Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Archive for May, 2008

Sex and the City!!!

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 30, 2008

I have to admit that I LUUUURVVVVEEED the show and CANNOT WAIT to see the movie. I know that it opens today (well, midnight was the first showing), but I probably won’t be able to see it until later this weekend or maybe even next week. I also know that I can’t possibly drag my boyfriend to this. That’ll be just too cruel (even if he said that he’s okay with seeing it).

I know that many people, especially non-whites don’t really like the show. To many people, it isn’t realistic, not only because Carrie seems to be spending more money than she possibly can, but because New York isn’t as white as the show makes it out to be. You know, I never really noticed that.  I also never really noticed that the “girls” didn’t have seem to hang out with people who weren’t of their own race. Perhaps it’s because lots of people I know don’t either, unless these friends are people they know from work.  And I live in Toronto.  Diverse Toronto.

I’ve seen pictures of weddings my friends have gone to.  I’ve been to parties.  If it isn’t an Asian party, I’m usually one of the tokens.  And at Asian parties, my boyfriend (if he goes) is one of the token white people.  And this goes back to high school, too.  My high school, like many other Toronto-area private schools, was pretty much white or East Asian (many of the Asian kids were foreign students or immigrants, btw)…I recalled that there weren’t many Asian kids at the post-prom party I went to.  Out of all the kids in my grade who actually went to the prom, I think only five (MAX) Asian kids actually came to the post party.  University wasn’t that different, though how diverse your group of friends was would depend on your major and your club connections.

Another thing that’s been bugging me is how some people have been criticizing Jennifer Hudson’s character, Louise.  Louise is Carrie’s assistant.  People are saying that this is the modern equivalent of the Mammy character.  But let’s look at it this way. Louise is a 20-something.  Many 20-somethings work as assistants, so why shouldn’t Louise?  Seriously, do you expect her to be Carrie’s boss?  Unless Louise has her own company, it’s unlikely she’d be a CEO.  Not at her age.  That’s even less realistic as someone with Carrie’s salary affording 100s of Manolos!

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Designer Manbag carrying Metros

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 29, 2008

I’ve see a few Asian guys (mostly foreign) with designer bags. These bugs aren’t their girlfriends’ or wives’ purses, but men’s styles, and usually Gucci or LV (often LOGOED to death). These guys are usually between 16 and 35 and fairly good looking…but they also look like they spend more time in front of the mirror than their female SOs.  What’s the deal? I never really noticed guys with bags like that when I was over in Hong Kong a few years ago. Is it a recent thing? Perhaps from Japan or Europe? Are they trying to be more metro than metro (I’ve found that in Toronto, anyway, there are more Hong Kong Canadian metro guys per capita than white or CBC metros)?

Posted in Asian, Chinese Canadian, culture, ethnicity, minorities, social class | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Non-Traditional Casting at the Stratford Festival

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 28, 2008

Romeo and Juliet opened at the Stratford Festival yesterday. Juliet is played by Nikki M. James (she is also Anika Noni Rose’s replacement in Caesar and Cleopatra, which will open later this summer), who is black and Gareth Potter (white), plays Romeo.

You don’t usually see this sort of thing at the very traditional Stratford Festvial.

Toronto Star review of Romeo and Juliet

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Geez, people….do you have to throw race into EVERYTHING?

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 28, 2008

Racialicious has a post today about a recent Quiznos commercial where an elderly laundry manager eats a $5 bill. The elderly laundry manager is of Asian descent. Now, I have seen this commercial, and I just thought the entire thing was stupid (just like many food-related commercials today), but I would never think of it as racist. Perhaps it’s because some people in our society are just a little too race-sensitive. I mean, I could totally hear people going bananas over a commercial, movie or television show where an Asian woman is portrayed as very society matron-like. After all, she’s obviously TRYING TO BE WHITE, right (by the way, no pun intended on this one)? And an Asian person, especially a woman trying to be white is A STEREOTYPE we want to get rid of. People will say that, despite there being dozens of “old money-esque” society matrons in places like Hong Kong and Singapore.

Now, I *DO* think this commercial is a little demeaning to people of a certain age.

Another thing I want to add:  Who’s to say that they intended to cast an Asian actress for this?  The audition notice could very well have only asked for someone who can play a woman of a certain age.  Not all notices specify race.  While white is the default for “race neutral” casting (for the most part, anyway), people need to remember that colour-blind casting IS done, though it seems to be more common in live theatre (as I’ve said before, the television/movie crowd is probably a tad bit too sensitive to go for something like this)

Note from ChineseCanuck:  Hello?  Just because I’m of Chinese descent (Chinese Canadians share a similar history to Chinese Americans, btw), doesn’t mean that I have to be offended by the commercial.  In fact, I think most people take the race thing too seriously, and I don’t think I’ll ever understand why as you can see from my posts. 

Posted in Asian, culture, ethnicity, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

More on religion…..

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 26, 2008

If someone of a one religion is uncomfortable with images of a different religion, what happens if a relative studies religious art? Do you disown them?

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Rent a guest, get a passport

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 23, 2008

This article was in the Toronto Star today. Passport marriages, also known as “marriages of convenience” have been going on for decades, but people generally didn’t do much about it. It wasn’t until officials at a New Delhi began to see the same guests show up over and over in different wedding images that they began to investigate. It can’t be a mere coincidence that these guests knew all these people, right? Turns out that the officials may be correct. Until now, the most officials could do was reject a sponsorship. However, with these tips, investigation is now under way in several countries, including China, India and Vietnam.

(Apparently a girl who lived in my residence in university knew someone who was in this situation. This friend married shortly after high school, but was divorced within a few years. The husband was from abroad. This is why I often question arranged marriages made with people back in the “old country.” Why the old country, when there are plenty of people in Canada who are from your culture? I’m not questioning the practice of arranged marriages, just how it’s done.)

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What exactly is cultural diversity?

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 22, 2008

Several months ago, a very well-known boys’ school in Toronto announced that they were going to close their boarding program in the next few years. The reason behind this was because TPTB (The Powers That Be) wanted to attract more local kids from communities who could otherwise not afford the $25,000/annum day tuition by spending more of their funds on financial aid for local kids. They wanted to make the school more “culturally diverse” from what I understand. However, this caused uproar within the school’s community. Many are saying that international students is what makes the school unique and that the school will actually be LESS DIVERSE, culturally, if they only recruited within the Toronto area. People have cited that there’s a difference between being, say, Korean from Korea and Korean from Canada. First generation immigrant culture is still diluted. It becomes diluted within a year of one’s arrival. (I’m guessing that the general public, who probably isn’t that familiar with such schools are applauding this because there still is a tendency to believe that boarding schools are “Bastions of WASPiness.” I guess most people don’t realize that it hasn’t been this way for some 25-30 years.) Anyway,
what do you think? Does an international student body make the school MORE DIVERSE? Or does the school become more diverse by recruiting talented kids from diverse communities within the city (who may otherwise not be able to pay for the school)? Are TPTB confusing cultural and class diversity?

**NOTE: I’m not sure about the exact make-up of the non-white kids at this school. I’m guessing most are of East or South Asian descent. If it’s anything like my school back in the 90s, then they’d likely skew more boarding than day (especially with East Asian kids).

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Race and Music – Is it “normal” for an Asian girl to like Sarah McLachlan?

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 21, 2008

Racialicious has an interesting post about ethnicity/race and music today.  Kelvin, a guest contributor, spent his childhood years in Nigeria listening to a diverse group of artists, including Phil Collins, Dolly Parton and Michael Jackson.  He is now in his 20s and living in the US.  His tastes are apparently being challenged.  Kelvin likes rock.  His undergrad was at a historically black school according to his post, a fellow student asked him not to play his favourite tunes while on campus.  A totally WTF situation, IMHO, but not unusual.  I have had similar experiences.  Apparently, Asians aren’t supposed to like country (which I did for a couple of years in high school).  Asians aren’t supposed to like Sarah McLachlan or Jewel (I stopped listening to Jewel after 1998.  Her Spirit album was the last good one) either.  Instead, we’re supposed to listen to pop music from our ancestral homeland or hip hop, especially if you are under 35.  Apparently if you were a teen before major-major immigration from Hong Kong (mid 80s or later), you can listen to “white” music without much criticism.  I have a friend in her mid 30s who grew up listening to George Michael, early Madonna and Culture Club.  It was normal for a Chinese kid to listen to “white” music back then.  Not really the case for Cuspers (people born between 1977 and 1981 – we’re the ones who aren’t sure if we’re Gen X or not) or Millennials (1982 or later).  Cuspers and Millennials, at least those who grew up in certain parts of Canada grew up smack in the middle of mass immigration from Hong Kong.  It’s now all about Cantopop, “English” pop, hip hop, Emo, etc…Cantopop is just like American/British pop (but in Cantonese…you know….the music basically all sound the same) and the others?  Not really my thing.  Seriously.  A few years ago, my parents’ friends were in Vegas and were really disappointed to find out that Celine was taking a break.  Geez.

I recently bought the new Sarah McLachlan compilation album, Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff II (mostly songs from soundtracks, “special” releases or concerts – you guys should check out the first Rarities album…it has an extended version of “I Will Remember You”) and some people looked at me as if I had purple and green skin.  “You like Sarah McLachlan?” a girl ( who was around my age…late 20s) asked.  “Yeah, I do.  In fact, I have all her CDs, including her bad ones.  You know, the stuff she recorded after becoming more mainstream.”  The other woman had an “oh” look, as if I had done something really wrong.  I knew immediately what that meant.  It meant “why are you listening to that stuff?”  I always thought that music transcended race, that it didn’t really matter what you listened to.  I guess I’m just wrong.

What I really want to know is why.  Why can’t I enjoy Sarah McLachlan’s music?  Is there something about her that turns Asians (or rather, Hong Kong Chinese) off, especially Cuspers and Millennials?  I don’t know if it makes any sense to me.  Does it to you?

Posted in Asian, Chinese Canadian, culture, ethnicity, minorities | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Hong Kong Mallrat voice vs. “White” Valley Girl/Uptalk

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 21, 2008

The HK Mallrat voice is that “young” or “baby” voice that many Chinese (or perhaps more accurately, Cantonese) girls/women speak with. I don’t really know the origins of HK Mallrat, but I think it came around the same time as the Valley Girl…some time in the 1980s. I’ve seen old HK movies (pre mid-1980s) and none of the women spoke that way, not even teens, so you can’t say that Cantonese speaking women “naturally” have younger-sounding voices. This is usually paired with what some people I know call “puppy dog eyes.” Usually, these women are middle class or wealthy.

Most of us know what White Valley Girl/Uptalk is. For those of you who don’t, it’s when, like, a girl, talks kinda like this?? And she’s, like, not exactly too confident in herself?? Total exaggeration, but whatevs. The pattern/dialect/whatever you want to call it has been made fun of in movies like Clueless and the TV show, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Hilary is totallllly an Uptalker!). So yes, demographically (from a socio-economic POV), the Uptalker and HK Mallrat are the same.

The sad part is that both styles are common in women over university age. And some girls just don’t know how or when to turn it off. I think it’s kind of okay if you talk like that with friends, but at work? I don’t think so. Sure, most Uptalkers turn off their “likes” but the Uptalk continues. Don’t these women worry that they sound like they’re in their early 20s or even younger? Especially if they look young? How on earth can they be taken seriously? Many people already assume that a young looking person is the intern, not the full time, fully paid employee. I thought most young looking people in their twenties and thirties didn’t want to be treated like a kid?

I honestly don’t know which one is more annoying. A 30 year old (or older) talking like she’s a child is just as dumb as a 30 year old saying “like” and “whatever.” In both cases, she can attract the wrong type of partner.  In both cases, it’s difficult for her to move up, career-wise.

Posted in ABC, Asian, assimilation, banana, BBC, Cantonese, CBC, Chinese Canadian, culture, English, ethnicity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Toronto Star series on hiring non-white teachers

Posted by chinesecanuck on May 20, 2008

On Monday, May 20, the Toronto Star debuted its three-part series on making faculty in Toronto’s schools more diverse. Right now, many schools are at least half non-white, yet only 20% of teachers are non-white. The University of Toronto is therefore trying to pitch to very young kids….middle school aged, hoping that one day, they’d become teachers too.

What bugs me is that the paper makes it sound like non-white kids don’t become teachers because they don’t see teachers of their own culture in the classroom. There were even fewer non-white teachers in the 1980s when I started school, and yet, teaching was one of my career choices until Grade 7. That was I wanted to be a lawyer, an on-and-off career choice (other career possiblities included writer/journalist, actress, country/folk rock singer and Broadway producer) until my second year of undergrad, when the LSATs kind of freaked me out (sure, I could have done the Australia route, but I didn’t want to be that far away from home). Wanting to be a writer/journalist continued (and continues to this very day), however. I also wanted to be a publicist (I even went to PR school for that). I was never influenced by anyone from my culture. In fact, wanting to become a writer/journalist was going AGAINST it. As was being a publicist (even though they make good money. I guess it isn’t necessarily “respectable” since you might be working with celebs. Even in the tabloid obsessed world of Hong Kongers). I do agree that kids need a boost, but do they really need role models from their own or from similiar cultures? Just because someone looks like the kids doesn’t mean that they can relate to them culturally. And yes, many people, white or non-white, automatically assume that they will. I also have a problem with sharing the same language or languages with certain students, speaking to them in that language. These students will be singled out by kids who don’t speak the language or languages as a teacher’s pet. Not good, especially in this day and age. You don’t want a kid to be bullied. Also, I’m not sure if a child will actually learn English as quickly this way, because he or she won’t have time to practice.

Part Two: Serving Students in Culturally Clustered Schools

Part Three: Where Teachers Learn Diversity (Wednesday)

Posted in culture, education, ethnicity, minorities, school, Toronto District School Board, University of Toronto | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »