people of colour

How to research your racially/ethnically diverse characters

writingwithcolor:

chiminey-cricket asked:

Do any of you have any tips for doing independent research for PoC characters?

This question is super broad, but I’m going to see if I can give it a crack!

First of all, consume media by the group in question. If you want to write a story with a Chinese-American protagonist, read some blogs by Chinese-Americans, read books by Chinese-Americans – both fiction and nonfiction – lurk on places like thisisnotchina so you can get a feel for what pisses Chinese and Chinese diaspora people off about their portrayal in the media, google for stereotypes about Chinese people and try to make sure you’re not doing those (even positive ones), go more general (East-Asian all-of-the-above in general since in many cases the harmful tropes overlap), go more specific (if your protagonist is female, look specifically for blog posts featuring the opiniosn of Chinese-American and other Asian/Asian diapora women; same if your protagonist is attracted to the same sex, is transgender, or deals with any other form of oppression besides anti-Chinese racism.) All of the above applies to Latinxs, Native Americans/Canadian First Nations, African/African diaspora people, Jews, Muslims, etc. Find out what we’re saying about ourselves.

Lots of things are available just from Google. “I have a Black character and I want to know what kind of hairstyles are available for her!” We have a Black hair tag, but apart from that, googling “Black hairstyles” will probably bring up some articles that can at least give you a good starting point to learn some vocabulary to add to your next Google search, like “natural” and “twists” and “dreadlocks.”

Next, you can talk to people in the group, but before you do this, be sure to have some specific questions in mind. “How do I write a Jewish character?” is not a specific question. “Do I have to make my Jewish character follow kosher laws if I’ve made her religious in other ways, or can she go to shul but not keep kosher?” or “What’s a term of endearment a parent might use for a child in Yiddish?” is much more specific. Remember, if you’re talking to someone they’re answering you back with their free time, so expecting them to do most of the work of figuring out what’s most important for you to know is a little entitled.

Besides, a more specific question will give you a more helpful answer. If someone asks me “how do I write a Jewish character” one of the first things out of my mouth will be a list of personality stereotypes to avoid, which isn’t going to be very helpful if what you really need for your fic was whether or not you have to write your character as following strict kosher laws.

If you’re sending a question in to a writing blog or one of those race blogs like thisisnot[whoever], please read through their tags and FAQ to see if they’ve already answered it. Longtime followers of a blog would get very bored if all the blog’s content was nothing but “We answered that here last week at this helpful link!” Those who participate in answering these blogs are usually unpaid volunteers who provide a resource that’s already there to help people; help repay them for what they do by looking through the material on your own first.

How to tell if a source from outside the group is biased and bigoted: obviously, you’re not going to want to listen to Stormfront about Jews, or the KKK about, well, anything. If you’re not on a source created by the group in question, look for dry and academic language as opposed to emotional, informal, or inflammatory words – although dispassionate and technical language is no guarantee it won’t be racist, colonialist, or inaccurate. If you read enough books and blogs from the inside, though, you’ll probably see some of the myths from those other sources debunked before you even encounter them.

Lastly, don’t assume that all people who are Asian, African-American Christians, religious Jews, or Muslims are from cultures more oppressive, more conservative, more patriarchal, more homophobic, more sexist, or more controlling than the one in which you were raised. If your plot calls for homophobic parents or a repressive culture, that shouldn’t be the reason you make your character one of the groups listed. There is plenty of oppressive, anti-woman, and anti-queer thought in white American Christian/Christian-cultured society and personally, I believe such criticisms of the marginalized diaspora peoples I listed above belong in the voices of the cultures themselves.

–mod Shira

I’d not leave looking for dry and clinical information as the ONLY means to distinguish that a work is biased.

While yes it is pragmatic to say “look for academically toned wording,” … in addition to that, these folks really need to look into who the author is. Definitely look into the author. And the year the thing was published (because man if it’s from like the 60s or earlier, 9 times out of 10, throw that shit out).

Because people can disguise hatred and racism in careful diction so that it looks reasonable and polite. A shining example is physiognomy studies from Nazis and anti-Semite eugenecists. And the sad thing is, you really can’t trust people to read it and make the judgement call that this hate-in-disguise they’re reading is hate.  

Somehow, when someone says, “The people of the Levant express features such as […] which, at the risk of sounding untoward, suggest a very rodent-like persuasion,” people are like, “Oh, well, that was worded fancily and there was no angry or profane language, I suppose they’re right,” not stopping to think even for a moment that they just accepted that this book just said to them that Jews look like rats. I saw it happen in my Nazi Germany class when we were given reading material. It was fucking nuts.

So definitely, definitely look every outsider author in the mouth and cross-check any and everything that person says. 

–mod Elaney

Shira again: Elaney is right that you will want to be critical of outside sources, especially older ones. Also, be suspicious of blanket statements about a group such as “X group are” instead of discussing forces in X culture. For example. Because there’s going to be diversity within any group and it’s likely what’s being said isn’t inherently biologically linked to being in X group.

–mod Shira

1897: Educated African Jewish Man Is Conceptually Confusing to Americans

medievalpoc:

crumblingpages:

image

“A young African negro has been in this city for the last few days who claims to be a Hebrew. He is deaf and dumb and as black as the ace of spades. He carries a pad of paper with him and answers all questions by writing them in Hebrew and Loschen Khodish. What excites the most wonder is that he writes Loschen Khodish very rapidly. It is the language of the books of Moses, and is made a special study of, spoken and written with ease only by the rabbis and highly educated Hebrews.

“The negro was sent to one of the rabbis of Hartford, who is perfectly satisfied that he is a Hebrew. He says that he came from a large town in Africa, where there is a tribe of about 20,000 black Hebrews who speak Loschen Khodish and are quite prosperous. He also says that his father is a rabbi in that town, and that is why his father took the trouble to teach him to write these languages, which needed an extra amount of labor on account of his being deaf and dumb.

“He says his people not only write Loschen Khodish, but it is their speaking language as well. He left home a few years ago and has seen a good deal of the world. In each town he hunts up the Jewish section, and there they give him clothes, food and money.

"What surprises him, he writes, is that no Hebrew knows of his countrymen in Africa.”

The Houston Daily Post, September 20, 1897 

I’d love to read a book about his experiences traveling the world. Would be nice if they at least mentioned his name and where in Africa he hails from. 

I had reason recently to reference this post again, and I’ll reiterate that it’s definitely in my top five all time favorites (that I didn’t even post myself :P).

Also, when is this book/movie going to be made?

I would love this as a book/movie!!!

thefilmstage:

The first poster for the NASA drama Hidden Figures starring Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe.

See the trailer.

omgomg is this for real

Can’t believe this is the first I hear of this movie! Looks like something I would watch the CRAP OUT OF and eeeee Janelle Monae

medievalpoc:

Garb Week: TV & Film

All of these are just stunningg

medievalpoc:

jhameia:

chocolattabrides:

ART. FABIOLA JEAN-LOUIS REWRITES HISTORY.
BY SUPERSELECTED · ART, FABIOLA JEAN-LOUIS, HARLEM SCHOOL OF THE ARTS, MIXED MEDIA, PHOTOGRAPHY

Now, this is steampunk. 

In the small details, history that slaps you in the face.

You know, I’m waiting til the end of the summer to do Garb Week again, but I have to say this gorgeous photoset is making me impatient…

“in the small details, history that slaps you in the face”

writingwithcolor:

Before you say, Write your own! – let me tell you that we do. But this page is a resource for writers, so we thought writers might want to know what kinds of representation would make us more likely to get excited about your book. We don’t speak for everyone in our demographic, just ourselves, but we hope this post gives you some cool writing ideas.

Note: This is additional info writers can keep in mind
when writing characters of those backgrounds. We believe it’s a good
thing to ask the people you’re including what they’d like to see.

Actually
hearing from misrepresented and underrepresented people and asking us
what we’d like to see of ourselves is much better than unthinkingly tossing
characters into tired tropes or reinforcing stereotypes that do us harm.

Colette (Black): More Black people doing shit! Going on adventures, riding dragons, being magical! More Black characters in prominent roles in fantasy + sci-fi and historical settings and not always and only as slavess. These stories are important, but they’re NOT our only stories. We were kings and queens too. Let us wear the fancy dresses for a change instead of the chains, damn it!

More Black girls being portrayed as lovely and treasured and worth protecting. More Black girls finding love. More Black girls in general who aren’t relegated to arc-less, cliche “Sassy best friends” and “strong black women.”

More positive, dynamic roles of Black men (fathers, brothers, boys…) More positive, dynamic family roles of Black families as a whole, families that are loving and supportive and there. More Black people from all socioeconomic classes. More Black characters that don’t rely on the stereotypes that the media is currently going full force to reinforce.

Yasmin (Arab, Turkish): More Arabs who aren’t token characters. I want to see Arabs normalised in literature. Arab teenagers in high school, Arab young adults behind on their taxes, Arab dads who cook amazing food, Arab moms who refuse to soften their tongue for others. Arabs who aren’t mystical fantasy creatures from another planet. Arabs in YAs and in dramas and nonfiction and comedies and children’s books. We are human just like everyone else, and I’d like to see that reflected in literature. Often we are boxed into very specific genres of literature and made to feel ostracised from the rest. Let’s see some change!

Alice (Black, biracial): I’m hoping for more Black and biracial (mixed with Black) leading characters in all genres, but mainly in SF/F who fall outside of the stereotypes. Characters I can relate to who love, cry and fight for their ideals and dreams. It would be great if their race would play an active role in their identities (I don’t mean plot-related). Some intersectionality with sexuality and disability is also sorely missed, without it becoming a tragedy or it being seen as a character flaw. More mixed race characters who aren’t mixed with some kind of monster, fictional race or different species. Dystopias about problems usually faced by poc having actual poc protags, without all the racial ambiguity which always gets whitewashed. 

Shira (Jewish): More Jewish characters who feel positively about their Judaism and don’t carry it around as a burden or embarrassment. While the latter is definitely a real part of our experience due to anti-Semitism and all we’ve been through as a people, the fact that it overrepresents us in fiction is also due to anti-Semitism, even internalized. (Basically, Jews who don’t hate Judaism!)

More brave, heroic characters who are openly Jewish instead of being inspired by the Jewish experience and created by Jews (like Superman) or played by Jews (Captain Kirk) but still not actually Jewish. I’m tired of always being Tolkien’s Dwarves; I’d like a chance to play Bard, Bilbo, or even Gandalf’s role in that kind of story.

Elaney (Mexican): While we’re discussing what sort of representation we’d like to see, I am using the word “latinista” and I want to quickly address that since you may have not seen it before: “-ista” is a genderless suffix denoting someone is from an area (“Nortista”, a northerner), or who practices a belief (“Calvinista”, a calvinist), or a professsion (you’ve heard ‘barista’).  I find it more intuitively pronounceable than “latinx” and also more friendly to Spanish, French, and Portugueze pronunciation (and thus more appropriate), personally, so I invite you to consider it as an alternative.  If you don’t like it, well, at least I showed you.

1. I want legal Latinista immigrants. The darker your skin is down here, the more likely you are to be assumed to be illegal by your peers, and I want media to dilute this assumption so many have of us.

2. I want Latinistas who are well educated, not just smart, and I mean formally educated, with college degrees, professional skillsets, and trained expertise.  Being in fields which do not require a formal degree is no less legitimate of a lifestyle than being in a field which requires a PhD, but I want you to consider when casting your Latinista character that We, as a people, are assumed to be little more than the drop-out and the janitor by our peers, and People Of Color in scientific fields are mistaken as assistant staff rather than the scientists that they are.  I want media to dilute this assumption.  

3. I want Latnistas who are not marketed as “Latin American” but as their actual country of origin, because “Latin America” is a conglomerate of individual entities with their own, distinct cultures and if you are, for example, Cuban, then Mexican characters may appeal to you but they don’t have the same relatability as fellow Cuban characters. Wouldn’t you be a little more interested, too, to pick up a book that’s about a character who lives where you do rather than about a character who lives somewhere in general?

4. I want rich or well-to-do Latinistas.  Looking back, I notice that several of the character concepts that have been bounced off of us with regards to Latinista characters incorporate poverty despite an astronomical and diligent work ethic. I don’t think this is on purpose but I do think that it is internalized because so often the stereotype of us is poor and uneducated in a vicious cycle (uneducated because we’re poor, poor because we’re uneducated) and I think that there should be more media to dilute this.  

Lastly, I personally do not want these tropes to be explored and subverted by people, I want them to be avoided entirely because I feel that normalizing positive representation rather than commenting on negative representation is far more beneficial and validating to the people these works are supposed to help and represent. We don’t need sympathy, we need empathy! 

Jess (Chinese, Taiwanese): Stories that don’t center around the identity of being Chinese-American. That doesn’t mean “erase any references to protag’s Chinese identity” but I’d definitely like stories that have us go on awesome adventures every now and then and don’t have the Chinese character being all “I AM CHINESE” from beginning to end.

Please round out the Chinese migrant parents instead of keeping them as strict and/or traditional. PLEASE. I could go into how my parents and the Chinese aunties and uncles here are so awesome, seriously, and we need more older Chinese migrant characters who are awesome and supportive and just people. Also! EAST ASIAN GIRLS WHO AREN’T SKINNY AND/OR PETITE. Please. PLEEEEEASE. And more stories about Taiwanese and Chinese folks who aren’t in bicoastal regions (the Midwest, the Plains, etc.) WE EXIST.

More Chinese-Americans who aren’t necessarily Christian. Maybe it’s because of the books I’ve wound up reading, but there seems to be this narrative of Chinese migrants joining churches and converting when they’re in the US. This doesn’t mean I want less Chinese-American Christians in fiction, mind: I’d also just like to see more Chinese families in the US who are Buddhist or who still keep up with the traditions they learned from their homelands, like me, without having it considered in the narrative as ~old fashioned~ or ~ancient~ or ~mystical~. Tangentially, when writing non-Christian Chinese families, I’d rather people keep the assumption of Communism being the underlying reason why far, far away. I have been asked in the past if Communism was why my family didn’t go to church, and needless to say, it’s really, really offensive. 

Stella (Korean): I’d love to see more Korean (and Asian-American) characters that don’t perpetuate the super-overachieving, stressed-out, only-cares-about-succeeding Asian stereotype. These Koreans exist (I would know; I went to school with quite a few of them) but they don’t represent all of us. I want to see more Korean characters solving mysteries, saving the world and having fun. More Koreans that aren’t pale, petite, and a size 2. Not all of us have perfect skin or straight black hair or monolids. And some of us love our short legs, round faces and small eyes!

And fewer stoic&strict Korean parents, please. So many of us grew up with loud, wacky, so-embarrassing-but-endearing parents!  

Recently, there’s been quite a few novels with Korean American female protags (particularly in the YA section) that deal with being in high school, dealing with strict parents, getting into college, and boys. Lots of boys! I think it’s awesome that there are more books with KA protags, and I’m so so so glad they’re out there. But I also recognize that those are definitely not the kind of books I would have read as a teenager, and it’s not the kind of book I want to read now. I want to see more Korean characters that are queer, trans, ace, bisexual. More Korean characters that are disabled or autistic or have mental illnesses. More Korean characters in fantasy, SFF, mystery! Heck, space operas and steampunk Westerns. I want it all! :DDDD

A lot of Korean-Americans struggle with their identity. It’s hard to balance things sometimes! But I’d love to see more stories that *aren’t* overtly about Korean-Americans dealing with their racial identity or sexual orientation, but stories about Koreans saving princesses and slaying trolls and commandeering spaceships. I want a plot that doesn’t center on Korean-American identity, but on a Korean-American character discovering themselves. White characters get to do it all the time; I want Korean characters to have a turn. 

And honestly, I just want to see more Asians in media, period. South Asians, Southeast Asians, Central Asians! Thai, Hmong, Tibetan, Filipino, Vietnamese characters. Indian characters! There’s so much diversity in Asia and among Asian diaspora. I want us to be more than just ~~mystical~~ characters with ancient wisdom and a generic Asian accent. We’ve got boundless oceans of stories within ourselves and our communities, and I can’t wait for them to be told.

I would also love to see more multiethnic Asian characters that are *not* half white. It seems to be the default mixed-race Asian character: East Asian and white. But so many of my friends have multiethnic backgrounds like Chinese/Persian, Thai/Chinese or Korean/Mexican. I have Korean friends who grew up in places like Brazil, Singapore and Russia. Did you know that the country with the largest population of Koreans (outside of Korea) is actually China? 

And while I’m at it, I’d love to see more well-translated works from Asia in the US. Like, how awesome would it be to have more science fiction, fantasy, and historical novels from Asia that are easily accessible in English? SUPER awesome!!

Kaye (Muslim): I am so hungry for Muslim representation, because there is so little of it. You can see one or two (YA) titles I currently think or have heard are good representation on the shelves – notably, Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Stars – on an AMA I did the other day for /r/YAwriters.

However, I’d just love to see stories where Muslim characters go on adventures like everyone else!

I’ve been saying recently that I’d LOVE to see a cozy mystery. Or a series of Muslim historical romances a la Georgette Heyer (there are a LOT of Muslim girls who love romances, and I’m just starting to get into the genre myself!). I’d love to see Muslim middle grade readers get girls who find secret passages, solve mysteries, tumble through the neighborhood with their dozen or so cousins.

I have a lot of cousins and thus I always have a soft spot for cousins. And siblings.

I’m looking forward to Scarlett Undercover by Jennifer Latham because Jen is writing Scarlett as a detective a la Veronica Mars. And she’s Somali-American. How cool is that?!

Let’s see some classic road trip YA with Muslims. Let’s see comedies with quirky characters – for instance, I know one or two tween Muslim girls who are driving their moms MAD by suddenly turning vegetarian and refusing to touch the celebratory biryani at family Eid parties, who join relevant societies at their schools and start preaching to their extended families about the benefits of going vegetarian and all the funny little interactions that are involved with that. Let’s have a story with some wise-cracking African American Muslim girls.

My cousin is a niqaabi who loves YA and hates that she doesn’t see herself in it. Let’s see some stories with teen niqaabis! Let’s explore the full, joyful spectrum of diversity in Islam. Let’s have stories where we talk about how one word in Bengali is totally different in another language, and one friend is hilariously horrified and the other friend doesn’t know what he/she said.

(True story.)

I want to see joy. I want to see happiness. Being a woman of color and a hijaabi often means facing so many daily, disheartening scenarios and prejudice and hatefulness. So many of the suggested tropes recently in the inbox focus on trying to force Muslim characters into beastly or haraam or just sad and stereotypical scenarios. I know that writers are better and have bigger imaginations than that.

You want angst? Push aside the cold, unkind, abusive Muslim parents trope. Let’s talk about the Muslim girls I know who have struggled with eating disorders. Let’s talk about Islamophobia and how that is a REAL, horrible experience that Muslim kids have to fear and combat every day. Let’s approach contemporary angst without the glasses of the Western gaze and assumptions about people of the Islamic faith on.

We can have Muslim novels that focus on growing pains like Sarah Dessen and Judy Blume (and speaking of that, my “auntie” who used to teach in a madrasah used to press Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret on the Muslim girls she knew because of how Margaret approached growing up and had concerns about her faith and her relationships, etc.)

Having Shia friends, I would like to see more stories that aren’t just assumed to be Sunni. How about stories about Su-Shi kids, too? (Sunni and Shia – the name always surprises me!) Let’s see some Muslim-Jewish friendships. Because they exist.

And of course, I always, always hunger for Muslim voices first. Because it’s so important to have these voices there, from the source, and some of the issues with answering here at WWC is how people seem to be approaching certain tropes that a Muslim writer could explore with the nuance and lived experience of their faith behind it.

Hey! Just before I ask, this is a totally amazing blog. Kudos to you for making it. So, I was wondering if you have any painting(s)/picture(s) references towards the following ethnicities and their clothing: (this is set during the 1800s ). A Prussian General, a Victorian Gentleman, a Victorian painter woman, a Greek male scholar, a Portuguese prince, and a Dutch prince. ( I was planning to make a story about these, and i need references, so that i could draw them. ) Help a friend out?

medievalpoc:

Well, thank you.

First things first, none of the categories you’ve defined here are “ethnicities”.
They’re all jobs and nationalities, or jobs and time period, depending on what you mean by “Victorian.” I’m assuming that, since you’re asking me, you want to see people of color wearing these outfits before you draw them? That’s not really necessary. You can really just search for fashion references, then make the person in the outfit a person of color.

I’m guessing you’re making a comic or illustrated story, since you mention wanting visual references for drawing-there’s nothing stopping you from making a bazillion drawings of people of color wearing whatever historical costume you fancy them wearing.
Sadly, some people seem to find it brain-breaking to envision a person who isn’t white wearing a dang cravat, so this blog is full of images of actual people (even religious and mythological subjects used models), so have at it if you need inspiration.

If you want to just browse around, you should check out the “1800s Week” tag here; that’s more if you just want general visual fashion references like this:

But to go bit by bit specifically, I’ll do what I can for ya.

1. Prussian General

This one’s not hard at all, you’ll find thousands of resources from a google image search, or you can check out what the Deutsches Historiches Museum has available.

Here’s Gustav Sabac El Cher, an Afro-Prussian military musician:

You might find Germany and the Black Diaspora: Points of Contact, 1250-1914, ed. Mischa Honeck, Martin Klimke, and Anne Kuhlmann useful for your research here.

For European generals of color in general (ha…), you might wanna check out Ivan Abramovich Gannibal (1735-1801):

And Abram Petrovich Gannibal, his father, and incidentally the great grandfather of Alexandre Pushkin, whose unfinished novel Peter the Great’s Moor, is about his life as a military commander:

And of course, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas Davy de la Pailleterie:

2. Victorian Gentleman

This is also not very difficult. If you want specific names or regions to explore, and we take “Victorian” to mean “British”, here’s an interactive map of Black Londoners 1800-1900 you can check out, all people who actually lived and worked there. There’s Black Victorians/Black Victoriana by Gretchen Holbrook Gerzina; There’s also John Archer, the mayor of Battersea South London.

You also don’t get more “Victorian” than Queen Victoria’s actual secretary, Abdul Karim (called “the Munshi”):

And then there’s always the unparalleled hotness that is a young Alexandre Dumas (yes, THE Alexandre Dumas!!):

3. Victorian Painter Woman

Well, here’s Edmonia Lewis, an artist living & working in Europe during the time specified:

A woman of Ojibwe, Haitian, and African-American heritage, she was
accused of poisoning her female classmates with an aphrodisiac because she was gay, then a LOT of
bad stuff happened, then some good stuff, then some WEIRD stuff, and
somehow she ended up rich, single, and working in Rome until her death,
sometime around 1911.

I wanna say there was evidence that this woman painted by Eugene Delacroix was a working artist in Paris as well:

For more on art and artists, check out What Jane Saw, which is a recreation of an actual art exhibit Jane Austen attended in 1813, it’s pretty great.

Also Fanny Eaton:

4. A Greek Scholar

Okay, for this one you’ve GOT to check out Christos the Athenian:

He was multilingual, an independent thinker, and had good knowledge of
politics and diplomacy. He was a distinguished and much loved member of
Athenean society, a favourite subject of many contemporary painters,
sculptors, and poets. When the painter Gyzis came to Athens, Christos
was a living legend and he painted him on many occasions between
1871-1875 other than the portrait:

Head of an Arab
Oriental man with a musical instrument
Oriental man smoking
Oriental man with fruit
The punishment of the chicken thief (first man on the right)

5. A Portuguese Prince

You don’t really have to guess with this one; here’s Michael of Braganza (1802-1866), as Infante of Portugal in exile in Vienna:

6. A Dutch Prince

Welp for that you’re gonna want either William II or III of the Netherlands and they basically all just look like this more or less:

As you can see, once you get to princes there’s not “a Prince” it’s literally just “the prince at this time of this nation was this guy” type of thing. At least when it comes to Crown Princes and such, but you can go ahead and check out the families and the youngest sons and daughters and royal nephews or whatever and see who they were. It just depends on if you’re like, writing historical fiction and want to keep your facts straight or if you’re doing some kinda alternate-history or fantasy type deal in which case you can quite literally do whatever you want.

Cool facts and awesome art!

writingwithcolor:

eastasiansonwesternscreen:

East Asians on Western Screen – Text Printed across GIFS reads:

Constance Wu  I think in my early years being Asian was an advantage to me because that was a time when casting was more concerned about hiring POC actors to be PC. Not because there was a curiosity in the thing that made them unique. I was going out for the auditions that were “the best friend” or “the assistant” to sort of “put color” around the lead white person’s story. 

Lucy Liu

 I wish people wouldn’t just see me as the Asian girl who beats everyone up, or the Asian girl with no emotion. People see Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, but not me. 

Daniel Wu 

I don’t want to play an Asian character that white America finds cute and funny because it’s a variation of Long Duk Dong in Sixteen Candles. I remember going to a Rush Hour 2 premiere and talking to a producer, and he was really excited talking to me because Hong Kong films were really kind of cool at the moment…And he goes, “How come you don’t have an accent?” And I told him that I was from Berkeley. And immediately I wasn’t as interesting to him anymore, and he walked away. But if I was from Hong Kong, and with a funny accent, maybe i’d been cuter to him, and more something that you can market.

Steven Yeun –

People ask, “So, how are the roles now? You must be getting so many!” And it’s like, I don’t know if you know, but i’m Asian still. It’s not a complaint, that’s just how it is now, and I have to forge my own path through it and see that through. I think that if I had not been Asian, I probably would have a whole plethora of roles, at least to audition for, but it’s just not what has been written. 

Ming-Na Wen – That’s definitely been my lifelong career goal; to break stereotypes and not be afraid to embrace what our culture has to offer.

John Cho – I experienced racism, and in my professional life, I try to take roles (and have always tried to take roles) that don’t fall within the parameters of any Asian stereotype. And so to me, hopefully, that’s a positive thing I can put into popular culture and so maybe in some bizarrely tiny way that helps people not think of Asians in one particular way.

Ardon Cho – Turning down another role. Super-hot Asian trophy wife with a thick Asian accent. No thanks. #racist Even though it’s a studio film with stars.

Daniel Dae Kim – I’m such a fan of films and books like Lord of the Rings and even Star Wars, despite the fact that, as an actor, I’ll never be employed by them, simply because of my race.

Sandra Oh – I’d always known that I worked in an industry that blatantly excluded people based on their race. But i’d believed, naively, that I could break through those barriers if I just worked hard enough. I still have to squeeze my way into auditions, because people often can’t imagine that someone who looks the way I do could play a certain role. It doesn’t occur to them – but I know I can make it occur to them, if they just give me a chance.

Daniel Henney – I grew up in a farm town and was the only Asian. So you looked at television for inspiration. Even then, there was nothing aside from martial artists and sidekicks with accents. The Asian man has been desexualized ; in Western media] and that’s something I always fought against.

Masi Oka – Hollywood is fickle, it follows trends. If a show or a film did well with an Asian lead, then it would take off.

history-of-fashion:

1884-1910 Alvan S. Harper Collection – Woman holding parasol

Whenever I see photographs – not drawings, but actual photographs – of women in roughly-Victorian dress, I can’t help look at the clear lines of their corsetry and wonder what it must have felt like to wear something that stiff, and like, not just for a costume or special occasion, but every freaking day.

This woman pulls it off beautifully though. Favourite bits: the bow at the side of her neck, her hairstyle, trying to imagine what colour her skirt was (and her top! What if it was a rad shade of AUBERGINE). And of course, wondering: who was she? What made her go into the photographer’s studio that day? Did she want a portrait to give her family? Was she hired as a model, as someone who inspired the photographer as an artist? Was she a singer or a stage performer, being immortalized for her fans?

And then, of course, I’m pretty sure that’s not a real outdoor shot, which means that someone painstakingly painted the background. So now I’m thinking about that painter, whether the photographer gave them creative freedom or micromanaged, or maybe the photographer themselves painted it, as another facet of their art…..

This is why I love history. Numbers on paper are boring as hell. But trying to feel out and understand the lives of people who went through the same people problems and people joys as we do but in different circumstances, that’s exhilarating. ❤