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February 27, 2007

Embarassed 2 B Azn

I posted this over on Other Magazine's blog but I got quoted in the Chron today and there's new stuff out there and I have more to say on it here so I'm going to repost it so it's all together in one place.

There are times, yes, times when I'm embarrassed to be Asian.

Like, for example, whenever I see an AsianWeek distribution stand. This weekly tabloid---long brought to us by the same Fang family (even Asians pronounce "Fang" like tooth) that embarrassed the entire Bay Area with their transparently whorish version of the Examiner---is the adult equivalent of a midwestern suburban teenager's identity-angst zine, only without the freshness and honesty.

The writing is horrifyingly bad, their stories are six months behind the times---Hyphen, a tri-annual magazine, consistently scoops them---and their occasional shameful shows of community support---fobbed off on 18-year-old interns, or at least reading as if they were---do nothing to counteract their constant flow of vitriol toward Asian American writers, journalists, and cultural workers more savvy and successful than they.

When we started the self-same Hyphen magazine that kicks their ass every morning for breakfast (and twice on Sunday, for brunch) before it even prints a word, AsianWeek's first, and pretty much only, response was to sic on us Emil Guillermo (the only nominally competent staff writer, and that I say only because he manages to stick to the rules of grammar). In his column "Emil Amok", Guillermo, after admitting that he hadn't yet seen the magazine, proceeded to attempt to tear us a new asshole because our editor in chief, Melissa Hung, had said in an interview that Hyphen wasn't going to do Asian American Studies 101. Guillermo, naturally, didn't bother to call Hung and clarify, 'cause he's not really a journalist, and Hyphen remains of the single-asshole persuasion.

The middle-aged Guillermo took exception to that statement, presumably, because he works for a publication that phones it in, week after week, on that very syllabus. He hadn't moved past it, so why should we? That's when I stopped even attempting to read AsianWeek. Because either Guillermo's editors had read his column and supported his low journalistic standards and ignorant opinion, or because they didn't support it but were too lazy or chickenshit to say so, or because they hadn't bothered to read it in the first place. Whatever. None of those are publications I actually want to read.

So I guess it shouldn't surprise me that AsianWeek is now publishing some of the most blatantly racist, not to mention poorly executed, dingleberries passing for writing on the internet today. And that's saying a lot.

As Hyphen's staff blog reports today, they've acquired a new columnist recently named Kenneth Eng. He's been producing extremely short columns with titles such as "Why I Hate Asians," "Proof that Whites Inherently Hate Us," and, most recently, a savvy piece of marketing entitled "Why I Hate Blacks." Being an irony-steeped Gen-Xer, I hear titles like this and think, "What a great opportunity for Swiftian satire!" But alas, we're talking about AsianWeek, and if these buttcrusts were intended as satire, Eng is too shitty a writer to get that across.

I'd link to some examples of his excrescences, but I'm too damn lazy or something. Follow the links in the Hyphen article if you want it. There's also a petition, which is only a good idea because somebody needs to let teh blacks and teh whites know that most Asian Americans have never even heard of AsianWeek, much less agree with its "editorial" "decisionmaking". As for me, I can't even be bothered to sign it. Let AsianWeek sink into its own mire. It has proven again and again unworthy of Asian American support. Let it die. I'd rather have no As Am newspaper at all than this piece of shit.

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Comments

First of all, my english is not very good but :

Dont be embarassed to be asian : racism exists everywhere, its all about people with a shorter view than others, sometimes its just a lack of knowledge shorting about everything (colour, country, religion, ethnicity, language spoken, sexual orientation) to a simple and well often quite offensive cliche.

Somes will pick on you because you are asian, others on me because im french, somes on big guys cause they are big etc..

Lack of knowledge, short view of things and personal interpretation doesnt help, but again we are humans and each one of us is individual.

You shouldnt be embarassed by one individual making an individual statement based on individual experiences. The only one that got to be embarassed is the magazine that forgot to review / or deliberatly used the article, because they have shown to the world (writting you from London) the poor quality of their paper.


thanks for the thought, guillaume, but you didn't understand what i was saying.

my comment was from inside the asian american community TO inside the asian american community. i made it public so that others could hear, but i'm not interested in your simple-minded, non-asian american ideas about how i should feel about myself.

i'm coming from a position of, a community of, pride, sometimes thoughtless, knee-jerk pride, like the silly title of my post hints at. the pride in being asian displayed by asianweek is of the thoughtless, knee-jerk kind. there's nothing to be proud of in that.

this whole question is a whole lot more complex than you appear to be aware of. an asian american addressing other asian americans with contempt and anger may make you feel uncomfortable because it leaves you entirely out of the equation. this will be why you want to tell me how to feel. your knee jerks out and you say, "don't be ashamed of who you are! be proud!" i'm sure you're not aware of how stupid and thoughtless you sound when you interrupt someone else's discussion to say this.

and please don't compare being picked on because you're FRENCH to being picked on because you're not white. it's really not the same thing.


Thank you Claire - I indeed didnt understand your post and was off topic and was obviously wrong. Wish you the best for your blog !


I just discovered your blog after reading about the Eng "piece" (of work) on gawker.com. I took the time to read some of your other posts and now I'm hooked! (I especially appreciated your reflections on Black History Month and the hair petting thing.) Your honesty and vigour is pretty inspiring, and I enjoy your style. Expect an extra couple of hits each week in the future!

Unfortunately, it was taken incorrectly.

If you read the article:

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/02/27/MNGTCOBI921.DTL

It made it sound like you were embarrassed to be Asian without putting into context that extreme pride can instill racism towards others.

Unless adopted, a person with the surname *Light* should not be regarded as Asian. That person is either producing mixed-race children, or is of mixed-race themselves; either they're not Asian to begin with, or else they hate their race and have decided to join a different one.

Also, it's pretty laughable that the San Francisco Chronicle quoted two non-Asian "Asians" in its article ("Henry Der" being the other). That these people are allowed to speak for us is simply insane.

shit, even my hawaiian side thinks that's the dumbest comment made since kenneth eng last touched a keyboard. anyone who calls himself (or herself) "kjy" should never be allowed to speak about "speaking for us", and lecture anyone about names.

if you were halfway conscious during the past three decades, you'd already know henry der is 1) more chinese than your mother and 2) has done more for chinese than you will in this and your next 15 lifetimes. even tho i don't know her personally, i could say the same thing about claire.

the good news is there's an opening for dumb writers at asian week.

guillame: sorry about the crankiness. this whole thing makes me cranky.

nick: thanks for the props. drop by anytime!

ken: yeah, i was especially annoyed that they left out my more colorful language.

kjy: jeff chang read my blooog! jeff chang read my blooog!

Hey KJY, my surname is Japanese and I don't have a drop of the yellow blood in me. I'm pure cracker, and proud of it. I find your thoughts on eugenics and mescegenation to be extremely insightful. Perhaps you could come over and we could diagram all the different races, mixtures, corruptions, and abominations together. I'm tired of all these octoroons calling themselves black, and I know you must be too. Precision, exact precision is so important in this matters, now more than ever, don't you agree?

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