Immigration, Assimilation, Ethnicity and All That Jazz

Archive for June, 2008

Cultural Benefits & Knowing Where You Come From

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 30, 2008

A posting from Racialicious today comes from a white woman who, like many white people, wonder why black people can have BET, the United Negro College Fund, etc, while white people can’t. The answer (besides the whole power structure thing)? White people (and many non-whites) are more likely to know their ancestry. There are scholarships and other programs that gear towards specific ancestries (some universities, for example, may offer a bursary or scholarship to people who are of, say, Swedish or German heritage) as well as television channels for specific languages. There are even festivals that celebrate certain cultures. Have people forgotten about that? If you want to celebrate your heritage, maybe you can do some research to find out where your ancestors come from. Then, find out what the culture’s (or cultures’) traditions are. In many parts of Europe, including Sweden and Denmark, people celebrate St. Lucia’s Day on December 13. There’s also Sinterklass, celebrated by kids in the Netherlands and Belgium, in early December (I know, I’m kind of in a Christmas/December mood right now). These, along with other traditions that pertain to weddings, births, etc, can be incorporated into one’s routine. It may take a bit of work, but I think it’s worthwhile. Oh, and don’t forget to share these holidays and celebrations with people outside your culture!¬† ūüôā

(Asians and hispanics have a designated heritage month, but in most cities, it isn’t as big a deal as cultural festivals pertaining to one country. For example, I hear much, much more about the Mid-Autumn Festival or Diwali than Asian Heritage Month. Asian Heritage Month is a mere mention. Most Asian heritage related charity events (in Toronto, the big one would be the Dragon Ball) are NOT held in May or Asian Heritage Month.)


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Help or leave them alone?

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 27, 2008

I was recently criticized at a certain blog for suggesting that a certain program can help students in inner cities end the cycle of poverty.¬† The blog seemed to imply that these programs do not work because we (as in the creators/founders/donors) are imposing our culture onto the kids.¬† WTF are they talking about?¬† Are we supposed to ignore everything and just watch?¬† Are you saying that someone like Oprah should just watch impoverished teenaged girls in South Africa waste away their lives because they can’t get a decent education?¬† I realize that Oprah can’t help every single kid at her school (and that her school has run into some issues), but helping some kids is better than helping NONE.¬†¬† And since Oprah’s school is based on a curriculum sanctioned by the South African government, it’s not as if she’s bringing an American education to the kids.

So who is supposed to help these kids?¬† People who grew up like those kids, but have become successful? Religious organizations?¬† Are those people truly insiders? I’m not sure.¬† You become an outsider once you leave the area, even if you grew up in it.¬† Places change, and change very quickly.¬† Even kids who attend boarding school on a bursary are considered outsiders when they return for the holidays.

I guess what the blog is saying is that they don’t need any help from other people at all and that they can help themselves.¬† However, if you don’t have connections, I don’t really see how you can advance.¬† The reason why the Old Boys’ Network/Club (guys have been networking for centuries.¬† Women are only beginning to do this).¬† Those guys all know people who know people, and they would recommend someone to another person who might need help/services.¬† If you don’t ask and don’t do anything in return, you don’t get any results.

Posted in culture, education, ethnicity, minorities, networking, social class, tradition | Tagged: , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

Does Opera Have to Be “Realistically Cast”?

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 24, 2008

Fatemeh’s article on Verdi’s Aida in Racialicious today was very interesting.¬† She claimed that the recent Portland production was nothing but a Eurocentric/white-washed view of Egypt, because of costumes, choreography, etc.¬† She also mentioned that much of the cast was white, not black, even though the opera takes place in Egypt.¬† Well, this isn’t Porgy and Bess.¬† There’s no rule saying that the entire cast has to be black (the Gershwin estate has a clause where Porgy and Bess needs to be cast with black singers, which is why, for a long time, P&G wasn’t produced often).¬† In any case, does opera and even live theatre doesn’t always need to be played out “realistically,” IMHO.¬† There are some cases when it’s necessary, but I don’t think Aida falls into that category.¬† I’ve seen tons of Shakespearean plays where the characters’ costumes vary from “traditional” Renaissance era pieces or costumes that reflected the play’s setting (e.g. Roman costume for Julius Caesar) to later periods.¬† Should the production of Julius Caesar that featured Denzel Washington from a few years back be criticized because it takes in the twenty-first century (the characters were wearing suits and had cell phones)?¬† What about the Disney/Elton John version of Aida, where the Egyptians were all played by white (and perhaps one or two Asian) actors while Aida and the other slaves were black (on another note:¬† The Egyptians’ costumes in the Broadway production were really boring/plain, while the slaves’ costumes were very colourful…music contrasted too)? And unlike the Jonathan Pryce as the Engineer fiasco when just prior to Miss Saigon‘s Broadway debut in ’91, FEW PEOPLE SAID ANYTHING ABOUT THE PREDOMINANTLY WHITE “EGYPTIAN” CAST.¬† And why should people care?

Opera doesn’t have to be as realistic as even live theatre.¬† If it was, many singers would be extremely limited in terms of what they can audition for, even for a chorus role.¬† For example, someone who looked like me would basically be limited to basically Madama Butterfly and Turandot.¬† I saw a production of La Boheme a few years ago where the Mimi was Asian.¬† I guess Fatemeh wouldn’t like that, would she?¬† Nor would she have liked the fact that it took place in the 1950s rather than the 1830s (A production that takes place in the 1950s?¬† Might as well fast forward another 30-something years and call the production Rent, right?)

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South Africa Reclassifies Chinese as “Black”

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 19, 2008

From the Wall Street Journal.

WTF?¬† Too lazy to create a new category called East Asian?¬† I don’t think it’s fair to black people of South Africa to classify immigrants from ANOTHER CONTINENT as black, do you?¬† It’s almost the same as classifying any non-white person as Aboriginal.



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Another “OMG SATC is sooooooo racist post” at Racialicious

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 18, 2008

See here. And I am not the only person who is completely sick of all this complaining. Can’t people just allow others to enjoy the movie without all that complaining? It’s always the following:

Jennifer Hudson’s character Louise being a modern version of the Mammy character: Well, Louise is a 20something. As I said in an earlier SATC-related post, most girls Louise’s age DO work as assistants. Unless you’re starting your own business or maybe working in a family business, there’s no way you’re going to be a CEO at that age. You have to work from the bottom up. You do crap work for crap pay.

Lily Goldenblatt not having too many lines/seen as a prop: Well she’s (they? Lily was played by twins) a kid. What do you expect? Brady doesn’t have many lines either. Or is it different because Brady is a boy (and none of the men, with the exception of Big) had lots of lines.

Asian guy interviewing for Carrie’s job: Some posters see this guy as sissy. I saw him as gay. And over-qualified. Dude worked as an assistant at Goldman (or was it Merrill?)…Carrie’s job probably pays less than $14-$16/h…and that’s if Carrie’s generous. It might even be $12-$13/h. Gay Asian Guy was probably paid closer to $20-something/h on Wall Street.

Charlotte worried about food poisoning: Lots of SATC sites and message boards looked at it as this: Charlotte either knew that she was pregnant or suspected that she was. That’s why she wasn’t drinking either.

Miranda ‘s “follow the white guy with a baby line”: This is the only one, IMHO that really should be seen as being “off” when it comes to race. But you can also see it as Miranda not wanting to live in a slummy neighbourhood. Manhattan’s Chinatown (at least the last time I visited) is in worse condition than Toronto’s!

I also don’t really understand the “I can’t relate to the SATC girls because I’m not white” line. I am a total Charlotte (with a little bit of Miranda). And I am Chinese. In fact, when it comes to the Charlotte part, I might be even more Charlotte than Charlotte! I mean, I would never, ever, ever, ever go for a name like Shayla!¬† EWW!

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Black-Focused Schools in Toronto – Hmmm maybe I’ll start my own school!

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 18, 2008

Racialicious has a post on the black-focused school that will open in Toronto in 2009. The school is going to be sharing premises with an existing elementary school. The kids in the black-focused program will be sharing everything (including the library, lunch room, gym, etc) with the kids in the mainstream program, but will have a slightly different curriculum. The media have neglected to mention that part. They have also neglected to mention that it isn’t a segregated program, and instead, focusing on the supposed segregation and how it would be bad if the kids aren’t exposed to other cultures (wrong again). This has got me thinking: What if I started my own school that brought back good manners in today’s kids? Sort of a co-ed finishing school mixed with an Ontario curriculum? The kids will be required to learn proper table manners of all cultures, be required to write thank you notes (as an art project, the kids can even design their own social/personalized stationary!), conversation and good grooming habits will be taught too. The lady and gentleman has all but disappeared with today’s young. We are either bad girls/boys or “regular” girl/boy next door types. Being proper in an Emily Post sort of way is seen by so many as being old fashioned (my boyfriend gets upset at me whenever I mention table manners…he doesn’t think they’re necessary in this day and age. To him, as long as you don’t chew with your mouth open and that food isn’t dripping out of your mouth, you’re fine. No need to hold a fork and knife or chopsticks properly and you can eat with your left hand in some middle eastern/African restaurants!!!!! After all, you’ve washed it, right?)

Why do I want to start a program like this?¬† Too many well-educated, but sloppy looking kids.¬† And even when they’re not sloppy looking, they don’t really “act” the part.¬† This includes non-kids…people who are M AGE (approaching 30….some even in their EARLY 30s…basically anyone born after the mid 70s)…just because you look like you work in finance because you war that designer suit and carry that leather brief case, one can tell that you aren’t properly groomed if you have awful table manners, are constantly late, don’t write thank you notes, etc…

Of course, this kind of program will likely be widely criticized. Why? Because it’s probably a little classist and yes, to some, even too Eurocentric. After all, it’s mostly going to be focused on western manners (the media will definitely over look the fact that eastern manners are taught too) and these “western” manners are going to be European-focused rather than North American (to my understanding, most etiquette programs teach European table manners, not North American….Europeans don’t switch their fork between their left and right hands. I was told that when eating western style, the European way is ALWAYS RIGHT, while the North American way is only right in North America. I tend to eat North American style unless I’m at a very high end restaurant or formal dinner). Oh, and of course, those free-thinking parents who feel that their kids should be able to do whatever they want would not like this hypothetical program either.

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Gentrification – why does it always have to be about race?

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 17, 2008

Lots of “ethnic” neighbourhoods are now being gentrified, and many blogs, including a post on Racialicious today, seem to argue that it’s driving the old residents, mostly non-whites, out.¬† But is it always white people who are moving in?¬† Or is it a class issue?¬† Say they gentrify Toronto’s “old” (i.e. not Scarborough or Markham) Chinatowns by opening a T&T Supermarket.¬† This drives out the smaller grocery stores (who IMHO, are often on the brink of breaking health codes, if they haven’t already.¬† I won’t buy meat there.)¬† While T&T does have non-Asian (or rather, non-Chinese) clientele, the majority of those who shop there are of Chinese descent (or married to someone who is of Chinese descent).¬† It’s unlikely that Chinatown will be completely “white-washed.”¬† It’ll just be yuppified.¬† And one doesn’t need to be white to be a yuppie.

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Metro Asian Guys, AGAIN

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 16, 2008

Last month, I posted something about Asian guys who are metro.¬† Metro Asian guys seem to be a common sight around here, yet I’ve never really seen any posts about it.¬† I’m sure there are plenty of metro Asian guys in the US as well, aren’t there?¬† I don’t understand why I’m reading stories about Asian guys not feeling confident about themselves when it comes to dating.¬† These metro guys seem to have women all over them all the time.¬† Sure, most are not “from here,” but many are, or at least, have lived in this part of the world for a significant number of years. Though metro men aren’t my type, I can’t say that anyone could say that these men are unattractive.¬† They don’t even fit the stereotype of the geeky Asian male.¬† Can a geek seriously wear tons of product in his hair (perhaps even with highlights), jeans and t-shirt similar to an American Eagle or Abercrombie ad and still be a geek/nerd?¬† Of course, these guys often turn it up a notch or two with their man bags (and often, the man bag is what elevates them to metrodom)

Maybe I’m just living in a bubble called Toronto (yeah, there are geeky guys too, but I don’t really know any, at least not over 18) and most of my friends and acquaintances grew up in middle class suburbia.¬† Maybe if I hung out with restaurant kids (not restaurant owner kids…..staff kids), things would be different.

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Feminism has done it again

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 13, 2008

I usually don’t comment on Racialicious posts two days in a row, but I felt like I had to do so with today’s post by guest columnist Thea Lim, especially the response by Britta.¬† Britta’s response, which can be found here,¬† somehow alludes that only white, middle class women have the privilege of mainstream feminism.¬† Well, that may be the case in certain geographic areas.¬†¬† This is something I pointed out in a post dated April 28.¬† I don’t see how or why some non-white people, whether they’re in the west or in the old country can’t feel that they have more in common with so-called “mainstream” western feminism or vice versa.¬† Britta goes on about women “bragging about their cheap nannies and hired help.”¬† Is she saying that only wealthy WHITE women have hired help?¬† The last time I checked, many nannies work for non-white women as well.¬† And at least nannies in North America have more rights and get relatively decent pay compared to their counterparts in places like Hong Kong (where most of the people who hire help are, guess what?¬† CHINESE.¬† It’s not expats who exploit local women.¬† Not anymore.)

Personally, I don’t always identify with mainstream feminism not because I’m non-white, but because they seem to want things to happen quicker than things CAN happen.¬† A little too impatient, IMHO.

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I don’t think people understand ethnic pride

Posted by chinesecanuck on June 12, 2008

I recently wrote about the Winnipeg mom whose daughter was taken away from her because the child wore clothes with a swaztika on it.¬† Some may say that the woman has the right to teach her child to embrace her heritage. But this isn’t embracing one’s heritage. Let me tell you this: If the mother in this Winnepeg case is indeed the “proud Scottish chick” that she is, then she should be showing and teaching the little girl SCOTTISH CULTURE. No one is going to stop you from¬†doing this.¬† This might mean sending her to highland dancing lessons, teaching her the heritage of the clan’s tartan, etc, etc… You should be showing pride in your family’s heritage or heritages.¬† This means actual countries/ethnicities, not an entire so-called “RACE.”¬† If I don’t go around¬†screaming¬†aSiaN prYde (though I do celebrate Chinese New Year,¬†the mid-Autumn Festival, etc), then you shouldn’t go around¬†being proud of your “race” either.¬† It isn’t ladylike (or gentlemanly), my dear.¬†¬†¬†¬†



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