Posts under Tag: misconceptions
Gwen Stefani isn’t guilty of cultural appropriation, just cringe

Gwen Stefani is getting roasted for remarks she made in a recent Allure article. In discussing her new beauty brand GXVE, interviewer Jesa Marie asked about her Harajuku Lovers fragrance collection, which launched 14 years ago, and its Japanese influence. Gwen Stefani explained that her strong love of Japanese pop culture originates back to when she was a kid. Her father took business trips from California to Japan. For years, he would tell Gwen stories about his experiences in the country and that fascinated her. When she finally visited Japan as an adult, she thought to herself, “My God, I’m Japanese and I didn’t know it” and later said, “I am, you know.” These quotes are going viral with lots of negative remarks.

Here’s the thing. I think the second quote mentioned here was Gwen being cheeky. And I don’t think she literally believes she is Japanese. I wasn’t there and there is only the written article, no video or audio. It’s hard to know for sure the full context and emotion.

But Gwen has never been an Oli London, a White British man who claims to be a “transracial” Korean. She never faked her background like Hilaria Baldwin. She isn’t a Rachel Dolezal. She does have a history of dressing strongly of other cultures, such as Hindu, Jamaican, and Latina. In my opinion, she has sometimes looked silly doing so. But she doesn’t have a history of literally claiming to be anything she isn’t.

I think she simply meant she’s Japanese in the sense that when she visited, she felt a strong affinity with the Japanese people and culture. And that’s fine! That’s the beauty of the world being as connected as ever. We have the internet, we can fly overseas within hours. And we can learn and share so much with one another. I don’t see the issue with that.

But I have a confession. When Gwen’s first solo album came out in 2004, I had a very different opinion. I think I even rage blogged about it at the time. I was much younger and less logical, more easily offended. I doubt I knew of the term “cultural appropriation,” but if I had, I almost certainly would have accused her of that.

She had a song called “Harajuku Girls,” which basically fangirled over Harajuku fashion. In the song “What You Waiting For,” there are the following lyrics: “I can’t wait to go back and do Japan. Get me lots of brand new fans. Osaka, Tokyo. You Harajuku girls. Damn, you’ve got some wicked style, go.” In “Rich Girl,” she sings: “I’d get me four Harajuku girls to inspire me, and they’d come to my rescue. I’d dress them wicked, I’d give them names. Love, Angel, Music, Baby. Hurry up and come and save me.”

She hired four Japanese and Japanese American women she dubbed the “Harajuku Girls.” Like the song says, she named them Love, Angel, Music, and Baby – as if they were pets or something, LOL. Yikes! She named her first solo album L.A.M.B. and had a clothing line of the same name. They were dancers and would often follow her around at media appearances, like some kind of paid entourage. They were seen and not heard and would put their hands over their mouths and pretend to giggle. This all annoyed the crap out of me.

gwen stefani with harajuku girls dancers

In the blogosphere of the 2000s decade, there was a claim made that these women were contractually obligated not to speak unless spoken to and to act in certain ways that are stereotypically Japanese. These claims were never backed up by any sources. I think they were just speculation. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were true, but I also wouldn’t be surprised if they were completely unfounded. I don’t think it’s fair to spread that around without any real evidence. But I did agree there was something really annoying and weird about that whole thing. I had no negative feelings towards the dancers themselves. It was a great opportunity for them to work for a huge pop star. And there’s nothing wrong with a White woman having dancers of Japanese descent. But the execution was weird.

Then there were Gwen’s fragrance line and her clothing brand for kids sold at Target. Below are perfume bottles from her Harajuku Lovers brand. They were just very aesthetically displeasing to me.

harajuku lovers fragrance bottles

Here’s what I’m getting at. I’m still not a fan of certain aspects of Gwen Stefani, but I realize my reasoning back in 2004 was wrong. A White woman fangirling about Japanese fashion is not immoral. And Gwen isn’t vocal on social issues to my knowledge (which is her choice and fine), so she doesn’t have to talk about hate crimes against Asian Americans to be a fangirl. If Gwen is “guilty” of anything, it’s cringe. I mentioned before that she sometimes looked silly in her Jamaican and other cultural phases. She just didn’t pull it off. And her solo song lyrics about her love of Harajuku fashion doesn’t make her a bad person. It’s just done in an awkward or weird way. I think her heart is in the right place. The execution isn’t always the greatest.

I never cared for the look of her perfume or clothing brands because they came off as kitsch rather than kawaii. I know it sounds silly to criticize this, as kawaii aesthetics aren’t exactly highbrow art. And that’s fine if one is into kitschy things. Her brands sold well and there is definitely a market for it. But this distinction is important because it isn’t the fact that it’s a White woman behind the brands. It’s that it didn’t really capture what it seemed to be going for.

For comparison, let’s discuss the kawaii fashion and collectible art brand Tokidoki (stylized as tokidoki).

tokidoki image

Simone Legno is the artist and creator of the brand. It’s no secret that he is a White man born and raised in Italy and now resides in the United States. He regularly does public appearances all over the world and has a large social media following. The brand’s website is tokidoki.it, with the “it” meaning Italy. It’s not as if no one knows about the artist behind the brand.

Some people reading this may not see a difference between tokidoki and Gwen’s brands, or think it’s all just silly cartoon-looking characters. I realize it’s just a matter of taste and opinion. But tokidoki is wildly popular with the kawaii crowd, while Gwen’s brands didn’t quite have the same effect. Sure, they sold very well, but it was with a different customer set. There are numerous Asians and Asian Americans who didn’t care for Gwen’s brands but have spent a ton of money on tokidoki. So these Asians aren’t anti-non-Asian-people-doing-Asian-inspired-things. Gwen’s stuff just didn’t appeal to them the same way.

Finally, I want to mention that I think most outrage over cultural appropriation is unfounded. There are some extreme cases where it is terrible and done with negative intentions, and worthy of condemnation. But that’s usually the exception these days. Some people have suggested reserving that term for those extremes and calling the more innocent versions “cultural appreciation.”Gwen means well, and seems to have a loving heart, but just doesn’t quite pull it off much of the time.

If cultural appropriation is always a crime like some believe, then we are all guilty of it. The music Gwen Stefani originally did with No Doubt is ska, which originates in Jamaica. If you liked “Spiderwebs” or “Sunday Morning” and you aren’t Jamaican – Oh no, you’re guilty. There’s countless other examples where we would be judged for this. But really, there’s nothing wrong with it most of the time. In fact, it can be beautiful. The world is enriched when we share cultures. It’s OK to think someone’s execution is whack, but that doesn’t mean we have to ascribe immoral intentions to it.

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Reflecting on the 14th anniversary of Columbine after the Boston bombings

Columbine was 14 years ago today. I remember how the media and public were quick to jump in with inaccurate information and many people still believe those myths today. Unfortunately, there are many who haven’t learned from the past and are doing this with the Boston Marathon bombings. Once false information is spread, it’s hard for every single person to unlearn it, no matter how much we backtrack and correct it, so it’s better to prevent misinformation from coming out in the first place. None of us are perfect, but let’s do our best to wait for facts to come to light. This may take time, but it’s better for facts to come out in the future than for lies to be spread now.

Let’s also please keep this in mind: Some of you who are jumping to judge other groups because of the Boston bombings may have been unfairly judged after Columbine (looking “goth”, being introverted, listening to rock music, etc). I know students who were unfairly harassed – sometimes even by their own teachers – simply because of their looks or artistic preferences, not based on any valid concerns. Some schools even put into place unjust rules targeting certain groups of students in the name of “security”. Let’s not have this happen after the tragedies that happened this week.
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Stanford Professor Joel Brinkley’s Inept Article on Vietnam

Joel Brinkley – a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist currently teaching at Stanford University – recently wrote a Chicago Tribune article explaining that the Vietnamese are “aggressive” due to their diets. This is a poorly written article.

Firstly, I’m not sure what the message is. Is it that the Vietnamese are aggressive because of their own doing? Is it that things are getting better because of Western influence? I’ve reread this dozens of times and still can’t figure it out. Perhaps he’s trying to state a little of both, but he doesn’t make a clear case for either.
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She rocks about as hard as Celine Dion

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“Average Asian”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SnlkVP7MaB4

Haha, someone else who knows how I feel sometimes.

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An Asian-American perspective of Affirmative Action

From “Model Minority”:

Asian American status in affirmative action

Because of their high degree of success as a group, Asian Americans do not benefit from affirmative action policies the way other minority groups do. In fact, most schools routinely choose lower-scoring applicants from other racial groups, including European Americans, over Asian Americans, in an attempt to promote racial diversity and to maintain some proportion to the society’s racial demographics. [11]
A 2005 Princeton study showed Asians (not whites) bear nearly 80% of the cost of affirmative action in college admissions. Nearly four out of every five spots given to any other race in an affirmative-action regime would go to Asians in a purely merit-based system. 1


From “Affirmative Action Bake Sale”:

Asians not counted as minorities

Asians are generally not included in the minority-discount category in bake-sales because they do not benefit from affirmative action policies. For example, some schools have had restrictions on the proportion of Asian students admitted, in favor of lower scoring students of other racial groups.1 African-American Dr. Walter E. Williams, a libertarian professor of economics at George Mason University further elaborates that:

“A minority group is not (counted as) a minority if, as a group, it is successful. Asian median family income is $55,525, the highest of any racial group in America. More than 44 percent of Asians age 25 and over have bachelor’s degrees; the rate for all other Americans was 26 percent. Other indicators of group success include low crime rate and high family stability.” [1]

From “Affirmative Action in the United States”:

Libertarian view

Some free market libertarians argue that employment discrimination is only made possible by pervasive market failures. Under a regime of highly competitive labor and goods markets, companies would not be able to afford to hire on any basis other than merit. According to Libertarians, this would render affirmative action unnecessary.
Regardless of the willingness to pay and profitability for private persons or groups to discriminate, other libertarian-oriented persons further argue that affirmative action and non-discrimination policies violate individual rights of freedom of association and the enforcement of such statues violate individual freedom of speech. They argue that such central authority to dictate moral and social improvement is a power that will be fought over on all sides and ultimately cause more harm than good. For example, private female-only gyms have been forced to hire male workers, American colleges have discriminated against Asian students (on the grounds that they are “overrepresented”), and in Washington DC, individuals have been forbidden to advertise that they wish to share an apartment with another Democrat, homosexual, or with someone of similar faith. They conclude that application of affirmative action and anti-discrimination laws to the conduct or property of an individual or a private group is a threat to civil liberties.[20]

Centrist view

Certain people have a different point of view about specifically first world affirmative action which, for lack of a better word, will be referred to as “centrist” here. They claim that affirmative action makes sense, but only to the point where it helps the disadvantaged members of minorities, as opposed to the middle and upper class. They believe that affirmative action, as it is now, is not fulfilling its original purpose (to bring minorities out of poverty) as the vast majority of minorities, in the first world at least, are already middle-class. There have been cases of middle-class minorities receiving better jobs or college acceptance rates than whites of equal or lower income or social standing. According to this point of view, affirmative action should be eliminated and joined with the normal welfare system that helps both whites and blacks that are lower-class. They believe that affirmative action should only be used to bring the lower class, not a specific racial group, out of poverty. This view is particularly associated with the liberal academic and author Walter Benn Michaels. [21]


Why am I posting this? Well, with going back to school next week and hearing a discussion about affirmative action on The Ed Norris Show right now, this is a side to the debate that I do not hear people talk about!
When I first moved from Dayton, OH to Baltimore, MD in the mid-nineties, my parents had to fill out some paperwork to transfer me to the school system here. They did it all and I had nothing to do with it. I remember when they were done, they had a talk with me. They said an issue came up that hadn’t been talked about when we lived in Ohio. They didn’t know what to put down for me under the Race Category. Should they put down Asian, Caucasian, or Other? (There was no choice to put down more than one or specifically what you are if you’re multi-racial). The school counselor strongly urged them to put down Asian because this would stay on my records for years and this would supposedly help me greatly as far as getting into college. The counselor also told them to tell me I should always put down Asian on my applications to colleges in the future, so that I would have an easier time being accepted. I was slightly surprised at this because I had rarely (if ever) even heard about affirmative action until that day. I would have put down Asian regardless of all this, but now I was told this was my only choice. I just said that was fine and that was the end of it. It was done.
Fast forward a few years to my senior year of high school. I was in a class and we were having a heated debate about affirmative action. I was the first non-Caucasian person to raise my hand. When the teacher called on me to discuss this, there were these comments from classmates that went: “Of course, you like affirmative action. You benefit from it.” This was before I started talking. Then I told them something that surprised them. I said that I thought being Asian-American actually hurt my chances of getting into college more than if I were any other race. I told them the reasons I felt this way (the reasons that are stated above) and almost everyone told me I was crazy. At the time, I didn’t have the facts and figures to back up my claim. I hadn’t even heard anyone else state they thought this was true and I had certainly never read an article on this. My teacher, on the other hand, agreed with me fully! And this teacher almost never said what his opinion was on any topics. He usually stayed neutral. But he let the class know he thought I was right in this matter. He said he had known this for years. He said he knew college professors who had told him this was true. He knew Asian-American students in the past who should have been accepted to colleges but were rejected, while students of other races (including Caucasians) were accepted to those same schools and programs during the same time even though they were much less qualified.
Of course, I am not trying to re-enforce the stereotype that all Asians study hard and get good grades. Yes, I was always a good student who was on the Honor Roll/Dean’s List and took higher-level classes (Honors, Gifted/Talented, Advanced Placement, etc). But I have been told for years that for an Asian,  I’m not that studious. (Of course, that is an annoying statement). I don’t excel at math! I don’t stay at home every weekend to study – I have a social life. And this describes a lot of other Asian-Americans, not just me.
But the fact of the matter is, as a whole, we get high scores. I have heard jokes from friends that they hardly see Asians in Baltimore, but when they go into their college library, they see the most they’ve seen in their lives. (Meaning there is a much higher percentage of Asians in college than there are Asians in the general population).
I’m not saying we’re a smarter race. I’m just pointing out facts here. I think a big part of it has not only to do with the fact that standards in schools are higher in many other countries outside of North America, but also that a select population comes to this country from Asia. Think about it. It’s a lot harder for someone from Asia to move to this country than it would be for someone who lives in a neighboring country. Driving here is a lot easier and cheaper than flying here. The languages are a lot different from English than Spanish vs. English or Italian vs. English.  This makes it a lot harder to learn the language. (I know not all Asians are immigrants. There are some who have been here for years and are second, third, etc. generation. But you get my point). So you’re not going to get as many Asians coming to this country as you would of people from counties which are closer. You’re going to get those who really want to come here and work hard to do so. You’re going to be more likely to get the “top” people of their communities because they are the ones who have a strong work ethic and a drive to succeed.
Here’s my point. Asian-Americans are discriminated just as much, if not more, as other “minorities” do right now. We have been treated unfairly in this nation’s past. Sure, most public schools do not teach this. They talk about how African-Americans or Jewish people have had it hard, but they usually skip all the stuff that happened to Asians (and other groups). But just because they don’t teach it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen! If you don’t know, look it up. I’m not going to say that we had it as bad as slavery, but there were some major injustices. We were segregated. Most people I talk to aren’t even aware of the internment camps, which happened as recently as the 1940s! This wasn’t talked about in school. We celebrate Black History Month, but do any of you know when Asian Pacific American Heritage month is? Did you even know it existed at all? Because I didn’t until I was curious and looked it up on the internet about ten years ago. The ch word or the g word is spoken on television but the n word or the k word are almost always bleeped out. I could go on and on about discrimination of Asian-Americans (and I probably will in a future post), but the point is this: Affirmative Action was put into place to help “even out” the injustices of discrimination. But this hurts us and if you believe in affirmative action, I would think you would agree we have been discrimated against and therefore should benefit from this. Right? I am making sense here?
I believe if we are going to keep Affirmative Action, things need to change. Not only because of the Asian-American issues. But it seems like some of the wrong people are benefiting from affirmative action. I hear reports about how many privileged, African-American students from well-off families (who don’t  need as much assistance) will be able to use this to their advantage while poorer, under-privileged African-American students who are much more disadvantaged are turned away even though they are intelligent, hard-working, and well-achieving students. This has been said about other minority groups. So who are we really helping? We might be hurting people more than we are helping certain others.
We can have the debate whether or not affirmative action should exist at all. But that’s another discussion. If it is going to exist, it needs to adapt to the changes of society. Rules about other things change based on changes in the world and changes in time and affirmative action should also be adjusted accordingly. Just exactly how should we change things? That’s a complicated matter that doesn’t have a simple solution. All I do know for sure is that something does need to be improved.

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Punk oxymorons

“Punk modeling”, “punk princess”, and “punk hair extensions” are oxymorons. That is all. Class dismissed.

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I had to turn off America’s Next Top Model Cycle 7

Last night on The CW network, they had an America’s Next Top Model marathon. They were showing some episodes from Cycle 7. I saw part of two episodes and I had to turn it off. I was getting so disgusted! The show is flawed for various reasons. I won’t get into that right now. The thing that got to me was several people on the show criticizing Anchal Joseph. They said she needed to lose weight. Not only did the other contestants say that but one of the guest stars did. I believe she was an agent from Elite Modeling Agency. (I forget which agency it was, but it was someone from a big modeling agency). 

I like Tyra Banks and all. But I just couldn’t keep watching that crap. Even Tyra said on her talk show what is considered thin has gotten stricter than back when she started modeling. She said that if right now she was the same age as when she started modeling and tried to start doing it today, that she would be considered too curvy and therefore rejected. She said that she wouldn’t have been asked to be a Victoria’s Secret model normally but because she started in the 90s and already had built a huge name and fanbase for herself, they asked her. And I believe she’s right. Look at all the younger models they have now.  

Here are some pictures of Anchal:
  
Seriously – this is considered fat?! I know modeling has different standards, but GOOD G-D! Why is she “fat”? Because she has breasts and hips?

Not only do I think her body is not fat, I think she has a gorgeous face. I wish I could find more photos of her. They showed her on an episode wearing this green eye shadow that looked beautiful against her skin tone. I would like to see more Indians and Indian-Americans represented in the media! But anyone who knows me realizes I wish there was more of a variety represented out there.

I’m sure people have talked about this when that season of ANTM came out in the fall of 2006. But I had to mention what happened to her because I really didn’t like it.

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L.A.M.E. – Gwen Stefani sues.

Taken from: http://omg.yahoo.com/gwen-stefani-sues-forever-21-over-fashion-logo/news/1052

(CLICK HERE to view the lawsuit against Forever 21)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. (July 17, 2007) — It appears Gwen Stefani doesn’t “Heart” Forever 21.

Gwen’s Harajuku Lovers fashion line is suing popular retail outlet Forever 21 for trademark infringement, claiming the clothing chain allegedly stole designs from the Harajuku Lovers line, Access Hollywood has learned.

In papers filed in Los Angeles Federal Court, reps for Gwen’s Harajuku Lovers claim Forever 21 is marketing, promoting and selling products featuring a design “virtually indistinguishable” from Harajuku’s signature heart/box logo.

The lawsuit claims Forever 21 “changed a couple of words in the Heart/Box Trademark, which are inconspicuous and likely to go unnoticed by a consumer.”

Specifically, the lawsuit claims Forever 21 used the design but changed the word “Harajuku” to “Forever” and the word “Lovers” to “Love.”

As a result of the chain using a similar image, Harajuku has allegedly “suffered and continues to suffer damage to its business reputation.”

Gwen launched the accessory line in 2005 to coincide with her Harajuku Lovers Tour.

 


Here’s what I think:
1). How about Asians and Asian-Americans sue Gwen for defamation of character? Those stereotypical, “Harajuku” girls are a disgrace, a minstrel show, and just plain horrible. She practically has them made up in Yellow Face. (Don’t tell me “Well, they are getting paid well to do this”. Prostitutes are also getting paid, but that doesn’t make it right. Maybe if Asians had more fair opportunities in the entertainment industry, they wouldn’t feel the need to do this). I could go on and on about this topic. But many others have done so far me already: 
Margaret Cho’s Blog Entry 
Several entries about the this on Disgrasian (Disgrasian’s Myspace profile lists her as the worst offender).
Salon.com article
The Gwen Stefani Rant! – Livejournal entry (Yes – Caucasians from Europe are upset about this, too!) 
Free The Gwenihana Four 
There are many other articles, blogs, and sites regarding this issue, but you get the point. 

2). Gwen is guilty of ripping off others, making this hypocritical. 

Sure, many if not most celebrities have copied something from others, but Gwen is worse than most. When I first heard No Doubt, the first thing I thought about Gwen’s voice was “Oh great, another female ska singer who tries to sing just like that. Boring!”.  

Her clothing, accessories, and make-up is just generic copying of cultures: 
-She stole generic trends from subcultures: She normally dresses like your typical teenaged alternative culture chick (punk/rude girl/goth/raver/freak/etc) who hangs out at the mall or at show. Yes, we dressed like this before No Doubt’s “Tragic Kingdom” came out. To most of the mainstream culture unaware of the alternative scene, Gwen was original and some even thought she invented this style. The truth is, a lot of this was already out of style and overdone in the subculture, and Gwen re-hashing it a couple years later was just a joke to us. Even in middle school, I thought Gwen’s style was equivalent to when Seventeen magazine put out articles/pictures about “How to dress like a rock chick”.  Her style is not very original and it’s watered-down.
-She has stolen from Jamaicans, African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians. (See the article above “The Gwen Stefani Rant!” for some evidence of this if you don’t remember or just plain didn’t notice this before). 
-At red carpet events, she wears very typical 1940’s fashion or complete Marilyn Monroe rip offs. This is much of what the L.A.M.B. (L.A.M.E.) line has. Wal-Mart and cheap mall stores (such as Rave, Divah, and Forever 21) have been selling basically the same things as L.A.M.B for years and for much cheaper.
-Her Harajuku Lovers line of clothing is a bad rip-off of clothing and accessories that already exist in Japan! She does a bad job of just copying off styles that already exist – either clothing sold in stores in Japan or looks that real Harajuku girls created themselves. Calling her dancers “Harajuku” girls is an insult to the real ones. 

Yes, I realize she’s not the only fashion designer or singer to steal things from others. But don’t sue a company for doing the same thing when you are guilty of it, too. Gwen most likely would never admit that she steals ideas.
 At least Forever 21 is known for being a cheap place to buy knock-offs. Which brings me to my next point…

3). Almost every designer gets their ideas stolen.

We could discuss whether or not it is right to sell knock-offs at an affordable price so that the less wealthy can afford the clothing. And we could discuss whether or not the designs were even stolen from her clothing line since the designs already existed before she created her line.  
But let’s just pretend that she did create completely original designs. How often do you  hear about real, reputable, respected high fashion designers suing? You rarely, if ever, hear about them doing this. So why is Gwen – not a reputable or highly respected designer – doing it?

Miranda (Meryl Streep) from “The Devil Wears Prada” explains it like this:
“This… ’stuff’? Oh… ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of 8 different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.”

A cheap-looking tank top that I’ve basically seen being sold at Divah, Rave, and Forever 21 four years ago is being sold  by L.A.M.B. for 138.75. Pathetic.

Maybe if Gwen was ever an actual rude girl or punk in the first place, she would not only be more original, she would sell her clothing more affordably. Then again, she did grow up a rich, spoiled girl  from Orange County and only ever joined a band because her brother, Eric, started the band and wrote most of the lyrics before leaving the band.

 

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VA Tech

Original entry and comments: http://cherryteresa.greatestjournal.com/2007/04/17/

My hearts go out to the students, faculty, staff, and the friends of family of the victims of the Virgina Tech tragedy. I know there have been colleges/universities with school shootings in the past, but to me it is more surprising when it happens at a college rather than a high school, middle school, or even elementary school. The reason is that the students generally want to be in college but people in high school and under have no choice. So if they hate it, they’re pretty much stuck unless they can somehow transfer. But of course, the shootings can happen anywhere as people with mental and emotional problems can occur anywhere and of any age, class, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

I don’t want to sound paranoid and I don’t want to make this tragedy into something else, but I just can’t help but feel the way I do. I am worried that because the killer has been identified as a 23 year-old student originally from South Korea that there will be added racism to Koreans, Korean-Americans and even Asians and Asian-Americans who aren’t Korean. I hope that I am wrong about this. But based on how Koreans are treated as it is and based on how people have reacted to tragedies in the past, this is a real possibility. Some people I know don’t think there is much racism out there for anyone other than African-Americans or Jews. They have no idea. Just a couple weeks ago while I was driving home from work, another driver yelled out the window out to me “You g–k b–ch!” My mother works at the post office and it is not uncommon for customers to say racist things to her to her face. (Telling her to go back to her own country – even though she is a U.S. citizen, asking “can someone White help me?”, are just examples of what people have actually said to her). I constantly hear “jokes” about Asians (and Hispanics) from people who never tell jokes about Black or Jewish people. The n word and k word are bleeped out on non-cable tv while the g word and the ch word usually aren’t. I have had people call me a terrorist, even though I was born here and even if I wasn’t, my family is South Korean. Kim Jong-Il is from North Korea. They are two separate countries for a reason! Even if I were from North Korea, chances are I wouldn’t be a terrorist. Most of the citizens aren’t terrorists and if I had actually went through all the trouble and the huge possibility of death to actually come to America, that would mean that I didn’t like North Korea. (Although it is almost impossible to escape N. Korea to come to America).

There are many other misconceptions and stereotypes of Koreans, but that’s another subject altogether. You take the racism that already exists and look at the way people have reated to tragedies such as Columbine and 9-11, and it makes it almost scary for me to be a Korean-American right now. I was in high school during Columbine. Many people who wore black clothing or kept to themselves were labeled as school shooters. Many schools around the country even suspended students for simply the way they dressed and some schools to this day have ridiculously strict dress codes or mandatory uniforms (these are public schools) because of Columbine. The fact remains that most people who dress “artistically” and listen to a certain type of music don’t go around shooting people. I’d dare to say most are actually anti-gun or at the very least believe in gun control. More “average Joes” have been the killers in school/college shootings but no one points that out. And of course, after 9-11 and to this day, Muslims and basically anyone with dark skin who doesn’t look Black, Hispanic, or Latino are harassed and labelled as terrorists. The overwhelming majority of Muslims do not agree with what happened that day and their actions were actually against the Muslim religion. Saying that the terrorists were Muslim and represent the Muslim religion is like saying David Korresh (or however you spell his name) accurately represented Christians. It just isn’t true. This fact is pointed out constantly by many people. Even George w. Bush points this out. Yet people still have a hatred towards all Muslims, not just the ones who are terrorists. Do these people forget that those “Muslims” actually hate the Muslim-Americans. Do people not realize that Muslim-Americans also died in 9-11? It’s something that’s been brought up since 2001, but is still worth mentioning since many people still continue to be prejudice.

There are very few well-known Koreans in American culture. This is something that has always bothered me. Now that there is someone “famous”, it is for something extremely negative. Unfortunately, many people rely too much on media. I’m afraid that Koreans will now be stereo-typed as loners who can snap at any time. I also hope this won’t make people think that we “shouldn’t allow foreigners” in here anymore. What would piss me off if that happens is those same people would use the tragedy to not allow others in, but not see it as a reason for gun control. I’m not going to say that American culture is necessarily the reason why the tragedy happened. But I do want it to be known it’s not Korean culture either. The shooter lived in this country for 14 years, since he was 8 years old. Private ownership of guns is banned in South Korea and there are no known school shootings in the country. I’m worried these facts will be overlooked. Also, a South Korean student was injured. That will probably also be overlooked.

I really hope that I am wrong about this but history has a tendency to repeat itself. I really hope this horrible tragedy of lives lost and people injured does not turn into another tragedy of harassment and racism.

I know I am not the only one who’s worried as I’ve read reports today that South Korean and Korean-Americans on the Virginia Tech campus have gathered in groups because they are scared about how dangerous it could be for them right now. Imagine how vulnerable and unsafe all the students must feel after a shooter. Now imagine adding to that the fear of what others may do because of your race or nationality.

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