Tag Archives: Racism


VIDEO: Full Trailer for ‘Dear White People,’ Co-starring Actress Naomi Ko


Dear White People has been garnering buzz ever since it sold out all of its screenings at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and with the release of the first full trailer, we can get a taste of what festival goers were raving about. Director Justin Simien’s satire, which is due in theaters on Oct. 17, follows four black students who attend Winchester University, a fictional, predominantly white school.

KoreAm earlier wrote about Korean American actress Naomi Ko, who makes her film debut in Dear White People as Sungmi, an art major with a lip ring who lives at a traditionally black residence hall, and hangs out with mostly African American students. Though Ko’s role is small, the film’s contemporary exploration of the nuances of racial identity on a college campus will no doubt resonate with Asian American audiences—as it did for the actress.

Dear White People really hit home, in the sense of what it’s like to be a minority in such a white world,” Ko told KoreAm last winter. “You may have a particular theme where somebody wants to touch one of the African American character’s hair. I feel like it’s very easy to switch that out and say, ‘Oh, where are you from?’ It’s a question that I’m asked many times, even though I was born in Minnesota.”

The plot follows activist Samantha White (Tessa Thompson), as she is unexpectedly elected the head of the black residence hall. When the college announces plans to diversify the hall, Samantha takes to the airwaves, using the campus radio show she hosts, called “Dear White People,” to protest the decision. She delivers biting PSAs such as, “Dear white people, please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you?” and “Dating a black person to piss off your parents is a form of racism.”

The drama comes to a head when the college’s influential humor magazine hosts its annual Halloween party with a very ill-conceived theme: “Unleash your inner Negro,” which throws napalm onto an already unstable campus environment.

The film also stars Tyler James Williams, Brandon P. Bell, Dennis Haysbert and Teyonah Parris.

Film still by Ashley Beireis Nguyen

Bamboo Ceiling

Exploring the Limitations of the ‘Bamboo Ceiling’


Asian Americans are the highest income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States, but they make up only 2.6 percent of corporate leadership in Fortune 500 companies, according to DiversityInc. Like the term “glass ceiling,” which refers to the barriers women may face in trying to reach the top of their fields despite their qualifications, “bamboo ceiling” refers to the barriers that Asian American professionals may face that prevent them from reaching leadership roles in the workplace.

NPR’s Tell Me More explored the issue last Friday, raising the question of the “bamboo ceiling” and what obstacles the so-called model minority faces at work. These can range from long-standing perceptions in the workplace, to even how Asian Americans view themselves.

Linda Akutagawa, president and CEO of Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics (LEAP), told host Michel Martin that people aren’t accustomed to seeing Asian Americans—and other minorities—in leadership positions to begin with.

“I won’t say that it’s only the structure, but there is, I think, a baked-in kind of assumption of what leaders are supposed to look like, what leaders are supposed to act like,” she explained. “And when it’s different, then people sometimes have a hard time seeing beyond that, and it really takes someone who can look beyond that.”

Wesley Yang, a writer who has extensively written on this issue (at times, controversially, as with his famous “Paper Tigers” piece in New York Magazine), also added that it’s not the traditional assumptions of overt, conscious racism that is seen in the workplace. “It’s really a matter of, like, small daily transactions that exact a toll on women and minorities, that we produce a power structure without there being sort of like an overt intention to keep women and minorities out,” he told NPR.

When it comes to Asian American behavior in the workplace, behavior such as attracting the notice of a potential mentor and getting involved in social activities may not be something they’re accustomed to, according to Akutagawa. “A lot of Asian Americans are taught, you know, you just work hard,” she said in the NPR segment. “And you just keep your nose to the grindstone, and you will be recognized. And you don’t have to talk about yourself.”

Leadership training for Asian American executives, including those through LEAP, seeks to teach or strengthen such competency and skills in the workplace, said Yang. The training involves them in a process of introspection, finding associations between Asian culture and the norms and expectations for leaders in America.

“And what they show is that there’s almost no overlap between these two terms,” he told NPR. “So it may well be the case that many Asian professionals arrive in the workplace with a set of culturally ingrained sets of, what is appropriate behavior, ways to relate themselves to superiors and to elders, that may well be a recipe for invisibility.”

When asked by host Martin what success would look like, Akutagawa said it would be not making it a surprise when an Asian American or a person of color achieves any sort of leadership position.

“I mean it should be just part and parcel of just what we see,” she said. “In some ways right now, they’re still the exception to the rule. I think there’s a lot of ground to be broken.”

Image via Northwest Asian Weekly


College Student from Indiana Posts Anti-Asian Video


Meet Alexandra Wallce 2.0: Samuel Hendrickson, a student from Indiana University, has made a video detailing 10 reasons why he wouldn’t want to be Asian. His reasons include dating Asian women, sweatshops and math.

Since he posted it on YouTube, people have responded negatively, prompting Hendrickson to apologize,8Asians reports. He defends the video as merely humorous digs, but the “jokes” he spews are based on very real stereotypes.

Let’s be frank: racism still exists. Racist jokes aren’t funny. Because we accept racism in our everyday humor, we see the perpetuation of micro-aggressions and misconceptions. If our culture didn’t give racist jabs a green light under the guise of a “good joke,” we wouldn’t see college campuses – areas where we should be challenging and criticizing racism – “border hopping” or “ghetto” theme parties.

Why are supposedly educated individuals continuing a dialogue rooted in ignorance?


Korean Senior Alleging Race-based Attack Files Lawsuit Against McDonald’s

This file photo from the New York Daily News, taken in January 2014, shows Korean American seniors involved in an earlier dispute with a Queens McDonald’s. 

A Korean American senior citizen in New York has filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against McDonald’s accusing one of its workers of racially attacking him verbally and physically, Yonhap reported today.

The 62-year-old, only identified by his last name Kim, alleges that on the afternoon of Feb. 16, a female manager at a Flushing, Queens McDonald’s hit Kim with a broom after he complained to another restaurant worker that he had waited 10 minutes to purchase a cup of coffee.


Before being struck by the broom, Kim alleges that the manager, only identified by her first name Lucy, first yelled at him to leave the restaurant, after he made the complaint, and told him that coffee is not available to “people like you,” according to the Yonhap story. When he tried to record the incident with his cell phone camera, the manager struck him with the broom, the lawsuit says.

The manager was later indicted on assault charges, the article said.

“Kim was not able to work for a while due to the injuries, and he has been suffering from severe mental pain caused by the ill treatment and the subsequent humiliation,” Kim’s lawyer Moon-kyung Bae told Yonhap.

“It constitutes a racially motivated hate crime, as Kim was the only Asian there at that time,” Bae said, noting that this lawsuit is meant “to prevent a recurrence of such a case against ethnic minorities.”

The case carries echoes of past problems between Korean American seniors and a Queens McDonald’s, where just this past January, restaurant employees called the police to get the elderly customers to leave after spending several hours drinking coffee there, in violation of the establishment’s 20-minute seating time limit. The Korean American seniors, joined by some community groups, protested and called for a boycott of McDonald’s. The two sides, however, were able to reach acompromise, with the seniors agreeing to give up their seats during busy periods, and management promising to ease the time limit during off-peak hours.





Tuesday’s Link Attack: Hettienne Park Speaks Out; Girls Generation Singer Questioned by Police; Korean Air to Design Bobsleds

Why It Matters When Asian Women Leave TV Shows
Vanity Fair

Someone important died this weekend on NBC’s serial-killer drama Hannibal. That should come as no surprise, beloved actors are dropping like flies on TV these days, and the stakes are always high when Dr. Lecter is involved. In the shadow of larger recent shocks like those on The Good Wife or The Walking Dead, the death of a supporting character like investigator Beverly Katz may not seem like it should hit us quite so hard. But that character happened to be portrayed by Hettienne Park, an Asian female. So what? Does being a Korean-American woman on network television mean you should be bulletproof (or in this case, carving-knife-proof)? Certainly not. But given the lack of strong, female Asian characters on television, Park’s absence carries a weight outside the fictional world of Hannibal. Aware of the uproar surrounding her character’s death, Park commented on the more extreme outcry from the show’s fandom.


Racism, Sexism, and Hannibal: Eat The Rude
Hettienne Park (Tumblr)

I’m an American actress and I play Beverly Katz on NBC’s HANNIBAL created by Bryan Fuller. (Spoiler Alert coming right now!!!) And she dies in episode 4 of Season 2. That episode got a lot of positive reviews, but it also incited an on-line storm of vitriol directed to Fuller himself for killing off Katz, or more specifically, for being racist and sexist. I caught wind of this myself via Twitter from our beloved Fannibals. And I thought maybe it’d be productive to talk about rather than ignore it.

Fuller cast me in a role that I didn’t think I had a chance in hell of getting. I rarely if ever see minorities, women, minority women, let alone Asian women, get to play characters like Beverly Katz. I rarely if ever see characters like Beverly Katz period. And her last name is Katz for Christ’s sake. Pretty open-minded, non-racist, pro-feminine writing and casting in my opinion.

Girls’ Generation’s Hyoyeon Reported To Seoul Police For Allegedly Assaulting Male Friend: Rep Calls Incident ‘Misunderstanding’

A male friend of Kim Hyoyeon has reportedly accused the Girls’ Generation singer of physically assaulting him in the Seoul neighborhood of Seobbinggo, early Saturday morning.

According to a spokesperson for the local police department, officers from the Yongsan District station quickly dismissed the male friend’s allegations since he lacked a visible injury.

“Since it was reported, we processed the charge, but because the entire case was just happenstance, we concluded [Hyoyeon was] cleared of any suspicion of assault,” the Seoul police spokesperson said, according to the publication eNEWS.


Income data show lineage still crucial to become rich in S. Korea
Yonhap News

South Korea’s business tycoons and their family members kept top spots in terms of income in 2013, data showed Tuesday, with other highly-paid individuals barely managing to catch up to the clans who collected massive earnings from dividends.

According to the data by CEO Score, which tracks details of corporate leaders, most of the country’s top 30 income earners had kinship ties with the heads of family-controlled businesses.

Top executives of South Korean conglomerates have long been the subject of envy for salaried workers in the country, raking in incomparable paychecks compared with ordinary workers.

Korean Air Lines to Design Bobsleds
Wall Street Journal

South Korea’s bobsled team hasn’t had much success at the Winter Olympics. Now, as the country prepares to host the Games in 2018, Korean Air Lines003490.SE -0.65% is getting involved.

The national flag carrier said in a statement it will build two- and four-person bobsleds for the national team in partnership with universities in South Korea as well as the University of California.

Korean Air said it plans to unveil a prototype in November and upgrade it through tests until the next Winter Olympics, which will be held in Pyeongchang, a province in northeast South Korea.

Dignitaries witness Goddess crowning
Jeju Weekly

It is not unusual for a performer to receive an award for their extraordinary talent. Most often, though, that award does not bestow a title that raises the recipient’s status to one of divinity. However, Jeju Island, a traditionally matriarchal society home to 18,000 gods and goddesses, does things differently.

On Friday, March 28, Jeju Island celebrated the crowning of its first live goddess as opera singer Kang Hye-myoung was named a “Living Goddess of Jeju.” The award was given in homage to Jeju’s rich religious traditions and also to promote International Women’s Day, which passed on March 8, and the upcoming 28th BPW International Congress 2014 to be held on Jeju Island, May 23 to 27.

The Jeju club of the International Federation of Business and Professional Women (BPW International) hosted the celebration and opera showcase and funds raised from the event were donated to the Korean Council for Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan. About 2 million won will go to this Busan-based organization.

Ice Hockey Player Out to Prove She’s More Than a Pretty Face
Chosun Ilbo

Korea was unable to send an ice hockey team to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in February as both the men’s and women’s teams failed to make the grade. But the women’s team, first formed in 1998 and now ranked world No. 23, became one of the most-searched keywords early this month.

This happened after a photo of figure skating champion Kim Yu-na with Ahn Kun-young, a member of the national women’s ice hockey team, was posted online. It instantly grabbed people’s attention, largely due to Ahn’s pretty face.

“I was never told I was pretty until earlier this year when I lost some weight,” Ahn said. “Looks aren’t important to ice hockey players. What counts are your skills on the ice.”


World Bank President Jim Yong Kim says his is a ‘a very different bank’

From Ukraine to Russia, Tunisia to Egypt, it’s the economy, stupid, as Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign famously put it during his 1992 campaign.

How to get nations into better health, and thus greater wealth? That is the herculean task of Jim Yong Kim and the institution he leads, the World Bank.

“Twenty years ago I was actually on the streets protesting against the World Bank,” Kim said. “I was part of the ’50 years is enough’ movement, and we wanted to shut down the World Bank on its 50th anniversary.”

Now, as president of the organization, he says it is “a very different bank.”


Vegas Nightclub Billboard Offends Asian Americans

Las Vegas nightclub and Asian bistro Tao is at the center of controversy for a sexually provocative billboard in Los Angeles that some are calling racist, LA Weekly reports.

The billboard near LAX shows an image of a woman’s back covered in Chinese character tattoos, with a caption that reads, “Always a Happy Ending.”

The “happy ending” cheekily refers to prostitution at Asian massage parlors in Las Vegas and elsewhere. The billboard was first spotted this week by Christine Lu, head of investment firm Affinity China. Lu took a photo of the billboard and posted it on Twitter.


“It’s disgusting,” Lu told LA Weekly. “As an Asian American female who has had to grow up aware of stereotypes of Asian women in this context, it’s very insulting.”

Tao is owned by Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson who runs the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino.

“The Venetian is one of the casinos that relies in Chinese tourism,” Lu said. “That billboard happens to be near one of the busiest airports for Chinese visitors. Asian clientele are a big part of your business, yet you’re okay with a marketing campaign that degrades them?”


Cal State Northridge’s Asian American Studies department chair, Gina Masequesmay, told LA Weekly that such billboard is a catch-22 once it’s up for the public’s viewing as simply removing it will not change the ongoing promotion of prejudiced racial stereotypes to maximize business.

“Take down the billboard, but they still have their business selling sex,” Masequesmay said. “If they remove it, it will be less a sore in my eye. But I think the issue is larger than just a billboard.”