most-produced living opera librettist, he has written four pieces with composer Philip Glass, including The Voyage (Metropolitan Opera, 1992), as well as Osvaldo Golijov’s Ainadamar (two 2007 Grammy Awards), Bright Sheng’s The Silver River (1997), Unsuk Chin’s Alice in Wonderland (2007 “World Premiere of the Year” by Opernwelt magazine), Howard Shore’s The Fly (2008) and Huang Ruo’s An American Soldier (2014). Upcoming operas include Through the Looking Glass with Unsuk Chin for the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and Dream of the Red Chamber with Bright Sheng for the San Francisco Opera.

Mr. Hwang penned the screenplays for M. Butterfly (1993), starring Jeremy Irons and John Lone; Golden Gate (1994), starring Matt Dillon and Joan Chen; and Possession (co-writer, 2002), starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart. With the pop star Prince, he co-wrote the song “Solo,” released on Prince’s 1994 gold album Come. He is currently writing a feature film for Dreamworks Animation and the film adaptation of Chinglish, to be directed by Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow, the Fast & Furious franchise), as well as creating an original television series, “Shanghai,” for Lions Gate and Bravo.

Hwang is a Tony Award® winner and three-time nominee, a three-time Obie Award winner, and a two-time Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. He received the 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award, the 2012 William Inge Award, the 2012 Steinberg “Mimi” Award, and the 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award, and recently completed his the Residency One Playwright term at NYC’s Signature Theatre, which produced a season of his plays, including the world premiere of his newest work Kung Fu in February 2014. He serves as President of Young Playwrights Inc, and sits on the boards of the Lark Play Development Center, The American Theatre Wing, and The Actors Fund.

 

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Playwright David Henry Hwang joins faculty at Columbia

 

AsAm News: 


Columbia University has announced that Tony award winning playwright David Henry Hwang has joined its faculty of the Arts.

I’m thrilled for this opportunity to serve the MFA playwriting students at Columbia, helping them develop their own unique and idiosyncratic voices, and building a practical foundation for their future lives in the theatre,” said Hwang.

The announcement came on the same day the University hired Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Lynn Nottage.

David Henry Hwang and Lynn Nottage are among the most influential and accomplished American dramatists of the past several decades,” said Christian Parker, Chair of the Master of Fine Arts Theatre Program at Columbia University School of the Arts. “Both have contributed immeasurably to making the stories of underrepresented characters visible in a historically homogeneous field. Each of them brings a passion for the possibilities for social dialogue that can stem from great theatrical storytelling, and a great sense of generosity and rigor about training a new generation of artists.

Hwang’s works include M. ButterflyChinglishGolden ChildYellow FaceThe Dance & the Railroad and FOB, as well as the Broadway musicals Aida (co-author), Flower Drum Song (2002 revival) and Disney’s Tarzan.

 

Check out this link:

Playwright David Henry Hwang joins faculty at Columbia

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Eddie Huang’s BaoHaus collaborates with FILA with “Bao Beach” edition of The Cage sneaker

Image of BaoHaus x FILA The Cage "Bao Beach"

FILA has teamed up with Eddie Huang’s restaurant BaoHaus to produce this “Bao Beach” edition of The Cage silhouette. Inspired by the classic Polo Ralph LaurenSnow Beach” jacket made famous by Raekwon, the shoe features a yellow suede upper with red and blue accents, and a yellow sole with blue accents.

The tongue features an embroidered Taiwanese flag with “FOB” below it — a reference to Huang’s VICE series Fresh Off the Boat. These are set to drop after Chinese New Years but if you happen to live in New York City you can win one of five pairs being raffled away at BaoHaus on January 31. All you need to do for a chance to win is purchase one of the restaurant’s baos.

Check out this link:

Eddie Huang’s BaoHaus collaborates with FILA with “Bao Beach” edition of The Cage sneaker