Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New York Times Just Boarded the Post-Racial Express: A critical response to "Choose Your Own Identity"


[screen shot from NY Times Magazine]

by Sharon H Chang

This Monday, The New York Times Magazine published a very unfortunate essay about multiracial Asian children: Choose Your Own Identity, by author and mother Bonnie Tsui. In it, Tsui (who is not multiracial herself) puzzles over her children's mixed-race identities, what they may or may not choose to be one day, while taking a brief foray back/forward in time to consider the sociohistorical context of mixed-race and America's impending multiracial future. After mulling on the subject for about ten paragraphs, she concludes with a seeming liberatory message on behalf of her children: "...the truth is, I can't tell my sons what to feel...I can only tell them what I think about my own identity and listen hard to what they have to tell me in turn."

Sounds innocent enough, yes?

No.

"I'm so tired of mothers of bi and multiracial children speaking on behalf of their children." ~ TS

Sunday, December 13, 2015

All about my NEW book - Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children In a Post-Racial World


When Raising Mixed Race came last week (after I screamed & did a dance first)

by Sharon H Chang

I am so thrilled to announce that, at long last, MY BOOK Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children In a Post-Racial World has been released on Routledge!!! This moment is so deeply meaningful to me beyond anything words can express. Raising Mixed Race represents not only years of work on my end but a multitude of others' lived racial realities; stories about and involving mixedness that are poignant, sharp, relevant and vital, and yet - remain mostly untold in America and around the world. To my immense and humble gratitude, advance reviewers have embraced this book with tremendous love; reviewed it glowingly in and out of the US. The Facebook Release Party for the book was incredibly well-attended on Friday, Dec 11, and pre-orders SOLD OUT on Amazon over the weekend! It is my sincere belief if we engage with Raising Mixed Race it can (will) challenge our thinking on mixedness to go deeper and contribute to moving society as a whole towards justice, healing and true transformation. I hope you too will read Raising Mixed Race, and join our journey.

In the mean time, you can of course find a brief Raising Mixed Race book description at any online retailer. But I know that doesn't tell much. So. I put together a little extra something to give you a closer peak. Following are summaries for the book's chapters plus short videos of ME telling you all about them (from the Facebook Release Party)! Take a look, and Happy Reading...

Monday, November 30, 2015

'Raising Mixed Race' Virtual Release Party!!



YOU'RE INVITED

I'm having a party for my new book Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children In a Post-Racial World on Friday December 11 and I want you to come! And guess what? If you use the Internet and Facebook - you CAN. What's a Facebook party you ask? It's easy. That's what it is. Facebookers (and newbies) just do what you always do. Log on to Facebook, go to the Raising Mixed Race Facebook page any time between 9:30am-1:30pm PST on Dec 11, read, like, comment, share and voila! We have a party. But suuuch a cool party. Really. I'm super excited. Here's some things you can expect:

  • Posts every few minutes - for four hours - so yeah, LOTS going on
  • Video "sneak peeks" of Raising Mixed Race chapters (2 mins or less promise!) 
  • Thread discussions (though this isn't a rant party, so light thread discussions)
  • Humor - as in memes and word games like "caption this" or "react to this"

But possibly the best part of the party? THE GIVEAWAYS. THE GIVEAWAYS. THE GIVEAWAYS. I'll be giving away 4 signed copies of Raising Mixed Race plus over 20 stellar donations by other authors, artists and filmmakers - all by/about mixed race Asians.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Professor Minelle Mahtani on 'Raising Mixed Race' in Canada

Following are closing remarks given by Minelle Mahtani after the premiere of my new book Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children In a Post-Racial World at Hapa-Palooza Festival 2015, Vancouver B.C. Minelle Mahtani is Associate Professor of Human Geography and Journalism at University of Toronto-Scarborough. Currently she is on sabbatical to host new show 'Sense of Place' on Roundhouse Radio. She is also author of the recent book 'Mixed Race Amnesia: Resisting the Romanticization of Multiraciality.'  

My book 'Raising Mixed Race' will be released December 11, 2015

*     *     *     *     *


Minelle Mahtani [image from Twitter @mminelle]

"Hi everybody. I’m going to keep this really short and sweet because I just think that we’ve heard so many really important things. But I just want to say thank you, Jeff, for that really warm introduction. And I just want to thank Sharon and Professor Wei Ming Dariotis for the extraordinary contribution they made here tonight.

For me being in this room really means a lot. I think it’s really rare that so many mixed people come together to have these conversations...I think it’s really valuable to remember that you’re not alone in this and that there’s other people around who want to share in these conversations. I grew up as a person of mixed race identity. I’m [of] Indian, Iranian, Muslim, Hindu background. And that was a really complicated identity to have in the suburbs of Toronto, mostly white area, that I grew up in.

I remember being called the N-word in grade three, coming home and telling my mother...and my mother bursting into tears.

I’ve been called every single racial slur you can imagine. I remember being called the N-word in grade three, coming home and telling my mother (I didn’t even know what it meant), and my mother bursting into tears. So what does that story tell us right? In terms of the kind of information that we receive and the kinds of information we get from our parents in terms of how they can cope with these stories. Instead of my mother explaining to me the tortured history behind that word - she immediately felt guilty. I think that’s really important. I think that’s what we need to think about.

But...I want to talk about Sharon for a minute.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Talking Race, ID & Racism with Families of Color Seattle

with FOCS Board and Staff [Photo Credit: Amy Pak]

by Sharon H Chang

On Saturday October 10 I had the very distinct honor of being part of Families of Color Seattle (FOCS)'s first of five Community Dialogues on Race and Family: "Talking Race, Identity and Racism." FOCS is an emerging, young local nonprofit whose mission is to build strong communities of color by supporting families via parenting programs, resource sharing, and fostering meaningful connections. Their vision is children of color will be born into loving world that is racially and economically just. This is the first time the org has undertaken a community dialogue series. The other dialogues will include: "Multiracial Families," "Anti-Bias Education and Schools," "Anti-Racist Birthing," and "Transracial Adoption Experiences."

Technically I was the kickoff keynote at this first launch event but it didn't feel like that - which was actually kind of awesome.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

#RaisingMixedRace @Hapapalooza 2015 - BOOK PREMIERE


Premiering Raising Mixed Race at Hapa-palooza 2015
by Sharon H Chang

I just had the best launch-premiere for my debut book Raising Mixed Race EVER. 

No really. It was the most heart-warming, inspirational and energizing experience I could have ever dreamed of. And I am so humbled, honored and grateful.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What It Was Like Being Mixed-Race Photographed By National Geographic


[image source]

by Sharon H Chang

Remember these pictures? They were part of National Geographic's mixed race photo campaign "Changing Faces" published in October 2013. "We're becoming a country," stated the magazine, "Where race is no longer so black and white." The images were shot by famous German portrait photographer Martin Schoeller who said he liked "building catalogs of faces that invite people to compare them." I think it's safe to say that happened. The gallery was widely viewed (it being National Geographic after all) and more or less greatly admired (it being Martin Schoeller after all). But there was some criticism, including my own, which I wrote about for Racism Review in Mixed or Not, Why Are We Still Taking Pictures of "Race"? One of the larger questions I raised was around the idea that we use images of mixed race people to debate race, without including those mixed folk in the debate themselves. I concluded that essay with a proclamation:

While modern race-photography believes itself to be celebrating the dismantling of race, it may actually be fooling us (and itself) with a fantastically complicated show of smoke and mirrors...We need to make much, MUCH more space for something ultimately pretty simple — the stories of actual people themselves which in the end, will paint the real picture.

But here's a truth I want to share with you. I also felt at the time that me making this proclamation wasn't enough. That I had to do more than just say it. I needed to live it; make a commitment to the practice I was preaching. So. As an old friend used to say, "Where attention goes, energy flows." Soon after making this personal resolve I had the amazing good fortune of running into Alejandro T. Acierto, a mixed race identifying person who was photographed for National Geographic's campaign. He graciously agreed share with me/us what "Changing Faces" was like for him through his own experience, his own words, and his own lens.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Yea 'Aloha' is Super White, But What's Up With the Way We're Talking About It?


From left to right Aloha stars: sovereignty activist Dennis "Bumpy" Pu'uhonua Kanahele (as himself), Bradley Cooper (as a white guy), and Emma Stone (as a white person playing a mixed-race Hawaiian/Chinese/Swedish person) [image source]

by Sharon H Chang

Okay first let's just get this out of the way. Aloha is a really, really bad movie. Like REALLY bad. It's getting horrible reviews (as it should) for lousy directing, a terrible script, mismatched A-list actors, poor production etc. It's boring as hell to watch. I'm not going to even bother giving a a story synopsis here because the plot is so pointless and uninteresting, it doesn't matter anyway. If you want or need a synopsis, it's easy to find one online. Just do a web search.

No all you need to know, if you don't already, is this: Set in Hawaii where Native Hawaiians continue to be besieged by whites and the military, the movie centers white people and the U.S. military anyway, all of which is supposedly made better by the conceit of a military-serving mixed-race Hawaiian/Chinese/Swedish character, who is actually played by a white actress.

Yup. Pretty much.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

How 'Ex Machina' Abuses Women of Color & Nobody Cares Cause It's Smart


Sex slave "Kyoko" played by Japanese/British actress Sonoya Mizuno [image source]

by Sharon H Chang

Last month British science fiction thriller Ex Machina opened in the U.S. to almost unanimous rave reviews. The film was written and directed by Alex Garland, author of bestselling 1996 novel The Beach (also made into a movie) and screenwriter of 28 Days Later (2002) and Never Let Me Go (2010). Ex Machina is Garland's directorial debut. It's about a young white coder named Caleb who gets the opportunity to visit the secluded mountain home of his employer Nathan, pioneering programmer of the world's most powerful search engine (Nathan's appearance is ambiguous but he reads non-white and the actor who plays him is Guatemalan). Caleb believes the trip innocuous but quickly learns that Nathan's home is actually a secret research facility in which the brilliant but egocentric and obnoxious genius has been developing sophisticated artificial intelligence. Caleb is immediately introduced to Nathan's most upgraded construct - a gorgeous white fembot named Ava. And the mind games ensue.

As the week unfolds the only things we know for sure are (a) imprisoned Ava wants to be free, and, (b) Caleb becomes completely enamored and wants to "rescue" her. Other than that, nothing is clear. What are Ava's true intentions? Does she like Caleb back or is she just using him to get out? Is Nathan really as much an asshole as he seems or is he putting on a show to manipulate everyone? Who should we feel sorry for? Who should we empathize with? Who should we hate? Who's the hero? Reviewers and viewers alike are melting in intellectual ecstasy over this brain-twisty movie. The Guardian calls it "accomplished, cerebral film-making"; Wired calls it "one of the year's most intelligent and thought-provoking films"; Indiewire calls it "gripping, brilliant and sensational". Alex Garland apparently is the smartest, coolest new director on the block. "Garland understands what he's talking about," says RogerEbert.com, and goes "to the trouble to explain more abstract concepts in plain language."

Right.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Racializing Infants: When Anne Geddes Came to Seattle


from Google image search for "Anne Geddes"
by Sharon H Chang

She's been called legendary; famed; one of the world's most respected photographers. Her images are award winning, internationally acclaimed, considered iconic and beloved by many. She's sold over 19 million books and 13 million calendars in at least 83 countries and translated into at least 25 different languages. Anne Geddes is a globally renowned photographer famous for her whimsical portraits of infants and children in fanciful, fairytale-esque costumes and settings. The Australian born artist is also a global advocate for children. She founded the Anne Geddes Philanthropic Trust in 1992 and has worked to raise awareness around many child-related issues from abuse and neglect, to premature birth and the threat of meningococcal disease. "Protect. Nurture. Love," her website reads, "These three words have served as my mantra and inspiration throughout my 30-year career as a photographer."

But that's not exactly what happened when Geddes came to Seattle last year for a three day workshop and photo shoot for her 2017 Zodiac Calendar.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Are Mixed Race Asian/Whites, "Basically White"?


Amerasian Le Van Minh in post-war Vietnam, Newsday photo by Audry Tiernan (1985)
[She] never told the son who was crippled by polio about her relationship with his father. All she said was that the man was an American, a sergeant in the Army. He was one of the thousands of GIs who left children behind as victims of the conflict that the United States never officially called a war.
-- "Life and Times of Le Van Minh" by Irene Virag

by Sharon H Chang

I've gotten some pretty vitriolic comments these last months regarding my writings on white-mixing not being synonymous with whiteness. A recent response to my piece protesting Asian Fortune's troubled 2013 "Hapa" article:

"Guys...Sometimes you just need to calm the f down. You need to get out of your heads a little bit and stop over analyzing things. I'm sure all you hapas out there have some understanding of the way hapas are treated in Asia. Talk about superficial stereotypical understandings! Your ultra-liberal, ultra-progressive, straight-out-of-an-undergraduate-African-American-studies-class mumbo jumbo would only ever be considered in White countries. And you know damn well that you benefit from 'White privilege.' The reason I put that in quotes is beyond the scope of this comment. Don't write back with some bullshit about traffic stops - I know the statistics." (October 26, 2014) 

Another recent response, this time to my piece on talking mixed race identity with young children for Hyphen Magazine:

"'mom am i white?'

the answer is yes, he is. Stop confusing the poor child and STOP telling him he's of Asian descent when you and the baby daddy are clearly white. He will grow up with an identity problem and will very likely hate you for it. Have some decency as a parent." (February 10, 2015)