Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Asian Fortune Mixed-Race Misstep That Won't Go Away


This weekend Asian Fortune writer Tamara Treichel of "Growing Up Half Asian American: Curse or Gift?" sent me a spiteful email re: my critique of her piece with the expectation that I would not reveal her identity nor that she had done so. 

I chose not to be silent.

[image from speakforchange.org]

LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF ASIAN FORTUNE MAGAZINE 

Dear Lily Chen,

On Sunday February 2, 2014, I received a malicious email from your writer Tamara Treichel in response to my rebuttal of her piece, “Growing Up Half Asian American: Curse or Gift?” In it, she claimed my testimonial of racial hurt and subsequent critique of her article (including the hurt and testimonials of others) were merely a ploy; that in her view what I was really upset about was being left out of the published result. She accused me of clowning around, making a fool of myself, being unprofessional, and implied that while she is a serious writer, I am not. The email concluded with a warning to never contact her, a strong proclamation that she would not work with me again, and a demand that I protect her ID by not referring to her.

I found this message to be a very sad turn of events, but also completely unacceptable. Race discourse at its core is about debate and deconstruction which is often contentious, charged and emotional. To tackle the subject at all means preparing for difficult conversations, acknowledging likely hurt, but then also the possibility for reclamation, renewal and positive growth through respect, listening and willingness to change. I think where Asian Fortune’s piece and my rebuttal stand digitally juxtaposed is a very healthy intersection for tough reflections on multiraciality. Though we may not have seen eye-to-eye on the subject, it created a platform for many other folks to thrush out their feelings and interact with each other.

Treichel, however, was not only completely unwilling to receive my perspective and the perspective of others within the Asian/multiracial community and engage in productive dialogue, but then (a) made a personal and very conscious choice to lash out at me via private email (despite the fact the original piece was public) and (b) asked me to cover-up her pointed attack by not revealing she had done so. I will not accept being reduced or minimized in this manner nor will I protect the actions of someone who is leveraging her power to silence. As a scholar-activist and multiracial community advocate I feel an ongoing obligation to speak/write my truth on behalf of many who feel they cannot and to unveil the challenges inherent in being mixed race so that others may feel empowered.

Please know after consulting with several academics and activists, and weighing very seriously the potential consequences/outcome of taking this public, I have decided to do so. It is necessary to reveal how Treichel has chosen to act not out of revenge, but as a symbolic representation of the larger challenges we still face as a community trying to operate within/across color lines and divisions. I believe the unfortunate result of my interaction with Treichel will help others reflect more deeply on how interracial relationships can be improved and ultimately, this is the way to true peace and understanding.

I will be publishing my reflection on Treichel's email today at Racism Review 

Sincerely and always with hope for a better future,

Sharon H Chang
 
"Interracial marriage and its children provide an opportunity for 
a different discussion of race...Today's children are tomorrow's adults. 
I hope we teach them well."

-- Maria P. P. Root


 

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